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Title: Emile

Author: Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Release Date: April, 2004 [EBook #5427]
[Yes, we are more than one year ahead of schedule]
[This file was first posted on July 18, 2002]

Edition: 10

Language: English

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Steve Harris, Charles Franks and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team.


By Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Translated by Barbara Foxley

Author's Preface

This collection of scattered thoughts and observations has little
order or continuity; it was begun to give pleasure to a good mother
who thinks for herself. My first idea was to write a tract a few
pages long, but I was carried away by my subject, and before I knew
what I was doing my tract had become a kind of book, too large indeed
for the matter contained in it, but too small for the subject of
which it treats. For a long time I hesitated whether to publish
it or not, and I have often felt, when at work upon it, that it is
one thing to publish a few pamphlets and another to write a book.
After vain attempts to improve it, I have decided that it is my
duty to publish it as it stands. I consider that public attention
requires to be directed to this subject, and even if my own ideas
are mistaken, my time will not have been wasted if I stir up others
to form right ideas. A solitary who casts his writings before the
public without any one to advertise them, without any party ready
to defend them, one who does not even know what is thought and said
about those writings, is at least free from one anxiety--if he is
mistaken, no one will take his errors for gospel.

I shall say very little about the value of a good education, nor
shall I stop to prove that the customary method of education is bad;
this has been done again and again, and I do not wish to fill my
book with things which everyone knows. I will merely state that, go
as far back as you will, you will find a continual outcry against
the established method, but no attempt to suggest a better. The
literature and science of our day tend rather to destroy than to
build up. We find fault after the manner of a master; to suggest,
we must adopt another style, a style less in accordance with the
pride of the philosopher. In spite of all those books, whose only
aim, so they say, is public utility, the most useful of all arts,
the art of training men, is still neglected. Even after Locke's
book was written the subject remained almost untouched, and I fear
that my book will leave it pretty much as it found it.

We know nothing of childhood; and with our mistaken notions the
further we advance the further we go astray. The wisest writers
devote themselves to what a man ought to know, without asking what
a child is capable of learning. They are always looking for the
man in the child, without considering what he is before he becomes
a man. It is to this study that I have chiefly devoted myself,
so that if my method is fanciful and unsound, my observations may
still be of service. I may be greatly mistaken as to what ought to
be done, but I think I have clearly perceived the material which
is to be worked upon. Begin thus by making a more careful study of
your scholars, for it is clear that yon know nothing about them;
yet if you read this book with that end in view, I think you will
find that it is not entirely useless.

With regard to what will be called the systematic portion of the
book, which is nothing more than the course of nature, it is here
that the reader will probably go wrong, and no doubt I shall be
attacked on this side, and perhaps my critics may be right. You
will tell me, "This is not so much a treatise on education as the
visions of a dreamer with regard to education." What can I do? I have
not written about other people's ideas of education, but about my
own. My thoughts are not those of others; this reproach has been
brought against me again and again. But is it within my power
to furnish myself with other eyes, or to adopt other ideas? It is
within my power to refuse to be wedded to my own opinions and to
refuse to think myself wiser than others. I cannot change my mind;
I can distrust myself. This is all I can do, and this I have done.
If I sometimes adopt a confident tone, it is not to impress the
reader, it is to make my meaning plain to him. Why should I profess
to suggest as doubtful that which is not a matter of doubt to
myself? I say just what I think.

When I freely express my opinion, I have so little idea of claiming
authority that I always give my reasons, so that you may weigh
and judge them for yourselves; but though I would not obstinately
defend my ideas, I think it my duty to put them forward; for the
principles with regard to which I differ from other writers are
not matters of indifference; we must know whether they are true or
false, for on them depends the happiness or the misery of mankind.
People are always telling me to make PRACTICABLE suggestions. You
might as well tell me to suggest what people are doing already,
or at least to suggest improvements which may be incorporated with
the wrong methods at present in use. There are matters with regard
to which such a suggestion is far more chimerical than my own,
for in such a connection the good is corrupted and the bad is none
the better for it. I would rather follow exactly the established
method than adopt a better method by halves. There would be fewer
contradictions in the man; he cannot aim at one and the same time
at two different objects. Fathers and mothers, what you desire that
you can do. May I count on your goodwill?

There are two things to be considered with regard to any scheme.
In the first place, "Is it good in itself" In the second, "Can it
be easily put into practice?"

With regard to the first of these it is enough that the scheme
should be intelligible and feasible in itself, that what is good
in it should be adapted to the nature of things, in this case, for
example, that the proposed method of education should be suitable
to man and adapted to the human heart.

The second consideration depends upon certain given conditions in
particular cases; these conditions are accidental and therefore
variable; they may vary indefinitely. Thus one kind of education
would be possible in Switzerland and not in France; another would be
adapted to the middle classes but not to the nobility. The scheme
can be carried out, with more or less success, according to a
multitude of circumstances, and its results can only be determined
by its special application to one country or another, to this class
or that. Now all these particular applications are not essential
to my subject, and they form no part of my scheme. It is enough
for me that, wherever men are born into the world, my suggestions
with regard to them may be carried out, and when you have made them
what I would have them be, you have done what is best for them and
best for other people. If I fail to fulfil this promise, no doubt
I am to blame; but if I fulfil my promise, it is your own fault if
you ask anything more of me, for I have promised you nothing more.


God makes all things good; man meddles with them and they become
evil. He forces one soil to yield the products of another, one tree
to bear another's fruit. He confuses and confounds time, place,
and natural conditions. He mutilates his dog, his horse, and his
slave. He destroys and defaces all things; he loves all that is
deformed and monstrous; he will have nothing as nature made it,
not even man himself, who must learn his paces like a saddle-horse,
and be shaped to his master's taste like the trees in his garden.
Yet things would be worse without this education, and mankind cannot
be made by halves. Under existing conditions a man left to himself
from birth would be more of a monster than the rest. Prejudice,
authority, necessity, example, all the social conditions into which
we are plunged, would stifle nature in him and put nothing in her
place. She would be like a sapling chance sown in the midst of the
highway, bent hither and thither and soon crushed by the passers-by.

Tender, anxious mother, [Footnote: The earliest education is
most important and it undoubtedly is woman's work. If the author
of nature had meant to assign it to men he would have given them
milk to feed the child. Address your treatises on education to the
women, for not only are they able to watch over it more closely than
men, not only is their influence always predominant in education,
its success concerns them more nearly, for most widows are at the
mercy of their children, who show them very plainly whether their
education was good or bad. The laws, always more concerned about
property than about people, since their object is not virtue but
peace, the laws give too little authority to the mother. Yet her
position is more certain than that of the father, her duties are
more trying; the right ordering of the family depends more upon
her, and she is usually fonder of her children. There are occasions
when a son may be excused for lack of respect for his father, but
if a child could be so unnatural as to fail in respect for the
mother who bore him and nursed him at her breast, who for so many
years devoted herself to his care, such a monstrous wretch should
be smothered at once as unworthy to live. You say mothers spoil
their children, and no doubt that is wrong, but it is worse to
deprave them as you do. The mother wants her child to be happy
now. She is right, and if her method is wrong, she must be taught
a better. Ambition, avarice, tyranny, the mistaken foresight of fathers,
their neglect, their harshness, are a hundredfold more harmful to
the child than the blind affection of the mother. Moreover, I must
explain what I mean by a mother and that explanation follows.] I
appeal to you. You can remove this young tree from the highway and
shield it from the crushing force of social conventions. Tend and
water it ere it dies. One day its fruit will reward your care.
From the outset raise a wall round your child's soul; another may
sketch the plan, you alone should carry it into execution.

Plants are fashioned by cultivation, man by education. If a man
were born tall and strong, his size and strength would be of no
good to him till he had learnt to use them; they would even harm
him by preventing others from coming to his aid; [Footnote: Like
them in externals, but without speech and without the ideas which
are expressed by speech, he would be unable to make his wants known,
while there would be nothing in his appearance to suggest that he
needed their help.] left to himself he would die of want before he
knew his needs. We lament the helplessness of infancy; we fail to
perceive that the race would have perished had not man begun by
being a child.

We are born weak, we need strength; helpless, we need aid; foolish,
we need reason. All that we lack at birth, all that we need when
we come to man's estate, is the gift of education.

This education comes to us from nature, from men, or from things.
The inner growth of our organs and faculties is the education of
nature, the use we learn to make of this growth is the education
of men, what we gain by our experience of our surroundings is the
education of things.

Thus we are each taught by three masters. If their teaching
conflicts, the scholar is ill-educated and will never be at peace
with himself; if their teaching agrees, he goes straight to his
goal, he lives at peace with himself, he is well-educated.

Now of these three factors in education nature is wholly beyond
our control, things are only partly in our power; the education of
men is the only one controlled by us; and even here our power is
largely illusory, for who can hope to direct every word and deed
of all with whom the child has to do.

Viewed as an art, the success of education is almost impossible,
since the essential conditions of success are beyond our control.
Our efforts may bring us within sight of the goal, but fortune must
favour us if we are to reach it.

What is this goal? As we have just shown, it is the goal of nature.
Since all three modes of education must work together, the two
that we can control must follow the lead of that which is beyond
our control. Perhaps this word Nature has too vague a meaning. Let
us try to define it.

Nature, we are told, is merely habit. What does that mean? Are there
not habits formed under compulsion, habits which never stifle nature?
Such, for example, are the habits of plants trained horizontally.
The plant keeps its artificial shape, but the sap has not changed
its course, and any new growth the plant may make will be vertical.
It is the same with a man's disposition; while the conditions remain
the same, habits, even the least natural of them, hold good; but
change the conditions, habits vanish, nature reasserts herself.
Education itself is but habit, for are there not people who forget
or lose their education and others who keep it? Whence comes
this difference? If the term nature is to be restricted to habits
conformable to nature we need say no more.

We are born sensitive and from our birth onwards we are affected
in various ways by our environment. As soon as we become conscious
of our sensations we tend to seek or shun the things that cause
them, at first because they are pleasant or unpleasant, then because
they suit us or not, and at last because of judgments formed by
means of the ideas of happiness and goodness which reason gives
us. These tendencies gain strength and permanence with the growth
of reason, but hindered by our habits they are more or less warped
by our prejudices. Before this change they are what I call Nature
within us.

Everything should therefore be brought into harmony with these
natural tendencies, and that might well be if our three modes of
education merely differed from one another; but what can be done
when they conflict, when instead of training man for himself you
try to train him for others? Harmony becomes impossible. Forced to
combat either nature or society, you must make your choice between
the man and the citizen, you cannot train both.

The smaller social group, firmly united in itself and dwelling
apart from others, tends to withdraw itself from the larger society.
Every patriot hates foreigners; they are only men, and nothing to
him.[Footnote: Thus the wars of republics are more cruel than those
of monarchies. But if the wars of kings are less cruel, their peace
is terrible; better be their foe than their subject.] This defect
is inevitable, but of little importance. The great thing is to be
kind to our neighbours. Among strangers the Spartan was selfish,
grasping, and unjust, but unselfishness, justice, and harmony ruled
his home life. Distrust those cosmopolitans who search out remote
duties in their books and neglect those that lie nearest. Such
philosophers will love the Tartars to avoid loving their neighbour.

The natural man lives for himself; he is the unit, the whole,
dependent only on himself and on his like. The citizen is but the
numerator of a fraction, whose value depends on its denominator;
his value depends upon the whole, that is, on the community. Good
social institutions are those best fitted to make a man unnatural,
to exchange his independence for dependence, to merge the unit
in the group, so that he no longer regards himself as one, but as
a part of the whole, and is only conscious of the common life. A
citizen of Rome was neither Caius nor Lucius, he was a Roman; he
ever loved his country better than his life. The captive Regulus
professed himself a Carthaginian; as a foreigner he refused to take
his seat in the Senate except at his master's bidding. He scorned
the attempt to save his life. He had his will, and returned in
triumph to a cruel death. There is no great likeness between Regulus
and the men of our own day.

The Spartan Pedaretes presented himself for admission to the council
of the Three Hundred and was rejected; he went away rejoicing that
there were three hundred Spartans better than himself. I suppose he
was in earnest; there is no reason to doubt it. That was a citizen.

A Spartan mother had five sons with the army. A Helot arrived;
trembling she asked his news. "Your five sons are slain." "Vile
slave, was that what I asked thee?" "We have won the victory."
She hastened to the temple to render thanks to the gods. That was
a citizen.

He who would preserve the supremacy of natural feelings in social
life knows not what he asks. Ever at war with himself, hesitating
between his wishes and his duties, he will be neither a man nor
a citizen. He will be of no use to himself nor to others. He will
be a man of our day, a Frenchman, an Englishman, one of the great
middle class.

To be something, to be himself, and always at one with himself, a
man must act as he speaks, must know what course he ought to take,
and must follow that course with vigour and persistence. When I
meet this miracle it will be time enough to decide whether he is
a man or a citizen, or how he contrives to be both.

Two conflicting types of educational systems spring from these
conflicting aims. One is public and common to many, the other
private and domestic.

If you wish to know what is meant by public education, read Plato's
Republic. Those who merely judge books by their titles take this for
a treatise on politics, but it is the finest treatise on education
ever written.

In popular estimation the Platonic Institute stands for all that
is fanciful and unreal. For my own part I should have thought the
system of Lycurgus far more impracticable had he merely committed
it to writing. Plato only sought to purge man's heart; Lycurgus
turned it from its natural course.

The public institute does not and cannot exist, for there is neither
country nor patriot. The very words should be struck out of our
language. The reason does not concern us at present, so that though
I know it I refrain from stating it.

I do not consider our ridiculous colleges [Footnote: There are
teachers dear to me in many schools and especially in the University
of Paris, men for whom I have a great respect, men whom I believe
to be quite capable of instructing young people, if they were not
compelled to follow the established custom. I exhort one of them
to publish the scheme of reform which he has thought out. Perhaps
people would at length seek to cure the evil if they realised that
there was a remedy.] as public institutes, nor do I include under
this head a fashionable education, for this education facing two
ways at once achieves nothing. It is only fit to turn out hypocrites,
always professing to live for others, while thinking of themselves
alone. These professions, however, deceive no one, for every one
has his share in them; they are so much labour wasted.

Our inner conflicts are caused by these contradictions. Drawn
this way by nature and that way by man, compelled to yield to both
forces, we make a compromise and reach neither goal. We go through
life, struggling and hesitating, and die before we have found peace,
useless alike to ourselves and to others.

There remains the education of the home or of nature; but how will
a man live with others if he is educated for himself alone? If
the twofold aims could be resolved into one by removing the man's
self-contradictions, one great obstacle to his happiness would be
gone. To judge of this you must see the man full-grown; you must
have noted his inclinations, watched his progress, followed his
steps; in a word you must really know a natural man. When you have
read this work, I think you will have made some progress in this

What must be done to train this exceptional man! We can do much,
but the chief thing is to prevent anything being done. To sail
against the wind we merely follow one tack and another; to keep our
position in a stormy sea we must cast anchor. Beware, young pilot,
lest your boat slip its cable or drag its anchor before you know

In the social order where each has his own place a man must be
educated for it. If such a one leave his own station he is fit for
nothing else. His education is only useful when fate agrees with
his parents' choice; if not, education harms the scholar, if only
by the prejudices it has created. In Egypt, where the son was
compelled to adopt his father's calling, education had at least
a settled aim; where social grades remain fixed, but the men who
form them are constantly changing, no one knows whether he is not
harming his son by educating him for his own class.

In the natural order men are all equal and their common calling
is that of manhood, so that a well-educated man cannot fail to do
well in that calling and those related to it. It matters little to
me whether my pupil is intended for the army, the church, or the
law. Before his parents chose a calling for him nature called him
to be a man. Life is the trade I would teach him. When he leaves
me, I grant you, he will be neither a magistrate, a soldier, nor a
priest; he will be a man. All that becomes a man he will learn as
quickly as another. In vain will fate change his station, he will
always be in his right place. "Occupavi te, fortuna, atque cepi;
omnes-que aditus tuos interclusi, ut ad me aspirare non posses."
The real object of our study is man and his environment. To my mind
those of us who can best endure the good and evil of life are the
best educated; hence it follows that true education consists less
in precept than in practice. We begin to learn when we begin to
live; our education begins with ourselves, our first teacher is
our nurse. The ancients used the word "Education" in a different
sense, it meant "Nurture." "Educit obstetrix," says Varro. "Educat
nutrix, instituit paedagogus, docet magister." Thus, education,
discipline, and instruction are three things as different in
their purpose as the dame, the usher, and the teacher. But these
distinctions are undesirable and the child should only follow one

We must therefore look at the general rather than the particular,
and consider our scholar as man in the abstract, man exposed to all
the changes and chances of mortal life. If men were born attached
to the soil of our country, if one season lasted all the year round,
if every man's fortune were so firmly grasped that he could never
lose it, then the established method of education would have
certain advantages; the child brought up to his own calling would
never leave it, he could never have to face the difficulties of
any other condition. But when we consider the fleeting nature of
human affairs, the restless and uneasy spirit of our times, when
every generation overturns the work of its predecessor, can we
conceive a more senseless plan than to educate a child as if he
would never leave his room, as if he would always have his servants
about him? If the wretched creature takes a single step up or down
he is lost. This is not teaching him to bear pain; it is training
him to feel it.

People think only of preserving their child's life; this is not
enough, he must be taught to preserve his own life when he is a
man, to bear the buffets of fortune, to brave wealth and poverty,
to live at need among the snows of Iceland or on the scorching rocks
of Malta. In vain you guard against death; he must needs die; and
even if you do not kill him with your precautions, they are mistaken.
Teach him to live rather than to avoid death: life is not breath,
but action, the use of our senses, our mind, our faculties, every
part of ourselves which makes us conscious of our being. Life
consists less in length of days than in the keen sense of living.
A man maybe buried at a hundred and may never have lived at all.
He would have fared better had he died young.

Our wisdom is slavish prejudice, our customs consist in control,
constraint, compulsion. Civilised man is born and dies a slave.
The infant is bound up in swaddling clothes, the corpse is nailed
down in his coffin. All his life long man is imprisoned by our

I am told that many midwives profess to improve the shape of the
infant's head by rubbing, and they are allowed to do it. Our heads
are not good enough as God made them, they must be moulded outside
by the nurse and inside by the philosopher. The Caribs are better
off than we are. The child has hardly left the mother's womb, it
has hardly begun to move and stretch its limbs, when it is deprived
of its freedom. It is wrapped in swaddling bands, laid down with
its head fixed, its legs stretched out, and its arms by its sides;
it is wound round with linen and bandages of all sorts so that it
cannot move. It is fortunate if it has room to breathe, and it is
laid on its side so that water which should flow from its mouth can
escape, for it is not free to turn its head on one side for this

The new-born child requires to stir and stretch his limbs to free
them from the stiffness resulting from being curled up so long.
His limbs are stretched indeed, but he is not allowed to move them.
Even the head is confined by a cap. One would think they were afraid
the child should look as if it were alive.

Thus the internal impulses which should lead to growth find an
insurmountable obstacle in the way of the necessary movements. The
child exhausts his strength in vain struggles, or he gains strength
very slowly. He was freer and less constrained in the womb; he has
gained nothing by birth.

The inaction, the constraint to which the child's limbs are subjected
can only check the circulation of the blood and humours; it can
only hinder the child's growth in size and strength, and injure its
constitution. Where these absurd precautions are absent, all the
men are tall, strong, and well-made. Where children are swaddled,
the country swarms with the hump-backed, the lame, the bow-legged,
the rickety, and every kind of deformity. In our fear lest the
body should become deformed by free movement, we hasten to deform
it by putting it in a press. We make our children helpless lest
they should hurt themselves.

Is not such a cruel bondage certain to affect both health and temper?
Their first feeling is one of pain and suffering; they find every
necessary movement hampered; more miserable than a galley slave, in
vain they struggle, they become angry, they cry. Their first words
you say are tears. That is so. From birth you are always checking
them, your first gifts are fetters, your first treatment, torture.
Their voice alone is free; why should they not raise it in complaint?
They cry because you are hurting them; if you were swaddled you
would cry louder still.

What is the origin of this senseless and unnatural custom? Since
mothers have despised their first duty and refused to nurse their
own children, they have had to be entrusted to hired nurses. Finding
themselves the mothers of a stranger's children, without the ties
of nature, they have merely tried to save themselves trouble.
A child unswaddled would need constant watching; well swaddled it
is cast into a corner and its cries are unheeded. So long as the
nurse's negligence escapes notice, so long as the nursling does
not break its arms or legs, what matter if it dies or becomes a
weakling for life. Its limbs are kept safe at the expense of its
body, and if anything goes wrong it is not the nurse's fault.

These gentle mothers, having got rid of their babies, devote
themselves gaily to the pleasures of the town. Do they know how
their children are being treated in the villages? If the nurse is at
all busy, the child is hung up on a nail like a bundle of clothes
and is left crucified while the nurse goes leisurely about her
business. Children have been found in this position purple in the
face, their tightly bandaged chest forbade the circulation of the
blood, and it went to the head; so the sufferer was considered very
quiet because he had not strength to cry. How long a child might
survive under such conditions I do not know, but it could not be
long. That, I fancy, is one of the chief advantages of swaddling

It is maintained that unswaddled infants would assume faulty positions
and make movements which might injure the proper development of
their limbs. That is one of the empty arguments of our false wisdom
which has never been confirmed by experience. Out of all the crowds
of children who grow up with the full use of their limbs among
nations wiser than ourselves, you never find one who hurts himself
or maims himself; their movements are too feeble to be dangerous,
and when they assume an injurious position, pain warns them to
change it.

We have not yet decided to swaddle our kittens and puppies; are
they any the worse for this neglect? Children are heavier, I admit,
but they are also weaker. They can scarcely move, how could they
hurt themselves! If you lay them on their backs, they will lie
there till they die, like the turtle, unable to turn itself over.
Not content with having ceased to suckle their children, women no
longer wish to do it; with the natural result motherhood becomes a
burden; means are found to avoid it. They will destroy their work
to begin it over again, and they thus turn to the injury of the race
the charm which was given them for its increase. This practice, with
other causes of depopulation, forbodes the coming fate of Europe.
Her arts and sciences, her philosophy and morals, will shortly
reduce her to a desert. She will be the home of wild beasts, and
her inhabitants will hardly have changed for the worse.

I have sometimes watched the tricks of young wives who pretend
that they wish to nurse their own children. They take care to be
dissuaded from this whim. They contrive that husbands, doctors,
and especially mothers should intervene. If a husband should let
his wife nurse her own baby it would be the ruin of him; they would
make him out a murderer who wanted to be rid of her. A prudent husband
must sacrifice paternal affection to domestic peace. Fortunately
for you there are women in the country districts more continent than
your wives. You are still more fortunate if the time thus gained
is not intended for another than yourself.

There can be no doubt about a wife's duty, but, considering the
contempt in which it is held, it is doubtful whether it is not
just as good for the child to be suckled by a stranger. This is
a question for the doctors to settle, and in my opinion they have
settled it according to the women's wishes, [Footnote: The league
between the women and the doctors has always struck me as one of
the oddest things in Paris. The doctors' reputation depends on the
women, and by means of the doctors the women get their own way.
It is easy to see what qualifications a doctor requires in Paris
if he is to become celebrated.] and for my own part I think it is
better that the child should suck the breast of a healthy nurse
rather than of a petted mother, if he has any further evil to fear
from her who has given him birth.

Ought the question, however, to be considered only from the
physiological point of view? Does not the child need a mother's
care as much as her milk? Other women, or even other animals, may
give him the milk she denies him, but there is no substitute for
a mother's love.

The woman who nurses another's child in place of her own is a bad
mother; how can she be a good nurse? She may become one in time;
use will overcome nature, but the child may perish a hundred times
before his nurse has developed a mother's affection for him.

And this affection when developed has its drawbacks, which should
make any feeling woman afraid to put her child out to nurse. Is
she prepared to divide her mother's rights, or rather to abdicate
them in favour of a stranger; to see her child loving another more
than herself; to feel that the affection he retains for his own
mother is a favour, while his love for his foster-mother is a duty;
for is not some affection due where there has been a mother's care?

To remove this difficulty, children are taught to look down on
their nurses, to treat them as mere servants. When their task is
completed the child is withdrawn or the nurse is dismissed. Her
visits to her foster-child are discouraged by a cold reception. After
a few years the child never sees her again. The mother expects to
take her place, and to repair by her cruelty the results of her own
neglect. But she is greatly mistaken; she is making an ungrateful
foster-child, not an affectionate son; she is teaching him ingratitude,
and she is preparing him to despise at a later day the mother who
bore him, as he now despises his nurse.

How emphatically would I speak if it were not so hopeless to keep
struggling in vain on behalf of a real reform. More depends on
this than you realise. Would you restore all men to their primal
duties, begin with the mothers; the results will surprise you.
Every evil follows in the train of this first sin; the whole moral
order is disturbed, nature is quenched in every breast, the home
becomes gloomy, the spectacle of a young family no longer stirs
the husband's love and the stranger's reverence. The mother whose
children are out of sight wins scanty esteem; there is no home
life, the ties of nature are not strengthened by those of habit;
fathers, mothers, children, brothers, and sisters cease to exist.
They are almost strangers; how should they love one another? Each
thinks of himself first. When the home is a gloomy solitude pleasure
will be sought elsewhere.

But when mothers deign to nurse their own children, then will be
a reform in morals; natural feeling will revive in every heart;
there will be no lack of citizens for the state; this first step
by itself will restore mutual affection. The charms of home are
the best antidote to vice. The noisy play of children, which we
thought so trying, becomes a delight; mother and father rely more
on each other and grow dearer to one another; the marriage tie is
strengthened. In the cheerful home life the mother finds her sweetest
duties and the father his pleasantest recreation. Thus the cure of
this one evil would work a wide-spread reformation; nature would
regain her rights. When women become good mothers, men will be good
husbands and fathers.

My words are vain! When we are sick of worldly pleasures we do
not return to the pleasures of the home. Women have ceased to be
mothers, they do not and will not return to their duty. Could they
do it if they would? The contrary custom is firmly established; each
would have to overcome the opposition of her neighbours, leagued
together against the example which some have never given and others
do not desire to follow.

Yet there are still a few young women of good natural disposition
who refuse to be the slaves of fashion and rebel against the
clamour of other women, who fulfil the sweet task imposed on them
by nature. Would that the reward in store for them might draw
others to follow their example. My conclusion is based upon plain
reason, and upon facts I have never seen disputed; and I venture
to promise these worthy mothers the firm and steadfast affection
of their husbands and the truly filial love of their children and
the respect of all the world. Child-birth will be easy and will
leave no ill-results, their health will be strong and vigorous, and
they will see their daughters follow their example, and find that
example quoted as a pattern to others.

No mother, no child; their duties are reciprocal, and when ill done
by the one they will be neglected by the other. The child should
love his mother before he knows what he owes her. If the voice of
instinct is not strengthened by habit it soon dies, the heart is
still-born. From the outset we have strayed from the path of nature.

There is another by-way which may tempt our feet from the path of
nature. The mother may lavish excessive care on her child instead
of neglecting him; she may make an idol of him; she may develop
and increase his weakness to prevent him feeling it; she wards
off every painful experience in the hope of withdrawing him from
the power of nature, and fails to realise that for every trifling
ill from which she preserves him the future holds in store many
accidents and dangers, and that it is a cruel kindness to prolong
the child's weakness when the grown man must bear fatigue.

Thetis, so the story goes, plunged her son in the waters of Styx to
make him invulnerable. The truth of this allegory is apparent. The
cruel mothers I speak of do otherwise; they plunge their children
into softness, and they are preparing suffering for them, they open
the way to every kind of ill, which their children will not fail
to experience after they grow up.

Fix your eyes on nature, follow the path traced by her. She keeps
children at work, she hardens them by all kinds of difficulties,
she soon teaches them the meaning of pain and grief. They cut their
teeth and are feverish, sharp colics bring on convulsions, they
are choked by fits of coughing and tormented by worms, evil humours
corrupt the blood, germs of various kinds ferment in it, causing
dangerous eruptions. Sickness and danger play the chief part in
infancy. One half of the children who are born die before their
eighth year. The child who has overcome hardships has gained strength,
and as soon as he can use his life he holds it more securely.

This is nature's law; why contradict it? Do you not see that in
your efforts to improve upon her handiwork you are destroying it;
her cares are wasted? To do from without what she does within is
according to you to increase the danger twofold. On the contrary,
it is the way to avert it; experience shows that children delicately
nurtured are more likely to die. Provided we do not overdo it, there
is less risk in using their strength than in sparing it. Accustom
them therefore to the hardships they will have to face; train them
to endure extremes of temperature, climate, and condition, hunger,
thirst, and weariness. Dip them in the waters of Styx. Before bodily
habits become fixed you may teach what habits you will without any
risk, but once habits are established any change is fraught with
peril. A child will bear changes which a man cannot bear, the muscles
of the one are soft and flexible, they take whatever direction
you give them without any effort; the muscles of the grown man are
harder and they only change their accustomed mode of action when
subjected to violence. So we can make a child strong without risking
his life or health, and even if there were some risk, it should not
be taken into consideration. Since human life is full of dangers,
can we do better than face them at a time when they can do the
least harm?

A child's worth increases with his years. To his personal value
must be added the cost of the care bestowed upon him. For himself
there is not only loss of life, but the consciousness of death.
We must therefore think most of his future in our efforts for his
preservation. He must be protected against the ills of youth before
he reaches them: for if the value of life increases until the child
reaches an age when he can be useful, what madness to spare some
suffering in infancy only to multiply his pain when he reaches the
age of reason. Is that what our master teaches us!

Man is born to suffer; pain is the means of his preservation.
His childhood is happy, knowing only pain of body. These bodily
sufferings are much less cruel, much less painful, than other forms
of suffering, and they rarely lead to self-destruction. It is not
the twinges of gout which make a man kill himself, it is mental
suffering that leads to despair. We pity the sufferings of childhood;
we should pity ourselves; our worst sorrows are of our own making.

The new-born infant cries, his early days are spent in crying. He
is alternately petted and shaken by way of soothing him; sometimes
he is threatened, sometimes beaten, to keep him quiet. We do what
he wants or we make him do what we want, we submit to his whims or
subject him to our own. There is no middle course; he must rule or
obey. Thus big earliest ideas are those of the tyrant or the slave.
He commands before he can speak, he obeys before he can act, and
sometimes he is punished for faults before he is aware of them, or
rather before they are committed. Thus early are the seeds of evil
passions sown in his young heart. At a later day these are attributed
to nature, and when we have taken pains to make him bad we lament
his badness.

In this way the child passes six or seven years in the hands of
women, the victim of his own caprices or theirs, and after they
have taught him all sorts of things, when they have burdened his
memory with words he cannot understand, or things which are of no
use to him, when nature has been stifled by the passions they have
implanted in him, this sham article is sent to a tutor. The tutor
completes the development of the germs of artificiality which he finds
already well grown, he teaches him everything except self-knowledge
and self-control, the arts of life and happiness. When at length
this infant slave and tyrant, crammed with knowledge but empty of
sense, feeble alike in mind and body, is flung upon the world, and
his helplessness, his pride, and his other vices are displayed,
we begin to lament the wretchedness and perversity of mankind. We
are wrong; this is the creature of our fantasy; the natural man is
cast in another mould.

Would you keep him as nature made him? Watch over him from his
birth. Take possession of him as soon as he comes into the world
and keep him till he is a man; you will never succeed otherwise.
The real nurse is the mother and the real teacher is the father.
Let them agree in the ordering of their duties as well as in their
method, let the child pass from one to the other. He will be better
educated by a sensible though ignorant father than by the cleverest
master in the world. For zeal will atone for lack of knowledge,
rather than knowledge for lack of zeal. But the duties of public
and private business! Duty indeed! Does a father's duty come last.
[Footnote: When we read in Plutarch that Cato the Censor, who ruled
Rome with such glory, brought up his own sons from the cradle,
and so carefully that he left everything to be present when their
nurse, that is to say their mother, bathed them; when we read
in Suetonius that Augustus, the master of the world which he had
conquered and which he himself governed, himself taught his grandsons
to write, to swim, to understand the beginnings of science, and that
he always had them with him, we cannot help smiling at the little
people of those days who amused themselves with such follies, and
who were too ignorant, no doubt, to attend to the great affairs
of the great people of our own time.] It is not surprising that
the man whose wife despises the duty of suckling her child should
despise its education. There is no more charming picture than
that of family life; but when one feature is wanting the whole is
marred. If the mother is too delicate to nurse her child, the father
will be too busy to teach him. Their children, scattered about
in schools, convents, and colleges, will find the home of their
affections elsewhere, or rather they will form the habit of oaring
for nothing. Brothers and sisters will scarcely know each other;
when they are together in company they will behave as strangers.
When there is no confidence between relations, when the family
society ceases to give savour to life, its place is soon usurped
by vice. Is there any man so stupid that he cannot see how all this
hangs together?

A father has done but a third of his task when he begets children
and provides a living for them. He owes men to humanity, citizens
to the state. A man who can pay this threefold debt and neglect to
do so is guilty, more guilty, perhaps, if he pays it in part than
when he neglects it entirely. He has no right to be a father if
he cannot fulfil a father's duties. Poverty, pressure of business,
mistaken social prejudices, none of these can excuse a man from his
duty, which is to support and educate his own children. If a man
of any natural feeling neglects these sacred duties he will repent
it with bitter tears and will never be comforted.

But what does this rich man do, this father of a family, compelled,
so he says, to neglect his children? He pays another man to perform
those duties which are his alone. Mercenary man! do you expect to
purchase a second father for your child? Do not deceive yourself;
it is not even a master you have hired for him, it is a flunkey,
who will soon train such another as himself.

There is much discussion as to the characteristics of a good
tutor. My first requirement, and it implies a good many more, is
that he should not take up his task for reward. There are callings
so great that they cannot be undertaken for money without showing
our unfitness for them; such callings are those of the soldier and
the teacher.

"But who must train my child?" "I have just told you, you should
do it yourself." "I cannot." "You cannot! Then find a friend. I
see no other course."

A tutor! What a noble soul! Indeed for the training of a man one
must either be a father or more than man. It is this duty you would
calmly hand over to a hireling!

The more you think of it the harder you will find it. The tutor
must have been trained for his pupil, his servants must have been
trained for their master, so that all who come near him may have
received the impression which is to be transmitted to him. We must
pass from education to education, I know not how far. How can a
child be well educated by one who has not been well educated himself!

Can such a one be found? I know not. In this age of degradation who
knows the height of virtue to which man's soul may attain? But let
us assume that this prodigy has been discovered. We shall learn
what he should be from the consideration of his duties. I fancy the
father who realises the value of a good tutor will contrive to do
without one, for it will be harder to find one than to become such
a tutor himself; he need search no further, nature herself having
done half the work.

Some one whose rank alone is known to me suggested that I should
educate his son. He did me a great honour, no doubt, but far from
regretting my refusal, he ought to congratulate himself on my
prudence. Had the offer been accepted, and had I been mistaken in
my method, there would have been an education ruined; had I succeeded,
things would have been worse--his son would have renounced his
title and refused to be a prince.

I feel too deeply the importance of a tutor's duties and my own
unfitness, ever to accept such a post, whoever offered it, and
even the claims of friendship would be only an additional motive
for my refusal. Few, I think, will be tempted to make me such an
offer when they have read this book, and I beg any one who would
do so to spare his pains. I have had enough experience of the task
to convince myself of my own unfitness, and my circumstances would
make it impossible, even if my talents were such as to fit me for
it. I have thought it my duty to make this public declaration to
those who apparently refuse to do me the honour of believing in
the sincerity of my determination. If I am unable to undertake the
more useful task, I will at least venture to attempt the easier
one; I will follow the example of my predecessors and take up, not
the task, but my pen; and instead of doing the right thing I will
try to say it.

I know that in such an undertaking the author, who ranges at will
among theoretical systems, utters many fine precepts impossible
to practise, and even when he says what is practicable it remains
undone for want of details and examples as to its application.

I have therefore decided to take an imaginary pupil, to assume on
my own part the age, health, knowledge, and talents required for
the work of his education, to guide him from birth to manhood, when
he needs no guide but himself. This method seems to me useful for
an author who fears lest he may stray from the practical to the
visionary; for as soon as he departs from common practice he has
only to try his method on his pupil; he will soon know, or the
reader will know for him, whether he is following the development
of the child and the natural growth of the human heart.

This is what I have tried to do. Lest my book should be unduly
bulky, I have been content to state those principles the truth of
which is self-evident. But as to the rules which call for proof, I
have applied them to Emile or to others, and I have shown, in very
great detail, how my theories may be put into practice. Such at
least is my plan; the reader must decide whether I have succeeded.
At first I have said little about Emile, for my earliest maxims
of education, though very different from those generally accepted,
are so plain that it is hard for a man of sense to refuse to accept
them, but as I advance, my scholar, educated after another fashion
than yours, is no longer an ordinary child, he needs a special
system. Then he appears upon the scene more frequently, and towards
the end I never lose sight of him for a moment, until, whatever he
may say, he needs me no longer.

I pass over the qualities required in a good tutor; I take them for
granted, and assume that I am endowed with them. As you read this
book you will see how generous I have been to myself.

I will only remark that, contrary to the received opinion, a child's
tutor should be young, as young indeed as a man may well be who
is also wise. Were it possible, he should become a child himself,
that he may be the companion of his pupil and win his confidence
by sharing his games. Childhood and age have too little in common
for the formation of a really firm affection. Children sometimes
flatter old men; they never love them.

People seek a tutor who has already educated one pupil. This is
too much; one man can only educate one pupil; if two were essential
to success, what right would he have to undertake the first? With
more experience you may know better what to do, but you are less
capable of doing it; once this task has been well done, you will
know too much of its difficulties to attempt it a second time--if
ill done, the first attempt augurs badly for the second.

It is one thing to follow a young man about for four years, another
to be his guide for five-and-twenty. You find a tutor for your son
when he is already formed; I want one for him before he is born.
Your man may change his pupil every five years; mine will never have
but one pupil. You distinguish between the teacher and the tutor.
Another piece of folly! Do you make any distinction between the
pupil and the scholar? There is only one science for children to
learn--the duties of man. This science is one, and, whatever Xenophon
may say of the education of the Persians, it is indivisible. Besides,
I prefer to call the man who has this knowledge master rather than
teacher, since it is a question of guidance rather than instruction.
He must not give precepts, he must let the scholar find them out
for himself.

If the master is to be so carefully chosen, he may well choose
his pupil, above all when he proposes to set a pattern for others.
This choice cannot depend on the child's genius or character, as I
adopt him before he is born, and they are only known when my task
is finished. If I had my choice I would take a child of ordinary
mind, such as I assume in my pupil. It is ordinary people who have
to be educated, and their education alone can serve as a pattern
for the education of their fellows. The others find their way alone.

The birthplace is not a matter of indifference in the education
of man; it is only in temperate climes that he comes to his full
growth. The disadvantages of extremes are easily seen. A man is
not planted in one place like a tree, to stay there the rest of
his life, and to pass from one extreme to another you must travel
twice as far as he who starts half-way.

If the inhabitant of a temperate climate passes in turn through both
extremes his advantage is plain, for although he may be changed as
much as he who goes from one extreme to the other, he only removes
half-way from his natural condition. A Frenchman can live in
New Guinea or in Lapland, but a negro cannot live in Tornea nor a
Samoyed in Benin. It seems also as if the brain were less perfectly
organised in the two extremes. Neither the negroes nor the Laps
are as wise as Europeans. So if I want my pupil to be a citizen of
the world I will choose him in the temperate zone, in France for
example, rather than elsewhere.

In the north with its barren soil men devour much food, in the
fertile south they eat little. This produces another difference: the
one is industrious, the other contemplative. Society shows us, in
one and the same spot, a similar difference between rich and poor.
The one dwells in a fertile land, the other in a barren land.

The poor man has no need of education. The education of his
own station in life is forced upon him, he can have no other; the
education received by the rich man from his own station is least
fitted for himself and for society. Moreover, a natural education
should fit a man for any position. Now it is more unreasonable
to train a poor man for wealth than a rich man for poverty, for
in proportion to their numbers more rich men are ruined and fewer
poor men become rich. Let us choose our scholar among the rich; we
shall at least have made another man; the poor may come to manhood
without our help.

For the same reason I should not be sorry if Emile came of a good
family. He will be another victim snatched from prejudice.

Emile is an orphan. No matter whether he has father or mother,
having undertaken their duties I am invested with their rights.
He must honour his parents, but he must obey me. That is my first
and only condition.

I must add that there is just one other point arising out of this;
we must never be separated except by mutual consent. This clause is
essential, and I would have tutor and scholar so inseparable that
they should regard their fate as one. If once they perceive the
time of their separation drawing near, the time which must make
them strangers to one another, they become strangers then and
there; each makes his own little world, and both of them being
busy in thought with the time when they will no longer be together,
they remain together against their will. The disciple regards his
master as the badge and scourge of childhood, the master regards
his scholar as a heavy burden which he longs to be rid of. Both
are looking forward to the time when they will part, and as there
is never any real affection between them, there will be scant
vigilance on the one hand, and on the other scant obedience.

But when they consider they must always live together, they must
needs love one another, and in this way they really learn to love
one another. The pupil is not ashamed to follow as a child the
friend who will be with him in manhood; the tutor takes an interest
in the efforts whose fruits he will enjoy, and the virtues he is
cultivating in his pupil form a store laid up for his old age.

This agreement made beforehand assumes a normal birth, a strong,
well-made, healthy child. A father has no choice, and should have
no preference within the limits of the family God has given him; all
his children are his alike, the same care and affection is due to
all. Crippled or well-made, weak or strong, each of them is a trust
for which he is responsible to the Giver, and nature is a party to
the marriage contract along with husband and wife.

But if you undertake a duty not imposed upon you by nature, you
must secure beforehand the means for its fulfilment, unless you
would undertake duties you cannot fulfil. If you take the care of
a sickly, unhealthy child, you are a sick nurse, not a tutor. To
preserve a useless life you are wasting the time which should be
spent in increasing its value, you risk the sight of a despairing
mother reproaching you for the death of her child, who ought to
have died long ago.

I would not undertake the care of a feeble, sickly child, should
he live to four score years. I want no pupil who is useless alike
to himself and others, one whose sole business is to keep himself
alive, one whose body is always a hindrance to the training of his
mind. If I vainly lavish my care upon him, what can I do but double
the loss to society by robbing it of two men, instead of one? Let
another tend this weakling for me; I am quite willing, I approve
his charity, but I myself have no gift for such a task; I could
never teach the art of living to one who needs all his strength to
keep himself alive.

The body must be strong enough to obey the mind; a good servant
must be strong. I know that intemperance stimulates the passions;
in course of time it also destroys the body; fasting and penance
often produce the same results in an opposite way. The weaker
the body, the more imperious its demands; the stronger it is, the
better it obeys. All sensual passions find their home in effeminate
bodies; the less satisfaction they can get the keener their sting.

A feeble body makes a feeble mind. Hence the influence of physic,
an art which does more harm to man than all the evils it professes
to cure. I do not know what the doctors cure us of, but I know
this: they infect us with very deadly diseases, cowardice, timidity,
credulity, the fear of death. What matter if they make the dead
walk, we have no need of corpses; they fail to give us men, and it
is men we need.

Medicine is all the fashion in these days, and very naturally. It
is the amusement of the idle and unemployed, who do not know what
to do with their time, and so spend it in taking care of themselves.
If by ill-luck they had happened to be born immortal, they would
have been the most miserable of men; a life they could not lose
would be of no value to them. Such men must have doctors to threaten
and flatter them, to give them the only pleasure they can enjoy,
the pleasure of not being dead.

I will say no more at present as to the uselessness of medicine. My
aim is to consider its bearings on morals. Still I cannot refrain
from saying that men employ the same sophism about medicine as
they do about the search for truth. They assume that the patient
is cured and that the seeker after truth finds it. They fail to see
that against one life saved by the doctors you must set a hundred
slain, and against the value of one truth discovered the errors
which creep in with it. The science which instructs and the medicine
which heals are no doubt excellent, but the science which misleads
us and the medicine which kills us are evil. Teach us to know
them apart. That is the real difficulty. If we were content to be
ignorant of truth we should not be the dupes of falsehood; if we
did not want to be cured in spite of nature, we should not be killed
by the doctors. We should do well to steer clear of both, and we
should evidently be the gainers. I do not deny that medicine is
useful to some men; I assert that it is fatal to mankind.

You will tell me, as usual, that the doctors are to blame, that
medicine herself is infallible. Well and good, then give us the
medicine without the doctor, for when we have both, the blunders of
the artist are a hundredfold greater than our hopes from the art.
This lying art, invented rather for the ills of the mind than
of the body, is useless to both alike; it does less to cure us of
our diseases than to fill us with alarm. It does less to ward off
death than to make us dread its approach. It exhausts life rather
than prolongs it; should it even prolong life it would only be to
the prejudice of the race, since it makes us set its precautions
before society and our fears before our duties. It is the knowledge
of danger that makes us afraid. If we thought ourselves invulnerable
we should know no fear. The poet armed Achilles against danger and
so robbed him of the merit of courage; on such terms any man would
be an Achilles.

Would you find a really brave man? Seek him where there are no
doctors, where the results of disease are unknown, and where death
is little thought of. By nature a man bears pain bravely and dies
in peace. It is the doctors with their rules, the philosophers with
their precepts, the priests with their exhortations, who debase
the heart and make us afraid to die.

Give me a pupil who has no need of these, or I will have nothing
to do with him. No one else shall spoil my work, I will educate him
myself or not at all. That wise man, Locke, who had devoted part
of his life to the study of medicine, advises us to give no drugs
to the child, whether as a precaution, or on account of slight
ailments. I will go farther, and will declare that, as I never
call in a doctor for myself, I will never send for one for Emile,
unless his life is clearly in danger, when the doctor can but kill

I know the doctor will make capital out of my delay. If the child
dies, he was called in too late; if he recovers, it is his doing.
So be it; let the doctor boast, but do not call him in except in

As the child does not know how to be cured, he knows how to be
ill. The one art takes the place of the other and is often more
successful; it is the art of nature. When a beast is ill, it keeps
quiet and suffers in silence; but we see fewer sickly animals than
sick men. How many men have been slain by impatience, fear, anxiety,
and above all by medicine, men whom disease would have spared,
and time alone have cured. I shall be told that animals, who live
according to nature, are less liable to disease than ourselves.
Well, that way of living is just what I mean to teach my pupil; he
should profit by it in the same way.

Hygiene is the only useful part of medicine, and hygiene is rather
a virtue than a science. Temperance and industry are man's true
remedies; work sharpens his appetite and temperance teaches him to
control it.

To learn what system is most beneficial you have only to study
those races remarkable for health, strength, and length of days. If
common observation shows us that medicine neither increases health
nor prolongs life, it follows that this useless art is worse than
useless, since it wastes time, men, and things on what is pure
loss. Not only must we deduct the time spent, not in using life,
but preserving it, but if this time is spent in tormenting ourselves
it is worse than wasted, it is so much to the bad, and to reckon
fairly a corresponding share must be deducted from what remains to
us. A man who lives ten years for himself and others without the
help of doctors lives more for himself and others than one who
spends thirty years as their victim. I have tried both, so I think
I have a better right than most to draw my own conclusions.

For these reasons I decline to take any but a strong and healthy
pupil, and these are my principles for keeping him in health. I will
not stop to prove at length the value of manual labour and bodily
exercise for strengthening the health and constitution; no one
denies it. Nearly all the instances of long life are to be found
among the men who have taken most exercise, who have endured fatigue
and labour. [Footnote: I cannot help quoting the following passage
from an English newspaper, as it throws much light on my opinions:
"A certain Patrick O'Neil, born in 1647, has just married his seventh
wife in 1760. In the seventeenth year of Charles II. he served in
the dragoons and in other regiments up to 1740, when he took his
discharge. He served in all the campaigns of William III. and
Marlborough. This man has never drunk anything but small beer; he
has always lived on vegetables, and has never eaten meat except on
few occasions when he made a feast for his relations. He has always
been accustomed to rise with the sun and go to bed at sunset unless
prevented by his military duties. He is now in his 130th year;
he is healthy, his hearing is good, and he walks with the help
of a stick. In spite of his great age he is never idle, and every
Sunday he goes to his parish church accompanied by his children,
grandchildren, and great grandchildren."] Neither will I enter
into details as to the care I shall take for this alone. It will
be clear that it forms such an essential part of my practice that
it is enough to get hold of the idea without further explanation.

When our life begins our needs begin too. The new-born infant must
have a nurse. If his mother will do her duty, so much the better;
her instructions will be given her in writing, but this advantage
has its drawbacks, it removes the tutor from his charge. But it
is to be hoped that the child's own interests, and her respect for
the person to whom she is about to confide so precious a treasure,
will induce the mother to follow the master's wishes, and whatever
she does you may be sure she will do better than another. If we
must have a strange nurse, make a good choice to begin with.

It is one of the misfortunes of the rich to be cheated on all sides;
what wonder they think ill of mankind! It is riches that corrupt
men, and the rich are rightly the first to feel the defects of the
only tool they know. Everything is ill-done for them, except what
they do themselves, and they do next to nothing. When a nurse must
be selected the choice is left to the doctor. What happens? The
best nurse is the one who offers the highest bribe. I shall not
consult the doctor about Emile's nurse, I shall take care to choose
her myself. I may not argue about it so elegantly as the surgeon,
but I shall be more reliable, I shall be less deceived by my zeal
than the doctor by his greed.

There is no mystery about this choice; its rules are well known,
but I think we ought probably to pay more attention to the age of
the milk as well as its quality. The first milk is watery, it must
be almost an aperient, to purge the remains of the meconium curdled
in the bowels of the new-born child. Little by little the milk
thickens and supplies more solid food as the child is able to
digest it. It is surely not without cause that nature changes the
milk in the female of every species according to the age of the

Thus a new-born child requires a nurse who has recently become mother.
There is, I know, a difficulty here, but as soon as we leave the
path of nature there are difficulties in the way of all well-doing.
The wrong course is the only right one under the circumstances, so
we take it.

The nurse must be healthy alike in disposition and in body. The
violence of the passions as well as the humours may spoil her milk.
Moreover, to consider the body only is to keep only half our aim
in view. The milk may be good and the nurse bad; a good character
is as necessary as a good constitution. If you choose a vicious
person, I do not say her foster-child will acquire her vices, but
he will suffer for them. Ought she not to bestow on him day by
day, along with her milk, a care which calls for zeal, patience,
gentleness, and cleanliness. If she is intemperate and greedy her
milk will soon be spoilt; if she is careless and hasty what will
become of a poor little wretch left to her mercy, and unable either
to protect himself or to complain. The wicked are never good for

The choice is all the more important because her foster-child should
have no other guardian, just as he should have no teacher but his
tutor. This was the custom of the ancients, who talked less but
acted more wisely than we. The nurse never left her foster-daughter;
this is why the nurse is the confidante in most of their plays.
A child who passes through many hands in turn, can never be well
brought up.

At every change he makes a secret comparison, which continually
tends to lessen his respect for those who control him, and with
it their authority over him. If once he thinks there are grown-up
people with no more sense than children the authority of age
is destroyed and his education is ruined. A child should know no
betters but its father and mother, or failing them its foster-mother
and its tutor, and even this is one too many, but this division is
inevitable, and the best that can be done in the way of remedy is
that the man and woman who control him shall be so well agreed with
regard to him that they seem like one.

The nurse must live rather more comfortably, she must have rather
more substantial food, but her whole way of living must not
be altered, for a sudden change, even a change for the better, is
dangerous to health, and since her usual way of life has made her
healthy and strong, why change it?

Country women eat less meat and more vegetables than towns-women,
and this vegetarian diet seems favourable rather than otherwise to
themselves and their children. When they take nurslings from the
upper classes they eat meat and broth with the idea that they will
form better chyle and supply more milk. I do not hold with this
at all, and experience is on my side, for we do not find children
fed in this way less liable to colic and worms.

That need not surprise us, for decaying animal matter swarms with
worms, but this is not the case with vegetable matter. [Footnote:
Women eat bread, vegetables, and dairy produce; female dogs and
cats do the same; the she-wolves eat grass. This supplies vegetable
juices to their milk. There are still those species which are
unable to eat anything but flesh, if such there are, which I very
much doubt.] Milk, although manufactured in the body of an animal,
is a vegetable substance; this is shown by analysis; it readily
turns acid, and far from showing traces of any volatile alkali like
animal matter, it gives a neutral salt like plants.

The milk of herbivorous creatures is sweeter and more wholesome than
the milk of the carnivorous; formed of a substance similar to its
own, it keeps its goodness and becomes less liable to putrifaction.
If quantity is considered, it is well known that farinaceous foods
produce more blood than meat, so they ought to yield more milk. If
a child were not weaned too soon, and if it were fed on vegetarian
food, and its foster-mother were a vegetarian, I do not think it
would be troubled with worms.

Milk derived from vegetable foods may perhaps be more liable to go
sour, but I am far from considering sour milk an unwholesome food;
whole nations have no other food and are none the worse, and all the
array of absorbents seems to me mere humbug. There are constitutions
which do not thrive on milk, others can take it without absorbents.
People are afraid of the milk separating or curdling; that is
absurd, for we know that milk always curdles in the stomach. This
is how it becomes sufficiently solid to nourish children and young
animals; if it did not curdle it would merely pass away without
feeding them. [Footnote: Although the juices which nourish us are
liquid, they must be extracted from solids. A hard-working man who
ate nothing but soup would soon waste away. He would be far better
fed on milk, just because it curdles.] In vain you dilute milk and
use absorbents; whoever swallows milk digests cheese, this rule is
without exception; rennet is made from a calf's stomach.

Instead of changing the nurse's usual diet, I think it would be
enough to give food in larger quantities and better of its kind.
It is not the nature of the food that makes a vegetable diet
indigestible, but the flavouring that makes it unwholesome. Reform
your cookery, use neither butter nor oil for frying. Butter, salt,
and milk should never be cooked. Let your vegetables be cooked
in water and only seasoned when they come to table. The vegetable
diet, far from disturbing the nurse, will give her a plentiful
supply of milk. [Footnote: Those who wish to study a full account
of the advantages and disadvantages of the Pythagorean regime, may
consult the works of Dr. Cocchi and his opponent Dr. Bianchi on
this important subject.] If a vegetable diet is best for the child,
how can meat food be best for his nurse? The things are contradictory.

Fresh air affects children's constitutions, particularly in early
years. It enters every pore of a soft and tender skin, it has
a powerful effect on their young bodies. Its effects can never
be destroyed. So I should not agree with those who take a country
woman from her village and shut her up in one room in a town and
her nursling with her. I would rather send him to breathe the fresh
air of the country than the foul air of the town. He will take his
new mother's position, will live in her cottage, where his tutor
will follow him. The reader will bear in mind that this tutor is
not a paid servant, but the father's friend. But if this friend
cannot be found, if this transfer is not easy, if none of my advice
can be followed, you will say to me, "What shall I do instead?" I
have told you already--"Do what you are doing;" no advice is needed

Men are not made to be crowded together in ant-hills, but scattered
over the earth to till it. The more they are massed together, the
more corrupt they become. Disease and vice are the sure results of
over-crowded cities. Of all creatures man is least fitted to live
in herds. Huddled together like sheep, men would very soon die.
Man's breath is fatal to his fellows. This is literally as well as
figuratively true.

Men are devoured by our towns. In a few generations the race dies
out or becomes degenerate; it needs renewal, and it is always
renewed from the country. Send your children to renew themselves,
so to speak, send them to regain in the open fields the strength
lost in the foul air of our crowded cities. Women hurry home that
their children may be born in the town; they ought to do just the
opposite, especially those who mean to nurse their own children. They
would lose less than they think, and in more natural surroundings
the pleasures associated by nature with maternal duties would soon
destroy the taste for other delights.

The new-born infant is first bathed in warm water to which a little
wine is usually added. I think the wine might be dispensed with.
As nature does not produce fermented liquors, it is not likely that
they are of much value to her creatures.

In the same way it is unnecessary to take the precaution of heating
the water; in fact among many races the new-born infants are bathed
with no more ado in rivers or in the sea. Our children, made tender
before birth by the softness of their parents, come into the world
with a constitution already enfeebled, which cannot be at once
exposed to all the trials required to restore it to health. Little
by little they must be restored to their natural vigour. Begin then
by following this custom, and leave it off gradually. Wash your
children often, their dirty ways show the need of this. If they
are only wiped their skin is injured; but as they grow stronger
gradually reduce the heat of the water, till at last you bathe them
winter and summer in cold, even in ice-cold water. To avoid risk
this change must be slow, gradual, and imperceptible, so you may
use the thermometer for exact measurements.

This habit of the bath, once established, should never be broken
off, it must be kept up all through life. I value it not only on
grounds of cleanliness and present health, but also as a wholesome
means of making the muscles supple, and accustoming them to bear
without risk or effort extremes of heat and cold. As he gets older
I would have the child trained to bathe occasionally in hot water
of every bearable degree, and often in every degree of cold water.
Now water being a denser fluid touches us at more points than air,
so that, having learnt to bear all the variations of temperature in
water, we shall scarcely feel this of the air. [Footnote: Children
in towns are stifled by being kept indoors and too much wrapped
up. Those who control them have still to learn that fresh air,
far from doing them harm, will make them strong, while hot air will
make them weak, will give rise to fevers, and will eventually kill

When the child draws its first breath do not confine it in tight
wrappings. No cap, no bandages, nor swaddling clothes. Loose and
flowing flannel wrappers, which leave its limbs free and are not too
heavy to check his movements, not too warm to prevent his feeling
the air. [Footnote: I say "cradle" using the common word for want
of a better, though I am convinced that it is never necessary
and often harmful to rock children in the cradle.] Put him in a
big cradle, well padded, where he can move easily and safely. As
he begins to grow stronger, let him crawl about the room; let him
develop and stretch his tiny limbs; you will see him gain strength
from day to day. Compare him with a well swaddled child of the same
age and you will be surprised at their different rates of progress.
[Footnote: The ancient Peruvians wrapped their children in loose
swaddling bands, leaving the arms quite free. Later they placed
them unswaddled in a hole in the ground, lined with cloths, so that
the lower part of the body was in the hole, and their arms were
free and they could move the head and bend the body at will without
falling or hurting themselves. When they began to walk they were
enticed to come to the breast. The little negroes are often in a
position much more difficult for sucking. They cling to the mother's
hip, and cling so tightly that the mother's arm is often not needed
to support them. They clasp the breast with their hand and continue
sucking while their mother goes on with her ordinary work. These
children begin to walk at two months, or rather to crawl. Later on
they can run on all fours almost as well as on their feet.--Buffon.
M. Buffon might also have quoted the example of England, where
the senseless and barbarous swaddling clothes have become almost
obsolete. Cf. La Longue Voyage de Siam, Le Beau Voyage de Canada,

You must expect great opposition from the nurses, who find a half
strangled baby needs much less watching. Besides his dirtyness is
more perceptible in an open garment; he must be attended to more
frequently. Indeed, custom is an unanswerable argument in some
lands and among all classes of people.

Do not argue with the nurses; give your orders, see them carried
out, and spare no pains to make the attention you prescribe easy in
practice. Why not take your share in it? With ordinary nurslings,
where the body alone is thought of, nothing matters so long as the
child lives and does not actually die, but with us, when education
begins with life, the new-born child is already a disciple, not
of his tutor, but of nature. The tutor merely studies under this
master, and sees that his orders are not evaded. He watches over
the infant, he observes it, he looks for the first feeble glimmering
of intelligence, as the Moslem looks for the moment of the moon's
rising in her first quarter.

We are born capable of learning, but knowing nothing, perceiving
nothing. The mind, bound up within imperfect and half grown organs,
is not even aware of its own existence. The movements and cries of
the new-born child are purely reflex, without knowledge or will.

Suppose a child born with the size and strength of manhood, entering
upon life full grown like Pallas from the brain of Jupiter; such a
child-man would be a perfect idiot, an automaton, a statue without
motion and almost without feeling; he would see and hear nothing,
he would recognise no one, he could not turn his eyes towards what
he wanted to see; not only would he perceive no external object,
he would not even be aware of sensation through the several
sense-organs. His eye would not perceive colour, his ear sounds,
his body would be unaware of contact with neighbouring bodies, he
would not even know he had a body, what his hands handled would
be in his brain alone; all his sensations would be united in one
place, they would exist only in the common "sensorium," he would
have only one idea, that of self, to which he would refer all his
sensations; and this idea, or rather this feeling, would be the
only thing in which he excelled an ordinary child.

This man, full grown at birth, would also be unable to stand on his
feet, he would need a long time to learn how to keep his balance;
perhaps he would not even be able to try to do it, and you would
see the big strong body left in one place like a stone, or creeping
and crawling like a young puppy.

He would feel the discomfort of bodily needs without knowing what
was the matter and without knowing how to provide for these needs.
There is no immediate connection between the muscles of the stomach
and those of the arms and legs to make him take a step towards
food, or stretch a hand to seize it, even were he surrounded with
it; and as his body would be full grown and his limbs well developed
he would be without the perpetual restlessness and movement
of childhood, so that he might die of hunger without stirring
to seek food. However little you may have thought about the order
and development of our knowledge, you cannot deny that such a one
would be in the state of almost primitive ignorance and stupidity
natural to man before he has learnt anything from experience or
from his fellows.

We know then, or we may know, the point of departure from which
we each start towards the usual level of understanding; but who
knows the other extreme? Each progresses more or less according to
his genius, his taste, his needs, his talents, his zeal, and his
opportunities for using them. No philosopher, so far as I know,
has dared to say to man, "Thus far shalt thou go and no further."
We know not what nature allows us to be, none of us has measured
the possible difference between man and man. Is there a mind so
dead that this thought has never kindled it, that has never said
in his pride, "How much have I already done, how much more may I
achieve? Why should I lag behind my fellows?"

As I said before, man's education begins at birth; before he can
speak or understand he is learning. Experience precedes instruction;
when he recognises his nurse he has learnt much. The knowledge
of the most ignorant man would surprise us if we had followed his
course from birth to the present time. If all human knowledge were
divided into two parts, one common to all, the other peculiar to
the learned, the latter would seem very small compared with the
former. But we scarcely heed this general experience, because
it is acquired before the age of reason. Moreover, knowledge only
attracts attention by its rarity, as in algebraic equations common
factors count for nothing. Even animals learn much. They have
senses and must learn to use them; they have needs, they must learn
to satisfy them; they must learn to eat, walk, or fly. Quadrupeds
which can stand on their feet from the first cannot walk for all
that; from their first attempts it is clear that they lack confidence.
Canaries who escape from their cage are unable to fly, having never
used their wings. Living and feeling creatures are always learning.
If plants could walk they would need senses and knowledge, else
their species would die out. The child's first mental experiences are
purely affective, he is only aware of pleasure and pain; it takes
him a long time to acquire the definite sensations which show
him things outside himself, but before these things present and
withdraw themselves, so to speak, from his sight, taking size and
shape for him, the recurrence of emotional experiences is beginning to
subject the child to the rule of habit. You see his eyes constantly
follow the light, and if the light comes from the side the eyes turn
towards it, so that one must be careful to turn his head towards
the light lest he should squint. He must also be accustomed from the
first to the dark, or he will cry if he misses the light. Food and
sleep, too, exactly measured, become necessary at regular intervals,
and soon desire is no longer the effect of need, but of habit, or
rather habit adds a fresh need to those of nature. You must be on
your guard against this.

The only habit the child should be allowed to contract is that
of having no habits; let him be carried on either arm, let him be
accustomed to offer either hand, to use one or other indifferently;
let him not want to eat, sleep, or do anything at fixed hours, nor
be unable to be left alone by day or night. Prepare the way for
his control of his liberty and the use of his strength by leaving
his body its natural habit, by making him capable of lasting
self-control, of doing all that he wills when his will is formed.

As soon as the child begins to take notice, what is shown him
must be carefully chosen. The natural man is interested in all new
things. He feels so feeble that he fears the unknown: the habit of
seeing fresh things without ill effects destroys this fear. Children
brought up in clean houses where there are no spiders are afraid
of spiders, and this fear often lasts through life. I never saw
peasants, man, woman, or child, afraid of spiders.

Since the mere choice of things shown him may make the child timid
or brave, why should not his education begin before he can speak
or understand? I would have him accustomed to see fresh things,
ugly, repulsive, and strange beasts, but little by little, and far
off till he is used to them, and till having seen others handle
them he handles them himself. If in childhood he sees toads, snakes,
and crayfish, he will not be afraid of any animal when he is grown
up. Those who are continually seeing terrible things think nothing
of them.

All children are afraid of masks. I begin by showing Emile a mask
with a pleasant face, then some one puts this mask before his face;
I begin to laugh, they all laugh too, and the child with them. By
degrees I accustom him to less pleasing masks, and at last hideous
ones. If I have arranged my stages skilfully, far from being afraid
of the last mask, he will laugh at it as he did at the first. After
that I am not afraid of people frightening him with masks.

When Hector bids farewell to Andromache, the young Astyanax, startled
by the nodding plumes on the helmet, does not know his father; he
flings himself weeping upon his nurse's bosom and wins from his
mother a smile mingled with tears. What must be done to stay this
terror? Just what Hector did; put the helmet on the ground and
caress the child. In a calmer moment one would do more; one would
go up to the helmet, play with the plumes, let the child feel them;
at last the nurse would take the helmet and place it laughingly
on her own head, if indeed a woman's hand dare touch the armour of

If Emile must get used to the sound of a gun, I first fire a pistol
with a small charge. He is delighted with this sudden flash, this
sort of lightning; I repeat the process with more powder; gradually
I add a small charge without a wad, then a larger; in the end I
accustom him to the sound of a gun, to fireworks, cannon, and the
most terrible explosions.

I have observed that children are rarely afraid of thunder unless
the peals are really terrible and actually hurt the ear, otherwise
this fear only comes to them when they know that thunder sometimes
hurts or kills. When reason begins to cause fear, let use reassure
them. By slow and careful stages man and child learn to fear nothing.

In the dawn of life, when memory and imagination have not begun to
function, the child only attends to what affects its senses. His
sense experiences are the raw material of thought; they should,
therefore, be presented to him in fitting order, so that memory may
at a future time present them in the same order to his understanding;
but as he only attends to his sensations it is enough, at first,
to show him clearly the connection between these sensations and the
things which cause them. He wants to touch and handle everything;
do not check these movements which teach him invaluable lessons.
Thus he learns to perceive the heat, cold, hardness, softness,
weight, or lightness of bodies, to judge their size and shape and
all their physical properties, by looking, feeling, [Footnote: Of
all the senses that of smell is the latest to develop in children
up to two or three years of age they appear to be insensible of
pleasant or unpleasant odours; in this respect they are as indifferent
or rather as insensible as many animals.] listening, and, above
all, by comparing sight and touch, by judging with the eye what
sensation they would cause to his hand.

It is only by movement that we learn the difference between self
and not self; it is only by our own movements that we gain the idea
of space. The child has not this idea, so he stretches out his hand
to seize the object within his reach or that which is a hundred
paces from him. You take this as a sign of tyranny, an attempt to
bid the thing draw near, or to bid you bring it. Nothing of the
kind, it is merely that the object first seen in his brain, then
before his eyes, now seems close to his arms, and he has no idea of
space beyond his reach. Be careful, therefore, to take him about,
to move him from place to place, and to let him perceive the change
in his surroundings, so as to teach him to judge of distances.

When he begins to perceive distances then you must change your
plan, and only carry him when you please, not when he pleases; for
as soon as he is no longer deceived by his senses, there is another
motive for his effort. This change is remarkable and calls for

The discomfort caused by real needs is shown by signs, when the
help of others is required. Hence the cries of children; they often
cry; it must be so. Since they are only conscious of feelings, when
those feelings are pleasant they enjoy them in silence; when they
are painful they say so in their own way and demand relief. Now
when they are awake they can scarcely be in a state of indifference,
either they are asleep or else they are feeling something.

All our languages are the result of art. It has long been a subject
of inquiry whether there ever was a natural language common to all;
no doubt there is, and it is the language of children before they
begin to speak. This language is inarticulate, but it has tone,
stress, and meaning. The use of our own language has led us to
neglect it so far as to forget it altogether. Let us study children
and we shall soon learn it afresh from them. Nurses can teach us
this language; they understand all their nurslings say to them, they
answer them, and keep up long conversations with them; and though
they use words, these words are quite useless. It is not the hearing
of the word, but its accompanying intonation that is understood.

To the language of intonation is added the no less forcible language
of gesture. The child uses, not its weak hands, but its face. The
amount of expression in these undeveloped faces is extraordinary;
their features change from one moment to another with incredible
speed. You see smiles, desires, terror, come and go like lightning;
every time the face seems different. The muscles of the face are
undoubtedly more mobile than our own. On the other hand the eyes
are almost expressionless. Such must be the sort of signs they use
at an age when their only needs are those of the body. Grimaces
are the sign of sensation, the glance expresses sentiment.

As man's first state is one of want and weakness, his first sounds
are cries and tears. The child feels his needs and cannot satisfy
them, he begs for help by his cries. Is he hungry or thirsty? there
are tears; is he too cold or too hot? more tears; he needs movement
and is kept quiet, more tears; he wants to sleep and is disturbed,
he weeps. The less comfortable he is, the more he demands change.
He has only one language because he has, so to say, only one kind
of discomfort. In the imperfect state of his sense organs he does
not distinguish their several impressions; all ills produce one
feeling of sorrow.

These tears, which you think so little worthy of your attention,
give rise to the first relation between man and his environment;
here is forged the first link in the long chain of social order.

When the child cries he is uneasy, he feels some need which he
cannot satisfy; you watch him, seek this need, find it, and satisfy
it. If you can neither find it nor satisfy it, the tears continue
and become tiresome. The child is petted to quiet him, he is rocked
or sung to sleep; if he is obstinate, the nurse becomes impatient
and threatens him; cruel nurses sometimes strike him. What strange
lessons for him at his first entrance into life!

I shall never forget seeing one of these troublesome crying children
thus beaten by his nurse. He was silent at once. I thought he was
frightened, and said to myself, "This will be a servile being from
whom nothing can be got but by harshness." I was wrong, the poor
wretch was choking with rage, he could not breathe, he was black
in the face. A moment later there were bitter cries, every sign
of the anger, rage, and despair of this age was in his tones.
I thought he would die. Had I doubted the innate sense of justice
and injustice in man's heart, this one instance would have convinced
me. I am sure that a drop of boiling liquid falling by chance on
that child's hand would have hurt him less than that blow, slight
in itself, but clearly given with the intention of hurting him.

This tendency to anger, vexation, and rage needs great care.
Boerhaave thinks that most of the diseases of children are of the
nature of convulsions, because the head being larger in proportion
and the nervous system more extensive than in adults, they are
more liable to nervous irritation. Take the greatest care to remove
from them any servants who tease, annoy, or vex them. They are a
hundredfold more dangerous and more fatal than fresh air and changing
seasons. When children only experience resistance in things and never
in the will of man, they do not become rebellious or passionate,
and their health is better. This is one reason why the children of
the poor, who are freer and more independent, are generally less
frail and weakly, more vigorous than those who are supposed to be
better brought up by being constantly thwarted; but you must always
remember that it is one thing to refrain from thwarting them, but
quite another to obey them. The child's first tears are prayers,
beware lest they become commands; he begins by asking for aid, he
ends by demanding service. Thus from his own weakness, the source
of his first consciousness of dependence, springs the later idea of
rule and tyranny; but as this idea is aroused rather by his needs
than by our services, we begin to see moral results whose causes
are not in nature; thus we see how important it is, even at the
earliest age, to discern the secret meaning of the gesture or cry.

When the child tries to seize something without speaking, he
thinks he can reach the object, for he does not rightly judge its
distance; when he cries and stretches out his hands he no longer
misjudges the distance, he bids the object approach, or orders you
to bring it to him. In the first case bring it to him slowly; in
the second do not even seem to hear his cries. The more he cries
the less you should heed him. He must learn in good time not to
give commands to men, for he is not their master, nor to things,
for they cannot hear him. Thus when the child wants something you
mean to give him, it is better to carry him to it rather than to
bring the thing to him. From this he will draw a conclusion suited
to his age, and there is no other way of suggesting it to him.

The Abbe Saint-Pierre calls men big children; one might also call
children little men. These statements are true, but they require
explanation. But when Hobbes calls the wicked a strong child,
his statement is contradicted by facts. All wickedness comes from
weakness. The child is only naughty because he is weak; make him
strong and he will be good; if we could do everything we should
never do wrong. Of all the attributes of the Almighty, goodness is
that which it would be hardest to dissociate from our conception
of Him. All nations who have acknowledged a good and an evil power,
have always regarded the evil as inferior to the good; otherwise
their opinion would have been absurd. Compare this with the creed
of the Savoyard clergyman later on in this book.

Reason alone teaches us to know good and evil. Therefore conscience,
which makes us love the one and hate the other, though it is
independent of reason, cannot develop without it. Before the age
of reason we do good or ill without knowing it, and there is no
morality in our actions, although there is sometimes in our feeling
with regard to other people's actions in relation to ourselves. A
child wants to overturn everything he sees. He breaks and smashes
everything he can reach; he seizes a bird as he seizes a stone,
and strangles it without knowing what he is about.

Why so? In the first place philosophy will account for this by
inbred sin, man's pride, love of power, selfishness, spite; perhaps
it will say in addition to this that the child's consciousness of
his own weakness makes him eager to use his strength, to convince
himself of it. But watch that broken down old man reduced in the
downward course of life to the weakness of a child; not only is he
quiet and peaceful, he would have all about him quiet and peaceful
too; the least change disturbs and troubles him, he would like to
see universal calm. How is it possible that similar feebleness and
similar passions should produce such different effects in age and
in infancy, if the original cause were not different? And where can
we find this difference in cause except in the bodily condition of
the two. The active principle, common to both, is growing in one
case and declining in the other; it is being formed in the one
and destroyed in the other; one is moving towards life, the other
towards death. The failing activity of the old man is centred in his
heart, the child's overflowing activity spreads abroad. He feels,
if we may say so, strong enough to give life to all about him. To
make or to destroy, it is all one to him; change is what he seeks,
and all change involves action. If he seems to enjoy destructive
activity it is only that it takes time to make things and very
little time to break them, so that the work of destruction accords
better with his eagerness.

While the Author of nature has given children this activity, He
takes care that it shall do little harm by giving them small power
to use it. But as soon as they can think of people as tools to be
used, they use them to carry out their wishes and to supplement
their own weakness. This is how they become tiresome, masterful,
imperious, naughty, and unmanageable; a development which does not
spring from a natural love of power, but one which has been taught
them, for it does not need much experience to realise how pleasant
it is to set others to work and to move the world by a word.

As the child grows it gains strength and becomes less restless and
unquiet and more independent. Soul and body become better balanced
and nature no longer asks for more movement than is required for
self-preservation. But the love of power does not die with the need
that aroused it; power arouses and flatters self-love, and habit
strengthens it; thus caprice follows upon need, and the first seeds
of prejudice and obstinacy are sown.

FIRST MAXIM.--Far from being too strong, children are not strong
enough for all the claims of nature. Give them full use of such
strength as they have; they will not abuse it.

SECOND MAXIM.--Help them and supply the experience and strength
they lack whenever the need is of the body.

THIRD MAXIM.--In the help you give them confine yourself to what is
really needful, without granting anything to caprice or unreason;
for they will not be tormented by caprice if you do not call it
into existence, seeing it is no part of nature.

FOURTH MAXIM--Study carefully their speech and gestures, so that
at an age when they are incapable of deceit you may discriminate
between those desires which come from nature and those which spring
from perversity.

The spirit of these rules is to give children more real liberty and
less power, to let them do more for themselves and demand less of
others; so that by teaching them from the first to confine their
wishes within the limits of their powers they will scarcely feel
the want of whatever is not in their power.

This is another very important reason for leaving children's limbs
and bodies perfectly free, only taking care that they do not fall,
and keeping anything that might hurt them out of their way.

The child whose body and arms are free will certainly cry much
less than a child tied up in swaddling clothes. He who knows only
bodily needs, only cries when in pain; and this is a great advantage,
for then we know exactly when he needs help, and if possible we
should not delay our help for an instant. But if you cannot relieve
his pain, stay where you are and do not flatter him by way of
soothing him; your caresses will not cure his colic, but he will
remember what he must do to win them; and if he once finds out
how to gain your attention at will, he is your master; the whole
education is spoilt.

Their movements being less constrained, children will cry less;
less wearied with their tears, people will not take so much trouble
to check them. With fewer threats and promises, they will be less
timid and less obstinate, and will remain more nearly in their
natural state. Ruptures are produced less by letting children cry
than by the means taken to stop them, and my evidence for this is
the fact that the most neglected children are less liable to them
than others. I am very far from wishing that they should be neglected;
on the contrary, it is of the utmost importance that their wants
should be anticipated, so that they need not proclaim their wants
by crying. But neither would I have unwise care bestowed on them.
Why should they think it wrong to cry when they find they can get
so much by it? When they have learned the value of their silence they
take good care not to waste it. In the end they will so exaggerate
its importance that no one will be able to pay its price; then worn
out with crying they become exhausted, and are at length silent.

Prolonged crying on the part of a child neither swaddled nor out
of health, a child who lacks nothing, is merely the result of habit
or obstinacy. Such tears are no longer the work of nature, but the
work of the child's nurse, who could not resist its importunity
and so has increased it, without considering that while she quiets
the child to-day she is teaching him to cry louder to-morrow.

Moreover, when caprice or obstinacy is the cause of their tears,
there is a sure way of stopping them by distracting their attention
by some pleasant or conspicuous object which makes them forget that
they want to cry. Most nurses excel in this art, and rightly used
it is very useful; but it is of the utmost importance that the
child should not perceive that you mean to distract his attention,
and that he should be amused without suspecting you are thinking
about him; now this is what most nurses cannot do.

Most children are weaned too soon. The time to wean them is when
they cut their teeth. This generally causes pain and suffering. At
this time the child instinctively carries everything he gets hold
of to his mouth to chew it. To help forward this process he is given
as a plaything some hard object such as ivory or a wolf's tooth.
I think this is a mistake. Hard bodies applied to the gums do not
soften them; far from it, they make the process of cutting the
teeth more difficult and painful. Let us always take instinct as
our guide; we never see puppies practising their budding teeth on
pebbles, iron, or bones, but on wood, leather, rags, soft materials
which yield to their jaws, and on which the tooth leaves its mark.

We can do nothing simply, not even for our children. Toys of
silver, gold, coral, cut crystal, rattles of every price and kind;
what vain and useless appliances. Away with them all! Let us have
no corals or rattles; a small branch of a tree with its leaves and
fruit, a stick of liquorice which he may suck and chew, will amuse
him as well as these splendid trifles, and they will have this
advantage at least, he will not be brought up to luxury from his

It is admitted that pap is not a very wholesome food. Boiled milk
and uncooked flour cause gravel and do not suit the stomach. In
pap the flour is less thoroughly cooked than in bread and it has
not fermented. I think bread and milk or rice-cream are better. If
you will have pap, the flour should be lightly cooked beforehand.
In my own country they make a very pleasant and wholesome soup from
flour thus heated. Meat-broth or soup is not a very suitable food
and should be used as little as possible. The child must first get
used to chewing his food; this is the right way to bring the teeth
through, and when the child begins to swallow, the saliva mixed
with the food helps digestion.

I would have them first chew dried fruit or crusts. I should give
them as playthings little bits of dry bread or biscuits, like
the Piedmont bread, known in the country as "grisses." By dint of
softening this bread in the mouth some of it is eventually swalloed
the teeth come through of themselves, and the child is weaned
almost imperceptibly. Peasants have usually very good digestions,
and they are weaned with no more ado.

From the very first children hear spoken language; we speak to
them before they can understand or even imitate spoken sounds. The
vocal organs are still stiff, and only gradually lend themselves to
the reproduction of the sounds heard; it is even doubtful whether
these sounds are heard distinctly as we hear them. The nurse may
amuse the child with songs and with very merry and varied intonation,
but I object to her bewildering the child with a multitude of
vain words of which it understands nothing but her tone of voice.
I would have the first words he hears few in number, distinctly
and often repeated, while the words themselves should be related to
things which can first be shown to the child. That fatal facility
in the use of words we do not understand begins earlier than we
think. In the schoolroom the scholar listens to the verbiage of his
master as he listened in the cradle to the babble of his nurse. I
think it would be a very useful education to leave him in ignorance
of both.

All sorts of ideas crowd in upon us when we try to consider the
development of speech and the child's first words. Whatever we
do they all learn to talk in the same way, and all philosophical
speculations are utterly useless.

To begin with, they have, so to say, a grammar of their own, whose
rules and syntax are more general than our own; if you attend
carefully you will be surprised to find how exactly they follow
certain analogies, very much mistaken if you like, but very regular;
these forms are only objectionable because of their harshness or
because they are not recognised by custom. I have just heard a child
severely scolded by his father for saying, "Mon pere, irai-je-t-y?"
Now we see that this child was following the analogy more closely
than our grammarians, for as they say to him, "Vas-y," why should
he not say, "Irai-je-t-y?" Notice too the skilful way in which he
avoids the hiatus in irai-je-y or y-irai-je? Is it the poor child's
fault that we have so unskilfully deprived the phrase of this
determinative adverb "y," because we did not know what to do with
it? It is an intolerable piece of pedantry and most superfluous
attention to detail to make a point of correcting all children's
little sins against the customary expression, for they always
cure themselves with time. Always speak correctly before them, let
them never be so happy with any one as with you, and be sure that
their speech will be imperceptibly modelled upon yours without any
correction on your part.

But a much greater evil, and one far less easy to guard against,
is that they are urged to speak too much, as if people were afraid
they would not learn to talk of themselves. This indiscreet zeal
produces an effect directly opposite to what is meant. They speak
later and more confusedly; the extreme attention paid to everything
they say makes it unnecessary for them to speak distinctly, and
as they will scarcely open their mouths, many of them contract a
vicious pronunciation and a confused speech, which last all their
life and make them almost unintelligible.

I have lived much among peasants, and I never knew one of them lisp,
man or woman, boy or girl. Why is this? Are their speech organs
differently made from our own? No, but they are differently used.
There is a hillock facing my window on which the children of the
place assemble for their games. Although they are far enough away,
I can distinguish perfectly what they say, and often get good notes
for this book. Every day my ear deceives me as to their age. I hear
the voices of children of ten; I look and see the height and features
of children of three or four. This experience is not confined to
me; the townspeople who come to see me, and whom I consult on this
point, all fall into the same mistake.

This results from the fact that, up to five or six, children in
town, brought up in a room and under the care of a nursery governess,
do not need to speak above a whisper to make themselves heard. As
soon as their lips move people take pains to make out what they
mean; they are taught words which they repeat inaccurately, and by
paying great attention to them the people who are always with them
rather guess what they meant to say than what they said.

It is quite a different matter in the country. A peasant woman is
not always with her child; he is obliged to learn to say very clearly
and loudly what he wants, if he is to make himself understood.
Children scattered about the fields at a distance from their fathers,
mothers and other children, gain practice in making themselves
heard at a distance, and in adapting the loudness of the voice to
the distance which separates them from those to whom they want to
speak. This is the real way to learn pronunciation, not by stammering
out a few vowels into the ear of an attentive governess. So when
you question a peasant child, he may be too shy to answer, but what
he says he says distinctly, while the nurse must serve as interpreter
for the town child; without her one can understand nothing of what
he is muttering between his teeth. [Footnote: There are exceptions
to this; and often those children who at first are most difficult
to hear, become the noisiest when they begin to raise their voices.
But if I were to enter into all these details I should never make
an end; every sensible reader ought to see that defect and excess,
caused by the same abuse, are both corrected by my method. I regard
the two maxims as inseperable--always enough--never too much. When
the first ii well established, the latter necessarily follows on

As they grow older, the boys are supposed to be cured of this fault
at college, the girls in the convent schools; and indeed both usually
speak more clearly than children brought up entirely at home. But
they are prevented from acquiring as clear a pronunciation as the
peasants in this way--they are required to learn all sorts of things
by heart, and to repeat aloud what they have learnt; for when they
are studying they get into the way of gabbling and pronouncing
carelessly and ill; it is still worse when they repeat their lessons;
they cannot find the right words, they drag out their syllables.
This is only possible when the memory hesitates, the tongue does
not stammer of itself. Thus they acquire or continue habits of bad
pronunciation. Later on you will see that Emile does not acquire
such habits or at least not from this cause.

I grant you uneducated people and villagers often fall into the opposite
extreme. They almost always speak too loud; their pronunciation is
too exact, and leads to rough and coarse articulation; their accent
is too pronounced, they choose their expressions badly, etc.

But, to begin with, this extreme strikes me as much less dangerous
than the other, for the first law of speech is to make oneself
understood, and the chief fault is to fail to be understood. To pride
ourselves on having no accent is to pride ourselves on ridding our
phrases of strength and elegance. Emphasis is the soul of speech,
it gives it its feeling and truth. Emphasis deceives less than
words; perhaps that is why well-educated people are so afraid of
it. From the custom of saying everything in the same tone has arisen
that of poking fun at people without their knowing it. When emphasis
is proscribed, its place is taken by all sorts of ridiculous, affected,
and ephemeral pronunciations, such as one observes especially among
the young people about court. It is this affectation of speech and
manner which makes Frenchmen disagreeable and repulsive to other
nations on first acquaintance. Emphasis is found, not in their
speech, but in their bearing. That is not the way to make themselves

All these little faults of speech, which you are so afraid the
children will acquire, are mere trifles; they may be prevented or
corrected with the greatest ease, but the faults which are taught
them when you make them speak in a low, indistinct, and timid voice,
when you are always criticising their tone and finding fault with
their words, are never cured. A man who has only learnt to speak
in society of fine ladies could not make himself heard at the head
of his troops, and would make little impression on the rabble in
a riot. First teach the child to speak to men; he will be able to
speak to the women when required.

Brought up in all the rustic simplicity of the country, your
children will gain a more sonorous voice; they will not acquire
the hesitating stammer of town children, neither will they acquire
the expressions nor the tone of the villagers, or if they do they
will easily lose them; their master being with them from their
earliest years, and more and more in their society the older they
grow, will be able to prevent or efface by speaking correctly himself
the impression of the peasants' talk. Emile will speak the purest
French I know, but he will speak it more distinctly and with a
better articulation than myself.

The child who is trying to speak should hear nothing but words he
can understand, nor should he say words he cannot articulate; his
efforts lead him to repeat the same syllable as if he were practising
its clear pronunciation. When he begins to stammer, do not try to
understand him. To expect to be always listened to is a form of
tyranny which is not good for the child. See carefully to his real
needs, and let him try to make you understand the rest. Still
less should you hurry him into speech; he will learn to talk when
he feels the want of it.

It has indeed been remarked that those who begin to speak very late
never speak so distinctly as others; but it is not because they
talked late that they are hesitating; on the contrary, they began
to talk late because they hesitate; if not, why did they begin to
talk so late? Have they less need of speech, have they been less
urged to it? On the contrary, the anxiety aroused with the first
suspicion of this backwardness leads people to tease them much
more to begin to talk than those who articulated earlier; and this
mistaken zeal may do much to make their speech confused, when with
less haste they might have had time to bring it to greater perfection.

Children who are forced to speak too soon have no time to learn
either to pronounce correctly or to understand what they are made
to say; while left to themselves they first practise the easiest
syllables, and then, adding to them little by little some meaning
which their gestures explain, they teach you their own words before
they learn yours. By this means they do not acquire your words
till they have understood them. Being in no hurry to use them, they
begin by carefully observing the sense in which you use them, and
when they are sure of them they adopt them.

The worst evil resulting from the precocious use of speech by young
children is that we not only fail to understand the first words
they use, we misunderstand them without knowing it; so that while
they seem to answer us correctly, they fail to understand us and we
them. This is the most frequent cause of our surprise at children's
sayings; we attribute to them ideas which they did not attach to
their words. This lack of attention on our part to the real meaning
which words have for children seems to me the cause of their earliest
misconceptions; and these misconceptions, even when corrected,
colour their whole course of thought for the rest of their life. I
shall have several opportunities of illustrating these by examples
later on.

Let the child's vocabulary, therefore, be limited; it is very
undesirable that he should have more words than ideas, that he
should be able to say more than he thinks. One of the reasons why
peasants are generally shrewder than townsfolk is, I think, that
their vocabulary is smaller. They have few ideas, but those few
are thoroughly grasped.

The infant is progressing in several ways at once; he is learning
to talk, eat, and walk about the same time. This is really the
first phase of his life. Up till now, he was little more than he
was before birth; he had neither feeling nor thought, he was barely
capable of sensation; he was unconscious of his own existence.

"Vivit, et est vitae nescius ipse suae."--Ovid.


We have now reached the second phase of life; infancy, strictly
so-called, is over; for the words infans and puer are not
synonymous. The latter includes the former, which means literally
"one who cannot speak;" thus Valerius speaks of puerum infantem.
But I shall continue to use the word child (French enfant) according
to the custom of our language till an age for which there is another

When children begin to talk they cry less. This progress is quite
natural; one language supplants another. As soon as they can say
"It hurts me," why should they cry, unless the pain is too sharp
for words? If they still cry, those about them are to blame. When
once Emile has said, "It hurts me," it will take a very sharp pain
to make him cry.

If the child is delicate and sensitive, if by nature he begins to
cry for nothing, I let him cry in vain and soon check his tears at
their source. So long as he cries I will not go near him; I come
at once when he leaves off crying. He will soon be quiet when he
wants to call me, or rather he will utter a single cry. Children
learn the meaning of signs by their effects; they have no other
meaning for them. However much a child hurts himself when he is
alone, he rarely cries, unless he expects to be heard.

Should he fall or bump his head, or make his nose bleed, or cut
his fingers, I shall show no alarm, nor shall I make any fuss over
him; I shall take no notice, at any rate at first. The harm is done;
he must bear it; all my zeal could only frighten him more and make
him more nervous. Indeed it is not the blow but the fear of it which
distresses us when we are hurt. I shall spare him this suffering
at least, for he will certainly regard the injury as he sees me
regard it; if he finds that I hasten anxiously to him, if I pity
him or comfort him, he will think he is badly hurt. If he finds I
take no notice, he will soon recover himself, and will think the
wound is healed when it ceases to hurt. This is the time for his
first lesson in courage, and by bearing slight ills without fear
we gradually learn to bear greater.

I shall not take pains to prevent Emile hurting himself; far from
it, I should be vexed if he never hurt himself, if he grew up
unacquainted with pain. To bear pain is his first and most useful
lesson. It seems as if children were small and weak on purpose to
teach them these valuable lessons without danger. The child has
such a little way to fall he will not break his leg; if he knocks
himself with a stick he will not break his arm; if he seizes a sharp
knife he will not grasp it tight enough to make a deep wound. So
far as I know, no child, left to himself, has ever been known to
kill or maim itself, or even to do itself any serious harm, unless
it has been foolishly left on a high place, or alone near the fire,
or within reach of dangerous weapons. What is there to be said for
all the paraphernalia with which the child is surrounded to shield
him on every side so that he grows up at the mercy of pain, with
neither courage nor experience, so that he thinks he is killed by
a pin-prick and faints at the sight of blood?

With our foolish and pedantic methods we are always preventing children
from learning what they could learn much better by themselves, while
we neglect what we alone can teach them. Can anything be sillier
than the pains taken to teach them to walk, as if there were any
one who was unable to walk when he grows up through his nurse's
neglect? How many we see walking badly all their life because they
were ill taught?

Emile shall have no head-pads, no go-carts, no leading-strings;
or at least as soon as he can put one foot before another he shall
only be supported along pavements, and he shall be taken quickly
across them. [Footnote: There is nothing so absurd and hesitating
as the gait of those who have been kept too long in leading-strings
when they were little. This is one of the observations which are
considered trivial because they are true.] Instead of keeping him
mewed up in a stuffy room, take him out into a meadow every day;
let him run about, let him struggle and fall again and again, the
oftener the better; he will learn all the sooner to pick himself
up. The delights of liberty will make up for many bruises. My
pupil will hurt himself oftener than yours, but he will always be
merry; your pupils may receive fewer injuries, but they are always
thwarted, constrained, and sad. I doubt whether they are any better

As their strength increases, children have also less need for tears.
They can do more for themselves, they need the help of others less
frequently. With strength comes the sense to use it. It is with
this second phase that the real personal life has its beginning; it
is then that the child becomes conscious of himself. During every
moment of his life memory calls up the feeling of self; he becomes
really one person, always the same, and therefore capable of joy
or sorrow. Hence we must begin to consider him as a moral being.

Although we know approximately the limits of human life and our
chances of attaining those limits, nothing is more uncertain than
the length of the life of any one of us. Very few reach old age.
The chief risks occur at the beginning of life; the shorter our
past life, the less we must hope to live. Of all the children who
are born scarcely one half reach adolescence, and it is very likely
your pupil will not live to be a man.

What is to be thought, therefore, of that cruel education which
sacrifices the present to an uncertain future, that burdens a child
with all sorts of restrictions and begins by making him miserable,
in order to prepare him for some far-off happiness which he may
never enjoy? Even if I considered that education wise in its aims,
how could I view without indignation those poor wretches subjected
to an intolerable slavery and condemned like galley-slaves to endless
toil, with no certainty that they will gain anything by it? The
age of harmless mirth is spent in tears, punishments, threats,
and slavery. You torment the poor thing for his good; you fail
to see that you are calling Death to snatch him from these gloomy
surroundings. Who can say how many children fall victims to the
excessive care of their fathers and mothers? They are happy to
escape from this cruelty; this is all that they gain from the ills
they are forced to endure: they die without regretting, having
known nothing of life but its sorrows.

Men, be kind to your fellow-men; this is your first duty, kind to
every age and station, kind to all that is not foreign to humanity.
What wisdom can you find that is greater than kindness? Love childhood,
indulge its sports, its pleasures, its delightful instincts. Who
has not sometimes regretted that age when laughter was ever on the
lips, and when the heart was ever at peace? Why rob these innocents
of the joys which pass so quickly, of that precious gift which they
cannot abuse? Why fill with bitterness the fleeting days of early
childhood, days which will no more return for them than for you?
Fathers, can you tell when death will call your children to him?
Do not lay up sorrow for yourselves by robbing them of the short
span which nature has allotted to them. As soon as they are aware
of the joy of life, let them rejoice in it, go that whenever God
calls them they may not die without having tasted the joy of life.

How people will cry out against me! I hear from afar the shouts of
that false wisdom which is ever dragging us onwards, counting the
present as nothing, and pursuing without a pause a future which
flies as we pursue, that false wisdom which removes us from our
place and never brings us to any other.

Now is the time, you say, to correct his evil tendencies; we must
increase suffering in childhood, when it is less keenly felt, to
lessen it in manhood. But how do you know that you can carry out
all these fine schemes; how do you know that all this fine teaching
with which you overwhelm the feeble mind of the child will not do
him more harm than good in the future? How do you know that you
can spare him anything by the vexations you heap upon him now? Why
inflict on him more ills than befit his present condition unless
you are quite sure that these present ills will save him future
ill? And what proof can you give me that those evil tendencies
you profess to cure are not the result of your foolish precautions
rather than of nature? What a poor sort of foresight, to make a
child wretched in the present with the more or less doubtful hope
of making him happy at some future day. If such blundering thinkers
fail to distinguish between liberty and licence, between a merry
child and a spoilt darling, let them learn to discriminate.

Let us not forget what befits our present state in the pursuit
of vain fancies. Mankind has its place in the sequence of things;
childhood has its place in the sequence of human life; the man must
be treated as a man and the child as a child. Give each his place,
and keep him there. Control human passions according to man's
nature; that is all we can do for his welfare. The rest depends on
external forces, which are beyond our control.

Absolute good and evil are unknown to us. In this life they are
blended together; we never enjoy any perfectly pure feeling, nor
do we remain for more than a moment in the same state. The feelings
of our minds, like the changes in our bodies, are in a continual
flux. Good and ill are common to all, but in varying proportions.
The happiest is he who suffers least; the most miserable is he who
enjoys least. Ever more sorrow than joy--this is the lot of all of
us. Man's happiness in this world is but a negative state; it must
be reckoned by the fewness of his ills.

Every feeling of hardship is inseparable from the desire to escape
from it; every idea of pleasure from the desire to enjoy it. All desire
implies a want, and all wants are painful; hence our wretchedness
consists in the disproportion between our desires and our powers.
A conscious being whose powers were equal to his desires would be
perfectly happy.

What then is human wisdom? Where is the path of true happiness?
The mere limitation of our desires is not enough, for if they were
less than our powers, part of our faculties would be idle, and we
should not enjoy our whole being; neither is the mere extension of
our powers enough, for if our desires were also increased we should
only be the more miserable. True happiness consists in decreasing
the difference between our desires and our powers, in establishing
a perfect equilibrium between the power and the will. Then only,
when all its forces are employed, will the soul be at rest and man
will find himself in his true position.

In this condition, nature, who does everything for the best, has
placed him from the first. To begin with, she gives him only such
desires as are necessary for self-preservation and such powers as
are sufficient for their satisfaction. All the rest she has stored
in his mind as a sort of reserve, to be drawn upon at need. It
is only in this primitive condition that we find the equilibrium
between desire and power, and then alone man is not unhappy. As
soon as his potential powers of mind begin to function, imagination,
more powerful than all the rest, awakes, and precedes all the rest.
It is imagination which enlarges the bounds of possibility for us,
whether for good or ill, and therefore stimulates and feeds desires
by the hope of satisfying them. But the object which seemed within
our grasp flies quicker than we can follow; when we think we have
grasped it, it transforms itself and is again far ahead of us.
We no longer perceive the country we have traversed, and we think
nothing of it; that which lies before us becomes vaster and stretches
still before us. Thus we exhaust our strength, yet never reach our
goal, and the nearer we are to pleasure, the further we are from

On the other hand, the more nearly a man's condition approximates
to this state of nature the less difference is there between his
desires and his powers, and happiness is therefore less remote.
Lacking everything, he is never less miserable; for misery consists,
not in the lack of things, but in the needs which they inspire.

The world of reality has its bounds, the world of imagination is
boundless; as we cannot enlarge the one, let us restrict the other;
for all the sufferings which really make us miserable arise from
the difference between the real and the imaginary. Health, strength,
and a good conscience excepted, all the good things of life are a
matter of opinion; except bodily suffering and remorse, all our woes
are imaginary. You will tell me this is a commonplace; I admit it,
but its practical application is no commonplace, and it is with
practice only that we are now concerned.

What do you mean when you say, "Man is weak"? The term weak implies
a relation, a relation of the creature to whom it is applied. An
insect or a worm whose strength exceeds its needs is strong; an
elephant, a lion, a conqueror, a hero, a god himself, whose needs
exceed his strength is weak. The rebellious angel who fought against
his own nature was weaker than the happy mortal who is living at
peace according to nature. When man is content to be himself he
is strong indeed; when he strives to be more than man he is weak
indeed. But do not imagine that you can increase your strength
by increasing your powers. Not so; if your pride increases more
rapidly your strength is diminished. Let us measure the extent of
our sphere and remain in its centre like the spider in its web;
we shall have strength sufficient for our needs, we shall have no
cause to lament our weakness, for we shall never be aware of it.

The other animals possess only such powers as are required for
self-preservation; man alone has more. Is it not very strange that
this superfluity should make him miserable? In every land a man's
labour yields more than a bare living. If he were wise enough to
disregard this surplus he would always have enough, for he would
never have too much. "Great needs," said Favorin, "spring from
great wealth; and often the best way of getting what we want is
to get rid of what we have." By striving to increase our happiness
we change it into wretchedness. If a man were content to live, he
would live happy; and he would therefore be good, for what would
he have to gain by vice?

If we were immortal we should all be miserable; no doubt it is hard
to die, but it is sweet to think that we shall not live for ever,
and that a better life will put an end to the sorrows of this
world. If we had the offer of immortality here below, who would
accept the sorrowful gift? [Footnote: You understand I am speaking
of those who think, and not of the crowd.] What resources, what
hopes, what consolation would be left against the cruelties of
fate and man's injustice? The ignorant man never looks before; he
knows little of the value of life and does not fear to lose it;
the wise man sees things of greater worth and prefers them to it.
Half knowledge and sham wisdom set us thinking about death and
what lies beyond it; and they thus create the worst of our ills.
The wise man bears life's ills all the better because he knows
he must die. Life would be too dearly bought did we not know that
sooner or later death will end it.

Our moral ills are the result of prejudice, crime alone excepted,
and that depends on ourselves; our bodily ills either put an end
to themselves or to us. Time or death will cure them, but the less
we know how to bear it, the greater is our pain, and we suffer more
in our efforts to cure our diseases than if we endured them. Live
according to nature; be patient, get rid of the doctors; you will
not escape death, but you will only die once, while the doctors
make you die daily through your diseased imagination; their lying
art, instead of prolonging your days, robs you of all delight in
them. I am always asking what real good this art has done to mankind.
True, the doctors cure some who would have died, but they kill
millions who would have lived. If you are wise you will decline to
take part in this lottery when the odds are so great against you.
Suffer, die, or get better; but whatever you do, live while you
are alive.

Human institutions are one mass of folly and contradiction. As our
life loses its value we set a higher price upon it. The old regret
life more than the young; they do not want to lose all they have
spent in preparing for its enjoyment. At sixty it is cruel to
die when one has not begun to live. Man is credited with a strong
desire for self-preservation, and this desire exists; but we fail
to perceive that this desire, as felt by us, is largely the work
of man. In a natural state man is only eager to preserve his life
while he has the means for its preservation; when self-preservation
is no longer possible, he resigns himself to his fate and dies without
vain torments. Nature teaches us the first law of resignation.
Savages, like wild beasts, make very little struggle against
death, and meet it almost without a murmur. When this natural law
is overthrown reason establishes another, but few discern it, and
man's resignation is never so complete as nature's.

Prudence! Prudence which is ever bidding us look forward into the
future, a future which in many cases we shall never reach; here is
the real source of all our troubles! How mad it is for so short-lived
a creature as man to look forward into a future to which he rarely
attains, while he neglects the present which is his? This madness
is all the more fatal since it increases with years, and the old,
always timid, prudent, and miserly, prefer to do without necessaries
to-day that they may have luxuries at a hundred. Thus we grasp
everything, we cling to everything; we are anxious about time,
place, people, things, all that is and will be; we ourselves are
but the least part of ourselves. We spread ourselves, so to speak,
over the whole world, and all this vast expanse becomes sensitive.
No wonder our woes increase when we may be wounded on every side.
How many princes make themselves miserable for the loss of lands
they never saw, and how many merchants lament in Paris over some
misfortune in the Indies!

Is it nature that carries men so far from their real selves? Is it
her will that each should learn his fate from others and even be
the last to learn it; so that a man dies happy or miserable before
he knows what he is about. There is a healthy, cheerful, strong,
and vigorous man; it does me good to see him; his eyes tell of
content and well-being; he is the picture of happiness. A letter
comes by post; the happy man glances at it, it is addressed to him,
he opens it and reads it. In a moment he is changed, he turns pale
and falls into a swoon. When he comes to himself he weeps, laments,
and groans, he tears his hair, and his shrieks re-echo through the
air. You would say he was in convulsions. Fool, what harm has this
bit of paper done you? What limb has it torn away? What crime has
it made you commit? What change has it wrought in you to reduce
you to this state of misery?

Had the letter miscarried, had some kindly hand thrown it into the
fire, it strikes me that the fate of this mortal, at once happy and
unhappy, would have offered us a strange problem. His misfortunes,
you say, were real enough. Granted; but he did not feel them. What
of that? His happiness was imaginary. I admit it; health, wealth,
a contented spirit, are mere dreams. We no longer live in our own
place, we live outside it. What does it profit us to live in such
fear of death, when all that makes life worth living is our own?

Oh, man! live your own life and you will no longer be wretched.
Keep to your appointed place in the order of nature and nothing can
tear you from it. Do not kick against the stern law of necessity,
nor waste in vain resistance the strength bestowed on you by heaven,
not to prolong or extend your existence, but to preserve it so far
and so long as heaven pleases. Your freedom and your power extend
as far and no further than your natural strength; anything more is
but slavery, deceit, and trickery. Power itself is servile when it
depends upon public opinion; for you are dependent on the prejudices
of others when you rule them by means of those prejudices. To lead
them as you will, they must be led as they will. They have only
to change their way of thinking and you are forced to change your
course of action. Those who approach you need only contrive to
sway the opinions of those you rule, or of the favourite by whom
you are ruled, or those of your own family or theirs. Had you the
genius of Themistocles, [Footnote: "You see that little boy," said
Themistocles to his friends, "the fate of Greece is in his hands,
for he rules his mother and his mother rules me, I rule the Athenians
and the Athenians rule the Greeks." What petty creatures we should
often find controlling great empires if we traced the course of power
from the prince to those who secretly put that power in motion.]
viziers, courtiers, priests, soldiers, servants, babblers, the
very children themselves, would lead you like a child in the midst
of your legions. Whatever you do, your actual authority can never
extend beyond your own powers. As soon as you are obliged to
see with another's eyes you must will what he wills. You say with
pride, "My people are my subjects." Granted, but what are you? The
subject of your ministers. And your ministers, what are they? The
subjects of their clerks, their mistresses, the servants of their
servants. Grasp all, usurp all, and then pour out your silver with
both hands; set up your batteries, raise the gallows and the wheel;
make laws, issue proclamations, multiply your spies, your soldiers,
your hangmen, your prisons, and your chains. Poor little men, what
good does it do you? You will be no better served, you will be
none the less robbed and deceived, you will be no nearer absolute
power. You will say continually, "It is our will," and you will
continually do the will of others.

There is only one man who gets his own way--he who can get it
single-handed; therefore freedom, not power, is the greatest good.
That man is truly free who desires what he is able to perform, and
does what he desires. This is my fundamental maxim. Apply it to
childhood, and all the rules of education spring from it.

Society has enfeebled man, not merely by robbing him of the right
to his own strength, but still more by making his strength insufficient
for his needs. This is why his desires increase in proportion to
his weakness; and this is why the child is weaker than the man. If
a man is strong and a child is weak it is not because the strength
of the one is absolutely greater than the strength of the other,
but because the one can naturally provide for himself and the other
cannot. Thus the man will have more desires and the child more
caprices, a word which means, I take it, desires which are not true
needs, desires which can only be satisfied with the help of others.

I have already given the reason for this state of weakness. Parental
affection is nature's provision against it; but parental affection
may be carried to excess, it may be wanting, or it may be ill applied.
Parents who live under our ordinary social conditions bring their
child into these conditions too soon. By increasing his needs they
do not relieve his weakness; they rather increase it. They further
increase it by demanding of him what nature does not demand, by
subjecting to their will what little strength he has to further
his own wishes, by making slaves of themselves or of him instead
of recognising that mutual dependence which should result from his
weakness or their affection.

The wise man can keep his own place; but the child who does not
know what his place is, is unable to keep it. There are a thousand
ways out of it, and it is the business of those who have charge
of the child to keep him in his place, and this is no easy task.
He should be neither beast nor man, but a child. He must feel his
weakness, but not suffer through it; he must be dependent, but
he must not obey; he must ask, not command. He is only subject to
others because of his needs, and because they see better than he
what he really needs, what may help or hinder his existence. No
one, not even his father, has the right to bid the child do what
is of no use to him.

When our natural tendencies have not been interfered with by human
prejudice and human institutions, the happiness alike of children
and of men consists in the enjoyment of their liberty. But the
child's liberty is restricted by his lack of strength. He who does
as he likes is happy provided he is self-sufficing; it is so with
the man who is living in a state of nature. He who does what he
likes is not happy if his desires exceed his strength; it is so
with a child in like conditions. Even in a state of nature children
only enjoy an imperfect liberty, like that enjoyed by men in social
life. Each of us, unable to dispense with the help of others,
becomes so far weak and wretched. We were meant to be men, laws and
customs thrust us back into infancy. The rich and great, the very
kings themselves are but children; they see that we are ready to
relieve their misery; this makes them childishly vain, and they are
quite proud of the care bestowed on them, a care which they would
never get if they were grown men.

These are weighty considerations, and they provide a solution
for all the conflicting problems of our social system. There are
two kinds of dependence: dependence on things, which is the work
of nature; and dependence on men, which is the work of society.
Dependence on things, being non-moral, does no injury to liberty and
begets no vices; dependence on men, being out of order, [Footnote:
In my PRINCIPLES OF POLITICAL LAW it is proved that no private will
can be ordered in the social system.] gives rise to every kind of
vice, and through this master and slave become mutually depraved.
If there is any cure for this social evil, it is to be found in
the substitution of law for the individual; in arming the general
will with a real strength beyond the power of any individual will.
If the laws of nations, like the laws of nature, could never be
broken by any human power, dependence on men would become dependence
on things; all the advantages of a state of nature would be combined
with all the advantages of social life in the commonwealth. The
liberty which preserves a man from vice would be united with the
morality which raises him to virtue.

Keep the child dependent on things only. By this course of education
you will have followed the order of nature. Let his unreasonable
wishes meet with physical obstacles only, or the punishment which
results from his own actions, lessons which will be recalled when
the same circumstances occur again. It is enough to prevent him
from wrong doing without forbidding him to do wrong. Experience or
lack of power should take the place of law. Give him, not what he
wants, but what he needs. Let there be no question of obedience for
him or tyranny for you. Supply the strength he lacks just so far
as is required for freedom, not for power, so that he may receive
your services with a sort of shame, and look forward to the time when
he may dispense with them and may achieve the honour of self-help.

Nature provides for the child's growth in her own fashion, and this
should never be thwarted. Do not make him sit still when he wants
to run about, nor run when he wants to be quiet. If we did not
spoil our children's wills by our blunders their desires would be
free from caprice. Let them run, jump, and shout to their heart's
content. All their own activities are instincts of the body for
its growth in strength; but you should regard with suspicion those
wishes which they cannot carry out for themselves, those which
others must carry out for them. Then you must distinguish carefully
between natural and artificial needs, between the needs of budding
caprice and the needs which spring from the overflowing life just

I have already told you what you ought to do when a child cries for
this thing or that. I will only add that as soon as he has words
to ask for what he wants and accompanies his demands with tears,
either to get his own way quicker or to over-ride a refusal, he
should never have his way. If his words were prompted by a real
need you should recognise it and satisfy it at once; but to yield
to his tears is to encourage him to cry, to teach him to doubt
your kindness, and to think that you are influenced more by his
importunity than your own good-will. If he does not think you kind
he will soon think you unkind; if he thinks you weak he will soon
become obstinate; what you mean to give must be given at once. Be
chary of refusing, but, having refused, do not change your mind.

Above all, beware of teaching the child empty phrases of politeness,
which serve as spells to subdue those around him to his will, and
to get him what he wants at once. The artificial education of the
rich never fails to make them politely imperious, by teaching them
the words to use so that no one will dare to resist them. Their
children have neither the tone nor the manner of suppliants; they are
as haughty or even more haughty in their entreaties than in their
commands, as though they were more certain to be obeyed. You see
at once that "If you please" means "It pleases me," and "I beg"
means "I command." What a fine sort of politeness which only succeeds
in changing the meaning of words so that every word is a command!
For my own part, I would rather Emile were rude than haughty, that
he should say "Do this" as a request, rather than "Please" as a
command. What concerns me is his meaning, not his words.

There is such a thing as excessive severity as well as excessive
indulgence, and both alike should be avoided. If you let children
suffer you risk their health and life; you make them miserable now;
if you take too much pains to spare them every kind of uneasiness
you are laying up much misery for them in the future; you are making
them delicate and over-sensitive; you are taking them out of their
place among men, a place to which they must sooner or later return,
in spite of all your pains. You will say I am falling into the
same mistake as those bad fathers whom I blamed for sacrificing the
present happiness of their children to a future which may never be

Not so; for the liberty I give my pupil makes up for the slight
hardships to which he is exposed. I see little fellows playing in
the snow, stiff and blue with cold, scarcely able to stir a finger.
They could go and warm themselves if they chose, but they do not
choose; if you forced them to come in they would feel the harshness
of constraint a hundredfold more than the sharpness of the cold. Then
what becomes of your grievance? Shall I make your child miserable
by exposing him to hardships which he is perfectly ready to endure? I
secure his present good by leaving him his freedom, and his future
good by arming him against the evils he will have to bear. If he
had his choice, would he hesitate for a moment between you and me?

Do you think any man can find true happiness elsewhere than in his
natural state; and when you try to spare him all suffering, are you
not taking him out of his natural state? Indeed I maintain that to
enjoy great happiness he must experience slight ills; such is his
nature. Too much bodily prosperity corrupts the morals. A man who
knew nothing of suffering would be incapable of tenderness towards
his fellow-creatures and ignorant of the joys of pity; he would be
hard-hearted, unsocial, a very monster among men.

Do you know the surest way to make your child miserable? Let him
have everything he wants; for as his wants increase in proportion
to the ease with which they are satisfied, you will be compelled,
sooner or later, to refuse his demands, and this unlooked-for
refusal will hurt him more than the lack of what he wants. He will
want your stick first, then your watch, the bird that flies, or
the star that shines above him. He will want all he sets eyes on,
and unless you were God himself, how could you satisfy him?

Man naturally considers all that he can get as his own. In this
sense Hobbes' theory is true to a certain extent: Multiply both our
wishes and the means of satisfying them, and each will be master of
all. Thus the child, who has only to ask and have, thinks himself
the master of the universe; he considers all men as his slaves;
and when you are at last compelled to refuse, he takes your refusal
as an act of rebellion, for he thinks he has only to command. All
the reasons you give him, while he is still too young to reason,
are so many pretences in his eyes; they seem to him only unkindness;
the sense of injustice embitters his disposition; he hates every
one. Though he has never felt grateful for kindness, he resents
all opposition.

How should I suppose that such a child can ever be happy? He is
the slave of anger, a prey to the fiercest passions. Happy! He is
a tyrant, at once the basest of slaves and the most wretched of
creatures. I have known children brought up like this who expected
you to knock the house down, to give them the weather-cock on the
steeple, to stop a regiment on the march so that they might listen
to the band; when they could not get their way they screamed and
cried and would pay no attention to any one. In vain everybody strove
to please them; as their desires were stimulated by the ease with
which they got their own way, they set their hearts on impossibilities,
and found themselves face to face with opposition and difficulty,
pain and grief. Scolding, sulking, or in a rage, they wept and cried
all day. Were they really so greatly favoured? Weakness, combined
with love of power, produces nothing but folly and suffering. One
spoilt child beats the table; another whips the sea. They may beat
and whip long enough before they find contentment.

If their childhood is made wretched by these notions of power and
tyranny, what of their manhood, when their relations with their
fellow-men begin to grow and multiply? They are used to find everything
give way to them; what a painful surprise to enter society and meet
with opposition on every side, to be crushed beneath the weight
of a universe which they expected to move at will. Their insolent
manners, their childish vanity, only draw down upon them mortification,
scorn, and mockery; they swallow insults like water; sharp experience
soon teaches them that they have realised neither their position
nor their strength. As they cannot do everything, they think they
can do nothing. They are daunted by unexpected obstacles, degraded
by the scorn of men; they become base, cowardly, and deceitful, and
fall as far below their true level as they formerly soared above

Let us come back to the primitive law. Nature has made children
helpless and in need of affection; did she make them to be obeyed
and feared? Has she given them an imposing manner, a stern eye, a
loud and threatening voice with which to make themselves feared?
I understand how the roaring of the lion strikes terror into the
other beasts, so that they tremble when they behold his terrible
mane, but of all unseemly, hateful, and ridiculous sights, was there
ever anything like a body of statesmen in their robes of office
with their chief at their head bowing down before a swaddled babe,
addressing him in pompous phrases, while he cries and slavers in

If we consider childhood itself, is there anything so weak and
wretched as a child, anything so utterly at the mercy of those about
it, so dependent on their pity, their care, and their affection?
Does it not seem as if his gentle face and touching appearance
were intended to interest every one on behalf of his weakness and
to make them eager to help him? And what is there more offensive,
more unsuitable, than the sight of a sulky or imperious child,
who commands those about him, and impudently assumes the tones of
a master towards those without whom he would perish?

On the other hand, do you not see how children are fettered by the
weakness of infancy? Do you not see how cruel it is to increase
this servitude by obedience to our caprices, by depriving them of
such liberty as they have? a liberty which they can scarcely abuse,
a liberty the loss of which will do so little good to them or us.
If there is nothing more ridiculous than a haughty child, there
is nothing that claims our pity like a timid child. With the age
of reason the child becomes the slave of the community; then why
forestall this by slavery in the home? Let this brief hour of life
be free from a yoke which nature has not laid upon it; leave the
child the use of his natural liberty, which, for a time at least,
secures him from the vices of the slave. Bring me those harsh
masters, and those fathers who are the slaves of their children,
bring them both with their frivolous objections, and before they
boast of their own methods let them for once learn the method of

I return to practical matters. I have already said your child
must not get what he asks, but what he needs; [Footnote: We must
recognise that pain is often necessary, pleasure is sometimes needed.
So there is only one of the child's desires which should never be
complied with, the desire for power. Hence, whenever they ask for
anything we must pay special attention to their motive in asking.
As far as possible give them everything they ask for, provided it
can really give them pleasure; refuse everything they demand from
mere caprice or love of power.] he must never act from obedience,
but from necessity.

The very words OBEY and COMMAND will be excluded from his vocabulary,
still more those of DUTY and OBLIGATION; but the words strength,
necessity, weakness, and constraint must have a large place in
it. Before the age of reason it is impossible to form any idea of
moral beings or social relations; so avoid, as far as may be, the
use of words which express these ideas, lest the child at an early
age should attach wrong ideas to them, ideas which you cannot or
will not destroy when he is older. The first mistaken idea he gets
into his head is the germ of error and vice; it is the first step
that needs watching. Act in such a way that while he only notices
external objects his ideas are confined to sensations; let him only
see the physical world around him. If not, you may be sure that
either he will pay no heed to you at all, or he will form fantastic
ideas of the moral world of which you prate, ideas which you will
never efface as long as he lives.

"Reason with children" was Locke's chief maxim; it is in the height
of fashion at present, and I hardly think it is justified by its
results; those children who have been constantly reasoned with
strike me as exceedingly silly. Of all man's faculties, reason,
which is, so to speak, compounded of all the rest, is the last
and choicest growth, and it is this you would use for the child's
early training. To make a man reasonable is the coping stone of a
good education, and yet you profess to train a child through his
reason! You begin at the wrong end, you make the end the means.
If children understood reason they would not need education, but
by talking to them from their earliest age in a language they do
not understand you accustom them to be satisfied with words, to
question all that is said to them, to think themselves as wise as
their teachers; you train them to be argumentative and rebellious;
and whatever you think you gain from motives of reason, you really
gain from greediness, fear, or vanity with which you are obliged
to reinforce your reasoning.

Most of the moral lessons which are and can be given to children
may be reduced to this formula; Master. You must not do that.

Child. Why not?

Master. Because it is wrong.

Child. Wrong! What is wrong?

Master. What is forbidden you.

Child. Why is it wrong to do what is forbidden?

Master. You will be punished for disobedience.

Child. I will do it when no one is looking.

Master. We shall watch you.

Child. I will hide.

Master. We shall ask you what you were doing.

Child. I shall tell a lie.

Master. You must not tell lies.

Child. Why must not I tell lies?

Master. Because it is wrong, etc.

That is the inevitable circle. Go beyond it, and the child will
not understand you. What sort of use is there in such teaching?
I should greatly like to know what you would substitute for this
dialogue. It would have puzzled Locke himself. It is no part of a
child's business to know right and wrong, to perceive the reason
for a man's duties.

Nature would have them children before they are men. If we try
to invert this order we shall produce a forced fruit immature and
flavourless, fruit which will be rotten before it is ripe; we shall
have young doctors and old children. Childhood has its own ways
of seeing, thinking, and feeling; nothing is more foolish than to
try and substitute our ways; and I should no more expect judgment
in a ten-year-old child than I should expect him to be five feet
high. Indeed, what use would reason be to him at that age? It is
the curb of strength, and the child does not need the curb.

When you try to persuade your scholars of the duty of obedience, you
add to this so-called persuasion compulsion and threats, or still
worse, flattery and bribes. Attracted by selfishness or constrained
by force, they pretend to be convinced by reason. They see as soon
as you do that obedience is to their advantage and disobedience to
their disadvantage. But as you only demand disagreeable things of
them, and as it is always disagreeable to do another's will, they
hide themselves so that they may do as they please, persuaded that
they are doing no wrong so long as they are not found out, but
ready, if found out, to own themselves in the wrong for fear of
worse evils. The reason for duty is beyond their age, and there
is not a man in the world who could make them really aware of it;
but the fear of punishment, the hope of forgiveness, importunity,
the difficulty of answering, wrings from them as many confessions
as you want; and you think you have convinced them when you have
only wearied or frightened them.

What does it all come to? In the first place, by imposing on them
a duty which they fail to recognise, you make them disinclined to
submit to your tyranny, and you turn away their love; you teach
them deceit, falsehood, and lying as a way to gain rewards or escape
punishment; then by accustoming them to conceal a secret motive
under the cloak of an apparent one, you yourself put into their
hands the means of deceiving you, of depriving you of a knowledge
of their real character, of answering you and others with empty
words whenever they have the chance. Laws, you say, though binding
on conscience, exercise the same constraint over grown-up men. That
is so, but what are these men but children spoilt by education?
This is just what you should avoid. Use force with children and
reasoning with men; this is the natural order; the wise man needs
no laws.

Treat your scholar according to his age. Put him in his place from
the first, and keep him in it, so that he no longer tries to leave
it. Then before he knows what goodness is, he will be practising
its chief lesson. Give him no orders at all, absolutely none. Do
not even let him think that you claim any authority over him. Let
him only know that he is weak and you are strong, that his condition
and yours puts him at your mercy; let this be perceived, learned,
and felt. Let him early find upon his proud neck, the heavy yoke
which nature has imposed upon us, the heavy yoke of necessity, under
which every finite being must bow. Let him find this necessity in
things, not in the caprices [Footnote: You may be sure the child
will regard as caprice any will which opposes his own or any will
which he does not understand. Now the child does not understand
anything which interferes with his own fancies.] of man; let
the curb be force, not authority. If there is something he should
not do, do not forbid him, but prevent him without explanation or
reasoning; what you give him, give it at his first word without
prayers or entreaties, above all without conditions. Give willingly,
refuse unwillingly, but let your refusal be irrevocable; let
no entreaties move you; let your "No," once uttered, be a wall of
brass, against which the child may exhaust his strength some five
or six times, but in the end he will try no more to overthrow it.

Thus you will make him patient, equable, calm, and resigned, even
when he does not get all he wants; for it is in man's nature to bear
patiently with the nature of things, but not with the ill-will of
another. A child never rebels against, "There is none left," unless
he thinks the reply is false. Moreover, there is no middle course;
you must either make no demands on him at all, or else you must
fashion him to perfect obedience. The worst education of all is
to leave him hesitating between his own will and yours, constantly
disputing whether you or he is master; I would rather a hundred
times that he were master.

It is very strange that ever since people began to think about
education they should have hit upon no other way of guiding children
than emulation, jealousy, envy, vanity, greediness, base cowardice,
all the most dangerous passions, passions ever ready to ferment,
ever prepared to corrupt the soul even before the body is full-grown.
With every piece of precocious instruction which you try to force
into their minds you plant a vice in the depths of their hearts;
foolish teachers think they are doing wonders when they are making
their scholars wicked in order to teach them what goodness is, and
then they tell us seriously, "Such is man." Yes, such is man, as
you have made him. Every means has been tried except one, the very
one which might succeed--well-regulated liberty. Do not undertake
to bring up a child if you cannot guide him merely by the laws of
what can or cannot be. The limits of the possible and the impossible
are alike unknown to him, so they can be extended or contracted
around him at your will. Without a murmur he is restrained, urged
on, held back, by the hands of necessity alone; he is made adaptable
and teachable by the mere force of things, without any chance for
vice to spring up in him; for passions do not arise so long as they
have accomplished nothing.

Give your scholar no verbal lessons; he should be taught by
experience alone; never punish him, for he does not know what it
is to do wrong; never make him say, "Forgive me," for he does not
know how to do you wrong. Wholly unmoral in his actions, he can
do nothing morally wrong, and he deserves neither punishment nor

Already I see the frightened reader comparing this child with those
of our time; he is mistaken. The perpetual restraint imposed upon
your scholars stimulates their activity; the more subdued they are
in your presence, the more boisterous they are as soon as they are
out of your sight. They must make amends to themselves in some way
or other for the harsh constraint to which you subject them. Two
schoolboys from the town will do more damage in the country than
all the children of the village. Shut up a young gentleman and
a young peasant in a room; the former will have upset and smashed
everything before the latter has stirred from his place. Why is
that, unless that the one hastens to misuse a moment's licence,
while the other, always sure of freedom, does not use it rashly.
And yet the village children, often flattered or constrained, are
still very far from the state in which I would have them kept.

Let us lay it down as an incontrovertible rule that the first
impulses of nature are always right; there is no original sin in
the human heart, the how and why of the entrance of every vice can
be traced. The only natural passion is self-love or selfishness
taken in a wider sense. This selfishness is good in itself and in
relation to ourselves; and as the child has no necessary relations
to other people he is naturally indifferent to them; his self-love
only becomes good or bad by the use made of it and the relations
established by its means. Until the time is ripe for the appearance
of reason, that guide of selfishness, the main thing is that the
child shall do nothing because you are watching him or listening
to him; in a word, nothing because of other people, but only what
nature asks of him; then he will never do wrong.

I do not mean to say that he will never do any mischief, never hurt
himself, never break a costly ornament if you leave it within his
reach. He might do much damage without doing wrong, since wrong-doing
depends on the harmful intention which will never be his. If once
he meant to do harm, his whole education would be ruined; he would
be almost hopelessly bad.

Greed considers some things wrong which are not wrong in the eyes
of reason. When you leave free scope to a child's heedlessness, you
must put anything he could spoil out of his way, and leave nothing
fragile or costly within his reach. Let the room be furnished with
plain and solid furniture; no mirrors, china, or useless ornaments.
My pupil Emile, who is brought up in the country, shall have a
room just like a peasant's. Why take such pains to adorn it when he
will be so little in it? I am mistaken, however; he will ornament
it for himself, and we shall soon see how.

But if, in spite of your precautions, the child contrives to do
some damage, if he breaks some useful article, do not punish him
for your carelessness, do not even scold him; let him hear no word
of reproval, do not even let him see that he has vexed you; behave
just as if the thing had come to pieces of itself; you may consider
you have done great things if you have managed to hold your tongue.

May I venture at this point to state the greatest, the most
important, the most useful rule of education? It is: Do not save
time, but lose it. I hope that every-day readers will excuse my
paradoxes; you cannot avoid paradox if you think for yourself, and
whatever you may say I would rather fall into paradox than into
prejudice. The most dangerous period in human life lies between
birth and the age of twelve. It is the time when errors and vices
spring up, while as yet there is no means to destroy them; when
the means of destruction are ready, the roots have gone too deep to
be pulled up. If the infant sprang at one bound from its mother's
breast to the age of reason, the present type of education would be
quite suitable, but its natural growth calls for quite a different
training. The mind should be left undisturbed till its faculties
have developed; for while it is blind it cannot see the torch you
offer it, nor can it follow through the vast expanse of ideas a
path so faintly traced by reason that the best eyes can scarcely
follow it.

Therefore the education of the earliest years should be merely
negative. It consists, not in teaching virtue or truth, but in
preserving the heart from vice and from the spirit of error. If only
you could let well alone, and get others to follow your example;
if you could bring your scholar to the age of twelve strong and
healthy, but unable to tell his right hand from his left, the eyes
of his understanding would be open to reason as soon as you began
to teach him. Free from prejudices and free from habits, there
would be nothing in him to counteract the effects of your labours.
In your hands he would soon become the wisest of men; by doing
nothing to begin with, you would end with a prodigy of education.

Reverse the usual practice and you will almost always do right.
Fathers and teachers who want to make the child, not a child
but a man of learning, think it never too soon to scold, correct,
reprove, threaten, bribe, teach, and reason. Do better than they;
be reasonable, and do not reason with your pupil, more especially
do not try to make him approve what he dislikes; for if reason is
always connected with disagreeable matters, you make it distasteful
to him, you discredit it at an early age in a mind not yet ready
to understand it. Exercise his body, his limbs, his senses, his
strength, but keep his mind idle as long as you can. Distrust all
opinions which appear before the judgment to discriminate between
them. Restrain and ward off strange impressions; and to prevent
the birth of evil do not hasten to do well, for goodness is only
possible when enlightened by reason. Regard all delays as so much
time gained; you have achieved much, you approach the boundary
without loss. Leave childhood to ripen in your children. In a word,
beware of giving anything they need to-day if it can be deferred
without danger to to-morrow.

There is another point to be considered which confirms the suitability
of this method: it is the child's individual bent, which must be
thoroughly known before we can choose the fittest moral training.
Every mind has its own form, in accordance with which it must be
controlled; and the success of the pains taken depends largely on
the fact that he is controlled in this way and no other. Oh, wise
man, take time to observe nature; watch your scholar well before
you say a word to him; first leave the germ of his character free
to show itself, do not constrain him in anything, the better to see
him as he really is. Do you think this time of liberty is wasted?
On the contrary, your scholar will be the better employed, for
this is the way you yourself will learn not to lose a single moment
when time is of more value. If, however, you begin to act before
you know what to do, you act at random; you may make mistakes, and
must retrace your steps; your haste to reach your goal will only
take you further from it. Do not imitate the miser who loses much
lest he should lose a little. Sacrifice a little time in early
childhood, and it will be repaid you with usury when your scholar
is older. The wise physician does not hastily give prescriptions
at first sight, but he studies the constitution of the sick man
before he prescribes anything; the treatment is begun later, but
the patient is cured, while the hasty doctor kills him.

But where shall we find a place for our child so as to bring him
up as a senseless being, an automaton? Shall we keep him in the
moon, or on a desert island? Shall we remove him from human society?
Will he not always have around him the sight and the pattern of
the passions of other people? Will he never see children of his
own age? Will he not see his parents, his neighbours, his nurse,
his governess, his man-servant, his tutor himself, who after all
will not be an angel? Here we have a real and serious objection.
But did I tell you that an education according to nature would be
an easy task? Oh, men! is it my fault that you have made all good
things difficult? I admit that I am aware of these difficulties;
perhaps they are insuperable; but nevertheless it is certain that
we do to some extent avoid them by trying to do so. I am showing
what we should try to attain, I do not say we can attain it, but
I do say that whoever comes nearest to it is nearest to success.

Remember you must be a man yourself before you try to train a man;
you yourself must set the pattern he shall copy. While the child
is still unconscious there is time to prepare his surroundings, so
that nothing shall strike his eye but what is fit for his sight.
Gain the respect of every one, begin to win their hearts, so that
they may try to please you. You will not be master of the child
if you cannot control every one about him; and this authority will
never suffice unless it rests upon respect for your goodness. There
is no question of squandering one's means and giving money right
and left; I never knew money win love. You must neither be harsh
nor niggardly, nor must you merely pity misery when you can relieve
it; but in vain will you open your purse if you do not open your
heart along with it, the hearts of others will always be closed to
you. You must give your own time, attention, affection, your very
self; for whatever you do, people always perceive that your money
is not you. There are proofs of kindly interest which produce more
results and are really more useful than any gift; how many of the
sick and wretched have more need of comfort than of charity; how
many of the oppressed need protection rather than money? Reconcile
those who are at strife, prevent lawsuits; incline children to duty,
fathers to kindness; promote happy marriages; prevent annoyances;
freely use the credit of your pupil's parents on behalf of the
weak who cannot obtain justice, the weak who are oppressed by the
strong. Be just, human, kindly. Do not give alms alone, give charity;
works of mercy do more than money for the relief of suffering; love
others and they will love you; serve them and they will serve you;
be their brother and they will be your children.

This is one reason why I want to bring up Emile in the country,
far from those miserable lacqueys, the most degraded of men except
their masters; far from the vile morals of the town, whose gilded
surface makes them seductive and contagious to children; while
the vices of peasants, unadorned and in their naked grossness, are
more fitted to repel than to seduce, when there is no motive for
imitating them.

In the village a tutor will have much more control over the things he
wishes to show the child; his reputation, his words, his example,
will have a weight they would never have in the town; he is of
use to every one, so every one is eager to oblige him, to win his
esteem, to appeal before the disciple what the master would have him
be; if vice is not corrected, public scandal is at least avoided,
which is all that our present purpose requires.

Cease to blame others for your own faults; children are corrupted
less by what they see than by your own teaching. With your endless
preaching, moralising, and pedantry, for one idea you give your
scholars, believing it to be good, you give them twenty more which
are good for nothing; you are full of what is going on in your own
minds, and you fail to see the effect you produce on theirs. In
the continual flow of words with which you overwhelm them, do you
think there is none which they get hold of in a wrong sense? Do
you suppose they do not make their own comments on your long-winded
explanations, that they do not find material for the construction
of a system they can understand--one which they will use against
you when they get the chance?

Listen to a little fellow who has just been under instruction; let
him chatter freely, ask questions, and talk at his ease, and you
will be surprised to find the strange forms your arguments have
assumed in his mind; he confuses everything, and turns everything
topsy-turvy; you are vexed and grieved by his unforeseen objections;
he reduces you to be silent yourself or to silence him: and what
can he think of silence in one who is so fond of talking? If ever
he gains this advantage and is aware of it, farewell education;
from that moment all is lost; he is no longer trying to learn, he
is trying to refute you.

Zealous teachers, be simple, sensible, and reticent; be in no hurry
to act unless to prevent the actions of others. Again and again I
say, reject, if it may be, a good lesson for fear of giving a bad
one. Beware of playing the tempter in this world, which nature
intended as an earthly paradise for men, and do not attempt to
give the innocent child the knowledge of good and evil; since you
cannot prevent the child learning by what he sees outside himself,
restrict your own efforts to impressing those examples on his mind
in the form best suited for him.

The explosive passions produce a great effect upon the child
when he sees them; their outward expression is very marked; he is
struck by this and his attention is arrested. Anger especially is
so noisy in its rage that it is impossible not to perceive it if
you are within reach. You need not ask yourself whether this is an
opportunity for a pedagogue to frame a fine disquisition. What! no
fine disquisition, nothing, not a word! Let the child come to you;
impressed by what he has seen, he will not fail to ask you questions.
The answer is easy; it is drawn from the very things which have
appealed to his senses. He sees a flushed face, flashing eyes, a
threatening gesture, he hears cries; everything shows that the body
is ill at ease. Tell him plainly, without affectation or mystery,
"This poor man is ill, he is in a fever." You may take the opportunity
of giving him in a few words some idea of disease and its effects;
for that too belongs to nature, and is one of the bonds of necessity
which he must recognise. By means of this idea, which is not false
in itself, may he not early acquire a certain aversion to giving
way to excessive passions, which he regards as diseases; and do
you not think that such a notion, given at the right moment, will
produce a more wholesome effect than the most tedious sermon? But
consider the after effects of this idea; you have authority, if
ever you find it necessary, to treat the rebellious child as a sick
child; to keep him in his room, in bed if need be, to diet him, to
make him afraid of his growing vices, to make him hate and dread
them without ever regarding as a punishment the strict measures
you will perhaps have to use for his recovery. If it happens that
you yourself in a moment's heat depart from the calm and self-control
which you should aim at, do not try to conceal your fault, but tell
him frankly, with a gentle reproach, "My dear, you have hurt me."

Moreover, it is a matter of great importance that no notice should
be taken in his presence of the quaint sayings which result from
the simplicity of the ideas in which he is brought up, nor should
they be quoted in a way he can understand. A foolish laugh may
destroy six months' work and do irreparable damage for life. I
cannot repeat too often that to control the child one must often
control oneself.

I picture my little Emile at the height of a dispute between two
neighbours going up to the fiercest of them and saying in a tone
of pity, "You are ill, I am very sorry for you." This speech will
no doubt have its effect on the spectators and perhaps on the
disputants. Without laughter, scolding, or praise I should take him
away, willing or no, before he could see this result, or at least
before he could think about it; and I should make haste to turn his
thoughts to other things, so that he would soon forget all about

I do not propose to enter into every detail, but only to explain
general rules and to give illustrations in cases of difficulty. I
think it is impossible to train a child up to the age of twelve in
the midst of society, without giving him some idea of the relations
between one man and another, and of the morality of human actions.
It is enough to delay the development of these ideas as long
as possible, and when they can no longer be avoided to limit them
to present needs, so that he may neither think himself master of
everything nor do harm to others without knowing or caring. There
are calm and gentle characters which can be led a long way in
their first innocence without any danger; but there are also stormy
dispositions whose passions develop early; you must hasten to make
men of them lest you should have to keep them in chains.

Our first duties are to ourselves; our first feelings are centred
on self; all our instincts are at first directed to our own
preservation and our own welfare. Thus the first notion of justice
springs not from what we owe to others, but from what is due
to us. Here is another error in popular methods of education. If
you talk to children of their duties, and not of their rights, you
are beginning at the wrong end, and telling them what they cannot
understand, what cannot be of any interest to them.

If I had to train a child such as I have just described, I should
say to myself, "A child never attacks people, [Footnote: A child
should never be allowed to play with grown-up people as if they
were his inferiors, nor even as if they were only his equals. If
he ventured to strike any one in earnest, were it only the footman,
were it the hangman himself, let the sufferer return his blows with
interest, so that he will not want to do it again. I have seen
silly women inciting children to rebellion, encouraging them to
hit people, allowing themselves to be beaten, and laughing at the
harmless blows, never thinking that those blows were in intention
the blows of a murderer, and that the child who desires to beat
people now will desire to kill them when he is grown up.] only
things; and he soon learns by experience to respect those older and
stronger than himself. Things, however, do not defend themselves.
Therefore the first idea he needs is not that of liberty but of
property, and that he may get this idea he must have something of
his own." It is useless to enumerate his clothes, furniture, and
playthings; although he uses these he knows not how or why he has
come by them. To tell him they were given him is little better, for
giving implies having; so here is property before his own, and it
is the principle of property that you want to teach him; moreover,
giving is a convention, and the child as yet has no idea of
conventions. I hope my reader will note, in this and many other
cases, how people think they have taught children thoroughly, when
they have only thrust on them words which have no intelligible
meaning to them. [Footnote: This is why most children want to take
back what they have given, and cry if they cannot get it. They do
not do this when once they know what a gift is; only they are more
careful about giving things away.]

We must therefore go back to the origin of property, for that is
where the first idea of it must begin. The child, living in the
country, will have got some idea of field work; eyes and leisure
suffice for that, and he will have both. In every age, and
especially in childhood, we want to create, to copy, to produce,
to give all the signs of power and activity. He will hardly have
seen the gardener at work twice, sowing, planting, and growing
vegetables, before he will want to garden himself.

According to the principles I have already laid down, I shall not
thwart him; on the contrary, I shall approve of his plan, share
his hobby, and work with him, not for his pleasure but my own; at
least, so he thinks; I shall be his under-gardener, and dig the
ground for him till his arms are strong enough to do it; he will
take possession of it by planting a bean, and this is surely a
more sacred possession, and one more worthy of respect, than that
of Nunes Balboa, who took possession of South America in the name
of the King of Spain, by planting his banner on the coast of the
Southern Sea.

We water the beans every day, we watch them coming up with the
greatest delight. Day by day I increase this delight by saying,
"Those belong to you." To explain what that word "belong" means,
I show him how he has given his time, his labour, and his trouble,
his very self to it; that in this ground there is a part of himself
which he can claim against all the world, as he could withdraw his
arm from the hand of another man who wanted to keep it against his

One fine day he hurries up with his watering-can in his hand. What
a scene of woe! Alas! all the beans are pulled up, the soil is dug
over, you can scarcely find the place. Oh! what has become of my
labour, my work, the beloved fruits of my care and effort? Who has
stolen my property! Who has taken my beans? The young heart revolts;
the first feeling of injustice brings its sorrow and bitterness;
tears come in torrents, the unhappy child fills the air with cries
and groans, I share his sorrow and anger; we look around us, we
make inquiries. At last we discover that the gardener did it. We
send for him.

But we are greatly mistaken. The gardener, hearing our complaint,
begins to complain louder than we:

What, gentlemen, was it you who spoilt my work! I had sown some
Maltese melons; the seed was given me as something quite out of
the common, and I meant to give you a treat when they were ripe;
but you have planted your miserable beans and destroyed my melons,
which were coming up so nicely, and I can never get any more. You
have behaved very badly to me and you have deprived yourselves of
the pleasure of eating most delicious melons.

JEAN JACQUES. My poor Robert, you must forgive us. You had given
your labour and your pains to it. I see we were wrong to spoil
your work, but we will send to Malta for some more seed for you,
and we will never dig the ground again without finding out if some
one else has been beforehand with us.

ROBERT. Well, gentlemen, you need not trouble yourselves, for
there is no more waste ground. I dig what my father tilled; every
one does the same, and all the land you see has been occupied time
out of mind.

EMILE. Mr. Robert, do people often lose the seed of Maltese melons?

ROBERT. No indeed, sir; we do not often find such silly little
gentlemen as you. No one meddles with his neighbour's garden; every
one respects other people's work so that his own may be safe.

EMILE. But I have not got a garden.

ROBERT. I don't care; if you spoil mine I won't let you walk in
it, for you see I do not mean to lose my labour.

JEAN JACQUES. Could not we suggest an arrangement with this kind
Robert? Let him give my young friend and myself a corner of his
garden to cultivate, on condition that he has half the crop.

ROBERT. You may have it free. But remember I shall dig up your
beans if you touch my melons.

In this attempt to show how a child may be taught certain primitive
ideas we see how the notion of property goes back naturally to the
right of the first occupier to the results of his work. That is
plain and simple, and quite within the child's grasp. From that
to the rights of property and exchange there is but a step, after
which you must stop short.

You also see that an explanation which I can give in writing in a
couple of pages may take a year in practice, for in the course of
moral ideas we cannot advance too slowly, nor plant each step too
firmly. Young teacher, pray consider this example, and remember
that your lessons should always be in deeds rather than words, for
children soon forget what they say or what is said to them, but
not what they have done nor what has been done to them.

Such teaching should be given, as I have said, sooner or later, as
the scholar's disposition, gentle or turbulent, requires it. The
way of using it is unmistakable; but to omit no matter of importance
in a difficult business let us take another example.

Your ill-tempered child destroys everything he touches. Do not vex
yourself; put anything he can spoil out of his reach. He breaks
the things he is using; do not be in a hurry to give him more; let
him feel the want of them. He breaks the windows of his room; let
the wind blow upon him night and day, and do not be afraid of his
catching cold; it is better to catch cold than to be reckless.
Never complain of the inconvenience he causes you, but let him feel
it first. At last you will have the windows mended without saying
anything. He breaks them again; then change your plan; tell him
dryly and without anger, "The windows are mine, I took pains to have
them put in, and I mean to keep them safe." Then you will shut him
up in a dark place without a window. At this unexpected proceeding
he cries and howls; no one heeds. Soon he gets tired and changes
his tone; he laments and sighs; a servant appears, the rebel begs
to be let out. Without seeking any excuse for refusing, the servant
merely says, "I, too, have windows to keep," and goes away. At last,
when the child has been there several hours, long enough to get
very tired of it, long enough to make an impression on his memory,
some one suggests to him that he should offer to make terms with
you, so that you may set him free and he will never break windows
again. That is just what he wants. He will send and ask you to
come and see him; you will come, he will suggest his plan, and you
will agree to it at once, saying, "That is a very good idea; it
will suit us both; why didn't you think of it sooner?" Then without
asking for any affirmation or confirmation of his promise, you will
embrace him joyfully and take him back at once to his own room,
considering this agreement as sacred as if he had confirmed it
by a formal oath. What idea do you think he will form from these
proceedings, as to the fulfilment of a promise and its usefulness?
If I am not greatly mistaken, there is not a child upon earth,
unless he is utterly spoilt already, who could resist this treatment,
or one who would ever dream of breaking windows again on purpose.
Follow out the whole train of thought. The naughty little fellow
hardly thought when he was making a hole for his beans that he was
hewing out a cell in which his own knowledge would soon imprison
him. [Footnote: Moreover if the duty of keeping his word were not
established in the child's mind by its own utility, the child's growing
consciousness would soon impress it on him as a law of conscience,
as an innate principle, only requiring suitable experiences for
its development. This first outline is not sketched by man, it is
engraved on the heart by the author of all justice. Take away the
primitive law of contract and the obligation imposed by contract
and there is nothing left of human society but vanity and empty
show. He who only keeps his word because it is to his own profit
is hardly more pledged than if he had given no promise at all. This
principle is of the utmost importance, and deserves to be thoroughly
studied, for man is now beginning to be at war with himself.]

We are now in the world of morals, the door to vice is open. Deceit
and falsehood are born along with conventions and duties. As soon
as we can do what we ought not to do, we try to hide what we ought
not to have done. As soon as self-interest makes us give a promise,
a greater interest may make us break it; it is merely a question
of doing it with impunity; we naturally take refuge in concealment
and falsehood. As we have not been able to prevent vice, we must
punish it. The sorrows of life begin with its mistakes.

I have already said enough to show that children should never receive
punishment merely as such; it should always come as the natural
consequence of their fault. Thus you will not exclaim against
their falsehood, you will not exactly punish them for lying, but
you will arrange that all the ill effects of lying, such as not
being believed when we speak the truth, or being accused of what we
have not done in spite of our protests, shall fall on their heads
when they have told a lie. But let us explain what lying means to
the child.

There are two kinds of lies; one concerns an accomplished fact,
the other concerns a future duty. The first occurs when we falsely
deny or assert that we did or did not do something, or, to put it
in general terms, when we knowingly say what is contrary to facts.
The other occurs when we promise what we do not mean to perform,
or, in general terms, when we profess an intention which we do
not really mean to carry out. These two kinds of lie are sometimes
found in combination, [Footnote: Thus the guilty person, accused
of some evil deed, defends himself by asserting that he is a good
man. His statement is false in itself and false in its application to
the matter in hand.] but their differences are my present business.

He who feels the need of help from others, he who is constantly
experiencing their kindness, has nothing to gain by deceiving them;
it is plainly to his advantage that they should see things as they
are, lest they should mistake his interests. It is therefore plain
that lying with regard to actual facts is not natural to children,
but lying is made necessary by the law of obedience; since obedience
is disagreeable, children disobey as far as they can in secret,
and the present good of avoiding punishment or reproof outweighs
the remoter good of speaking the truth. Under a free and natural
education why should your child lie? What has he to conceal from
you? You do not thwart him, you do not punish him, you demand nothing
from him. Why should he not tell everything to you as simply as to
his little playmate? He cannot see anything more risky in the one
course than in the other.

The lie concerning duty is even less natural, since promises to do
or refrain from doing are conventional agreements which are outside
the state of nature and detract from our liberty. Moreover, all
promises made by children are in themselves void; when they pledge
themselves they do not know what they are doing, for their narrow
vision cannot look beyond the present. A child can hardly lie when
he makes a promise; for he is only thinking how he can get out of
the present difficulty, any means which has not an immediate result
is the same to him; when he promises for the future he promises
nothing, and his imagination is as yet incapable of projecting him
into the future while he lives in the present. If he could escape
a whipping or get a packet of sweets by promising to throw himself
out of the window to-morrow, he would promise on the spot. This
is why the law disregards all promises made by minors, and when
fathers and teachers are stricter and demand that promises shall
be kept, it is only when the promise refers to something the child
ought to do even if he had made no promise.

The child cannot lie when he makes a promise, for he does not know
what he is doing when he makes his promise. The case is different
when he breaks his promise, which is a sort of retrospective falsehood;
for he clearly remembers making the promise, but he fails to see
the importance of keeping it. Unable to look into the future, he
cannot foresee the results of things, and when he breaks his promises
he does nothing contrary to his stage of reasoning.

Children's lies are therefore entirely the work of their teachers,
and to teach them to speak the truth is nothing less than to teach
them the art of lying. In your zeal to rule, control, and teach
them, you never find sufficient means at your disposal. You wish
to gain fresh influence over their minds by baseless maxims, by
unreasonable precepts; and you would rather they knew their lessons
and told lies, than leave them ignorant and truthful.

We, who only give our scholars lessons in practice, who prefer to
have them good rather than clever, never demand the truth lest they
should conceal it, and never claim any promise lest they should be
tempted to break it. If some mischief has been done in my absence
and I do not know who did it, I shall take care not to accuse
Emile, nor to say, "Did you do it?" [Footnote: Nothing could be more
indiscreet than such a question, especially if the child is guilty.
Then if he thinks you know what he has done, he will think you are
setting a trap for him, and this idea can only set him against you.
If he thinks you do not know, he will say to himself, "Why should
I make my fault known?" And here we have the first temptation to
falsehood as the direct result of your foolish question.] For in so
doing what should I do but teach him to deny it? If his difficult
temperament compels me to make some agreement with him, I will take
good care that the suggestion always comes from him, never from
me; that when he undertakes anything he has always a present and
effective interest in fulfilling his promise, and if he ever fails
this lie will bring down on him all the unpleasant consequences
which he sees arising from the natural order of things, and not
from his tutor's vengeance. But far from having recourse to such
cruel measures, I feel almost certain that Emile will not know for
many years what it is to lie, and that when he does find out, he
will be astonished and unable to understand what can be the use of
it. It is quite clear that the less I make his welfare dependent on
the will or the opinions of others, the less is it to his interest
to lie.

When we are in no hurry to teach there is no hurry to demand, and
we can take our time, so as to demand nothing except under fitting
conditions. Then the child is training himself, in so far as he
is not being spoilt. But when a fool of a tutor, who does not know
how to set about his business, is always making his pupil promise
first this and then that, without discrimination, choice, or
proportion, the child is puzzled and overburdened with all these
promises, and neglects, forgets or even scorns them, and considering
them as so many empty phrases he makes a game of making and breaking
promises. Would you have him keep his promise faithfully, be
moderate in your claims upon him.

The detailed treatment I have just given to lying may be applied
in many respects to all the other duties imposed upon children,
whereby these duties are made not only hateful but impracticable.
For the sake of a show of preaching virtue you make them love every
vice; you instil these vices by forbidding them. Would you have
them pious, you take them to church till they are sick of it; you
teach them to gabble prayers until they long for the happy time
when they will not have to pray to God. To teach them charity you
make them give alms as if you scorned to give yourself. It is not
the child, but the master, who should give; however much he loves
his pupil he should vie with him for this honour; he should make
him think that he is too young to deserve it. Alms-giving is the
deed of a man who can measure the worth of his gift and the needs
of his fellow-men. The child, who knows nothing of these, can have
no merit in giving; he gives without charity, without kindness; he
is almost ashamed to give, for, to judge by your practice and his
own, he thinks it is only children who give, and that there is no
need for charity when we are grown up.

Observe that the only things children are set to give are things
of which they do not know the value, bits of metal carried in their
pockets for which they have no further use. A child would rather
give a hundred coins than one cake. But get this prodigal giver
to distribute what is dear to him, his toys, his sweets, his own
lunch. and we shall soon see if you have made him really generous.

People try yet another way; they soon restore what he gave to the
child, so that he gets used to giving everything which he knows
will come back to him. I have scarcely seen generosity in children
except of these two types, giving what is of no use to them, or
what they expect to get back again. "Arrange things," says Locke.
"so that experience may convince them that the most generous giver
gets the biggest share." That is to make the child superficially
generous but really greedy. He adds that "children will thus form
the habit of liberality." Yes, a usurer's liberality, which expects
cent. per cent. But when it is a question of real giving, good-bye
to the habit; when they do not get things back, they will not give.
It is the habit of the mind, not of the hands, that needs watching.
All the other virtues taught to children are like this, and to
preach these baseless virtues you waste their youth in sorrow. What
a sensible sort of education!

Teachers, have done with these shams; be good and kind; let your
example sink into your scholars' memories till they are old enough
to take it to heart. Rather than hasten to demand deeds of charity
from my pupil I prefer to perform such deeds in his presence, even
depriving him of the means of imitating me, as an honour beyond
his years; for it is of the utmost importance that he should not
regard a man's duties as merely those of a child. If when he sees
me help the poor he asks me about it, and it is time to reply to
his questions, [Footnote: It must be understood that I do not answer
his questions when he wants; that would be to subject myself to his
will and to place myself in the most dangerous state of dependence
that ever a tutor was in.] I shall say, "My dear boy, the rich only
exist, through the good-will of the poor, so they have promised
to feed those who have not enough to live on, either in goods
or labour." "Then you promised to do this?" "Certainly; I am only
master of the wealth that passes through my hands on the condition
attached to its ownership."

After this talk (and we have seen how a child may be brought to
understand it) another than Emile would be tempted to imitate me
and behave like a rich man; in such a case I should at least take
care that it was done without ostentation; I would rather he robbed
me of my privilege and hid himself to give. It is a fraud suitable
to his age, and the only one I could forgive in him.

I know that all these imitative virtues are only the virtues of a
monkey, and that a good action is only morally good when it is done
as such and not because of others. But at an age when the heart
does not yet feel anything, you must make children copy the deeds
you wish to grow into habits, until they can do them with understanding
and for the love of what is good. Man imitates, as do the beasts.
The love of imitating is well regulated by nature; in society it
becomes a vice. The monkey imitates man, whom he fears, and not
the other beasts, which he scorns; he thinks what is done by his
betters must be good. Among ourselves, our harlequins imitate all
that is good to degrade it and bring it into ridicule; knowing
their owners' baseness they try to equal what is better than they
are, or they strive to imitate what they admire, and their bad
taste appears in their choice of models, they would rather deceive
others or win applause for their own talents than become wiser
or better. Imitation has its roots in our desire to escape from
ourselves. If I succeed in my undertaking, Emile will certainly
have no such wish. So we must dispense with any seeming good that
might arise from it.

Examine your rules of education; you will find them all topsy-turvy,
especially in all that concerns virtue and morals. The only moral
lesson which is suited for a child--the most important lesson for
every time of life--is this: "Never hurt anybody." The very rule of
well-doing, if not subordinated to this rule, is dangerous, false,
and contradictory. Who is there who does no good? Every one does
some good, the wicked as well as the righteous; he makes one happy
at the cost of the misery of a hundred, and hence spring all our
misfortunes. The noblest virtues are negative, they are also the
most difficult, for they make little show, and do not even make
room for that pleasure so dear to the heart of man, the thought
that some one is pleased with us. If there be a man who does no
harm to his neighbours, what good must he have accomplished! What
a bold heart, what a strong character it needs! It is not in talking
about this maxim, but in trying to practise it, that we discover
both its greatness and its difficulty. [Footnote: The precept
"Never hurt anybody," implies the greatest possible independence
of human society; for in the social state one man's good is another
man's evil. This relation is part of the nature of things; it is
inevitable. You may apply this test to man in society and to the
hermit to discover which is best. A distinguished author says, "None
but the wicked can live alone." I say, "None but the good can live
alone." This proposition, if less sententious, is truer and more
logical than the other. If the wicked were alone, what evil would
he do? It is among his fellows that he lays his snares for others.
If they wish to apply this argument to the man of property, my
answer is to be found in the passage to which this note is appended.]

This will give you some slight idea of the precautions I would
have you take in giving children instruction which cannot always
be refused without risk to themselves or others, or the far greater
risk of the formation of bad habits, which would be difficult to
correct later on; but be sure this necessity will not often arise
with children who are properly brought up, for they cannot possibly
become rebellious, spiteful, untruthful, or greedy, unless the
seeds of these vices are sown in their hearts. What I have just
said applies therefore rather to the exception than the rule. But
the oftener children have the opportunity of quitting their proper
condition, and contracting the vices of men, the oftener will
these exceptions arise. Those who are brought up in the world must
receive more precocious instruction than those who are brought up
in retirement. So this solitary education would be preferable, even
if it did nothing more than leave childhood time to ripen.

There is quite another class of exceptions: those so gifted by nature
that they rise above the level of their age. As there are men who
never get beyond infancy, so there are others who are never, so
to speak, children, they are men almost from birth. The difficulty
is that these cases are very rare, very difficult to distinguish;
while every mother, who knows that a child may be a prodigy,
is convinced that her child is that one. They go further; they
mistake the common signs of growth for marks of exceptional talent.
Liveliness, sharp sayings, romping, amusing simplicity, these
are the characteristic marks of this age, and show that the child
is a child indeed. Is it strange that a child who is encouraged
to chatter and allowed to say anything, who is restrained neither
by consideration nor convention, should chance to say something
clever? Were he never to hit the mark, his case would be stranger
than that of the astrologer who, among a thousand errors, occasionally
predicts the truth. "They lie so often," said Henry IV., "that at
last they say what is true." If you want to say something clever,
you have only to talk long enough. May Providence watch over those
fine folk who have no other claim to social distinction.

The finest thoughts may spring from a child's brain, or rather the
best words may drop from his lips, just as diamonds of great worth
may fall into his hands, while neither the thoughts nor the diamonds
are his own; at that age neither can be really his. The child's
sayings do not mean to him what they mean to us, the ideas he
attaches to them are different. His ideas, if indeed he has any
ideas at all, have neither order nor connection; there is nothing
sure, nothing certain, in his thoughts. Examine your so-called
prodigy. Now and again you will discover in him extreme activity of
mind and extraordinary clearness of thought. More often this same
mind will seem slack and spiritless, as if wrapped in mist. Sometimes
he goes before you, sometimes he will not stir. One moment you
would call him a genius, another a fool. You would be mistaken in
both; he is a child, an eaglet who soars aloft for a moment, only
to drop back into the nest.

Treat him, therefore, according to his age, in spite of appearances,
and beware of exhausting his strength by over-much exercise. If the
young brain grows warm and begins to bubble, let it work freely,
but do not heat it any further, lest it lose its goodness, and when
the first gases have been given off, collect and compress the rest
so that in after years they may turn to life-giving heat and real
energy. If not, your time and your pains will be wasted, you will
destroy your own work, and after foolishly intoxicating yourself
with these heady fumes, you will have nothing left but an insipid
and worthless wine.

Silly children grow into ordinary men. I know no generalisation
more certain than this. It is the most difficult thing in the
world to distinguish between genuine stupidity, and that apparent
and deceitful stupidity which is the sign of a strong character.
At first sight it seems strange that the two extremes should have
the same outward signs; and yet it may well be so, for at an age
when man has as yet no true ideas, the whole difference between
the genius and the rest consists in this: the latter only take in
false ideas, while the former, finding nothing but false ideas,
receives no ideas at all. In this he resembles the fool; the one
is fit for nothing, the other finds nothing fit for him. The only
way of distinguishing between them depends upon chance, which may
offer the genius some idea which he can understand, while the fool
is always the same. As a child, the young Cato was taken for an
idiot by his parents; he was obstinate and silent, and that was all
they perceived in him; it was only in Sulla's ante-chamber that
his uncle discovered what was in him. Had he never found his way
there, he might have passed for a fool till he reached the age
of reason. Had Caesar never lived, perhaps this same Cato, who
discerned his fatal genius, and foretold his great schemes, would
have passed for a dreamer all his days. Those who judge children
hastily are apt to be mistaken; they are often more childish than
the child himself. I knew a middle-aged man, [Footnote: The Abbe de
Condillac] whose friendship I esteemed an honour, who was reckoned
a fool by his family. All at once he made his name as a philosopher,
and I have no doubt posterity will give him a high place among the
greatest thinkers and the profoundest metaphysicians of his day.

Hold childhood in reverence, and do not be in any hurry to judge
it for good or ill. Leave exceptional cases to show themselves,
let their qualities be tested and confirmed, before special methods
are adopted. Give nature time to work before you take over her
business, lest you interfere with her dealings. You assert that
you know the value of time and are afraid to waste it. You fail
to perceive that it is a greater waste of time to use it ill than
to do nothing, and that a child ill taught is further from virtue
than a child who has learnt nothing at all. You are afraid to see
him spending his early years doing nothing. What! is it nothing
to be happy, nothing to run and jump all day? He will never be so
busy again all his life long. Plato, in his Republic, which is
considered so stern, teaches the children only through festivals,
games, songs, and amusements. It seems as if he had accomplished his
purpose when he had taught them to be happy; and Seneca, speaking
of the Roman lads in olden days, says, "They were always on their
feet, they were never taught anything which kept them sitting." Were
they any the worse for it in manhood? Do not be afraid, therefore,
of this so-called idleness. What would you think of a man who
refused to sleep lest he should waste part of his life? You would
say, "He is mad; he is not enjoying his life, he is robbing himself
of part of it; to avoid sleep he is hastening his death." Remember
that these two cases are alike, and that childhood is the sleep of

The apparent ease with which children learn is their ruin. You fail
to see that this very facility proves that they are not learning.
Their shining, polished brain reflects, as in a mirror, the things
you show them, but nothing sinks in. The child remembers the words
and the ideas are reflected back; his hearers understand them, but
to him they are meaningless.

Although memory and reason are wholly different faculties, the
one does not really develop apart from the other. Before the age
of reason the child receives images, not ideas; and there is this
difference between them: images are merely the pictures of external
objects, while ideas are notions about those objects determined by
their relations. An image when it is recalled may exist by itself
in the mind, but every idea implies other ideas. When we image
we merely perceive, when we reason we compare. Our sensations are
merely passive, our notions or ideas spring from an active principle
which judges. The proof of this will be given later.

I maintain, therefore, that as children are incapable of judging,
they have no true memory. They retain sounds, form, sensation, but
rarely ideas, and still more rarely relations. You tell me they
acquire some rudiments of geometry, and you think you prove your
case; not so, it is mine you prove; you show that far from being able
to reason themselves, children are unable to retain the reasoning
of others; for if you follow the method of these little geometricians
you will see they only retain the exact impression of the figure
and the terms of the demonstration. They cannot meet the slightest
new objection; if the figure is reversed they can do nothing. All
their knowledge is on the sensation-level, nothing has penetrated
to their understanding. Their memory is little better than their
other powers, for they always have to learn over again, when they
are grown up, what they learnt as children.

I am far from thinking, however, that children have no sort of reason.
[Footnote: I have noticed again and again that it is impossible
in writing a lengthy work to use the same words always in the
same sense. There is no language rich enough to supply terms and
expressions sufficient for the modifications of our ideas. The method
of defining every term and constantly substituting the definition
for the term defined looks well, but it is impracticable. For how
can we escape from our vicious circle? Definitions would be all
very well if we did not use words in the making of them. In spite
of this I am convinced that even in our poor language we can make
our meaning clear, not by always using words in the same sense,
but by taking care hat every time we use a word the sense in which
we use it is sufficiently indicated by the sense of the context,
so that each sentence in which the word occurs acts as a sort of
definition. Sometimes I say children are incapable of reasoning.
Sometimes I say they reason cleverly. I must admit that my words are
often contradictory, but I do not think there is any contradiction
in my ideas.] On the contrary, I think they reason very well with
regard to things that affect their actual and sensible well-being.
But people are mistaken as to the extent of their information, and
they attribute to them knowledge they do not possess, and make them
reason about things they cannot understand. Another mistake is to
try to turn their attention to matters which do not concern them
in the least, such as their future interest, their happiness when
they are grown up, the opinion people will have of them when they
are men--terms which are absolutely meaningless when addressed to
creatures who are entirely without foresight. But all the forced
studies of these poor little wretches are directed towards matters
utterly remote from their minds. You may judge how much attention
they can give to them.

The pedagogues, who make a great display of the teaching they give
their pupils, are paid to say just the opposite; yet their actions
show that they think just as I do. For what do they teach? Words!
words! words! Among the various sciences they boast of teaching
their scholars, they take good care never to choose those which
might be really useful to them, for then they would be compelled to
deal with things and would fail utterly; the sciences they choose
are those we seem to know when we know their technical terms--heraldry,
geography, chronology, languages, etc., studies so remote from man,
and even more remote from the child, that it is a wonder if he can
ever make any use of any part of them.

You will be surprised to find that I reckon the study of languages
among the useless lumber of education; but you must remember that
I am speaking of the studies of the earliest years, and whatever
you may say, I do not believe any child under twelve or fifteen
ever really acquired two languages.

If the study of languages were merely the study of words, that is,
of the symbols by which language expresses itself, then this might
be a suitable study for children; but languages, as they change
the symbols, also modify the ideas which the symbols express. Minds
are formed by language, thoughts take their colour from its ideas.
Reason alone is common to all. Every language has its own form, a
difference which may be partly cause and partly effect of differences
in national character; this conjecture appears to be confirmed
by the fact that in every nation under the sun speech follows the
changes of manners, and is preserved or altered along with them.

By use the child acquires one of these different forms, and it is
the only language he retains till the age of reason. To acquire
two languages he must be able to compare their ideas, and how can
he compare ideas he can barely understand? Everything may have
a thousand meanings to him, but each idea can only have one form,
so he can only learn one language. You assure me he learns several
languages; I deny it. I have seen those little prodigies who are
supposed to speak half a dozen languages. I have heard them speak
first in German, then in Latin, French, or Italian; true, they used
half a dozen different vocabularies, but they always spoke German.
In a word, you may give children as many synonyms as you like; it
is not their language but their words that you change; they will
never have but one language.

To conceal their deficiencies teachers choose the dead languages,
in which we have no longer any judges whose authority is beyond
dispute. The familiar use of these tongues disappeared long ago,
so they are content to imitate what they find in books, and they
call that talking. If the master's Greek and Latin is such poor
stuff, what about the children? They have scarcely learnt their
primer by heart, without understanding a word of it, when they are
set to translate a French speech into Latin words; then when they
are more advanced they piece together a few phrases of Cicero for
prose or a few lines of Vergil for verse. Then they think they can
speak Latin, and who will contradict them?

In any study whatsoever the symbols are of no value without the
idea of the things symbolised. Yet the education of the child in
confined to those symbols, while no one ever succeeds in making
him understand the thing signified. You think you are teaching him
what the world is like; he is only learning the map; he is taught
the names of towns, countries, rivers, which have no existence for
him except on the paper before him. I remember seeing a geography
somewhere which began with: "What is the world?"--"A sphere of
cardboard." That is the child's geography. I maintain that after two
years' work with the globe and cosmography, there is not a single
ten-year-old child who could find his way from Paris to Saint Denis
by the help of the rules he has learnt. I maintain that not one of
these children could find his way by the map about the paths on his
father's estate without getting lost. These are the young doctors
who can tell us the position of Pekin, Ispahan, Mexico, and every
country in the world.

You tell me the child must be employed on studies which only need
eyes. That may be; but if there are any such studies, they are
unknown to me.

It is a still more ridiculous error to set them to study history,
which is considered within their grasp because it is merely
a collection of facts. But what is meant by this word "fact"? Do
you think the relations which determine the facts of history are
so easy to grasp that the corresponding ideas are easily developed
in the child's mind! Do you think that a real knowledge of events
can exist apart from the knowledge of their causes and effects,
and that history has so little relation to words that the one can
be learnt without the other? If you perceive nothing in a man's
actions beyond merely physical and external movements, what do you
learn from history? Absolutely nothing; while this study, robbed
of all that makes it interesting, gives you neither pleasure nor
information. If you want to judge actions by their moral bearings,
try to make these moral bearings intelligible to your scholars.
You will soon find out if they are old enough to learn history.

Remember, reader, that he who speaks to you is neither a scholar
nor a philosopher, but a plain man and a lover of truth; a man who
is pledged to no one party or system, a hermit, who mixes little with
other men, and has less opportunity of imbibing their prejudices,
and more time to reflect on the things that strike him in his
intercourse with them. My arguments are based less on theories than
on facts, and I think I can find no better way to bring the facts
home to you than by quoting continually some example from the
observations which suggested my arguments.

I had gone to spend a few days in the country with a worthy mother
of a family who took great pains with her children and their
education. One morning I was present while the eldest boy had his
lessons. His tutor, who had taken great pains to teach him ancient
history, began upon the story of Alexander and lighted on the
well-known anecdote of Philip the Doctor. There is a picture of
it, and the story is well worth study. The tutor, worthy man, made
several reflections which I did not like with regard to Alexander's
courage, but I did not argue with him lest I should lower him in the
eyes of his pupil. At dinner they did not fail to get the little
fellow talking, French fashion. The eager spirit of a child of
his age, and the confident expectation of applause, made him say
a number of silly things, and among them from time to time there
were things to the point, and these made people forget the rest. At
last came the story of Philip the Doctor. He told it very distinctly
and prettily. After the usual meed of praise, demanded by his
mother and expected by the child himself, they discussed what he
had said. Most of them blamed Alexander's rashness, some of them,
following the tutor's example, praised his resolution, which showed
me that none of those present really saw the beauty of the story.
"For my own part," I said, "if there was any courage or any
steadfastness at all in Alexander's conduct I think it was only
a piece of bravado." Then every one agreed that it was a piece of
bravado. I was getting angry, and would have replied, when a lady
sitting beside me, who had not hitherto spoken, bent towards me
and whispered in my ear. "Jean Jacques," said she, "say no more,
they will never understand you." I looked at her, I recognised the
wisdom of her advice, and I held my tongue.

Several things made me suspect that our young professor had not in
the least understood the story he told so prettily. After dinner
I took his hand in mine and we went for a walk in the park. When
I had questioned him quietly, I discovered that he admired the
vaunted courage of Alexander more than any one. But in what do you
suppose he thought this courage consisted? Merely in swallowing
a disagreeable drink at a single draught without hesitation and
without any signs of dislike. Not a fortnight before the poor child
had been made to take some medicine which he could hardly swallow,
and the taste of it was still in his mouth. Death, and death by
poisoning, were for him only disagreeable sensations, and senna was
his only idea of poison. I must admit, however, that Alexander's
resolution had made a great impression on his young mind, and he
was determined that next time he had to take medicine he would be
an Alexander. Without entering upon explanations which were clearly
beyond his grasp, I confirmed him in his praiseworthy intention,
and returned home smiling to myself over the great wisdom of parents
and teachers who expect to teach history to children.

Such words as king, emperor, war, conquest, law, and revolution are
easily put into their mouths; but when it is a question of attaching
clear ideas to these words the explanations are very different from
our talk with Robert the gardener.

I feel sure some readers dissatisfied with that "Say no more, Jean
Jacques," will ask what I really saw to admire in the conduct of
Alexander. Poor things! if you need telling, how can you comprehend
it? Alexander believed in virtue, he staked his head, he staked
his own life on that faith, his great soul was fitted to hold such
a faith. To swallow that draught was to make a noble profession
of the faith that was in him. Never did mortal man recite a finer
creed. If there is an Alexander in our own days, show me such deeds.

If children have no knowledge of words, there is no study that is
suitable for them. If they have no real ideas they have no real
memory, for I do not call that a memory which only recalls sensations.
What is the use of inscribing on their brains a list of symbols
which mean nothing to them? They will learn the symbols when they
learn the things signified; why give them the useless trouble of
learning them twice over? And yet what dangerous prejudices are you
implanting when you teach them to accept as knowledge words which
have no meaning for them. The first meaningless phrase, the first
thing taken for granted on the word of another person without
seeing its use for himself, this is the beginning of the ruin of
the child's judgment. He may dazzle the eyes of fools long enough
before he recovers from such a loss. [Footnote: The learning of
most philosophers is like the learning of children. Vast erudition
results less in the multitude of ideas than in a multitude of
images. Dates, names, places, all objects isolated or unconnected
with ideas are merely retained in the memory for symbols, and we
rarely recall any of these without seeing the right or left page
of the book in which we read it, or the form in which we first saw
it. Most science was of this kind till recently. The science of
our times is another matter; study and observation are things of
the past; we dream and the dreams of a bad night are given to us as
philosophy. You will say I too am a dreamer; I admit it, but I do
what the others fail to do, I give my dreams as dreams, and leave
the reader to discover whether there is anything in them which may
prove useful to those who are awake.]

No, if nature has given the child this plasticity of brain which
fits him to receive every kind of impression, it was not that you
should imprint on it the names and dates of kings, the jargon of
heraldry, the globe and geography, all those words without present
meaning or future use for the child, which flood of words overwhelms
his sad and barren childhood. But by means of this plasticity all
the ideas he can understand and use, all that concern his happiness
and will some day throw light upon his duties, should be traced at
an early age in indelible characters upon his brain, to guide him
to live in such a way as befits his nature and his powers.

Without the study of books, such a memory as the child may possess
is not left idle; everything he sees and hears makes an impression
on him, he keeps a record of men's sayings and doings, and his
whole environment is the book from which he unconsciously enriches
his memory, till his judgment is able to profit by it.

To select these objects, to take care to present him constantly
with those he may know, to conceal from him those he ought not to
know, this is the real way of training his early memory; and in
this way you must try to provide him with a storehouse of knowledge
which will serve for his education in youth and his conduct throughout
life. True, this method does not produce infant prodigies, nor will
it reflect glory upon their tutors and governesses, but it produces
men, strong, right-thinking men, vigorous both in mind and body,
men who do not win admiration as children, but honour as men.

Emile will not learn anything by heart, not even fables, not even
the fables of La Fontaine, simple and delightful as they are,
for the words are no more the fable than the words of history are
history. How can people be so blind as to call fables the child's
system of morals, without considering that the child is not only
amused by the apologue but misled by it? He is attracted by what
is false and he misses the truth, and the means adopted to make the
teaching pleasant prevent him profiting by it. Men may be taught
by fables; children require the naked truth.

All children learn La Fontaine's fables, but not one of them
understands them. It is just as well that they do not understand,
for the morality of the fables is so mixed and so unsuitable for
their age that it would be more likely to incline them to vice
than to virtue. "More paradoxes!" you exclaim. Paradoxes they may
be; but let us see if there is not some truth in them.

I maintain that the child does not understand the fables he is
taught, for however you try to explain them, the teaching you wish
to extract from them demands ideas which he cannot grasp, while the
poetical form which makes it easier to remember makes it harder to
understand, so that clearness is sacrificed to facility. Without
quoting the host of wholly unintelligible and useless fables which
are taught to children because they happen to be in the same book
as the others, let us keep to those which the author seems to have
written specially for children.

In the whole of La Fontaine's works I only know five or six fables
conspicuous for child-like simplicity; I will take the first of
these as an example, for it is one whose moral is most suitable for
all ages, one which children get hold of with the least difficulty,
which they have most pleasure in learning, one which for this very
reason the author has placed at the beginning of his book. If his
object were really to delight and instruct children, this fable is
his masterpiece. Let us go through it and examine it briefly.



"Maitre corbeau, sur un arbre perche" (Mr. Crow perched on a
tree).--"Mr.!" what does that word really mean? What does it mean
before a proper noun? What is its meaning here? What is a crow?
What is "un arbre perche"? We do not say "on a tree perched," but
perched on a tree. So we must speak of poetical inversions, we
must distinguish between prose and verse.

"Tenait dans son bec un fromage" (Held a cheese in his beak)--What
sort of a cheese? Swiss, Brie, or Dutch? If the child has never
seen crows, what is the good of talking about them? If he has seen
crows will he believe that they can hold a cheese in their beak?
Your illustrations should always be taken from nature.

"Maitre renard, par l'odeur alleche" (Mr. Fox, attracted by
the smell).--Another Master! But the title suits the fox,--who is
master of all the tricks of his trade. You must explain what a fox
is, and distinguish between the real fox and the conventional fox
of the fables.

"Alleche." The word is obsolete; you will have to explain it. You
will say it is only used in verse. Perhaps the child will ask why
people talk differently in verse. How will you answer that question?

"Alleche, par l'odeur d'un fromage." The cheese was held in his beak
by a crow perched on a tree; it must indeed have smelt strong if
the fox, in his thicket or his earth, could smell it. This is the
way you train your pupil in that spirit of right judgment, which
rejects all but reasonable arguments, and is able to distinguish
between truth and falsehood in other tales.

"Lui tient a peu pres ce langage" (Spoke to him after this fashion).--"Ce
langage." So foxes talk, do they! They talk like crows! Mind what
you are about, oh, wise tutor; weigh your answer before you give
it, it is more important than you suspect.

"Eh! Bonjour, Monsieur le Corbeau!" ("Good-day, Mr. Crow!")--Mr.!
The child sees this title laughed to scorn before he knows it is
a title of honour. Those who say "Monsieur du Corbeau" will find
their work cut out for them to explain that "du."

"Que vous etes joli! Que vous me semblez beau!" ("How handsome you
are, how beautiful in my eyes!")--Mere padding. The child, finding
the same thing repeated twice over in different words, is learning
to speak carelessly. If you say this redundance is a device of the
author, a part of the fox's scheme to make his praise seem all the
greater by his flow of words, that is a valid excuse for me, but
not for my pupil.

"Sans mentir, si votre ramage" ("Without lying, if your song").--"Without
lying." So people do tell lies sometimes. What will the child think
of you if you tell him the fox only says "Sans mentir" because he
is lying?

a votre plumage" ("Answered to your fine feathers").--"Answered!"
What does that mean? Try to make the child compare qualities so
different as those of song and plumage; you will see how much he

"Vous seriez le phenix des hotes de ces bois!" ("You would be the
phoenix of all the inhabitants of this wood!")--The phoenix! What
is a phoenix? All of a sudden we are floundering in the lies of
antiquity--we are on the edge of mythology.

"The inhabitants of this wood." What figurative language! The
flatterer adopts the grand style to add dignity to his speech, to
make it more attractive. Will the child understand this cunning?
Does he know, how could he possibly know, what is meant by grand
style and simple style?

"A ces mots le corbeau ne se sent pas de joie" (At these words, the
crow is beside himself with delight).--To realise the full force
of this proverbial expression we must have experienced very strong

"Et, pour montrer sa belle voix" (And, to show his fine voice).--Remember
that the child, to understand this line and the whole fable, must
know what is meant by the crow's fine voice.

"Il ouvre un large bee, laisse tomber sa proie" (He opens his wide
beak and drops his prey).--This is a splendid line; its very sound
suggests a picture. I see the great big ugly gaping beak, I hear
the cheese crashing through the branches; but this kind of beauty
is thrown away upon children.

"Le renard s'en saisit, et dit, 'Mon bon monsieur'" (The fox catches
it, and says, "My dear sir").--So kindness is already folly. You
certainly waste no time in teaching your children.

"Apprenez que tout flatteur" ("You must learn that every flatterer").--A
general maxim. The child can make neither head nor tail of it.

"Vit au depens de celui qui l'ecoute" ("Lives at the expense of
the person who listens to his flattery").--No child of ten ever
understood that.

"Ce lecon vaut bien un fromage, sans doute" ("No doubt this lesson
is well worth a cheese").--This is intelligible and its meaning is
very good. Yet there are few children who could compare a cheese and
a lesson, few who would not prefer the cheese. You will therefore
have to make them understand that this is said in mockery. What
subtlety for a child!

"Le corbeau, honteux et confus" (The crow, ashamed and confused).--Anothing
pleonasm, and there is no excuse for it this time.

"Jura, mais un peu tard, qu'on ne l'y prendrait plus" (Swore,
but rather too late, that he would not be caught in that way
again).--"Swore." What master will be such a fool as to try to
explain to a child the meaning of an oath?

What a host of details! but much more would be needed for the
analysis of all the ideas in this fable and their reduction to the
simple and elementary ideas of which each is composed. But who thinks
this analysis necessary to make himself intelligible to children?
Who of us is philosopher enough to be able to put himself in the
child's place? Let us now proceed to the moral.

Should we teach a six-year-old child that there are people who
flatter and lie for the sake of gain? One might perhaps teach them
that there are people who make fools of little boys and laugh at
their foolish vanity behind their backs. But the whole thing is
spoilt by the cheese. You are teaching them how to make another
drop his cheese rather than how to keep their own. This is my second
paradox, and it is not less weighty than the former one.

Watch children learning their fables and you will see that when
they have a chance of applying them they almost always use them
exactly contrary to the author's meaning; instead of being on their
guard against the fault which you would prevent or cure, they are
disposed to like the vice by which one takes advantage of another's
defects. In the above fable children laugh at the crow, but they
all love the fox. In the next fable you expect them to follow
the example of the grasshopper. Not so, they will choose the ant.
They do not care to abase themselves, they will always choose the
principal part--this is the choice of self-love, a very natural
choice. But what a dreadful lesson for children! There could be
no monster more detestable than a harsh and avaricious child, who
realised what he was asked to give and what he refused. The ant
does more; she teaches him not merely to refuse but to revile.

In all the fables where the lion plays a part, usually the chief
part, the child pretends to be the lion, and when he has to preside
over some distribution of good things, he takes care to keep
everything for himself; but when the lion is overthrown by the gnat,
the child is the gnat. He learns how to sting to death those whom
he dare not attack openly.

From the fable of the sleek dog and the starving wolf he learns a
lesson of licence rather than the lesson of moderation which you
profess to teach him. I shall never forget seeing a little girl
weeping bitterly over this tale, which had been told her as a lesson
in obedience. The poor child hated to be chained up; she felt the
chain chafing her neck; she was crying because she was not a wolf.

So from the first of these fables the child learns the basest
flattery; from the second, cruelty; from the third, injustice; from
the fourth, satire; from the fifth, insubordination. The last of
these lessons is no more suitable for your pupils than for mine,
though he has no use for it. What results do you expect to get
from your teaching when it contradicts itself! But perhaps the
same system of morals which furnishes me with objections against
the fables supplies you with as many reasons for keeping to them.
Society requires a rule of morality in our words; it also requires
a rule of morality in our deeds; and these two rules are quite
different. The former is contained in the Catechism and it is left
there; the other is contained in La Fontaine's fables for children
and his tales for mothers. The same author does for both.

Let us make a bargain, M. de la Fontaine. For my own part,
I undertake to make your books my favourite study; I undertake to
love you, and to learn from your fables, for I hope I shall not
mistake their meaning. As to my pupil, permit me to prevent him
studying any one of them till you have convinced me that it is good
for him to learn things three-fourths of which are unintelligible
to him, and until you can convince me that in those fables he can
understand he will never reverse the order and imitate the villain
instead of taking warning from his dupe.

When I thus get rid of children's lessons, I get rid of the chief
cause of their sorrows, namely their books. Reading is the curse
of childhood, yet it is almost the only occupation you can find
for children. Emile, at twelve years old, will hardly know what a
book is. "But," you say, "he must. at least, know how to read."

When reading is of use to him, I admit he must learn to read, but
till then he will only find it a nuisance.

If children are not to be required to do anything as a matter of
obedience, it follows that they will only learn what they perceive
to be of real and present value, either for use or enjoyment; what
other motive could they have for learning? The art of speaking to
our absent friends, of hearing their words; the art of letting them
know at first hand our feelings, our desires, and our longings, is
an art whose usefulness can be made plain at any age. How is it
that this art, so useful and pleasant in itself, has become a terror
to children? Because the child is compelled to acquire it against
his will, and to use it for purposes beyond his comprehension. A
child has no great wish to perfect himself in the use of an instrument
of torture, but make it a means to his pleasure, and soon you will
not be able to keep him from it.

People make a great fuss about discovering the beat way to teach
children to read. They invent "bureaux" [Footnote: Translator's
note.--The "bureau" was a sort of case containing letters to
be put together to form words. It was a favourite device for the
teaching of reading and gave its name to a special method, called
the bureau-method, of learning to read.] and cards, they turn the
nursery into a printer's shop. Locke would have them taught to read
by means of dice. What a fine idea! And the pity of it! There is a
better way than any of those, and one which is generally overlooked--it
consists in the desire to learn. Arouse this desire in your scholar
and have done with your "bureaux" and your dice--any method will

Present interest, that is the motive power, the only motive power
that takes us far and safely. Sometimes Emile receives notes of
invitation from his father or mother, his relations or friends; he
is invited to a dinner, a walk, a boating expedition, to see some
public entertainment. These notes are short, clear, plain, and well
written. Some one must read them to him, and he cannot always find
anybody when wanted; no more consideration is shown to him than he
himself showed to you yesterday. Time passes, the chance is lost.
The note is read to him at last, but it is too late. Oh! if
only he had known how to read! He receives other notes, so short,
so interesting, he would like to try to read them. Sometimes he
gets help, sometimes none. He does his best, and at last he makes
out half the note; it is something about going to-morrow to drink
cream--Where? With whom? He cannot tell--how hard he tries to make
out the rest! I do not think Emile will need a "bureau." Shall I
proceed to the teaching of writing? No, I am ashamed to toy with
these trifles in a treatise on education.

I will just add a few words which contain a principle of great
importance. It is this--What we are in no hurry to get is usually
obtained with speed and certainty. I am pretty sure Emile will learn
to read and write before he is ten, just because I care very little
whether he can do so before he is fifteen; but I would rather he
never learnt to read at all, than that this art should be acquired
at the price of all that makes reading useful. What is the use of
reading to him if he always hates it? "Id imprimis cavere oportebit,
ne studia, qui amare nondum potest, oderit, et amaritudinem semel
perceptam etiam ultra rudes annos reformidet."--Quintil.

The more I urge my method of letting well alone, the more objections
I perceive against it. If your pupil learns nothing from you, he
will learn from others. If you do not instil truth he will learn
falsehoods; the prejudices you fear to teach him he will acquire
from those about him, they will find their way through every one
of his senses; they will either corrupt his reason before it is
fully developed or his mind will become torpid through inaction,
and will become engrossed in material things. If we do not form the
habit of thinking as children, we shall lose the power of thinking
for the rest of our life.

I fancy I could easily answer that objection, but why should I answer
every objection? If my method itself answers your objections, it
is good; if not, it is good for nothing. I continue my explanation.

If, in accordance with the plan I have sketched, you follow rules
which are just the opposite of the established practice, if instead
of taking your scholar far afield, instead of wandering with him
in distant places, in far-off lands, in remote centuries, in the
ends of the earth, and in the very heavens themselves, you try to
keep him to himself, to his own concerns, you will then find him
able to perceive, to remember, and even to reason; this is nature's
order. As the sentient being becomes active his discernment develops
along with his strength. Not till his strength is in excess of
what is needed for self-preservation, is the speculative faculty
developed, the faculty adapted for using this superfluous strength
for other purposes. Would you cultivate your pupil's intelligence,
cultivate the strength it is meant to control. Give his body constant
exercise, make it strong and healthy, in order to make him good
and wise; let him work, let him do things, let him run and shout,
let him be always on the go; make a man of him in strength, and he
will soon be a man in reason.

Of course by this method you will make him stupid if you are always
giving him directions, always saying come here, go there, stop,
do this, don't do that. If your head always guides his hands, his
own mind will become useless. But remember the conditions we laid
down; if you are a mere pedant it is not worth your while to read
my book.

It is a lamentable mistake to imagine that bodily activity hinders
the working of the mind, as if these two kinds of activity ought
not to advance hand in hand, and as if the one were not intended
to act as guide to the other.

There are two classes of men who are constantly engaged in bodily
activity, peasants and savages, and certainly neither of these
pays the least attention to the cultivation of the mind. Peasants
are rough, coarse, and clumsy; savages are noted, not only for their
keen senses, but for great subtility of mind. Speaking generally,
there is nothing duller than a peasant or sharper than a savage.
What is the cause of this difference? The peasant has always done
as he was told, what his father did before him, what he himself
has always done; he is the creature of habit, he spends his life
almost like an automaton on the same tasks; habit and obedience
have taken the place of reason.

The case of the savage is very different; he is tied to no one
place, he has no prescribed task, no superior to obey, he knows
no law but his own will; he is therefore forced to reason at every
step he takes. He can neither move nor walk without considering the
consequences. Thus the more his body is exercised, the more alert
is his mind; his strength and his reason increase together, and
each helps to develop the other.

Oh, learned tutor, let us see which of our two scholars is most
like the savage and which is most like the peasant. Your scholar
is subject to a power which is continually giving him instruction;
he acts only at the word of command; he dare not eat when he is
hungry, nor laugh when he is merry, nor weep when he is sad, nor
offer one hand rather than the other, nor stir a foot unless he is
told to do it; before long he will not venture to breathe without
orders. What would you have him think about, when you do all the
thinking for him? He rests securely on your foresight, why should
he think for himself? He knows you have undertaken to take care of
him, to secure his welfare, and he feels himself freed from this
responsibility. His judgment relies on yours; what you have not
forbidden that he does, knowing that he runs no risk. Why should
he learn the signs of rain? He knows you watch the clouds for him.
Why should he time his walk? He knows there is no fear of your
letting him miss his dinner hour. He eats till you tell him to
stop, he stops when you tell him to do so; he does not attend to
the teaching of his own stomach, but yours. In vain do you make his
body soft by inaction; his understanding does not become subtle.
Far from it, you complete your task of discrediting reason in
his eyes, by making him use such reasoning power as he has on the
things which seem of least importance to him. As he never finds
his reason any use to him, he decides at last that it is useless.
If he reasons badly he will be found fault with; nothing worse will
happen to him; and he has been found fault with so often that he
pays no attention to it, such a common danger no longer alarms him.

Yet you will find he has a mind. He is quick enough to chatter
with the women in the way I spoke of further back; but if he is in
danger, if he must come to a decision in difficult circumstances,
you will find him a hundredfold more stupid and silly than the son
of the roughest labourer.

As for my pupil, or rather Nature's pupil, he has been trained from
the outset to be as self-reliant as possible, he has not formed
the habit of constantly seeking help from others, still less of
displaying his stores of learning. On the other hand, he exercises
discrimination and forethought, he reasons about everything that
concerns himself. He does not chatter, he acts. Not a word does
he know of what is going on in the world at large, but he knows
very thoroughly what affects himself. As he is always stirring he
is compelled to notice many things, to recognise many effects; he
soon acquires a good deal of experience. Nature, not man, is his
schoolmaster, and he learns all the quicker because he is not aware
that he has any lesson to learn. So mind and body work together.
He is always carrying out his own ideas, not those of other people,
and thus he unites thought and action; as he grows in health and
strength he grows in wisdom and discernment. This is the way to
attain later on to what is generally considered incompatible, though
most great men have achieved it, strength of body and strength of
mind, the reason of the philosopher and the vigour of the athlete.

Young teacher, I am setting before you a difficult task, the art
of controlling without precepts, and doing everything without doing
anything at all. This art is, I confess, beyond your years, it is
not calculated to display your talents nor to make your value known
to your scholar's parents; but it is the only road to success.
You will never succeed in making wise men if you do not first make
little imps of mischief. This was the education of the Spartans;
they were not taught to stick to their books, they were set to steal
their dinners. Were they any the worse for it in after life? Ever
ready for victory, they crushed their foes in every kind of warfare,
and the prating Athenians were as much afraid of their words as of
their blows.

When education is most carefully attended to, the teacher issues
his orders and thinks himself master, but it is the child who
is really master. He uses the tasks you set him to obtain what he
wants from you, and he can always make you pay for an hour's industry
by a week's complaisance. You must always be making bargains with
him. These bargains, suggested in your fashion, but carried out
in his, always follow the direction of his own fancies, especially
when you are foolish enough to make the condition some advantage
he is almost sure to obtain, whether he fulfils his part of the
bargain or not. The child is usually much quicker to read the
master's thoughts than the master to read the child's feelings.
And that is as it should be, for all the sagacity which the child
would have devoted to self-preservation, had he been left to himself,
is now devoted to the rescue of his native freedom from the chains
of his tyrant; while the latter, who has no such pressing need to
understand the child, sometimes finds that it pays him better to
leave him in idleness or vanity.

Take the opposite course with your pupil; let him always think he
is master while you are really master. There is no subjection so
complete as that which preserves the forms of freedom; it is thus
that the will itself is taken captive. Is not this poor child,
without knowledge, strength, or wisdom, entirely at your mercy? Are
you not master of his whole environment so far as it affects him?
Cannot you make of him what you please? His work and play, his
pleasure and pain, are they not, unknown to him, under your control?
No doubt he ought only to do what he wants, but he ought to want
to do nothing but what you want him to do. He should never take a
step you have not foreseen, nor utter a word you could not foretell.

Then he can devote himself to the bodily exercises adapted to his
age without brutalising his mind; instead of developing his cunning
to evade an unwelcome control, you will then find him entirely
occupied in getting the best he can out of his environment with
a view to his present welfare, and you will be surprised by the
subtlety of the means he devises to get for himself such things as
he can obtain, and to really enjoy things without the aid of other
people's ideas. You leave him master of his own wishes, but you
do not multiply his caprices. When he only does what he wants, he
will soon only do what he ought, and although his body is constantly in
motion, so far as his sensible and present interests are concerned,
you will find him developing all the reason of which he is capable,
far better and in a manner much better fitted for him than in purely
theoretical studies.

Thus when he does not find you continually thwarting him, when he
no longer distrusts you, no longer has anything to conceal from
you, he will neither tell you lies nor deceive you; he will show
himself fearlessly as he really is, and you can study him at your
ease, and surround him with all the lessons you would have him
learn, without awaking his suspicions.

Neither will he keep a curious and jealous eye on your own conduct,
nor take a secret delight in catching you at fault. It is a great
thing to avoid this. One of the child's first objects is, as I have
said, to find the weak spots in its rulers. Though this leads to
spitefulness, it does not arise from it, but from the desire to
evade a disagreeable control. Overburdened by the yoke laid upon
him, he tries to shake it off, and the faults he finds in his master
give him a good opportunity for this. Still the habit of spying out
faults and delighting in them grows upon people. Clearly we have
stopped another of the springs of vice in Emile's heart. Having
nothing to gain from my faults, he will not be on the watch for
them, nor will he be tempted to look out for the faults of others.

All these methods seem difficult because they are new to us, but
they ought not to be really difficult. I have a right to assume that
you have the knowledge required for the business you have chosen;
that you know the usual course of development of the human thought,
that you can study mankind and man, that you know beforehand the
effect on your pupil's will of the various objects suited to his
age which you put before him. You have the tools and the art to
use them; are you not master of your trade?

You speak of childish caprice; you are mistaken. Children's caprices
are never the work of nature, but of bad discipline; they have
either obeyed or given orders, and I have said again and again,
they must do neither. Your pupil will have the caprices you have
taught him; it is fair you should bear the punishment of your own
faults. "But how can I cure them?" do you say? That may still be
done by better conduct on your own part and great patience. I once
undertook the charge of a child for a few weeks; he was accustomed
not only to have his own way, but to make every one else do as he
pleased; he was therefore capricious. The very first day he wanted
to get up at midnight, to try how far he could go with me. When I
was sound asleep he jumped out of bed, got his dressing-gown, and
waked me up. I got up and lighted the candle, which was all he
wanted. After a quarter of an hour he became sleepy and went back
to bed quite satisfied with his experiment. Two days later he
repeated it, with the same success and with no sign of impatience
on my part. When he kissed me as he lay down, I said to him very
quietly, "My little dear, this is all very well, but do not try it
again." His curiosity was aroused by this, and the very next day he
did not fail to get up at the same time and woke me to see whether
I should dare to disobey him. I asked what he wanted, and he told
me he could not sleep. "So much the worse for you," I replied, and
I lay quiet. He seemed perplexed by this way of speaking. He felt
his way to the flint and steel and tried to strike a light. I could
not help laughing when I heard him strike his fingers. Convinced at
last that he could not manage it, he brought the steel to my bed;
I told him I did not want it, and I turned my back to him. Then
he began to rush wildly about the room, shouting, singing, making
a great noise, knocking against chairs and tables, but taking,
however, good care not to hurt himself seriously, but screaming
loudly in the hope of alarming me. All this had no effect, but
I perceived that though he was prepared for scolding or anger, he
was quite unprepared for indifference.

However, he was determined to overcome my patience with his own
obstinacy, and he continued his racket so successfully that at last
I lost my temper. I foresaw that I should spoil the whole business
by an unseemly outburst of passion. I determined on another course.
I got up quietly, went to the tinder box, but could not find it;
I asked him for it, and he gave it me, delighted to have won the
victory over me. I struck a light, lighted the candle, took my
young gentleman by the hand and led him quietly into an adjoining
dressing-room with the shutters firmly fastened, and nothing he
could break.

I left him there without a light; then locking him in I went back
to my bed without a word. What a noise there was! That was what I
expected, and took no notice. At last the noise ceased; I listened,
heard him settling down, and I was quite easy about him. Next morning
I entered the room at daybreak, and my little rebel was lying on
a sofa enjoying a sound and much needed sleep after his exertions.

The matter did not end there. His mother heard that the child had
spent a great part of the night out of bed. That spoilt the whole
thing; her child was as good as dead. Finding a good chance for
revenge, he pretended to be ill, not seeing that he would gain
nothing by it. They sent for the doctor. Unluckily for the mother,
the doctor was a practical joker, and to amuse himself with her
terrors he did his best to increase them. However, he whispered to
me, "Leave it to me, I promise to cure the child of wanting to be
ill for some time to come." As a matter of fact he prescribed bed
and dieting, and the child was handed over to the apothecary. I
sighed to see the mother cheated on every hand except by me, whom
she hated because I did not deceive her.

After pretty severe reproaches, she told me her son was delicate,
that he was the sole heir of the family, his life must be preserved
at all costs, and she would not have him contradicted. In that
I thoroughly agreed with her, but what she meant by contradicting
was not obeying him in everything. I saw I should have to treat
the mother as I had treated the son. "Madam," I said coldly, "I do
not know how to educate the heir to a fortune, and what is more,
I do not mean to study that art. You can take that as settled."
I was wanted for some days longer, and the father smoothed things
over. The mother wrote to the tutor to hasten his return, and the
child, finding he got nothing by disturbing my rest, nor yet by
being ill, decided at last to get better and to go to sleep.

You can form no idea of the number of similar caprices to which the
little tyrant had subjected his unlucky tutor; for his education
was carried on under his mother's eye, and she would not allow her
son and heir to be disobeyed in anything. Whenever he wanted to go
out, you must be ready to take him, or rather to follow him, and
he always took good care to choose the time when he knew his tutor
was very busy. He wished to exercise the same power over me and
to avenge himself by day for having to leave me in peace at night.
I gladly agreed and began by showing plainly how pleased I was to
give him pleasure; after that when it was a matter of curing him
of his fancies I set about it differently.

In the first place, he must be shown that he was in the wrong. This
was not difficult; knowing that children think only of the present,
I took the easy advantage which foresight gives; I took care to
provide him with some indoor amusement of which he was very fond.
Just when he was most occupied with it, I went and suggested a short
walk, and he sent me away. I insisted, but he paid no attention.
I had to give in, and he took note of this sign of submission.

The next day it was my turn. As I expected, he got tired of his
occupation; I, however, pretended to be very busy. That was enough
to decide him. He came to drag me from my work, to take him at
once for a walk. I refused; he persisted. "No," I said, "when I
did what you wanted, you taught me how to get my own way; I shall
not go out." "Very well," he replied eagerly, "I shall go out by
myself." "As you please," and I returned to my work.

He put on his things rather uneasily when he saw I did not follow
his example. When he was ready he came and made his bow; I bowed
too; he tried to frighten me with stories of the expeditions he
was going to make; to hear him talk you would think he was going
to the world's end. Quite unmoved, I wished him a pleasant journey.
He became more and more perplexed. However, he put a good face on
it, and when he was ready to go out he told his foot man to follow
him. The footman, who had his instructions, replied that he had
no time, and that he was busy carrying out my orders, and he must
obey me first. For the moment the child was taken aback. How could
he think they would really let him go out alone, him, who, in his
own eyes, was the most important person in the world, who thought
that everything in heaven and earth was wrapped up in his welfare?
However, he was beginning to feel his weakness, he perceived that
he should find himself alone among people who knew nothing of him.
He saw beforehand the risks he would run; obstinacy alone sustained
him; very slowly and unwillingly he went downstairs. At last he
went out into the street, consoling himself a little for the harm
that might happen to himself, in the hope that I should be held
responsible for it.

This was just what I expected. All was arranged beforehand, and as
it meant some sort of public scene I had got his father's consent.
He had scarcely gone a few steps, when he heard, first on this side
then on that, all sorts of remarks about himself. "What a pretty
little gentleman, neighbour? Where is he going all alone? He will
get lost! I will ask him into our house." "Take care you don't.
Don't you see he is a naughty little boy, who has been turned out
of his own house because he is good for nothing? You must not stop
naughty boys; let him go where he likes." "Well, well; the good God
take care of him. I should be sorry if anything happened to him."
A little further on he met some young urchins of about his own age
who teased him and made fun of him. The further he got the more
difficulties he found. Alone and unprotected he was at the mercy
of everybody, and he found to his great surprise that his shoulder
knot and his gold lace commanded no respect.

However, I had got a friend of mine, who was a stranger to him,
to keep an eye on him. Unnoticed by him, this friend followed him
step by step, and in due time he spoke to him. The role, like that
of Sbrigani in Pourceaugnac, required an intelligent actor, and it
was played to perfection. Without making the child fearful and timid
by inspiring excessive terror, he made him realise so thoroughly
the folly of his exploit that in half an hour's time he brought him
home to me, ashamed and humble, and afraid to look me in the face.

To put the finishing touch to his discomfiture, just as he was
coming in his father came down on his way out and met him on the
stairs. He had to explain where he had been, and why I was not with
him. [Footnote: In a case like this there is no danger in asking a
child to tell the truth, for he knows very well that it cannot be
hid, and that if he ventured to tell a lie he would be found out
at once.] The poor child would gladly have sunk into the earth. His
father did not take the trouble to scold him at length, but said
with more severity than I should have expected, "When you want to
go out by yourself, you can do so, but I will not have a rebel in
my house, so when you go, take good care that you never come back."

As for me, I received him somewhat gravely, but without blame and
without mockery, and for fear he should find out we had been playing
with him, I declined to take him out walking that day. Next day I
was well pleased to find that he passed in triumph with me through
the very same people who had mocked him the previous day, when they
met him out by himself. You may be sure he never threatened to go
out without me again.

By these means and other like them I succeeded during the short
time I was with him in getting him to do everything I wanted without
bidding him or forbidding him to do anything, without preaching
or exhortation, without wearying him with unnecessary lessons. So
he was pleased when I spoke to him, but when I was silent he was
frightened, for he knew there was something amiss, and he always got
his lesson from the thing itself. But let us return to our subject.

The body is strengthened by this constant exercise under the guidance
of nature herself, and far from brutalising the mind, this exercise
develops in it the only kind of reason of which young children are
capable, the kind of reason most necessary at every age. It teaches
us how to use our strength, to perceive the relations between our
own and neighbouring bodies, to use the natural tools, which are
within our reach and adapted to our senses. Is there anything
sillier than a child brought up indoors under his mother's eye,
who, in his ignorance of weight and resistance, tries to uproot a
tall tree or pick up a rock. The first time I found myself outside
Geneva I tried to catch a galloping horse, and I threw stones
at Mont Saleve, two leagues away; I was the laughing stock of the
whole village, and was supposed to be a regular idiot. At eighteen
we are taught in our natural philosophy the use of the lever;
every village boy of twelve knows how to use a lever better than
the cleverest mechanician in the academy. The lessons the scholars
learn from one another in the playground are worth a hundredfold
more than what they learn in the class-room.

Watch a cat when she comes into a room for the first time; she goes
from place to place, she sniffs about and examines everything, she
is never still for a moment; she is suspicious of everything till
she has examined it and found out what it is. It is the same with
the child when he begins to walk, and enters, so to speak, the room
of the world around him. The only difference is that, while both
use sight, the child uses his hands and the cat that subtle sense
of smell which nature has bestowed upon it. It is this instinct,
rightly or wrongly educated, which makes children skilful or clumsy,
quick or slow, wise or foolish.

Man's primary natural goals are, therefore, to measure himself
against his environment, to discover in every object he sees those
sensible qualities which may concern himself, so his first study
is a kind of experimental physics for his own preservation. He is
turned away from this and sent to speculative studies before he
has found his proper place in the world. While his delicate and
flexible limbs can adjust themselves to the bodies upon which they
are intended to act, while his senses are keen and as yet free from
illusions, then is the time to exercise both limbs and senses in
their proper business. It is the time to learn to perceive the
physical relations between ourselves and things. Since everything
that comes into the human mind enters through the gates of sense,
man's first reason is a reason of sense-experience. It is this
that serves as a foundation for the reason of the intelligence;
our first teachers in natural philosophy are our feet, hands, and
eyes. To substitute books for them does not teach us to reason,
it teaches us to use the reason of others rather than our own; it
teaches us to believe much and know little.

Before you can practise an art you must first get your tools; and
if you are to make good use of those tools, they must be fashioned
sufficiently strong to stand use. To learn to think we must therefore
exercise our limbs, our senses, and our bodily organs, which are
the tools of the intellect; and to get the best use out of these
tools, the body which supplies us with them must be strong and
healthy. Not only is it quite a mistake that true reason is developed
apart from the body, but it is a good bodily constitution which
makes the workings of the mind easy and correct.

While I am showing how the child's long period of leisure should be
spent, I am entering into details which may seem absurd. You will
say, "This is a strange sort of education, and it is subject to
your own criticism, for it only teaches what no one needs to learn.
Why spend your time in teaching what will come of itself without
care or trouble? Is there any child of twelve who is ignorant of all
you wish to teach your pupil, while he also knows what his master
has taught him."

Gentlemen, you are mistaken. I am teaching my pupil an art, the
acquirement of which demands much time and trouble, an art which
your scholars certainly do not possess; it is the art of being
ignorant; for the knowledge of any one who only thinks he knows, what
he really does know is a very small matter. You teach science; well
and good; I am busy fashioning the necessary tools for its acquisition.
Once upon a time, they say the Venetians were displaying the treasures
of the Cathedral of Saint Mark to the Spanish ambassador; the only
comment he made was, "Qui non c'e la radice." When I see a tutor
showing off his pupil's learning, I am always tempted to say the
same to him.

Every one who has considered the manner of life among the
ancients, attributes the strength of body and mind by which they
are distinguished from the men of our own day to their gymnastic
exercises. The stress laid by Montaigne upon this opinion, shows
that it had made a great impression on him; he returns to it again
and again. Speaking of a child's education he says, "To strengthen
the mind you must harden the muscles; by training the child to labour
you train him to suffering; he must be broken in to the hardships
of gymnastic exercises to prepare him for the hardships of dislocations,
colics, and other bodily ills." The philosopher Locke, the worthy
Rollin, the learned Fleury, the pedant De Crouzas, differing as
they do so widely from one another, are agreed in this one matter
of sufficient bodily exercise for children. This is the wisest of
their precepts, and the one which is certain to be neglected. I
have already dwelt sufficiently on its importance, and as better
reasons and more sensible rules cannot be found than those in Locke's
book, I will content myself with referring to it, after taking the
liberty of adding a few remarks of my own.

The limbs of a growing child should be free to move easily in his
clothing; nothing should cramp their growth or movement; there
should be nothing tight, nothing fitting closely to the body, no
belts of any kind. The French style of dress, uncomfortable and
unhealthy for a man, is especially bad for children. The stagnant
humours, whose circulation is interrupted, putrify in a state of
inaction, and this process proceeds more rapidly in an inactive and
sedentary life; they become corrupt and give rise to scurvy; this
disease, which is continually on the increase among us, was almost
unknown to the ancients, whose way of dressing and living protected
them from it. The hussar's dress, far from correcting this fault,
increases it, and compresses the whole of the child's body, by way
of dispensing with a few bands. The best plan is to keep children
in frocks as long as possible and then to provide them with loose
clothing, without trying to define the shape which is only another
way of deforming it. Their defects of body and mind may all be
traced to the same source, the desire to make men of them before
their time.

There are bright colours and dull; children like the bright colours
best, and they suit them better too. I see no reason why such natural
suitability should not be taken into consideration; but as soon as
they prefer a material because it is rich, their hearts are already
given over to luxury, to every caprice of fashion, and this taste
is certainly not their own. It is impossible to say how much
education is influenced by this choice of clothes, and the motives
for this choice. Not only do short-sighted mothers offer ornaments
as rewards to their children, but there are foolish tutors who
threaten to make their pupils wear the plainest and coarsest clothes
as a punishment. "If you do not do your lessons better, if you do
not take more care of your clothes, you shall be dressed like that
little peasant boy." This is like saying to them, "Understand that
clothes make the man." Is it to be wondered at that our young people
profit by such wise teaching, that they care for nothing but dress,
and that they only judge of merit by its outside.

If I had to bring such a spoilt child to his senses, I would take
care that his smartest clothes were the most uncomfortable, that
he was always cramped, constrained, and embarrassed in every way;
freedom and mirth should flee before his splendour. If he wanted
to take part in the games of children more simply dressed, they
should cease their play and run away. Before long I should make
him so tired and sick of his magnificence, such a slave to his
gold-laced coat, that it would become the plague of his life, and
he would be less afraid to behold the darkest dungeon than to see
the preparations for his adornment. Before the child is enslaved by
our prejudices his first wish is always to be free and comfortable.
The plainest and most comfortable clothes, those which leave him
most liberty, are what he always likes best.

There are habits of body suited for an active life and others for
a sedentary life. The latter leaves the humours an equable and
uniform course, and the body should be protected from changes in
temperature; the former is constantly passing from action to rest,
from heat to cold, and the body should be inured to these changes.
Hence people, engaged in sedentary pursuits indoors, should always
be warmly dressed, to keep their bodies as nearly as possible at
the same temperature at all times and seasons. Those, however, who
come and go in sun, wind, and rain, who take much exercise, and
spend most of their time out of doors, should always be lightly clad,
so as to get used to the changes in the air and to every degree of
temperature without suffering inconvenience. I would advise both
never to change their clothes with the changing seasons, and that
would be the invariable habit of my pupil Emile. By this I do not
mean that he should wear his winter clothes in summer like many
people of sedentary habits, but that he should wear his summer
clothes in winter like hard-working folk. Sir Isaac Newton always
did this, and he lived to be eighty.

Emile should wear little or nothing on his head all the year round.
The ancient Egyptians always went bareheaded; the Persians used to
wear heavy tiaras and still wear large turbans, which according to
Chardin are required by their climate. I have remarked elsewhere
on the difference observed by Herodotus on a battle-field between
the skulls of the Persians and those of the Egyptians. Since it is
desirable that the bones of the skull should grow harder and more
substantial, less fragile and porous, not only to protect the brain
against injuries but against colds, fever, and every influence of
the air, you should therefore accustom your children to go bare-headed
winter and summer, day and night. If you make them wear a night-cap
to keep their hair clean and tidy, let it be thin and transparent
like the nets with which the Basques cover their hair. I am aware
that most mothers will be more impressed by Chardin's observations
than my arguments, and will think that all climates are the climate
of Persia, but I did not choose a European pupil to turn him into
an Asiatic.

Children are generally too much wrapped up, particularly in infancy.
They should be accustomed to cold rather than heat; great cold
never does them any harm, if they are exposed to it soon enough;
but their skin is still too soft and tender and leaves too free
a course for perspiration, so that they are inevitably exhausted
by excessive heat. It has been observed that infant mortality is
greatest in August. Moreover, it seems certain from a comparison
of northern and southern races that we become stronger by bearing
extreme cold rather than excessive heat. But as the child's body
grows bigger and his muscles get stronger, train him gradually to
bear the rays of the sun. Little by little you will harden him till
he can face the burning heat of the tropics without danger.

Locke, in the midst of the manly and sensible advice he gives us,
falls into inconsistencies one would hardly expect in such a careful
thinker. The same man who would have children take an ice-cold bath
summer and winter, will not let them drink cold water when they
are hot, or lie on damp grass. But he would never have their shoes
water-tight; and why should they let in more water when the child
is hot than when he is cold, and may we not draw the same inference
with regard to the feet and body that he draws with regard to the
hands and feet and the body and face? If he would have a man all
face, why blame me if I would have him all feet?

To prevent children drinking when they are hot, he says they should
be trained to eat a piece of bread first. It is a strange thing to
make a child eat because he is thirsty; I would as soon give him a
drink when he is hungry. You will never convince me that our first
instincts are so ill-regulated that we cannot satisfy them without
endangering our lives. Were that so, the man would have perished
over and over again before he had learned how to keep himself alive.

Whenever Emile is thirsty let him have a drink, and let him drink
fresh water just as it is, not even taking the chill off it in the
depths of winter and when he is bathed in perspiration. The only
precaution I advise is to take care what sort of water you give
him. If the water comes from a river, give it him just as it is;
if it is spring-water let it stand a little exposed to the air
before he drinks it. In warm weather rivers are warm; it is not
so with springs, whose water has not been in contact with the air.
You must wait till the temperature of the water is the same as that
of the air. In winter, on the other hand, spring water is safer
than river water. It is, however, unusual and unnatural to perspire
greatly in winter, especially in the open air, for the cold air
constantly strikes the skin and drives the perspiration inwards,
and prevents the pores opening enough to give it passage. Now I do
not intend Emile to take his exercise by the fireside in winter,
but in the open air and among the ice. If he only gets warm with
making and throwing snowballs, let him drink when he is thirsty,
and go on with his game after drinking, and you need not be afraid
of any ill effects. And if any other exercise makes him perspire
let him drink cold water even in winter provided he is thirsty.
Only take care to take him to get the water some little distance
away. In such cold as I am supposing, he would have cooled down
sufficiently when he got there to be able to drink without danger.
Above all, take care to conceal these precautions from him. I
would rather he were ill now and then, than always thinking about
his health.

Since children take such violent exercise they need a great deal
of sleep. The one makes up for the other, and this shows that both
are necessary. Night is the time set apart by nature for rest. It
is an established fact that sleep is quieter and calmer when the
sun is below the horizon, and that our senses are less calm when
the air is warmed by the rays of the sun. So it is certainly the
healthiest plan to rise with the sun and go to bed with the sun.
Hence in our country man and all the other animals with him want
more sleep in winter than in summer. But town life is so complex,
so unnatural, so subject to chances and changes, that it is not
wise to accustom a man to such uniformity that he cannot do without
it. No doubt he must submit to rules; but the chief rule is this--be
able to break the rule if necessary. So do not be so foolish as to
soften your pupil by letting him always sleep his sleep out. Leave
him at first to the law of nature without any hindrance, but never
forget that under our conditions he must rise above this law; he
must be able to go to bed late and rise early, be awakened suddenly,
or sit up all night without ill effects. Begin early and proceed
gently, a step at a time, and the constitution adapts itself to
the very conditions which would destroy it if they were imposed
for the first time on the grown man.

In the next place he must be accustomed to sleep in an uncomfortable
bed, which is the best way to find no bed uncomfortable. Speaking
generally, a hard life, when once we have become used to it,
increases our pleasant experiences; an easy life prepares the way
for innumerable unpleasant experiences. Those who are too tenderly
nurtured can only sleep on down; those who are used to sleep on
bare boards can find them anywhere. There is no such thing as a
hard bed for the man who falls asleep at once.

The body is, so to speak, melted and dissolved in a soft bed where
one sinks into feathers and eider-down. The reins when too warmly
covered become inflamed. Stone and other diseases are often due to
this, and it invariably produces a delicate constitution, which is
the seed-ground of every ailment.

The best bed is that in which we get the best sleep. Emile and
I will prepare such a bed for ourselves during the daytime. We do
not need Persian slaves to make our beds; when we are digging the
soil we are turning our mattresses. I know that a healthy child may
be made to sleep or wake almost at will. When the child is put to
bed and his nurse grows weary of his chatter, she says to him, "Go
to sleep." That is much like saying, "Get well," when he is ill.
The right way is to let him get tired of himself. Talk so much that
he is compelled to hold his tongue, and he will soon be asleep.
Here is at least one use for sermons, and you may as well preach
to him as rock his cradle; but if you use this narcotic at night,
do not use it by day.

I shall sometimes rouse Emile, not so much to prevent his sleeping
too much, as to accustom him to anything--even to waking with a
start. Moreover, I should be unfit for my business if I could not
make him wake himself, and get up, so to speak, at my will, without
being called.

If he wakes too soon, I shall let him look forward to a tedious
morning, so that he will count as gain any time he can give to
sleep. If he sleeps too late I shall show him some favourite toy
when he wakes. If I want him to wake at a given hour I shall say,
"To-morrow at six I am going fishing," or "I shall take a walk to
such and such a place. Would you like to come too?" He assents,
and begs me to wake him. I promise, or do not promise, as the case
requires. If he wakes too late, he finds me gone. There is something
amiss if he does not soon learn to wake himself.

Moreover, should it happen, though it rarely does, that a sluggish
child desires to stagnate in idleness, you must not give way to
this tendency, which might stupefy him entirely, but you must apply
some stimulus to wake him. You must understand that is no question
of applying force, but of arousing some appetite which leads to
action, and such an appetite, carefully selected on the lines laid
down by nature, kills two birds with one stone.

If one has any sort of skill, I can think of nothing for which a
taste, a very passion, cannot be aroused in children, and that without
vanity, emulation, or jealousy. Their keenness, their spirit of
imitation, is enough of itself; above all, there is their natural
liveliness, of which no teacher so far has contrived to take
advantage. In every game, when they are quite sure it is only play,
they endure without complaint, or even with laughter, hardships
which they would not submit to otherwise without floods of tears.
The sports of the young savage involve long fasting, blows, burns,
and fatigue of every kind, a proof that even pain has a charm of
its own, which may remove its bitterness. It is not every master,
however, who knows how to season this dish, nor can every scholar
eat it without making faces. However, I must take care or I shall
be wandering off again after exceptions.

It is not to be endured that man should become the slave of pain,
disease, accident, the perils of life, or even death itself; the
more familiar he becomes with these ideas the sooner he will be
cured of that over-sensitiveness which adds to the pain by impatience
in bearing it; the sooner he becomes used to the sufferings which
may overtake him, the sooner he shall, as Montaigne has put it,
rob those pains of the sting of unfamiliarity, and so make his soul
strong and invulnerable; his body will be the coat of mail which
stops all the darts which might otherwise find a vital part. Even
the approach of death, which is not death itself, will scarcely be
felt as such; he will not die, he will be, so to speak, alive or
dead and nothing more. Montaigne might say of him as he did of a
certain king of Morocco, "No man ever prolonged his life so far into
death." A child serves his apprenticeship in courage and endurance
as well as in other virtues; but you cannot teach children these
virtues by name alone; they must learn them unconsciously through

But speaking of death, what steps shall I take with regard to my
pupil and the smallpox? Shall he be inoculated in infancy, or shall
I wait till he takes it in the natural course of things? The former
plan is more in accordance with our practice, for it preserves his
life at a time when it is of greater value, at the cost of some
danger when his life is of less worth; if indeed we can use the
word danger with regard to inoculation when properly performed.

But the other plan is more in accordance with our general principles--to
leave nature to take the precautions she delights in, precautions
she abandons whenever man interferes. The natural man is always
ready; let nature inoculate him herself, she will choose the fitting
occasion better than we.

Do not think I am finding fault with inoculation, for my reasons
for exempting my pupil from it do not in the least apply to yours.
Your training does not prepare them to escape catching smallpox
as soon as they are exposed to infection. If you let them take it
anyhow, they will probably die. I perceive that in different lands
the resistance to inoculation is in proportion to the need for
it; and the reason is plain. So I scarcely condescend to discuss
this question with regard to Emile. He will be inoculated or not
according to time, place, and circumstances; it is almost a matter of
indifference, as far as he is concerned. If it gives him smallpox,
there will be the advantage of knowing what to expect, knowing
what the disease is; that is a good thing, but if he catches it
naturally it will have kept him out of the doctor's hands, which
is better.

An exclusive education, which merely tends to keep those who have
received it apart from the mass of mankind, always selects such
teaching as is costly rather than cheap, even when the latter is
of more use. Thus all carefully educated young men learn to ride,
because it is costly, but scarcely any of them learn to swim, as
it costs nothing, and an artisan can swim as well as any one. Yet
without passing through the riding school, the traveller learns
to mount his horse, to stick on it, and to ride well enough for
practical purposes; but in the water if you cannot swim you will
drown, and we cannot swim unless we are taught. Again, you are not
forced to ride on pain of death, while no one is sure of escaping
such a common danger as drowning. Emile shall be as much at home
in the water as on land. Why should he not be able to live in every
element? If he could learn to fly, he should be an eagle; I would
make him a salamander, if he could bear the heat.

People are afraid lest the child should be drowned while he is
learning to swim; if he dies while he is learning, or if he dies
because he has not learnt, it will be your own fault. Foolhardiness
is the result of vanity; we are not rash when no one is looking.
Emile will not be foolhardy, though all the world were watching
him. As the exercise does not depend on its danger, he will learn
to swim the Hellespont by swimming, without any danger, a stream
in his father's park; but he must get used to danger too, so as not
to be flustered by it. This is an essential part of the apprenticeship
I spoke of just now. Moreover, I shall take care to proportion the
danger to his strength, and I shall always share it myself, so that
I need scarcely fear any imprudence if I take as much care for his
life as for my own.

A child is smaller than a man; he has not the man's strength
or reason, but he sees and hears as well or nearly as well; his
sense of taste is very good, though he is less fastidious, and he
distinguishes scents as clearly though less sensuously. The senses
are the first of our faculties to mature; they are those most
frequently overlooked or neglected.

To train the senses it is not enough merely to use them; we must
learn to judge by their means, to learn to feel, so to speak; for
we cannot touch, see, or hear, except as we have been taught.

There is a mere natural and mechanical use of the senses which
strengthens the body without improving the judgment. It is all
very well to swim, run, jump, whip a top, throw stones; but have
we nothing but arms and legs? Have we not eyes and ears as well;
and are not these organs necessary for the use of the rest? Do not
merely exercise the strength, exercise all the senses by which it
is guided; make the best use of every one of them, and check the
results of one by the other. Measure, count, weigh, compare. Do not
use force till you have estimated the resistance; let the estimation
of the effect always precede the application of the means. Get the
child interested in avoiding insufficient or superfluous efforts.
If in this way you train him to calculate the effects of all his
movements, and to correct his mistakes by experience, is it not
clear that the more he does the wiser he will become?

Take the case of moving a heavy mass; if he takes too long a lever,
he will waste his strength; if it is too short, he will not have
strength enough; experience will teach him to use the very stick he
needs. This knowledge is not beyond his years. Take, for example,
a load to be carried; if he wants to carry as much as he can, and
not to take up more than he can carry, must he not calculate the
weight by the appearance? Does he know how to compare masses of like
substance and different size, or to choose between masses of the
same size and different substances? He must set to work to compare
their specific weights. I have seen a young man, very highly
educated, who could not be convinced, till he had tried it, that
a bucket full of blocks of oak weighed less than the same bucket
full of water.

All our senses are not equally under our control. One of them,
touch, is always busy during our waking hours; it is spread over
the whole surface of the body, like a sentinel ever on the watch to
warn us of anything which may do us harm. Whether we will or not,
we learn to use it first of all by experience, by constant practice,
and therefore we have less need for special training for it. Yet we
know that the blind have a surer and more delicate sense of touch
than we, for not being guided by the one sense, they are forced to
get from the touch what we get from sight. Why, then, are not we
trained to walk as they do in the dark, to recognise what we touch,
to distinguish things about us; in a word, to do at night and in
the dark what they do in the daytime without sight? We are better
off than they while the sun shines; in the dark it is their turn
to be our guide. We are blind half our time, with this difference:
the really blind always know what to do, while we are afraid to
stir in the dark. We have lights, you say. What always artificial
aids. Who can insure that they will always be at hand when required.
I had rather Emil's eyes were in his finger tips, than in the
chandler's shop.

If you are shut up in a building at night, clap your hands, you
will know from the sound whether the space is large or small, if
you are in the middle or in one corner. Half a foot from a wall the
air, which is refracted and does not circulate freely, produces a
different effect on your face. Stand still in one place and turn
this way and that; a slight draught will tell you if there is a
door open. If you are on a boat you will perceive from the way the
air strikes your face not merely the direction in which you are
going, but whether the current is bearing you slow or fast. These
observations and many others like them can only be properly made
at night; however much attention we give to them by daylight, we
are always helped or hindered by sight, so that the results escape
us. Yet here we use neither hand nor stick. How much may be learnt
by touch, without ever touching anything!

I would have plenty of games in the dark! This suggestion is more
valuable than it seems at first sight. Men are naturally afraid
of the dark; so are some animals. [Footnote: This terror is very
noticeable during great eclipses of the sun.] Only a few men are
freed from this burden by knowledge, determination, and courage.
I have seen thinkers, unbelievers, philosophers, exceedingly brave
by daylight, tremble like women at the rustling of a leaf in the
dark. This terror is put down to nurses' tales; this is a mistake;
it has a natural cause. What is this cause? What makes the deaf
suspicious and the lower classes superstitious? Ignorance of the
things about us, and of what is taking place around us. [Footnote:
Another cause has been well explained by a philosopher, often quoted
in this work, a philosopher to whose wide views I am very greatly

When under special conditions we cannot form a fair idea of distance,
when we can only judge things by the size of the angle or rather
of the image formed in our eyes, we cannot avoid being deceived
as to the size of these objects. Every one knows by experience how
when we are travelling at night we take a bush near at hand for a
great tree at a distance, and vice versa. In the same way, if the
objects were of a shape unknown to us, so that we could not tell
their size in that way, we should be equally mistaken with regard
to it. If a fly flew quickly past a few inches from our eyes, we
should think it was a distant bird; a horse standing still at a
distance from us in the midst of open country, in a position somewhat
like that of a sheep, would be taken for a large sheep, so long as
we did not perceive that it was a horse; but as soon as we recognise
what it is, it seems as large as a horse, and we at once correct
our former judgment.

Whenever one finds oneself in unknown places at night where we
cannot judge of distance, and where we cannot recognise objects by
their shape on account of the darkness, we are in constant danger
of forming mistaken judgments as to the objects which present
themselves to our notice. Hence that terror, that kind of inward
fear experienced by most people on dark nights. This is foundation
for the supposed appearances of spectres, or gigantic and terrible
forms which so many people profess to have seen. They are generally
told that they imagined these things, yet they may really have seen
them, and it is quite possible they really saw what they say they
did see; for it will always be the case that when we can only
estimate the size of an object by the angle it forms in the eye,
that object will swell and grow as we approach it; and if the
spectator thought it several feet high when it was thirty or forty
feet away, it will seem very large indeed when it is a few feet
off; this must indeed astonish and alarm the spectator until he
touches it and perceives what it is, for as soon as he perceives
what it is, the object which seemed so gigantic will suddenly
shrink and assume its real size, but if we run away or are afraid
to approach, we shall certainly form no other idea of the thing
than the image formed in the eye, and we shall have really seen a
gigantic figure of alarming size and shape. There is, therefore, a
natural ground for the tendency to see ghosts, and these appearances
are not merely the creation of the imagination, as the men of
science would have us think.--Buffon, Nat. Hist.

In the text I have tried to show that they are always partly the
creation of the imagination, and with regard to the cause explained
in this quotation, it is clear that the habit of walking by night
should teach us to distinguish those appearances which similarity
of form and diversity of distance lend to the objects seen in the
dark. For if the air is light enough for us to see the outlines
there must be more air between us and them when they are further
off, so that we ought to see them less distinctly when further
off, which should be enough, when we are used to it, to prevent the
error described by M. Buffon. [Whichever explanation you prefer,
my mode of procedure is still efficacious, and experience entirely
confirms it.] Accustomed to perceive things from a distance and to
calculate their effects, how can I help supposing, when I cannot
see, that there are hosts of creatures and all sorts of movements
all about me which may do me harm, and against which I cannot
protect myself? In vain do I know I am safe where I am; I am never
so sure of it as when I can actually see it, so that I have always
a cause for fear which did not exist in broad daylight. I know,
indeed, that a foreign body can scarcely act upon me without some
slight sound, and how intently I listen! At the least sound which
I cannot explain, the desire of self-preservation makes me picture
everything that would put me on my guard, and therefore everything
most calculated to alarm me.

I am just as uneasy if I hear no sound, for I might be taken unawares
without a sound. I must picture things as they were before, as they
ought to be; I must see what I do not see. Thus driven to exercise
my imagination, it soon becomes my master, and what I did to reassure
myself only alarms me more. I hear a noise, it is a robber; I hear
nothing, it is a ghost. The watchfulness inspired by the instinct
of self-preservation only makes me more afraid. Everything that
ought to reassure me exists only for my reason, and the voice of
instinct is louder than that of reason. What is the good of thinking
there is nothing to be afraid of, since in that case there is
nothing we can do?

The cause indicates the cure. In everything habit overpowers
imagination; it is only aroused by what is new. It is no longer
imagination, but memory which is concerned with what we see every
day, and that is the reason of the maxim, "Ab assuetis non fit
passio," for it is only at the flame of imagination that the passions
are kindled. Therefore do not argue with any one whom you want to
cure of the fear of darkness; take him often into dark places and
be assured this practice will be of more avail than all the arguments
of philosophy. The tiler on the roof does not know what it is to
be dizzy, and those who are used to the dark will not be afraid.

There is another advantage to be gained from our games in the dark.
But if these games are to be a success I cannot speak too strongly
of the need for gaiety. Nothing is so gloomy as the dark: do not
shut your child up in a dungeon, let him laugh when he goes, into
a dark place, let him laugh when he comes out, so that the thought
of the game he is leaving and the games he will play next may protect
him from the fantastic imagination which might lay hold on him.

There comes a stage in life beyond which we progress backwards. I
feel I have reached this stage. I am, so to speak, returning to a
past career. The approach of age makes us recall the happy days of
our childhood. As I grow old I become a child again, and I recall
more readily what I did at ten than at thirty. Reader, forgive me
if I sometimes draw my examples from my own experience. If this
book is to be well written, I must enjoy writing it.

I was living in the country with a pastor called M. Lambercier.
My companion was a cousin richer than myself, who was regarded as
the heir to some property, while I, far from my father, was but a
poor orphan. My big cousin Bernard was unusually timid, especially
at night. I laughed at his fears, till M. Lambercier was tired of
my boasting, and determined to put my courage to the proof. One
autumn evening, when it was very dark, he gave me the church key,
and told me to go and fetch a Bible he had left in the pulpit. To
put me on my mettle he said something which made it impossible for
me to refuse.

I set out without a light; if I had had one, it would perhaps have
been even worse. I had to pass through the graveyard; I crossed it
bravely, for as long as I was in the open air I was never afraid
of the dark.

As I opened the door I heard a sort of echo in the roof; it sounded
like voices and it began to shake my Roman courage. Having opened
the door I tried to enter, but when I had gone a few steps I stopped.
At the sight of the profound darkness in which the vast building
lay I was seized with terror and my hair stood on end. I turned,
I went out through the door, and took to my heels. In the yard
I found a little dog, called Sultan, whose caresses reassured me.
Ashamed of my fears, I retraced my steps, trying to take Sultan
with me, but he refused to follow. Hurriedly I opened the door and
entered the church. I was hardly inside when terror again got hold
of me and so firmly that I lost my head, and though the pulpit was
on the right, as I very well knew, I sought it on the left, and
entangling myself among the benches I was completely lost. Unable
to find either pulpit or door, I fell into an indescribable state
of mind. At last I found the door and managed to get out of the
church and run away as I had done before, quite determined never
to enter the church again except in broad daylight.

I returned to the house; on the doorstep I heard M. Lambercier
laughing, laughing, as I supposed, at me. Ashamed to face his laughter,
I was hesitating to open the door, when I heard Miss Lambercier,
who was anxious about me, tell the maid to get the lantern, and
M. Lambercier got ready to come and look for me, escorted by my
gallant cousin, who would have got all the credit for the expedition.
All at once my fears departed, and left me merely surprised at
my terror. I ran, I fairly flew, to the church; without losing my
way, without groping about, I reached the pulpit, took the Bible,
and ran down the steps. In three strides I was out of the church,
leaving the door open. Breathless, I entered the room and threw
the Bible on the table, frightened indeed, but throbbing with pride
that I had done it without the proposed assistance.

You will ask if I am giving this anecdote as an example, and as
an illustration, of the mirth which I say should accompany these
games. Not so, but I give it as a proof that there is nothing so
well calculated to reassure any one who is afraid in the dark as to
hear sounds of laughter and talking in an adjoining room. Instead
of playing alone with your pupil in the evening, I would have you
get together a number of merry children; do not send them alone to
begin with, but several together, and do not venture to send any
one quite alone, until you are quite certain beforehand that he
will not be too frightened.

I can picture nothing more amusing and more profitable than such
games, considering how little skill is required to organise them.
In a large room I should arrange a sort of labyrinth of tables,
armchairs, chairs, and screens. In the inextricable windings of
this labyrinth I should place some eight or ten sham boxes, and one
real box almost exactly like them, but well filled with sweets. I
should describe clearly and briefly the place where the right box
would be found. I should give instructions sufficient to enable
people more attentive and less excitable than children to find it.
[Footnote: To practise them in attention, only tell them things
which it is clearly to their present interest that they should
understand thoroughly; above all be brief, never say a word more than
necessary. But neither let your speech be obscure nor of doubtful
meaning.] Then having made the little competitors draw lots, I should
send first one and then another till the right box was found. I
should increase the difficulty of the task in proportion to their

Picture to yourself a youthful Hercules returning, box in hand, quite
proud of his expedition. The box is placed on the table and opened
with great ceremony. I can hear the bursts of laughter and the
shouts of the merry party when, instead of the looked-for sweets, he
finds, neatly arranged on moss or cotton-wool, a beetle, a snail,
a bit of coal, a few acorns, a turnip, or some such thing. Another
time in a newly whitewashed room, a toy or some small article of
furniture would be hung on the wall and the children would have to
fetch it without touching the wall. When the child who fetches it
comes back, if he has failed ever so little to fulfil the conditions,
a dab of white on the brim of his cap, the tip of his shoe, the
flap of his coat or his sleeve, will betray his lack of skill.

This is enough, or more than enough, to show the spirit of these
games. Do not read my book if you expect me to tell you everything.

What great advantages would be possessed by a man so educated,
when compared with others. His feet are accustomed to tread firmly
in the dark, and his hands to touch lightly; they will guide him
safely in the thickest darkness. His imagination is busy with the
evening games of his childhood, and will find it difficult to turn
towards objects of alarm. If he thinks he hears laughter, it will
be the laughter of his former playfellows, not of frenzied spirits;
if he thinks there is a host of people, it will not be the witches'
sabbath, but the party in his tutor's study. Night only recalls
these cheerful memories, and it will never alarm him; it will
inspire delight rather than fear. He will be ready for a military
expedition at any hour, with or without his troop. He will enter
the camp of Saul, he will find his way, he will reach the king's
tent without waking any one, and he will return unobserved. Are the
steeds of Rhesus to be stolen, you may trust him. You will scarcely
find a Ulysses among men educated in any other fashion.

I have known people who tried to train the children not to fear
the dark by startling them. This is a very bad plan; its effects
are just the opposite of those desired, and it only makes children
more timid. Neither reason nor habit can secure us from the fear
of a present danger whose degree and kind are unknown, nor from
the fear of surprises which we have often experienced. Yet how will
you make sure that you can preserve your pupil from such accidents?
I consider this the best advice to give him beforehand. I should
say to Emile, "This is a matter of self-defence, for the aggressor
does not let you know whether he means to hurt or frighten you,
and as the advantage is on his side you cannot even take refuge
in flight. Therefore seize boldly anything, whether man or beast,
which takes you unawares in the dark. Grasp it, squeeze it with all
your might; if it struggles, strike, and do not spare your blows;
and whatever he may say or do, do not let him go till you know
just who he is. The event will probably prove that you had little
to be afraid of, but this way of treating practical jokers would
naturally prevent their trying it again."

Although touch is the sense oftenest used, its discrimination
remains, as I have already pointed out, coarser and more imperfect
than that of any other sense, because we always use sight along with
it; the eye perceives the thing first, and the mind almost always
judges without the hand. On the other hand, discrimination by touch
is the surest just because of its limitations; for extending only
as far as our hands can reach, it corrects the hasty judgments of
the other senses, which pounce upon objects scarcely perceived,
while what we learn by touch is learnt thoroughly. Moreover, touch,
when required, unites the force of our muscles to the action of
the nerves; we associate by simultaneous sensations our ideas of
temperature, size, and shape, to those of weight and density. Thus
touch is the sense which best teaches us the action of foreign
bodies upon ourselves, the sense which most directly supplies us
with the knowledge required for self-preservation.

As the trained touch takes the place of sight, why should it not,
to some extent, take the place of hearing, since sounds set up, in
sonorous bodies, vibrations perceptible by touch? By placing the
hand on the body of a 'cello one can distinguish without the use
of eye or ear, merely by the way in which the wood vibrates and
trembles, whether the sound given out is sharp or flat, whether
it is drawn from the treble string or the bass. If our touch were
trained to note these differences, no doubt we might in time become
so sensitive as to hear a whole tune by means of our fingers. But
if we admit this, it is clear that one could easily speak to the
deaf by means of music; for tone and measure are no less capable
of regular combination than voice and articulation, so that they
might be used as the elements of speech.

There are exercises by which the sense of touch is blunted and
deadened, and others which sharpen it and make it delicate and
discriminating. The former, which employ much movement and force
for the continued impression of hard bodies, make the skin hard
and thick, and deprive it of its natural sensitiveness. The latter
are those which give variety to this feeling, by slight and repeated
contact, so that the mind is attentive to constantly recurring
impressions, and readily learns to discern their variations. This
difference is clear in the use of musical instruments. The harsh and
painful touch of the 'cello, bass-viol, and even of the violin,
hardens the finger-tips, although it gives flexibility to the
fingers. The soft and smooth touch of the harpsichord makes the
fingers both flexible and sensitive. In this respect the harpsichord
is to be preferred.

The skin protects the rest of the body, so it is very important
to harden it to the effects of the air that it may be able to bear
its changes. With regard to this I may say I would not have the
hand roughened by too servile application to the same kind of work,
nor should the skin of the hand become hardened so as to lose its
delicate sense of touch which keeps the body informed of what is
going on, and by the kind of contact sometimes makes us shudder in
different ways even in the dark.

Why should my pupil be always compelled to wear the skin of an ox
under his foot? What harm would come of it if his own skin could
serve him at need as a sole. It is clear that a delicate skin
could never be of any use in this way, and may often do harm. The
Genevese, aroused at midnight by their enemies in the depth of
winter, seized their guns rather than their shoes. Who can tell
whether the town would have escaped capture if its citizens had
not been able to go barefoot?

Let a man be always fore-armed against the unforeseen. Let Emile
run about barefoot all the year round, upstairs, downstairs, and
in the garden. Far from scolding him, I shall follow his example;
only I shall be careful to remove any broken glass. I shall soon
proceed to speak of work and manual occupations. Meanwhile, let him
learn to perform every exercise which encourages agility of body;
let him learn to hold himself easily and steadily in any position,
let him practise jumping and leaping, climbing trees and walls.
Let him always find his balance, and let his every movement and
gesture be regulated by the laws of weight, long before he learns
to explain them by the science of statics. By the way his foot is
planted on the ground, and his body supported on his leg, he ought
to know if he is holding himself well or ill. An easy carriage is
always graceful, and the steadiest positions are the most elegant.
If I were a dancing master I would refuse to play the monkey
tricks of Marcel, which are only fit for the stage where they are
performed; but instead of keeping my pupil busy with fancy steps,
I would take him to the foot of a cliff. There I would show him
how to hold himself, how to carry his body and head, how to place
first a foot then a hand, to follow lightly the steep, toilsome,
and rugged paths, to leap from point to point, either up or down.
He should emulate the mountain-goat, not the ballet dancer.

As touch confines its operations to the man's immediate surroundings,
so sight extends its range beyond them; it is this which makes it
misleading; man sees half his horizon at a glance. In the midst of
this host of simultaneous impressions and the thoughts excited by
them, how can he fail now and then to make mistakes? Thus sight is
the least reliable of our senses, just because it has the widest
range; it functions long before our other senses, and its work is
too hasty and on too large a scale to be corrected by the rest.
Moreover, the very illusions of perspective are necessary if we are
to arrive at a knowledge of space and compare one part of space with
another. Without false appearances we should never see anything at
a distance; without the gradations of size and tone we could not
judge of distance, or rather distance would have no existence for
us. If two trees, one of which was a hundred paces from us and the
other ten, looked equally large and distinct, we should think they
were side by side. If we perceived the real dimensions of things,
we should know nothing of space; everything would seem close to
our eyes.

The angle formed between any objects and our eye is the only means
by which our sight estimates their size and distance, and as this
angle is the simple effect of complex causes, the judgment we form
does not distinguish between the several causes; we are compelled
to be inaccurate. For how can I tell, by sight alone, whether
the angle at which an object appears to me smaller than another,
indicates that it is really smaller or that it is further off.

Here we must just reverse our former plan. Instead of simplifying
the sensation, always reinforce it and verify it by means of another
sense. Subject the eye to the hand, and, so to speak, restrain the
precipitation of the former sense by the slower and more reasoned
pace of the latter. For want of this sort of practice our sight
measurements are very imperfect. We cannot correctly, and at
a glance, estimate height, length, breadth, and distance; and the
fact that engineers, surveyors, architects, masons, and painters
are generally quicker to see and better able to estimate distances
correctly, proves that the fault is not in our eyes, but in our
use of them. Their occupations give them the training we lack,
and they check the equivocal results of the angle of vision by its
accompanying experiences, which determine the relations of the two
causes of this angle for their eyes.

Children will always do anything that keeps them moving freely.
There are countless ways of rousing their interest in measuring,
perceiving, and estimating distance. There is a very tall cherry
tree; how shall we gather the cherries? Will the ladder in the
barn be big enough? There is a wide stream; how shall we get to the
other side? Would one of the wooden planks in the yard reach from
bank to bank? From our windows we want to fish in the moat; how
many yards of line are required? I want to make a swing between two
trees; will two fathoms of cord be enough? They tell me our room
in the new house will be twenty-five feet square; do you think
it will be big enough for us? Will it be larger than this? We are
very hungry; here are two villages, which can we get to first for
our dinner?

An idle, lazy child was to be taught to run. He had no liking for
this or any other exercise, though he was intended for the army.
Somehow or other he had got it into his head that a man of his rank
need know nothing and do nothing--that his birth would serve as a
substitute for arms and legs, as well as for every kind of virtue.
The skill of Chiron himself would have failed to make a fleet-footed
Achilles of this young gentleman. The difficulty was increased by
my determination to give him no kind of orders. I had renounced all
right to direct him by preaching, promises, threats, emulation, or
the desire to show off. How should I make him want to run without
saying anything? I might run myself, but he might not follow my
example, and this plan had other drawbacks. Moreover, I must find
some means of teaching him through this exercise, so as to train
mind and body to work together. This is how I, or rather how the
teacher who supplied me with this illustration, set about it.

When I took him a walk of an afternoon I sometimes put in my pocket
a couple of cakes, of a kind he was very fond of; we each ate one
while we were out, and we came back well pleased with our outing.
One day he noticed I had three cakes; he could have easily eaten
six, so he ate his cake quickly and asked for the other. "No,"
said I, "I could eat it myself, or we might divide it, but I would
rather see those two little boys run a race for it." I called them
to us, showed them the cake, and suggested that they should race
for it. They were delighted. The cake was placed on a large stone
which was to be the goal; the course was marked out, we sat down,
and at a given signal off flew the children! The victor seized the
cake and ate it without pity in the sight of the spectators and of
his defeated rival.

The sport was better than the cake; but the lesson did not take
effect all at once, and produced no result. I was not discouraged,
nor did I hurry; teaching is a trade at which one must be able to
lose time and save it. Our walks were continued, sometimes we took
three cakes, sometimes four, and from time to time there were one
or two cakes for the racers. If the prize was not great, neither
was the ambition of the competitors. The winner was praised and
petted, and everything was done with much ceremony. To give room
to run and to add interest to the race I marked out a longer course
and admitted several fresh competitors. Scarcely had they entered
the lists than all the passers-by stopped to watch. They were
encouraged by shouting, cheering, and clapping. I sometimes saw my
little man trembling with excitement, jumping up and shouting when
one was about to reach or overtake another--to him these were the
Olympian games.

However, the competitors did not always play fair, they got in
each other's way, or knocked one another down, or put stones on
the track. That led us to separate them and make them start from
different places at equal distances from the goal. You will soon
see the reason for this, for I must describe this important affair
at length.

Tired of seeing his favourite cakes devoured before his eyes, the
young lord began to suspect that there was some use in being a
quick runner, and seeing that he had two legs of his own, he began
to practise running on the quiet. I took care to see nothing, but
I knew my stratagem had taken effect. When he thought he was good
enough (and I thought so too), he pretended to tease me to give
him the other cake. I refused; he persisted, and at last he said
angrily, "Well, put it on the stone and mark out the course, and
we shall see." "Very good," said I, laughing, "You will get a good
appetite, but you will not get the cake." Stung by my mockery, he
took heart, won the prize, all the more easily because I had marked
out a very short course and taken care that the best runner was out
of the way. It will be evident that, after the first step, I had
no difficulty in keeping him in training. Soon he took such a fancy
for this form of exercise that without any favour he was almost
certain to beat the little peasant boys at running, however long
the course.

The advantage thus obtained led unexpectedly to another. So long
as he seldom won the prize, he ate it himself like his rivals, but
as he got used to victory he grew generous, and often shared it
with the defeated. That taught me a lesson in morals and I saw what
was the real root of generosity.

While I continued to mark out a different starting place for each
competitor, he did not notice that I had made the distances unequal,
so that one of them, having farther to run to reach the goal, was
clearly at a disadvantage. But though I left the choice to my pupil
he did not know how to take advantage of it. Without thinking of
the distance, he always chose the smoothest path, so that I could
easily predict his choice, and could almost make him win or lose
the cake at my pleasure. I had more than one end in view in this
stratagem; but as my plan was to get him to notice the difference
himself, I tried to make him aware of it. Though he was generally
lazy and easy going, he was so eager in his sports and trusted me
so completely that I had great difficulty in making him see that
I was cheating him. When at last I managed to make him see it in
spite of his excitement, he was angry with me. "What have you to
complain of?" said I. "In a gift which I propose to give of my own
free will am not I master of the conditions? Who makes you run?
Did I promise to make the courses equal? Is not the choice yours?
Do not you see that I am favouring you, and that the inequality you
complain of is all to your advantage, if you knew how to use it?"
That was plain to him; and to choose he must observe more carefully.
At first he wanted to count the paces, but a child measures paces
slowly and inaccurately; moreover, I decided to have several races
on one day; and the game having become a sort of passion with
the child, he was sorry to waste in measuring the portion of time
intended for running. Such delays are not in accordance with a
child's impatience; he tried therefore to see better and to reckon
the distance more accurately at sight. It was now quite easy
to extend and develop this power. At length, after some months'
practice, and the correction of his errors, I so trained his power
of judging at sight that I had only to place an imaginary cake on
any distant object and his glance was nearly as accurate as the
surveyor's chain.

Of all the senses, sight is that which we can least distinguish
from the judgments of the mind; as it takes a long time to learn
to see. It takes a long time to compare sight and touch, and to
train the former sense to give a true report of shape and distance.
Without touch, without progressive motion, the sharpest eyes in
the world could give us no idea of space. To the oyster the whole
world must seem a point, and it would seem nothing more to it even
if it had a human mind. It is only by walking, feeling, counting,
measuring the dimensions of things, that we learn to judge them
rightly; but, on the other hand, if we were always measuring, our
senses would trust to the instrument and would never gain confidence.
Nor must the child pass abruptly from measurement to judgment; he
must continue to compare the parts when he could not compare the
whole; he must substitute his estimated aliquot parts for exact
aliquot parts, and instead of always applying the measure by hand
he must get used to applying it by eye alone. I would, however, have
his first estimates tested by measurement, so that he may correct
his errors, and if there is a false impression left upon the senses
he may correct it by a better judgment. The same natural standards
of measurement are in use almost everywhere, the man's foot, the
extent of his outstretched arms, his height. When the child wants
to measure the height of a room, his tutor may serve as a measuring
rod; if he is estimating the height of a steeple let him measure
it by the house; if he wants to know how many leagues of road there
are, let him count the hours spent in walking along it. Above all,
do not do this for him; let him do it himself.

One cannot learn to estimate the extent and size of bodies without
at the same time learning to know and even to copy their shape; for
at bottom this copying depends entirely on the laws of perspective,
and one cannot estimate distance without some feeling for these
laws. All children in the course of their endless imitation try to
draw; and I would have Emile cultivate this art; not so much for
art's sake, as to give him exactness of eye and flexibility of hand.
Generally speaking, it matters little whether he is acquainted
with this or that occupation, provided he gains clearness of
sense--perception and the good bodily habits which belong to the
exercise in question. So I shall take good care not to provide him
with a drawing master, who would only set him to copy copies and
draw from drawings. Nature should be his only teacher, and things
his only models. He should have the real thing before his eyes, not
its copy on paper. Let him draw a house from a house, a tree from
a tree, a man from a man; so that he may train himself to observe
objects and their appearance accurately and not to take false and
conventional copies for truth. I would even train him to draw only
from objects actually before him and not from memory, so that,
by repeated observation, their exact form may be impressed on his
imagination, for fear lest he should substitute absurd and fantastic
forms for the real truth of things, and lose his sense of proportion
and his taste for the beauties of nature.

Of course I know that in this way he will make any number of daubs
before he produces anything recognisable, that it will be long
before he attains to the graceful outline and light touch of the
draughtsman; perhaps he will never have an eye for picturesque effect
or a good taste in drawing. On the other hand, he will certainly
get a truer eye, a surer hand, a knowledge of the real relations
of form and size between animals, plants, and natural objects,
together with a quicker sense of the effects of perspective. That
is just what I wanted, and my purpose is rather that he should
know things than copy them. I would rather he showed me a plant of
acanthus even if he drew a capital with less accuracy.

Moreover, in this occupation as in others, I do not intend my pupil
to play by himself; I mean to make it pleasanter for him by always
sharing it with him. He shall have no other rival; but mine will be
a continual rivalry, and there will be no risk attaching to it; it
will give interest to his pursuits without awaking jealousy between
us. I shall follow his example and take up a pencil; at first
I shall use it as unskilfully as he. I should be an Apelles if I
did not set myself daubing. To begin with, I shall draw a man such
as lads draw on walls, a line for each arm, another for each leg,
with the fingers longer than the arm. Long after, one or other of
us will notice this lack of proportion; we shall observe that the
leg is thick, that this thickness varies, that the length of the arm
is proportionate to the body. In this improvement I shall either
go side by side with my pupil, or so little in advance that he will
always overtake me easily and sometimes get ahead of me. We shall
get brushes and paints, we shall try to copy the colours of things
and their whole appearance, not merely their shape. We shall colour
prints, we shall paint, we shall daub; but in all our daubing we
shall be searching out the secrets of nature, and whatever we do
shall be done under the eye of that master.

We badly needed ornaments for our room, and now we have them ready
to our hand. I will have our drawings framed and covered with good
glass, so that no one will touch them, and thus seeing them where
we put them, each of us has a motive for taking care of his own.
I arrange them in order round the room, each drawing repeated some
twenty or thirty times, thus showing the author's progress in each
specimen, from the time when the house is merely a rude square,
till its front view, its side view, its proportions, its light and
shade are all exactly portrayed. These graduations will certainly
furnish us with pictures, a source of interest to ourselves and of
curiosity to others, which will spur us on to further emulation.
The first and roughest drawings I put in very smart gilt frames
to show them off; but as the copy becomes more accurate and the
drawing really good, I only give it a very plain dark frame; it
needs no other ornament than itself, and it would be a pity if the
frame distracted the attention which the picture itself deserves.
Thus we each aspire to a plain frame, and when we desire to pour
scorn on each other's drawings, we condemn them to a gilded frame.
Some day perhaps "the gilt frame" will become a proverb among us,
and we shall be surprised to find how many people show what they
are really made of by demanding a gilt frame.

I have said already that geometry is beyond the child's reach; but
that is our own fault. We fail to perceive that their method is not
ours, that what is for us the art of reasoning, should be for them
the art of seeing. Instead of teaching them our way, we should do
better to adopt theirs, for our way of learning geometry is quite
as much a matter of imagination as of reasoning. When a proposition is
enunciated you must imagine the proof; that is, you must discover
on what proposition already learnt it depends, and of all the
possible deductions from that proposition you must choose just the
one required.

In this way the closest reasoner, if he is not inventive, may find
himself at a loss. What is the result? Instead of making us discover
proofs, they are dictated to us; instead of teaching us to reason,
our memory only is employed.

Draw accurate figures, combine them together, put them one upon
another, examine their relations, and you will discover the whole
of elementary geometry in passing from one observation to another,
without a word of definitions, problems, or any other form of
demonstration but super-position. I do not profess to teach Emile
geometry; he will teach me; I shall seek for relations, he will
find them, for I shall seek in such a fashion as to make him find.
For instance, instead of using a pair of compasses to draw a circle,
I shall draw it with a pencil at the end of bit of string attached
to a pivot. After that, when I want to compare the radii one with
another, Emile will laugh at me and show me that the same thread
at full stretch cannot have given distances of unequal length. If
I wish to measure an angle of 60 degrees I describe from the apex
of the angle, not an arc, but a complete circle, for with children
nothing must be taken for granted. I find that the part of the
circle contained between the two lines of the angle is the sixth
part of a circle. Then I describe another and larger circle from
the same centre, and I find the second arc is again the sixth part
of its circle. I describe a third concentric circle with a similar
result, and I continue with more and more circles till Emile,
shocked at my stupidity, shows me that every arc, large or small,
contained by the same angle will always be the sixth part of its
circle. Now we are ready to use the protractor.

To prove that two adjacent angles are equal to two right angles
people describe a circle. On the contrary I would have Emile observe
the fact in a circle, and then I should say, "If we took away the
circle and left the straight lines, would the angles have changed
their size, etc.?"

Exactness in the construction of figures is neglected; it is taken
for granted and stress is laid on the proof. With us, on the other
hand, there will be no question of proof. Our chief business will
be to draw very straight, accurate, and even lines, a perfect
square, a really round circle. To verify the exactness of a figure
we will test it by each of its sensible properties, and that will
give us a chance to discover fresh properties day by day. We will
fold the two semi-circles along the diameter, the two halves of
the square by the diagonal; he will compare our two figures to see
who has got the edges to fit moat exactly, i.e., who has done it
best; we should argue whether this equal division would always be
possible in parallelograms, trapezes, etc. We shall sometimes try
to forecast the result of an experiment, to find reasons, etc.

Geometry means to my scholar the successful use of the rule
and compass; he must not confuse it with drawing, in which these
instruments are not used. The rule and compass will be locked up,
so that he will not get into the way of messing about with them,
but we may sometimes take our figures with us when we go for a
walk, and talk over what we have done, or what we mean to do.

I shall never forget seeing a young man at Turin, who had learnt as
a child the relations of contours and surfaces by having to choose
every day isoperimetric cakes among cakes of every geometrical
figure. The greedy little fellow had exhausted the art of Archimedes
to find which were the biggest.

When the child flies a kite he is training eye and hand to accuracy;
when he whips a top, he is increasing his strength by using it, but
without learning anything. I have sometimes asked why children are
not given the same games of skill as men; tennis, mall, billiards,
archery, football, and musical instruments. I was told that some
of these are beyond their strength, that the child's senses are
not sufficiently developed for others. These do not strike me as
valid reasons; a child is not as tall as a man, but he wears the
same sort of coat; I do not want him to play with our cues at a
billiard-table three feet high; I do not want him knocking about
among our games, nor carrying one of our racquets in his little
hand; but let him play in a room whose windows have been protected;
at first let him only use soft balls, let his first racquets be
of wood, then of parchment, and lastly of gut, according to his
progress. You prefer the kite because it is less tiring and there
is no danger. You are doubly wrong. Kite-flying is a sport for
women, but every woman will run away from a swift ball. Their white
skins were not meant to be hardened by blows and their faces were
not made for bruises. But we men are made for strength; do you
think we can attain it without hardship, and what defence shall we
be able to make if we are attacked? People always play carelessly
in games where there is no danger. A falling kite hurts nobody,
but nothing makes the arm so supple as protecting the head, nothing
makes the sight so accurate as having to guard the eye. To dash
from one end of the room to another, to judge the rebound of a
ball before it touches the ground, to return it with strength and
accuracy, such games are not so much sports fit for a man, as sports
fit to make a man of him.

The child's limbs, you say, are too tender. They are not so strong
as those of a man, but they are more supple. His arm is weak, still
it is an arm, and it should be used with due consideration as we
use other tools. Children have no skill in the use of their hands.
That is just why I want them to acquire skill; a man with as little
practice would be just as clumsy. We can only learn the use of our
limbs by using them. It is only by long experience that we learn to
make the best of ourselves, and this experience is the real object
of study to which we cannot apply ourselves too early.

What is done can be done. Now there is nothing commoner than to find
nimble and skilful children whose limbs are as active as those of
a man. They may be seen at any fair, swinging, walking on their
hands, jumping, dancing on the tight rope. For many years past,
troops of children have attracted spectators to the ballets at the
Italian Comedy House. Who is there in Germany and Italy who has
not heard of the famous pantomime company of Nicolini? Has it ever
occurred to any one that the movements of these children were less
finished, their postures less graceful, their ears less true, their
dancing more clumsy than those of grown-up dancers? If at first
the fingers are thick, short, and awkward, the dimpled hands unable
to grasp anything, does this prevent many children from learning
to read and write at an age when others cannot even hold a pen
or pencil? All Paris still recalls the little English girl of ten
who did wonders on the harpsichord. I once saw a little fellow of
eight, the son of a magistrate, who was set like a statuette on
the table among the dishes, to play on a fiddle almost a big as
himself, and even artists were surprised at his execution.

To my mind, these and many more examples prove that the supposed
incapacity of children for our games is imaginary, and that if they
are unsuccessful in some of them, it is for want of practice.

You will tell me that with regard to the body I am falling into
the same mistake of precocious development which I found fault with
for the mind. The cases are very different: in the one, progress is
apparent only; in the other it is real. I have shown that children
have not the mental development they appear to have, while they
really do what they seem to do. Besides, we must never forget that
all this should be play, the easy and voluntary control of the
movements which nature demands of them, the art of varying their
games to make them pleasanter, without the least bit of constraint
to transform them into work; for what games do they play in which
I cannot find material for instruction for them? And even if I
could not do so, so long as they are amusing themselves harmlessly
and passing the time pleasantly, their progress in learning is not
yet of such great importance. But if one must be teaching them this
or that at every opportunity, it cannot be done without constraint,
vexation, or tedium.

What I have said about the use of the two senses whose use is most
constant and most important, may serve as an example of how to
train the rest. Sight and touch are applied to bodies at rest and
bodies in motion, but as hearing is only affected by vibrations
of the air, only a body in motion can make a noise or sound;
if everything were at rest we should never hear. At night, when
we ourselves only move as we choose, we have nothing to fear but
moving bodies; hence we need a quick ear, and power to judge from
the sensations experienced whether the body which causes them is
large or small, far off or near, whether its movements are gentle
or violent. When once the air is set in motion, it is subject to
repercussions which produce echoes, these renew the sensations and
make us hear a loud or penetrating sound in another quarter. If you
put your ear to the ground you may hear the sound of men's voices
or horses' feet in a plain or valley much further off than when
you stand upright.

As we have made a comparison between sight and touch, it will be
as well to do the same for hearing, and to find out which of the
two impressions starting simultaneously from a given body first
reaches the sense-organ. When you see the flash of a cannon, you
have still time to take cover; but when you hear the sound it is
too late, the ball is close to you. One can reckon the distance
of a thunderstorm by the interval between the lightning and the
thunder. Let the child learn all these facts, let him learn those
that are within his reach by experiment, and discover the rest
by induction; but I would far rather he knew nothing at all about
them, than that you should tell him.

In the voice we have an organ answering to hearing; we have no
such organ answering to sight, and we do not repeat colours as we
repeat sounds. This supplies an additional means of cultivating the
ear by practising the active and passive organs one with the other.

Man has three kinds of voice, the speaking or articulate voice, the
singing or melodious voice, and the pathetic or expressive voice,
which serves as the language of the passions, and gives life to
song and speech. The child has these three voices, just as the man
has them, but he does not know how to use them in combination. Like
us, he laughs, cries, laments, shrieks, and groans, but he does
not know how to combine these inflexions with speech or song. These
three voices find their best expression in perfect music. Children
are incapable of such music, and their singing lacks feeling. In
the same way their spoken language lacks expression; they shout,
but they do not speak with emphasis, and there is as little power
in their voice as there is emphasis in their speech. Our pupil's
speech will be plainer and simpler still, for his passions are still
asleep, and will not blend their tones with his. Do not, therefore,
set him to recite tragedy or comedy, nor try to teach declamation
so-called. He will have too much sense to give voice to things he
cannot understand, or expression to feelings he has never known.

Teach him to speak plainly and distinctly, to articulate clearly,
to pronounce correctly and without affectation, to perceive and
imitate the right accent in prose and verse, and always to speak
loud enough to be heard, but without speaking too loud--a common
fault with school-children. Let there be no waste in anything.

The same method applies to singing; make his voice smooth and true,
flexible and full, his ear alive to time and tune, but nothing more.
Descriptive and theatrical music is not suitable at his age----I
would rather he sang no words; if he must have words, I would try
to compose songs on purpose for him, songs interesting to a child,
and as simple as his own thoughts.

You may perhaps suppose that as I am in no hurry to teach Emile to
read and write, I shall not want to teach him to read music. Let
us spare his brain the strain of excessive attention, and let us
be in no hurry to turn his mind towards conventional signs. I grant
you there seems to be a difficulty here, for if at first sight the
knowledge of notes seems no more necessary for singing than the
knowledge of letters for speaking, there is really this difference
between them: When we speak, we are expressing our own thoughts;
when we sing we are expressing the thoughts of others. Now in order
to express them we must read them.

But at first we can listen to them instead of reading them, and a
song is better learnt by ear than by eye. Moreover, to learn music
thoroughly we must make songs as well as sing them, and the two
processes must be studied together, or we shall never have any
real knowledge of music. First give your young musician practice
in very regular, well-cadenced phrases; then let him connect these
phrases with the very simplest modulations; then show him their
relation one to another by correct accent, which can be done by a
fit choice of cadences and rests. On no account give him anything
unusual, or anything that requires pathos or expression. A simple,
tuneful air, always based on the common chords of the key, with its
bass so clearly indicated that it is easily felt and accompanied,
for to train his voice and ear he should always sing with the

We articulate the notes we sing the better to distinguish them;
hence the custom of sol-faing with certain syllables. To tell the
keys one from another they must have names and fixed intervals; hence
the names of the intervals, and also the letters of the alphabet
attached to the keys of the clavier and the notes of the scale. C
and A indicate fixed sounds, invariable and always rendered by the
same keys; Ut and La are different. Ut is always the dominant of
a major scale, or the leading-note of a minor scale. La is always
the dominant of a minor scale or the sixth of a major scale. Thus
the letters indicate fixed terms in our system of music, and the
syllables indicate terms homologous to the similar relations in
different keys. The letters show the keys on the piano, and the
syllables the degrees in the scale. French musicians have made
a strange muddle of this. They have confused the meaning of the
syllables with that of the letters, and while they have unnecessarily
given us two sets of symbols for the keys of the piano, they have
left none for the chords of the scales; so that Ut and C are always
the same for them; this is not and ought not to be; if so, what
is the use of C? Their method of sol-faing is, therefore, extremely
and needlessly difficult, neither does it give any clear idea
to the mind; since, by this method, Ut and Me, for example, may
mean either a major third, a minor third, an augmented third, or
a diminished third. What a strange thing that the country which
produces the finest books about music should be the very country
where it is hardest to learn music!

Let us adopt a simpler and clearer plan with our pupil; let him have
only two scales whose relations remain unchanged, and indicated by
the same symbols. Whether he sings or plays, let him learn to fix
his scale on one of the twelve tones which may serve as a base, and
whether he modulates in D, C, or G, let the close be always Ut or
La, according to the scale. In this way he will understand what you
mean, and the essential relations for correct singing and playing
will always be present in his mind; his execution will be better
and his progress quicker. There is nothing funnier than what the
French call "natural sol-faing;" it consists in removing the real
meaning of things and putting in their place other meanings which
only distract us. There is nothing more natural than sol-faing by
transposition, when the scale is transposed. But I have said enough,
and more than enough, about music; teach it as you please, so long
as it is nothing but play.

We are now thoroughly acquainted with the condition of foreign
bodies in relation to our own, their weight, form, colour, density,
size, distance, temperature, stability, or motion. We have learnt
which of them to approach or avoid, how to set about overcoming
their resistance or to resist them so as to prevent ourselves from
injury; but this is not enough. Our own body is constantly wasting
and as constantly requires to be renewed. Although we have the
power of changing other substances into our own, our choice is not
a matter of indifference. Everything is not food for man, and what
may be food for him is not all equally suitable; it depends on
his racial constitution, the country he lives in, his individual
temperament, and the way of living which his condition demands.

If we had to wait till experience taught us to know and choose fit
food for ourselves, we should die of hunger or poison; but a kindly
providence which has made pleasure the means of self-preservation
to sentient beings teaches us through our palate what is suitable
for our stomach. In a state of nature there is no better doctor
than a man's own appetite, and no doubt in a state of nature man
could find the most palateable food the most wholesome.

Nor is this all. Our Maker provides, not only for those needs he
has created, but for those we create for ourselves; and it is to
keep the balance between our wants and our needs that he has caused
our tastes to change and vary with our way of living. The further
we are from a state of nature, the more we lose our natural tastes;
or rather, habit becomes a second nature, and so completely replaces
our real nature, that we have lost all knowledge of it.

From this it follows that the most natural tastes should be the
simplest, for those are more easily changed; but when they are
sharpened and stimulated by our fancies they assume a form which
is incapable of modification. The man who so far has not adapted
himself to one country can learn the ways of any country whatsoever;
but the man who has adopted the habits of one particular country
can never shake them off.

This seems to be true of all our senses, especially of taste. Our
first food is milk; we only become accustomed by degrees to strong
flavours; at first we dislike them. Fruit, vegetables, herbs, and
then fried meat without salt or seasoning, formed the feasts of
primitive man. When the savage tastes wine for the first time, he
makes a grimace and spits it out; and even among ourselves a man who
has not tasted fermented liquors before twenty cannot get used to
them; we should all be sober if we did not have wine when we were
children. Indeed, the simpler our tastes are, the more general they
are; made dishes are those most frequently disliked. Did you ever
meet with any one who disliked bread or water? Here is the finger
of nature, this then is our rule. Preserve the child's primitive
tastes as long as possible; let his food be plain and simple, let
strong flavours be unknown to his palate, and do not let his diet
be too uniform.

I am not asking, for the present, whether this way of living is
healthier or no; that is not what I have in view. It is enough for
me to know that my choice is more in accordance with nature, and
that it can be more readily adapted to other conditions. In my
opinion, those who say children should be accustomed to the food
they will have when they are grown up are mistaken. Why should
their food be the same when their way of living is so different?
A man worn out by labour, anxiety, and pain needs tasty foods to
give fresh vigour to his brain; a child fresh from his games, a
child whose body is growing, needs plentiful food which will supply
more chyle. Moreover the grown man has already a settled profession,
occupation, and home, but who can tell what Fate holds in store
for the child? Let us not give him so fixed a bent in any direction
that he cannot change it if required without hardship. Do not bring
him up so that he would die of hunger in a foreign land if he does
not take a French cook about with him; do not let him say at some
future time that France is the only country where the food is fit
to eat. By the way, that is a strange way of praising one's country.
On the other hand, I myself should say that the French are the only
people who do not know what good food is, since they require such
a special art to make their dishes eatable.

Of all our different senses, we are usually most affected by taste.
Thus it concerns us more nearly to judge aright of what will
actually become part of ourselves, than of that which will merely
form part of our environment. Many things are matters of indifference
to touch, hearing, and sight; but taste is affected by almost
everything. Moreover the activity of this sense is wholly physical
and material; of all the senses, it alone makes no appeal to the
imagination, or at least, imagination plays a smaller part in its
sensations; while imitation and imagination often bring morality
into the impressions of the other senses. Thus, speaking generally,
soft and pleasure-loving minds, passionate and truly sensitive
dispositions, which are easily stirred by the other senses, are
usually indifferent to this. From this very fact, which apparently
places taste below our other senses and makes our inclination towards
it the more despicable, I draw just the opposite conclusion--that
the best way to lead children is by the mouth. Greediness is a better
motive than vanity; for the former is a natural appetite directly
dependent on the senses, while the latter is the outcome of
convention, it is the slave of human caprice and liable to every
kind of abuse. Believe me the child will cease to care about his
food only too soon, and when his heart is too busy, his palate will
be idle. When he is grown up greediness will be expelled by a host
of stronger passions, while vanity will only be stimulated by them;
for this latter passion feeds upon the rest till at length they
are all swallowed up in it. I have sometimes studied those men who
pay great attention to good eating, men whose first waking thought
is--What shall we have to eat to-day? men who describe their dinner
with as much detail as Polybius describes a combat. I have found
these so-called men were only children of forty, without strength
or vigour--fruges consumere nati. Gluttony is the vice of feeble
minds. The gourmand has his brains in his palate, he can do nothing
but eat; he is so stupid and incapable that the table is the only
place for him, and dishes are the only things he knows anything
about. Let us leave him to this business without regret; it is
better for him and for us.

It is a small mind that fears lest greediness should take root
in the child who is fit for something better. The child thinks of
nothing but his food, the youth pays no heed to it at all; every
kind of food is good, and we have other things to attend to. Yet
I would not have you use the low motive unwisely. I would not have
you trust to dainties rather than to the honour which is the reward
of a good deed. But childhood is, or ought to be, a time of play
and merry sports, and I do not see why the rewards of purely bodily
exercises should not be material and sensible rewards. If a little
lad in Majorca sees a basket on the tree-top and brings it down
with his sling, is it not fair that he should get something by this,
and a good breakfast should repair the strength spent in getting
it. If a young Spartan, facing the risk of a hundred stripes, slips
skilfully into the kitchen, and steals a live fox cub, carries it
off in his garment, and is scratched, bitten till the blood comes,
and for shame lest he should be caught the child allows his bowels
to be torn out without a movement or a cry, is it not fair that he
should keep his spoils, that he should eat his prey after it has
eaten him? A good meal should never be a reward; but why should it
not be sometimes the result of efforts made to get it. Emile does
not consider the cake I put on the stone as a reward for good running;
he knows that the only way to get the cake is to get there first.

This does not contradict my previous rules about simple food; for
to tempt a child's appetite you need not stimulate it, you need
only satisfy it; and the commonest things will do this if you do
not attempt to refine children's taste. Their perpetual hunger,
the result of their need for growth, will be the best sauce. Fruit,
milk, a piece of cake just a little better than ordinary bread, and
above all the art of dispensing these things prudently, by these
means you may lead a host of children to the world's end, without
on the one hand giving them a taste for strong flavours, nor on
the other hand letting them get tired of their food.

The indifference of children towards meat is one proof that the
taste for meat is unnatural; their preference is for vegetable
foods, such as milk, pastry, fruit, etc. Beware of changing this
natural taste and making children flesh-eaters, if not for their
health's sake, for the sake of their character; for how can one
explain away the fact that great meat-eaters are usually fiercer
and more cruel than other men; this has been recognised at all
times and in all places. The English are noted for their cruelty
[Footnote: I am aware that the English make a boast of their
humanity and of the kindly disposition of their race, which they
call "good-natured people;" but in vain do they proclaim this fact;
no one else says it of them.] while the Gaures are the gentlest
of men. [Footnote: The Banians, who abstain from flesh even more
completely than the Gaures, are almost as gentle as the Gaures
themselves, but as their morality is less pure and their form of
worship less reasonable they are not such good men.] All savages
are cruel, and it is not their customs that tend in this direction;
their cruelty is the result of their food. They go to war as to the
chase, and treat men as they would treat bears. Indeed in England
butchers are not allowed to give evidence in a court of law, no
more can surgeons. [Footnote: One of the English translators of my
book has pointed out my mistake, and both of them have corrected
it. Butchers and surgeons are allowed to give evidence in the law
courts, but butchers may not serve on juries in criminal cases,
though surgeons are allowed to do so.] Great criminals prepare
themselves for murder by drinking blood. Homer makes his flesh-eating
Cyclops a terrible man, while his Lotus-eaters are so delightful
that those who went to trade with them forgot even their own country
to dwell among them.

"You ask me," said Plutarch, "why Pythagoras abstained from eating
the flesh of beasts, but I ask you, what courage must have been
needed by the first man who raised to his lips the flesh of the
slain, who broke with his teeth the bones of a dying beast, who had
dead bodies, corpses, placed before him and swallowed down limbs
which a few moments ago were bleating, bellowing, walking, and seeing?
How could big hand plunge the knife into the heart of a sentient
creature, how could his eyes look on murder, how could he behold
a poor helpless animal bled to death, scorched, and dismembered?
how can he bear the sight of this quivering flesh? does not the
very smell of it turn his stomach? is he not repelled, disgusted,
horror-struck, when he has to handle the blood from these wounds,
and to cleanse his fingers from the dark and viscous bloodstains?

"The scorched skins wriggled upon the ground,
The shrinking flesh bellowed upon the spit.
Man cannot eat them without a shudder;
He seems to hear their cries within his breast.

"Thus must he have felt the first time he did despite to nature and
made this horrible meal; the first time he hungered for the living
creature, and desired to feed upon the beast which was still
grazing; when he bade them slay, dismember, and cut up the sheep
which licked his hands. It is those who began these cruel feasts,
not those who abandon them, who should cause surprise, and there
were excuses for those primitive men, excuses which we have not,
and the absence of such excuses multiplies our barbarity a hundredfold.

"'Mortals, beloved of the gods,' says this primitive man, 'compare
our times with yours; see how happy you are, and how wretched were
we. The earth, newly formed, the air heavy with moisture, were
not yet subjected to the rule of the seasons. Three-fourths of the
surface of the globe was flooded by the ever-shifting channels of
rivers uncertain of their course, and covered with pools, lakes,
and bottomless morasses. The remaining quarter was covered with
woods and barren forests. The earth yielded no good fruit, we had
no instruments of tillage, we did not even know the use of them,
and the time of harvest never came for those who had sown nothing.
Thus hunger was always in our midst. In winter, mosses and the
bark of trees were our common food. A few green roots of dogs-bit
or heather were a feast, and when men found beech-mast, nuts, or
acorns, they danced for joy round the beech or oak, to the sound
of some rude song, while they called the earth their mother and
their nurse. This was their only festival, their only sport; all
the rest of man's life was spent in sorrow, pain, and hunger.

"'At length, when the bare and naked earth no longer offered us any
food, we were compelled in self-defence to outrage nature, and to
feed upon our companions in distress, rather than perish with them.
But you, oh, cruel men! who forces you to shed blood? Behold the
wealth of good things about you, the fruits yielded by the earth,
the wealth of field and vineyard; the animals give their milk for
your drink and their fleece for your clothing. What more do you
ask? What madness compels you to commit such murders, when you
have already more than you can eat or drink? Why do you slander
our mother earth, and accuse her of denying you food? Why do you
sin against Ceres, the inventor of the sacred laws, and against the
gracious Bacchus, the comforter of man, as if their lavish gifts
were not enough to preserve mankind? Have you the heart to mingle
their sweet fruits with the bones upon your table, to eat with the
milk the blood of the beasts which gave it? The lions and panthers,
wild beasts as you call them, are driven to follow their natural
instinct, and they kill other beasts that they may live. But,
a hundredfold fiercer than they, you fight against your instincts
without cause, and abandon yourselves to the most cruel pleasures.
The animals you eat are not those who devour others; you do not eat
the carnivorous beasts, you take them as your pattern. You only
hunger for the sweet and gentle creatures which harm no one, which
follow you, serve you, and are devoured by you as the reward of
their service.

"'O unnatural murderer! if you persist in the assertion that nature
has made you to devour your fellow-creatures, beings of flesh and
blood, living and feeling like yourself, stifle if you can that
horror with which nature makes you regard these horrible feasts;
slay the animals yourself, slay them, I say, with your own hands,
without knife or mallet; tear them with your nails like the lion
and the bear, take this ox and rend him in pieces, plunge your
claws into his hide; eat this lamb while it is yet alive, devour
its warm flesh, drink its soul with its blood. You shudder! you dare
not feel the living throbbing flesh between your teeth? Ruthless
man; you begin by slaying the animal and then you devour it, as
if to slay it twice. It is not enough. You turn against the dead
flesh, it revolts you, it must be transformed by fire, boiled and
roasted, seasoned and disguised with drugs; you must have butchers,
cooks, turnspits, men who will rid the murder of its horrors, who
will dress the dead bodies so that the taste deceived by these
disguises will not reject what is strange to it, and will feast on
corpses, the very sight of which would sicken you.'"

Although this quotation is irrelevant, I cannot resist the temptation
to transcribe it, and I think few of my readers will resent it.

In conclusion, whatever food you give your children, provided you
accustom them to nothing but plain and simple dishes, let them eat
and run and play as much as they want; you may be sure they will
never eat too much and will never have indigestion; but if you keep
them hungry half their time, when they do contrive to evade your
vigilance, they will take advantage of it as far as they can; they
will eat till they are sick, they will gorge themselves till they
can eat no more. Our appetite is only excessive because we try to
impose on it rules other than those of nature, opposing, controlling,
prescribing, adding, or substracting; the scales are always in our
hands, but the scales are the measure of our caprices not of our
stomachs. I return to my usual illustration; among peasants the
cupboard and the apple-loft are always left open, and indigestion
is unknown alike to children and grown-up people.

If, however, it happened that a child were too great an eater,
though, under my system, I think it is impossible, he is so easily
distracted by his favourite games that one might easily starve him
without his knowing it. How is it that teachers have failed to use
such a safe and easy weapon. Herodotus records that the Lydians,
[Footnote: The ancient historians are full of opinions which may be
useful, even if the facts which they present are false. But we do
not know how to make any real use of history. Criticism and erudition
are our only care; as if it mattered more that a statement were
true or false than that we should be able to get a useful lesson
from it. A wise man should consider history a tissue of fables whose
morals are well adapted to the human heart.] under the pressure of
great scarcity, decided to invent sports and other amusements with
which to cheat their hunger, and they passed whole days without
thought of food. Your learned teachers may have read this passage
time after time without seeing how it might be applied to children.
One of these teachers will probably tell me that a child does not
like to leave his dinner for his lessons. You are right, sir--I
was not thinking of that sort of sport.

The sense of smell is to taste what sight is to touch; it goes
before it and gives it warning that it will be affected by this or
that substance; and it inclines it to seek or shun this experience
according to the impressions received beforehand. I have been told
that savages receive impressions quite different from ours, and
that they have quite different ideas with regard to pleasant or
unpleasant odours. I can well believe it. Odours alone are slight
sensations; they affect the imagination rather than the senses,
and they work mainly through the anticipations they arouse. This
being so, and the tastes of savages being so unlike the taste of
civilised men, they should lead them to form very different ideas
with regard to flavours and therefore with regard to the odours
which announce them. A Tartar must enjoy the smell of a haunch of
putrid horseflesh, much as a sportsman enjoys a very high partridge.
Our idle sensations, such as the scents wafted from the flower
beds, must pass unnoticed among men who walk too much to care for
strolling in a garden, and do not work enough to find pleasure in
repose. Hungry men would find little pleasure in scents which did
not proclaim the approach of food.

Smell is the sense of the imagination; as it gives tone to the nerves
it must have a great effect on the brain; that is why it revives
us for the time, but eventually causes exhaustion. Its effects
on love are pretty generally recognised. The sweet perfumes of a
dressing-room are not so slight a snare as you may fancy them, and
I hardly know whether to congratulate or condole with that wise
and somewhat insensible person whose senses are never stirred by
the scent of the flowers his mistress wears in her bosom.

Hence the sense of smell should not be over-active in early
childhood; the imagination, as yet unstirred by changing passions,
is scarcely susceptible of emotion, and we have not enough experience
to discern beforehand from one sense the promise of another. This
view is confirmed by observation, and it is certain that the sense
of smell is dull and almost blunted in most children. Not that their
sensations are less acute than those of grown-up people, but that
there is no idea associated with them; they do not easily experience
pleasure or pain, and are not flattered or hurt as we are. Without
going beyond my system, and without recourse to comparative
anatomy, I think we can easily see why women are generally fonder
of perfumes than men.

It is said that from early childhood the Redskins of Canada, train
their sense of smell to such a degree of subtlety that, although
they have dogs, they do not condescend to use them in hunting--they
are their own dogs. Indeed I believe that if children were trained
to scent their dinner as a dog scents game, their sense of smell
might be nearly as perfect; but I see no very real advantage to be
derived from this sense, except by teaching the child to observe
the relation between smell and taste. Nature has taken care to.
compel us to learn these relations. She has made the exercise of
the latter sense practically inseparable from that of the former,
by placing their organs close together, and by providing, in the
mouth, a direct pathway between them, so that we taste nothing
without smelling it too. Only I would not have these natural
relations disturbed in order to deceive the child, e.g.; to conceal
the taste of medicine with an aromatic odour, for the discord
between the senses is too great for deception, the more active
sense overpowers. the other, the medicine is just as distasteful,
and this disagreeable association extends to every sensation experienced
at the time; so the slightest of these sensations recalls the rest
to his imagination and a very pleasant perfume is for him only a
nasty smell; thus our foolish precautions increase the sum total
of his unpleasant sensations at the cost of his pleasant sensations.

In the following books I have still to speak of the training of a
sort of sixth sense, called common-sense, not so much because it is
common to all men, but because it results from the well-regulated
use of the other five, and teaches the nature of things by the
sum-total of their external aspects. So this sixth sense has no
special organ, it has its seat in the brain, and its sensations
which are purely internal are called percepts or ideas. The number
of these ideas is the measure of our knowledge; exactness of thought
depends on their clearness and precision; the art of comparing
them one with another is called human reason. Thus what I call the
reasoning of the senses, or the reasoning of the child, consists
in the formation of simple ideas through the associated experience
of several sensations; what I call the reasoning of the intellect,
consists in the formation, of complex ideas through the association
of several simple ideas.

If my method is indeed that of nature, and if I am not mistaken in
the application of that method, we have led our pupil through the
region of sensation to the bounds of the child's reasoning; the
first step we take beyond these bounds must be the step of a man.
But before we make this fresh advance, let us glance back for
a moment at the path we have hitherto followed. Every age, every
station in life, has a perfection, a ripeness, of its own. We have
often heard the phrase "a grown man;" but we will consider "a grown
child." This will be a new experience and none the less pleasing.

The life of finite creatures is so poor and narrow that the
mere sight of what is arouses no emotion. It is fancy which decks
reality, and if imagination does not lend its charm to that which
touches our senses, our barren pleasure is confined to the senses
alone, while the heart remains cold. The earth adorned with
the treasures of autumn displays a wealth of colour which the eye
admires; but this admiration fails to move us, it springs rather
from thought than from feeling. In spring the country is almost
bare and leafless, the trees give no shade, the grass has hardly
begun to grow, yet the heart is touched by the sight. In this new
birth of nature, we feel the revival of our own life; the memories
of past pleasures surround us; tears of delight, those companions
of pleasure ever ready to accompany a pleasing sentiment, tremble
on our eyelids. Animated, lively, and delightful though the vintage
may be, we behold it without a tear.

And why is this? Because imagination adds to the sight of spring
the image of the seasons which are yet to come; the eye sees the
tender shoot, the mind's eye beholds its flowers, fruit, and foliage,
and even the mysteries they may conceal. It blends successive stages
into one moment's experience; we see things, not so much as they
will be, but as we would have them be, for imagination has only to
take her choice. In autumn, on the other hand, we only behold the
present; if we wish to look forward to spring, winter bars the way,
and our shivering imagination dies away among its frost and snow.

This is the source of the charm we find in beholding the beauties
of childhood, rather than the perfection of manhood. When do we
really delight in beholding a man? When the memory of his deeds
leads us to look back over his life and his youth is renewed in
our eyes. If we are reduced to viewing him as he is, or to picturing
him as he will be in old age, the thought of declining years destroys
all our pleasure. There is no pleasure in seeing a man hastening
to his grave; the image of death makes all hideous.

But when I think of a child of ten or twelve, strong, healthy,
well-grown for his age, only pleasant thoughts are called up, whether
of the present or the future. I see him keen, eager, and full of
life, free from gnawing cares and painful forebodings, absorbed
in this present state, and delighting in a fullness of life which
seems to extend beyond himself. I look forward to a time when he
will use his daily increasing sense, intelligence and vigour, those
growing powers of which he continually gives fresh proof. I watch
the child with delight, I picture to myself the man with even
greater pleasure. His eager life seems to stir my own pulses, I
seem to live his life and in his vigour I renew my own.

The hour strikes, the scene is changed. All of a sudden his eye
grows dim, his mirth has fled. Farewell mirth, farewell untrammelled
sports in which he delighted. A stern, angry man takes him by the
hand, saying gravely, "Come with me, sir," and he is led away. As
they are entering the room, I catch a glimpse of books. Books, what
dull food for a child of his age! The poor child allows himself to
be dragged away; he casts a sorrowful look on all about him, and
departs in silence, his eyes swollen with the tears he dare not
shed, and his heart bursting with the sighs he dare not utter.

You who have no such cause for fear, you for whom no period of life
is a time of weariness and tedium, you who welcome days without
care and nights without impatience, you who only reckon time by
your pleasures, come, my happy kindly pupil, and console us for
the departure of that miserable creature. Come! Here he is and at
his approach I feel a thrill of delight which I see he shares. It
is his friend, his comrade, who meets him; when he sees me he knows
very well that he will not be long without amusement; we are never
dependent on each other, but we are always on good terms, and we
are never so happy as when together.

His face, his bearing, his expression, speak of confidence and
contentment; health shines in his countenance, his firm step speaks
of strength; his colour, delicate but not sickly, has nothing of
softness or effeminacy. Sun and wind have already set the honourable
stamp of manhood on his countenance; his rounded muscles already
begin to show some signs of growing individuality; his eyes, as yet
unlighted by the flame of feeling, have at least all their native
calm; They have not been darkened by prolonged sorrow, nor are his
cheeks furrowed by ceaseless tears. Behold in his quick and certain
movements the natural vigour of his age and the confidence of
independence. His manner is free and open, but without a trace of
insolence or vanity; his head which has not been bent over books
does not fall upon his breast; there is no need to say, "Hold your
head up," he will neither hang his head for shame or fear.

Make room for him, gentlemen, in your midst; question him boldly;
have no fear of importunity, chatter, or impertinent questions. You
need not be afraid that he will take possession of you and expect
you to devote yourself entirely to him, so that you cannot get rid
of him.

Neither need you look for compliments from him; nor will he tell
you what I have taught him to say; expect nothing from him but
the plain, simple truth, without addition or ornament and without
vanity. He will tell you the wrong things he has done and thought
as readily as the right, without troubling himself in the least as
to the effect of his words upon you; he will use speech with all
the simplicity of its first beginnings.

We love to augur well of our children, and we are continually
regretting the flood of folly which overwhelms the hopes we would
fain have rested on some chance phrase. If my scholar rarely gives
me cause for such prophecies, neither will he give me cause for
such regrets, for he never says a useless word, and does not exhaust
himself by chattering when he knows there is no one to listen to
him. His ideas are few but precise, he knows nothing by rote but
much by experience. If he reads our books worse than other children,
he reads far better in the book of nature; his thoughts are not in
his tongue but in his brain; he has less memory and more judgment;
he can only speak one language, but he understands what he is
saying, and if his speech is not so good as that of other children
his deeds are better.

He does not know the meaning of habit, routine, and custom; what
he did yesterday has no control over what he is doing to-day; he
follows no rule, submits to no authority, copies no pattern, and
only acts or speaks as he pleases. So do not expect set speeches
or studied manners from him, but just the faithful expression of
his thoughts and the conduct that springs from his inclinations.
[Footnote: Habit owes its charm to man's natural idleness, and
this idleness grows upon us if indulged; it is easier to do what we
have already done, there is a beaten path which is easily followed.
Thus we may observe that habit is very strong in the aged and in
the indolent, and very weak in the young and active. The rule of
habit is only good for feeble hearts, and it makes them more and
more feeble day by day. The only useful habit for children is to
be accustomed to submit without difficulty to necessity, and the
only useful habit for man is to submit without difficulty to the
rule of reason. Every other habit is a vice.]

You will find he has a few moral ideas concerning his present state
and none concerning manhood; what use could he make of them, for
the child is not, as yet, an active member of society. Speak to
him of freedom, of property, or even of what is usually done; he
may understand you so far; he knows why his things are his own,
and why other things are not his, and nothing more. Speak to him
of duty or obedience; he will not know what you are talking about;
bid him do something and he will pay no attention; but say to him,
"If you will give me this pleasure, I will repay it when required,"
and he will hasten to give you satisfaction, for he asks nothing
better than to extend his domain, to acquire rights over you,
which will, he knows, be respected. Maybe he is not sorry to have
a place of his own, to be reckoned of some account; but if he has
formed this latter idea, he has already left the realms of nature,
and you have failed to bar the gates of vanity.

For his own part, should he need help, he will ask it readily of
the first person he meets. He will ask it of a king as readily as
of his servant; all men are equals in his eyes. From his way of
asking you will see he knows you owe him nothing, that he is asking
a favour. He knows too that humanity moves you to grant this favour;
his words are few and simple. His voice, his look, his gesture are
those of a being equally familiar with compliance and refusal. It
is neither the crawling, servile submission of the slave, nor the
imperious tone of the master, it is a modest confidence in mankind;
it is the noble and touching gentleness of a creature, free, yet
sensitive and feeble, who asks aid of a being, free, but strong
and kindly. If you grant his request he will not thank you, but
he will feel he has incurred a debt. If you refuse he will neither
complain nor insist; he knows it is useless; he will not say,
"They refused to help me," but "It was impossible," and as I have
already said, we do not rebel against necessity when once we have
perceived it.

Leave him to himself and watch his actions without speaking, consider
what he is doing and how he sets about it. He does not require to
convince himself that he is free, so he never acts thoughtlessly
and merely to show that he can do what he likes; does he not know
that he is always his own master? He is quick, alert, and ready;
his movements are eager as befits his age, but you will not find
one which has no end in view. Whatever he wants, he will never
attempt what is beyond his powers, for he has learnt by experience
what those powers are; his means will always be adapted to the end
in view, and he will rarely attempt anything without the certainty
of success; his eye is keen and true; he will not be so stupid as
to go and ask other people about what he sees; he will examine it
on his own account, and before he asks he will try every means at
his disposal to discover what he wants to know for himself. If he
lights upon some unexpected difficulty, he will be less upset than
others; if there is danger he will be less afraid. His imagination
is still asleep and nothing has been done to arouse it; he only
sees what is really there, and rates the danger at its true worth;
so he never loses his head. He does not rebel against necessity,
her hand is too heavy upon him; he has borne her yoke all his life
long, he is well used to it; he is always ready for anything.

Work or play are all one to him, his games are his work; he knows
no difference. He brings to everything the cheerfulness of interest,
the charm of freedom, and he snows the bent of his own mind and
the extent of his knowledge. Is there anything better worth seeing,
anything more touching or more delightful, than a pretty child,
with merry, cheerful glance, easy contented manner, open smiling
countenance, playing at the most important things, or working at
the lightest amusements?

Would you now judge him by comparison? Set him among other children
and leave him to himself. You will soon see which has made most
progress, which comes nearer to the perfection of childhood. Among
all the children in the town there is none more skilful and none
so strong. Among young peasants he is their equal in strength and
their superior in skill. In everything within a child's grasp he
judges, reasons, and shows a forethought beyond the rest. Is it
a matter of action, running, jumping, or shifting things, raising
weights or estimating distance, inventing games, carrying off
prizes; you might say, "Nature obeys his word," so easily does he
bend all things to his will. He is made to lead, to rule his fellows;
talent and experience take the place of right and authority. In any
garb, under any name, he will still be first; everywhere he will
rule the rest, they will always feel his superiority, he will be
master without knowing it, and they will serve him unawares.

He has reached the perfection of childhood; he has lived the life
of a child; his progress has not been bought at the price of his
happiness, he has gained both. While he has acquired all the wisdom
of a child, he has been as free and happy as his health permits.
If the Reaper Death should cut him off and rob us of our hopes,
we need not bewail alike his life and death, we shall not have the
added grief of knowing that we caused him pain; we will say, "His
childhood, at least, was happy; we have robbed him of nothing that
nature gave him."

The chief drawback to this early education is that it is only
appreciated by the wise; to vulgar eyes the child so carefully
educated is nothing but a rough little boy. A tutor thinks rather
of the advantage to himself than to his pupil; he makes a point of
showing that there has been no time wasted; he provides his pupil
with goods which can be readily displayed in the shop window,
accomplishments which can be shown off at will; no matter whether
they are useful, provided they are easily seen. Without choice or
discrimination he loads his memory with a pack of rubbish. If the
child is to be examined he is set to display his wares; he spreads
them out, satisfies those who behold them, packs up his bundle and
goes his way. My pupil is poorer, he has no bundle to display, he
has only himself to show. Now neither child nor man can be read
at a glance. Where are the observers who can at once discern the
characteristics of this child? There are such people, but they are
few and far between; among a thousand fathers you will scarcely
find one.

Too many questions are tedious and revolting to most of us and
especially to children. After a few minutes their attention flags,
they cease to listen to your everlasting questions and reply at
random. This way of testing them is pedantic and useless; a chance
word will often show their sense and intelligence better than much
talking, but take care that the answer is neither a matter of chance
nor yet learnt by heart. A man must needs have a good judgment if
he is to estimate the judgment of a child.

I heard the late Lord Hyde tell the following story about one of his
friends. He had returned from Italy after a three years' absence,
and was anxious to test the progress of his son, a child of nine
or ten. One evening he took a walk with the child and his tutor
across a level space where the schoolboys were flying their kites.
As they went, the father said to his son, "Where is the kite that
casts this shadow?" Without hesitating and without glancing upwards
the child replied, "Over the high road." "And indeed," said Lord
Hyde, "the high road was between us and the sun." At these words,
the father kissed his child, and having finished his examination
he departed. The next day he sent the tutor the papers settling
an annuity on him in addition to his salary.

What a father! and what a promising child! The question is exactly
adapted to the child's age, the answer is perfectly simple; but
see what precision it implies in the child's judgment. Thus did
the pupil of Aristotle master the famous steed which no squire had
ever been able to tame.


The whole course of man's life up to adolescence is a period of
weakness; yet there comes a time during these early years when the
child's strength overtakes the demands upon it, when the growing
creature, though absolutely weak, is relatively strong. His needs
are not fully developed and his present strength is more than enough
for them. He would be a very feeble man, but he is a strong child.

What is the cause of man's weakness? It is to be found in
the disproportion between his strength and his desires. It is our
passions that make us weak, for our natural strength is not enough
for their satisfaction. To limit our desires comes to the same
thing, therefore, as to increase our strength. When we can do more
than we want, we have strength enough and to spare, we are really
strong. This is the third stage of childhood, the stage with which
I am about to deal. I still speak of childhood for want of a better
word; for our scholar is approaching adolescence, though he has
not yet reached the age of puberty.

About twelve or thirteen the child's strength increases far more
rapidly than his needs. The strongest and fiercest of the passions
is still unknown, his physical development is still imperfect and
seems to await the call of the will. He is scarcely aware of extremes
of heat and cold and braves them with impunity. He needs no coat,
his blood is warm; no spices, hunger is his sauce, no food comes
amiss at this age; if he is sleepy he stretches himself on the
ground and goes to sleep; he finds all he needs within his reach;
he is not tormented by any imaginary wants; he cares nothing what
others think; his desires are not beyond his grasp; not only is
he self-sufficing, but for the first and last time in his life he
has more strength than he needs.

I know beforehand what you will say. You will not assert that the
child has more needs than I attribute to him, but you will deny
his strength. You forget that I am speaking of my own pupil, not
of those puppets who walk with difficulty from one room to another,
who toil indoors and carry bundles of paper. Manly strength, you say,
appears only with manhood; the vital spirits, distilled in their
proper vessels and spreading through the whole body, can alone make
the muscles firm, sensitive, tense, and springy, can alone cause
real strength. This is the philosophy of the study; I appeal to
that of experience. In the country districts, I see big lads hoeing,
digging, guiding the plough, filling the wine-cask, driving the
cart, like their fathers; you would take them for grown men if
their voices did not betray them. Even in our towns, iron-workers',
tool makers', and blacksmiths' lads are almost as strong as their
masters and would be scarcely less skilful had their training
begun earlier. If there is a difference, and I do not deny that
there is, it is, I repeat, much less than the difference between
the stormy passions of the man and the few wants of the child.
Moreover, it is not merely a question of bodily strength, but more
especially of strength of mind, which reinforces and directs the
bodily strength.

This interval in which the strength of the individual is in excess
of his wants is, as I have said, relatively though not absolutely
the time of greatest strength. It is the most precious time in his
life; it comes but once; it is very short, all too short, as you
will see when you consider the importance of using it aright.

He has, therefore, a surplus of strength and capacity which he will
never have again. What use shall he make of it? He will strive to
use it in tasks which will help at need. He will, so to speak, cast
his present surplus into the storehouse of the future; the vigorous
child will make provision for the feeble man; but he will not store
his goods where thieves may break in, nor in barns which are not
his own. To store them aright, they must be in the hands and the
head, they must be stored within himself. This is the time for
work, instruction, and inquiry. And note that this is no arbitrary
choice of mine, it is the way of nature herself.

Human intelligence is finite, and not only can no man know everything,
he cannot even acquire all the scanty knowledge of others. Since the
contrary of every false proposition is a truth, there are as many
truths as falsehoods. We must, therefore, choose what to teach
as well as when to teach it. Some of the information within our
reach is false, some is useless, some merely serves to puff up its
possessor. The small store which really contributes to our welfare
alone deserves the study of a wise man, and therefore of a child
whom one would have wise. He must know not merely what is, but what
is useful.

From this small stock we must also deduct those truths which require
a full grown mind for their understanding, those which suppose a
knowledge of man's relations to his fellow-men--a knowledge which
no child can acquire; these things, although in themselves true, lead
an inexperienced mind into mistakes with regard to other matters.

We are now confined to a circle, small indeed compared with the
whole of human thought, but this circle is still a vast sphere when
measured by the child's mind. Dark places of the human understanding,
what rash hand shall dare to raise your veil? What pitfalls does
our so-called science prepare for the miserable child. Would you
guide him along this dangerous path and draw the veil from the
face of nature? Stay your hand. First make sure that neither he
nor you will become dizzy. Beware of the specious charms of error
and the intoxicating fumes of pride. Keep this truth ever before
you--Ignorance never did any one any harm, error alone is fatal,
and we do not lose our way through ignorance but through self-confidence.

His progress in geometry may serve as a test and a true measure of
the growth of his intelligence, but as soon as he can distinguish
between what is useful and what is useless, much skill and discretion
are required to lead him towards theoretical studies. For example,
would you have him find a mean proportional between two lines,
contrive that he should require to find a square equal to a given
rectangle; if two mean proportionals are required, you must first
contrive to interest him in the doubling of the cube. See how we
are gradually approaching the moral ideas which distinguish between
good and evil. Hitherto we have known no law but necessity, now
we are considering what is useful; we shall soon come to what is
fitting and right.

Man's diverse powers are stirred by the same instinct. The bodily
activity, which seeks an outlet for its energies, is succeeded by
the mental activity which seeks for knowledge. Children are first
restless, then curious; and this curiosity, rightly directed, is
the means of development for the age with which we are dealing.
Always distinguish between natural and acquired tendencies. There
is a zeal for learning which has no other foundation than a wish
to appear learned, and there is another which springs from man's
natural curiosity about all things far or near which may affect
himself. The innate desire for comfort and the impossibility
of its complete satisfaction impel him to the endless search for
fresh means of contributing to its satisfaction. This is the first
principle of curiosity; a principle natural to the human heart,
though its growth is proportional to the development of our feeling
and knowledge. If a man of science were left on a desert island
with his books and instruments and knowing that he must spend the
rest of his life there, he would scarcely trouble himself about the
solar system, the laws of attraction, or the differential calculus.
He might never even open a book again; but he would never rest till
he had explored the furthest corner of his island, however large
it might be. Let us therefore omit from our early studies such
knowledge as has no natural attraction for us, and confine ourselves
to such things as instinct impels us to study.

Our island is this earth; and the most striking object we behold
is the sun. As soon as we pass beyond our immediate surroundings,
one or both of these must meet our eye. Thus the philosophy of
most savage races is mainly directed to imaginary divisions of the
earth or to the divinity of the sun.

What a sudden change you will say. Just now we were concerned with
what touches ourselves, with our immediate environment, and all
at once we are exploring the round world and leaping to the bounds
of the universe. This change is the result of our growing strength
and of the natural bent of the mind. While we were weak and feeble,
self-preservation concentrated our attention on ourselves; now that
we are strong and powerful, the desire for a wider sphere carries
us beyond ourselves as far as our eyes can reach. But as the
intellectual world is still unknown to us, our thoughts are bounded
by the visible horizon, and our understanding only develops within
the limits of our vision.

Let us transform our sensations into ideas, but do not let us jump
all at once from the objects of sense to objects of thought. The
latter are attained by means of the former. Let the senses be the
only guide for the first workings of reason. No book but the world,
no teaching but that of fact. The child who reads ceases to think,
he only reads. He is acquiring words not knowledge.

Teach your scholar to observe the phenomena of nature; you will
soon rouse his curiosity, but if you would have it grow, do not be
in too great a hurry to satisfy this curiosity. Put the problems
before him and let him solve them himself. Let him know nothing
because you have told him, but because he has learnt it for himself.
Let him not be taught science, let him discover it. If ever you
substitute authority for reason he will cease to reason; he will
be a mere plaything of other people's thoughts.

You wish to teach this child geography and you provide him with
globes, spheres, and maps. What elaborate preparations! What is
the use of all these symbols; why not begin by showing him the real
thing so that he may at least know what you are talking about?

One fine evening we are walking in a suitable place where the wide
horizon gives us a full view of the setting sun, and we note the
objects which mark the place where it sets. Next morning we return
to the same place for a breath of fresh air before sun-rise. We
see the rays of light which announce the sun's approach; the glow
increases, the east seems afire, and long before the sun appears
the light leads us to expect its return. Every moment you expect to
see it. There it is at last! A shining point appears like a flash
of lightning and soon fills the whole space; the veil of darkness
rolls away, man perceives his dwelling place in fresh beauty.
During the night the grass has assumed a fresher green; in the
light of early dawn, and gilded by the first rays of the sun, it
seems covered with a shining network of dew reflecting the light
and colour. The birds raise their chorus of praise to greet the
Father of life, not one of them is mute; their gentle warbling is
softer than by day, it expresses the langour of a peaceful waking.
All these produce an impression of freshness which seems to reach
the very soul. It is a brief hour of enchantment which no man can
resist; a sight so grand, so fair, so delicious, that none can
behold it unmoved.

Fired with this enthusiasm, the master wishes to impart it to the
child. He expects to rouse his emotion by drawing attention to his
own. Mere folly! The splendour of nature lives in man's heart; to
be seen, it must be felt. The child sees the objects themselves, but
does not perceive their relations, and cannot hear their harmony.
It needs knowledge he has not yet acquired, feelings he has not yet
experienced, to receive the complex impression which results from
all these separate sensations. If he has not wandered over arid
plains, if his feet have not been scorched by the burning sands
of the desert, if he has not breathed the hot and oppressive air
reflected from the glowing rocks, how shall he delight in the fresh
air of a fine morning. The scent of flowers, the beauty of foliage,
the moistness of the dew, the soft turf beneath his feet, how shall
all these delight his senses. How shall the song of the birds arouse
voluptuous emotion if love and pleasure are still unknown to him?
How shall he behold with rapture the birth of this fair day, if
his imagination cannot paint the joys it may bring in its track?
How can he feel the beauty of nature, while the hand that formed
it is unknown?

Never tell the child what he cannot understand: no descriptions, no
eloquence, no figures of speech, no poetry. The time has not come
for feeling or taste. Continue to be clear and cold; the time will
come only too soon when you must adopt another tone.

Brought up in the spirit of our maxims, accustomed to make his own
tools and not to appeal to others until he has tried and failed, he
will examine everything he sees carefully and in silence. He thinks
rather than questions. Be content, therefore, to show him things at
a fit season; then, when you see that his curiosity is thoroughly
aroused, put some brief question which will set him trying to
discover the answer.

On the present occasion when you and he have carefully observed
the rising sun, when you have called his attention to the mountains
and other objects visible from the same spot, after he has chattered
freely about them, keep quiet for a few minutes as if lost in
thought and then say, "I think the sun set over there last night;
it rose here this morning. How can that be?" Say no more; if he
asks questions, do not answer them; talk of something else. Let
him alone, and be sure he will think about it.

To train a child to be really attentive so that he may be really
impressed by any truth of experience, he must spend anxious days
before he discovers that truth. If he does not learn enough in this
way, there is another way of drawing his attention to the matter.
Turn the question about. If he does not know how the sun gets from
the place where it sets to where it rises, he knows at least how
it travels from sunrise to sunset, his eyes teach him that. Use the
second question to throw light on the first; either your pupil is
a regular dunce or the analogy is too clear to be missed. This is
his first lesson in cosmography.

As we always advance slowly from one sensible idea to another, and
as we give time enough to each for him to become really familiar
with it before we go on to another, and lastly as we never force
our scholar's attention, we are still a long way from a knowledge
of the course of the sun or the shape of the earth; but as all
the apparent movements of the celestial bodies depend on the same
principle, and the first observation leads on to all the rest, less
effort is needed, though more time, to proceed from the diurnal
revolution to the calculation of eclipses, than to get a thorough
understanding of day and night.

Since the sun revolves round the earth it describes a circle, and
every circle must have a centre; that we know already. This centre
is invisible, it is in the middle of the earth, but we can mark
out two opposite points on the earth's surface which correspond to
it. A skewer passed through the three points and prolonged to the
sky at either end would represent the earth's axis and the sun's
daily course. A round teetotum revolving on its point represents
the sky turning on its axis, the two points of the teetotum are the
two poles; the child will be delighted to find one of them, and I
show him the tail of the Little bear. Here is a another game for
the dark. Little by little we get to know the stars, and from this
comes a wish to know the planets and observe the constellations.

We saw the sun rise at midsummer, we shall see it rise at Christmas
or some other fine winter's day; for you know we are no lie-a-beds
and we enjoy the cold. I take care to make this second observation
in the same place as the first, and if skilfully lead up to, one
or other will certainly exclaim, "What a funny thing! The sun is
not rising in the same place; here are our landmarks, but it is
rising over there. So there is the summer east and the winter east,
etc." Young teacher, you are on the right track. These examples
should show you how to teach the sphere without any difficulty,
taking the earth for the earth and the sun for the sun.

As a general rule--never substitute the symbol for the thing
signified, unless it is impossible to show the thing itself; for
the child's attention is so taken up with the symbol that he will
forget what it signifies.

I consider the armillary sphere a clumsy disproportioned bit of
apparatus. The confused circles and the strange figures described
on it suggest witchcraft and frighten the child. The earth is too
small, the circles too large and too numerous, some of them, the
colures, for instance, are quite useless, and the thickness of the
pasteboard gives them an appearance of solidity so that they are
taken for circular masses having a real existence, and when you
tell the child that these are imaginary circles, he does not know
what he is looking at and is none the wiser.

We are unable to put ourselves in the child's place, we fail to enter
into his thoughts, we invest him with our own ideas, and while we
are following our own chain of reasoning, we merely fill his head
with errors and absurdities.

Should the method of studying science be analytic or synthetic?
People dispute over this question, but it is not always necessary
to choose between them. Sometimes the same experiments allow one
to use both analysis and synthesis, and thus to guide the child
by the method of instruction when he fancies he is only analysing.
Then, by using both at once, each method confirms the results of the
other. Starting from opposite ends, without thinking of following
the same road, he will unexpectedly reach their meeting place and
this will be a delightful surprise. For example, I would begin
geography at both ends and add to the study of the earth's revolution
the measurement of its divisions, beginning at home. While the
child is studying the sphere and is thus transported to the heavens,
bring him back to the divisions of the globe and show him his own

His geography will begin with the town he lives in and his father's
country house, then the places between them, the rivers near them,
and then the sun's aspect and how to find one's way by its aid.
This is the meeting place. Let him make his own map, a very simple
map, at first containing only two places; others may be added from
time to time, as he is able to estimate their distance and position.
You see at once what a good start we have given him by making his
eye his compass.

No doubt he will require some guidance in spite of this, but very
little, and that little without his knowing it. If he goes wrong
let him alone, do not correct his mistakes; hold your tongue till
he finds them out for himself and corrects them, or at most arrange
something, as opportunity offers, which may show him his mistakes.
If he never makes mistakes he will never learn anything thoroughly.
Moreover, what he needs is not an exact knowledge of local
topography, but how to find out for himself. No matter whether he
carries maps in his head provided he understands what they mean, and
has a clear idea of the art of making them. See what a difference
there is already between the knowledge of your scholars and the
ignorance of mine. They learn maps, he makes them. Here are fresh
ornaments for his room.

Remember that this is the essential point in my method--Do not
teach the child many things, but never to let him form inaccurate or
confused ideas. I care not if he knows nothing provided he is not
mistaken, and I only acquaint him with truths to guard him against
the errors he might put in their place. Reason and judgment come
slowly, prejudices flock to us in crowds, and from these he must be
protected. But if you make science itself your object, you embark
on an unfathomable and shoreless ocean, an ocean strewn with reefs
from which you will never return. When I see a man in love with
knowledge, yielding to its charms and flitting from one branch
to another unable to stay his steps, he seems to me like a child
gathering shells on the sea-shore, now picking them up, then throwing
them aside for others which he sees beyond them, then taking them
again, till overwhelmed by their number and unable to choose between
them, he flings them all away and returns empty handed.

Time was long during early childhood; we only tried to pass our
time for fear of using it ill; now it is the other way; we have not
time enough for all that would be of use. The passions, remember,
are drawing near, and when they knock at the door your scholar will
have no ear for anything else. The peaceful age of intelligence is
so short, it flies so swiftly, there is so much to be done, that
it is madness to try to make your child learned. It is not your
business to teach him the various sciences, but to give him a taste
for them and methods of learning them when this taste is more mature.
That is assuredly a fundamental principle of all good education.

This is also the time to train him gradually to prolonged attention
to a given object; but this attention should never be the result
of constraint, but of interest or desire; you must be very careful
that it is not too much for his strength, and that it is not carried
to the point of tedium. Watch him, therefore, and whatever happens,
stop before he is tired, for it matters little what he learns; it
does matter that he should do nothing against his will.

If he asks questions let your answers be enough to whet his curiosity
but not enough to satisfy it; above all, when you find him talking
at random and overwhelming you with silly questions instead of
asking for information, at once refuse to answer; for it is clear
that he no longer cares about the matter in hand, but wants to make
you a slave to his questions. Consider his motives rather than his
words. This warning, which was scarcely needed before, becomes of
supreme importance when the child begins to reason.

There is a series of abstract truths by means of which all the
sciences are related to common principles and are developed each
in its turn. This relationship is the method of the philosophers.
We are not concerned with it at present. There is quite another
method by which every concrete example suggests another and always
points to the next in the series. This succession, which stimulates
the curiosity and so arouses the attention required by every object
in turn, is the order followed by most men, and it is the right
order for all children. To take our bearings so as to make our
maps we must find meridians. Two points of intersection between
the equal shadows morning and evening supply an excellent meridian
for a thirteen-year-old astronomer. But these meridians disappear,
it takes time to trace them, and you are obliged to work in one
place. So much trouble and attention will at last become irksome.
We foresaw this and are ready for it.

Again I must enter into minute and detailed explanations. I hear
my readers murmur, but I am prepared to meet their disapproval;
I will not sacrifice the most important part of this book to your
impatience. You may think me as long-winded as you please; I have
my own opinion as to your complaints.

Long ago my pupil and I remarked that some substances such as amber,
glass, and wax, when well rubbed, attracted straws, while others
did not. We accidentally discover a substance which has a more
unusual property, that of attracting filings or other small particles
of iron from a distance and without rubbing. How much time do we
devote to this game to the exclusion of everything else! At last
we discover that this property is communicated to the iron itself,
which is, so to speak, endowed with life. We go to the fair one
day [Footnote: I could not help laughing when I read an elaborate
criticism of this little tale by M. de Formy. "This conjuror,"
says he, "who is afraid of a child's competition and preaches to
his tutor is the sort of person we meet with in the world in which
Emile and such as he are living." This witty M. de Formy could
not guess that this little scene was arranged beforehand, and that
the juggler was taught his part in it; indeed I did not state this
fact. But I have said again and again that I was not writing for
people who expected to be told everything.] and a conjuror has
a wax duck floating in a basin of water, and he makes it follow a
bit of bread. We are greatly surprised, but we do not call him a
wizard, never having heard of such persons. As we are continually
observing effects whose causes are unknown to us, we are in no hurry
to make up our minds, and we remain in ignorance till we find an
opportunity of learning.

When we get home we discuss the duck till we try to imitate it.
We take a needle thoroughly magnetised, we imbed it in white wax,
shaped as far as possible like a duck, with the needle running
through the body, so that its eye forms the beak. We put the duck
in water and put the end of a key near its beak, and you will
readily understand our delight when we find that our duck follows
the key just as the duck at the fair followed the bit of bread.
Another time we may note the direction assumed by the duck when
left in the basin; for the present we are wholly occupied with our
work and we want nothing more.

The same evening we return to the fair with some bread specially
prepared in our pockets, and as soon as the conjuror has performed
his trick, my little doctor, who can scarcely sit still, exclaims,
"The trick is quite easy; I can do it myself." "Do it then." He
at once takes the bread with a bit of iron hidden in it from his
pocket; his heart throbs as he approaches the table and holds out
the bread, his hand trembles with excitement. The duck approaches
and follows his hand. The child cries out and jumps for joy. The
applause, the shouts of the crowd, are too much for him, he is
beside himself. The conjuror, though disappointed, embraces him,
congratulates him, begs the honour of his company on the following
day, and promises to collect a still greater crowd to applaud his
skill. My young scientist is very proud of himself and is beginning
to chatter, but I check him at once and take him home overwhelmed
with praise.

The child counts the minutes till to-morrow with absurd anxiety.
He invites every one he meets, he wants all mankind to behold his
glory; he can scarcely wait till the appointed hour. He hurries to
the place; the hall is full already; as he enters his young heart
swells with pride. Other tricks are to come first. The conjuror
surpasses himself and does the most surprising things. The child
sees none of these; he wriggles, perspires, and hardly breathes;
the time is spent in fingering with a trembling hand the bit of
bread in his pocket. His turn comes at last; the master announces
it to the audience with all ceremony; he goes up looking somewhat
shamefaced and takes out his bit of bread. Oh fleeting joys of human
life! the duck, so tame yesterday, is quite wild to-day; instead
of offering its beak it turns tail and swims away; it avoids the
bread and the hand that holds it as carefully as it followed them
yesterday. After many vain attempts accompanied by derisive shouts
from the audience the child complains that he is being cheated,
that is not the same duck, and he defies the conjuror to attract

The conjuror, without further words, takes a bit of bread and
offers it to the duck, which at once follows it and comes to the
hand which holds it. The child takes the same bit of bread with
no better success; the duck mocks his efforts and swims round the
basin. Overwhelmed with confusion he abandons the attempt, ashamed
to face the crowd any longer. Then the conjuror takes the bit of
bread the child brought with him and uses it as successfully as
his own. He takes out the bit of iron before the audience--another
laugh at our expense--then with this same bread he attracts the
duck as before. He repeats the experiment with a piece of bread
cut by a third person in full view of the audience. He does it with
his glove, with his finger-tip. Finally he goes into the middle of
the room and in the emphatic tones used by such persons he declares
that his duck will obey his voice as readily as his hand; he speaks
and the duck obeys; he bids him go to the right and he goes, to come
back again and he comes. The movement is as ready as the command.
The growing applause completes our discomfiture. We slip away
unnoticed and shut ourselves up in our room, without relating our
successes to everybody as we had expected.

Next day there is a knock at the door. When I open it there is the
conjuror, who makes a modest complaint with regard to our conduct.
What had he done that we should try to discredit his tricks and deprive
him of his livelihood? What is there so wonderful in attracting a
duck that we should purchase this honour at the price of an honest
man's living? "My word, gentlemen! had I any other trade by which
I could earn a living I would not pride myself on this. You may
well believe that a man who has spent his life at this miserable
trade knows more about it than you who only give your spare time to
it. If I did not show you my best tricks at first, it was because
one must not be so foolish as to display all one knows at once. I
always take care to keep my best tricks for emergencies; and I have
plenty more to prevent young folks from meddling. However, I have
come, gentlemen, in all kindness, to show you the trick that gave
you so much trouble; I only beg you not to use it to my hurt, and
to be more discreet in future." He then shows us his apparatus,
and to our great surprise we find it is merely a strong magnet in
the hand of a boy concealed under the table. The man puts up his
things, and after we have offered our thanks and apologies, we try
to give him something. He refuses it. "No, gentlemen," says he, "I
owe you no gratitude and I will not accept your gift. I leave you
in my debt in spite of all, and that is my only revenge. Generosity
may be found among all sorts of people, and I earn my pay by doing
my tricks not by teaching them."

As he is going he blames me out-right. "I can make excuses for the
child," he says, "he sinned in ignorance. But you, sir, should know
better. Why did you let him do it? As you are living together and
you are older than he, you should look after him and give him good
advice. Your experience should be his guide. When he is grown up
he will reproach, not only himself, but you, for the faults of his

When he is gone we are greatly downcast. I blame myself for my
easy-going ways. I promise the child that another time I will put
his interests first and warn him against faults before he falls into
them, for the time is coming when our relations will be changed,
when the severity of the master must give way to the friendliness
of the comrade; this change must come gradually, you must look
ahead, and very far ahead.

We go to the fair again the next day to see the trick whose secret
we know. We approach our Socrates, the conjuror, with profound
respect, we scarcely dare to look him in the face. He overwhelms
us with politeness, gives us the best places, and heaps coals of
fire on our heads. He goes through his performance as usual, but
he lingers affectionately over the duck, and often glances proudly
in our direction. We are in the secret, but we do not tell. If my
pupil did but open his mouth he would be worthy of death.

There is more meaning than you suspect in this detailed illustration.
How many lessons in one! How mortifying are the results of a first
impulse towards vanity! Young tutor, watch this first impulse
carefully. If you can use it to bring about shame and disgrace,
you may be sure it will not recur for many a day. What a fuss you
will say. Just so; and all to provide a compass which will enable
us to dispense with a meridian!

Having learnt that a magnet acts through other bodies, our next
business is to construct a bit of apparatus similar to that shown
us. A bare table, a shallow bowl placed on it and filled with water,
a duck rather better finished than the first, and so on. We often
watch the thing and at last we notice that the duck, when at rest.
always turns the same way. We follow up this observation; we examine
the direction, we find that it is from south to north. Enough! we
have found our compass or its equivalent; the study of physics is

There are various regions of the earth, and these regions differ
in temperature. The variation is more evident as we approach the
poles; all bodies expand with heat and contract with cold; this
is best measured in liquids and best of all in spirits; hence the
thermometer. The wind strikes the face, then the air is a body,
a fluid; we feel it though we cannot see it. I invert a glass in
water; the water will not fill it unless you leave a passage for
the escape of the air; so air is capable of resistance. Plunge the
glass further in the water; the water will encroach on the air-space
without filling it entirely; so air yields somewhat to pressure.
A ball filled with compressed air bounces better than one filled
with anything else; so air is elastic. Raise your arm horizontally
from the water when you are lying in your bath; you will feel a
terrible weight on it; so air is a heavy body. By establishing an
equilibrium between air and other fluids its weight can be measured,
hence the barometer, the siphon, the air-gun, and the air-pump. All
the laws of statics and hydrostatics are discovered by such rough
experiments. For none of these would I take the child into a physical
cabinet; I dislike that array of instruments and apparatus. The
scientific atmosphere destroys science. Either the child is
frightened by these instruments or his attention, which should be
fixed on their effects, is distracted by their appearance.

We shall make all our apparatus ourselves, and I would not make it
beforehand, but having caught a glimpse of the experiment by chance
we mean to invent step by step an instrument for its verification.
I would rather our apparatus was somewhat clumsy and imperfect,
but our ideas clear as to what the apparatus ought to be, and the
results to be obtained by means of it. For my first lesson in statics,
instead of fetching a balance, I lay a stick across the back of a
chair, I measure the two parts when it is balanced; add equal or
unequal weights to either end; by pulling or pushing it as required,
I find at last that equilibrium is the result of a reciprocal
proportion between the amount of the weights and the length of
the levers. Thus my little physicist is ready to rectify a balance
before ever he sees one.

Undoubtedly the notions of things thus acquired for oneself
are clearer and much more convincing than those acquired from the
teaching of others; and not only is our reason not accustomed to a
slavish submission to authority, but we develop greater ingenuity
in discovering relations, connecting ideas and inventing apparatus,
than when we merely accept what is given us and allow our minds to
be enfeebled by indifference, like the body of a man whose servants
always wait on him, dress him and put on his shoes, whose horse
carries him, till he loses the use of his limbs. Boileau used to
boast that he had taught Racine the art of rhyming with difficulty.
Among the many short cuts to science, we badly need some one to
teach us the art of learning with difficulty.

The most obvious advantage of these slow and laborious inquiries
is this: the scholar, while engaged in speculative studies, is
actively using his body, gaining suppleness of limb, and training
his hands to labour so that he will be able to make them useful
when he is a man. Too much apparatus, designed to guide us in our
experiments and to supplement the exactness of our senses, makes
us neglect to use those senses. The theodolite makes it unnecessary
to estimate the size of angles; the eye which used to judge distances
with much precision, trusts to the chain for its measurements; the
steel yard dispenses with the need of judging weight by the hand
as I used to do. The more ingenious our apparatus, the coarser and
more unskilful are our senses. We surround ourselves with tools
and fail to use those with which nature has provided every one of

But when we devote to the making of these instruments the skill
which did instead of them, when for their construction we use the
intelligence which enabled us to dispense with them, this is gain
not loss, we add art to nature, we gain ingenuity without loss of
skill. If instead of making a child stick to his books I employ
him in a workshop, his hands work for the development of his mind.
While he fancies himself a workman he is becoming a philosopher.
Moreover, this exercise has other advantages of which I shall speak
later; and you will see how, through philosophy in sport, one may
rise to the real duties of man.

I have said already that purely theoretical science is hardly
suitable for children, even for children approaching adolescence;
but without going far into theoretical physics, take care that all
their experiments are connected together by some chain of reasoning,
so that they may follow an orderly sequence in the mind, and may
be recalled at need; for it is very difficult to remember isolated
facts or arguments, when there is no cue for their recall.

In your inquiry into the laws of nature always begin with the
commonest and most conspicuous phenomena, and train your scholar
not to accept these phenomena as causes but as facts. I take a
stone and pretend to place it in the air; I open my hand, the stone
falls. I see Emile watching my action and I say, "Why does this
stone fall?"

What child will hesitate over this question? None, not even Emile,
unless I have taken great pains to teach him not to answer. Every
one will say, "The stone falls because it is heavy." "And what do
you mean by heavy?" "That which falls." "So the stone falls because
it falls?" Here is a poser for my little philosopher. This is his
first lesson in systematic physics, and whether he learns physics
or no it is a good lesson in common-sense.

As the child develops in intelligence other important considerations
require us to be still more careful in our choice of his occupations.
As soon as he has sufficient self-knowledge to understand what
constitutes his well-being, as soon as he can grasp such far-reaching
relations as to judge what is good for him and what is not, then
he is able to discern the difference between work and play, and
to consider the latter merely as relaxation. The objects of real
utility may be introduced into his studies and may lead him to more
prolonged attention than he gave to his games. The ever-recurring
law of necessity soon teaches a man to do what he does not like,
so as to avert evils which he would dislike still more. Such is
the use of foresight, and this foresight, well or ill used, is the
source of all the wisdom or the wretchedness of mankind.

Every one desires happiness, but to secure it he must know what
happiness is. For the natural man happiness is as simple as his
life; it consists in the absence of pain; health, freedom, the
necessaries of life are its elements. The happiness of the moral man
is another matter, but it does not concern us at present. I cannot
repeat too often that it is only objects which can be perceived
by the senses which can have any interest for children, especially
children whose vanity has not been stimulated nor their minds
corrupted by social conventions.

As soon as they foresee their needs before they feel them, their
intelligence has made a great step forward, they are beginning to
know the value of time. They must then be trained to devote this
time to useful purposes, but this usefulness should be such as
they can readily perceive and should be within the reach of their
age and experience. What concerns the moral order and the customs
of society should not yet be given them, for they are not in a
condition to understand it. It is folly to expect them to attend
to things vaguely described as good for them, when they do not know
what this good is, things which they are assured will be to their
advantage when they are grown up, though for the present they take
no interest in this so-called advantage, which they are unable to

Let the child do nothing because he is told; nothing is good for
him but what he recognises as good. When you are always urging him
beyond his present understanding, you think you are exercising a
foresight which you really lack. To provide him with useless tools
which he may never require, you deprive him of man's most useful
tool--common-sense. You would have him docile as a child; he will
be a credulous dupe when he grows up. You are always saying, "What
I ask is for your good, though you cannot understand it. What does
it matter to me whether you do it or not; my efforts are entirely
on your account." All these fine speeches with which you hope to
make him good, are preparing the way, so that the visionary, the
tempter, the charlatan, the rascal, and every kind of fool may
catch him in his snare or draw him into his folly.

A man must know many things which seem useless to a child, but
need the child learn, or can he indeed learn, all that the man must
know? Try to teach the child what is of use to a child and you
will find that it takes all his time. Why urge him to the studies
of an age he may never reach, to the neglect of those studies which
meet his present needs? "But," you ask, "will it not be too late
to learn what he ought to know when the time comes to use it?"
I cannot tell; but this I do know, it is impossible to teach it
sooner, for our real teachers are experience and emotion, and man
will never learn what befits a man except under its own conditions.
A child knows he must become a man; all the ideas he may have as
to man's estate are so many opportunities for his instruction, but
he should remain in complete ignorance of those ideas which are
beyond his grasp. My whole book is one continued argument in support
of this fundamental principle of education.

As soon as we have contrived to give our pupil an idea of the
word "Useful," we have got an additional means of controlling him,
for this word makes a great impression on him, provided that its
meaning for him is a meaning relative to his own age, and provided
he clearly sees its relation to his own well-being. This word makes
no impression on your scholars because you have taken no pains to
give it a meaning they can understand, and because other people
always undertake to supply their needs so that they never require
to think for themselves, and do not know what utility is.

"What is the use of that?" In future this is the sacred formula,
the formula by which he and I test every action of our lives. This
is the question with which I invariably answer all his questions;
it serves to check the stream of foolish and tiresome questions with
which children weary those about them. These incessant questions
produce no result, and their object is rather to get a hold over
you than to gain any real advantage. A pupil, who has been really
taught only to want to know what is useful, questions like Socrates;
he never asks a question without a reason for it, for he knows he
will be required to give his reason before he gets an answer.

See what a powerful instrument I have put into your hands for use
with your pupil. As he does not know the reason for anything you
can reduce him to silence almost at will; and what advantages do
your knowledge and experience give you to show him the usefulness
of what you suggest. For, make no mistake about it, when you put
this question to him, you are teaching him to put it to you, and
you must expect that whatever you suggest to him in the future he
will follow your own example and ask, "What is the use of this?"

Perhaps this is the greatest of the tutor's difficulties. If you
merely try to put the child off when he asks a question, and if
you give him a single reason he is not able to understand, if he
finds that you reason according to your own ideas, not his, he will
think what you tell him is good for you but not for him; you will
lose his confidence and all your labour is thrown away. But what
master will stop short and confess his faults to his pupil? We
all make it a rule never to own to the faults we really have. Now
I would make it a rule to admit even the faults I have not, if I
could not make my reasons clear to him; as my conduct will always
be intelligible to him, he will never doubt me and I shall gain
more credit by confessing my imaginary faults than those who conceal
their real defects.

In the first place do not forget that it is rarely your business
to suggest what he ought to learn; it is for him to want to learn,
to seek and to find it. You should put it within his reach, you
should skilfully awaken the desire and supply him with means for
its satisfaction. So your questions should be few and well-chosen,
and as he will always have more questions to put to you than you
to him, you will always have the advantage and will be able to ask
all the oftener, "What is the use of that question?" Moreover, as
it matters little what he learns provided he understands it and
knows how to use it, as soon as you cannot give him a suitable
explanation give him none at all. Do not hesitate to say, "I have
no good answer to give you; I was wrong, let us drop the subject."
If your teaching was really ill-chosen there is no harm in dropping
it altogether; if it was not, with a little care you will soon find
an opportunity of making its use apparent to him.

I do not like verbal explanations. Young people pay little heed to
them, nor do they remember them. Things! Things! I cannot repeat it
too often. We lay too much stress upon words; we teachers babble,
and our scholars follow our example.

Suppose we are studying the course of the sun and the way to find
our bearings, when all at once Emile interrupts me with the question,
"What is the use of that?" what a fine lecture I might give, how
many things I might take occasion to teach him in reply to his
question, especially if there is any one there. I might speak of the
advantages of travel, the value of commerce, the special products
of different lands and the peculiar customs of different nations,
the use of the calendar, the way to reckon the seasons for agriculture,
the art of navigation, how to steer our course at sea, how to find
our way without knowing exactly where we are. Politics, natural
history, astronomy, even morals and international law are involved
in my explanation, so as to give my pupil some idea of all these
sciences and a great wish to learn them. When I have finished I
shall have shown myself a regular pedant, I shall have made a great
display of learning, and not one single idea has he understood.
He is longing to ask me again, "What is the use of taking one's
bearings?" but he dare not for fear of vexing me. He finds it pays
best to pretend to listen to what he is forced to hear. This is
the practical result of our fine systems of education.

But Emile is educated in a simpler fashion. We take so much pains
to teach him a difficult idea that he will have heard nothing of
all this. At the first word he does not understand, he will run
away, he will prance about the room, and leave me to speechify by
myself. Let us seek a more commonplace explanation; my scientific
learning is of no use to him.

We were observing the position of the forest to the north of
Montmorency when he interrupted me with the usual question, "What
is the use of that?" "You are right," I said. "Let us take time to
think it over, and if we find it is no use we will drop it, for we
only want useful games." We find something else to do and geography
is put aside for the day.

Next morning I suggest a walk before breakfast; there is nothing
he would like better; children are always ready to run about, and
he is a good walker. We climb up to the forest, we wander through
its clearings and lose ourselves; we have no idea where we are,
and when we want to retrace our steps we cannot find the way. Time
passes, we are hot and hungry; hurrying vainly this way and that we
find nothing but woods, quarries, plains, not a landmark to guide
us. Very hot, very tired, very hungry, we only get further astray.
At last we sit down to rest and to consider our position. I assume
that Emile has been educated like an ordinary child. He does not
think, he begins to cry; he has no idea we are close to Montmorency,
which is hidden from our view by a mere thicket; but this thicket
is a forest to him, a man of his size is buried among bushes. After
a few minutes' silence I begin anxiously----

JEAN JACQUES. My dear Emile, what shall we do get out?

EMILE. I am sure I do not know. I am tired, I am hungry, I am
thirsty. I cannot go any further.

JEAN JACQUES. Do you suppose I am any better off? I would cry too
if I could make my breakfast off tears. Crying is no use, we must
look about us. Let us see your watch; what time is it?

EMILE. It is noon and I am so hungry!

JEAN JACQUES. Just so; it is noon and I am so hungry too.

EMILE. You must be very hungry indeed.

JEAN JACQUES. Unluckily my dinner won't come to find me. It is
twelve o'clock. This time yesterday we were observing the position
of the forest from Montmorency. If only we could see the position
of Montmorency from the forest.

EMILE. But yesterday we could see the forest, and here we cannot
see the town.

JEAN JACQUES. That is just it. If we could only find it without
seeing it.

EMILE. Oh! my dear friend!

JEAN JACQUES. Did not we say the forest was...

EMILE. North of Montmorency.

JEAN JACQUES. Then Montmorency must lie...

EMILE. South of the forest.

JEAN JACQUES. We know how to find the north at midday.

EMILE. Yes, by the direction of the shadows.

JEAN JACQUES. But the south?

EMILE. What shall we do?

JEAN JACQUES. The south is opposite the north.

EMILE. That is true; we need only find the opposite of the shadows.
That is the south! That is the south! Montmorency must be over
there! Let us look for it there!

JEAN JACQUES. Perhaps you are right; let us follow this path through
the wood.

EMILE. (Clapping his hands.) Oh, I can see Montmorency! there it
is, quite plain, just in front of us! Come to luncheon, come to
dinner, make haste! Astronomy is some use after all.

Be sure that he thinks this if he does not say it; no matter which,
provided I do not say it myself. He will certainly never forget
this day's lesson as long as he lives, while if I had only led him
to think of all this at home, my lecture would have been forgotten
the next day. Teach by doing whenever you can, and only fall back
upon words when doing is out of the question.

The reader will not expect me to have such a poor opinion of
him as to supply him with an example of every kind of study; but,
whatever is taught, I cannot too strongly urge the tutor to adapt
his instances to the capacity of his scholar; for once more I repeat
the risk is not in what he does not know, but in what he thinks he

I remember how I once tried to give a child a taste for chemistry.
After showing him several metallic precipitates, I explained how
ink was made. I told him how its blackness was merely the result of
fine particles of iron separated from the vitriol and precipitated
by an alkaline solution. In the midst of my learned explanation
the little rascal pulled me up short with the question I myself had
taught him. I was greatly puzzled. After a few moments' thought
I decided what to do. I sent for some wine from the cellar of our
landlord, and some very cheap wine from a wine-merchant. I took a
small [Footnote: Before giving any explanation to a child a little
bit of apparatus serves to fix his attention.] flask of an alkaline
solution, and placing two glasses before me filled with the two
sorts of wine, I said.

Food and drink are adulterated to make them seem better than
they really are. These adulterations deceive both the eye and the
palate, but they are unwholesome and make the adulterated article
even worse than before in spite of its fine appearance.

All sorts of drinks are adulterated, and wine more than others;
for the fraud is more difficult to detect, and more profitable to
the fraudulent person.

Sour wine is adulterated with litharge; litharge is a preparation
of lead. Lead in combination with acids forms a sweet salt which
corrects the harsh taste of the sour wine, but it is poisonous. So
before we drink wine of doubtful quality we should be able to tell
if there is lead in it. This is how I should do it.

Wine contains not merely an inflammable spirit as you have seen
from the brandy made from it; it also contains an acid as you know
from the vinegar made from it.

This acid has an affinity for metals, it combines with them and
forms salts, such as iron-rust, which is only iron dissolved by the
acid in air or water, or such as verdegris, which is only copper
dissolved in vinegar.

But this acid has a still greater affinity for alkalis than for
metals, so that when we add alkalis to the above-mentioned salts,
the acid sets free the metal with which it had combined, and combines
with the alkali.

Then the metal, set free by the acid which held it in solution, is
precipitated and the liquid becomes opaque.

If then there is litharge in either of these glasses of wine, the
acid holds the litharge in solution. When I pour into it an alkaline
solution, the acid will be forced to set the lead free in order
to combine with the alkali. The lead, no longer held in solution,
will reappear, the liquor will become thick, and after a time the
lead will be deposited at the bottom of the glass.

If there is no lead [Footnote: The wine sold by retail dealers in
Paris is rarely free from lead, though some of it does not contain
litharge, for the counters are covered with lead and when the wine
is poured into the measures and some of it spilt upon the counter
and the measures left standing on the counter, some of the lead
is always dissolved. It is strange that so obvious and dangerous
an abuse should be tolerated by the police. But indeed well-to-do
people, who rarely drink these wines, are not likely to be poisoned
by them.] nor other metal in the wine the alkali will slowly
[Footnote: The vegetable acid is very gentle in its action. If it
were a mineral acid and less diluted, the combination would not
take place without effervescence.] combine with the acid, all will
remain clear and there will be no precipitate.

Then I poured my alkaline solution first into one glass and then
into the other. The wine from our own house remained clear and
unclouded, the other at once became turbid, and an hour later the
lead might be plainly seen, precipitated at the bottom of the glass.

"This," said I, "is a pure natural wine and fit to drink; the
other is adulterated and poisonous. You wanted to know the use of
knowing how to make ink. If you can make ink you can find out what
wines are adulterated."

I was very well pleased with my illustration, but I found it made
little impression on my pupil. When I had time to think about it I
saw I had been a fool, for not only was it impossible for a child
of twelve to follow my explanations, but the usefulness of the
experiment did not appeal to him; he had tasted both glasses of
wine and found them both good, so he attached no meaning to the word
"adulterated" which I thought I had explained so nicely. Indeed,
the other words, "unwholesome" and "poison," had no meaning whatever
for him; he was in the same condition as the boy who told the story
of Philip and his doctor. It is the condition of all children.

The relation of causes and effects whose connection is unknown
to us, good and ill of which we have no idea, the needs we have
never felt, have no existence for us. It is impossible to interest
ourselves in them sufficiently to make us do anything connected
with them. At fifteen we become aware of the happiness of a good
man, as at thirty we become aware of the glory of Paradise. If
we had no clear idea of either we should make no effort for their
attainment; and even if we had a clear idea of them, we should make
little or no effort unless we desired them and unless we felt we
were made for them. It is easy to convince a child that what you
wish to teach him is useful, but it is useless to convince if you
cannot also persuade. Pure reason may lead us to approve or censure,
but it is feeling which leads to action, and how shall we care
about that which does not concern us?

Never show a child what he cannot see. Since mankind is almost
unknown to him, and since you cannot make a man of him, bring the
man down to the level of the child. While you are thinking what
will be useful to him when he is older, talk to him of what he
knows he can use now. Moreover, as soon as he begins to reason let
there be no comparison with other children, no rivalry, no competition,
not even in running races. I would far rather he did not learn
anything than have him learn it through jealousy or self-conceit.
Year by year I shall just note the progress he had made, I shall
compare the results with those of the following year, I shall say,
"You have grown so much; that is the ditch you jumped, the weight
you carried, the distance you flung a pebble, the race you ran
without stopping to take breath, etc.; let us see what you can do

In this way he is stimulated to further effort without jealousy.
He wants to excel himself as he ought to do; I see no reason why
he should not emulate his own performances.

I hate books; they only teach us to talk about things we know
nothing about. Hermes, they say, engraved the elements of science
on pillars lest a deluge should destroy them. Had he imprinted
them on men's hearts they would have been preserved by tradition.
Well-trained minds are the pillars on which human knowledge is most
deeply engraved.

Is there no way of correlating so many lessons scattered through
so many books, no way of focussing them on some common object, easy
to see, interesting to follow, and stimulating even to a child?
Could we but discover a state in which all man's needs appear in
such a way as to appeal to the child's mind, a state in which the
ways of providing for these needs are as easily developed, the
simple and stirring portrayal of this state should form the earliest
training of the child's imagination.

Eager philosopher, I see your own imagination at work. Spare yourself
the trouble; this state is already known, it is described, with
due respect to you, far better than you could describe it, at least
with greater truth and simplicity. Since we must have books. there
is one book which, to my thinking, supplies the best treatise on
an education according to nature. This is the first book Emile will
read; for a long time it will form his whole library, and it will
always retain an honoured place. It will be the text to which all
our talks about natural science are but the commentary. It will
serve to test our progress towards a right judgment, and it will
always be read with delight, so long as our taste is unspoilt. What
is this wonderful book? Is it Aristotle? Pliny? Buffon? No; it is
Robinson Crusoe.

Robinson Crusoe on his island, deprived of the help of his
fellow-men, without the means of carrying on the various arts, yet
finding food, preserving his life, and procuring a certain amount
of comfort; this is the thing to interest people of all ages, and
it can be made attractive to children in all sorts of ways. We shall
thus make a reality of that desert island which formerly served as
an illustration. The condition, I confess, is not that of a social
being, nor is it in all probability Emile's own condition, but he
should use it as a standard of comparison for all other conditions.
The surest way to raise him above prejudice and to base his judgments
on the true relations of things, is to put him in the place of a
solitary man, and to judge all things as they would be judged by
such a man in relation to their own utility.

This novel, stripped of irrelevant matter, begins with Robinson's
shipwreck on his island, and ends with the coming of the ship which
bears him from it, and it will furnish Emile with material, both
for work and play, during the whole period we are considering.
His head should be full of it, he should always be busy with his
castle, his goats, his plantations. Let him learn in detail, not
from books but from things, all that is necessary in such a case.
Let him think he is Robinson himself; let him see himself clad in
skins, wearing a tall cap, a great cutlass, all the grotesque get-up
of Robinson Crusoe, even to the umbrella which he will scarcely
need. He should anxiously consider what steps to take; will this
or that be wanting. He should examine his hero's conduct; has he
omitted nothing; is there nothing he could have done better? He
should carefully note his mistakes, so as not to fall into them
himself in similar circumstances, for you may be sure he will plan
out just such a settlement for himself. This is the genuine castle
in the air of this happy age, when the child knows no other happiness
but food and freedom.

What a motive will this infatuation supply in the hands of a skilful
teacher who has aroused it for the purpose of using it. The child
who wants to build a storehouse on his desert island will be more
eager to learn than the master to teach. He will want to know all
sorts of useful things and nothing else; you will need the curb as
well as the spur. Make haste, therefore, to establish him on his
island while this is all he needs to make him happy; for the day is
at hand, when, if he must still live on his island, he will not be
content to live alone, when even the companionship of Man Friday,
who is almost disregarded now, will not long suffice.

The exercise of the natural arts, which may be carried on by
one man alone, leads on to the industrial arts which call for the
cooperation of many hands. The former may be carried on by hermits,
by savages, but the others can only arise in a society, and they
make society necessary. So long as only bodily needs are recognised
man is self-sufficing; with superfluity comes the need for division
and distribution of labour, for though one man working alone can
earn a man's living, one hundred men working together can earn the
living of two hundred. As soon as some men are idle, others must
work to make up for their idleness.

Your main object should be to keep out of your scholar's way all
idea of such social relations as he cannot understand, but when
the development of knowledge compels you to show him the mutual
dependence of mankind, instead of showing him its moral side, turn
all his attention at first towards industry and the mechanical arts
which make men useful to one another. While you take him from one
workshop to another, let him try his hand at every trade you show
him, and do not let him leave it till he has thoroughly learnt why
everything is done, or at least everything that has attracted his
attention. With this aim you should take a share in his work and
set him an example. Be yourself the apprentice that he may become
a master; you may expect him to learn more in one hour's work than
he would retain after a whole day's explanation.

The value set by the general public on the various arts is in
inverse ratio to their real utility. They are even valued directly
according to their uselessness. This might be expected. The most useful
arts are the worst paid, for the number of workmen is regulated by
the demand, and the work which everybody requires must necessarily be
paid at a rate which puts it within the reach of the poor. On the
other hand, those great people who are called artists, not artisans,
who labour only for the rich and idle, put a fancy price on their
trifles; and as the real value of this vain labour is purely
imaginary, the price itself adds to their market value, and they
are valued according to their costliness. The rich think so much
of these things, not because they are useful, but because they are
beyond the reach of the poor. Nolo habere bona, nisi quibus populus

What will become of your pupils if you let them acquire this foolish
prejudice, if you share it yourself? If, for instance, they see you
show more politeness in a jeweller's shop than in a locksmith's.
What idea will they form of the true worth of the arts and the real
value of things when they see, on the one hand, a fancy price and,
on the other, the price of real utility, and that the more a thing
costs the less it is worth? As soon as you let them get hold of
these ideas, you may give up all attempt at further education; in
spite of you they will be like all the other scholars--you have
wasted fourteen years.

Emile, bent on furnishing his island, will look at things from another
point of view. Robinson would have thought more of a toolmaker's
shop than all Saide's trifles put together. He would have reckoned
the toolmaker a very worthy man, and Saide little more than a

"My son will have to take the world as he finds it, he will not
live among the wise but among fools; he must therefore be acquainted
with their follies, since they must be led by this means. A real
knowledge of things may be a good thing in itself, but the knowledge
of men and their opinions is better, for in human society man is
the chief tool of man, and the wisest man is he who best knows the
use of this tool. What is the good of teaching children an imaginary
system, just the opposite of the established order of things, among
which they will have to live? First teach them wisdom, then show
them the follies of mankind."

These are the specious maxims by which fathers, who mistake them for
prudence, strive to make their children the slaves of the prejudices
in which they are educated, and the puppets of the senseless crowd,
which they hope to make subservient to their passions. How much
must be known before we attain to a knowledge of man. This is the
final study of the philosopher, and you expect to make it the first
lesson of the child! Before teaching him our sentiments, first
teach him to judge of their worth. Do you perceive folly when you
mistake it for wisdom? To be wise we must discern between good and
evil. How can your child know men, when he can neither judge of
their judgments nor unravel their mistakes? It is a misfortune to
know what they think, without knowing whether their thoughts are
true or false. First teach him things as they really are, afterwards
you will teach him how they appear to us. He will then be able to
make a comparison between popular ideas and truth, and be able to
rise above the vulgar crowd; for you are unaware of the prejudices
you adopt, and you do not lead a nation when you are like it. But
if you begin to teach the opinions of other people before you teach
how to judge of their worth, of one thing you may be sure, your
pupil will adopt those opinions whatever you may do, and you will
not succeed in uprooting them. I am therefore convinced that to
make a young man judge rightly, you must form his judgment rather
than teach him your own.

So far you see I have not spoken to my pupil about men; he would
have too much sense to listen to me. His relations to other people
are as yet not sufficiently apparent to him to enable him to judge
others by himself. The only person he knows is himself, and his
knowledge of himself is very imperfect. But if he forms few opinions
about others, those opinions are correct. He knows nothing of
another's place, but he knows his own and keeps to it. I have bound
him with the strong cord of necessity, instead of social laws, which
are beyond his knowledge. He is still little more than a body; let
us treat him as such.

Every substance in nature and every work of man must be judged
in relation to his own use, his own safety, his own preservation,
his own comfort. Thus he should value iron far more than gold, and
glass than diamonds; in the same way he has far more respect for a
shoemaker or a mason than for a Lempereur, a Le Blanc, or all the
jewellers in Europe. In his eyes a confectioner is a really great
man, and he would give the whole academy of sciences for the smallest
pastrycook in Lombard Street. Goldsmiths, engravers, gilders, and
embroiderers, he considers lazy people, who play at quite useless
games. He does not even think much of a clockmaker. The happy
child enjoys Time without being a slave to it; he uses it, but he
does not know its value. The freedom from passion which makes every
day alike to him, makes any means of measuring time unnecessary.
When I assumed that Emile had a watch, [Footnote: When our hearts
are abandoned to the sway of passion, then it is that we need
a measure of time. The wise man's watch is his equable temper and
his peaceful heart. He is always punctual, and he always knows the
time.] just as I assumed that he cried, it was a commonplace Emile
that I chose to serve my purpose and make myself understood. The
real Emile, a child so different from the rest, would not serve as
an illustration for anything.

There is an order no less natural and even more accurate, by which
the arts are valued according to bonds of necessity which connect
them; the highest class consists of the most independent, the
lowest of those most dependent on others. This classification,
which suggests important considerations on the order of society in
general, is like the preceding one in that it is subject to the same
inversion in popular estimation, so that the use of raw material
is the work of the lowest and worst paid trades, while the oftener
the material changes hands, the more the work rises in price and
in honour. I do not ask whether industry is really greater and more
deserving of reward when engaged in the delicate arts which give
the final shape to these materials, than in the labour which first
gave them to man's use; but this I say, that in everything the
art which is most generally useful and necessary, is undoubtedly
that which most deserves esteem, and that art which requires the
least help from others, is more worthy of honour than those which
are dependent on other arts, since it is freer and more nearly
independent. These are the true laws of value in the arts; all
others are arbitrary and dependent on popular prejudice.

Agriculture is the earliest and most honourable of arts; metal work
I put next, then carpentry, and so on. This is the order in which
the child will put them, if he has not been spoilt by vulgar
prejudices. What valuable considerations Emile will derive from
his Robinson in such matters. What will he think when he sees the
arts only brought to perfection by sub-division, by the infinite
multiplication of tools. He will say, "All those people are as
silly as they are ingenious; one would think they were afraid to
use their eyes and their hands, they invent so many tools instead.
To carry on one trade they become the slaves of many others; every
single workman needs a whole town. My friend and I try to gain
skill; we only make tools we can take about with us; these people,
who are so proud of their talents in Paris, would be no use at all
on our island; they would have to become apprentices."

Reader, do not stay to watch the bodily exercises and manual skill
of our pupil, but consider the bent we are giving to his childish
curiosity; consider his common-sense, his inventive spirit, his
foresight; consider what a head he will have on his shoulders. He
will want to know all about everything he sees or does, to learn
the why and the wherefore of it; from tool to tool he will go back
to the first beginning, taking nothing for granted; he will decline
to learn anything that requires previous knowledge which he has not
acquired. If he sees a spring made he will want to know how they
got the steel from the mine; if he sees the pieces of a chest put
together, he will want to know how the tree was out down; when at
work he will say of each tool, "If I had not got this, how could
I make one like it, or how could I get along without it?"

It is, however, difficult to avoid another error. When the master
is very fond of certain occupations, he is apt to assume that
the child shares his tastes; beware lest you are carried away by
the interest of your work, while the child is bored by it, but is
afraid to show it. The child must come first, and you must devote
yourself entirely to him. Watch him, study him constantly, without
his knowing it; consider his feelings beforehand, and provide against
those which are undesirable, keep him occupied in such a way that
he not only feels the usefulness of the thing, but takes a pleasure
in understanding the purpose which his work will serve.

The solidarity of the arts consists in the exchange of industry,
that of commerce in the exchange of commodities, that of banks in
the exchange of money or securities. All these ideas hang together,
and their foundation has already been laid in early childhood
with the help of Robert the gardener. All we have now to do is to
substitute general ideas for particular, and to enlarge these ideas
by means of numerous examples, so as to make the child understand
the game of business itself, brought home to him by means of
particular instances of natural history with regard to the special
products of each country, by particular instances of the arts and
sciences which concern navigation and the difficulties of transport,
greater or less in proportion to the distance between places, the
position of land, seas, rivers, etc.

There can be no society without exchange, no exchange without a
common standard of measurement, no common standard of measurement
without equality. Hence the first law of every society is some
conventional equality either in men or things.

Conventional equality between men, a very different thing from
natural equality, leads to the necessity for positive law, i.e.,
government and kings. A child's political knowledge should be clear
and restricted; he should know nothing of government in general,
beyond what concerns the rights of property, of which he has already
some idea.

Conventional equality between things has led to the invention of
money, for money is only one term in a comparison between the values
of different sorts of things; and in this sense money is the real
bond of society; but anything may be money; in former days it was
cattle; shells are used among many tribes at the present day; Sparta
used iron; Sweden, leather; while we use gold and silver.

Metals, being easier to carry, have generally been chosen as the
middle term of every exchange, and these metals have been made into
coin to save the trouble of continual weighing and measuring, for
the stamp on the coin is merely evidence that the coin is of given
weight; and the sole right of coining money is vested in the ruler
because he alone has the right to demand the recognition of his
authority by the whole nation.

The stupidest person can perceive the use of money when it is
explained in this way. It is difficult to make a direct comparison
between various things, for instance, between cloth and corn;
but when we find a common measure, in money, it is easy for the
manufacturer and the farmer to estimate the value of the goods
they wish to exchange in terms of this common measure. If a given
quantity of cloth is worth a given some of money, and a given
quantity of corn is worth the same sum of money, then the seller,
receiving the corn in exchange for his cloth, makes a fair bargain.
Thus by means of money it becomes possible to compare the values
of goods of various kinds.

Be content with this, and do not touch upon the moral effects of
this institution. In everything you must show clearly the use before
the abuse. If you attempt to teach children how the sign has led
to the neglect of the thing signified, how money is the source of
all the false ideas of society, how countries rich in silver must
be poor in everything else, you will be treating these children
as philosophers, and not only as philosophers but as wise men, for
you are professing to teach them what very few philosophers have

What a wealth of interesting objects, towards which the curiosity
of our pupil may be directed without ever quitting the real
and material relations he can understand, and without permitting
the formation of a single idea beyond his grasp! The teacher's
art consists in this: To turn the child's attention from trivial
details and to guide his thoughts continually towards relations of
importance which he will one day need to know, that he may judge
rightly of good and evil in human society. The teacher must be
able to adapt the conversation with which he amuses his pupil to
the turn already given to his mind. A problem which another child
would never heed will torment Emile half a year.

We are going to dine with wealthy people; when we get there
everything is ready for a feast, many guests, many servants, many
dishes, dainty and elegant china. There is something intoxicating
in all these preparations for pleasure and festivity when you are
not used to them. I see how they will affect my young pupil. While
dinner is going on, while course follows course, and conversation
is loud around us, I whisper in his ear, "How many hands do you
suppose the things on this table passed through before they got
here?" What a crowd of ideas is called up by these few words. In
a moment the mists of excitement have rolled away. He is thinking,
considering, calculating, and anxious. The child is philosophising,
while philosophers, excited by wine or perhaps by female society,
are babbling like children. If he asks questions I decline to answer
and put him off to another day. He becomes impatient, he forgets
to eat and drink, he longs to get away from table and talk as he
pleases. What an object of curiosity, what a text for instruction.
Nothing has so far succeeded in corrupting his healthy reason;
what will he think of luxury when he finds that every quarter of
the globe has been ransacked, that some 2,000,000 men have laboured
for years, that many lives have perhaps been sacrificed, and all
to furnish him with fine clothes to be worn at midday and laid by
in the wardrobe at night.

Be sure you observe what private conclusions he draws from all his
observations. If you have watched him less carefully than I suppose,
his thoughts may be tempted in another direction; he may consider
himself a person of great importance in the world, when he sees so
much labour concentrated on the preparation of his dinner. If you
suspect his thoughts will take this direction you can easily prevent
it, or at any rate promptly efface the false impression. As yet
he can only appropriate things by personal enjoyment, he can only
judge of their fitness or unfitness by their outward effects.
Compare a plain rustic meal, preceded by exercise, seasoned by
hunger, freedom, and delight, with this magnificent but tedious
repast. This will suffice to make him realise that he has got no
real advantage from the splendour of the feast, that his stomach
was as well satisfied when he left the table of the peasant, as
when he left the table of the banker; from neither had he gained
anything he could really call his own.

Just fancy what a tutor might say to him on such an occasion.
Consider the two dinners and decide for yourself which gave you
most pleasure, which seemed the merriest, at which did you eat
and drink most heartily, which was the least tedious and required
least change of courses? Yet note the difference--this black bread
you so enjoy is made from the peasant's own harvest; his wine is
dark in colour and of a common kind, but wholesome and refreshing;
it was made in his own vineyard; the cloth is made of his own
hemp, spun and woven in the winter by his wife and daughters and
the maid; no hands but theirs have touched the food. His world is
bounded by the nearest mill and the next market. How far did you
enjoy all that the produce of distant lands and the service of
many people had prepared for you at the other dinner? If you did
not get a better meal, what good did this wealth do you? how much
of it was made for you? Had you been the master of the house, the
tutor might say, it would have been of still less use to you; for
the anxiety of displaying your enjoyment before the eyes of others
would have robbed you of it; the pains would be yours, the pleasure

This may be a very fine speech, but it would be thrown away upon
Emile, as he cannot understand it, and he does not accept second-hand
opinions. Speak more simply to him. After these two experiences,
say to him some day, "Where shall we have our dinner to-day? Where
that mountain of silver covered three quarters of the table and
those beds of artificial flowers on looking glass were served with
the dessert, where those smart ladies treated you as a toy and
pretended you said what you did not mean; or in that village two
leagues away, with those good people who were so pleased to see
us and gave us such delicious cream?" Emile will not hesitate; he
is not vain and he is no chatterbox; he cannot endure constraint,
and he does not care for fine dishes; but he is always ready for a
run in the country and is very fond of good fruit and vegetables,
sweet cream and kindly people. [Footnote: This taste, which I assume
my pupil to have acquired, is a natural result of his education.
Moreover, he has nothing foppish or affected about him, so that the
ladies take little notice of him and he is less petted than other
children; therefore he does not care for them, and is less spoilt
by their company; he is not yet of an age to feel its charm. I
have taken care not to teach him to kiss their hands, to pay them
compliments, or even to be more polite to them than to men. It is
my constant rule to ask nothing from him but what he can understand,
and there is no good reason why a child should treat one sex
differently from the other.] On our way, the thought will occur
to him, "All those people who laboured to prepare that grand feast
were either wasting their time or they have no idea how to enjoy

My example may be right for one child and wrong for the rest. If
you enter into their way of looking at things you will know how to
vary your instances as required; the choice depends on the study
of the individual temperament, and this study in turn depends on
the opportunities which occur to show this temperament. You will
not suppose that, in the three or four years at our disposal, even
the most gifted child can get an idea of all the arts and sciences,
sufficient to enable him to study them for himself when he is
older; but by bringing before him what he needs to know, we enable
him to develop his own tastes, his own talents, to take the first
step towards the object which appeals to his individuality and to
show us the road we must open up to aid the work of nature.

There is another advantage of these trains of limited but exact
bits of knowledge; he learns by their connection and interdependence
how to rank them in his own estimation and to be on his guard
against those prejudices, common to most men, which draw them towards
the gifts they themselves cultivate and away from those they have
neglected. The man who clearly sees the whole, sees where each part
should be; the man who sees one part clearly and knows it thoroughly
may be a learned man, but the former is a wise man, and you remember
it is wisdom rather than knowledge that we hope to acquire.

However that may be, my method does not depend on my examples; it
depends on the amount of a man's powers at different ages, and the
choice of occupations adapted to those powers. I think it would be
easy to find a method which appeared to give better results, but
if it were less suited to the type, sex, and age of the scholar,
I doubt whether the results would really be as good.

At the beginning of this second period we took advantage of the fact
that our strength was more than enough for our needs, to enable us
to get outside ourselves. We have ranged the heavens and measured
the earth; we have sought out the laws of nature; we have explored
the whole of our island. Now let us return to ourselves, let us
unconsciously approach our own dwelling. We are happy indeed if we
do not find it already occupied by the dreaded foe, who is preparing
to seize it.

What remains to be done when we have observed all that lies around
us? We must turn to our own use all that we can get, we must increase
our comfort by means of our curiosity. Hitherto we have provided
ourselves with tools of all kinds, not knowing which we require.
Perhaps those we do not want will be useful to others, and perhaps
we may need theirs. Thus we discover the use of exchange; but for
this we must know each other's needs, what tools other people use,
what they can offer in exchange. Given ten men, each of them has
ten different requirements. To get what he needs for himself each
must work at ten different trades; but considering our different
talents, one will do better at this trade, another at that. Each
of them, fitted for one thing, will work at all, and will be badly
served. Let us form these ten men into a society, and let each
devote himself to the trade for which he is best adapted, and let
him work at it for himself and for the rest. Each will reap the
advantage of the others' talents, just as if they were his own; by
practice each will perfect his own talent, and thus all the ten,
well provided for, will still have something to spare for others.
This is the plain foundation of all our institutions. It is not
my aim to examine its results here; I have done so in another book
(Discours sur l'inegalite).

According to this principle, any one who wanted to consider himself as
an isolated individual, self-sufficing and independent of others,
could only be utterly wretched. He could not even continue to
exist, for finding the whole earth appropriated by others while he
had only himself, how could he get the means of subsistence? When
we leave the state of nature we compel others to do the same; no one
can remain in a state of nature in spite of his fellow-creatures,
and to try to remain in it when it is no longer practicable, would
really be to leave it, for self-preservation is nature's first law.

Thus the idea of social relations is gradually developed in the
child's mind, before he can really be an active member of human
society. Emile sees that to get tools for his own use, other people
must have theirs, and that he can get in exchange what he needs and
they possess. I easily bring him to feel the need of such exchange
and to take advantage of it.

"Sir, I must live," said a miserable writer of lampoons to the
minister who reproved him for his infamous trade. "I do not see the
necessity," replied the great man coldly. This answer, excellent
from the minister, would have been barbarous and untrue in any
other mouth. Every man must live; this argument, which appeals to
every one with more or less force in proportion to his humanity,
strikes me as unanswerable when applied to oneself. Since our dislike
of death is the strongest of those aversions nature has implanted
in us, it follows that everything is permissible to the man who has
no other means of living. The principles, which teach the good man
to count his life a little thing and to sacrifice it at duty's
call, are far removed from this primitive simplicity. Happy
are those nations where one can be good without effort, and just
without conscious virtue. If in this world there is any condition
so miserable that one cannot live without wrong-doing, where the
citizen is driven into evil, you should hang, not the criminal,
but those who drove him into crime.

As soon as Emile knows what life is, my first care will be to
teach him to preserve his life. Hitherto I have made no distinction
of condition, rank, station, or fortune; nor shall I distinguish
between them in the future, since man is the same in every station;
the rich man's stomach is no bigger than the poor man's, nor is
his digestion any better; the master's arm is neither longer nor
stronger than the slave's; a great man is no taller than one of
the people, and indeed the natural needs are the same to all, and
the means of satisfying them should be equally within the reach of
all. Fit a man's education to his real self, not to what is no
part of him. Do you not see that in striving to fit him merely for
one station, you are unfitting him for anything else, so that some
caprice of Fortune may make your work really harmful to him? What
could be more absurd than a nobleman in rags, who carries with him
into his poverty the prejudices of his birth? What is more despicable
than a rich man fallen into poverty, who recalls the scorn with
which he himself regarded the poor, and feels that he has sunk to
the lowest depth of degradation? The one may become a professional
thief, the other a cringing servant, with this fine saying, "I must

You reckon on the present order of society, without considering
that this order is itself subject to inscrutable changes, and that
you can neither foresee nor provide against the revolution which
may affect your children. The great become small, the rich poor,
the king a commoner. Does fate strike so seldom that you can count
on immunity from her blows? The crisis is approaching, and we are
on the edge of a revolution. [Footnote: In my opinion it is impossible
that the great kingdoms of Europe should last much longer. Each of
them has had its period of splendour, after which it must inevitably
decline. I have my own opinions as to the special applications of
this general statement, but this is not the place to enter into
details, and they are only too evident to everybody.] Who can
answer for your fate? What man has made, man may destroy. Nature's
characters alone are ineffaceable, and nature makes neither the
prince, the rich man, nor the nobleman. This satrap whom you have
educated for greatness, what will become of him in his degradation?
This farmer of the taxes who can only live on gold, what will
he do in poverty? This haughty fool who cannot use his own hands,
who prides himself on what is not really his, what will he do when
he is stripped of all? In that day, happy will he be who can give
up the rank which is no longer his, and be still a man in Fate's
despite. Let men praise as they will that conquered monarch who
like a madman would be buried beneath the fragments of his throne;
I behold him with scorn; to me he is merely a crown, and when that
is gone he is nothing. But he who loses his crown and lives without
it, is more than a king; from the rank of a king, which may be held
by a coward, a villain, or madman, he rises to the rank of a man,
a position few can fill. Thus he triumphs over Fortune, he dares
to look her in the face; he depends on himself alone, and when he
has nothing left to show but himself he is not a nonentity, he is
somebody. Better a thousandfold the king of Corinth a schoolmaster
at Syracuse, than a wretched Tarquin, unable to be anything but
a king, or the heir of the ruler of three kingdoms, the sport of
all who would scorn his poverty, wandering from court to court in
search of help, and finding nothing but insults, for want of knowing
any trade but one which he can no longer practise.

The man and the citizen, whoever he may be, has no property to invest
in society but himself, all his other goods belong to society in
spite of himself, and when a man is rich, either he does not enjoy
his wealth, or the public enjoys it too; in the first case he robs
others as well as himself; in the second he gives them nothing.
Thus his debt to society is still unpaid, while he only pays with
his property. "But my father was serving society while he was
acquiring his wealth." Just so; he paid his own debt, not yours.
You owe more to others than if you had been born with nothing,
since you were born under favourable conditions. It is not fair
that what one man has done for society should pay another's debt,
for since every man owes all that he is, he can only pay his own
debt, and no father can transmit to his son any right to be of no
use to mankind. "But," you say, "this is just what he does when he
leaves me his wealth, the reward of his labour." The man who eats
in idleness what he has not himself earned, is a thief, and in
my eyes, the man who lives on an income paid him by the state for
doing nothing, differs little from a highwayman who lives on those
who travel his way. Outside the pale of society, the solitary, owing
nothing to any man, may live as he pleases, but in society either
he lives at the cost of others, or he owes them in labour the cost
of his keep; there is no exception to this rule. Man in society is
bound to work; rich or poor, weak or strong, every idler is a thief.

Now of all the pursuits by which a man may earn his living, the
nearest to a state of nature is manual labour; of all stations that
of the artisan is least dependent on Fortune. The artisan depends
on his labour alone, he is a free man while the ploughman is a
slave; for the latter depends on his field where the crops may be
destroyed by others. An enemy, a prince, a powerful neighbour, or
a law-suit may deprive him of his field; through this field he may
be harassed in all sorts of ways. But if the artisan is ill-treated
his goods are soon packed and he takes himself off. Yet agriculture
is the earliest, the most honest of trades, and more useful than
all the rest, and therefore more honourable for those who practise
it. I do not say to Emile, "Study agriculture," he is already
familiar with it. He is acquainted with every kind of rural labour,
it was his first occupation, and he returns to it continually. So
I say to him, "Cultivate your father's lands, but if you lose this
inheritance, or if you have none to lose, what will you do? Learn
a trade."

"A trade for my son! My son a working man! What are you thinking
of, sir?" Madam, my thoughts are wiser than yours; you want to make
him fit for nothing but a lord, a marquis, or a prince; and some
day he may be less than nothing. I want to give him a rank which
he cannot lose, a rank which will always do him honour; I want to
raise him to the status of a man, and, whatever you may say, he
will have fewer equals in that rank than in your own.

The letter killeth, the spirit giveth life. Learning a trade matters
less than overcoming the prejudices he despises. You will never be
reduced to earning your livelihood; so much the worse for you. No
matter; work for honour, not for need: stoop to the position of a
working man, to rise above your own. To conquer Fortune and everything
else, begin by independence. To rule through public opinion, begin
by ruling over it.

Remember I demand no talent, only a trade, a genuine trade, a mere
mechanical art, in which the hands work harder than the head, a
trade which does not lead to fortune but makes you independent of
her. In households far removed from all danger of want I have known
fathers carry prudence to such a point as to provide their children
not only with ordinary teaching but with knowledge by means of which
they could get a living if anything happened. These far-sighted
parents thought they were doing a great thing. It is nothing, for
the resources they fancy they have secured depend on that very
fortune of which they would make their children independent; so
that unless they found themselves in circumstances fitted for the
display of their talents, they would die of hunger as if they had

As soon as it is a question of influence and intrigue you may as
well use these means to keep yourself in plenty, as to acquire,
in the depths of poverty, the means of returning to your former
position. If you cultivate the arts which depend on the artist's
reputation, if you fit yourself for posts which are only obtained
by favour, how will that help you when, rightly disgusted with
the world, you scorn the steps by which you must climb. You have
studied politics and state-craft, so far so good; but how will you
use this knowledge, if you cannot gain the ear of the ministers,
the favourites, or the officials? if you have not the secret of
winning their favour, if they fail to find you a rogue to their
taste? You are an architect or a painter; well and good; but your
talents must be displayed. Do you suppose you can exhibit in the
salon without further ado? That is not the way to set about it.
Lay aside the rule and the pencil, take a cab and drive from door
to door; there is the road to fame. Now you must know that the
doors of the great are guarded by porters and flunkeys, who only
understand one language, and their ears are in their palms. If
you wish to teach what you have learned, geography, mathematics,
languages, music, drawing, even to find pupils, you must have friends
who will sing your praises. Learning, remember, gains more credit
than skill, and with no trade but your own none will believe in
your skill. See how little you can depend on these fine "Resources,"
and how many other resources are required before you can use what
you have got. And what will become of you in your degradation?
Misfortune will make you worse rather than better. More than ever
the sport of public opinion, how will you rise above the prejudices
on which your fate depends? How will you despise the vices and
the baseness from which you get your living? You were dependent on
wealth, now you are dependent on the wealthy; you are still a slave
and a poor man into the bargain. Poverty without freedom, can a
man sink lower than this!

But if instead of this recondite learning adapted to feed the mind,
not the body, you have recourse, at need, to your hands and your
handiwork, there is no call for deceit, your trade is ready when
required. Honour and honesty will not stand in the way of your
living. You need no longer cringe and lie to the great, nor creep
and crawl before rogues, a despicable flatterer of both, a borrower
or a thief, for there is little to choose between them when you
are penniless. Other people's opinions are no concern of yours,
you need not pay court to any one, there is no fool to flatter,
no flunkey to bribe, no woman to win over. Let rogues conduct the
affairs of state; in your lowly rank you can still be an honest
man and yet get a living. You walk into the first workshop of your
trade. "Master, I want work." "Comrade, take your place and work."
Before dinner-time you have earned your dinner. If you are sober
and industrious, before the week is out you will have earned your
keep for another week; you will have lived in freedom, health,
truth, industry, and righteousness. Time is not wasted when it
brings these returns.

Emile shall learn a trade. "An honest trade, at least," you say.
What do you mean by honest? Is not every useful trade honest? I
would not make an embroiderer, a gilder, a polisher of him, like
Locke's young gentleman. Neither would I make him a musician, an
actor, or an author.[Footnote: You are an author yourself, you will
reply. Yes, for my sins; and my ill deeds, which I think I have
fully expiated, are no reason why others should be like me. I do not
write to excuse my faults, but to prevent my readers from copying
them.] With the exception of these and others like them, let him
choose his own trade, I do not mean to interfere with his choice.
I would rather have him a shoemaker than a poet, I would rather he
paved streets than painted flowers on china. "But," you will say,
"policemen, spies, and hangmen are useful people." There would be
no use for them if it were not for the government. But let that
pass. I was wrong. It is not enough to choose an honest trade,
it must be a trade which does not develop detestable qualities in
the mind, qualities incompatible with humanity. To return to our
original expression, "Let us choose an honest trade," but let us
remember there can be no honesty without usefulness.

A famous writer of this century, whose books are full of great
schemes and narrow views, was under a vow, like the other priests
of his communion, not to take a wife. Finding himself more scrupulous
than others with regard to his neighbour's wife, he decided, so
they say, to employ pretty servants, and so did his best to repair
the wrong done to the race by his rash promise. He thought it the
duty of a citizen to breed children for the state, and he made
his children artisans. As soon as they were old enough they were
taught whatever trade they chose; only idle or useless trades were
excluded, such as that of the wigmaker who is never necessary, and
may any day cease to be required, so long as nature does not get
tired of providing us with hair.

This spirit shall guide our choice of trade for Emile, or rather,
not our choice but his; for the maxims he has imbibed make him
despise useless things, and he will never be content to waste his
time on vain labours; his trade must be of use to Robinson on his

When we review with the child the productions of art and nature,
when we stimulate his curiosity and follow its lead, we have great
opportunities of studying his tastes and inclinations, and perceiving
the first spark of genius, if he has any decided talent in any
direction. You must, however, be on your guard against the common
error which mistakes the effects of environment for the ardour of
genius, or imagines there is a decided bent towards any one of the
arts, when there is nothing more than that spirit of emulation,
common to men and monkeys, which impels them instinctively to do
what they see others doing, without knowing why. The world is full
of artisans, and still fuller of artists, who have no native gift
for their calling, into which they were driven in early childhood,
either through the conventional ideas of other people, or because
those about them were deceived by an appearance of zeal, which
would have led them to take to any other art they saw practised. One
hears a drum and fancies he is a general; another sees a building
and wants to be an architect. Every one is drawn towards the trade
he sees before him if he thinks it is held in honour.

I once knew a footman who watched his master drawing and painting
and took it into his head to become a designer and artist. He seized
a pencil which he only abandoned for a paint-brush, to which he
stuck for the rest of his days. Without teaching or rules of art
he began to draw everything he saw. Three whole years were devoted
to these daubs, from which nothing but his duties could stir him,
nor was he discouraged by the small progress resulting from his
very mediocre talents. I have seen him spend the whole of a broiling
summer in a little ante-room towards the south, a room where one
was suffocated merely passing through it; there he was, seated
or rather nailed all day to his chair, before a globe, drawing it
again and again and yet again, with invincible obstinacy till he
had reproduced the rounded surface to his own satisfaction. At last
with his master's help and under the guidance of an artist he got
so far as to abandon his livery and live by his brush. Perseverance
does instead of talent up to a certain point; he got so far,
but no further. This honest lad's perseverance and ambition are
praiseworthy; he will always be respected for his industry and
steadfastness of purpose, but his paintings will always be third-rate.
Who would not have been deceived by his zeal and taken it for real
talent! There is all the difference in the world between a liking
and an aptitude. To make sure of real genius or real taste in a child
calls for more accurate observations than is generally suspected,
for the child displays his wishes not his capacity, and we judge by
the former instead of considering the latter. I wish some trustworthy
person would give us a treatise on the art of child-study. This
art is well worth studying, but neither parents nor teachers have
mastered its elements.

Perhaps we are laying too much stress on the choice of a trade; as
it is a manual occupation, Emile's choice is no great matter, and
his apprenticeship is more than half accomplished already, through
the exercises which have hitherto occupied him. What would you have
him do? He is ready for anything. He can handle the spade and hoe,
he can use the lathe, hammer, plane, or file; he is already familiar
with these tools which are common to many trades. He only needs
to acquire sufficient skill in the use of any one of them to rival
the speed, the familiarity, and the diligence of good workmen, and
he will have a great advantage over them in suppleness of body and
limb, so that he can easily take any position and can continue any
kind of movements without effort. Moreover his senses are acute
and well-practised, he knows the principles of the various trades;
to work like a master of his craft he only needs experience, and
experience comes with practice. To which of these trades which are
open to us will he give sufficient time to make himself master of
it? That is the whole question.

Give a man a trade befitting his sex, to a young man a trade befitting
his age. Sedentary indoor employments, which make the body tender
and effeminate, are neither pleasing nor suitable. No lad ever
wanted to be a tailor. It takes some art to attract a man to this
woman's work.[Footnote: There were no tailors among the ancients;
men's clothes were made at home by the women.] The same hand cannot
hold the needle and the sword. If I were king I would only allow
needlework and dressmaking to be done by women and cripples who are
obliged to work at such trades. If eunuchs were required I think
the Easterns were very foolish to make them on purpose. Why not
take those provided by nature, that crowd of base persons without
natural feeling? There would be enough and to spare. The weak,
feeble, timid man is condemned by nature to a sedentary life, he
is fit to live among women or in their fashion. Let him adopt one
of their trades if he likes; and if there must be eunuchs let them
take those men who dishonour their sex by adopting trades unworthy
of it. Their choice proclaims a blunder on the part of nature;
correct it one way or other, you will do no harm.

An unhealthy trade I forbid to my pupil, but not a difficult or
dangerous one. He will exercise himself in strength and courage;
such trades are for men not women, who claim no share in them, Are
not men ashamed to poach upon the women's trades?

"Luctantur paucae, comedunt coliphia paucae.
Vos lanam trahitis, calathisque peracta refertis
Vellera."--Juven. Sat. II. V. 55.

Women are not seen in shops in Italy, and to persons accustomed
to the streets of England and France nothing could look gloomier.
When I saw drapers selling ladies ribbons, pompons, net, and chenille,
I thought these delicate ornaments very absurd in the coarse hands
fit to blow the bellows and strike the anvil. I said to myself, "In
this country women should set up as steel-polishers and armourers."
Let each make and sell the weapons of his or her own sex; knowledge
is acquired through use.

I know I have said too much for my agreeable contemporaries, but
I sometimes let myself be carried away by my argument. If any one
is ashamed to be seen wearing a leathern apron or handling a plane,
I think him a mere slave of public opinion, ready to blush for what
is right when people poke fun at it. But let us yield to parents'
prejudices so long as they do not hurt the children. To honour
trades we are not obliged to practise every one of them, so long
as we do not think them beneath us. When the choice is ours and
we are under no compulsion, why not choose the pleasanter, more
attractive and more suitable trade. Metal work is useful, more
useful, perhaps, than the rest, but unless for some special reason
Emile shall not be a blacksmith, a locksmith nor an iron-worker.
I do not want to see him a Cyclops at the forge. Neither would I
have him a mason, still less a shoemaker. All trades must be carried
on, but when the choice is ours, cleanliness should be taken into
account; this is not a matter of class prejudice, our senses are our
guides. In conclusion, I do not like those stupid trades in which
the workmen mechanically perform the same action without pause
and almost without mental effort. Weaving, stocking-knitting,
stone-cutting; why employ intelligent men on such work? it is merely
one machine employed on another.

All things considered, the trade I should choose for my pupil,
among the trades he likes, is that of a carpenter. It is clean and
useful; it may be carried on at home; it gives enough exercise; it
calls for skill and industry, and while fashioning articles for
everyday use, there is scope for elegance and taste. If your pupil's
talents happened to take a scientific turn, I should not blame you
if you gave him a trade in accordance with his tastes, for instance,
he might learn to make mathematical instruments, glasses, telescopes,

When Emile learns his trade I shall learn it too. I am convinced he
will never learn anything thoroughly unless we learn it together.
So we shall both serve our apprenticeship, and we do not mean to
be treated as gentlemen, but as real apprentices who are not there
for fun; why should not we actually be apprenticed? Peter the Great
was a ship's carpenter and drummer to his own troops; was not that
prince at least your equal in birth and merit? You understand this
is addressed not to Emile but to you--to you, whoever you may be.

Unluckily we cannot spend the whole of our time at the workshop.
We are not only 'prentice-carpenters but 'prentice-men--a trade
whose apprenticeship is longer and more exacting than the rest.
What shall we do? Shall we take a master to teach us the use of the
plane and engage him by the hour like the dancing-master? In that
case we should be not apprentices but students, and our ambition is
not merely to learn carpentry but to be carpenters. Once or twice
a week I think we should spend the whole day at our master's; we
should get up when he does, we should be at our work before him,
we should take our meals with him, work under his orders, and after
having had the honour of supping at his table we may if we please
return to sleep upon our own hard beds. This is the way to learn
several trades at once, to learn to do manual work without neglecting
our apprenticeship to life.

Let us do what is right without ostentation; let us not fall into
vanity through our efforts to resist it. To pride ourselves on
our victory over prejudice is to succumb to prejudice. It is said
that in accordance with an old custom of the Ottomans, the sultan
is obliged to work with his hands, and, as every one knows, the
handiwork of a king is a masterpiece. So he royally distributes
his masterpieces among the great lords of the Porte and the price
paid is in accordance with the rank of the workman. It is not
this so-called abuse to which I object; on the contrary, it is an
advantage, and by compelling the lords to share with him the spoils
of the people it is so much the less necessary for the prince to
plunder the people himself. Despotism needs some such relaxation,
and without it that hateful rule could not last.

The real evil in such a custom is the idea it gives that poor man
of his own worth. Like King Midas he sees all things turn to gold
at his touch, but he does not see the ass' ears growing. Let us
keep Emile's hands from money lest he should become an ass, let
him take the work but not the wages. Never let his work be judged
by any standard but that of the work of a master. Let it be judged
as work, not because it is his. If anything is well done, I say,
"That is a good piece of work," but do not ask who did it. If he
is pleased and proud and says, "I did it," answer indifferently,
"No matter who did it, it is well done."

Good mother, be on your guard against the deceptions prepared for
you. If your son knows many things, distrust his knowledge; if he
is unlucky enough to be rich and educated in Paris he is ruined.
As long as there are clever artists he will have every talent,
but apart from his masters he will have none. In Paris a rich man
knows everything, it is the poor who are ignorant. Our capital
is full of amateurs, especially women, who do their work as M.
Gillaume invents his colours. Among the men I know three striking
exceptions, among the women I know no exceptions, and I doubt if
there are any. In a general way a man becomes an artist and a judge
of art as he becomes a Doctor of Laws and a magistrate.

If then it is once admitted that it is a fine thing to have a trade,
your children would soon have one without learning it. They would
become postmasters like the councillors of Zurich. Let us have no
such ceremonies for Emile; let it be the real thing not the sham.
Do not say what he knows, let him learn in silence. Let him make
his masterpiece, but not be hailed as master; let him be a workman
not in name but in deed.

If I have made my meaning clear you ought to realise how bodily
exercise and manual work unconsciously arouse thought and reflexion
in my pupil, and counteract the idleness which might result from
his indifference to men's judgments, and his freedom from passion.
He must work like a peasant and think like a philosopher, if he is
not to be as idle as a savage. The great secret of education is to
use exercise of mind and body as relaxation one to the other.

But beware of anticipating teaching which demands more maturity of
mind. Emile will not long be a workman before he discovers those
social inequalities he had not previously observed. He will want
to question me in turn on the maxims I have given him, maxims he
is able to understand. When he derives everything from me, when
he is so nearly in the position of the poor, he will want to know
why I am so far removed from it. All of a sudden he may put scathing
questions to me. "You are rich, you tell me, and I see you are. A
rich man owes his work to the community like the rest because he
is a man. What are you doing for the community?" What would a fine
tutor say to that? I do not know. He would perhaps be foolish enough
to talk to the child of the care he bestows upon him. The workshop
will get me out of the difficulty. "My dear Emile that is a very
good question; I will undertake to answer for myself, when you can
answer for yourself to your own satisfaction. Meanwhile I will take
care to give what I can spare to you and to the poor, and to make
a table or a bench every week, so as not to be quite useless."

We have come back to ourselves. Having entered into possession of
himself, our child is now ready to cease to be a child. He is more
than ever conscious of the necessity which makes him dependent on
things. After exercising his body and his senses you have exercised
his mind and his judgment. Finally we have joined together the
use of his limbs and his faculties. We have made him a worker and
a thinker; we have now to make him loving and tender-hearted, to
perfect reason through feeling. But before we enter on this new
order of things, let us cast an eye over the stage we are leaving
behind us, and perceive as clearly as we can how far we have got.

At first our pupil had merely sensations, now he has ideas; he
could only feel, now he reasons. For from the comparison of many
successive or simultaneous sensations and the judgment arrived
at with regard to them, there springs a sort of mixed or complex
sensation which I call an idea.

The way in which ideas are formed gives a character to the human
mind. The mind which derives its ideas from real relations is
thorough; the mind which relies on apparent relations is superficial.
He who sees relations as they are has an exact mind; he who fails
to estimate them aright has an inaccurate mind; he who concocts
imaginary relations, which have no real existence, is a madman; he
who does not perceive any relation at all is an imbecile. Clever
men are distinguished from others by their greater or less aptitude
for the comparison of ideas and the discovery of relations between

Simple ideas consist merely of sensations compared one with another.
Simple sensations involve judgments, as do the complex sensations
which I call simple ideas. In the sensation the judgment is purely
passive; it affirms that I feel what I feel. In the percept or idea
the judgment is active; it connects, compares, it discriminates
between relations not perceived by the senses. That is the whole
difference; but it is a great difference. Nature never deceives
us; we deceive ourselves.

I see some one giving an ice-cream to an eight-year-old child; he
does not know what it is and puts the spoon in his mouth. Struck
by the cold he cries out, "Oh, it burns!" He feels a very keen
sensation, and the heat of the fire is the keenest sensation he
knows, so he thinks that is what he feels. Yet he is mistaken; cold
hurts, but it does not burn; and these two sensations are different,
for persons with more experience do not confuse them. So it is not
the sensation that is wrong, but the judgment formed with regard
to it.

It is just the same with those who see a mirror or some optical
instrument for the first time, or enter a deep cellar in the depths
of winter or at midsummer, or dip a very hot or cold hand into tepid
water, or roll a little ball between two crossed fingers. If they
are content to say what they really feel, their judgment, being
purely passive, cannot go wrong; but when they judge according to
appearances, their judgment is active; it compares and establishes
by induction relations which are not really perceived. Then these
inductions may or may not be mistaken. Experience is required to
correct or prevent error.

Show your pupil the clouds at night passing between himself and the
moon; he will think the moon is moving in the opposite direction
and that the clouds are stationary. He will think this through
a hasty induction, because he generally sees small objects moving
and larger ones at rest, and the clouds seems larger than the moon,
whose distance is beyond his reckoning. When he watches the shore
from a moving boat he falls into the opposite mistake and thinks
the earth is moving because he does not feel the motion of the
boat and considers it along with the sea or river as one motionless
whole, of which the shore, which appears to move, forms no part.

The first time a child sees a stick half immersed in water he thinks
he sees a broken stick; the sensation is true and would not cease
to be true even if he knew the reason of this appearance. So if
you ask him what he sees, he replies, "A broken stick," for he is
quite sure he is experiencing this sensation. But when deceived
by his judgment he goes further and, after saying he sees a broken
stick, he affirms that it really is broken he says what is not true.
Why? Because he becomes active and judges no longer by observation
but by induction, he affirms what he does not perceive, i.e.,
that the judgment he receives through one of his senses would be
confirmed by another.

Since all our errors arise in our judgment, it is clear, that had
we no need for judgment, we should not need to learn; we should
never be liable to mistakes, we should be happier in our ignorance
than we can be in our knowledge. Who can deny that a vast number
of things are known to the learned, which the unlearned will never
know? Are the learned any nearer truth? Not so, the further they go
the further they get from truth, for their pride in their judgment
increases faster than their progress in knowledge, so that for
every truth they acquire they draw a hundred mistaken conclusions.
Every one knows that the learned societies of Europe are mere schools
of falsehood, and there are assuredly more mistaken notions in the
Academy of Sciences than in a whole tribe of American Indians.

The more we know, the more mistakes we make; therefore ignorance
is the only way to escape error. Form no judgments and you will
never be mistaken. This is the teaching both of nature and reason.
We come into direct contact with very few things, and these are very
readily perceived; the rest we regard with profound indifference.
A savage will not turn his head to watch the working of the finest
machinery or all the wonders of electricity. "What does that matter
to me?" is the common saying of the ignorant; it is the fittest
phrase for the wise.

Unluckily this phrase will no longer serve our turn. Everything
matters to us, as we are dependent on everything, and our curiosity
naturally increases with our needs. This is why I attribute much
curiosity to the man of science and none to the savage. The latter
needs no help from anybody; the former requires every one, and
admirers most of all.

You will tell me I am going beyond nature. I think not. She
chooses her instruments and orders them, not according to fancy,
but necessity. Now a man's needs vary with his circumstances. There
is all the difference in the world between a natural man living in
a state of nature, and a natural man living in society. Emile is
no savage to be banished to the desert, he is a savage who has to
live in the town. He must know how to get his living in a town,
how to use its inhabitants, and how to live among them, if not of

In the midst of so many new relations and dependent on them, he
must reason whether he wants to or no. Let us therefore teach him
to reason correctly.

The best way of learning to reason aright is that which tends to
simplify our experiences, or to enable us to dispense with them
altogether without falling into error. Hence it follows that we must
learn to confirm the experiences of each sense by itself, without
recourse to any other, though we have been in the habit of verifying
the experience of one sense by that of another. Then each of our
sensations will become an idea, and this idea will always correspond
to the truth. This is the sort of knowledge I have tried to accumulate
during this third phase of man's life.

This method of procedure demands a patience and circumspection
which few teachers possess; without them the scholar will never
learn to reason. For example, if you hasten to take the stick out
of the water when the child is deceived by its appearance, you may
perhaps undeceive him, but what have you taught him? Nothing more
than he would soon have learnt for himself. That is not the right
thing to do. You have not got to teach him truths so much as to
show him how to set about discovering them for himself. To teach
him better you must not be in such a hurry to correct his mistakes.
Let us take Emile and myself as an illustration.

To begin with, any child educated in the usual way could not fail
to answer the second of my imaginary questions in the affirmative.
He will say, "That is certainly a broken stick." I very much doubt
whether Emile will give the same reply. He sees no reason for
knowing everything or pretending to know it; he is never in a hurry
to draw conclusions. He only reasons from evidence and on this
occasion he has not got the evidence. He knows how appearances
deceive us, if only through perspective.

Moreover, he knows by experience that there is always a reason for
my slightest questions, though he may not see it at once; so he has
not got into the habit of giving silly answers; on the contrary,
he is on his guard, he considers things carefully and attentively
before answering. He never gives me an answer unless he is satisfied
with it himself, and he is hard to please. Lastly we neither of
us take any pride in merely knowing a thing, but only in avoiding
mistakes. We should be more ashamed to deceive ourselves with bad
reasoning, than to find no explanation at all. There is no phrase
so appropriate to us, or so often on our lips, as, "I do not know;"
neither of us are ashamed to use it. But whether he gives the silly
answer or whether he avoids it by our convenient phrase "I do not
know," my answer is the same. "Let us examine it."

This stick immersed half way in the water is fixed in an upright
position. To know if it is broken, how many things must be done
before we take it out of the water or even touch it.

1. First we walk round it, and we see that the broken part follows
us. So it is only our eye that changes it; looks do not make things

2. We look straight down on that end of the stick which is above
the water, the stick is no longer bent, [Footnote: I have since
found by more exact experiment that this is not the case. Refraction
acts in a circle, and the stick appears larger at the end which is
in the water, but this makes no difference to the strength of the
argument, and the conclusion is correct.] the end near our eye
exactly hides the other end. Has our eye set the stick straight?

3. We stir the surface of the water; we see the stick break into
several pieces, it moves in zigzags and follows the ripples of the
water. Can the motion we gave the water suffice to break, soften,
or melt the stick like this?

4. We draw the water off, and little by little we see the stick
straightening itself as the water sinks. Is not this more than
enough to clear up the business and to discover refraction? So it
is not true that our eyes deceive us, for nothing more has been
required to correct the mistakes attributed to it.

Suppose the child were stupid enough not to perceive the result of
these experiments, then you must call touch to the help of sight.
Instead of taking the stick out of the water, leave it where it is
and let the child pass his hand along it from end to end; he will
feel no angle, therefore the stick is not broken.

You will tell me this is not mere judgment but formal reasoning.
Just so; but do not you see that as soon as the mind has got any
ideas at all, every judgment is a process of reasoning? So that
as soon as we compare one sensation with another, we are beginning
to reason. The art of judging and the art of reasoning are one and
the same.

Emile will never learn dioptrics unless he learns with this stick.
He will not have dissected insects nor counted the spots on the
sun; he will not know what you mean by a microscope or a telescope.
Your learned pupils will laugh at his ignorance and rightly, I intend
him to invent these instruments before he uses them, and you will
expect that to take some time.

This is the spirit of my whole method at this stage. If the child
rolls a little ball between two crossed fingers and thinks he feels
two balls, I shall not let him look until he is convinced there is
only one.

This explanation will suffice, I hope, to show plainly the progress
made by my pupil hitherto and the route followed by him. But perhaps
the number of things I have brought to his notice alarms you. I
shall crush his mind beneath this weight of knowledge. Not so, I am
rather teaching him to be ignorant of things than to know them. I
am showing him the path of science, easy indeed, but long, far-reaching
and slow to follow. I am taking him a few steps along this path,
but I do not allow him to go far.

Compelled to learn for himself, he uses his own reason not that of
others, for there must be no submission to authority if you would
have no submission to convention. Most of our errors are due to
others more than ourselves. This continual exercise should develop
a vigour of mind like that acquired by the body through labour and
weariness. Another advantage is that his progress is in proportion
to his strength, neither mind nor body carries more than it can
bear. When the understanding lays hold of things before they are
stored in the memory, what is drawn from that store is his own;
while we are in danger of never finding anything of our own in a
memory over-burdened with undigested knowledge.

Emile knows little, but what he knows is really his own; he has no
half-knowledge. Among the few things he knows and knows thoroughly
this is the most valuable, that there are many things he does not
know now but may know some day, many more that other men know but
he will never know, and an infinite number which nobody will ever
know. He is large-minded, not through knowledge, but through
the power of acquiring it; he is open-minded, intelligent, ready
for anything, and, as Montaigne says, capable of learning if not
learned. I am content if he knows the "Wherefore" of his actions
and the "Why" of his beliefs. For once more my object is not to
supply him with exact knowledge, but the means of getting it when
required, to teach him to value it at its true worth, and to love
truth above all things. By this method progress is slow but sure,
and we never need to retrace our steps.

Emile's knowledge is confined to nature and things. The very name
of history is unknown to him, along with metaphysics and morals. He
knows the essential relations between men and things, but nothing
of the moral relations between man and man. He has little power of
generalisation, he has no skill in abstraction. He perceives that
certain qualities are common to certain things, without reasoning
about these qualities themselves. He is acquainted with the
abstract idea of space by the help of his geometrical figures; he
is acquainted with the abstract idea of quantity by the help of
his algebraical symbols. These figures and signs are the supports
on which these ideas may be said to rest, the supports on which his
senses repose. He does not attempt to know the nature of things,
but only to know things in so far as they affect himself. He only
judges what is outside himself in relation to himself, and his
judgment is exact and certain. Caprice and prejudice have no part
in it. He values most the things which are of use to himself, and
as he never departs from this standard of values, he owes nothing
to prejudice.

Emile is industrious, temperate, patient, stedfast, and full of
courage. His imagination is still asleep, so he has no exaggerated
ideas of danger; the few ills he feels he knows how to endure in
patience, because he has not learnt to rebel against fate. As to
death, he knows not what it means; but accustomed as he is to submit
without resistance to the law of necessity, he will die, if die he
must, without a groan and without a struggle; that is as much as
we can demand of nature, in that hour which we all abhor. To live
in freedom, and to be independent of human affairs, is the best
way to learn how to die.

In a word Emile is possessed of all that portion of virtue which
concerns himself. To acquire the social virtues he only needs a
knowledge of the relations which make those virtues necessary; he
only lacks knowledge which he is quite ready to receive.

He thinks not of others but of himself, and prefers that others
should do the same. He makes no claim upon them, and acknowledges
no debt to them. He is alone in the midst of human society, he
depends on himself alone, for he is all that a boy can be at his
age. He has no errors, or at least only such as are inevitable;
he has no vices, or only those from which no man can escape. His
body is healthy, his limbs are supple, his mind is accurate and
unprejudiced, his heart is free and untroubled by passion. Pride,
the earliest and the most natural of passions, has scarcely shown
itself. Without disturbing the peace of others, he has passed
his life contented, happy, and free, so far as nature allows. Do
you think that the earlier years of a child, who has reached his
fifteenth year in this condition, have been wasted?


How swiftly life passes here below! The first quarter of it is gone
before we know how to use it; the last quarter finds us incapable
of enjoying life. At first we do not know how to live; and when
we know how to live it is too late. In the interval between these
two useless extremes we waste three-fourths of our time sleeping,
working, sorrowing, enduring restraint and every kind of suffering.
Life is short, not so much because of the short time it lasts, but
because we are allowed scarcely any time to enjoy it. In vain is
there a long interval between the hour of death and that of birth;
life is still too short, if this interval is not well spent.

We are born, so to speak, twice over; born into existence, and born
into life; born a human being, and born a man. Those who regard woman
as an imperfect man are no doubt mistaken, but they have external
resemblance on their side. Up to the age of puberty children of
both sexes have little to distinguish them to the eye, the same
face and form, the same complexion and voice, everything is the
same; girls are children and boys are children; one name is enough
for creatures so closely resembling one another. Males whose development
is arrested preserve this resemblance all their lives; they are
always big children; and women who never lose this resemblance seem
in many respects never to be more than children.

But, speaking generally, man is not meant to remain a child. He
leaves childhood behind him at the time ordained by nature; and this
critical moment, short enough in itself, has far-reaching consequences.

As the roaring of the waves precedes the tempest, so the murmur
of rising passions announces this tumultuous change; a suppressed
excitement warns us of the approaching danger. A change of temper,
frequent outbreaks of anger, a perpetual stirring of the mind,
make the child almost ungovernable. He becomes deaf to the voice
he used to obey; he is a lion in a fever; he distrusts his keeper
and refuses to be controlled.

With the moral symptoms of a changing temper there are perceptible
changes in appearance. His countenance develops and takes the stamp
of his character; the soft and sparse down upon his cheeks becomes
darker and stiffer. His voice grows hoarse or rather he loses it
altogether. He is neither a child nor a man and cannot speak like
either of them. His eyes, those organs of the soul which till
now were dumb, find speech and meaning; a kindling fire illumines
them, there is still a sacred innocence in their ever brightening
glance, but they have lost their first meaningless expression; he
is already aware that they can say too much; he is beginning to
learn to lower his eyes and blush, he is becoming sensitive, though
he does not know what it is that he feels; he is uneasy without
knowing why. All this may happen gradually and give you time enough;
but if his keenness becomes impatience, his eagerness madness, if
he is angry and sorry all in a moment, if he weeps without cause,
if in the presence of objects which are beginning to be a source
of danger his pulse quickens and his eyes sparkle, if he trembles
when a woman's hand touches his, if he is troubled or timid in her
presence, O Ulysses, wise Ulysses! have a care! The passages you
closed with so much pains are open; the winds are unloosed; keep
your hand upon the helm or all is lost.

This is the second birth I spoke of; then it is that man really
enters upon life; henceforth no human passion is a stranger to him.
Our efforts so far have been child's play, now they are of the
greatest importance. This period when education is usually finished
is just the time to begin; but to explain this new plan properly,
let us take up our story where we left it.

Our passions are the chief means of self-preservation; to try to
destroy them is therefore as absurd as it is useless; this would
be to overcome nature, to reshape God's handiwork. If God bade
man annihilate the passions he has given him, God would bid him be
and not be; He would contradict himself. He has never given such a
foolish commandment, there is nothing like it written on the heart
of man, and what God will have a man do, He does not leave to the
words of another man. He speaks Himself; His words are written in
the secret heart.

Now I consider those who would prevent the birth of the passions
almost as foolish as those who would destroy them, and those who
think this has been my object hitherto are greatly mistaken.

But should we reason rightly, if from the fact that passions
are natural to man, we inferred that all the passions we feel in
ourselves and behold in others are natural? Their source, indeed,
is natural; but they have been swollen by a thousand other streams;
they are a great river which is constantly growing, one in which
we can scarcely find a single drop of the original stream. Our
natural passions are few in number; they are the means to freedom,
they tend to self-preservation. All those which enslave and destroy
us have another source; nature does not bestow them on us; we seize
on them in her despite.

The origin of our passions, the root and spring of all the rest,
the only one which is born with man, which never leaves him as long
as he lives, is self-love; this passion is primitive, instinctive,
it precedes all the rest, which are in a sense only modifications
of it. In this sense, if you like, they are all natural. But most
of these modifications are the result of external influences,
without which they would never occur, and such modifications, far
from being advantageous to us, are harmful. They change the original
purpose and work against its end; then it is that man finds himself
outside nature and at strife with himself.

Self-love is always good, always in accordance with the order of
nature. The preservation of our own life is specially entrusted to
each one of us, and our first care is, and must be, to watch over
our own life; and how can we continually watch over it, if we do
not take the greatest interest in it?

Self-preservation requires, therefore, that we shall love ourselves;
we must love ourselves above everything, and it follows directly
from this that we love what contributes to our preservation. Every
child becomes fond of its nurse; Romulus must have loved the she-wolf
who suckled him. At first this attachment is quite unconscious; the
individual is attracted to that which contributes to his welfare and
repelled by that which is harmful; this is merely blind instinct.
What transforms this instinct into feeling, the liking into love,
the aversion into hatred, is the evident intention of helping
or hurting us. We do not become passionately attached to objects
without feeling, which only follow the direction given them; but
those from which we expect benefit or injury from their internal
disposition, from their will, those we see acting freely for or
against us, inspire us with like feelings to those they exhibit
towards us. Something does us good, we seek after it; but we love
the person who does us good; something harms us and we shrink from
it, but we hate the person who tries to hurt us.

The child's first sentiment is self-love, his second, which is
derived from it, is love of those about him; for in his present
state of weakness he is only aware of people through the help and
attention received from them. At first his affection for his nurse
and his governess is mere habit. He seeks them because he needs
them and because he is happy when they are there; it is rather
perception than kindly feeling. It takes a long time to discover
not merely that they are useful to him, but that they desire to be
useful to him, and then it is that he begins to love them.

So a child is naturally disposed to kindly feeling because he
sees that every one about him is inclined to help him, and from
this experience he gets the habit of a kindly feeling towards his
species; but with the expansion of his relations, his needs, his
dependence, active or passive, the consciousness of his relations
to others is awakened, and leads to the sense of duties and
preferences. Then the child becomes masterful, jealous, deceitful,
and vindictive. If he is not compelled to obedience, when he does
not see the usefulness of what he is told to do, he attributes it
to caprice, to an intention of tormenting him, and he rebels. If
people give in to him, as soon as anything opposes him he regards
it as rebellion, as a determination to resist him; he beats the chair
or table for disobeying him. Self-love, which concerns itself only
with ourselves, is content to satisfy our own needs; but selfishness,
which is always comparing self with others, is never satisfied and
never can be; for this feeling, which prefers ourselves to others,
requires that they should prefer us to themselves, which is impossible.
Thus the tender and gentle passions spring from self-love, while
the hateful and angry passions spring from selfishness. So it is
the fewness of his needs, the narrow limits within which he can
compare himself with others, that makes a man really good; what
makes him really bad is a multiplicity of needs and dependence on
the opinions of others. It is easy to see how we can apply this
principle and guide every passion of children and men towards
good or evil. True, man cannot always live alone, and it will be
hard therefore to remain good; and this difficulty will increase
of necessity as his relations with others are extended. For this
reason, above all, the dangers of social life demand that the
necessary skill and care shall be devoted to guarding the human
heart against the depravity which springs from fresh needs.

Man's proper study is that of his relation to his environment. So
long as he only knows that environment through his physical nature,
he should study himself in relation to things; this is the business
of his childhood; when he begins to be aware of his moral nature,
he should study himself in relation to his fellow-men; this is the
business of his whole life, and we have now reached the time when
that study should be begun.

As soon as a man needs a companion he is no longer an isolated
creature, his heart is no longer alone. All his relations with his
species, all the affections of his heart, come into being along
with this. His first passion soon arouses the rest.

The direction of the instinct is uncertain. One sex is attracted
by the other; that is the impulse of nature. Choice, preferences,
individual likings, are the work of reason, prejudice, and habit;
time and knowledge are required to make us capable of love; we do
not love without reasoning or prefer without comparison. These judgments
are none the less real, although they are formed unconsciously.
True love, whatever you may say, will always be held in honour
by mankind; for although its impulses lead us astray, although it
does not bar the door of the heart to certain detestable qualities,
although it even gives rise to these, yet it always presupposes
certain worthy characteristics, without which we should be incapable
of love. This choice, which is supposed to be contrary to reason,
really springs from reason. We say Love is blind because his eyes
are better than ours, and he perceives relations which we cannot
discern. All women would be alike to a man who had no idea of virtue
or beauty, and the first comer would always be the most charming.
Love does not spring from nature, far from it; it is the curb and
law of her desires; it is love that makes one sex indifferent to
the other, the loved one alone excepted.

We wish to inspire the preference we feel; love must be mutual.
To be loved we must be worthy of love; to be preferred we must be
more worthy than the rest, at least in the eyes of our beloved.
Hence we begin to look around among our fellows; we begin to compare
ourselves with them, there is emulation, rivalry, and jealousy.
A heart full to overflowing loves to make itself known; from the
need of a mistress there soon springs the need of a friend He who
feels how sweet it is to be loved, desires to be loved by everybody;
and there could be no preferences if there were not many that
fail to find satisfaction. With love and friendship there begin
dissensions, enmity, and hatred. I behold deference to other
people's opinions enthroned among all these divers passions, and
foolish mortals, enslaved by her power, base their very existence
merely on what other people think.

Expand these ideas and you will see where we get that form of
selfishness which we call natural selfishness, and how selfishness
ceases to be a simple feeling and becomes pride in great minds, vanity
in little ones, and in both feeds continually at our neighbour's
cost. Passions of this kind, not having any germ in the child's
heart, cannot spring up in it of themselves; it is we who sow the
seeds, and they never take root unless by our fault. Not so with
the young man; they will find an entrance in spite of us. It is
therefore time to change our methods.

Let us begin with some considerations of importance with regard to
the critical stage under discussion. The change from childhood to
puberty is not so clearly determined by nature but that it varies
according to individual temperament and racial conditions. Everybody
knows the differences which have been observed with regard to this
between hot and cold countries, and every one sees that ardent
temperaments mature earlier than others; but we may be mistaken as
to the causes, and we may often attribute to physical causes what
is really due to moral: this is one of the commonest errors in
the philosophy of our times. The teaching of nature comes slowly;
man's lessons are mostly premature. In the former case, the senses
kindle the imagination, in the latter the imagination kindles the
senses; it gives them a precocious activity which cannot fail to
enervate the individual and, in the long run, the race. It is a more
general and more trustworthy fact than that of climatic influences,
that puberty and sexual power is always more precocious among
educated and civilised races, than among the ignorant and barbarous.
[Footnote: "In towns," says M. Buffon, "and among the well-to-do
classes, children accustomed to plentiful and nourishing food sooner
reach this state; in the country and among the poor, children are
more backward, because of their poor and scanty food." I admit the
fact but not the explanation, for in the districts where the food
of the villagers is plentiful and good, as in the Valais and even
in some of the mountain districts of Italy, such as Friuli, the
age of puberty for both sexes is quite as much later than in the
heart of the towns, where, in order to gratify their vanity, people
are often extremely parsimonious in the matter of food, and where
most people, in the words of the proverb, have a velvet coat and
an empty belly. It is astonishing to find in these mountainous
regions big lads as strong as a man with shrill voices and smooth
chins, and tall girls, well developed in other respects, without
any trace of the periodic functions of their sex. This difference
is, in my opinion, solely due to the fact that in the simplicity of
their manners the imagination remains calm and peaceful, and does
not stir the blood till much later, and thus their temperament
is much less precocious.] Children are preternaturally quick to
discern immoral habits under the cloak of decency with which they
are concealed. The prim speech imposed upon them, the lessons
in good behaviour, the veil of mystery you profess to hang before
their eyes, serve but to stimulate their curiosity. It is plain,
from the way you set about it, that they are meant to learn what
you profess to conceal; and of all you teach them this is most
quickly assimilated.

Consult experience and you will find how far this foolish method
hastens the work of nature and ruins the character. This is one of
the chief causes of physical degeneration in our towns. The young
people, prematurely exhausted, remain small, puny, and misshapen,
they grow old instead of growing up, like a vine forced to bear
fruit in spring, which fades and dies before autumn.

To know how far a happy ignorance may prolong the innocence of
children, you must live among rude and simple people. It is a sight
both touching and amusing to see both sexes, left to the protection
of their own hearts, continuing the sports of childhood in the
flower of youth and beauty, showing by their very familiarity the
purity of their pleasures. When at length those delightful young
people marry, they bestow on each other the first fruits of their
person, and are all the dearer therefore. Swarms of strong and healthy
children are the pledges of a union which nothing can change, and
the fruit of the virtue of their early years.

If the age at which a man becomes conscious of his sex is deferred
as much by the effects of education as by the action of nature,
it follows that this age may be hastened or retarded according to
the way in which the child is brought up; and if the body gains
or loses strength in proportion as its development is accelerated
or retarded, it also follows that the more we try to retard it
the stronger and more vigorous will the young man be. I am still
speaking of purely physical consequences; you will soon see that
this is not all.

From these considerations I arrive at the solution of the question
so often discussed--Should we enlighten children at an early period
as to the objects of their curiosity, or is it better to put them
off with decent shams? I think we need do neither. In the first
place, this curiosity will not arise unless we give it a chance.
We must therefore take care not to give it an opportunity. In the
next place, questions one is not obliged to answer do not compel us
to deceive those who ask them; it is better to bid the child hold
his tongue than to tell him a lie. He will not be greatly surprised
at this treatment if you have already accustomed him to it in matters
of no importance. Lastly, if you decide to answer his questions,
let it be with the greatest plainness, without mystery or confusion,
without a smile. It is much less dangerous to satisfy a child's
curiosity than to stimulate it.

Let your answers be always grave, brief, decided, and without trace
of hesitation. I need not add that they should be true. We cannot
teach children the danger of telling lies to men without realising,
on the man's part, the danger of telling lies to children. A single
untruth on the part of the master will destroy the results of his

Complete ignorance with regard to certain matters is perhaps the
best thing for children; but let them learn very early what it is
impossible to conceal from them permanently. Either their curiosity
must never be aroused, or it must be satisfied before the age when
it becomes a source of danger. Your conduct towards your pupil
in this respect depends greatly on his individual circumstances,
the society in which he moves, the position in which he may find
himself, etc. Nothing must be left to chance; and if you are not
sure of keeping him in ignorance of the difference between the
sexes till he is sixteen, take care you teach him before he is ten.

I do not like people to be too fastidious in speaking with children,
nor should they go out of their way to avoid calling a spade a
spade; they are always found out if they do. Good manners in this
respect are always perfectly simple; but an imagination soiled by
vice makes the ear over-sensitive and compels us to be constantly
refining our expressions. Plain words do not matter; it is lascivious
ideas which must be avoided.

Although modesty is natural to man, it is not natural to children.
Modesty only begins with the knowledge of evil; and how should
children without this knowledge of evil have the feeling which
results from it? To give them lessons in modesty and good conduct
is to teach them that there are things shameful and wicked, and to
give them a secret wish to know what these things are. Sooner or
later they will find out, and the first spark which touches the
imagination will certainly hasten the awakening of the senses.
Blushes are the sign of guilt; true innocence is ashamed of nothing.

Children have not the same desires as men; but they are subject
like them to the same disagreeable needs which offend the senses,
and by this means they may receive the same lessons in propriety.
Follow the mind of nature which has located in the same place
the organs of secret pleasures and those of disgusting needs; she
teaches us the same precautions at different ages, sometimes by means
of one idea and sometimes by another; to the man through modesty,
to the child through cleanliness.

I can only find one satisfactory way of preserving the child's
innocence, to surround him by those who respect and love him.
Without this all our efforts to keep him in ignorance fail sooner
or later; a smile, a wink, a careless gesture tells him all we
sought to hide; it is enough to teach him to perceive that there
is something we want to hide from him. The delicate phrases and
expressions employed by persons of politeness assume a knowledge
which children ought not to possess, and they are quite out of
place with them, but when we truly respect the child's innocence we
easily find in talking to him the simple phrases which befit him.
There is a certain directness of speech which is suitable and
pleasing to innocence; this is the right tone to adopt in order
to turn the child from dangerous curiosity. By speaking simply to
him about everything you do not let him suspect there is anything
left unsaid. By connecting coarse words with the unpleasant ideas
which belong to them, you quench the first spark of imagination;
you do not forbid the child to say these words or to form these
ideas; but without his knowing it you make him unwilling to recall
them. And how much confusion is spared to those who speaking from
the heart always say the right thing, and say it as they themselves
have felt it!

"Where do little children come from?" This is an embarrassing question,
which occurs very naturally to children, one which foolishly or
wisely answered may decide their health and their morals for life.
The quickest way for a mother to escape from it without deceiving
her son is to tell him to hold his tongue. That will serve its turn
if he has always been accustomed to it in matters of no importance,
and if he does not suspect some mystery from this new way of
speaking. But the mother rarely stops there. "It is the married
people's secret," she will say, "little boys should not be so
curious." That is all very well so far as the mother is concerned,
but she may be sure that the little boy, piqued by her scornful
manner, will not rest till he has found out the married people's
secret, which will very soon be the case.

Let me tell you a very different answer which I heard given to
the same question, one which made all the more impression on me,
coming, as it did, from a woman, modest in speech and behaviour,
but one who was able on occasion, for the welfare of her child
and for the cause of virtue, to cast aside the false fear of blame
and the silly jests of the foolish. Not long before the child had
passed a small stone which had torn the passage, but the trouble
was over and forgotten. "Mamma," said the eager child, "where do
little children come from?" "My child," replied his mother without
hesitation, "women pass them with pains that sometimes cost their
life." Let fools laugh and silly people be shocked; but let the
wise inquire if it is possible to find a wiser answer and one which
would better serve its purpose.

In the first place the thought of a need of nature with which
the child is well acquainted turns his thoughts from the idea
of a mysterious process. The accompanying ideas of pain and death
cover it with a veil of sadness which deadens the imagination and
suppresses curiosity; everything leads the mind to the results, not
the causes, of child-birth. This is the information to which this
answer leads. If the repugnance inspired by this answer should
permit the child to inquire further, his thoughts are turned to the
infirmities of human nature, disgusting things, images of pain.
What chance is there for any stimulation of desire in such a
conversation? And yet you see there is no departure from truth, no
need to deceive the scholar in order to teach him.

Your children read; in the course of their reading they meet
with things they would never have known without reading. Are they
students, their imagination is stimulated and quickened in the
silence of the study. Do they move in the world of society, they hear
a strange jargon, they see conduct which makes a great impression
on them; they have been told so continually that they are men that
in everything men do in their presence they at once try to find
how that will suit themselves; the conduct of others must indeed
serve as their pattern when the opinions of others are their law.
Servants, dependent on them, and therefore anxious to please them,
flatter them at the expense of their morals; giggling governesses
say things to the four-year-old child which the most shameless
woman would not dare to say to them at fifteen. They soon forget
what they said, but the child has not forgotten what he heard.
Loose conversation prepares the way for licentious conduct; the
child is debauched by the cunning lacquey, and the secret of the
one guarantees the secret of the other.

The child brought up in accordance with his age is alone. He knows
no attachment but that of habit, he loves his sister like his watch,
and his friend like his dog. He is unconscious of his sex and his
species; men and women are alike unknown; he does not connect their
sayings and doings with himself, he neither sees nor hears, or he
pays no heed to them; he is no more concerned with their talk than
their actions; he has nothing to do with it. This is no artificial
error induced by our method, it is the ignorance of nature. The
time is at hand when that same nature will take care to enlighten
her pupil, and then only does she make him capable of profiting
by the lessons without danger. This is our principle; the details
of its rules are outside my subject; and the means I suggest with
regard to other matters will still serve to illustrate this.

Do you wish to establish law and order among the rising passions,
prolong the period of their development, so that they may have time
to find their proper place as they arise. Then they are controlled
by nature herself, not by man; your task is merely to leave it
in her hands. If your pupil were alone, you would have nothing to
do; but everything about him enflames his imagination. He is swept
along on the torrent of conventional ideas; to rescue him you must
urge him in the opposite direction. Imagination must be curbed
by feeling and reason must silence the voice of conventionality.
Sensibility is the source of all the passions, imagination determines
their course. Every creature who is aware of his relations must
be disturbed by changes in these relations and when he imagines
or fancies he imagines others better adapted to his nature. It is
the errors of the imagination which transmute into vices the passions
of finite beings, of angels even, if indeed they have passions; for
they must needs know the nature of every creature to realise what
relations are best adapted to themselves.

This is the sum of human wisdom with regard to the use of
the passions. First, to be conscious of the true relations of man
both in the species and the individual; second, to control all the
affections in accordance with these relations.

But is man in a position to control his affections according to
such and such relations? No doubt he is, if he is able to fix his
imagination on this or that object, or to form this or that habit.
Moreover, we are not so much concerned with what a man can do for
himself, as with what we can do for our pupil through our choice
of the circumstances in which he shall be placed. To show the means
by which he may be kept in the path of nature is to show plainly
enough how he might stray from that path.

So long as his consciousness is confined to himself there is no
morality in his actions; it is only when it begins to extend beyond
himself that he forms first the sentiments and then the ideas of
good and ill, which make him indeed a man, and an integral part of
his species. To begin with we must therefore confine our observations
to this point.

These observations are difficult to make, for we must reject the
examples before our eyes, and seek out those in which the successive
developments follow the order of nature.

A child sophisticated, polished, and civilised, who is only awaiting
the power to put into practice the precocious instruction he has
received, is never mistaken with regard to the time when this power
is acquired. Far from awaiting it, he accelerates it; he stirs his
blood to a premature ferment; he knows what should be the object
of his desires long before those desires are experienced. It is
not nature which stimulates him; it is he who forces the hand of
nature; she has nothing to teach him when he becomes a man; he was
a man in thought long before he was a man in reality.

The true course of nature is slower and more gradual. Little by
little the blood grows warmer, the faculties expand, the character
is formed. The wise workman who directs the process is careful
to perfect every tool before he puts it to use; the first desires
are preceded by a long period of unrest, they are deceived by a
prolonged ignorance, they know not what they want. The blood ferments
and bubbles; overflowing vitality seeks to extend its sphere. The
eye grows brighter and surveys others, we begin to be interested
in those about us, we begin to feel that we are not meant to live
alone; thus the heart is thrown open to human affection, and becomes
capable of attachment.

The first sentiment of which the well-trained youth is capable is
not love but friendship. The first work of his rising imagination
is to make known to him his fellows; the species affects him before
the sex. Here is another advantage to be gained from prolonged
innocence; you may take advantage of his dawning sensibility to sow
the first seeds of humanity in the heart of the young adolescent.
This advantage is all the greater because this is the only time in
his life when such efforts may be really successful.

I have always observed that young men, corrupted in early youth
and addicted to women and debauchery, are inhuman and cruel; their
passionate temperament makes them impatient, vindictive, and angry;
their imagination fixed on one object only, refuses all others;
mercy and pity are alike unknown to them; they would have sacrificed
father, mother, the whole world, to the least of their pleasures.
A young man, on the other hand, brought up in happy innocence, is
drawn by the first stirrings of nature to the tender and affectionate
passions; his warm heart is touched by the sufferings of his
fellow-creatures; he trembles with delight when he meets his comrade,
his arms can embrace tenderly, his eyes can shed tears of pity; he
learns to be sorry for offending others through his shame at causing
annoyance. If the eager warmth of his blood makes him quick, hasty,
and passionate, a moment later you see all his natural kindness of
heart in the eagerness of his repentance; he weeps, he groans over
the wound he has given; he would atone for the blood he has shed
with his own; his anger dies away, his pride abases itself before
the consciousness of his wrong-doing. Is he the injured party, in
the height of his fury an excuse, a word, disarms him; he forgives
the wrongs of others as whole-heartedly as he repairs his own.
Adolescence is not the age of hatred or vengeance; it is the age of
pity, mercy, and generosity. Yes, I maintain, and I am not afraid
of the testimony of experience, a youth of good birth, one who has
preserved his innocence up to the age of twenty, is at that age
the best, the most generous, the most loving, and the most lovable
of men. You never heard such a thing; I can well believe that
philosophers such as you, brought up among the corruption of the
public schools, are unaware of it.

Man's weakness makes him sociable. Our common sufferings draw our
hearts to our fellow-creatures; we should have no duties to mankind
if we were not men. Every affection is a sign of insufficiency;
if each of us had no need of others, we should hardly think of
associating with them. So our frail happiness has its roots in our
weakness. A really happy man is a hermit; God only enjoys absolute
happiness; but which of us has any idea what that means? If
any imperfect creature were self-sufficing, what would he have to
enjoy? To our thinking he would be wretched and alone. I do not
understand how one who has need of nothing could love anything,
nor do I understand how he who loves nothing can be happy.

Hence it follows that we are drawn towards our fellow-creatures
less by our feeling for their joys than for their sorrows; for in
them we discern more plainly a nature like our own, and a pledge
of their affection for us. If our common needs create a bond
of interest our common sufferings create a bond of affection. The
sight of a happy man arouses in others envy rather than love, we
are ready to accuse him of usurping a right which is not his, of
seeking happiness for himself alone, and our selfishness suffers
an additional pang in the thought that this man has no need of us.
But who does not pity the wretch when he beholds his sufferings?
who would not deliver him from his woes if a wish could do it?
Imagination puts us more readily in the place of the miserable man
than of the happy man; we feel that the one condition touches us
more nearly than the other. Pity is sweet, because, when we put
ourselves in the place of one who suffers, we are aware, nevertheless,
of the pleasure of not suffering like him. Envy is bitter, because
the sight of a happy man, far from putting the envious in his place,
inspires him with regret that he is not there. The one seems to
exempt us from the pains he suffers, the other seems to deprive us
of the good things he enjoys.

Do you desire to stimulate and nourish the first stirrings of
awakening sensibility in the heart of a young man, do you desire
to incline his disposition towards kindly deed and thought, do
not cause the seeds of pride, vanity, and envy to spring up in him
through the misleading picture of the happiness of mankind; do not
show him to begin with the pomp of courts, the pride of palaces,
the delights of pageants; do not take him into society and into
brilliant assemblies; do not show him the outside of society till
you have made him capable of estimating it at its true worth.
To show him the world before he is acquainted with men, is not to
train him, but to corrupt him; not to teach, but to mislead.

By nature men are neither kings, nobles, courtiers, nor millionaires.
All men are born poor and naked, all are liable to the sorrows of
life, its disappointments, its ills, its needs, its suffering of
every kind; and all are condemned at length to die. This is what
it really means to be a man, this is what no mortal can escape.
Begin then with the study of the essentials of humanity, that which
really constitutes mankind.

At sixteen the adolescent knows what it is to suffer, for he himself
has suffered; but he scarcely realises that others suffer too; to
see without feeling is not knowledge, and as I have said again and
again the child who does not picture the feelings of others knows
no ills but his own; but when his imagination is kindled by the
first beginnings of growing sensibility, he begins to perceive
himself in his fellow-creatures, to be touched by their cries, to
suffer in their sufferings. It is at this time that the sorrowful
picture of suffering humanity should stir his heart with the first
touch of pity he has ever known.

If it is not easy to discover this opportunity in your scholars,
whose fault is it? You taught them so soon to play at feeling, you
taught them so early its language, that speaking continually in
the same strain they turn your lessons against yourself, and give
you no chance of discovering when they cease to lie, and begin to
feel what they say. But look at Emile; I have led him up to this
age, and he has neither felt nor pretended to feel. He has never
said, "I love you dearly," till he knew what it was to love; he has
never been taught what expression to assume when he enters the room
of his father, his mother, or his sick tutor; he has not learnt the
art of affecting a sorrow he does not feel. He has never pretended
to weep for the death of any one, for he does not know what it is
to die. There is the same insensibility in his heart as in his
manners. Indifferent, like every child, to every one but himself,
he takes no interest in any one; his only peculiarity is that he
will not pretend to take such an interest; he is less deceitful
than others.

Emile having thought little about creatures of feeling will be a
long time before he knows what is meant by pain and death. Groans
and cries will begin to stir his compassion, he will turn away his
eyes at the sight of blood; the convulsions of a dying animal will
cause him I know not what anguish before he knows the source of
these impulses. If he were still stupid and barbarous he would not
feel them; if he were more learned he would recognise their source;
he has compared ideas too frequently already to be insensible, but
not enough to know what he feels.

So pity is born, the first relative sentiment which touches the
human heart according to the order of nature. To become sensitive
and pitiful the child must know that he has fellow-creatures who
suffer as he has suffered, who feel the pains he has felt, and
others which he can form some idea of, being capable of feeling
them himself. Indeed, how can we let ourselves be stirred by pity
unless we go beyond ourselves, and identify ourselves with the
suffering animal, by leaving, so to speak, our own nature and taking
his. We only suffer so far as we suppose he suffers; the suffering
is not ours but his. So no one becomes sensitive till his imagination
is aroused and begins to carry him outside himself.

What should we do to stimulate and nourish this growing sensibility,
to direct it, and to follow its natural bent? Should we not present
to the young man objects on which the expansive force of his heart
may take effect, objects which dilate it, which extend it to other
creatures, which take him outside himself? should we not carefully
remove everything that narrows, concentrates, and strengthens the
power of the human self? that is to say, in other words, we should
arouse in him kindness, goodness, pity, and beneficence, all the
gentle and attractive passions which are naturally pleasing to man;
those passions prevent the growth of envy, covetousness, hatred,
all the repulsive and cruel passions which make our sensibility
not merely a cipher but a minus quantity, passions which are the
curse of those who feel them.

I think I can sum up the whole of the preceding reflections in two
or three maxims, definite, straightforward, and easy to understand.

FIRST MAXIM.--It is not in human nature to put ourselves in the place
of those who are happier than ourselves, but only in the place of
those who can claim our pity.

If you find exceptions to this rule, they are more apparent than
real. Thus we do not put ourselves in the place of the rich or great
when we become fond of them; even when our affection is real, we
only appropriate to ourselves a part of their welfare. Sometimes
we love the rich man in the midst of misfortunes; but so long as he
prospers he has no real friend, except the man who is not deceived
by appearances, who pities rather than envies him in spite of his

The happiness belonging to certain states of life appeals to us;
take, for instance, the life of a shepherd in the country. The charm
of seeing these good people so happy is not poisoned by envy; we
are genuinely interested in them. Why is this? Because we feel we
can descend into this state of peace and innocence and enjoy the
same happiness; it is an alternative which only calls up pleasant
thoughts, so long as the wish is as good as the deed. It is always
pleasant to examine our stores, to contemplate our own wealth, even
when we do not mean to spend it.

From this we see that to incline a young man to humanity you must
not make him admire the brilliant lot of others; you must show
him life in its sorrowful aspects and arouse his fears. Thus it
becomes clear that he must force his own way to happiness, without
interfering with the happiness of others.

SECOND MAXIM.--We never pity another's woes unless we know we may
suffer in like manner ourselves.

"Non ignara mali, miseris succurrere disco."--Virgil.

I know nothing go fine, so full of meaning, so touching, so true
as these words.

Why have kings no pity on their people? Because they never expect
to be ordinary men. Why are the rich so hard on the poor? Because
they have no fear of becoming poor. Why do the nobles look down
upon the people? Because a nobleman will never be one of the lower
classes. Why are the Turks generally kinder and more hospitable
than ourselves? Because, under their wholly arbitrary system of
government, the rank and wealth of individuals are always uncertain
and precarious, so that they do not regard poverty and degradation
as conditions with which they have no concern; to-morrow, any one
may himself be in the same position as those on whom he bestows
alms to-day. This thought, which occurs again and again in eastern
romances, lends them a certain tenderness which is not to be found
in our pretentious and harsh morality.

So do not train your pupil to look down from the height of his glory
upon the sufferings of the unfortunate, the labours of the wretched,
and do not hope to teach him to pity them while he considers them
as far removed from himself. Make him thoroughly aware of the fact
that the fate of these unhappy persons may one day be his own, that
his feet are standing on the edge of the abyss, into which he may
be plunged at any moment by a thousand unexpected irresistible
misfortunes. Teach him to put no trust in birth, health, or riches;
show him all the changes of fortune; find him examples--there are
only too many of them--in which men of higher rank than himself
have sunk below the condition of these wretched ones. Whether by
their own fault or another's is for the present no concern of ours;
does he indeed know the meaning of the word fault? Never interfere
with the order in which he acquires knowledge, and teach him only
through the means within his reach; it needs no great learning
to perceive that all the prudence of mankind cannot make certain
whether he will be alive or dead in an hour's time, whether
before nightfall he will not be grinding his teeth in the pangs of
nephritis, whether a month hence he will be rich or poor, whether
in a year's time he may not be rowing an Algerian galley under the
lash of the slave-driver. Above all do not teach him this, like
his catechism, in cold blood; let him see and feel the calamities
which overtake men; surprise and startle his imagination with the
perils which lurk continually about a man's path; let him see the
pitfalls all about him, and when he hears you speak of them, let
him cling more closely to you for fear lest he should fall. "You
will make him timid and cowardly," do you say? We shall see; let
us make him kindly to begin with, that is what matters most.

THIRD MAXIM.--The pity we feel for others is proportionate, not
to the amount of the evil, but to the feelings we attribute to the

We only pity the wretched so far as we think they feel the need of
pity. The bodily effect of our sufferings is less than one would
suppose; it is memory that prolongs the pain, imagination which
projects it into the future, and makes us really to be pitied.
This is, I think, one of the reasons why we are more callous to
the sufferings of animals than of men, although a fellow-feeling
ought to make us identify ourselves equally with either. We scarcely
pity the cart-horse in his shed, for we do not suppose that while
he is eating his hay he is thinking of the blows he has received
and the labours in store for him. Neither do we pity the sheep
grazing in the field, though we know it is about to be slaughtered,
for we believe it knows nothing of the fate in store for it. In
this way we also become callous to the fate of our fellow-men, and
the rich console themselves for the harm done by them to the poor,
by the assumption that the poor are too stupid to feel. I usually
judge of the value any one puts on the welfare of his fellow-creatures
by what he seems to think of them. We naturally think lightly of
the happiness of those we despise. It need not surprise you that
politicians speak so scornfully of the people, and philosophers
profess to think mankind so wicked.

The people are mankind; those who do not belong to the people are
so few in number that they are not worth counting. Man is the same
in every station of life; if that be so, those ranks to which most
men belong deserve most honour. All distinctions of rank fade away
before the eyes of a thoughtful person; he sees the same passions,
the same feelings in the noble and the guttersnipe; there is merely
a slight difference in speech, and more or less artificiality
of tone; and if there is indeed any essential difference between
them, the disadvantage is all on the side of those who are more
sophisticated. The people show themselves as they are, and they are
not attractive; but the fashionable world is compelled to adopt a
disguise; we should be horrified if we saw it as it really is.

There is, so our wiseacres tell us, the same amount of happiness
and sorrow in every station. This saying is as deadly in its effects
as it is incapable of proof; if all are equally happy why should
I trouble myself about any one? Let every one stay where he is;
leave the slave to be ill-treated, the sick man to suffer, and
the wretched to perish; they have nothing to gain by any change in
their condition. You enumerate the sorrows of the rich, and show the
vanity of his empty pleasures; what barefaced sophistry! The rich
man's sufferings do not come from his position, but from himself
alone when he abuses it. He is not to be pitied were he indeed
more miserable than the poor, for his ills are of his own making,
and he could be happy if he chose. But the sufferings of the poor
man come from external things, from the hardships fate has imposed
upon him. No amount of habit can accustom him to the bodily ills
of fatigue, exhaustion, and hunger. Neither head nor heart can serve
to free him from the sufferings of his condition. How is Epictetus
the better for knowing beforehand that his master will break his
leg for him; does he do it any the less? He has to endure not only
the pain itself but the pains of anticipation. If the people were
as wise as we assume them to be stupid, how could they be other
than they are? Observe persons of this class; you will see that,
with a different way of speaking, they have as much intelligence
and more common-sense than yourself. Have respect then for your
species; remember that it consists essentially of the people, that
if all the kings and all the philosophers were removed they would
scarcely be missed, and things would go on none the worse. In a word,
teach your pupil to love all men, even those who fail to appreciate
him; act in such way that he is not a member of any class, but
takes his place in all alike: speak in his hearing of the human
race with tenderness, and even with pity, but never with scorn.
You are a man; do not dishonour mankind.

It is by these ways and others like them--how different from the
beaten paths--that we must reach the heart of the young adolescent
And stimulate in him the first impulses of nature; we must develop
that heart and open its doors to his fellow-creatures, and there
must be as little self-interest as possible mixed up with these
impulses; above all, no vanity, no emulation, no boasting, none of
those sentiments which force us to compare ourselves with others;
for such comparisons are never made without arousing some measure
of hatred against those who dispute our claim to the first place,
were it only in our own estimation. Then we must be either blind
or angry, a bad man or a fool; let us try to avoid this dilemma.
Sooner or later these dangerous passions will appear, so you tell
me, in spite of us. I do not deny it. There is a time and place
for everything; I am only saying that we should not help to arouse
these passions.

This is the spirit of the method to be laid down. In this case examples
and illustrations are useless, for here we find the beginning of
the countless differences of character, and every example I gave
would possibly apply to only one case in a hundred thousand. It is
at this age that the clever teacher begins his real business, as
a student and a philosopher who knows how to probe the heart and
strives to guide it aright. While the young man has not learnt to
pretend, while he does not even know the meaning of pretence, you
see by his look, his manner, his gestures, the impression he has
received from any object presented to him; you read in his countenance
every impulse of his heart; by watching his expression you learn
to protect his impulses and actually to control them.

It has been commonly observed that blood, wounds, cries and groans,
the preparations for painful operations, and everything which directs
the senses towards things connected with suffering, are usually the
first to make an impression on all men. The idea of destruction, a
more complex matter, does not have so great an effect; the thought
of death affects us later and less forcibly, for no one knows from
his own experience what it is to die; you must have seen corpses
to feel the agonies of the dying. But when once this idea is
established in the mind, there is no spectacle more dreadful in our
eyes, whether because of the idea of complete destruction which it
arouses through our senses, or because we know that this moment must
come for each one of us and we feel ourselves all the more keenly
affected by a situation from which we know there is no escape.

These various impressions differ in manner and in degree, according to
the individual character of each one of us and his former habits,
but they are universal and no one is altogether free from them.
There are other impressions less universal and of a later growth,
impressions most suited to sensitive souls, such impressions as we
receive from moral suffering, inward grief, the sufferings of the
mind, depression, and sadness. There are men who can be touched by
nothing but groans and tears; the suppressed sobs of a heart labouring
under sorrow would never win a sigh; the sight of a downcast visage, a
pale and gloomy countenance, eyes which can weep no longer, would
never draw a tear from them. The sufferings of the mind are as
nothing to them; they weigh them, their own mind feels nothing;
expect nothing from such persons but inflexible severity, harshness,
cruelty. They may be just and upright, but not merciful, generous,
or pitiful. They may, I say, be just, if a man can indeed be just
without being merciful.

But do not be in a hurry to judge young people by this standard,
more especially those who have been educated rightly, who have no
idea of the moral sufferings they have never had to endure; for
once again they can only pity the ills they know, and this apparent
insensibility is soon transformed into pity when they begin to feel
that there are in human life a thousand ills of which they know
nothing. As for Emile, if in childhood he was distinguished by
simplicity and good sense, in his youth he will show a warm and
tender heart; for the reality of the feelings depends to a great
extent on the accuracy of the ideas.

But why call him hither? More than one reader will reproach me
no doubt for departing from my first intention and forgetting the
lasting happiness I promised my pupil. The sorrowful, the dying,
such sights of pain and woe, what happiness, what delight is this
for a young heart on the threshold of life? His gloomy tutor, who
proposed to give him such a pleasant education, only introduces him
to life that he may suffer. This is what they will say, but what
care I? I promised to make him happy, not to make him seem happy.
Am I to blame if, deceived as usual by the outward appearances,
you take them for the reality?

Let us take two young men at the close of their early education,
and let them enter the world by opposite doors. The one mounts at
once to Olympus, and moves in the smartest society; he is taken
to court, he is presented in the houses of the great, of the rich,
of the pretty women. I assume that he is everywhere made much of,
and I do not regard too closely the effect of this reception on his
reason; I assume it can stand it. Pleasures fly before him, every
day provides him with fresh amusements; he flings himself into
everything with an eagerness which carries you away. You find him
busy, eager, and curious; his first wonder makes a great impression
on you; you think him happy; but behold the state of his heart;
you think he is rejoicing, I think he suffers.

What does he see when first he opens his eyes? all sorts of so-called
pleasures, hitherto unknown. Most of these pleasures are only for
a moment within his reach, and seem to show themselves only to
inspire regret for their loss. Does he wander through a palace;
you see by his uneasy curiosity that he is asking why his father's
house is not like it. Every question shows you that he is comparing
himself all the time with the owner of this grand place. And all
the mortification arising from this comparison at once revolts and
stimulates his vanity. If he meets a young man better dressed than
himself, I find him secretly complaining of his parents' meanness.
If he is better dressed than another, he suffers because the latter
is his superior in birth or in intellect, and all his gold lace is
put to shame by a plain cloth coat. Does he shine unrivalled in
some assembly, does he stand on tiptoe that they may see him better,
who is there who does not secretly desire to humble the pride and
vanity of the young fop? Everybody is in league against him; the
disquieting glances of a solemn man, the biting phrases of some
satirical person, do not fail to reach him, and if it were only
one man who despised him, the scorn of that one would poison in a
moment the applause of the rest.

Let us grant him everything, let us not grudge him charm and worth;
let him be well-made, witty, and attractive; the women will run
after him; but by pursuing him before he is in love with them,
they will inspire rage rather than love; he will have successes,
but neither rapture nor passion to enjoy them. As his desires are
always anticipated; they never have time to spring up among his
pleasures, so he only feels the tedium of restraint. Even before
he knows it he is disgusted and satiated with the sex formed to
be the delight of his own; if he continues its pursuit it is only
through vanity, and even should he really be devoted to women, he
will not be the only brilliant, the only attractive young man, nor
will he always find his mistresses prodigies of fidelity.

I say nothing of the vexation, the deceit, the crimes, and the
remorse of all kinds, inseparable from such a life. We know that
experience of the world disgusts us with it; I am speaking only of
the drawbacks belonging to youthful illusions.

Hitherto the young man has lived in the bosom of his family and his
friends, and has been the sole object of their care; what a change
to enter all at once into a region where he counts for so little; to
find himself plunged into another sphere, he who has been so long
the centre of his own. What insults, what humiliation, must he endure,
before he loses among strangers the ideas of his own importance
which have been formed and nourished among his own people! As
a child everything gave way to him, everybody flocked to him; as
a young man he must give place to every one, or if he preserves
ever so little of his former airs, what harsh lessons will bring
him to himself! Accustomed to get everything he wants without any
difficulty, his wants are many, and he feels continual privations.
He is tempted by everything that flatters him; what others have,
he must have too; he covets everything, he envies every one, he
would always be master. He is devoured by vanity, his young heart
is enflamed by unbridled passions, jealousy and hatred among the
rest; all these violent passions burst out at once; their sting
rankles in him in the busy world, they return with him at night, he
comes back dissatisfied with himself, with others; he falls asleep
among a thousand foolish schemes disturbed by a thousand fancies,
and his pride shows him even in his dreams those fancied pleasures;
he is tormented by a desire which will never be satisfied. So much
for your pupil; let us turn to mine.

If the first thing to make an impression on him is something
sorrowful his first return to himself is a feeling of pleasure.
When he sees how many ills he has escaped he thinks he is happier
than he fancied. He shares the suffering of his fellow-creatures,
but he shares it of his own free will and finds pleasure in it.
He enjoys at once the pity he feels for their woes and the joy of
being exempt from them; he feels in himself that state of vigour
which projects us beyond ourselves, and bids us carry elsewhere
the superfluous activity of our well-being. To pity another's woes
we must indeed know them, but we need not feel them. When we have
suffered, when we are in fear of suffering, we pity those who
suffer; but when we suffer ourselves, we pity none but ourselves.
But if all of us, being subject ourselves to the ills of life, only
bestow upon others the sensibility we do not actually require for
ourselves, it follows that pity must be a very pleasant feeling,
since it speaks on our behalf; and, on the other hand, a hard-hearted
man is always unhappy, since the state of his heart leaves him no
superfluous sensibility to bestow on the sufferings of others.

We are too apt to judge of happiness by appearances; we suppose it
is to be found in the most unlikely places, we seek for it where
it cannot possibly be; mirth is a very doubtful indication of its
presence. A merry man is often a wretch who is trying to deceive
others and distract himself. The men who are jovial, friendly,
and contented at their club are almost always gloomy grumblers at
home, and their servants have to pay for the amusement they give
among their friends. True contentment is neither merry nor noisy;
we are jealous of so sweet a sentiment, when we enjoy it we think
about it, we delight in it for fear it should escape us. A really
happy man says little and laughs little; he hugs his happiness, so
to speak, to his heart. Noisy games, violent delight, conceal the
disappointment of satiety. But melancholy is the friend of pleasure;
tears and pity attend our sweetest enjoyment, and great joys call
for tears rather than laughter.

If at first the number and variety of our amusements seem to
contribute to our happiness, if at first the even tenor of a quiet
life seems tedious, when we look at it more closely we discover
that the pleasantest habit of mind consists in a moderate enjoyment
which leaves little scope for desire and aversion. The unrest of
passion causes curiosity and fickleness; the emptiness of noisy
pleasures causes weariness. We never weary of our state when we
know none more delightful. Savages suffer less than other men from
curiosity and from tedium; everything is the same to them--themselves,
not their possessions--and they are never weary.

The man of the world almost always wears a mask. He is scarcely
ever himself and is almost a stranger to himself; he is ill at ease
when he is forced into his own company. Not what he is, but what
he seems, is all he cares for.

I cannot help picturing in the countenance of the young man
I have just spoken of an indefinable but unpleasant impertinence,
smoothness, and affectation, which is repulsive to a plain man,
and in the countenance of my own pupil a simple and interesting
expression which indicates the real contentment and the calm
of his mind; an expression which inspires respect and confidence,
and seems only to await the establishment of friendly relations
to bestow his own confidence in return. It is thought that the
expression is merely the development of certain features designed
by nature. For my own part I think that over and above this
development a man's face is shaped, all unconsciously, by the
frequent and habitual influence of certain affections of the heart.
These affections are shown on the face, there is nothing more
certain; and when they become habitual, they must surely leave lasting
traces. This is why I think the expression shows the character, and
that we can sometimes read one another without seeking mysterious
explanations in powers we do not possess.

A child has only two distinct feelings, joy and sorrow; he laughs
or he cries; he knows no middle course, and he is constantly passing
from one extreme to the other. On account of these perpetual changes
there is no lasting impression on the face, and no expression; but
when the child is older and more sensitive, his feelings are keener
or more permanent, and these deeper impressions leave traces more
difficult to erase; and the habitual state of the feelings has an
effect on the features which in course of time becomes ineffaceable.
Still it is not uncommon to meet with men whose expression varies
with their age. I have met with several, and I have always found
that those whom I could observe and follow had also changed their
habitual temper. This one observation thoroughly confirmed would
seem to me decisive, and it is not out of place in a treatise on
education, where it is a matter of importance, that we should learn
to judge the feelings of the heart by external signs.

I do not know whether my young man will be any the less amiable
for not having learnt to copy conventional manners and to feign
sentiments which are not his own; that does not concern me at
present, I only know he will be more affectionate; and I find it
difficult to believe that he, who cares for nobody but himself,
can so far disguise his true feelings as to please as readily as he
who finds fresh happiness for himself in his affection for others.
But with regard to this feeling of happiness, I think I have said
enough already for the guidance of any sensible reader, and to show
that I have not contradicted myself.

I return to my system, and I say, when the critical age approaches,
present to young people spectacles which restrain rather than
excite them; put off their dawning imagination with objects which,
far from inflaming their senses, put a check to their activity.
Remove them from great cities, where the flaunting attire and the
boldness of the women hasten and anticipate the teaching of nature,
where everything presents to their view pleasures of which they
should know nothing till they are of an age to choose for themselves.
Bring them back to their early home, where rural simplicity allows
the passions of their age to develop more slowly; or if their taste
for the arts keeps them in town, guard them by means of this very
taste from a dangerous idleness. Choose carefully their company,
their occupations, and their pleasures; show them nothing but
modest and pathetic pictures which are touching but not seductive,
and nourish their sensibility without stimulating their senses.
Remember also, that the danger of excess is not confined to any one
place, and that immoderate passions always do irreparable damage.
You need not make your pupil a sick-nurse or a Brother of Pity; you
need not distress him by the perpetual sight of pain and suffering;
you need not take him from one hospital to another, from the gallows
to the prison. He must be softened, not hardened, by the sight of
human misery. When we have seen a sight it ceases to impress us,
use is second nature, what is always before our eyes no longer
appeals to the imagination, and it is only through the imagination
that we can feel the sorrows of others; this is why priests and
doctors who are always beholding death and suffering become so
hardened. Let your pupil therefore know something of the lot of
man and the woes of his fellow-creatures, but let him not see them
too often. A single thing, carefully selected and shown at the right
time, will fill him with pity and set him thinking for a month. His
opinion about anything depends not so much on what he sees, but on
how it reacts on himself; and his lasting impression of any object
depends less on the object itself than on the point of view from
which he regards it. Thus by a sparing use of examples, lessons,
and pictures, you may blunt the sting of sense and delay nature
while following her own lead.

As he acquires knowledge, choose what ideas he shall attach to it;
as his passions awake, select scenes calculated to repress them.
A veteran, as distinguished for his character as for his courage,
once told me that in early youth his father, a sensible man but
extremely pious, observed that through his growing sensibility he
was attracted by women, and spared no pains to restrain him; but at
last when, in spite of all his care, his son was about to escape
from his control, he decided to take him to a hospital, and,
without telling him what to expect, he introduced him into a room
where a number of wretched creatures were expiating, under a terrible
treatment, the vices which had brought them into this plight. This
hideous and revolting spectacle sickened the young man. "Miserable
libertine," said his father vehemently, "begone; follow your vile
tastes; you will soon be only too glad to be admitted to this ward,
and a victim to the most shameful sufferings, you will compel your
father to thank God when you are dead."

These few words, together with the striking spectacle he beheld,
made an impression on the young man which could never be effaced.
Compelled by his profession to pass his youth in garrison,
he preferred to face all the jests of his comrades rather than to
share their evil ways. "I have been a man," he said to me, "I have
had my weaknesses, but even to the present day the sight of a harlot
inspires me with horror." Say little to your pupil, but choose
time, place, and people; then rely on concrete examples for your
teaching, and be sure it will take effect.

The way childhood is spent is no great matter; the evil which may
find its way is not irremediable, and the good which may spring
up might come later. But it is not so in those early years when
a youth really begins to live. This time is never long enough for
what there is to be done, and its importance demands unceasing
attention; this is why I lay so much stress on the art of prolonging
it. One of the best rules of good farming is to keep things back as
much as possible. Let your progress also be slow and sure; prevent
the youth from becoming a man all at once. While the body is growing
the spirits destined to give vigour to the blood and strength to
the muscles are in process of formation and elaboration. If you turn
them into another channel, and permit that strength which should
have gone to the perfecting of one person to go to the making of
another, both remain in a state of weakness and the work of nature
is unfinished. The workings of the mind, in their turn, are affected
by this change, and the mind, as sickly as the body, functions
languidly and feebly. Length and strength of limb are not the same
thing as courage or genius, and I grant that strength of mind does
not always accompany strength of body, when the means of connection
between the two are otherwise faulty. But however well planned
they may be, they will always work feebly if for motive power they
depend upon an exhausted, impoverished supply of blood, deprived
of the substance which gives strength and elasticity to all the
springs of the machinery. There is generally more vigour of mind
to be found among men whose early years have been preserved from
precocious vice, than among those whose evil living has begun at the
earliest opportunity; and this is no doubt the reason why nations
whose morals are pure are generally superior in sense and courage
to those whose morals are bad. The latter shine only through I
know not what small and trifling qualities, which they call wit,
sagacity, cunning; but those great and noble features of goodness
and reason, by which a man is distinguished and honoured through
good deeds, virtues, really useful efforts, are scarcely to be
found except among the nations whose morals are pure.

Teachers complain that the energy of this age makes their pupils
unruly; I see that it is so, but are not they themselves to blame?
When once they have let this energy flow through the channel of the
senses, do they not know that they cannot change its course? Will
the long and dreary sermons of the pedant efface from the mind of
his scholar the thoughts of pleasure when once they have found an
entrance; will they banish from his heart the desires by which it
is tormented; will they chill the heat of a passion whose meaning
the scholar realises? Will not the pupil be roused to anger by the
obstacles opposed to the only kind of happiness of which he has
any notion? And in the harsh law imposed upon him before he can
understand it, what will he see but the caprice and hatred of a
man who is trying to torment him? Is it strange that he rebels and
hates you too?

I know very well that if one is easy-going one may be tolerated,
and one may keep up a show of authority. But I fail to see the use
of an authority over the pupil which is only maintained by fomenting
the vices it ought to repress; it is like attempting to soothe a
fiery steed by making it leap over a precipice.

Far from being a hindrance to education, this enthusiasm of
adolescence is its crown and coping-stone; this it is that gives
you a hold on the youth's heart when he is no longer weaker than
you. His first affections are the reins by which you control his
movements; he was free, and now I behold him in your power. So long
as he loved nothing, he was independent of everything but himself
and his own necessities; as soon as he loves, he is dependent on
his affections. Thus the first ties which unite him to his species
are already formed. When you direct his increasing sensibility in
this direction, do not expect that it will at once include all men,
and that the word "mankind" will have any meaning for him. Not so;
this sensibility will at first confine itself to those like himself,
and these will not be strangers to him, but those he knows, those
whom habit has made dear to him or necessary to him, those who are
evidently thinking and feeling as he does, those whom he perceives
to be exposed to the pains he has endured, those who enjoy the
pleasures he has enjoyed; in a word, those who are so like himself
that he is the more disposed to self-love. It is only after long
training, after much consideration as to his own feelings and the
feelings he observes in others, that he will be able to generalise
his individual notions under the abstract idea of humanity, and
add to his individual affections those which may identify him with
the race.

When he becomes capable of affection, he becomes aware of the
affection of others, [Footnote: Affection may be unrequited; not
so friendship. Friendship is a bargain, a contract like any other;
though a bargain more sacred than the rest. The word "friend" has
no other correlation. Any man who is not the friend of his friend
is undoubtedly a rascal; for one can only obtain friendship by
giving it, or pretending to give it.] and he is on the lookout for
the signs of that affection. Do you not see how you will acquire a
fresh hold on him? What bands have you bound about his heart while
he was yet unaware of them! What will he feel, when he beholds
himself and sees what you have done for him; when he can compare
himself with other youths, and other tutors with you! I say, "When
he sees it," but beware lest you tell him of it; if you tell him
he will not perceive it. If you claim his obedience in return for
the care bestowed upon him, he will think you have over-reached him;
he will see that while you profess to have cared for him without
reward, you meant to saddle him with a debt and to bind him to
a bargain which he never made. In vain you will add that what you
demand is for his own good; you demand it, and you demand it in
virtue of what you have done without his consent. When a man down
on his luck accepts the shilling which the sergeant professes to
give him, and finds he has enlisted without knowing what he was
about, you protest against the injustice; is it not still more unjust
to demand from your pupil the price of care which he has not even

Ingratitude would be rarer if kindness were less often the investment
of a usurer. We love those who have done us a kindness; what a
natural feeling! Ingratitude is not to be found in the heart of man,
but self-interest is there; those who are ungrateful for benefits
received are fewer than those who do a kindness for their own ends.
If you sell me your gifts, I will haggle over the price; but if
you pretend to give, in order to sell later on at your own price,
you are guilty of fraud; it is the free gift which is beyond price.
The heart is a law to itself; if you try to bind it, you lose it;
give it its liberty, and you make it your own.

When the fisherman baits his line, the fish come round him without
suspicion; but when they are caught on the hook concealed in the
bait, they feel the line tighten and they try to escape. Is the
fisherman a benefactor? Is the fish ungrateful? Do we find a man
forgotten by his benefactor, unmindful of that benefactor? On the
contrary, he delights to speak of him, he cannot think of him without
emotion; if he gets a chance of showing him, by some unexpected
service, that he remembers what he did for him, how delighted
he is to satisfy his gratitude; what a pleasure it is to earn the
gratitude of his benefactor. How delightful to say, "It is my turn
now." This is indeed the teaching of nature; a good deed never
caused ingratitude.

If therefore gratitude is a natural feeling, and you do not destroy
its effects by your blunders, be sure your pupil, as he begins to
understand the value of your care for him, will be grateful for
it, provided you have not put a price upon it; and this will give
you an authority over his heart which nothing can overthrow. But
beware of losing this advantage before it is really yours, beware
of insisting on your own importance. Boast of your services and
they become intolerable; forget them and they will not be forgotten.
Until the time comes to treat him as a man let there be no question
of his duty to you, but his duty to himself. Let him have his
freedom if you would make him docile; hide yourself so that he may
seek you; raise his heart to the noble sentiment of gratitude by
only speaking of his own interest. Until he was able to understand
I would not have him told that what was done was for his good; he
would only have understood such words to mean that you were dependent
on him and he would merely have made you his servant. But now that
he is beginning to feel what love is, he also knows what a tender
affection may bind a man to what he loves; and in the zeal which
keeps you busy on his account, he now sees not the bonds of a slave,
but the affection of a friend. Now there is nothing which carries
so much weight with the human heart as the voice of friendship
recognised as such, for we know that it never speaks but for our
good. We may think our friend is mistaken, but we never believe
he is deceiving us. We may reject his advice now and then, but we
never scorn it.

We have reached the moral order at last; we have just taken the
second step towards manhood. If this were the place for it, I would
try to show how the first impulses of the heart give rise to the
first stirrings of conscience, and how from the feelings of love
and hatred spring the first notions of good and evil. I would show
that justice and kindness are no mere abstract terms, no mere moral
conceptions framed by the understanding, but true affections of the
heart enlightened by reason, the natural outcome of our primitive
affections; that by reason alone, unaided by conscience, we cannot
establish any natural law, and that all natural right is a vain
dream if it does not rest upon some instinctive need of the human
heart. [Footnote: The precept "Do unto others as you would have
them do unto you" has no true foundation but that of conscience
and feeling; for what valid reason is there why I, being myself,
should do what I would do if I were some one else, especially when
I am morally certain I never shall find myself in exactly the same
case; and who will answer for it that if I faithfully follow out
this maxim, I shall get others to follow it with regard to me? The
wicked takes advantage both of the uprightness of the just and of
his own injustice; he will gladly have everybody just but himself.
This bargain, whatever you may say, is not greatly to the advantage
of the just. But if the enthusiasm of an overflowing heart identifies
me with my fellow-creature, if I feel, so to speak, that I will not
let him suffer lest I should suffer too, I care for him because I
care for myself, and the reason of the precept is found in nature
herself, which inspires me with the desire for my own welfare
wherever I may be. From this I conclude that it is false to say that
the precepts of natural law are based on reason only; they have a
firmer and more solid foundation. The love of others springing from
self-love, is the source of human justice. The whole of morality is
summed up in the gospel in this summary of the law.] But I do not
think it is my business at present to prepare treatises on metaphysics
and morals, nor courses of study of any kind whatsoever; it is
enough if I indicate the order and development of our feelings and
our knowledge in relation to our growth. Others will perhaps work
out what I have here merely indicated.

Hitherto my Emile has thought only of himself, so his first glance
at his equals leads him to compare himself with them; and the first
feeling excited by this comparison is the desire to be first. It
is here that self-love is transformed into selfishness, and this is
the starting point of all the passions which spring from selfishness.
But to determine whether the passions by which his life will be
governed shall be humane and gentle or harsh and cruel, whether
they shall be the passions of benevolence and pity or those of envy
and covetousness, we must know what he believes his place among men
to be, and what sort of obstacles he expects to have to overcome
in order to attain to the position he seeks.

To guide him in this inquiry, after we have shown him men by means
of the accidents common to the species, we must now show him them
by means of their differences. This is the time for estimating
inequality natural and civil, and for the scheme of the whole social

Society must be studied in the individual and the individual in
society; those who desire to treat politics and morals apart from
one another will never understand either. By confining ourselves
at first to the primitive relations, we see how men should be
influenced by them and what passions should spring from them; we
see that it is in proportion to the development of these passions
that a man's relations with others expand or contract. It is not so
much strength of arm as moderation of spirit which makes men free
and independent. The man whose wants are few is dependent on but
few people, but those who constantly confound our vain desires
with our bodily needs, those who have made these needs the basis
of human society, are continually mistaking effects for causes,
and they have only confused themselves by their own reasoning.

Since it is impossible in the state of nature that the difference
between man and man should be great enough to make one dependent
on another, there is in fact in this state of nature an actual and
indestructible equality. In the civil state there is a vain and
chimerical equality of right; the means intended for its maintenance,
themselves serve to destroy it; and the power of the community,
added to the power of the strongest for the oppression of the
weak, disturbs the sort of equilibrium which nature has established
between them. [Footnote: The universal spirit of the laws of every
country is always to take the part of the strong against the weak,
and the part of him who has against him who has not; this defect
is inevitable, and there is no exception to it.] From this first
contradiction spring all the other contradictions between the real
and the apparent, which are to be found in the civil order. The many
will always be sacrificed to the few, the common weal to private
interest; those specious words--justice and subordination--will
always serve as the tools of violence and the weapons of injustice;
hence it follows that the higher classes which claim to be useful
to the rest are really only seeking their own welfare at the expense
of others; from this we may judge how much consideration is due to
them according to right and justice. It remains to be seen if the
rank to which they have attained is more favourable to their own
happiness to know what opinion each one of us should form with regard
to his own lot. This is the study with which we are now concerned;
but to do it thoroughly we must begin with a knowledge of the human

If it were only a question of showing young people man in his mask,
there would be no need to point him out, and he would always be
before their eyes; but since the mask is not the man, and since
they must not be led away by its specious appearance, when you paint
men for your scholar, paint them as they are, not that he may hate
them, but that he may pity them and have no wish to be like them.
In my opinion that is the most reasonable view a man can hold with
regard to his fellow-men.

With this object in view we must take the opposite way from that
hitherto followed, and instruct the youth rather through the experience
of others than through his own. If men deceive him he will hate
them; but, if, while they treat him with respect, he sees them
deceiving each other, he will pity them. "The spectacle of the
world," said Pythagoras, "is like the Olympic games; some are buying
and selling and think only of their gains; others take an active
part and strive for glory; others, and these not the worst, are
content to be lookers-on."

I would have you so choose the company of a youth that he should
think well of those among whom he lives, and I would have you so
teach him to know the world that he should think ill of all that
takes place in it. Let him know that man is by nature good, let
him feel it, let him judge his neighbour by himself; but let him
see how men are depraved and perverted by society; let him find the
source of all their vices in their preconceived opinions; let him
be disposed to respect the individual, but to despise the multitude;
let him see that all men wear almost the same mask, but let him
also know that some faces are fairer than the mask that conceals

It must be admitted that this method has its drawbacks, and it is
not easy to carry it out; for if he becomes too soon engrossed in
watching other people, if you train him to mark too closely the
actions of others, you will make him spiteful and satirical, quick
and decided in his judgments of others; he will find a hateful
pleasure in seeking bad motives, and will fail to gee the good even
in that which is really good. He will, at least, get used to the
sight of vice, he will behold the wicked without horror, just as we
get used to seeing the wretched without pity. Soon the perversity
of mankind will be not so much a warning as an excuse; he will say,
"Man is made so," and he will have no wish to be different from
the rest.

But if you wish to teach him theoretically to make him acquainted,
not only with the heart of man, but also with the application of
the external causes which turn our inclinations into vices; when
you thus transport him all at once from the objects of sense to the
objects of reason, you employ a system of metaphysics which he is
not in a position to understand; you fall back into the error, so
carefully avoided hitherto, of giving him lessons which are like
lessons, of substituting in his mind the experience and the authority
of the master for his own experience and the development of his
own reason.

To remove these two obstacles at once, and to bring the human heart
within his reach without risk of spoiling his own, I would show
him men from afar, in other times or in other places, so that he
may behold the scene but cannot take part in it. This is the time
for history; with its help he will read the hearts of men without
any lessons in philosophy; with its help he will view them as a
mere spectator, dispassionate and without prejudice; he will view
them as their judge, not as their accomplice or their accuser.

To know men you must behold their actions. In society we hear them
talk; they show their words and hide their deeds; but in history
the veil is drawn aside, and they are judged by their deeds. Their
sayings even help us to understand them; for comparing what they
say and what they do, we see not only what they are but what they
would appear; the more they disguise themselves the more thoroughly
they stand revealed.

Unluckily this study has its dangers, its drawbacks of several
kinds. It is difficult to adopt a point of view which will enable
one to judge one's fellow-creatures fairly. It is one of the chief
defects of history to paint men's evil deeds rather than their
good ones; it is revolutions and catastrophes that make history
interesting; so long as a nation grows and prospers quietly in
the tranquillity of a peaceful government, history says nothing;
she only begins to speak of nations when, no longer able to be
self-sufficing, they interfere with their neighbours' business, or
allow their neighbours to interfere with their own; history only
makes them famous when they are on the downward path; all our
histories begin where they ought to end. We have very accurate
accounts of declining nations; what we lack is the history of those
nations which are multiplying; they are so happy and so good that
history has nothing to tell us of them; and we see indeed in our
own times that the most successful governments are least talked
of. We only hear what is bad; the good is scarcely mentioned. Only
the wicked become famous, the good are forgotten or laughed to
scorn, and thus history, like philosophy, is for ever slandering

Moreover, it is inevitable that the facts described in history
should not give an exact picture of what really happened; they are
transformed in the brain of the historian, they are moulded by his
interests and coloured by his prejudices. Who can place the reader
precisely in a position to see the event as it really happened?
Ignorance or partiality disguises everything. What a different
impression may be given merely by expanding or contracting the
circumstances of the case without altering a single historical
incident. The same object may be seen from several points of view,
and it will hardly seem the same thing, yet there has been no
change except in the eye that beholds it. Do you indeed do honour
to truth when what you tell me is a genuine fact, but you make it
appear something quite different? A tree more or less, a rock to
the right or to the left, a cloud of dust raised by the wind, how
often have these decided the result of a battle without any one
knowing it? Does that prevent history from telling you the cause
of defeat or victory with as much assurance as if she had been
on the spot? But what are the facts to me, while I am ignorant of
their causes, and what lessons can I draw from an event, whose true
cause is unknown to me? The historian indeed gives me a reason, but
he invents it; and criticism itself, of which we hear so much, is
only the art of guessing, the art of choosing from among several
lies, the lie that is most like truth.

Have you ever read Cleopatra or Cassandra or any books of the kind?
The author selects some well-known event, he then adapts it to his
purpose, adorns it with details of his own invention, with people
who never existed, with imaginary portraits; thus he piles fiction
on fiction to lend a charm to his story. I see little difference
between such romances and your histories, unless it is that the
novelist draws more on his own imagination, while the historian
slavishly copies what another has imagined; I will also admit, if
you please, that the novelist has some moral purpose good or bad,
about which the historian scarcely concerns himself.

You will tell me that accuracy in history is of less interest than
a true picture of men and manners; provided the human heart is
truly portrayed, it matters little that events should be accurately
recorded; for after all you say, what does it matter to us what
happened two thousand years ago? You are right if the portraits are
indeed truly given according to nature; but if the model is to be
found for the most part in the historian's imagination, are you not
falling into the very error you intended to avoid, and surrendering
to the authority of the historian what you would not yield to
the authority of the teacher? If my pupil is merely to see fancy
pictures, I would rather draw them myself; they will, at least, be
better suited to him.

The worst historians for a youth are those who give their opinions.
Facts! Facts! and let him decide for himself; this is how he will
learn to know mankind. If he is always directed by the opinion of
the author, he is only seeing through the eyes of another person,
and when those ayes are no longer at his disposal he can see nothing.

I leave modern history on one side, not only because it has no
character and all our people are alike, but because our historians,
wholly taken up with effect, think of nothing but highly coloured
portraits, which often represent nothing. [Footnote: Take, for
instance, Guicciardini, Streda, Solis, Machiavelli, and sometimes
even De Thou himself. Vertot is almost the only one who knows
how to describe without giving fancy portraits.] The old historians
generally give fewer portraits and bring more intelligence
and common-sense to their judgments; but even among them there is
plenty of scope for choice, and you must not begin with the wisest
but with the simplest. I would not put Polybius or Sallust into
the hands of a youth; Tacitus is the author of the old, young men
cannot understand him; you must learn to see in human actions the
simplest features of the heart of man before you try to sound its
depths. You must be able to read facts clearly before you begin
to study maxims. Philosophy in the form of maxims is only fit for
the experienced. Youth should never deal with the general, all
its teaching should deal with individual instances.

To my mind Thucydides is the true model of historians. He relates
facts without giving his opinion; but he omits no circumstance
adapted to make us judge for ourselves. He puts everything that he
relates before his reader; far from interposing between the facts
and the readers, he conceals himself; we seem not to read but to
see. Unfortunately he speaks of nothing but war, and in his stories
we only see the least instructive part of the world, that is to
say the battles. The virtues and defects of the Retreat of the Ten
Thousand and the Commentaries of Caesar are almost the same. The
kindly Herodotus, without portraits, without maxims, yet flowing,
simple, full of details calculated to delight and interest in the
highest degree, would be perhaps the best historian if these very
details did not often degenerate into childish folly, better adapted
to spoil the taste of youth than to form it; we need discretion
before we can read him. I say nothing of Livy, his turn will come;
but he is a statesman, a rhetorician, he is everything which is
unsuitable for a youth.

History in general is lacking because it only takes note of striking
and clearly marked facts which may be fixed by names, places,
and dates; but the slow evolution of these facts, which cannot be
definitely noted in this way, still remains unknown. We often find
in some battle, lost or won, the ostensible cause of a revolution
which was inevitable before this battle took place. War only makes
manifest events already determined by moral causes, which few
historians can perceive.

The philosophic spirit has turned the thoughts of many of the
historians of our times in this direction; but I doubt whether
truth has profited by their labours. The rage for systems has got
possession of all alike, no one seeks to see things as they are,
but only as they agree with his system.

Add to all these considerations the fact that history shows us
actions rather than men, because she only seizes men at certain
chosen times in full dress; she only portrays the statesman when
he is prepared to be seen; she does not follow him to his home, to
his study, among his family and his friends; she only shows him in
state; it is his clothes rather than himself that she describes.

I would prefer to begin the study of the human heart with reading
the lives of individuals; for then the man hides himself in vain,
the historian follows him everywhere; he never gives him a moment's
grace nor any comer where he can escape the piercing eye of the
spectator; and when he thinks he is concealing himself, then it is
that the writer shows him up most plainly.

"Those who write lives," says Montaigne, "in so far as they delight
more in ideas than in events, more in that which comes from within
than in that which comes from without, these are the writers I
prefer; for this reason Plutarch is in every way the man for me."

It is true that the genius of men in groups or nations is very
different from the character of the individual man, and that we
have a very imperfect knowledge of the human heart if we do not
also examine it in crowds; but it is none the less true that to
judge of men we must study the individual man, and that he who had
a perfect knowledge of the inclinations of each individual might
foresee all their combined effects in the body of the nation.

We must go back again to the ancients, for the reasons already
stated, and also because all the details common and familiar, but
true and characteristic, are banished by modern stylists, so that
men are as much tricked out by our modern authors in their private
life as in public. Propriety, no less strict in literature than
in life, no longer permits us to say anything in public which we
might not do in public; and as we may only show the man dressed up
for his part, we never see a man in our books any more than we do
on the stage. The lives of kings may be written a hundred times,
but to no purpose; we shall never have another Suetonius.

The excellence of Plutarch consists in these very details which
we are no longer permitted to describe. With inimitable grace he
paints the great man in little things; and he is so happy in the
choice of his instances that a word, a smile, a gesture, will often
suffice to indicate the nature of his hero. With a jest Hannibal
cheers his frightened soldiers, and leads them laughing to the
battle which will lay Italy at his feet; Agesilaus riding on a
stick makes me love the conqueror of the great king; Caesar passing
through a poor village and chatting with his friends unconsciously
betrays the traitor who professed that he only wished to be Pompey's
equal. Alexander swallows a draught without a word--it is the
finest moment in his life; Aristides writes his own name on the
shell and so justifies his title; Philopoemen, his mantle laid aside,
chops firewood in the kitchen of his host. This is the true art of
portraiture. Our disposition does not show itself in our features,
nor our character in our great deeds; it is trifles that show what
we really are. What is done in public is either too commonplace
or too artificial, and our modern authors are almost too grand to
tell us anything else.

M. de Turenne was undoubtedly one of the greatest men of the last
century. They have had the courage to make his life interesting by
the little details which make us know and love him; but how many
details have they felt obliged to omit which might have made us
know and love him better still? I will only quote one which I have
on good authority, one which Plutarch would never have omitted, and
one which Ramsai would never have inserted had he been acquainted
with it.

On a hot summer's day Viscount Turenne in a little white vest and
nightcap was standing at the window of his antechamber; one of
his men came up and, misled by the dress, took him for one of the
kitchen lads whom he knew. He crept up behind him and smacked him
with no light hand. The man he struck turned round hastily. The valet
saw it was his master and trembled at the sight of his face. He
fell on his knees in desperation. "Sir, I thought it was George."
"Well, even if it was George," exclaimed Turenne rubbing the injured
part, "you need not have struck so hard." You do not dare to say
this, you miserable writers! Remain for ever without humanity and
without feeling; steel your hard hearts in your vile propriety, make
yourselves contemptible through your high-mightiness. But as for
you, dear youth, when you read this anecdote, when you are touched
by all the kindliness displayed even on the impulse of the moment,
read also the littleness of this great man when it was a question
of his name and birth. Remember it was this very Turenne who always
professed to yield precedence to his nephew, so that all men might
see that this child was the head of a royal house. Look on this
picture and on that, love nature, despise popular prejudice, and
know the man as he was.

There are few people able to realise what an effect such reading,
carefully directed, will have upon the unspoilt mind of a youth.
Weighed down by books from our earliest childhood, accustomed to
read without thinking, what we read strikes us even less, because
we already bear in ourselves the passions and prejudices with which
history and the lives of men are filled; all that they do strikes
us as only natural, for we ourselves are unnatural and we judge
others by ourselves. But imagine my Emile, who has been carefully
guarded for eighteen years with the sole object of preserving a
right judgment and a healthy heart, imagine him when the curtain
goes up casting his eyes for the first time upon the world's stage;
or rather picture him behind the scenes watching the actors don
their costumes, and counting the cords and pulleys which deceive
with their feigned shows the eyes of the spectators. His first
surprise will soon give place to feelings of shame and scorn of his
fellow-man; he will be indignant at the sight of the whole human
race deceiving itself and stooping to this childish folly; he will
grieve to see his brothers tearing each other limb from limb for
a mere dream, and transforming themselves into wild beasts because
they could not be content to be men.

Given the natural disposition of the pupil, there is no doubt that
if the master exercises any sort of prudence or discretion in
his choice of reading, however little he may put him in the way
of reflecting on the subject-matter, this exercise will serve as
a course in practical philosophy, a philosophy better understood
and more thoroughly mastered than all the empty speculations with
which the brains of lads are muddled in our schools. After following
the romantic schemes of Pyrrhus, Cineas asks him what real good he
would gain by the conquest of the world, which he can never enjoy
without such great sufferings; this only arouses in us a passing
interest as a smart saying; but Emile will think it a very wise
thought, one which had already occurred to himself, and one which
he will never forget, because there is no hostile prejudice in
his mind to prevent it sinking in. When he reads more of the life
of this madman, he will find that all his great plans resulted in
his death at the hands of a woman, and instead of admiring this
pinchbeck heroism, what will he see in the exploits of this great
captain and the schemes of this great statesman but so many steps
towards that unlucky tile which was to bring life and schemes alike
to a shameful death?

All conquerors have not been killed; all usurpers have not failed
in their plans; to minds imbued with vulgar prejudices many of them
will seem happy, but he who looks below the surface and reckons
men's happiness by the condition of their hearts will perceive
their wretchedness even in the midst of their successes; he will
see them panting after advancement and never attaining their prize,
he will find them like those inexperienced travellers among the
Alps, who think that every height they see is the last, who reach
its summit only to find to their disappointment there are loftier
peaks beyond.

Augustus, when he had subdued his fellow-citizens and destroyed
his rivals, reigned for forty years over the greatest empire that
ever existed; but all this vast power could not hinder him from
beating his head against the walls, and filling his palace with his
groans as he cried to Varus to restore his slaughtered legions. If
he had conquered all his foes what good would his empty triumphs
have done him, when troubles of every kind beset his path, when
his life was threatened by his dearest friends, and when he had to
mourn the disgrace or death of all near and dear to him? The wretched
man desired to rule the world and failed to rule his own household.
What was the result of this neglect? He beheld his nephew, his
adopted child, his son-in-law, perish in the flower of youth, his
grandson reduced to eat the stuffing of his mattress to prolong
his wretched existence for a few hours; his daughter and his
granddaughter, after they had covered him with infamy, died, the
one of hunger and want on a desert island, the other in prison by
the hand of a common archer. He himself, the last survivor of his
unhappy house, found himself compelled by his own wife to acknowledge
a monster as his heir. Such was the fate of the master of the world,
so famous for his glory and his good fortune. I cannot believe that
any one of those who admire his glory and fortune would accept them
at the same price.

I have taken ambition as my example, but the play of every human
passion offers similar lessons to any one who will study history
to make himself wise and good at the expense of those who went
before. The time is drawing near when the teaching of the life
of Anthony will appeal more forcibly to the youth than the life
of Augustus. Emile will scarcely know where he is among the many
strange sights in his new studies; but he will know beforehand how
to avoid the illusion of passions before they arise, and seeing how
in all ages they have blinded men's eyes, he will be forewarned of
the way in which they may one day blind his own should he abandon
himself to them. [Footnote: It is always prejudice which stirs
up passion in our heart. He who only sees what really exists and
only values what he knows, rarely becomes angry. The errors of
our judgment produce the warmth of our desires.] These lessons, I
know, are unsuited to him, perhaps at need they may prove scanty
and ill-timed; but remember they are not the lessons I wished to
draw from this study. To begin with, I had quite another end in
view; and indeed, if this purpose is unfulfilled, the teacher will
be to blame.

Remember that, as soon as selfishness has developed, the self
in its relations to others is always with us, and the youth never
observes others without coming back to himself and comparing himself
with them. From the way young men are taught to study history I
see that they are transformed, so to speak, into the people they
behold, that you strive to make a Cicero, a Trajan, or an Alexander
of them, to discourage them when they are themselves again, to
make every one regret that he is merely himself. There are certain
advantages in this plan which I do not deny; but, so far as Emile
is concerned, should it happen at any time when he is making these
comparisons that he wishes to be any one but himself--were it
Socrates or Cato--I have failed entirely; he who begins to regard
himself as a stranger will soon forget himself altogether.

It is not philosophers who know most about men; they only view them
through the preconceived ideas of philosophy, and I know no one so
prejudiced as philosophers. A savage would judge us more sanely.
The philosopher is aware of his own vices, he is indignant at ours,
and he says to himself, "We are all bad alike;" the savage beholds
us unmoved and says, "You are mad." He is right, for no one does
evil for evil's sake. My pupil is that savage, with this difference:
Emile has thought more, he has compared ideas, seen our errors at
close quarters, he is more on his guard against himself, and only
judges of what he knows.

It is our own passions that excite us against the passions of
others; it is our self-interest which makes us hate the wicked;
if they did us no harm we should pity rather than hate them. We
should readily forgive their vices if we could perceive how their
own heart punishes those vices. We are aware of the offence, but we
do not see the punishment; the advantages are plain, the penalty is
hidden. The man who thinks he is enjoying the fruits of his vices
is no less tormented by them than if they had not been successful; the
object is different, the anxiety is the same; in vain he displays
his good fortune and hides his heart; in spite of himself his
conduct betrays him; but to discern this, our own heart must be
utterly unlike his.

We are led astray by those passions which we share; we are disgusted
by those that militate against our own interests; and with a want
of logic due to these very passions, we blame in others what we fain
would imitate. Aversion and self-deception are inevitable when we
are forced to endure at another's hands what we ourselves would do
in his place.

What then is required for the proper study of men? A great wish
to know men, great impartiality of judgment, a heart sufficiently
sensitive to understand every human passion, and calm enough to
be free from passion. If there is any time in our life when this
study is likely to be appreciated, it is this that I have chosen
for Emile; before this time men would have been strangers to him;
later on he would have been like them. Convention, the effects of
which he already perceives, has not yet made him its slave, the
passions, whose consequences he realises, have not yet stirred his
heart. He is a man; he takes an interest in his brethren; he is
a just man and he judges his peers. Now it is certain that if he
judges them rightly he will not want to change places with any one
of them, for the goal of all their anxious efforts is the result
of prejudices which he does not share, and that goal seems to him
a mere dream. For his own part, he has all he wants within his
reach. How should he be dependent on any one when he is self-sufficing
and free from prejudice? Strong arms, good health, [Footnote: I
think I may fairly reckon health and strength among the advantages
he has obtained by his education, or rather among the gifts of
nature which his education has preserved for him.] moderation, few
needs, together with the means to satisfy those needs, are his.
He has been brought up in complete liberty and servitude is the
greatest ill he understands. He pities these miserable kings, the
slaves of all who obey them; he pities these false prophets fettered
by their empty fame; he pities these rich fools, martyrs to their
own pomp; he pities these ostentatious voluptuaries, who spend their
life in deadly dullness that they may seem to enjoy its pleasures.
He would pity the very foe who harmed him, for he would discern his
wretchedness beneath his cloak of spite. He would say to himself,
"This man has yielded to his desire to hurt me, and this need of
his places him at my mercy."

One step more and our goal is attained. Selfishness is a dangerous
tool though a useful one; it often wounds the hand that uses it,
and it rarely does good unmixed with evil. When Emile considers his
place among men, when he finds himself so fortunately situated, he
will be tempted to give credit to his own reason for the work of
yours, and to attribute to his own deserts what is really the result
of his good fortune. He will say to himself, "I am wise and other
men are fools." He will pity and despise them and will congratulate
himself all the more heartily; and as he knows he is happier than
they, he will think his deserts are greater. This is the fault we
have most to fear, for it is the most difficult to eradicate. If
he remained in this state of mind, he would have profited little
by all our care; and if I had to choose, I hardly know whether I
would not rather choose the illusions of prejudice than those of

Great men are under no illusion with respect to their superiority;
they see it and know it, but they are none the less modest. The
more they have, the better they know what they lack. They are less
vain of their superiority over us than ashamed by the consciousness
of their weakness, and among the good things they really possess,
they are too wise to pride themselves on a gift which is none of
their getting. The good man may be proud of his virtue for it is
his own, but what cause for pride has the man of intellect? What
has Racine done that he is not Pradon, and Boileau that he is not

The circumstances with which we are concerned are quite different.
Let us keep to the common level. I assumed that my pupil had neither
surpassing genius nor a defective understanding. I chose him of an
ordinary mind to show what education could do for man. Exceptions
defy all rules. If, therefore, as a result of my care, Emile
prefers his way of living, seeing, and feeling to that of others,
he is right; but if he thinks because of this that he is nobler
and better born than they, he is wrong; he is deceiving himself;
he must be undeceived, or rather let us prevent the mistake, lest
it be too late to correct it.

Provided a man is not mad, he can be cured of any folly but vanity;
there is no cure for this but experience, if indeed there is any
cure for it at all; when it first appears we can at least prevent
its further growth. But do not on this account waste your breath
on empty arguments to prove to the youth that he is like other men
and subject to the same weaknesses. Make him feel it or he will
never know it. This is another instance of an exception to my own
rules; I must voluntarily expose my pupil to every accident which
may convince him that he is no wiser than we. The adventure with
the conjurer will be repeated again and again in different ways; I
shall let flatterers take advantage of him; if rash comrades draw
him into some perilous adventure, I will let him run the risk;
if he falls into the hands of sharpers at the card-table, I will
abandon him to them as their dupe.[Footnote: Moreover our pupil
will be little tempted by this snare; he has so many amusements
about him, he has never been bored in his life, and he scarcely knows
the use of money. As children have been led by these two motives,
self-interest and vanity, rogues and courtesans use the same means
to get hold of them later. When you see their greediness encouraged
by prizes and rewards, when you find their public performances
at ten years old applauded at school or college, you see too how
at twenty they will be induced to leave their purse in a gambling
hell and their health in a worse place. You may safely wager that
the sharpest boy in the class will become the greatest gambler and
debauchee. Now the means which have not been employed in childhood
have not the same effect in youth. But we must bear in mind
my constant plan and take the thing at its worst. First I try to
prevent the vice; then I assume its existence in order to correct
it.] I will let them flatter him, pluck him, and rob him; and when
having sucked him dry they turn and mock him, I will even thank
them to his face for the lessons they have been good enough to give
him. The only snares from which I will guard him with my utmost
care are the wiles of wanton women. The only precaution I shall take
will be to share all the dangers I let him run, and all the insults
I let him receive. I will bear everything in silence, without a
murmur or reproach, without a word to him, and be sure that if this
wise conduct is faithfully adhered to, what he sees me endure on
his account will make more impression on his heart than what he
himself suffers.

I cannot refrain at this point from drawing attention to the sham
dignity of tutors, who foolishly pretend to be wise, who discourage
their pupils by always professing to treat them as children, and
by emphasising the difference between themselves and their scholars
in everything they do. Far from damping their youthful spirits in
this fashion, spare no effort to stimulate their courage; that they
may become your equals, treat them as such already, and if they
cannot rise to your level, do not scruple to come down to theirs
without being ashamed of it. Remember that your honour is no longer
in your own keeping but in your pupil's. Share his faults that
you may correct them, bear his disgrace that you may wipe it out;
follow the example of that brave Roman who, unable to rally his
fleeing soldiers, placed himself at their head, exclaiming, "They
do not flee, they follow their captain!" Did this dishonour him?
Not so; by sacrificing his glory he increased it. The power of
duty, the beauty of virtue, compel our respect in spite of all our
foolish prejudices. If I received a blow in the course of my duties
to Emile, far from avenging it I would boast of it; and I doubt
whether there is in the whole world a man so vile as to respect me
any the less on this account.

I do not intend the pupil to suppose his master to be as ignorant,
or as liable to be led astray, as he is himself. This idea is
all very well for a child who can neither see nor compare things,
who thinks everything is within his reach, and only bestows his
confidence on those who know how to come down to his level. But a
youth of Emile's age and sense is no longer so foolish as to make
this mistake, and it would not be desirable that he should. The
confidence he ought to have in his tutor is of another kind; it
should rest on the authority of reason, and on superior knowledge,
advantages which the young man is capable of appreciating while
he perceives how useful they are to himself. Long experience has
convinced him that his tutor loves him, that he is a wise and good
man who desires his happiness and knows how to procure it. He ought
to know that it is to his own advantage to listen to his advice.
But if the master lets himself be taken in like the disciple, he
will lose his right to expect deference from him, and to give him
instruction. Still less should the pupil suppose that his master
is purposely letting him fall into snares or preparing pitfalls for
his inexperience. How can we avoid these two difficulties? Choose
the best and most natural means; be frank and straightforward like
himself; warn him of the dangers to which he is exposed, point them
out plainly and sensibly, without exaggeration, without temper,
without pedantic display, and above all without giving your opinions
in the form of orders, until they have become such, and until this
imperious tone is absolutely necessary. Should he still be obstinate as
he often will be, leave him free to follow his own choice, follow
him, copy his example, and that cheerfully and frankly; if possible
fling yourself into things, amuse yourself as much as he does. If
the consequences become too serious, you are at hand to prevent
them; and yet when this young man has beheld your foresight and your
kindliness, will he not be at once struck by the one and touched
by the other? All his faults are but so many hands with which
he himself provides you to restrain him at need. Now under these
circumstances the great art of the master consists in controlling
events and directing his exhortations so that he may know beforehand
when the youth will give in, and when he will refuse to do so,
so that all around him he may encompass him with the lessons of
experience, and yet never let him run too great a risk.

Warn him of his faults before he commits them; do not blame him
when once they are committed; you would only stir his self-love to
mutiny. We learn nothing from a lesson we detest. I know nothing
more foolish than the phrase, "I told you so." The best way to make
him remember what you told him is to seem to have forgotten it. Go
further than this, and when you find him ashamed of having refused
to believe you, gently smooth away the shame with kindly words. He
will indeed hold you dear when he sees how you forget yourself on
his account, and how you console him instead of reproaching him.
But if you increase his annoyance by your reproaches he will hate
you, and will make it a rule never to heed you, as if to show you
that he does not agree with you as to the value of your opinion.

The turn you give to your consolation may itself be a lesson
to him, and all the more because he does not suspect it. When you
tell him, for example, that many other people have made the same
mistakes, this is not what he was expecting; you are administering
correction under the guise of pity; for when one thinks oneself
better than other people it is a very mortifying excuse to console
oneself by their example; it means that we must realise that the
most we can say is that they are no better than we.

The time of faults is the time for fables. When we blame the guilty
under the cover of a story we instruct without offending him; and
he then understands that the story is not untrue by means of the
truth he finds in its application to himself. The child who has
never been deceived by flattery understands nothing of the fable I
recently examined; but the rash youth who has just become the dupe
of a flatterer perceives only too readily that the crow was a fool.
Thus he acquires a maxim from the fact, and the experience he would
soon have forgotten is engraved on his mind by means of the fable.
There is no knowledge of morals which cannot be acquired through our
own experience or that of others. When there is danger, instead of
letting him try the experiment himself, we have recourse to history.
When the risk is comparatively slight, it is just as well that
the youth should be exposed to it; then by means of the apologue
the special cases with which the young man is now acquainted are
transformed into maxims.

It is not, however, my intention that these maxims should be
explained, nor even formulated. Nothing is so foolish and unwise
as the moral at the end of most of the fables; as if the moral
was not, or ought not to be so clear in the fable itself that the
reader cannot fail to perceive it. Why then add the moral at the end,
and go deprive him of the pleasure of discovering it for himself.
The art of teaching consists in making the pupil wish to learn.
But if the pupil is to wish to learn, his mind must not remain in
such a passive state with regard to what you tell him that there
is really nothing for him to do but listen to you. The master's
vanity must always give way to the scholars; he must be able
to say, I understand, I see it, I am getting at it, I am learning
something. One of the things which makes the Pantaloon in the
Italian comedies so wearisome is the pains taken by him to explain
to the audience the platitudes they understand only too well already.
We must always be intelligible, but we need not say all there is
to be said. If you talk much you will say little, for at last no
one will listen to you. What is the sense of the four lines at the
end of La Fontaine's fable of the frog who puffed herself up. Is
he afraid we should not understand it? Does this great painter need
to write the names beneath the things he has painted? His morals,
far from generalising, restrict the lesson to some extent to the
examples given, and prevent our applying them to others. Before I
put the fables of this inimitable author into the hands of a youth,
I should like to cut out all the conclusions with which he strives
to explain what he has just said so clearly and pleasantly. If
your pupil does not understand the fable without the explanation,
he will not understand it with it.

Moreover, the fables would require to be arranged in a more didactic
order, one more in agreement with the feelings and knowledge of
the young adolescent. Can you imagine anything so foolish as to
follow the mere numerical order of the book without regard to our
requirements or our opportunities. First the grasshopper, then the
crow, then the frog, then the two mules, etc. I am sick of these
two mules; I remember seeing a child who was being educated for
finance; they never let him alone, but were always insisting on the
profession he was to follow; they made him read this fable, learn
it, say it, repeat it again and again without finding in it the
slightest argument against his future calling. Not only have I
never found children make any real use of the fables they learn,
but I have never found anybody who took the trouble to see that
they made such a use of them. The study claims to be instruction
in morals; but the real aim of mother and child is nothing but to
set a whole party watching the child while he recites his fables;
when he is too old to recite them and old enough to make use of
them, they are altogether forgotten. Only men, I repeat, can learn
from fables, and Emile is now old enough to begin.

I do not mean to tell you everything, so I only indicate the paths
which diverge from the right way, so that you may know how to avoid
them. If you follow the road I have marked out for you, I think
your pupil will buy his knowledge of mankind and his knowledge of
himself in the cheapest market; you will enable him to behold the
tricks of fortune without envying the lot of her favourites, and
to be content with himself without thinking himself better than
others. You have begun by making him an actor that he may learn to
be one of the audience; you must continue your task, for from the
theatre things are what they seem, from the stage they seem what
they are. For the general effect we must get a distant view, for
the details we must observe more closely. But how can a young man
take part in the business of life? What right has he to be initiated
into its dark secrets? His interests are confined within the limits
of his own pleasures, he has no power over others, it is much the
same as if he had no power at all. Man is the cheapest commodity
on the market, and among all our important rights of property, the
rights of the individual are always considered last of all.

When I see the studies of young men at the period of their greatest
activity confined to purely speculative matters, while later on
they are suddenly plunged, without any sort of experience, into
the world of men and affairs, it strikes me as contrary alike to
reason and to nature, and I cease to be surprised that so few men
know what to do. How strange a choice to teach us so many useless
things, while the art of doing is never touched upon! They profess
to fit us for society, and we are taught as if each of us were
to live a life of contemplation in a solitary cell, or to discuss
theories with persons whom they did not concern. You think you
are teaching your scholars how to live, and you teach them certain
bodily contortions and certain forms of words without meaning.
I, too, have taught Emile how to live; for I have taught him to
enjoy his own society and, more than that, to earn his own bread.
But this is not enough. To live in the world he must know how to
get on with other people, he must know what forces move them, he
must calculate the action and re-action of self-interest in civil
society, he must estimate the results so accurately that he will
rarely fail in his undertakings, or he will at least have tried
in the best possible way. The law does not allow young people to
manage their own affairs nor to dispose of their own property; but
what would be the use of these precautions if they never gained any
experience until they were of age. They would have gained nothing
by the delay, and would have no more experience at five-and-twenty
than at fifteen. No doubt we must take precautions, so that a youth,
blinded by ignorance or misled by passion, may not hurt himself;
but at any age there are opportunities when deeds of kindness and
of care for the weak may be performed under the direction of a wise
man, on behalf of the unfortunate who need help.

Mothers and nurses grow fond of children because of the care they
lavish on them; the practice of social virtues touches the very
heart with the love of humanity; by doing good we become good; and
I know no surer way to this end. Keep your pupil busy with the good
deeds that are within his power, let the cause of the poor be his
own, let him help them not merely with his money, but with his
service; let him work for them, protect them, let his person and
his time be at their disposal; let him be their agent; he will
never all his life long have a more honourable office. How many of
the oppressed, who have never got a hearing, will obtain justice
when he demands it for them with that courage and firmness which
the practice of virtue inspires; when he makes his way into the
presence of the rich and great, when he goes, if need be, to the
footstool of the king himself, to plead the cause of the wretched,
the cause of those who find all doors closed to them by their poverty,
those who are so afraid of being punished for their misfortunes
that they do not dare to complain?

But shall we make of Emile a knight-errant, a redresser of wrongs,
a paladin? Shall he thrust himself into public life, play the sage
and the defender of the laws before the great, before the magistrates,
before the king? Shall he lay petitions before the judges and plead
in the law courts? That I cannot say. The nature of things is not
changed by terms of mockery and scorn. He will do all that he knows
to be useful and good. He will do nothing more, and he knows that
nothing is useful and good for him which is unbefitting his age.
He knows that his first duty is to himself; that young men should
distrust themselves; that they should act circumspectly; that they
should show respect to those older than themselves, reticence and
discretion in talking without cause, modesty in things indifferent, but
courage in well doing, and boldness to speak the truth. Such were
those illustrious Romans who, having been admitted into public life,
spent their days in bringing criminals to justice and in protecting
the innocent, without any motives beyond those of learning, and of
the furtherance of justice and of the protection of right conduct.

Emile is not fond of noise or quarrelling, not only among men, but
among animals. [Footnote: "But what will he do if any one seeks a
quarrel with him?" My answer is that no one will ever quarrel with
him, he will never lend himself to such a thing. But, indeed, you
continue, who can be safe from a blow, or an insult from a bully,
a drunkard, a bravo, who for the joy of killing his man begins by
dishonouring him? That is another matter. The life and honour of
the citizens should not be at the mercy of a bully, a drunkard, or
a bravo, and one can no more insure oneself against such an accident
than against a falling tile. A blow given, or a lie in the teeth,
if he submit to them, have social consequences which no wisdom
can prevent and no tribunal can avenge. The weakness of the laws,
therefore, so far restores a man's independence; he is the sole
magistrate and judge between the offender and himself, the sole
interpreter and administrator of natural law. Justice is his due,
and he alone can obtain it, and in such a case there is no government
on earth so foolish as to punish him for so doing. I do not say he
must fight; that is absurd; I say justice is his due, and he alone
can dispense it. If I were king, I promise you that in my kingdom
no one would ever strike a man or call him a liar, and yet I would
do without all those useless laws against duels; the means are
simple and require no law courts. However that may be, Emile knows
what is due to himself in such a case, and the example due from
him to the safety of men of honour. The strongest of men cannot
prevent insult, but he can take good care that his adversary has
no opportunity to boast of that insult.] He will never set two dogs
to fight, he will never set a dog to chase a cat. This peaceful
spirit is one of the results of his education, which has never
stimulated self-love or a high opinion of himself, and so has
not encouraged him to seek his pleasure in domination and in the
sufferings of others. The sight of suffering makes him suffer too;
this is a natural feeling. It is one of the after effects of vanity
that hardens a young man and makes him take a delight in seeing the
torments of a living and feeling creature; it makes him consider
himself beyond the reach of similar sufferings through his superior
wisdom or virtue. He who is beyond the reach of vanity cannot fall
into the vice which results from vanity. So Emile loves peace.
He is delighted at the sight of happiness, and if he can help to
bring it about, this is an additional reason for sharing it. I do
not assume that when he sees the unhappy he will merely feel for
them that barren and cruel pity which is content to pity the ills
it can heal. His kindness is active and teaches him much he would
have learnt far more slowly, or he would never have learnt at all,
if his heart had been harder. If he finds his comrades at strife,
he tries to reconcile them; if he sees the afflicted, he inquires
as to the cause of their sufferings; if he meets two men who hate
each other, he wants to know the reason of their enmity; if he finds
one who is down-trodden groaning under the oppression of the rich
and powerful, he tries to discover by what means he can counteract
this oppression, and in the interest he takes with regard to all
these unhappy persons, the means of removing their sufferings are
never out of his sight. What use shall we make of this disposition
so that it may re-act in a way suited to his age? Let us direct
his efforts and his knowledge, and use his zeal to increase them.

I am never weary of repeating: let all the lessons of young people
take the form of doing rather than talking; let them learn nothing
from books which they can learn from experience. How absurd to
attempt to give them practice in speaking when they have nothing
to say, to expect to make them feel, at their school desks, the
vigour of the language of passion and all the force of the arts
of persuasion when they have nothing and nobody to persuade! All
the rules of rhetoric are mere waste of words to those who do not
know how to use them for their own purposes. How does it concern
a schoolboy to know how Hannibal encouraged his soldiers to cross
the Alps? If instead of these grand speeches you showed him how to
induce his prefect to give him a holiday, you may be sure he would
pay more attention to your rules.

If I wanted to teach rhetoric to a youth whose passions were as
yet undeveloped, I would draw his attention continually to things
that would stir his passions, and I would discuss with him how
he should talk to people so as to get them to regard his wishes
favourably. But Emile is not in a condition so favourable to the
art of oratory. Concerned mainly with his physical well-being,
he has less need of others than they of him; and having nothing to
ask of others on his own account, what he wants to persuade them
to do does not affect him sufficiently to awake any very strong
feeling. From this it follows that his language will be on the
whole simple and literal. He usually speaks to the point and only
to make himself understood. He is not sententious, for he has
not learnt to generalise; he does not speak in figures, for he is
rarely impassioned.

Yet this is not because he is altogether cold and phlegmatic,
neither his age, his character, nor his tastes permit of this. In
the fire of adolescence the life-giving spirits, retained in the
blood and distilled again and again, inspire his young heart with
a warmth which glows in his eye, a warmth which is felt in his
words and perceived in his actions. The lofty feeling with which
he is inspired gives him strength and nobility; imbued with tender
love for mankind his words betray the thoughts of his heart;
I know not how it is, but there is more charm in his open-hearted
generosity than in the artificial eloquence of others; or rather
this eloquence of his is the only true eloquence, for he has only
to show what he feels to make others share his feelings.

The more I think of it the more convinced I am that by thus
translating our kindly impulses into action, by drawing from our
good or ill success conclusions as to their cause, we shall find
that there is little useful knowledge that cannot be imparted to a
youth; and that together with such true learning as may be got at
college he will learn a science of more importance than all the rest
together, the application of what he has learned to the purposes
of life. Taking such an interest in his fellow-creatures, it is
impossible that he should fail to learn very quickly how to note
and weigh their actions, their tastes, their pleasures, and to
estimate generally at their true value what may increase or diminish
the happiness of men; he should do this better than those who care
for nobody and never do anything for any one. The feelings of those
who are always occupied with their own concerns are too keenly
affected for them to judge wisely of things. They consider everything
as it affects themselves, they form their ideas of good and ill
solely on their own experience, their minds are filled with all
sorts of absurd prejudices, and anything which affects their own
advantage ever so little, seems an upheaval of the universe.

Extend self-love to others and it is transformed into virtue,
a virtue which has its root in the heart of every one of us. The
less the object of our care is directly dependent on ourselves, the
less we have to fear from the illusion of self-interest; the more
general this interest becomes, the juster it is; and the love of
the human race is nothing but the love of justice within us. If
therefore we desire Emile to be a lover of truth, if we desire that
he should indeed perceive it, let us keep him far from self-interest
in all his business. The more care he bestows upon the happiness of
others the wiser and better he is, and the fewer mistakes he will
make between good and evil; but never allow him any blind preference
founded merely on personal predilection or unfair prejudice. Why
should he harm one person to serve another? What does it matter to
him who has the greater share of happiness, providing he promotes
the happiness of all? Apart from self-interest this care for the
general well-being is the first concern of the wise man, for each
of us forms part of the human race and not part of any individual
member of that race.

To prevent pity degenerating into weakness we must generalise it
and extend it to mankind. Then we only yield to it when it is in
accordance with justice, since justice is of all the virtues that
which contributes most to the common good. Reason and self-love
compel us to love mankind even more than our neighbour, and to pity
the wicked is to be very cruel to other men.

Moreover, you must bear in mind that all these means employed to
project my pupil beyond himself have also a distinct relation to
himself; since they not only cause him inward delight, but I am
also endeavouring to instruct him, while I am making him kindly
disposed towards others.

First I showed the means employed, now I will show the result. What
wide prospects do I perceive unfolding themselves before his mind!
What noble feelings stifle the lesser passions in his heart! What
clearness of judgment, what accuracy in reasoning, do I see developing
from the inclinations we have cultivated, from the experience which
concentrates the desires of a great heart within the narrow bounds
of possibility, so that a man superior to others can come down to
their level if he cannot raise them to his own! True principles
of justice, true types of beauty, all moral relations between man
and man, all ideas of order, these are engraved on his understanding;
he sees the right place for everything and the causes which drive
it from that place; he sees what may do good, and what hinders it.
Without having felt the passions of mankind, he knows the illusions
they produce and their mode of action.

I proceed along the path which the force of circumstances compels
me to tread, but I do not insist that my readers shall follow me.
Long ago they have made up their minds that I am wandering in the
land of chimeras, while for my part I think they are dwelling in
the country of prejudice. When I wander so far from popular beliefs
I do not cease to bear them in mind; I examine them, I consider
them, not that I may follow them or shun them, but that I may weigh
them in the balance of reason. Whenever reason compels me to abandon
these popular beliefs, I know by experience that my readers will
not follow my example; I know that they will persist in refusing
to go beyond what they can see, and that they will take the youth
I am describing for the creation of my fanciful imagination, merely
because he is unlike the youths with whom they compare him; they
forget that he must needs be different, because he has been brought
up in a totally different fashion; he has been influenced by wholly
different feelings, instructed in a wholly different manner, so
that it would be far stranger if he were like your pupils than if
he were what I have supposed. He is a man of nature's making, not
man's. No wonder men find him strange.

When I began this work I took for granted nothing but what could be
observed as readily by others as by myself; for our starting-point,
the birth of man, is the same for all; but the further we go, while
I am seeking to cultivate nature and you are seeking to deprave
it, the further apart we find ourselves. At six years old my pupil
was not so very unlike yours, whom you had not yet had time to
disfigure; now there is nothing in common between them; and when
they reach the age of manhood, which is now approaching, they will
show themselves utterly different from each other, unless all my pains
have been thrown away. There may not be so very great a difference
in the amount of knowledge they possess, but there is all the
difference in the world in the kind of knowledge. You are amazed
to find that the one has noble sentiments of which the others have
not the smallest germ, but remember that the latter are already
philosophers and theologians while Emile does not even know what
is meant by a philosopher and has scarcely heard the name of God.

But if you come and tell me, "There are no such young men, young
people are not made that way; they have this passion or that, they
do this or that," it is as if you denied that a pear tree could
ever be a tall tree because the pear trees in our gardens are all

I beg these critics who are so ready with their blame to consider
that I am as well acquainted as they are with everything they say,
that I have probably given more thought to it, and that, as I have
no private end to serve in getting them to agree with me, I have
a right to demand that they should at least take time to find out
where I am mistaken. Let them thoroughly examine the nature of
man, let them follow the earliest growth of the heart in any given
circumstances, so as to see what a difference education may make in
the individual; then let them compare my method of education with
the results I ascribe to it; and let them tell me where my reasoning
is unsound, and I shall have no answer to give them.

It is this that makes me speak so strongly, and as I think with
good excuse: I have not pledged myself to any system, I depend as
little as possible on arguments, and I trust to what I myself have
observed. I do not base my ideas on what I have imagined, but on
what I have seen. It is true that I have not confined my observations
within the walls of any one town, nor to a single class of people;
but having compared men of every class and every nation which
I have been able to observe in the course of a life spent in this
pursuit, I have discarded as artificial what belonged to one nation
and not to another, to one rank and not to another; and I have
regarded as proper to mankind what was common to all, at any age,
in any station, and in any nation whatsoever.

Now if in accordance with this method you follow from infancy the
course of a youth who has not been shaped to any special mould, one
who depends as little as possible on authority and the opinions of
others, which will he most resemble, my pupil or yours? It seems
to me that this is the question you must answer if you would know
if I am mistaken.

It is not easy for a man to begin to think; but when once he has
begun he will never leave off. Once a thinker, always a thinker,
and the understanding once practised in reflection will never rest.
You may therefore think that I do too much or too little; that
the human mind is not by nature so quick to unfold; and that after
having given it opportunities it has not got, I keep it too long
confined within a circle of ideas which it ought to have outgrown.

But remember, in the first place, that when I want to train
a natural man, I do not want to make him a savage and to send him
back to the woods, but that living in the whirl of social life
it is enough that he should not let himself be carried away by
the passions and prejudices of men; let him see with his eyes and
feel with his heart, let him own no sway but that of reason. Under
these conditions it is plain that many things will strike him;
the oft-recurring feelings which affect him, the different ways of
satisfying his real needs, must give him many ideas he would not
otherwise have acquired or would only have acquired much later.
The natural progress of the mind is quickened but not reversed.
The same man who would remain stupid in the forests should become
wise and reasonable in towns, if he were merely a spectator in
them. Nothing is better fitted to make one wise than the sight of
follies we do not share, and even if we share them, we still learn,
provided we are not the dupe of our follies and provided we do not
bring to them the same mistakes as the others.

Consider also that while our faculties are confined to the things of
sense, we offer scarcely any hold to the abstractions of philosophy
or to purely intellectual ideas. To attain to these we require
either to free ourselves from the body to which we are so strongly
bound, or to proceed step by step in a slow and gradual course,
or else to leap across the intervening space with a gigantic bound
of which no child is capable, one for which grown men even require
many steps hewn on purpose for them; but I find it very difficult
to see how you propose to construct such steps.

The Incomprehensible embraces all, he gives its motion to the
earth, and shapes the system of all creatures, but our eyes cannot
see him nor can our hands search him out, he evades the efforts
of our senses; we behold the work, but the workman is hidden from
our eyes. It is no small matter to know that he exists, and when
we have got so far, and when we ask. What is he? Where is he? our
mind is overwhelmed, we lose ourselves, we know not what to think.

Locke would have us begin with the study of spirits and go on to
that of bodies. This is the method of superstition, prejudice, and
error; it is not the method of nature, nor even that of well-ordered
reason; it is to learn to see by shutting our eyes. We must have
studied bodies long enough before we can form any true idea of
spirits, or even suspect that there are such beings. The contrary
practice merely puts materialism on a firmer footing.

Since our senses are the first instruments to our learning, corporeal
and sensible bodies are the only bodies we directly apprehend. The
word "spirit" has no meaning for any one who has not philosophised.
To the unlearned and to the child a spirit is merely a body. Do
they not fancy that spirits groan, speak, fight, and make noises?
Now you must own that spirits with arms and voices are very like
bodies. This is why every nation on the face of the earth, not even
excepting the Jews, have made to themselves idols. We, ourselves,
with our words, Spirit, Trinity, Persons, are for the most part quite
anthropomorphic. I admit that we are taught that God is everywhere;
but we also believe that there is air everywhere, at least in our
atmosphere; and the word Spirit meant originally nothing more than
breath and wind. Once you teach people to say what they do not
understand, it is easy enough to get them to say anything you like.

The perception of our action upon other bodies must have first
induced us to suppose that their action upon us was effected in
like manner. Thus man began by thinking that all things whose action
affected him were alive. He did not recognise the limits of their
powers, and he therefore supposed that they were boundless; as
soon as he had supplied them with bodies they became his gods. In
the earliest times men went in terror of everything and everything
in nature seemed alive. The idea of matter was developed as slowly
as that of spirit, for the former is itself an abstraction.

Thus the universe was peopled with gods like themselves. The stars,
the winds and the mountains, rivers, trees, and towns, their very
dwellings, each had its soul, its god, its life. The teraphim of
Laban, the manitos of savages, the fetishes of the negroes, every
work of nature and of man, were the first gods of mortals; polytheism
was their first religion and idolatry their earliest form of worship.
The idea of one God was beyond their grasp, till little by little
they formed general ideas, and they rose to the idea of a first
cause and gave meaning to the word "substance," which is at bottom
the greatest of abstractions. So every child who believes in God
is of necessity an idolater or at least he regards the Deity as a
man, and when once the imagination has perceived God, it is very
seldom that the understanding conceives him. Locke's order leads
us into this same mistake.

Having arrived, I know not how, at the idea of substance, it is
clear that to allow of a single substance it must be assumed that
this substance is endowed with incompatible and mutually exclusive
properties, such as thought and size, one of which is by its nature
divisible and the other wholly incapable of division. Moreover it
is assumed that thought or, if you prefer it, feeling is a primitive
quality inseparable from the substance to which it belongs, that
its relation to the substance is like the relation between substance
and size. Hence it is inferred that beings who lose one of these
attributes lose the substance to which it belongs, and that death
is, therefore, but a separation of substances, and that those
beings in whom the two attributes are found are composed of the
two substances to which those two qualities belong.

But consider what a gulf there still is between the idea of two
substances and that of the divine nature, between the incomprehensible
idea of the influence of our soul upon our body and the idea of the
influence of God upon every living creature. The ideas of creation,
destruction, ubiquity, eternity, almighty power, those of the divine
attributes--these are all ideas so confused and obscure that few
men succeed in grasping them; yet there is nothing obscure about
them to the common people, because they do not understand them in
the least; how then should they present themselves in full force,
that is to say in all their obscurity, to the young mind which is
still occupied with the first working of the senses, and fails to
realise anything but what it handles? In vain do the abysses of
the Infinite open around us, a child does not know the meaning of
fear; his weak eyes cannot gauge their depths. To children everything
is infinite, they cannot assign limits to anything; not that their
measure is so large, but because their understanding is so small.
I have even noticed that they place the infinite rather below than
above the dimensions known to them. They judge a distance to be
immense rather by their feet than by their eyes; infinity is bounded
for them, not so much by what they can see, but how far they can
go. If you talk to them of the power of God, they will think he
is nearly as strong as their father. As their own knowledge is in
everything the standard by which they judge of what is possible,
they always picture what is described to them as rather smaller
than what they know. Such are the natural reasonings of an ignorant
and feeble mind. Ajax was afraid to measure his strength against
Achilles, yet he challenged Jupiter to combat, for he knew Achilles
and did not know Jupiter. A Swiss peasant thought himself the
richest man alive; when they tried to explain to him what a king
was, he asked with pride, "Has the king got a hundred cows on the
high pastures?"

I am aware that many of my readers will be surprised to find me
tracing the course of my scholar through his early years without
speaking to him of religion. At fifteen he will not even know that
he has a soul, at eighteen even he may not be ready to learn about
it. For if he learns about it too soon, there is the risk of his
never really knowing anything about it.

If I had to depict the most heart-breaking stupidity, I would paint
a pedant teaching children the catechism; if I wanted to drive
a child crazy I would set him to explain what he learned in his
catechism. You will reply that as most of the Christian doctrines
are mysteries, you must wait, not merely till the child is a man,
but till the man is dead, before the human mind will understand
those doctrines. To that I reply, that there are mysteries which
the heart of man can neither conceive nor believe, and I see no
use in teaching them to children, unless you want to make liars of
them. Moreover, I assert that to admit that there are mysteries,
you must at least realise that they are incomprehensible, and
children are not even capable of this conception! At an age when
everything is mysterious, there are no mysteries properly so-called.

"We must believe in God if we would be saved." This doctrine wrongly
understood is the root of bloodthirsty intolerance and the cause of
all the futile teaching which strikes a deadly blow at human reason
by training it to cheat itself with mere words. No doubt there is
not a moment to be lost if we would deserve eternal salvation; but
if the repetition of certain words suffices to obtain it, I do not
see why we should not people heaven with starlings and magpies as
well as with children.

The obligation of faith assumes the possibility of belief.
The philosopher who does not believe is wrong, for he misuses the
reason he has cultivated, and he is able to understand the truths
he rejects. But the child who professes the Christian faith--what
does he believe? Just what he understands; and he understands so
little of what he is made to repeat that if you tell him to say
just the opposite he will be quite ready to do it. The faith of
children and the faith of many men is a matter of geography. Will
they be rewarded for having been born in Rome rather than in Mecca?
One is told that Mahomet is the prophet of God and he says, "Mahomet
is the prophet of God." The other is told that Mahomet is a rogue
and he says, "Mahomet is a rogue." Either of them would have said
just the opposite had he stood in the other's shoes. When they are
so much alike to begin with, can the one be consigned to Paradise
and the other to Hell? When a child says he believes in God, it is
not God he believes in, but Peter or James who told him that there
is something called God, and he believes it after the fashion of

"O Jupiter, of whom I know nothing but thy name."

[Footnote: Plutarch. It is thus that the tragedy of Menalippus
originally began, but the clamour of the Athenians compelled
Euripides to change these opening lines.]

We hold that no child who dies before the age of reason will be
deprived of everlasting happiness; the Catholics believe the same
of all children who have been baptised, even though they have never
heard of God. There are, therefore, circumstances in which one can
be saved without belief in God, and these circumstances occur in
the case of children or madmen when the human mind is incapable of
the operations necessary to perceive the Godhead. The only difference
I see between you and me is that you profess that children of seven
years old are able to do this and I do not think them ready for it
at fifteen. Whether I am right or wrong depends, not on an article
of the creed, but on a simple observation in natural history.

From the same principle it is plain that any man having reached
old age without faith in God will not, therefore, be deprived of
God's presence in another life if his blindness was not wilful;
and I maintain that it is not always wilful. You admit that it is
so in the case of lunatics deprived by disease of their spiritual
faculties, but not of their manhood, and therefore still entitled
to the goodness of their Creator. Why then should we not admit it
in the case of those brought up from infancy in seclusion, those
who have led the life of a savage and are without the knowledge that
comes from intercourse with other men. [Footnote: For the natural
condition of the human mind and its slow development, cf. the first
part of the Discours sur Inegalite.] For it is clearly impossible
that such a savage could ever raise his thoughts to the knowledge
of the true God. Reason tells that man should only be punished
for his wilful faults, and that invincible ignorance can never
be imputed to him as a crime. Hence it follows that in the sight
of the Eternal Justice every man who would believe if he had the
necessary knowledge is counted a believer, and that there will be
no unbelievers to be punished except those who have closed their
hearts against the truth.

Let us beware of proclaiming the truth to those who cannot as yet
comprehend it, for to do so is to try to inculcate error. It would
be better to have no idea at all of the Divinity than to have
mean, grotesque, harmful, and unworthy ideas; to fail to perceive
the Divine is a lesser evil than to insult it. The worthy Plutarch
says, "I would rather men said, 'There is no such person as Plutarch,'
than that they should say, 'Plutarch is unjust, envious, jealous,
and such a tyrant that he demands more than can be performed.'"

The chief harm which results from the monstrous ideas of God which
are instilled into the minds of children is that they last all their
life long, and as men they understand no more of God than they did
as children. In Switzerland I once saw a good and pious mother who
was so convinced of the truth of this maxim that she refused to
teach her son religion when he was a little child for fear lest he
should be satisfied with this crude teaching and neglect a better
teaching when he reached the age of reason. This child never heard
the name of God pronounced except with reverence and devotion,
and as soon as he attempted to say the word he was told to hold
his tongue, as if the subject were too sublime and great for him.
This reticence aroused his curiosity and his self-love; he looked
forward to the time when he would know this mystery so carefully
hidden from him. The less they spoke of God to him, the less he was
himself permitted to speak of God, the more he thought about Him;
this child beheld God everywhere. What I should most dread as the
result of this unwise affectation of mystery is this: by over-stimulating
the youth's imagination you may turn his head, and make him at the
best a fanatic rather than a believer.

But we need fear nothing of the sort for Emile, who always declines
to pay attention to what is beyond his reach, and listens with
profound indifference to things he does not understand. There are
so many things of which he is accustomed to say, "That is no concern
of mine," that one more or less makes little difference to him;
and when he does begin to perplex himself with these great matters,
it is because the natural growth of his knowledge is turning his
thoughts that way.

We have seen the road by which the cultivated human mind approaches
these mysteries, and I am ready to admit that it would not attain
to them naturally, even in the bosom of society, till a much later
age. But as there are in this same society inevitable causes which
hasten the development of the passions, if we did not also hasten
the development of the knowledge which controls these passions
we should indeed depart from the path of nature and disturb her
equilibrium. When we can no longer restrain a precocious development
in one direction we must promote a corresponding development in
another direction, so that the order of nature may not be inverted,
and so that things should progress together, not separately, so
that the man, complete at every moment of his life, may never find
himself at one stage in one of his faculties and at another stage
in another faculty.

What a difficulty do I see before me! A difficulty all the greater
because it depends less on actual facts than on the cowardice of
those who dare not look the difficulty in the face. Let us at least
venture to state our problem. A child should always be brought up
in his father's religion; he is always given plain proofs that this
religion, whatever it may be, is the only true religion, that all
others are ridiculous and absurd. The force of the argument depends
entirely on the country in which it is put forward. Let a Turk,
who thinks Christianity so absurd at Constantinople, come to Paris
and see what they think of Mahomet. It is in matters of religion
more than in anything else that prejudice is triumphant. But when
we who profess to shake off its yoke entirely, we who refuse to yield
any homage to authority, decline to teach Emile anything which he
could not learn for himself in any country, what religion shall
we give him, to what sect shall this child of nature belong? The
answer strikes me as quite easy. We will not attach him to any sect,
but we will give him the means to choose for himself according to
the right use of his own reason.

Incedo per ignes
Suppositos cineri doloso.--Horace, lib. ii. ode I.

No matter! Thus far zeal and prudence have taken the place of
caution. I hope that these guardians will not fail me now. Reader,
do not fear lest I should take precautions unworthy of a lover of
truth; I shall never forget my motto, but I distrust my own judgment
all too easily. Instead of telling you what I think myself, I will
tell you the thoughts of one whose opinions carry more weight than
mine. I guarantee the truth of the facts I am about to relate;
they actually happened to the author whose writings I am about to
transcribe; it is for you to judge whether we can draw from them
any considerations bearing on the matter in hand. I do not offer
you my own idea or another's as your rule; I merely present them
for your examination.

Thirty years ago there was a young man in an Italian town; he was
an exile from his native land and found himself reduced to the depths
of poverty. He had been born a Calvinist, but the consequences of
his own folly had made him a fugitive in a strange land; he had
no money and he changed his religion for a morsel of bread. There
was a hostel for proselytes in that town to which he gained admission.
The study of controversy inspired doubts he had never felt before,
and he made acquaintance with evil hitherto unsuspected by him; he
heard strange doctrines and he met with morals still stranger to
him; he beheld this evil conduct and nearly fell a victim to it.
He longed to escape, but he was locked up; he complained, but his
complaints were unheeded; at the mercy of his tyrants, he found
himself treated as a criminal because he would not share their
crimes. The anger kindled in a young and untried heart by the first
experience of violence and injustice may be realised by those who
have themselves experienced it. Tears of anger flowed from his
eyes, he was wild with rage; he prayed to heaven and to man, and
his prayers were unheard; he spoke to every one and no one listened
to him. He saw no one but the vilest servants under the control
of the wretch who insulted him, or accomplices in the same crime
who laughed at his resistance and encouraged him to follow their
example. He would have been ruined had not a worthy priest visited
the hostel on some matter of business. He found an opportunity
of consulting him secretly. The priest was poor and in need of
help himself, but the victim had more need of his assistance, and
he did not hesitate to help him to escape at the risk of making a
dangerous enemy.

Having escaped from vice to return to poverty, the young
man struggled vainly against fate: for a moment he thought he had
gained the victory. At the first gleam of good fortune his woes and
his protector were alike forgotten. He was soon punished for this
ingratitude; all his hopes vanished; youth indeed was on his side,
but his romantic ideas spoiled everything. He had neither talent
nor skill to make his way easily, he could neither be commonplace
nor wicked, he expected so much that he got nothing. When he had
sunk to his former poverty, when he was without food or shelter
and ready to die of hunger, he remembered his benefactor.

He went back to him, found him, and was kindly welcomed; the sight of
him reminded the priest of a good deed he had done; such a memory
always rejoices the heart. This man was by nature humane and
pitiful; he felt the sufferings of others through his own, and his
heart had not been hardened by prosperity; in a word, the lessons
of wisdom and an enlightened virtue had reinforced his natural
kindness of heart. He welcomed the young man, found him a lodging,
and recommended him; he shared with him his living which was barely
enough for two. He did more, he instructed him, consoled him, and
taught him the difficult art of bearing adversity in patience. You
prejudiced people, would you have expected to find all this in a
priest and in Italy?

This worthy priest was a poor Savoyard clergyman who had offended
his bishop by some youthful fault; he had crossed the Alps to find
a position which he could not obtain in his own country. He lacked
neither wit nor learning, and with his interesting countenance
he had met with patrons who found him a place in the household of
one of the ministers, as tutor to his son. He preferred poverty to
dependence, and he did not know how to get on with the great. He
did not stay long with this minister, and when he departed he took
with him his good opinion; and as he lived a good life and gained
the hearts of everybody, he was glad to be forgiven by his bishop
and to obtain from him a small parish among the mountains, where he
might pass the rest of his life. This was the limit of his ambition.

He was attracted by the young fugitive and he questioned him closely.
He saw that ill-fortune had already seared his heart, that scorn
and disgrace had overthrown his courage, and that his pride,
transformed into bitterness and spite, led him to see nothing in
the harshness and injustice of men but their evil disposition and
the vanity of all virtue. He had seen that religion was but a mask
for selfishness, and its holy services but a screen for hypocrisy;
he had found in the subtleties of empty disputations heaven and
hell awarded as prizes for mere words; he had seen the sublime and
primitive idea of Divinity disfigured by the vain fancies of men;
and when, as he thought, faith in God required him to renounce
the reason God himself had given him, he held in equal scorn our
foolish imaginings and the object with which they are concerned.
With no knowledge of things as they are, without any idea of their
origins, he was immersed in his stubborn ignorance and utterly
despised those who thought they knew more than himself.

The neglect of all religion soon leads to the neglect of a man's
duties. The heart of this young libertine was already far on this
road. Yet his was not a bad nature, though incredulity and misery
were gradually stifling his natural disposition and dragging him
down to ruin; they were leading him into the conduct of a rascal
and the morals of an atheist.

The almost inevitable evil was not actually consummated. The young
man was not ignorant, his education had not been neglected. He was
at that happy age when the pulse beats strongly and the heart is
warm, but is not yet enslaved by the madness of the senses. His heart
had not lost its elasticity. A native modesty, a timid disposition
restrained him, and prolonged for him that period during which
you watch your pupil so carefully. The hateful example of brutal
depravity, of vice without any charm, had not merely failed to
quicken his imagination, it had deadened it. For a long time disgust
rather than virtue preserved his innocence, which would only succumb
to more seductive charms.

The priest saw the danger and the way of escape. He was not discouraged
by difficulties, he took a pleasure in his task; he determined to
complete it and to restore to virtue the victim he had snatched
from vice. He set about it cautiously; the beauty of the motive
gave him courage and inspired him with means worthy of his zeal.
Whatever might be the result, his pains would not be wasted. We
are always successful when our sole aim is to do good.

He began to win the confidence of the proselyte by not asking any
price for his kindness, by not intruding himself upon him, by not
preaching at him, by always coming down to his level, and treating
him as an equal. It was, so I think, a touching sight to see a
serious person becoming the comrade of a young scamp, and virtue
putting up with the speech of licence in order to triumph over it
more completely. When the young fool came to him with his silly
confidences and opened his heart to him, the priest listened and
set him at his ease; without giving his approval to what was bad,
he took an interest in everything; no tactless reproof checked his
chatter or closed his heart; the pleasure which he thought was given
by his conversation increased his pleasure in telling everything;
thus he made his general confession without knowing he was confessing

After he had made a thorough study of his feelings and disposition,
the priest saw plainly that, although he was not ignorant for his
age, he had forgotten everything that he most needed to know, and
that the disgrace which fortune had brought upon him had stifled in
him all real sense of good and evil. There is a stage of degradation
which robs the soul of its life; and the inner voice cannot be
heard by one whose whole mind is bent on getting food. To protect
the unlucky youth from the moral death which threatened him, he
began to revive his self-love and his good opinion of himself. He
showed him a happier future in the right use of his talents; he
revived the generous warmth of his heart by stories of the noble
deeds of others; by rousing his admiration for the doers of these
deeds he revived his desire to do like deeds himself. To draw him
gradually from his idle and wandering life, he made him copy out
extracts from well-chosen books; he pretended to want these extracts,
and so nourished in him the noble feeling of gratitude. He taught
him indirectly through these books, and thus he made him sufficiently
regain his good opinion of himself so that he would no longer think
himself good for nothing, and would not make himself despicable in
his own eyes.

A trifling incident will show how this kindly man tried, unknown
to him, to raise the heart of his disciple out of its degradation,
without seeming to think of teaching. The priest was so well known
for his uprightness and his discretion, that many people preferred
to entrust their alms to him, rather than to the wealthy clergy of
the town. One day some one had given him some money to distribute
among the poor, and the young man was mean enough to ask for some
of it on the score of poverty. "No," said he, "we are brothers,
you belong to me and I must not touch the money entrusted to me."
Then he gave him the sum he had asked for out of his own pocket.
Lessons of this sort seldom fail to make an impression on the heart
of young people who are not wholly corrupt.

I am weary of speaking in the third person, and the precaution is
unnecessary; for you are well aware, my dear friend, that I myself
was this unhappy fugitive; I think I am so far removed from the
disorders of my youth that I may venture to confess them, and the
hand which rescued me well deserves that I should at least do honour
to its goodness at the cost of some slight shame.

What struck me most was to see in the private life of my worthy
master, virtue without hypocrisy, humanity without weakness, speech
always plain and straightforward, and conduct in accordance with
this speech. I never saw him trouble himself whether those whom he
assisted went to vespers or confession, whether they fasted at the
appointed seasons and went without meat; nor did he impose upon them
any other like conditions, without which you might die of hunger
before you could hope for any help from the devout.

Far from displaying before him the zeal of a new convert, I was
encouraged by these observations and I made no secret of my way of
thinking, nor did he seem to be shocked by it. Sometimes I would
say to myself, he overlooks my indifference to the religion I have
adopted because he sees I am equally indifferent to the religion
in which I was brought up; he knows that my scorn for religion is
not confined to one sect. But what could I think when I sometimes
heard him give his approval to doctrines contrary to those of the
Roman Catholic Church, and apparently having but a poor opinion of
its ceremonies. I should have thought him a Protestant in disguise
if I had not beheld him so faithful to those very customs which he
seemed to value so lightly; but I knew he fulfilled his priestly
duties as carefully in private as in public, and I knew not what
to think of these apparent contradictions. Except for the fault
which had formerly brought about his disgrace, a fault which he
had only partially overcome, his life was exemplary, his conduct
beyond reproach, his conversation honest and discreet. While I lived
on very friendly terms with him, I learnt day by day to respect
him more; and when he had completely won my heart by such great
kindness, I awaited with eager curiosity the time when I should
learn what was the principle on which the uniformity of this strange
life was based.

This opportunity was a long time coming. Before taking his disciple
into his confidence, he tried to get the seeds of reason and kindness
which he had sown in my heart to germinate. The most difficult
fault to overcome in me was a certain haughty misanthropy, a certain
bitterness against the rich and successful, as if their wealth
and happiness had been gained at my own expense, and as if their
supposed happiness had been unjustly taken from my own. The foolish
vanity of youth, which kicks against the pricks of humiliation,
made me only too much inclined to this angry temper; and the
self-respect, which my mentor strove to revive, led to pride, which
made men still more vile in my eyes, and only added scorn to my

Without directly attacking this pride, he prevented it from
developing into hardness of heart; and without depriving me of my
self-esteem, he made me less scornful of my neighbours. By continually
drawing my attention from the empty show, and directing it to the
genuine sufferings concealed by it, he taught me to deplore the
faults of my fellows and feel for their sufferings, to pity rather
than envy them. Touched with compassion towards human weaknesses
through the profound conviction of his own failings, he viewed
all men as the victims of their own vices and those of others; he
beheld the poor groaning under the tyranny of the rich, and the
rich under the tyranny of their own prejudices. "Believe me," said
he, "our illusions, far from concealing our woes, only increase them
by giving value to what is in itself valueless, in making us aware
of all sorts of fancied privations which we should not otherwise
feel. Peace of heart consists in despising everything that might
disturb that peace; the man who clings most closely to life is the
man who can least enjoy it; and the man who most eagerly desires
happiness is always most miserable."

"What gloomy ideas!" I exclaimed bitterly. "If we must deny ourselves
everything, we might as well never have been born; and if we must
despise even happiness itself who can be happy?" "I am," replied
the priest one day, in a tone which made a great impression on me.
"You happy! So little favoured by fortune, so poor, an exile and
persecuted, you are happy! How have you contrived to be happy?"
"My child," he answered, "I will gladly tell you."

Thereupon he explained that, having heard my confessions, he would
confess to me. "I will open my whole heart to yours," he said,
embracing me. "You will see me, if not as I am, at least as I
seem to myself. When you have heard my whole confession of faith,
when you really know the condition of my heart, you will know why
I think myself happy, and if you think as I do, you will know how
to be happy too. But these explanations are not the affair of a
moment, it will take time to show you all my ideas about the lot
of man and the true value of life; let us choose a fitting time and
a place where we may continue this conversation without interruption."

I showed him how eager I was to hear him. The meeting was fixed
for the very next morning. It was summer time; we rose at daybreak.
He took me out of the town on to a high hill above the river Po,
whose course we beheld as it flowed between its fertile banks; in
the distance the landscape was crowned by the vast chain of the
Alps; the beams of the rising sun already touched the plains and
cast across the fields long shadows of trees, hillocks, and houses,
and enriched with a thousand gleams of light the fairest picture
which the human eye can see. You would have thought that nature
was displaying all her splendour before our eyes to furnish a text
for our conversation. After contemplating this scene for a space
in silence, the man of peace spoke to me.


My child, do not look to me for learned speeches or profound
arguments. I am no great philosopher, nor do I desire to be one.
I have, however, a certain amount of common-sense and a constant
devotion to truth. I have no wish to argue with you nor even to
convince you; it is enough for me to show you, in all simplicity of
heart, what I really think. Consult your own heart while I speak;
that is all I ask. If I am mistaken, I am honestly mistaken, and
therefore my error will not be counted to me as a crime; if you,
too, are honestly mistaken, there is no great harm done. If I am
right, we are both endowed with reason, we have both the same motive
for listening to the voice of reason. Why should not you think as
I do?

By birth I was a peasant and poor; to till the ground was my portion;
but my parents thought it a finer thing that I should learn to get
my living as a priest and they found means to send me to college.
I am quite sure that neither my parents nor I had any idea of
seeking after what was good, useful, or true; we only sought what
was wanted to get me ordained. I learned what was taught me, I
said what I was told to say, I promised all that was required, and
I became a priest. But I soon discovered that when I promised not
to be a man, I had promised more than I could perform.

Conscience, they tell us, is the creature of prejudice, but I know
from experience that conscience persists in following the order
of nature in spite of all the laws of man. In vain is this or that
forbidden; remorse makes her voice heard but feebly when what we
do is permitted by well-ordered nature, and still more when we are
doing her bidding. My good youth, nature has not yet appealed to
your senses; may you long remain in this happy state when her voice
is the voice of innocence. Remember that to anticipate her teaching
is to offend more deeply against her than to resist her teaching;
you must first learn to resist, that you may know when to yield
without wrong-doing.

From my youth up I had reverenced the married state as the first
and most sacred institution of nature. Having renounced the right
to marry, I was resolved not to profane the sanctity of marriage;
for in spite of my education and reading I had always led a simple
and regular life, and my mind had preserved the innocence of its
natural instincts; these instincts had not been obscured by worldly
wisdom, while my poverty kept me remote from the temptations dictated
by the sophistry of vice.

This very resolution proved my ruin. My respect for marriage led
to the discovery of my misconduct. The scandal must be expiated;
I was arrested, suspended, and dismissed; I was the victim of
my scruples rather than of my incontinence, and I had reason to
believe, from the reproaches which accompanied my disgrace, that
one can often escape punishment by being guilty of a worse fault.

A thoughtful mind soon learns from such experiences. I found my
former ideas of justice, honesty, and every duty of man overturned
by these painful events, and day by day I was losing my hold on
one or another of the opinions I had accepted. What was left was
not enough to form a body of ideas which could stand alone, and
I felt that the evidence on which my principles rested was being
weakened; at last I knew not what to think, and I came to the same
conclusion as yourself, but with this difference: My lack of faith
was the slow growth of manhood, attained with great difficulty,
and all the harder to uproot.

I was in that state of doubt and uncertainty which Descartes
considers essential to the search for truth. It is a state which
cannot continue, it is disquieting and painful; only vicious
tendencies and an idle heart can keep us in that state. My heart
was not so corrupt as to delight in it, and there is nothing which
so maintains the habit of thinking as being better pleased with
oneself than with one's lot.

I pondered, therefore, on the sad fate of mortals, adrift upon this
sea of human opinions, without compass or rudder, and abandoned
to their stormy passions with no guide but an inexperienced pilot
who does not know whence he comes or whither he is going. I said
to myself, "I love truth, I seek her, and cannot find her. Show
me truth and I will hold her fast; why does she hide her face from
the eager heart that would fain worship her?"

Although I have often experienced worse sufferings, I have never
led a life so uniformly distressing as this period of unrest and
anxiety, when I wandered incessantly from one doubt to another,
gaining nothing from my prolonged meditations but uncertainty,
darkness, and contradiction with regard to the source of my being
and the rule of my duties.

I cannot understand how any one can be a sceptic sincerely and on
principle. Either such philosophers do not exist or they are the
most miserable of men. Doubt with regard to what we ought to know
is a condition too violent for the human mind; it cannot long be
endured; in spite of itself the mind decides one way or another,
and it prefers to be deceived rather than to believe nothing.

My perplexity was increased by the fact that I had been brought
up in a church which decides everything and permits no doubts, so
that having rejected one article of faith I was forced to reject
the rest; as I could not accept absurd decisions, I was deprived of
those which were not absurd. When I was told to believe everything,
I could believe nothing, and I knew not where to stop.

I consulted the philosophers, I searched their books and examined
their various theories; I found them all alike proud, assertive,
dogmatic, professing, even in their so-called scepticism, to know
everything, proving nothing, scoffing at each other. This last
trait, which was common to all of them, struck me as the only point
in which they were right. Braggarts in attack, they are weaklings
in defence. Weigh their arguments, they are all destructive; count
their voices, every one speaks for himself; they are only agreed in
arguing with each other. I could find no way out of my uncertainty
by listening to them.

I suppose this prodigious diversity of opinion is caused, in the
first place, by the weakness of the human intellect; and, in the
second, by pride. We have no means of measuring this vast machine,
we are unable to calculate its workings; we know neither its guiding
principles nor its final purpose; we do not know ourselves, we know
neither our nature nor the spirit that moves us; we scarcely know
whether man is one or many; we are surrounded by impenetrable
mysteries. These mysteries are beyond the region of sense, we think
we can penetrate them by the light of reason, but we fall back on
our imagination. Through this imagined world each forces a way for
himself which he holds to be right; none can tell whether his path
will lead him to the goal. Yet we long to know and understand it
all. The one thing we do not know is the limit of the knowable. We
prefer to trust to chance and to believe what is not true, rather
than to own that not one of us can see what really is. A fragment
of some vast whole whose bounds are beyond our gaze, a fragment
abandoned by its Creator to our foolish quarrels, we are vain
enough to want to determine the nature of that whole and our own
relations with regard to it.

If the philosophers were in a position to declare the truth, which
of them would care to do so? Every one of them knows that his own
system rests on no surer foundations than the rest, but he maintains
it because it is his own. There is not one of them who, if he chanced
to discover the difference between truth and falsehood, would not
prefer his own lie to the truth which another had discovered. Where
is the philosopher who would not deceive the whole world for his
own glory? If he can rise above the crowd, if he can excel his
rivals, what more does he want? Among believers he is an atheist;
among atheists he would be a believer.

The first thing I learned from these considerations was to restrict
my inquiries to what directly concerned myself, to rest in profound
ignorance of everything else, and not even to trouble myself to
doubt anything beyond what I required to know.

I also realised that the philosophers, far from ridding me of my
vain doubts, only multiplied the doubts that tormented me and failed
to remove any one of them. So I chose another guide and said, "Let
me follow the Inner Light; it will not lead me so far astray as
others have done, or if it does it will be my own fault, and I shall
not go so far wrong if I follow my own illusions as if I trusted
to their deceits."

I then went over in my mind the various opinions which I had held
in the course of my life, and I saw that although no one of them was
plain enough to gain immediate belief, some were more probable than
others, and my inward consent was given or withheld in proportion
to this improbability. Having discovered this, I made an unprejudiced
comparison of all these different ideas, and I perceived that the
first and most general of them was also the simplest and the most
reasonable, and that it would have been accepted by every one if only
it had been last instead of first. Imagine all your philosophers,
ancient and modern, having exhausted their strange systems of force,
chance, fate, necessity, atoms, a living world, animated matter,
and every variety of materialism. Then comes the illustrious Clarke
who gives light to the world and proclaims the Being of beings
and the Giver of things. What universal admiration, what unanimous
applause would have greeted this new system--a system so great, so
illuminating, and so simple. Other systems are full of absurdities;
this system seems to me to contain fewer things which are beyond
the understanding of the human mind. I said to myself, "Every
system has its insoluble problems, for the finite mind of man is
too small to deal with them; these difficulties are therefore no
final arguments, against any system. But what a difference there
is between the direct evidence on which these systems are based!
Should we not prefer that theory which alone explains all the facts,
when it is no more difficult than the rest?"

Bearing thus within my heart the love of truth as my only philosophy,
and as my only method a clear and simple rule which dispensed with
the need for vain and subtle arguments, I returned with the help
of this rule to the examination of such knowledge as concerned
myself; I was resolved to admit as self-evident all that I could
not honestly refuse to believe, and to admit as true all that seemed
to follow directly from this; all the rest I determined to leave
undecided, neither accepting nor rejecting it, nor yet troubling
myself to clear up difficulties which did not lead to any practical

But who am I? What right have I to decide? What is it that determines
my judgments? If they are inevitable, if they are the results of the
impressions I receive, I am wasting my strength in such inquiries;
they would be made or not without any interference of mine. I must
therefore first turn my eyes upon myself to acquaint myself with the
instrument I desire to use, and to discover how far it is reliable.

I exist, and I have senses through which I receive impressions.
This is the first truth that strikes me and I am forced to accept
it. Have I any independent knowledge of my existence, or am I only
aware of it through my sensations? This is my first difficulty, and
so far I cannot solve it. For I continually experience sensations,
either directly or indirectly through memory, so how can I know if
the feeling of self is something beyond these sensations or if it
can exist independently of them?

My sensations take place in myself, for they make me aware of my
own existence; but their cause is outside me, for they affect me
whether I have any reason for them or not, and they are produced
or destroyed independently of me. So I clearly perceive that my
sensation, which is within me, and its cause or its object, which
is outside me, are different things.

Thus, not only do I exist, but other entities exist also, that is
to say, the objects of my sensations; and even if these objects
are merely ideas, still these ideas are not me.

But everything outside myself, everything which acts upon my senses,
I call matter, and all the particles of matter which I suppose to be
united into separate entities I call bodies. Thus all the disputes
of the idealists and the realists have no meaning for me; their
distinctions between the appearance and the reality of bodies are
wholly fanciful.

I am now as convinced of the existence of the universe as of
my own. I next consider the objects of my sensations, and I find
that I have the power of comparing them, so I perceive that I am
endowed with an active force of which I was not previously aware.

To perceive is to feel; to compare is to judge; to judge and to feel
are not the same. Through sensation objects present themselves to
me separately and singly as they are in nature; by comparing them
I rearrange them, I shift them so to speak, I place one upon another
to decide whether they are alike or different, or more generally
to find out their relations. To my mind, the distinctive faculty of
an active or intelligent being is the power of understanding this
word "is." I seek in vain in the merely sensitive entity that
intelligent force which compares and judges; I can find no trace of
it in its nature. This passive entity will be aware of each object
separately, it will even be aware of the whole formed by the two
together, but having no power to place them side by side it can
never compare them, it can never form a judgment with regard to

To see two things at once is not to see their relations nor to judge
of their differences; to perceive several objects, one beyond the
other, is not to relate them. I may have at the same moment an idea
of a big stick and a little stick without comparing them, without
judging that one is less than the other, just as I can see my whole
hand without counting my fingers. [Footnote: M. de le Cordamines'
narratives tell of a people who only know how to count up to three.
Yet the men of this nation, having hands, have often seen their
fingers without learning to count up to five.] These comparative
ideas, 'greater', 'smaller', together with number ideas of 'one',
'two', etc. are certainly not sensations, although my mind only
produces them when my sensations occur.

We are told that a sensitive being distinguishes sensations from each
other by the inherent differences in the sensations; this requires
explanation. When the sensations are different, the sensitive
being distinguishes them by their differences; when they are alike,
he distinguishes them because he is aware of them one beyond the
other. Otherwise, how could he distinguish between two equal objects
simultaneously experienced? He would necessarily confound the two
objects and take them for one object, especially under a system
which professed that the representative sensations of space have
no extension.

When we become aware of the two sensations to be compared, their
impression is made, each object is perceived, both are perceived,
but for all that their relation is not perceived. If the judgment
of this relation were merely a sensation, and came to me solely
from the object itself, my judgments would never be mistaken, for
it is never untrue that I feel what I feel.

Why then am I mistaken as to the relation between these two sticks,
especially when they are not parallel? Why, for example, do I say
the small stick is a third of the large, when it is only a quarter?
Why is the picture, which is the sensation, unlike its model which
is the object? It is because I am active when I judge, because
the operation of comparison is at fault; because my understanding,
which judges of relations, mingles its errors with the truth of
sensations, which only reveal to me things.

Add to this a consideration which will, I feel sure, appeal to
you when you have thought about it: it is this--If we were purely
passive in the use of our senses, there would be no communication
between them; it would be impossible to know that the body we are
touching and the thing we are looking at is the same. Either we
should never perceive anything outside ourselves, or there would
be for us five substances perceptible by the senses, whose identity
we should have no means of perceiving.

This power of my mind which brings my sensations together and
compares them may be called by any name; let it be called attention,
meditation, reflection, or what you will; it is still true that
it is in me and not in things, that it is I alone who produce it,
though I only produce it when I receive an impression from things.
Though I am compelled to feel or not to feel, I am free to examine
more or less what I feel.

Being now, so to speak, sure of myself, I begin to look at things
outside myself, and I behold myself with a sort of shudder flung
at random into this vast universe, plunged as it were into the vast
number of entities, knowing nothing of what they are in themselves
or in relation to me. I study them, I observe them; and the first
object which suggests itself for comparison with them is myself.

All that I perceive through the senses is matter, and I deduce
all the essential properties of matter from the sensible qualities
which make me perceive it, qualities which are inseparable from it.
I see it sometimes in motion, sometimes at rest, [Footnote: This
repose is, if you prefer it, merely relative; but as we perceive
more or less of motion, we may plainly conceive one of two extremes,
which is rest; and we conceive it so clearly that we are even
disposed to take for absolute rest what is only relative. But it
is not true that motion is of the essence of matter, if matter may
be conceived of as at rest.] hence I infer that neither motion nor
rest is essential to it, but motion, being an action, is the result
of a cause of which rest is only the absence. When, therefore,
there is nothing acting upon matter it does not move, and for the
very reason that rest and motion are indifferent to it, its natural
state is a state of rest.

I perceive two sorts of motions of bodies, acquired motion and
spontaneous or voluntary motion. In the first the cause is external
to the body moved, in the second it is within. I shall not conclude
from that that the motion, say of a watch, is spontaneous, for if no
external cause operated upon the spring it would run down and the
watch would cease to go. For the same reason I should not admit
that the movements of fluids are spontaneous, neither should I
attribute spontaneous motion to fire which causes their fluidity.
[Footnote: Chemists regard phlogiston or the element of fire as
diffused, motionless, and stagnant in the compounds of which it
forms part, until external forces set it free, collect it and set
in in motion, and change it into fire.]

You ask me if the movements of animals are spontaneous; my answer
is, "I cannot tell," but analogy points that way. You ask me again,
how do I know that there are spontaneous movements? I tell you, "I
know it because I feel them." I want to move my arm and I move it
without any other immediate cause of the movement but my own will.
In vain would any one try to argue me out of this feeling, it is
stronger than any proofs; you might as well try to convince me that
I do not exist.

If there were no spontaneity in men's actions, nor in anything
that happens on this earth, it would be all the more difficult to
imagine a first cause for all motion. For my own part, I feel myself
so thoroughly convinced that the natural state of matter is a state
of rest, and that it has no power of action in itself, that when
I see a body in motion I at once assume that it is either a living
body or that this motion has been imparted to it. My mind declines
to accept in any way the idea of inorganic matter moving of its
own accord, or giving rise to any action.

Yet this visible universe consists of matter, matter diffused and
dead, [Footnote: I have tried hard to grasp the idea of a living
molecule, but in vain. The idea of matter feeling without any senses
seems to me unintelligible and self-contradictory. To accept or
reject this idea one must first understand it, and I confess that
so far I have not succeeded.] matter which has none of the cohesion,
the organisation, the common feeling of the parts of a living body,
for it is certain that we who are parts have no consciousness of
the whole. This same universe is in motion, and in its movements,
ordered, uniform, and subject to fixed laws, it has none of that
freedom which appears in the spontaneous movements of men and
animals. So the world is not some huge animal which moves of its
own accord; its movements are therefore due to some external cause,
a cause which I cannot perceive, but the inner voice makes this
cause so apparent to me that I cannot watch the course of the
sun without imagining a force which drives it, and when the earth
revolves I think I see the hand that sets it in motion.

If I must accept general laws whose essential relation to matter
is unperceived by me, how much further have I got? These laws, not
being real things, not being substances, have therefore some other
basis unknown to me. Experiment and observation have acquainted us
with the laws of motion; these laws determine the results without
showing their causes; they are quite inadequate to explain the
system of the world and the course of the universe. With the help
of dice Descartes made heaven and earth; but he could not set his
dice in motion, nor start the action of his centrifugal force without
the help of rotation. Newton discovered the law of gravitation; but
gravitation alone would soon reduce the universe to a motionless
mass; he was compelled to add a projectile force to account for
the elliptical course of the celestial bodies; let Newton show us
the hand that launched the planets in the tangent of their orbits.

The first causes of motion are not to be found in matter; matter
receives and transmits motion, but does not produce it. The more
I observe the action and reaction of the forces of nature playing
on one another, the more I see that we must always go back from one
effect to another, till we arrive at a first cause in some will;
for to assume an infinite succession of causes is to assume that
there is no first cause. In a word, no motion which is not caused
by another motion can take place, except by a spontaneous, voluntary
action; inanimate bodies have no action but motion, and there is
no real action without will. This is my first principle. I believe,
therefore, that there is a will which sets the universe in motion
and gives life to nature. This is my first dogma, or the first
article of my creed.

How does a will produce a physical and corporeal action? I cannot
tell, but I perceive that it does so in myself; I will to do
something and I do it; I will to move my body and it moves, but
if an inanimate body, when at rest, should begin to move itself,
the thing is incomprehensible and without precedent. The will is
known to me in its action, not in its nature. I know this will as
a cause of motion, but to conceive of matter as producing motion
is clearly to conceive of an effect without a cause, which is not
to conceive at all.

It is no more possible for me to conceive how my will moves my body
than to conceive how my sensations affect my mind. I do not even
know why one of these mysteries has seemed less inexplicable than the
other. For my own part, whether I am active or passive, the means
of union of the two substances seem to me absolutely incomprehensible.
It is very strange that people make this very incomprehensibility a
step towards the compounding of the two substances, as if operations
so different in kind were more easily explained in one case than
in two.

The doctrine I have just laid down is indeed obscure; but at least
it suggests a meaning and there is nothing in it repugnant to reason
or experience; can we say as much of materialism? Is it not plain
that if motion is essential to matter it would be inseparable from
it, it would always be present in it in the same degree, always
present in every particle of matter, always the same in each
particle of matter, it would not be capable of transmission, it
could neither increase nor diminish, nor could we ever conceive of
matter at rest. When you tell me that motion is not essential to
matter but necessary to it, you try to cheat me with words which
would be easier to refute if there was a little more sense in them.
For either the motion of matter arises from the matter itself and
is therefore essential to it; or it arises from an external cause
and is not necessary to the matter, because the motive cause acts
upon it; we have got back to our original difficulty.

The chief source of human error is to be found in general and abstract
ideas; the jargon of metaphysics has never led to the discovery of
any single truth, and it has filled philosophy with absurdities of
which we are ashamed as soon as we strip them of their long words.
Tell me, my friend, when they talk to you of a blind force diffused
throughout nature, do they present any real idea to your mind? They
think they are saying something by these vague expressions--universal
force, essential motion--but they are saying nothing at all. The idea
of motion is nothing more than the idea of transference from place
to place; there is no motion without direction; for no individual
can move all ways at once. In what direction then does matter move
of necessity? Has the whole body of matter a uniform motion, or
has each atom its own motion? According to the first idea the whole
universe must form a solid and indivisible mass; according to the
second it can only form a diffused and incoherent fluid, which
would make the union of any two atoms impossible. What direction
shall be taken by this motion common to all matter? Shall it be
in a straight line, in a circle, or from above downwards, to the
right or to the left? If each molecule has its own direction, what
are the causes of all these directions and all these differences?
If every molecule or atom only revolved on its own axis, nothing
would ever leave its place and there would be no transmitted motion,
and even then this circular movement would require to follow some
direction. To set matter in motion by an abstraction is to utter
words without meaning, and to attribute to matter a given direction
is to assume a determining cause. The more examples I take, the
more causes I have to explain, without ever finding a common agent
which controls them. Far from being able to picture to myself an
entire absence of order in the fortuitous concurrence of elements,
I cannot even imagine such a strife, and the chaos of the universe
is less conceivable to me than its harmony. I can understand that
the mechanism of the universe may not be intelligible to the human
mind, but when a man sets to work to explain it, he must say what
men can understand.

If matter in motion points me to a will, matter in motion according
to fixed laws points me to an intelligence; that is the second article
of my creed. To act, to compare, to choose, are the operations of
an active, thinking being; so this being exists. Where do you find
him existing, you will say? Not merely in the revolving heavens,
nor in the sun which gives us light, not in myself alone, but in
the sheep that grazes, the bird that flies, the stone that falls,
and the leaf blown by the wind.

I judge of the order of the world, although I know nothing of its
purpose, for to judge of this order it is enough for me to compare
the parts one with another, to study their co-operation, their
relations, and to observe their united action. I know not why the
universe exists, but I see continually how it is changed; I never
fail to perceive the close connection by which the entities of
which it consists lend their aid one to another. I am like a man
who sees the works of a watch for the first time; he is never weary
of admiring the mechanism, though he does not know the use of the
instrument and has never seen its face. I do not know what this is
for, says he, but I see that each part of it is fitted to the rest,
I admire the workman in the details of his work, and I am quite
certain that all these wheels only work together in this fashion
for some common end which I cannot perceive.

Let us compare the special ends, the means, the ordered relations
of every kind, then let us listen to the inner voice of feeling;
what healthy mind can reject its evidence? Unless the eyes are
blinded by prejudices, can they fail to see that the visible order
of the universe proclaims a supreme intelligence? What sophisms
must be brought together before we fail to understand the harmony
of existence and the wonderful co-operation of every part for the
maintenance of the rest? Say what you will of combinations and
probabilities; what do you gain by reducing me to silence if you
cannot gain my consent? And how can you rob me of the spontaneous
feeling which, in spite of myself, continually gives you the lie?
If organised bodies had come together fortuitously in all sorts of
ways before assuming settled forms, if stomachs are made without
mouths, feet without heads, hands without arms, imperfect organs of
every kind which died because they could not preserve their life,
why do none of these imperfect attempts now meet our eyes; why has
nature at length prescribed laws to herself which she did not at
first recognise? I must not be surprised if that which is possible
should happen, and if the improbability of the event is compensated
for by the number of the attempts. I grant this; yet if any one
told me that printed characters scattered broadcast had produced
the Aeneid all complete, I would not condescend to take a single
step to verify this falsehood. You will tell me I am forgetting the
multitude of attempts. But how many such attempts must I assume to
bring the combination within the bounds of probability? For my own
part the only possible assumption is that the chances are infinity
to one that the product is not the work of chance. In addition to
this, chance combinations yield nothing but products of the same
nature as the elements combined, so that life and organisation will
not be produced by a flow of atoms, and a chemist when making his
compounds will never give them thought and feeling in his crucible.
[Footnote: Could one believe, if one had not seen it, that human
absurdity could go so far? Amatus Lusitanus asserts that he saw a
little man an inch long enclosed in a glass, which Julius Camillus,
like a second Prometheus, had made by alchemy. Paracelsis (De
natura rerum) teaches the method of making these tiny men, and he
maintains that the pygmies, fauns, satyrs, and nymphs have been made
by chemistry. Indeed I cannot see that there is anything more to
be done, to establish the possibility of these facts, unless it
is to assert that organic matter resists the heat of fire and that
its molecules can preserve their life in the hottest furnace.]

I was surprised and almost shocked when I read Neuwentit. How
could this man desire to make a book out of the wonders of nature,
wonders which show the wisdom of the author of nature? His book would
have been as large as the world itself before he had exhausted his
subject, and as soon as we attempt to give details, that greatest
wonder of all, the concord and harmony of the whole, escapes us.
The mere generation of living organic bodies is the despair of the
human mind; the insurmountable barrier raised by nature between the
various species, so that they should not mix with one another, is
the clearest proof of her intention. She is not content to have
established order, she has taken adequate measures to prevent the
disturbance of that order.

There is not a being in the universe which may not be regarded as
in some respects the common centre of all, around which they are
grouped, so that they are all reciprocally end and means in relation
to each other. The mind is confused and lost amid these innumerable
relations, not one of which is itself confused or lost in the
crowd. What absurd assumptions are required to deduce all this
harmony from the blind mechanism of matter set in motion by chance!
In vain do those who deny the unity of intention manifested in the
relations of all the parts of this great whole, in vain do they
conceal their nonsense under abstractions, co-ordinations, general
principles, symbolic expressions; whatever they do I find it
impossible to conceive of a system of entities so firmly ordered
unless I believe in an intelligence that orders them. It is not in
my power to believe that passive and dead matter can have brought
forth living and feeling beings, that blind chance has brought
forth intelligent beings, that that which does not think has brought
forth thinking beings.

I believe, therefore, that the world is governed by a wise and
powerful will; I see it or rather I feel it, and it is a great
thing to know this. But has this same world always existed, or has
it been created? Is there one source of all things? Are there two
or many? What is their nature? I know not; and what concern is it
of mine? When these things become of importance to me I will try
to learn them; till then I abjure these idle speculations, which may
trouble my peace, but cannot affect my conduct nor be comprehended
by my reason.

Recollect that I am not preaching my own opinion but explaining
it. Whether matter is eternal or created, whether its origin is
passive or not, it is still certain that the whole is one, and that
it proclaims a single intelligence; for I see nothing that is not
part of the same ordered system, nothing which does not co-operate
to the same end, namely, the conservation of all within the
established order. This being who wills and can perform his will,
this being active through his own power, this being, whoever he may
be, who moves the universe and orders all things, is what I call
God. To this name I add the ideas of intelligence, power, will,
which I have brought together, and that of kindness which is their
necessary consequence; but for all this I know no more of the being
to which I ascribe them. He hides himself alike from my senses
and my understanding; the more I think of him, the more perplexed
I am; I know full well that he exists, and that he exists of himself
alone; I know that my existence depends on his, and that everything
I know depends upon him also. I see God everywhere in his works;
I feel him within myself; I behold him all around me; but if I try
to ponder him himself, if I try to find out where he is, what he
is, what is his substance, he escapes me and my troubled spirit
finds nothing.

Convinced of my unfitness, I shall never argue about the nature of
God unless I am driven to it by the feeling of his relations with
myself. Such reasonings are always rash; a wise man should venture
on them with trembling, he should be certain that he can never
sound their abysses; for the most insolent attitude towards God is
not to abstain from thinking of him, but to think evil of him.

After the discovery of such of his attributes as enable me to conceive
of his existence, I return to myself, and I try to discover what is
my place in the order of things which he governs, and I can myself
examine. At once, and beyond possibility of doubt, I discover my
species; for by my own will and the instruments I can control to
carry out my will, I have more power to act upon all bodies about
me, either to make use of or to avoid their action at my pleasure,
than any of them has power to act upon me against my will by mere
physical impulsion; and through my intelligence I am the only one
who can examine all the rest. What being here below, except man,
can observe others, measure, calculate, forecast their motions,
their effects, and unite, so to speak, the feeling of a common
existence with that of his individual existence? What is there so
absurd in the thought that all things are made for me, when I alone
can relate all things to myself?

It is true, therefore, that man is lord of the earth on which he
dwells; for not only does he tame all the beasts, not only does he
control its elements through his industry; but he alone knows how
to control it; by contemplation he takes possession of the stars
which he cannot approach. Show me any other creature on earth who
can make a fire and who can behold with admiration the sun. What!
can I observe and know all creatures and their relations; can
I feel what is meant by order, beauty, and virtue; can I consider
the universe and raise myself towards the hand that guides it; can
I love good and perform it; and should I then liken myself to the
beasts? Wretched soul, it is your gloomy philosophy which makes
you like the beasts; or rather in vain do you seek to degrade
yourself; your genius belies your principles, your kindly heart
belies your doctrines, and even the abuse of your powers proves
their excellence in your own despite.

For myself, I am not pledged to the support of any system. I am a
plain and honest man, one who is not carried away by party spirit,
one who has no ambition to be head of a sect; I am content with
the place where God has set me; I see nothing, next to God himself,
which is better than my species; and if I had to choose my place in
the order of creation, what more could I choose than to be a man!

I am not puffed up by this thought, I am deeply moved by it; for
this state was no choice of mine, it was not due to the deserts
of a creature who as yet did not exist. Can I behold myself thus
distinguished without congratulating myself on this post of honour,
without blessing the hand which bestowed it? The first return to
self has given birth to a feeling of gratitude and thankfulness
to the author of my species, and this feeling calls forth my first
homage to the beneficent Godhead. I worship his Almighty power and
my heart acknowledges his mercies. Is it not a natural consequence
of our self-love to honour our protector and to love our benefactor?

But when, in my desire to discover my own place within my species,
I consider its different ranks and the men who fill them, where am
I now? What a sight meets my eyes! Where is now the order I perceived?
Nature showed me a scene of harmony and proportion; the human race
shows me nothing but confusion and disorder. The elements agree
together; men are in a state of chaos. The beasts are happy; their
king alone is wretched. O Wisdom, where are thy laws? O Providence,
is this thy rule over the world? Merciful God, where is thy Power?
I behold the earth, and there is evil upon it.

Would you believe it, dear friend, from these gloomy thoughts and
apparent contradictions, there was shaped in my mind the sublime
idea of the soul, which all my seeking had hitherto failed to
discover? While I meditated upon man's nature, I seemed to discover
two distinct principles in it; one of them raised him to the study
of the eternal truths, to the love of justice, and of true morality,
to the regions of the world of thought, which the wise delight to
contemplate; the other led him downwards to himself, made him the
slave of his senses, of the passions which are their instruments,
and thus opposed everything suggested to him by the former principle.
When I felt myself carried away, distracted by these conflicting
motives, I said, No; man is not one; I will and I will not; I feel
myself at once a slave and a free man; I perceive what is right, I
love it, and I do what is wrong; I am active when I listen to the
voice of reason; I am passive when I am carried away by my passions;
and when I yield, my worst suffering is the knowledge that I might
have resisted.

Young man, hear me with confidence. I will always be honest with
you. If conscience is the creature of prejudice, I am certainly
wrong, and there is no such thing as a proof of morality; but if
to put oneself first is an inclination natural to man, and if the
first sentiment of justice is moreover inborn in the human heart,
let those who say man is a simple creature remove these contradictions
and I will grant that there is but one substance.

You will note that by this term 'substance' I understand generally
the being endowed with some primitive quality, apart from all special
and secondary modifications. If then all the primitive qualities
which are known to us can be united in one and the same being, we
should only acknowledge one substance; but if there are qualities
which are mutually exclusive, there are as many different substances
as there are such exclusions. You will think this over; for my
own part, whatever Locke may say, it is enough for me to recognise
matter as having merely extension and divisibility to convince
myself that it cannot think, and if a philosopher tells me that
trees feel and rocks think [Footnote: It seems to me that modern
philosophy, far from saying that rocks think, has discovered that
men do not think. It perceives nothing more in nature than sensitive
beings; and the only difference it finds between a man and a stone
is that a man is a sensitive being which experiences sensations, and
a stone is a sensitive being which does not experience sensations.
But if it is true that all matter feels, where shall I find the
sensitive unit, the individual ego? Shall it be in each molecule of
matter or in bodies as aggregates of molecules? Shall I place this
unity in fluids and solids alike, in compounds and in elements? You
tell me nature consists of individuals. But what are these individuals?
Is that stone an individual or an aggregate of individuals? Is
it a single sensitive being, or are there as many beings in it as
there are grains of sand? If every elementary atom is a sensitive
being, how shall I conceive of that intimate communication by which
one feels within the other, so that their two egos are blended in
one? Attraction may be a law of nature whose mystery is unknown to
us; but at least we conceive that there is nothing in attraction
acting in proportion to mass which is contrary to extension and
divisibility. Can you conceive of sensation in the same way? The
sensitive parts have extension, but the sensitive being is one and
indivisible; he cannot be cut in two, he is a whole or he is nothing;
therefore the sensitive being is not a material body. I know not
how our materialists understand it, but it seems to me that the
same difficulties which have led them to reject thought, should
have made them also reject feeling; and I see no reason why, when
the first step has been taken, they should not take the second
too; what more would it cost them? Since they are certain they do
not think, why do they dare to affirm that they feel?] in vain will
he perplex me with his cunning arguments; I merely regard him as
a dishonest sophist, who prefers to say that stones have feeling
rather than that men have souls.

Suppose a deaf man denies the existence of sounds because he has
never heard them. I put before his eyes a stringed instrument and
cause it to sound in unison by means of another instrument concealed
from him; the deaf man sees the chord vibrate. I tell him, "The
sound makes it do that." "Not at all," says he, "the string itself
is the cause of the vibration; to vibrate in that way is a quality
common to all bodies." "Then show me this vibration in other
bodies," I answer, "or at least show me its cause in this string."
"I cannot," replies the deaf man; "but because I do not understand
how that string vibrates why should I try to explain it by means of
your sounds, of which I have not the least idea? It is explaining
one obscure fact by means of a cause still more obscure. Make me
perceive your sounds; or I say there are no such things."

The more I consider thought and the nature of the human mind, the
more likeness I find between the arguments of the materialists and
those of the deaf man. Indeed, they are deaf to the inner voice
which cries aloud to them, in a tone which can hardly be mistaken.
A machine does not think, there is neither movement nor form which
can produce reflection; something within thee tries to break the
bands which confine it; space is not thy measure, the whole universe
does not suffice to contain thee; thy sentiments, thy desires, thy
anxiety, thy pride itself, have another origin than this small body
in which thou art imprisoned.

No material creature is in itself active, and I am active. In vain
do you argue this point with me; I feel it, and it is this feeling
which speaks to me more forcibly than the reason which disputes it.
I have a body which is acted upon by other bodies, and it acts in
turn upon them; there is no doubt about this reciprocal action;
but my will is independent of my senses; I consent or I resist;
I yield or I win the victory, and I know very well in myself when
I have done what I wanted and when I have merely given way to
my passions. I have always the power to will, but not always the
strength to do what I will. When I yield to temptation I surrender
myself to the action of external objects. When I blame myself for
this weakness, I listen to my own will alone; I am a slave in my
vices, a free man in my remorse; the feeling of freedom is never
effaced in me but when I myself do wrong, and when I at length
prevent the voice of the soul from protesting against the authority
of the body.

I am only aware of will through the consciousness of my own will,
and intelligence is no better known to me. When you ask me what
is the cause which determines my will, it is my turn to ask what
cause determines my judgment; for it is plain that these two causes
are but one; and if you understand clearly that man is active in
his judgments, that his intelligence is only the power to compare
and judge, you will see that his freedom is only a similar power
or one derived from this; he chooses between good and evil as he
judges between truth and falsehood; if his judgment is at fault, he
chooses amiss. What then is the cause that determines his will? It
is his judgment. And what is the cause that determines his judgment?
It is his intelligence, his power of judging; the determining cause
is in himself. Beyond that, I understand nothing.

No doubt I am not free not to desire my own welfare, I am not free
to desire my own hurt; but my freedom consists in this very thing,
that I can will what is for my own good, or what I esteem as such,
without any external compulsion. Does it follow that I am not my
own master because I cannot be other than myself?

The motive power of all action is in the will of a free creature; we
can go no farther. It is not the word freedom that is meaningless, but
the word necessity. To suppose some action which is not the effect
of an active motive power is indeed to suppose effects without
cause, to reason in a vicious circle. Either there is no original
impulse, or every original impulse has no antecedent cause, and
there is no will properly so-called without freedom. Man is therefore
free to act, and as such he is animated by an immaterial substance;
that is the third article of my creed. From these three you will
easily deduce the rest, so that I need not enumerate them.

If man is at once active and free, he acts of his own accord; what
he does freely is no part of the system marked out by Providence
and it cannot be imputed to Providence. Providence does not will
the evil that man does when he misuses the freedom given to him;
neither does Providence prevent him doing it, either because the
wrong done by so feeble a creature is as nothing in its eyes, or
because it could not prevent it without doing a greater wrong and
degrading his nature. Providence has made him free that he may
choose the good and refuse the evil. It has made him capable of this
choice if he uses rightly the faculties bestowed upon him, but it
has so strictly limited his powers that the misuse of his freedom
cannot disturb the general order. The evil that man does reacts
upon himself without affecting the system of the world, without
preventing the preservation of the human species in spite of
itself. To complain that God does not prevent us from doing wrong
is to complain because he has made man of so excellent a nature,
that he has endowed his actions with that morality by which they
are ennobled, that he has made virtue man's birthright. Supreme
happiness consists in self-content; that we may gain this self-content
we are placed upon this earth and endowed with freedom, we are
tempted by our passions and restrained by conscience. What more
could divine power itself have done on our behalf? Could it have made
our nature a contradiction, and have given the prize of well-doing
to one who was incapable of evil? To prevent a man from wickedness,
should Providence have restricted him to instinct and made him
a fool? Not so, O God of my soul, I will never reproach thee that
thou hast created me in thine own image, that I may be free and
good and happy like my Maker!

It is the abuse of our powers that makes us unhappy and wicked.
Our cares, our sorrows, our sufferings are of our own making. Moral
ills are undoubtedly the work of man, and physical ills would be
nothing but for our vices which have made us liable to them. Has
not nature made us feel our needs as a means to our preservation!
Is not bodily suffering a sign that the machine is out of order
and needs attention? Death.... Do not the wicked poison their own
life and ours? Who would wish to live for ever? Death is the cure
for the evils you bring upon yourself; nature would not have you
suffer perpetually. How few sufferings are felt by man living in
a state of primitive simplicity! His life is almost entirely free
from suffering and from passion; he neither fears nor feels death;
if he feels it, his sufferings make him desire it; henceforth it
is no evil in his eyes. If we were but content to be ourselves we
should have no cause to complain of our lot; but in the search for
an imaginary good we find a thousand real ills. He who cannot bear
a little pain must expect to suffer greatly. If a man injures his
constitution by dissipation, you try to cure him with medicine;
the ill he fears is added to the ill he feels; the thought of
death makes it horrible and hastens its approach; the more we seek
to escape from it, the more we are aware of it; and we go through
life in the fear of death, blaming nature for the evils we have
inflicted on ourselves by our neglect of her laws.

O Man! seek no further for the author of evil; thou art he. There
is no evil but the evil you do or the evil you suffer, and both
come from yourself. Evil in general can only spring from disorder,
and in the order of the world I find a never failing system. Evil
in particular cases exists only in the mind of those who experience
it; and this feeling is not the gift of nature, but the work of
man himself. Pain has little power over those who, having thought
little, look neither before nor after. Take away our fatal progress,
take away our faults and our vices, take away man's handiwork, and
all is well.

Where all is well, there is no such thing as injustice. Justice and
goodness are inseparable; now goodness is the necessary result of
boundless power and of that self-love which is innate in all sentient
beings. The omnipotent projects himself, so to speak, into the being
of his creatures. Creation and preservation are the everlasting
work of power; it does not act on that which has no existence; God
is not the God of the dead; he could not harm and destroy without
injury to himself. The omnipotent can only will what is good.
[Footnote: The ancients were right when they called the supreme
God Optimus Maximus, but it would have been better to say Maximus
Optimus, for his goodness springs from his power, he is good
because he is great.] Therefore he who is supremely good, because
he is supremely powerful, must also be supremely just, otherwise
he would contradict himself; for that love of order which creates
order we call goodness and that love of order which preserves order
we call justice.

Men say God owes nothing to his creatures. I think he owes them
all he promised when he gave them their being. Now to give them
the idea of something good and to make them feel the need of it,
is to promise it to them. The more closely I study myself, the more
carefully I consider, the more plainly do I read these words, "Be
just and you will be happy." It is not so, however, in the present
condition of things, the wicked prospers and the oppression of the
righteous continues. Observe how angry we are when this expectation
is disappointed. Conscience revolts and murmurs against her Creator;
she exclaims with cries and groans, "Thou hast deceived me."

"I have deceived thee, rash soul! Who told thee this? Is thy soul
destroyed? Hast thou ceased to exist? O Brutus! O my son! let there
be no stain upon the close of thy noble life; do not abandon thy
hope and thy glory with thy corpse upon the plains of Philippi.
Why dost thou say, 'Virtue is naught,' when thou art about to enjoy
the reward of virtue? Thou art about to die! Nay, thou shalt live,
and thus my promise is fulfilled."

One might judge from the complaints of impatient men that God owes
them the reward before they have deserved it, that he is bound to
pay for virtue in advance. Oh! let us first be good and then we
shall be happy. Let us not claim the prize before we have won it,
nor demand our wages before we have finished our work. "It is not
in the lists that we crown the victors in the sacred games," says
Plutarch, "it is when they have finished their course."

If the soul is immaterial, it may survive the body; and if
it so survives, Providence is justified. Had I no other proof of
the immaterial nature of the soul, the triumph of the wicked and
the oppression of the righteous in this world would be enough to
convince me. I should seek to resolve so appalling a discord in the
universal harmony. I should say to myself, "All is not over with
life, everything finds its place at death." I should still have to
answer the question, "What becomes of man when all we know of him
through our senses has vanished?" This question no longer presents
any difficulty to me when I admit the two substances. It is easy
to understand that what is imperceptible to those senses escapes
me, during my bodily life, when I perceive through my senses only.
When the union of soul and body is destroyed, I think one may be
dissolved and the other may be preserved. Why should the destruction
of the one imply the destruction of the other? On the contrary, so
unlike in their nature, they were during their union in a highly
unstable condition, and when this union comes to an end they both
return to their natural state; the active vital substance regains
all the force which it expended to set in motion the passive dead
substance. Alas! my vices make me only too well aware that man is
but half alive during this life; the life of the soul only begins
with the death of the body.

But what is that life? Is the soul of man in its nature immortal?
I know not. My finite understanding cannot hold the infinite; what
is called eternity eludes my grasp. What can I assert or deny, how
can I reason with regard to what I cannot conceive? I believe that
the soul survives the body for the maintenance of order; who knows
if this is enough to make it eternal? However, I know that the
body is worn out and destroyed by the division of its parts, but
I cannot conceive a similar destruction of the conscious nature,
and as I cannot imagine how it can die, I presume that it does not
die. As this assumption is consoling and in itself not unreasonable,
why should I fear to accept it?

I am aware of my soul; it is known to me in feeling and in thought;
I know what it is without knowing its essence; I cannot reason
about ideas which are unknown to me. What I do know is this, that
my personal identity depends upon memory, and that to be indeed
the same self I must remember that I have existed. Now after death
I could not recall what I was when alive unless I also remembered
what I felt and therefore what I did; and I have no doubt that
this remembrance will one day form the happiness of the good and
the torment of the bad. In this world our inner consciousness is
absorbed by the crowd of eager passions which cheat remorse. The
humiliation and disgrace involved in the practice of virtue do not
permit us to realise its charm. But when, freed from the illusions
of the bodily senses, we behold with joy the supreme Being and
the eternal truths which flow from him; when all the powers of our
soul are alive to the beauty of order and we are wholly occupied in
comparing what we have done with what we ought to have done, then
it is that the voice of conscience will regain its strength and sway;
then it is that the pure delight which springs from self-content,
and the sharp regret for our own degradation of that self, will
decide by means of overpowering feeling what shall be the fate
which each has prepared for himself. My good friend, do not ask me
whether there are other sources of happiness or suffering; I cannot
tell; that which my fancy pictures is enough to console me in this
life and to bid me look for a life to come. I do not say the good
will be rewarded, for what greater good can a truly good being expect
than to exist in accordance with his nature? But I do assert that
the good will be happy, because their maker, the author of all
justice, who has made them capable of feeling, has not made them
that they may suffer; moreover, they have not abused their freedom
upon earth and they have not changed their fate through any fault
of their own; yet they have suffered in this life and it will be made
up to them in the life to come. This feeling relies not so much on
man's deserts as on the idea of good which seems to me inseparable
from the divine essence. I only assume that the laws of order are
constant and that God is true to himself.

Do not ask me whether the torments of the wicked will endure for
ever, whether the goodness of their creator can condemn them to
the eternal suffering; again, I cannot tell, and I have no empty
curiosity for the investigation of useless problems. How does the
fate of the wicked concern me? I take little interest in it. All
the same I find it hard to believe that they will be condemned to
everlasting torments. If the supreme justice calls for vengeance,
it claims it in this life. The nations of the world with their errors
are its ministers. Justice uses self-inflicted ills to punish the
crimes which have deserved them. It is in your own insatiable souls,
devoured by envy, greed, and ambition, it is in the midst of your
false prosperity, that the avenging passions find the due reward
of your crimes. What need to seek a hell in the future life? It is
here in the breast of the wicked.

When our fleeting needs are over, and our mad desires are at rest,
there should also be an end of our passions and our crimes. Can
pure spirits be capable of any perversity? Having need of nothing,
why should they be wicked? If they are free from our gross senses,
if their happiness consists in the contemplation of other beings,
they can only desire what is good; and he who ceases to be bad can
never be miserable. This is what I am inclined to think though I
have not been at the pains to come to any decision. O God, merciful
and good, whatever thy decrees may be I adore them; if thou shouldst
commit the wicked to everlasting punishment, I abandon my feeble
reason to thy justice; but if the remorse of these wretched beings
should in the course of time be extinguished, if their sufferings
should come to an end, and if the same peace shall one day be the
lot of all mankind, I give thanks to thee for this. Is not the
wicked my brother? How often have I been tempted to be like him?
Let him be delivered from his misery and freed from the spirit of
hatred that accompanied it; let him be as happy as I myself; his
happiness, far from arousing my jealousy, will only increase my

Thus it is that, in the contemplation of God in his works, and in
the study of such of his attributes as it concerned me to know,
I have slowly grasped and developed the idea, at first partial
and imperfect, which I have formed of this Infinite Being. But if
this idea has become nobler and greater it is also more suited to
the human reason. As I approach in spirit the eternal light, I am
confused and dazzled by its glory, and compelled to abandon all
the earthly notions which helped me to picture it to myself. God
is no longer corporeal and sensible; the supreme mind which rules
the world is no longer the world itself; in vain do I strive to
grasp his inconceivable essence. When I think that it is he that
gives life and movement to the living and moving substance which
controls all living bodies; when I hear it said that my soul is
spiritual and that God is a spirit, I revolt against this abasement
of the divine essence; as if God and my soul were of one and the
same nature! As if God were not the one and only absolute being,
the only really active, feeling, thinking, willing being, from whom
we derive our thought, feeling, motion, will, our freedom and our
very existence! We are free because he wills our freedom, and his
inexplicable substance is to our souls what our souls are to our
bodies. I know not whether he has created matter, body, soul, the
world itself. The idea of creation confounds me and eludes my grasp;
so far as I can conceive of it I believe it; but I know that he has
formed the universe and all that is, that he has made and ordered
all things. No doubt God is eternal; but can my mind grasp the idea
of eternity? Why should I cheat myself with meaningless words?
This is what I do understand; before things were--God was; he will
be when they are no more, and if all things come to an end he will
still endure. That a being beyond my comprehension should give life
to other beings, this is merely difficult and beyond my understanding;
but that Being and Nothing should be convertible terms, this is
indeed a palpable contradiction, an evident absurdity.

God is intelligent, but how? Man is intelligent when he reasons, but
the Supreme Intelligence does not need to reason; there is neither
premise nor conclusion for him, there is not even a proposition.
The Supreme Intelligence is wholly intuitive, it sees what is and
what shall be; all truths are one for it, as all places are but one
point and all time but one moment. Man's power makes use of means,
the divine power is self-active. God can because he wills; his
will is his power. God is good; this is certain; but man finds his
happiness in the welfare of his kind. God's happiness consists in
the love of order; for it is through order that he maintains what
is, and unites each part in the whole. God is just; of this I am
sure, it is a consequence of his goodness; man's injustice is not
God's work, but his own; that moral justice which seems to the
philosophers a presumption against Providence, is to me a proof of
its existence. But man's justice consists in giving to each his
due; God's justice consists in demanding from each of us an account
of that which he has given us.

If I have succeeded in discerning these attributes of which I have
no absolute idea, it is in the form of unavoidable deductions, and
by the right use of my reason; but I affirm them without understanding
them, and at bottom that is no affirmation at all. In vain do I
say, God is thus, I feel it, I experience it, none the more do I
understand how God can be thus.

In a word: the more I strive to envisage his infinite essence the
less do I comprehend it; but it is, and that is enough for me; the
less I understand, the more I adore. I abase myself, saying, "Being
of beings, I am because thou art; to fix my thoughts on thee is
to ascend to the source of my being. The best use I can make of my
reason is to resign it before thee; my mind delights, my weakness
rejoices, to feel myself overwhelmed by thy greatness."

Having thus deduced from the perception of objects of sense and
from my inner consciousness, which leads me to judge of causes by
my native reason, the principal truths which I require to know, I
must now seek such principles of conduct as I can draw from them,
and such rules as I must lay down for my guidance in the fulfilment
of my destiny in this world, according to the purpose of my Maker.
Still following the same method, I do not derive these rules from
the principles of the higher philosophy, I find them in the depths
of my heart, traced by nature in characters which nothing can efface.
I need only consult myself with regard to what I wish to do; what
I feel to be right is right, what I feel to be wrong is wrong;
conscience is the best casuist; and it is only when we haggle with
conscience that we have recourse to the subtleties of argument.
Our first duty is towards ourself; yet how often does the voice of
others tell us that in seeking our good at the expense of others
we are doing ill? We think we are following the guidance of nature,
and we are resisting it; we listen to what she says to our senses,
and we neglect what she says to our heart; the active being obeys,
the passive commands. Conscience is the voice of the soul, the
passions are the voice of the body. It is strange that these voices
often contradict each other? And then to which should we give heed?
Too often does reason deceive us; we have only too good a right to
doubt her; but conscience never deceives us; she is the true guide
of man; it is to the soul what instinct is to the body, [Footnote:
Modern philosophy, which only admits what it can understand, is
careful not to admit this obscure power called instinct which seems
to guide the animals to some end without any acquired experience.
Instinct, according to some of our wise philosophers, is only a
secret habit of reflection, acquired by reflection; and from the
way in which they explain this development one ought to suppose
that children reflect more than grown-up people: a paradox strange
enough to be worth examining. Without entering upon this discussion I
must ask what name I shall give to the eagerness with which my dog
makes war on the moles he does not eat, or to the patience with
which he sometimes watches them for hours and the skill with which
he seizes them, throws them to a distance from their earth as soon
as they emerge, and then kills them and leaves them. Yet no one
has trained him to this sport, nor even told him there were such
things as moles. Again, I ask, and this is a more important question,
why, when I threatened this same dog for the first time, why did
he throw himself on the ground with his paws folded, in such a
suppliant attitude .....calculated to touch me, a position which
he would have maintained if, without being touched by it, I had
continued to beat him in that position? What! Had my dog, little
more than a puppy, acquired moral ideas? Did he know the meaning
of mercy and generosity? By what acquired knowledge did he seek
to appease my wrath by yielding to my discretion? Every dog in the
world does almost the same thing in similar circumstances, and I
am asserting nothing but what any one can verify for himself. Will
the philosophers, who so scornfully reject instinct, kindly explain
this fact by the mere play of sensations and experience which they
assume we have acquired? Let them give an account of it which will
satisfy any sensible man; in that case I have nothing further to
urge, and I will say no more of instinct.] he who obeys his conscience
is following nature and he need not fear that he will go astray.
This is a matter of great importance, continued my benefactor,
seeing that I was about to interrupt him; let me stop awhile to
explain it more fully.

The morality of our actions consists entirely in the judgments we
ourselves form with regard to them. If good is good, it must be
good in the depth of our heart as well as in our actions; and the
first reward of justice is the consciousness that we are acting
justly. If moral goodness is in accordance with our nature, man can
only be healthy in mind and body when he is good. If it is not so,
and if man is by nature evil, he cannot cease to be evil without
corrupting his nature, and goodness in him is a crime against
nature. If he is made to do harm to his fellow-creatures, as the
wolf is made to devour his prey, a humane man would be as depraved
a creature as a pitiful wolf; and virtue alone would cause remorse.

My young friend, let us look within, let us set aside all personal
prejudices and see whither our inclinations lead us. Do we take
more pleasure in the sight of the sufferings of others or their
joys? Is it pleasanter to do a kind action or an unkind action,
and which leaves the more delightful memory behind it? Why do you
enjoy the theatre? Do you delight in the crimes you behold? Do you
weep over the punishment which overtakes the criminal? They say
we are indifferent to everything but self-interest; yet we find
our consolation in our sufferings in the charms of friendship and
humanity, and even in our pleasures we should be too lonely and
miserable if we had no one to share them with us. If there is no
such thing as morality in man's heart, what is the source of his
rapturous admiration of noble deeds, his passionate devotion to
great men? What connection is there between self-interest and this
enthusiasm for virtue? Why should I choose to be Cato dying by his
own hand, rather than Caesar in his triumphs? Take from our hearts
this love of what is noble and you rob us of the joy of life. The
mean-spirited man in whom these delicious feelings have been stifled
among vile passions, who by thinking of no one but himself comes
at last to love no one but himself, this man feels no raptures, his
cold heart no longer throbs with joy, and his eyes no longer fill
with the sweet tears of sympathy, he delights in nothing; the wretch
has neither life nor feeling, he is already dead.

There are many bad men in this world, but there are few of these
dead souls, alive only to self-interest, and insensible to all that
is right and good. We only delight in injustice so long as it is
to our own advantage; in every other case we wish the innocent to
be protected. If we see some act of violence or injustice in town
or country, our hearts are at once stirred to their depths by an
instinctive anger and wrath, which bids us go to the help of the
oppressed; but we are restrained by a stronger duty, and the law
deprives us of our right to protect the innocent. On the other hand,
if some deed of mercy or generosity meets our eye, what reverence
and love does it inspire! Do we not say to ourselves, "I should
like to have done that myself"? What does it matter to us that two
thousand years ago a man was just or unjust? and yet we take the
same interest in ancient history as if it happened yesterday. What
are the crimes of Cataline to me? I shall not be his victim. Why
then have I the same horror of his crimes as if he were living
now? We do not hate the wicked merely because of the harm they do
to ourselves, but because they are wicked. Not only do we wish to
be happy ourselves, we wish others to be happy too, and if this
happiness does not interfere with our own happiness, it increases
it. In conclusion, whether we will or not, we pity the unfortunate;
when we see their suffering we suffer too. Even the most depraved
are not wholly without this instinct, and it often leads them to
self-contradiction. The highwayman who robs the traveller, clothes
the nakedness of the poor; the fiercest murderer supports a fainting

Men speak of the voice of remorse, the secret punishment of hidden
crimes, by which such are often brought to light. Alas! who does
not know its unwelcome voice? We speak from experience, and we
would gladly stifle this imperious feeling which causes us such
agony. Let us obey the call of nature; we shall see that her yoke
is easy and that when we give heed to her voice we find a joy in
the answer of a good conscience. The wicked fears and flees from
her; he delights to escape from himself; his anxious eyes look
around him for some object of diversion; without bitter satire and
rude mockery he would always be sorrowful; the scornful laugh is
his one pleasure. Not so the just man, who finds his peace within
himself; there is joy not malice in his laughter, a joy which
springs from his own heart; he is as cheerful alone as in company,
his satisfaction does not depend on those who approach him; it
includes them.

Cast your eyes over every nation of the world; peruse every volume
of its history; in the midst of all these strange and cruel forms
of worship, among this amazing variety of manners and customs, you
will everywhere find the same ideas of right and justice; everywhere
the same principles of morality, the same ideas of good and evil.
The old paganism gave birth to abominable gods who would have been
punished as scoundrels here below, gods who merely offered, as a
picture of supreme happiness, crimes to be committed and lust to
be gratified. But in vain did vice descend from the abode of the
gods armed with their sacred authority; the moral instinct refused to
admit it into the heart of man. While the debaucheries of Jupiter
were celebrated, the continence of Xenocrates was revered; the
chaste Lucrece adored the shameless Venus; the bold Roman offered
sacrifices to Fear; he invoked the god who mutilated his father,
and he died without a murmur at the hand of his own father. The
most unworthy gods were worshipped by the noblest men. The sacred
voice of nature was stronger than the voice of the gods, and won
reverence upon earth; it seemed to relegate guilt and the guilty
alike to heaven.

There is therefore at the bottom of our hearts an innate principle
of justice and virtue, by which, in spite of our maxims, we judge
our own actions or those of others to be good or evil; and it is
this principle that I call conscience.

But at this word I hear the murmurs of all the wise men so-called.
Childish errors, prejudices of our upbringing, they exclaim in
concert! There is nothing in the human mind but what it has gained
by experience; and we judge everything solely by means of the ideas
we have acquired. They go further; they even venture to reject the
clear and universal agreement of all peoples, and to set against
this striking unanimity in the judgment of mankind, they seek out
some obscure exception known to themselves alone; as if the whole
trend of nature were rendered null by the depravity of a single
nation, and as if the existence of monstrosities made an end
of species. But to what purpose does the sceptic Montaigne strive
himself to unearth in some obscure corner of the world a custom
which is contrary to the ideas of justice? To what purpose does
he credit the most untrustworthy travellers, while he refuses to
believe the greatest writers? A few strange and doubtful customs,
based on local causes, unknown to us; shall these destroy a general
inference based on the agreement of all the nations of the earth,
differing from each other in all else, but agreed in this? O
Montaigne, you pride yourself on your truth and honesty; be sincere
and truthful, if a philosopher can be so, and tell me if there is
any country upon earth where it is a crime to keep one's plighted
word, to be merciful, helpful, and generous, where the good man is
scorned, and the traitor is held in honour.

Self-interest, so they say, induces each of us to agree for the
common good. But bow is it that the good man consents to this to
his own hurt? Does a man go to death from self-interest? No doubt
each man acts for his own good, but if there is no such thing as
moral good to be taken into consideration, self-interest will only
enable you to account for the deeds of the wicked; possibly you
will not attempt to do more. A philosophy which could find no place
for good deeds would be too detestable; you would find yourself
compelled either to find some mean purpose, some wicked motive, or
to abuse Socrates and slander Regulus. If such doctrines ever took
root among us, the voice of nature, together with the voice of
reason, would constantly protest against them, till no adherent of
such teaching could plead an honest excuse for his partisanship.

It is no part of my scheme to enter at present into metaphysical
discussions which neither you nor I can understand, discussions
which really lead nowhere. I have told you already that I do not
wish to philosophise with you, but to help you to consult your own
heart. If all the philosophers in the world should prove that I am
wrong, and you feel that I am right, that is all I ask.

For this purpose it is enough to lead you to distinguish between
our acquired ideas and our natural feelings; for feeling precedes
knowledge; and since we do not learn to seek what is good for us
and avoid what is bad for us, but get this desire from nature, in
the same way the love of good and the hatred of evil are as natural
to us as our self-love. The decrees of conscience are not judgments
but feelings. Although all our ideas come from without, the feelings
by which they are weighed are within us, and it is by these feelings
alone that we perceive fitness or unfitness of things in relation
to ourselves, which leads us to seek or shun these things.

To exist is to feel; our feeling is undoubtedly earlier than our
intelligence, and we had feelings before we had ideas.[Footnote:
In some respects ideas are feelings and feelings are ideas. Both
terms are appropriate to any perception with which we are concerned,
appropriate both to the object of that perception and to ourselves
who are affected by it; it is merely the order in which we are
affected which decides the appropriate term. When we are chiefly
concerned with the object and only think of ourselves as it were by
reflection, that is an idea; when, on the other hand, the impression
received excites our chief attention and we only think in the second
place of the object which caused it, it is a feeling.] Whatever may
be the cause of our being, it has provided for our preservation by
giving us feelings suited to our nature; and no one can deny that
these at least are innate. These feelings, so far as the individual
is concerned, are self-love, fear, pain, the dread of death, the
desire for comfort. Again, if, as it is impossible to doubt, man
is by nature sociable, or at least fitted to become sociable, he
can only be so by means of other innate feelings, relative to his
kind; for if only physical well-being were considered, men would
certainly be scattered rather than brought together. But the motive
power of conscience is derived from the moral system formed through
this twofold relation to himself and to his fellow-men. To know
good is not to love it; this knowledge is not innate in man; but as
soon as his reason leads him to perceive it, his conscience impels
him to love it; it is this feeling which is innate.

So I do not think, my young friend, that it is impossible to explain
the immediate force of conscience as a result of our own nature,
independent of reason itself. And even should it be impossible,
it is unnecessary; for those who deny this principle, admitted and
received by everybody else in the world, do not prove that there
is no such thing; they are content to affirm, and when we affirm
its existence we have quite as good grounds as they, while we have
moreover the witness within us, the voice of conscience, which
speaks on its own behalf. If the first beams of judgment dazzle
us and confuse the objects we behold, let us wait till our feeble
sight grows clear and strong, and in the light of reason we shall
soon behold these very objects as nature has already showed them
to us. Or rather let us be simpler and less pretentious; let us be
content with the first feelings we experience in ourselves, since
science always brings us back to these, unless it has led us astray.

Conscience! Conscience! Divine instinct, immortal voice from
heaven; sure guide for a creature ignorant and finite indeed, yet
intelligent and free; infallible judge of good and evil, making
man like to God! In thee consists the excellence of man's nature
and the morality of his actions; apart from thee, I find nothing in
myself to raise me above the beasts--nothing but the sad privilege
of wandering from one error to another, by the help of an unbridled
understanding and a reason which knows no principle.

Thank heaven we have now got rid of all that alarming show of
philosophy; we may be men without being scholars; now that we need
not spend our life in the study of morality, we have found a less
costly and surer guide through this vast labyrinth of human thought.
But it is not enough to be aware that there is such a guide;
we must know her and follow her. If she speaks to all hearts, how
is it that so few give heed to her voice? She speaks to us in the
language of nature, and everything leads us to forget that tongue.
Conscience is timid, she loves peace and retirement; she is startled
by noise and numbers; the prejudices from which she is said to arise
are her worst enemies. She flees before them or she is silent; their
noisy voices drown her words, so that she cannot get a hearing;
fanaticism dares to counterfeit her voice and to inspire crimes
in her name. She is discouraged by ill-treatment; she no longer
speaks to us, no longer answers to our call; when she has been
scorned so long, it is as hard to recall her as it was to banish

How often in the course of my inquiries have I grown weary of my
own coldness of heart! How often have grief and weariness poured
their poison into my first meditations and made them hateful to me!
My barren heart yielded nothing but a feeble zeal and a lukewarm
love of truth. I said to myself: Why should I strive to find what
does not exist? Moral good is a dream, the pleasures of sense
are the only real good. When once we have lost the taste for the
pleasures of the soul, how hard it is to recover it! How much more
difficult to acquire it if we have never possessed it! If there
were any man so wretched as never to have done anything all his life
long which he could remember with pleasure, and which would make him
glad to have lived, that man would be incapable of self-knowledge,
and for want of knowledge of goodness, of which his nature is
capable, he would be constrained to remain in his wickedness and
would be for ever miserable. But do you think there is any one man
upon earth so depraved that he has never yielded to the temptation
of well-doing? This temptation is so natural, so pleasant, that it
is impossible always to resist it; and the thought of the pleasure
it has once afforded is enough to recall it constantly to our
memory. Unluckily it is hard at first to find satisfaction for it;
we have any number of reasons for refusing to follow the inclinations
of our heart; prudence, so called, restricts the heart within the
limits of the self; a thousand efforts are needed to break these
bonds. The joy of well-doing is the prize of having done well,
and we must deserve the prize before we win it. There is nothing
sweeter than virtue; but we do not know this till we have tried it.
Like Proteus in the fable, she first assumes a thousand terrible
shapes when we would embrace her, and only shows her true self to
those who refuse to let her go.

Ever at strife between my natural feelings, which spoke of the
common weal, and my reason, which spoke of self, I should have
drifted through life in perpetual uncertainty, hating evil, loving
good, and always at war with myself, if my heart had not received
further light, if that truth which determined my opinions had not
also settled my conduct, and set me at peace with myself. Reason
alone is not a sufficient foundation for virtue; what solid ground
can be found? Virtue we are told is love of order. But can this
love prevail over my love for my own well-being, and ought it so
to prevail? Let them give me clear and sufficient reason for this
preference. Their so-called principle is in truth a mere playing
with words; for I also say that vice is love of order, differently
understood. Wherever there is feeling and intelligence, there
is some sort of moral order. The difference is this: the good man
orders his life with regard to all men; the wicked orders it for
self alone. The latter centres all things round himself; the other
measures his radius and remains on the circumference. Thus his
place depends on the common centre, which is God, and on all the
concentric circles which are His creatures. If there is no God,
the wicked is right and the good man is nothing but a fool.

My child! May you one day feel what a burden is removed when, having
fathomed the vanity of human thoughts and tasted the bitterness of
passion, you find at length near at hand the path of wisdom, the
prize of this life's labours, the source of that happiness which
you despaired of. Every duty of natural law, which man's injustice
had almost effaced from my heart, is engraven there, for the second
time in the name of that eternal justice which lays these duties
upon me and beholds my fulfilment of them. I feel myself merely the
instrument of the Omnipotent, who wills what is good, who performs
it, who will bring about my own good through the co-operation of my
will with his own, and by the right use of my liberty. I acquiesce
in the order he establishes, certain that one day I shall enjoy
that order and find my happiness in it; for what sweeter joy is
there than this, to feel oneself a part of a system where all is
good? A prey to pain, I bear it in patience, remembering that it
will soon be over, and that it results from a body which is not
mine. If I do a good deed in secret, I know that it is seen, and
my conduct in this life is a pledge of the life to come. When I
suffer injustice, I say to myself, the Almighty who does all things
well will reward me: my bodily needs, my poverty, make the idea
of death less intolerable. There will be all the fewer bonds to be
broken when my hour comes.

Why is my soul subjected to my senses, and imprisoned in this body
by which it is enslaved and thwarted? I know not; have I entered
into the counsels of the Almighty? But I may, without rashness,
venture on a modest conjecture. I say to myself: If man's soul
had remained in a state of freedom and innocence, what merit would
there have been in loving and obeying the order he found established,
an order which it would not have been to his advantage to disturb?
He would be happy, no doubt, but his happiness would not attain to
the highest point, the pride of virtue, and the witness of a good
conscience within him; he would be but as the angels are, and
no doubt the good man will be more than they. Bound to a mortal
body, by bonds as strange as they are powerful, his care for the
preservation of this body tempts the soul to think only of self,
and gives it an interest opposed to the general order of things,
which it is still capable of knowing and loving; then it is that
the right use of his freedom becomes at once the merit and the
reward; then it is that it prepares for itself unending happiness, by
resisting its earthly passions and following its original direction.

If even in the lowly position in which we are placed during our present
life our first impulses are always good, if all our vices are of
our own making, why should we complain that they are our masters?
Why should we blame the Creator for the ills we have ourselves
created, and the enemies we ourselves have armed against us? Oh,
let us leave man unspoilt; he will always find it easy to be good
and he will always be happy without remorse. The guilty, who assert
that they are driven to crime, are liars as well as evil-doers; how
is it that they fail to perceive that the weakness they bewail is
of their own making; that their earliest depravity was the result
of their own will; that by dint of wishing to yield to temptations,
they at length yield to them whether they will or no and make them
irresistible? No doubt they can no longer avoid being weak and
wicked, but they need not have become weak and wicked. Oh, how easy
would it be to preserve control of ourselves and of our passions,
even in this life, if with habits still unformed, with a mind
beginning to expand, we were able to keep to such things as we ought
to know, in order to value rightly what is unknown; if we really
wished to learn, not that we might shine before the eyes of others,
but that we might be wise and good in accordance with our nature,
that we might be happy in the performance of our duty. This study
seems tedious and painful to us, for we do not attempt it till we
are already corrupted by vice and enslaved by our passions. Our
judgments and our standards of worth are determined before we have
the knowledge of good and evil; and then we measure all things by
this false standard, and give nothing its true worth.

There is an age when the heart is still free, but eager, unquiet,
greedy of a happiness which is still unknown, a happiness which it
seeks in curiosity and doubt; deceived by the senses it settles at
length upon the empty show of happiness and thinks it has found it
where it is not. In my own case these illusions endured for a long
time. Alas! too late did I become aware of them, and I have not
succeeded in overcoming them altogether; they will last as long as
this mortal body from which they arise. If they lead me astray, I
am at least no longer deceived by them; I know them for what they
are, and even when I give way to them, I despise myself; far from
regarding them as the goal of my happiness, I behold in them an
obstacle to it. I long for the time when, freed from the fetters
of the body, I shall be myself, at one with myself, no longer torn
in two, when I myself shall suffice for my own happiness. Meanwhile
I am happy even in this life, for I make small account of all its
evils, in which I regard myself as having little or no part, while
all the real good that I can get out of this life depends on myself

To raise myself so far as may be even now to this state of happiness,
strength, and freedom, I exercise myself in lofty contemplation. I
consider the order of the universe, not to explain it by any futile
system, but to revere it without ceasing, to adore the wise Author
who reveals himself in it. I hold intercourse with him; I immerse
all my powers in his divine essence; I am overwhelmed by his kindness,
I bless him and his gifts, but I do not pray to him. What should I
ask of him--to change the order of nature, to work miracles on my
behalf? Should I, who am bound to love above all things the order
which he has established in his wisdom and maintained by his
providence, should I desire the disturbance of that order on my own
account? No, that rash prayer would deserve to be punished rather
than to be granted. Neither do I ask of him the power to do right;
why should I ask what he has given me already? Has he not given
me conscience that I may love the right, reason that I may perceive
it, and freedom that I may choose it? If I do evil, I have no
excuse; I do it of my own free will; to ask him to change my will
is to ask him to do what he asks of me; it is to want him to do
the work while I get the wages; to be dissatisfied with my lot is
to wish to be no longer a man, to wish to be other than what I am,
to wish for disorder and evil. Thou source of justice and truth,
merciful and gracious God, in thee do I trust, and the desire of
my heart is--Thy will be done. When I unite my will with thine, I
do what thou doest; I have a share in thy goodness; I believe that
I enjoy beforehand the supreme happiness which is the reward of

In my well-founded self-distrust the only thing that I ask of God,
or rather expect from his justice, is to correct my error if I go
astray, if that error is dangerous to me. To be honest I need not
think myself infallible; my opinions, which seem to me true, may
be so many lies; for what man is there who does not cling to his
own beliefs; and how many men are agreed in everything? The illusion
which deceives me may indeed have its source in myself, but it
is God alone who can remove it. I have done all I can to attain
to truth; but its source is beyond my reach; is it my fault if my
strength fails me and I can go no further; it is for Truth to draw
near to me.

The good priest had spoken with passion; he and I were overcome
with emotion. It seemed to me as if I were listening to the divine
Orpheus when he sang the earliest hymns and taught men the worship
of the gods. I saw any number of objections which might be raised;
yet I raised none, for I perceived that they were more perplexing
than serious, and that my inclination took his part. When he spoke
to me according to his conscience, my own seemed to confirm what
he said.

"The novelty of the sentiments you have made known to me," said
I, "strikes me all the more because of what you confess you do not
know, than because of what you say you believe. They seem to be very
like that theism or natural religion, which Christians profess to
confound with atheism or irreligion which is their exact opposite.
But in the present state of my faith I should have to ascend
rather than descend to accept your views, and I find it difficult
to remain just where you are unless I were as wise as you. That I
may be at least as honest, I want time to take counsel with myself.
By your own showing, the inner voice must be my guide, and you have
yourself told me that when it has long been silenced it cannot be
recalled in a moment. I take what you have said to heart, and I must
consider it. If after I have thought things out, I am as convinced
as you are, you will be my final teacher, and I will be your disciple
till death. Continue your teaching however; you have only told me
half what I must know. Speak to me of revelation, of the Scriptures,
of those difficult doctrines among which I have strayed ever since
I was a child, incapable either of understanding or believing them,
unable to adopt or reject them."

"Yes, my child," said he, embracing me, "I will tell you all I
think; I will not open my heart to you by halves; but the desire
you express was necessary before I could cast aside all reserve. So
far I have told you nothing but what I thought would be of service
to you, nothing but what I was quite convinced of. The inquiry
which remains to be made is very difficult. It seems to me full
of perplexity, mystery, and darkness; I bring to it only doubt
and distrust. I make up my mind with trembling, and I tell you my
doubts rather than my convictions. If your own opinions were more
settled I should hesitate to show you mine; but in your present
condition, to think like me would be gain. [Footnote: I think the
worthy clergyman might say this at the present time to the general
public.] Moreover, give to my words only the authority of reason;
I know not whether I am mistaken. It is difficult in discussion
to avoid assuming sometimes a dogmatic tone; but remember in this
respect that all my assertions are but reasons to doubt me. Seek
truth for yourself, for my own part I only promise you sincerity.

"In my exposition you find nothing but natural religion; strange
that we should need more! How shall I become aware of this need?
What guilt can be mine so long as I serve God according to the
knowledge he has given to my mind, and the feelings he has put
into my heart? What purity of morals, what dogma useful to man and
worthy of its author, can I derive from a positive doctrine which
cannot be derived without the aid of this doctrine by the right
use of my faculties? Show me what you can add to the duties of the
natural law, for the glory of God, for the good of mankind, and for
my own welfare; and what virtue you will get from the new form of
religion which does not result from mine. The grandest ideas of
the Divine nature come to us from reason only. Behold the spectacle
of nature; listen to the inner voice. Has not God spoken it all to
our eyes, to our conscience, to our reason? What more can man tell
us? Their revelations do but degrade God, by investing him with
passions like our own. Far from throwing light upon the ideas of
the Supreme Being, special doctrines seem to me to confuse these
ideas; far from ennobling them, they degrade them; to the inconceivable
mysteries which surround the Almighty, they add absurd contradictions,
they make man proud, intolerant, and cruel; instead of bringing
peace upon earth, they bring fire and sword. I ask myself what
is the use of it all, and I find no answer. I see nothing but the
crimes of men and the misery of mankind.

"They tell me a revelation was required to teach men how God would
be served; as a proof of this they point to the many strange rites
which men have instituted, and they do not perceive that this very
diversity springs from the fanciful nature of the revelations. As
soon as the nations took to making God speak, every one made him
speak in his own fashion, and made him say what he himself wanted.
Had they listened only to what God says in the heart of man, there
would have been but one religion upon earth.

"One form of worship was required; just so, but was this a matter
of such importance as to require all the power of the Godhead to
establish it? Do not let us confuse the outward forms of religion
with religion itself. The service God requires is of the heart; and
when the heart is sincere that is ever the same. It is a strange
sort of conceit which fancies that God takes such an interest in
the shape of the priest's vestments, the form of words he utters,
the gestures he makes before the altar and all his genuflections.
Oh, my friend, stand upright, you will still be too near the earth.
God desires to be worshipped in spirit and in truth; this duty
belongs to every religion, every country, every individual. As to
the form of worship, if order demands uniformity, that is only a
matter of discipline and needs no revelation.

"These thoughts did not come to me to begin with. Carried away by
the prejudices of my education, and by that dangerous vanity which
always strives to lift man out of his proper sphere, when I could
not raise my feeble thoughts up to the great Being, I tried to
bring him down to my own level. I tried to reduce the distance he
has placed between his nature and mine. I desired more immediate
relations, more individual instruction; not content to make God
in the image of man that I might be favoured above my fellows,
I desired supernatural knowledge; I required a special form of
worship; I wanted God to tell me what he had not told others, or
what others had not understood like myself.

"Considering the point I had now reached as the common centre from
which all believers set out on the quest for a more enlightened
form of religion, I merely found in natural religion the elements
of all religion. I beheld the multitude of diverse sects which hold
sway upon earth, each of which accuses the other of falsehood and
error; which of these, I asked, is the right? Every one replied,
'My own;' every one said, 'I alone and those who agree with me
think rightly, all the others are mistaken.' And how do you know
that your sect is in the right? Because God said so. And how do
you know God said so? [Footnote: "All men," said a wise and good
priest, "maintain that they hold and believe their religion (and
all use the same jargon), not of man, nor of any creature, but of
God. But to speak truly, without pretence or flattery, none of them
do so; whatever they may say, religions are taught by human hands
and means; take, for example, the way in which religions have been
received by the world, the way in which they are still received
every day by individuals; the nation, the country, the locality
gives the religion; we belong to the religion of the place where
we are born and brought up; we are baptised or circumcised, we are
Christians, Jews, Mohametans before we know that we are men; we
do not pick and choose our religion for see how ill the life and
conduct agree with the religion, see for what slight and human
causes men go against the teaching of their religion."--Charron,
De la Sagesse.--It seems clear that the honest creed of the holy
theologian of Condom would not have differed greatly from that of
the Savoyard priest.] And who told you that God said it? My pastor,
who knows all about it. My pastor tells me what to believe and I
believe it; he assures me that any one who says anything else is
mistaken, and I give not heed to them.

"What! thought I, is not truth one; can that which is true for me
be false for you? If those who follow the right path and those who
go astray have the same method, what merit or what blame can be
assigned to one more than to the other? Their choice is the result
of chance; it is unjust to hold them responsible for it, to reward
or punish them for being born in one country or another. To dare to
say that God judges us in this manner is an outrage on his justice.

"Either all religions are good and pleasing to God, or if there
is one which he prescribes for men, if they will be punished for
despising it, he will have distinguished it by plain and certain
signs by which it can be known as the only true religion; these
signs are alike in every time and place, equally plain to all men,
great or small, learned or unlearned, Europeans, Indians, Africans,
savages. If there were but one religion upon earth, and if all
beyond its pale were condemned to eternal punishment, and if there
were in any corner of the world one single honest man who was not
convinced by this evidence, the God of that religion would be the
most unjust and cruel of tyrants.

"Let us therefore seek honestly after truth; let us yield nothing
to the claims of birth, to the authority of parents and pastors,
but let us summon to the bar of conscience and of reason all that
they have taught us from our childhood. In vain do they exclaim,
'Submit your reason;' a deceiver might say as much; I must have
reasons for submitting my reason.

"All the theology I can get for myself by observation of the universe
and by the use of my faculties is contained in what I have already
told you. To know more one must have recourse to strange means.
These means cannot be the authority of men, for every man is of
the same species as myself, and all that a man knows by nature I am
capable of knowing, and another may be deceived as much as I; when
I believe what he says, it is not because he says it but because
he proves its truth. The witness of man is therefore nothing more
than the witness of my own reason, and it adds nothing to the
natural means which God has given me for the knowledge of truth.

"Apostle of truth, what have you to tell me of which I am not the
sole judge? God himself has spoken; give heed to his revelation.
That is another matter. God has spoken, these are indeed words which
demand attention. To whom has he spoken? He has spoken to men. Why
then have I heard nothing? He has instructed others to make known
his words to you. I understand; it is men who come and tell me what
God has said. I would rather have heard the words of God himself;
it would have been as easy for him and I should have been secure
from fraud. He protects you from fraud by showing that his envoys
come from him. How does he show this? By miracles. Where are these
miracles? In the books. And who wrote the books? Men. And who
saw the miracles? The men who bear witness to them. What! Nothing
but human testimony! Nothing but men who tell me what others told
them! How many men between God and me! Let us see, however, let
us examine, compare, and verify. Oh! if God had but deigned to free
me from all this labour, I would have served him with all my heart.

"Consider, my friend, the terrible controversy in which I am now
engaged; what vast learning is required to go back to the remotest
antiquity, to examine, weigh, confront prophecies, revelations,
facts, all the monuments of faith set forth throughout the world,
to assign their date, place, authorship, and occasion. What exactness
of critical judgment is needed to distinguish genuine documents from
forgeries, to compare objections with their answers, translations
with their originals; to decide as to the impartiality of witnesses,
their common-sense, their knowledge; to make sure that nothing
has been omitted, nothing added, nothing transposed, altered, or
falsified; to point out any remaining contradictions, to determine
what weight should be given to the silence of our adversaries
with regard to the charges brought against them; how far were they
aware of those charges; did they think them sufficiently serious
to require an answer; were books sufficiently well known for our
books to reach them; have we been honest enough to allow their
books to circulate among ourselves and to leave their strongest
objections unaltered?

"When the authenticity of all these documents is accepted, we must
now pass to the evidence of their authors' mission; we must know the
laws of chance, and probability, to decide which prophecy cannot
be fulfilled without a miracle; we must know the spirit of the
original languages, to distinguish between prophecy and figures of
speech; we must know what facts are in accordance with nature and
what facts are not, so that we may say how far a clever man may
deceive the eyes of the simple and may even astonish the learned;
we must discover what are the characteristics of a prodigy and how
its authenticity may be established, not only so far as to gain
credence, but so that doubt may be deserving of punishment; we must
compare the evidence for true and false miracles, and find sure
tests to distinguish between them; lastly we must say why God chose
as a witness to his words means which themselves require so much
evidence on their behalf, as if he were playing with human credulity,
and avoiding of set purpose the true means of persuasion.

"Assuming that the divine majesty condescends so far as to make a
man the channel of his sacred will, is it reasonable, is it fair,
to demand that the whole of mankind should obey the voice of this
minister without making him known as such? Is it just to give him
as his sole credentials certain private signs, performed in the
presence of a few obscure persons, signs which everybody else can
only know by hearsay? If one were to believe all the miracles that
the uneducated and credulous profess to have seen in every country
upon earth, every sect would be in the right; there would be more
miracles than ordinary events; and it would be the greatest miracle
if there were no miracles wherever there were persecuted fanatics.
The unchangeable order of nature is the chief witness to the wise
hand that guides it; if there were many exceptions, I should hardly
know what to think; for my own part I have too great a faith in God
to believe in so many miracles which are so little worthy of him.

"Let a man come and say to us: Mortals, I proclaim to you the will
of the Most Highest; accept my words as those of him who has sent
me; I bid the sun to change his course, the stars to range themselves
in a fresh order, the high places to become smooth, the floods to
rise up, the earth to change her face. By these miracles who will
not recognise the master of nature? She does not obey impostors,
their miracles are wrought in holes and corners, in deserts, within
closed doors, where they find easy dupes among a small company
of spectators already disposed to believe them. Who will venture
to tell me how many eye-witnesses are required to make a miracle
credible! What use are your miracles, performed if proof of your
doctrine, if they themselves require so much proof! You might as
well have let them alone.

"There still remains the most important inquiry of all with regard
to the doctrine proclaimed; for since those who tell us God works
miracles in this world, profess that the devil sometimes imitates
them, when we have found the best attested miracles we have got
very little further; and since the magicians of Pharaoh dared in
the presence of Moses to counterfeit the very signs he wrought at
God's command, why should they not, behind his back, claim a like
authority? So when we have proved our doctrine by means of miracles,
we must prove our miracles by means of doctrine, [Footnote: This
is expressly stated in many passages of Scripture, among others in
Deuteronomy xiii., where it is said that when a prophet preaching
strange gods confirms his words by means of miracles and what he
foretells comes to pass, far from giving heed to him, this prophet
must be put to death. If then the heathen put the apostles to
death when they preached a strange god and confirmed their words by
miracles which came to pass I cannot see what grounds we have for
complaint which they could not at once turn against us. Now, what
should be done in such a case? There is only one course; to return
to argument and let the miracles alone. It would have been better
not to have had recourse to them at all. That is plain common-sense
which can only be obscured by great subtlety of distinction. Subtleties
in Christianity! So Jesus Christ was mistaken when he promised the
kingdom of heaven to the simple, he was mistaken when he began his
finest discourse with the praise of the poor in spirit, if so much
wit is needed to understand his teaching and to get others to believe
in him. When you have convinced me that submission is my duty, all
will be well; but to convince me of this, come down to my level;
adapt your arguments to a lowly mind, or I shall not recognise you
as a true disciple of your master, and it is not his doctrine that
you are teaching me.] for fear lest we should take the devil's
doings for the handiwork of God. What think you of this dilemma?

"This doctrine, if it comes from God, should bear the sacred stamp
of the godhead; not only should it illumine the troubled thoughts
which reason imprints on our minds, but it should also offer us
a form of worship, a morality, and rules of conduct in accordance
with the attributes by means of which we alone conceive of God's
essence. If then it teaches us what is absurd and unreasonable, if
it inspires us with feelings of aversion for our fellows and terror
for ourselves, if it paints us a God, angry, jealous, revengeful,
partial, hating men, a God of war and battles, ever ready to strike
and to destroy, ever speaking of punishment and torment, boasting
even of the punishment of the innocent, my heart would not be drawn
towards this terrible God, I would take good care not to quit the
realm of natural religion to embrace such a religion as that; for
you see plainly I must choose between them. Your God is not ours.
He who begins by selecting a chosen people, and proscribing the rest
of mankind, is not our common father; he who consigns to eternal
punishment the greater part of his creatures, is not the merciful
and gracious God revealed to me by my reason.

"Reason tells me that dogmas should be plain, clear, and striking
in their simplicity. If there is something lacking in natural
religion, it is with respect to the obscurity in which it leaves
the great truths it teaches; revelation should teach us these truths
in a way which the mind of man can understand; it should bring them
within his reach, make him comprehend them, so that he may believe
them. Faith is confirmed and strengthened by understanding; the
best religion is of necessity the simplest. He who hides beneath
mysteries and contradictions the religion that he preaches to me,
teaches me at the same time to distrust that religion. The God whom
I adore is not the God of darkness, he has not given me understanding
in order to forbid me to use it; to tell me to submit my reason
is to insult the giver of reason. The minister of truth does not
tyrannise over my reason, he enlightens it.

"We have set aside all human authority, and without it I do not see
how any man can convince another by preaching a doctrine contrary
to reason. Let them fight it out, and let us see what they have to
say with that harshness of speech which is common to both.

"INSPIRATION: Reason tells you that the whole is greater than the
part; but I tell you, in God's name, that the part is greater than
the whole.

"REASON: And who are you to dare to tell me that God contradicts
himself? And which shall I choose to believe. God who teaches me,
through my reason, the eternal truth, or you who, in his name,
proclaim an absurdity?

"INSPIRATION: Believe me, for my teaching is more positive; and I
will prove to you beyond all manner of doubt that he has sent me.

"REASON: What! you will convince me that God has sent you to bear
witness against himself? What sort of proofs will you adduce to
convince me that God speaks more surely by your mouth than through
the understanding he has given me?

"INSPIRATION: The understanding he has given you! Petty, conceited
creature! As if you were the first impious person who had been led
astray through his reason corrupted by sin.

"REASON: Man of God, you would not be the first scoundrel who
asserts his arrogance as a proof of his mission.

"INSPIRATION: What! do even philosophers call names?

"REASON: Sometimes, when the saints set them the example.

"INSPIRATION: Oh, but I have a right to do it, for I am speaking
on God's behalf.

"REASON: You would do well to show your credentials before you make
use of your privileges.

"INSPIRATION: My credentials are authentic, earth and heaven will
bear witness on my behalf. Follow my arguments carefully, if you

"REASON: Your arguments! You forget what you are saying. When you
teach me that my reason misleads me, do you not refute what it might
have said on your behalf? He who denies the right of reason, must
convince me without recourse to her aid. For suppose you have
convinced me by reason, how am I to know that it is not my reason,
corrupted by sin, which makes me accept what you say? besides,
what proof, what demonstration, can you advance, more self-evident
than the axiom it is to destroy? It is more credible that a good
syllogism is a lie, than that the part is greater than the whole.

"INSPIRATION: What a difference! There is no answer to my evidence;
it is of a supernatural kind.

"REASON: Supernatural! What do you mean by the word? I do not
understand it.

"INSPIRATION: I mean changes in the order of nature, prophecies,
signs, and wonders of every kind.

"REASON: Signs and wonders! I have never seen anything of the kind.

"INSPIRATION: Others have seen them for you. Clouds of witnesses--the
witness of whole nations....

"REASON: Is the witness of nations supernatural?

"INSPIRATION: No; but when it is unanimous, it is incontestable.

"REASON: There is nothing so incontestable as the principles of
reason, and one cannot accept an absurdity on human evidence. Once
more, let us see your supernatural evidence, for the consent of
mankind is not supernatural.

"INSPIRATION: Oh, hardened heart, grace does not speak to you.

"REASON: That is not my fault; for by your own showing, one must
have already received grace before one is able to ask for it. Begin
by speaking to me in its stead.

"INSPIRATION: But that is just what I am doing, and you will not
listen. But what do you say to prophecy?

"REASON: In the first place, I say I have no more heard a prophet
than I have seen a miracle. In the next, I say that no prophet
could claim authority over me.

"INSPIRATION: Follower of the devil! Why should not the words of
the prophets have authority over you?

"REASON: Because three things are required, three things which will
never happen: firstly, I must have heard the prophecy; secondly,
I must have seen its fulfilment; and thirdly, it must be clearly
proved that the fulfilment of the prophecy could not by any possibility
have been a mere coincidence; for even if it was as precise, as
plain, and clear as an axiom of geometry, since the clearness of
a chance prediction does not make its fulfilment impossible, this
fulfilment when it does take place does not, strictly speaking,
prove what was foretold.

"See what your so-called supernatural proofs, your miracles, your
prophecies come to: believe all this upon the word of another,
Submit to the authority of men the authority of God which speaks to
my reason. If the eternal truths which my mind conceives of could
suffer any shock, there would be no sort of certainty for me; and
far from being sure that you speak to me on God's behalf, I should
not even be sure that there is a God.

"My child, here are difficulties enough, but these are not all.
Among so many religions, mutually excluding and proscribing each
other, one only is true, if indeed any one of them is true. To
recognise the true religion we must inquire into, not one, but all;
and in any question whatsoever we have no right to condemn unheard.
[Footnote: On the other hand, Plutarch relates that the Stoics
maintained, among other strange paradoxes, that it was no use hearing
both sides; for, said they, the first either proves his point or
he does not prove it; if he has proved it, there is an end of it,
and the other should be condemned: if he has not proved it, he
himself is in the wrong and judgment should be given against him.
I consider the method of those who accept an exclusive revelation
very much like that of these Stoics. When each of them claims to
be the sole guardian of truth, we must hear them all before we can
choose between them without injustice.] The objections must be
compared with the evidence; we must know what accusation each brings
against the other, and what answers they receive. The plainer any
feeling appears to us, the more we must try to discover why so many
other people refuse to accept it. We should be simple, indeed, if
we thought it enough to hear the doctors on our own side, in order
to acquaint ourselves with the arguments of the other. Where can
you find theologians who pride themselves on their honesty? Where
are those who, to refute the arguments of their opponents, do
not begin by making out that they are of little importance? A man
may make a good show among his own friends, and be very proud of
his arguments, who would cut a very poor figure with those same
arguments among those who are on the other side. Would you find
out for yourself from books? What learning you will need! What
languages you must learn; what libraries you must ransack; what an
amount of reading must be got through! Who will guide me in such
a choice? It will be hard to find the best books on the opposite
side in any one country, and all the harder to find those on all
sides; when found they would be easily answered. The absent are
always in the wrong, and bad arguments boldly asserted easily efface
good arguments put forward with scorn. Besides books are often very
misleading, and scarcely express the opinions of their authors.
If you think you can judge the Catholic faith from the writings
of Bossuet, you will find yourself greatly mistaken when you have
lived among us. You will see that the doctrines with which Protestants
are answered are quite different from those of the pulpit. To
judge a religion rightly, you must not study it in the books of its
partisans, you must learn it in their lives; this is quite another
matter. Each religion has its own traditions, meaning, customs,
prejudices, which form the spirit of its creed, and must be taken
in connection with it.

"How many great nations neither print books of their own nor read
ours! How shall they judge of our opinions, or we of theirs? We
laugh at them, they despise us; and if our travellers turn them
into ridicule, they need only travel among us to pay us back in
our own coin. Are there not, in every country, men of common-sense,
honesty, and good faith, lovers of truth, who only seek to know
what truth is that they may profess it? Yet every one finds truth
in his own religion, and thinks the religion of other nations
absurd; so all these foreign religions are not so absurd as they
seem to us, or else the reason we find for our own proves nothing.

"We have three principal forms of religion in Europe. One accepts
one revelation, another two, and another three. Each hates the
others, showers curses on them, accuses them of blindness, obstinacy,
hardness of heart, and falsehood. What fair-minded man will dare
to decide between them without first carefully weighing their
evidence, without listening attentively to their arguments? That
which accepts only one revelation is the oldest and seems the best
established; that which accepts three is the newest and seems the
most consistent; that which accepts two revelations and rejects the
third may perhaps be the best, but prejudice is certainly against
it; its inconsistency is glaring.

"In all three revelations the sacred books are written in languages
unknown to the people who believe in them. The Jews no longer
understand Hebrew, the Christians understand neither Hebrew nor
Greek; the Turks and Persians do not understand Arabic, and the
Arabs of our time do not speak the language of Mahomet. Is not
it a very foolish way of teaching, to teach people in an unknown
tongue? These books are translated, you say. What an answer! How
am I to know that the translations are correct, or how am I to
make sure that such a thing as a correct translation is possible?
If God has gone so far as to speak to men, why should he require
an interpreter?

"I can never believe that every man is obliged to know what is
contained in books, and that he who is out of reach of these books,
and of those who understand them, will be punished for an ignorance
which is no fault of his. Books upon books! What madness! As
all Europe is full of books, Europeans regard them as necessary,
forgetting that they are unknown throughout three-quarters of the
globe. Were not all these books written by men? Why then should a
man need them to teach him his duty, and how did he learn his duty
before these books were in existence? Either he must have learnt
his duties for himself, or his ignorance must have been excused.

"Our Catholics talk loudly of the authority of the Church; but what
is the use of it all, if they also need just as great an array of
proofs to establish that authority as the other seeks to establish
their doctrine? The Church decides that the Church has a right to
decide. What a well-founded authority! Go beyond it, and you are
back again in our discussions.

"Do you know many Christians who have taken the trouble to inquire
what the Jews allege against them? If any one knows anything at
all about it, it is from the writings of Christians. What a way of
ascertaining the arguments of our adversaries! But what is to be
done? If any one dared to publish in our day books which were openly
in favour of the Jewish religion, we should punish the author,
publisher, and bookseller. This regulation is a sure and certain
plan for always being in the right. It is easy to refute those who
dare not venture to speak.

"Those among us who have the opportunity of talking with Jews are
little better off. These unhappy people feel that they are in our
power; the tyranny they have suffered makes them timid; they know
that Christian charity thinks nothing of injustice and cruelty;
will they dare to run the risk of an outcry against blasphemy? Our
greed inspires us with zeal, and they are so rich that they must
be in the wrong. The more learned, the more enlightened they are,
the more cautious. You may convert some poor wretch whom you have
paid to slander his religion; you get some wretched old-clothes-man
to speak, and he says what you want; you may triumph over their
ignorance and cowardice, while all the time their men of learning
are laughing at your stupidity. But do you think you would get
off so easily in any place where they knew they were safe! At the
Sorbonne it is plain that the Messianic prophecies refer to Jesus
Christ. Among the rabbis of Amsterdam it is just as clear that they
have nothing to do with him. I do not think I have ever heard the
arguments of the Jews as to why they should not have a free state,
schools and universities, where they can speak and argue without
danger. Then alone can we know what they have to say.

"At Constantinople the Turks state their arguments, but we dare not
give ours; then it is our turn to cringe. Can we blame the Turks
if they require us to show the same respect for Mahomet, in whom
we do not believe, as we demand from the Jews with regard to Jesus
Christ in whom they do not believe? Are we right? On what grounds
of justice can we answer this question?

"Two-thirds of mankind are neither Jews, Mahometans, nor Christians;
and how many millions of men have never heard the name of Moses,
Jesus Christ, or Mahomet? They deny it; they maintain that our
missionaries go everywhere. That is easily said. But do they go into
the heart of Africa, still undiscovered, where as yet no European
has ever ventured? Do they go to Eastern Tartary to follow on
horseback the wandering tribes, whom no stranger approaches, who
not only know nothing of the pope, but have scarcely heard tell
of the Grand Lama! Do they penetrate into the vast continents
of America, where there are still whole nations unaware that the
people of another world have set foot on their shores? Do they
go to Japan, where their intrigues have led to their perpetual
banishment, where their predecessors are only known to the rising
generation as skilful plotters who came with feigned zeal to take
possession in secret of the empire? Do they reach the harems of the
Asiatic princes to preach the gospel to those thousands of poor
slaves? What have the women of those countries done that no missionary
may preach the faith to them? Will they all go to hell because of
their seclusion?

"If it were true that the gospel is preached throughout the world,
what advantage would there be? The day before the first missionary
set foot in any country, no doubt somebody died who could not hear
him. Now tell me what we shall do with him? If there were a single
soul in the whole world, to whom Jesus Christ had never been
preached, this objection would be as strong for that man as for a
quarter of the human race.

"If the ministers of the gospel have made themselves heard among
far-off nations, what have they told them which might reasonably be
accepted on their word, without further and more exact verification?
You preach to me God, born and dying, two thousand years ago, at
the other end of the world, in some small town I know not where;
and you tell me that all who have not believed this mystery are
damned. These are strange things to be believed so quickly on the
authority of an unknown person. Why did your God make these things
happen so far off, if he would compel me to know about them? Is
it a crime to be unaware of what is happening half a world away?
Could I guess that in another hemisphere there was a Hebrew nation
and a town called Jerusalem? You might as well expect me to know
what was happening in the moon. You say you have come to teach me;
but why did you not come and teach my father, or why do you consign
that good old man to damnation because he knew nothing of all
this? Must he be punished everlastingly for your laziness, he who
was so kind and helpful, he who sought only for truth? Be honest;
put yourself in my place; see if I ought to believe, on your word
alone, all these incredible things which you have told me, and
reconcile all this injustice with the just God you proclaim to
me. At least allow me to go and see this distant land where such
wonders, unheard of in my own country, took place; let me go and
see why the inhabitants of Jerusalem put their God to death as a
robber. You tell me they did not know he was God, What then shall
I do, I who have only heard of him from you? You say they have been
punished, dispersed, oppressed, enslaved; that none of them dare
approach that town. Indeed they richly deserved it; but what do its
present inhabitants say of their crime in slaying their God! They
deny him; they too refuse to recognise God as God. They are no
better than the children of the original inhabitants.

"What! In the very town where God was put to death, neither the
former nor the latter inhabitants knew him, and you expect that I
should know him, I who was born two thousand years after his time,
and two thousand leagues away? Do you not see that before I can
believe this book which you call sacred, but which I do not in the
least understand, I must know from others than yourself when and by
whom it was written, how it has been preserved, how it came into
your possession, what they say about it in those lands where it is
rejected, and what are their reasons for rejecting it, though they
know as well as you what you are telling me? You perceive I must
go to Europe, Asia, Palestine, to examine these things for myself;
it would be madness to listen to you before that.

"Not only does this seem reasonable to me, but I maintain that it
is what every wise man ought to say in similar circumstances; that
he ought to banish to a great distance the missionary who wants
to instruct and baptise him all of a sudden before the evidence is
verified. Now I maintain that there is no revelation against which
these or similar objections cannot be made, and with more force
than against Christianity. Hence it follows that if there is but
one true religion and if every man is bound to follow it under pain
of damnation, he must spend his whole life in studying, testing,
comparing all these religions, in travelling through the countries
in which they are established. No man is free from a man's first
duty; no one has a right to depend on another's judgment. The
artisan who earns his bread by his daily toil, the ploughboy who
cannot read, the delicate and timid maiden, the invalid who can
scarcely leave his bed, all without exception must study, consider,
argue, travel over the whole world; there will be no more fixed
and settled nations; the whole earth will swarm with pilgrims on
their way, at great cost of time and trouble, to verify, compare,
and examine for themselves the various religions to be found. Then
farewell to the trades, the arts, the sciences of mankind, farewell
to all peaceful occupations; there can be no study but that
of religion, even the strongest, the most industrious, the most
intelligent, the oldest, will hardly be able in his last years to
know where he is; and it will be a wonder if he manages to find
out what religion he ought to live by, before the hour of his death.

"Hard pressed by these arguments, some prefer to make God unjust
and to punish the innocent for the sins of their fathers, rather
than to renounce their barbarous dogmas. Others get out of the
difficulty by kindly sending an angel to instruct all those who
in invincible ignorance have lived a righteous life. A good idea,
that angel! Not content to be the slaves of their own inventions
they expect God to make use of them also!

"Behold, my son, the absurdities to which pride and intolerance
bring us, when everybody wants others to think as he does, and
everybody fancies that he has an exclusive claim upon the rest of
mankind. I call to witness the God of Peace whom I adore, and whom
I proclaim to you, that my inquiries were honestly made; but when
I discovered that they were and always would be unsuccessful, and
that I was embarked upon a boundless ocean, I turned back, and
restricted my faith within the limits of my primitive ideas. I
could never convince myself that God would require such learning
of me under pain of hell. So I closed all my books. There is one
book which is open to every one--the book of nature. In this good
and great volume I learn to serve and adore its Author. There
is no excuse for not reading this book, for it speaks to all in a
language they can understand. Suppose I had been born in a desert
island, suppose I had never seen any man but myself, suppose I had
never heard what took place in olden days in a remote corner of
the world; yet if I use my reason, if I cultivate it, if I employ
rightly the innate faculties which God bestows upon me, I shall
learn by myself to know and love him, to love his works, to will
what he wills, and to fulfil all my duties upon earth, that I may
do his pleasure. What more can all human learning teach me?

"With regard to revelation, if I were a more accomplished disputant,
or a more learned person, perhaps I should feel its truth, its
usefulness for those who are happy enough to perceive it; but if I
find evidence for it which I cannot combat, I also find objections
against it which I cannot overcome. There are so many weighty
reasons for and against that I do not know what to decide, so that
I neither accept nor reject it. I only reject all obligation to be
convinced of its truth; for this so-called obligation is incompatible
with God's justice, and far from removing objections in this way
it would multiply them, and would make them insurmountable for the
greater part of mankind. In this respect I maintain an attitude of
reverent doubt. I do not presume to think myself infallible; other
men may have been able to make up their minds though the matter
seems doubtful to myself; I am speaking for myself, not for them;
I neither blame them nor follow in their steps; their judgment may
be superior to mine, but it is no fault of mine that my judgment
does not agree with it.

"I own also that the holiness of the gospel speaks to my heart,
and that this is an argument which I should be sorry to refute.
Consider the books of the philosophers with all their outward show;
how petty they are in comparison! Can a book at once so grand and
so simple be the work of men? Is it possible that he whose history
is contained in this book is no more than man? Is the tone of this
book, the tone of the enthusiast or the ambitious sectary? What
gentleness and purity in his actions, what a touching grace in his
teaching, how lofty are his sayings, how profoundly wise are his
sermons, how ready, how discriminating, and how just are his answers!
What man, what sage, can live, suffer, and die without weakness
or ostentation? When Plato describes his imaginary good man,
overwhelmed with the disgrace of crime, and deserving of all the
rewards of virtue, every feature of the portrait is that of Christ;
the resemblance is so striking that it has been noticed by all
the Fathers, and there can be no doubt about it. What prejudices
and blindness must there be before we dare to compare the son of
Sophronisca with the son of Mary. How far apart they are! Socrates
dies a painless death, he is not put to open shame, and he plays
his part easily to the last; and if this easy death had not done
honour to his life, we might have doubted whether Socrates, with all
his intellect, was more than a mere sophist. He invented morality,
so they say; others before him had practised it; he only said
what they had done, and made use of their example in his teaching.
Aristides was just before Socrates defined justice; Leonidas died
for his country before Socrates declared that patriotism was a
virtue; Sparta was sober before Socrates extolled sobriety; there
were plenty of virtuous men in Greece before he defined virtue.
But among the men of his own time where did Jesus find that pure
and lofty morality of which he is both the teacher and pattern?
[Footnote: Cf. in the Sermon on the Mount the parallel he himself
draws between the teaching of Moses and his own.--Matt. v.] The
voice of loftiest wisdom arose among the fiercest fanaticism, the
simplicity of the most heroic virtues did honour to the most degraded
of nations One could wish no easier death than that of Socrates,
calmly discussing philosophy with his friends; one could fear nothing
worse than that of Jesus, dying in torment, among the insults,
the mockery, the curses of the whole nation. In the midst of these
terrible sufferings, Jesus prays for his cruel murderers. Yes,
if the life and death of Socrates are those of a philosopher, the
life and death of Christ are those of a God. Shall we say that the
gospel story is the work of the imagination? My friend, such things
are not imagined; and the doings of Socrates, which no one doubts,
are less well attested than those of Jesus Christ. At best, you
only put the difficulty from you; it would be still more incredible
that several persons should have agreed together to invent such a
book, than that there was one man who supplied its subject matter.
The tone and morality of this story are not those of any Jewish
authors, and the gospel indeed contains characters so great, so
striking, so entirely inimitable, that their invention would be
more astonishing than their hero. With all this the same gospel
is full of incredible things, things repugnant to reason, things
which no natural man can understand or accept. What can you do
among so many contradictions? You can be modest and wary, my child;
respect in silence what you can neither reject nor understand, and
humble yourself in the sight of the Divine Being who alone knows
the truth.

"This is the unwilling scepticism in which I rest; but this scepticism
is in no way painful to me, for it does not extend to matters of
practice, and I am well assured as to the principles underlying all
my duties. I serve God in the simplicity of my heart; I only seek
to know what affects my conduct. As to those dogmas which have
no effect upon action or morality, dogmas about which so many men
torment themselves, I give no heed to them. I regard all individual
religions as so many wholesome institutions which prescribe a
uniform method by which each country may do honour to God in public
worship; institutions which may each have its reason in the country,
the government, the genius of the people, or in other local causes
which make one preferable to another in a given time or place. I
think them all good alike, when God is served in a fitting manner.
True worship is of the heart. God rejects no homage, however offered,
provided it is sincere. Called to the service of the Church in
my own religion, I fulfil as scrupulously as I can all the duties
prescribed to me, and my conscience would reproach me if I were
knowingly wanting with regard to any point. You are aware that after
being suspended for a long time, I have, through the influence of
M. Mellarede, obtained permission to resume my priestly duties,
as a means of livelihood. I used to say Mass with the levity that
comes from long experience even of the most serious matters when
they are too familiar to us; with my new principles I now celebrate
it with more reverence; I dwell upon the majesty of the Supreme
Being, his presence, the insufficiency of the human mind, which
so little realises what concerns its Creator. When I consider how
I present before him the prayers of all the people in a form laid
down for me, I carry out the whole ritual exactly; I give heed
to what I say, I am careful not to omit the least word, the least
ceremony; when the moment of the consecration approaches, I collect my
powers, that I may do all things as required by the Church and by
the greatness of this sacrament; I strive to annihilate my own reason
before the Supreme Mind; I say to myself, Who art thou to measure
infinite power? I reverently pronounce the sacramental words, and
I give to their effect all the faith I can bestow. Whatever may
be this mystery which passes understanding, I am not afraid that
at the day of judgment I shall be punished for having profaned it
in my heart."

Honoured with the sacred ministry, though in its lowest ranks, I
will never do or say anything which may make me unworthy to fulfil
these sublime duties. I will always preach virtue and exhort men
to well-doing; and so far as I can I will set them a good example.
It will be my business to make religion attractive; it will be my
business to strengthen their faith in those doctrines which are
really useful, those which every man must believe; but, please God,
I shall never teach them to hate their neighbour, to say to other
men, You will be damned; to say, No salvation outside the Church.
[Footnote: The duty of following and loving the religion of our
country does not go so far as to require us to accept doctrines
contrary to good morals, such as intolerance. This horrible
doctrine sets men in arms against their fellow-men, and makes them
all enemies of mankind. The distinction between civil toleration
and theological toleration is vain and childish. These two kinds
of toleration are inseparable, and we cannot accept one without the
other. Even the angels could not live at peace with men whom they
regarded as the enemies of God.] If I were in a more conspicuous
position, this reticence might get me into trouble; but I am too
obscure to have much to fear, and I could hardly sink lower than I
am. Come what may, I will never blaspheme the justice of God, nor
lie against the Holy Ghost.

"I have long desired to have a parish of my own; it is still
my ambition, but I no longer hope to attain it. My dear friend, I
think there is nothing so delightful as to be a parish priest. A
good clergyman is a minister of mercy, as a good magistrate is a
minister of justice. A clergyman is never called upon to do evil;
if he cannot always do good himself, it is never out of place for
him to beg for others, and he often gets what he asks if he knows
how to gain respect. Oh! if I should ever have some poor mountain
parish where I might minister to kindly folk, I should be happy
indeed; for it seems to me that I should make my parishioners happy.
I should not bring them riches, but I should share their poverty;
I should remove from them the scorn and opprobrium which are harder
to bear than poverty. I should make them love peace and equality,
which often remove poverty, and always make it tolerable. When they
saw that I was in no way better off than themselves, and that yet
I was content with my lot, they would learn to put up with their
fate and to be content like me. In my sermons I would lay more stress
on the spirit of the gospel than on the spirit of the church; its
teaching is simple, its morality sublime; there is little in it
about the practices of religion, but much about works of charity.
Before I teach them what they ought to do, I would try to practise
it myself, that they might see that at least I think what I say.
If there were Protestants in the neighbourhood or in my parish, I
would make no difference between them and my own congregation so
far as concerns Christian charity; I would get them to love one
another, to consider themselves brethren, to respect all religions,
and each to live peaceably in his own religion. To ask any one to
abandon the religion in which he was born is, I consider, to ask
him to do wrong, and therefore to do wrong oneself. While we await
further knowledge, let us respect public order; in every country
let us respect the laws, let us not disturb the form of worship
prescribed by law; let us not lead its citizens into disobedience;
for we have no certain knowledge that it is good for them to abandon
their own opinions for others, and on the other hand we are quite
certain that it is a bad thing to disobey the law.

"My young friend, I have now repeated to you my creed as God reads
it in my heart; you are the first to whom I have told it; perhaps
you will be the last. As long as there is any true faith left among
men, we must not trouble quiet souls, nor scare the faith of the
ignorant with problems they cannot solve, with difficulties which
cause them uneasiness, but do not give them any guidance. But
when once everything is shaken, the trunk must be preserved at the
cost of the branches. Consciences, restless, uncertain, and almost
quenched like yours, require to be strengthened and aroused; to
set the feet again upon the foundation of eternal truth, we must
remove the trembling supports on which they think they rest.

"You are at that critical age when the mind is open to conviction,
when the heart receives its form and character, when we decide our
own fate for life, either for good or evil. At a later date, the
material has hardened and fresh impressions leave no trace. Young
man, take the stamp of truth upon your heart which is not yet
hardened, if I were more certain of myself, I should have adopted
a more decided and dogmatic tone; but I am a man ignorant and.
liable to error; what could I do? I have opened my heart fully to
you; and I have told what I myself hold for certain and sure; I
have told you my doubts as doubts, my opinions as opinions; I have
given you my reasons both for faith and doubt. It is now your turn
to judge; you have asked for time; that is a wise precaution and
it makes me think well of you. Begin by bringing your conscience
into that state in which it desires to see clearly; be honest with
yourself. Take to yourself such of my opinions as convince you,
reject the rest. You are not yet so depraved by vice as to run the
risk of choosing amiss. I would offer to argue with you, but as
soon as men dispute they lose their temper; pride and obstinacy
come in, and there is an end of honesty. My friend, never argue;
for by arguing we gain no light for ourselves or for others. So far
as I myself am concerned, I have only made up my mind after many
years of meditation; here I rest, my conscience is at peace, my
heart is satisfied. If I wanted to begin afresh the examination of
my feelings, I should not bring to the task a purer love of truth;
and my mind, which is already less active, would be less able to
perceive the truth. Here I shall rest, lest the love of contemplation,
developing step by step into an idle passion, should make me
lukewarm in the performance of my duties, lest I should fall into
my former scepticism without strength to struggle out of it. More
than half my life is spent; I have barely time to make good use of
what is left, to blot out my faults by my virtues. If I am mistaken,
it is against my will. He who reads my inmost heart knows that
I have no love for my blindness. As my own knowledge is powerless
to free me from this blindness, my only way out of it is by a good
life; and if God from the very stones can raise up children to
Abraham, every man has a right to hope that he may be taught the
truth, if he makes himself worthy of it.

"If my reflections lead you to think as I do, if you share my
feelings, if we have the same creed, I give you this advice: Do
not continue to expose your life to the temptations of poverty and
despair, nor waste it in degradation and at the mercy of strangers;
no longer eat the shameful bread of charity. Return to your own
country, go back to the religion of your fathers, and follow it in
sincerity of heart, and never forsake it; it is very simple and very
holy; I think there is no other religion upon earth whose morality
is purer, no other more satisfying to the reason. Do not trouble
about the cost of the journey, that will be provided for you.
Neither do you fear the false shame of a humiliating return; we
should blush to commit a fault, not to repair it. You are still at
an age when all is forgiven, but when we cannot go on sinning with
impunity. If you desire to listen to your conscience, a thousand
empty objections will disappear at her voice. You will feel that, in
our present state of uncertainty, it is an inexcusable presumption
to profess any faith but that we were born into, while it is
treachery not to practise honestly the faith we profess. If we go
astray, we deprive ourselves of a great excuse before the tribunal
of the sovereign judge. Will he not pardon the errors in which we
were brought up, rather than those of our own choosing?

"My son, keep your soul in such a state that you always desire
that there should be a God and you will never doubt it. Moreover,
whatever decision you come to, remember that the real duties of
religion are independent of human institutions; that a righteous
heart is the true temple of the Godhead; that in every land, in
every sect, to love God above all things and to love our neighbour
as ourself is the whole law; remember there is no religion which
absolves us from our moral duties; that these alone are really
essential, that the service of the heart is the first of these duties,
and that without faith there is no such thing as true virtue.

"Shun those who, under the pretence of explaining nature, sow
destructive doctrines in the heart of men, those whose apparent
scepticism is a hundredfold more self-assertive and dogmatic than
the firm tone of their opponents. Under the arrogant claim, that
they alone are enlightened, true, honest, they subject us imperiously
to their far-reaching decisions, and profess to give us, as the
true principles of all things, the unintelligible systems framed by
their imagination. Moreover, they overthrow, destroy, and trample
under foot all that men reverence; they rob the afflicted of
their last consolation in their misery; they deprive the rich and
powerful of the sole bridle of their passions; they tear from the
very depths of man's heart all remorse for crime, and all hope of
virtue; and they boast, moreover, that they are the benefactors of
the human race. Truth, they say, can never do a man harm. I think
so too, and to my mind that is strong evidence that what they
teach is not true. [Footnote: The rival parties attack each other
with so many sophistries that it would be a rash and overwhelming
enterprise to attempt to deal with all of them; it is difficult
enough to note some of them as they occur. One of the commonest
errors among the partisans of philosophy is to contrast a nation
of good philosophers with a nation of bad Christians; as if it were
easier to make a nation of good philosophers than a nation of good
Christians. I know not whether in individual cases it is easier to
discover one rather than the other; but I am quite certain that,
as far as nations are concerned, we must assume that there will
be those who misuse their philosophy without religion, just as our
people misuse their religion without philosophy, and that seems
to put quite a different face upon the matter.]--Bayle has proved
very satisfactorily that fanaticism is more harmful than atheism,
and that cannot be denied; but what he has not taken the trouble to
say, though it is none the less true, is this: Fanaticism, though
cruel and bloodthirsty, is still a great and powerful passion,
which stirs the heart of man, teaching him to despise death, and
giving him an enormous motive power, which only needs to be guided
rightly to produce the noblest virtues; while irreligion, and the
argumentative philosophic spirit generally, on the other hand,
assaults the life and enfeebles it, degrades the soul, concentrates
all the passions in the basest self-interest, in the meanness of
the human self; thus it saps unnoticed the very foundations of all
society, for what is common to all these private interests is so
small that it will never outweigh their opposing interests.--If
atheism does not lead to bloodshed, it is less from love of peace
than from indifference to what is good; as if it mattered little
what happened to others, provided the sage remained undisturbed in
his study. His principles do not kill men, but they prevent their
birth, by destroying the morals by which they were multiplied, by
detaching them from their fellows, by reducing all their affections
to a secret selfishness, as fatal to population as to virtue. The
indifference of the philosopher is like the peace in a despotic state;
it is the repose of death; war itself is not more destructive.--Thus
fanaticism though its immediate results are more fatal than those
of what is now called the philosophic mind, is much less fatal in
its after effects. Moreover, it is an easy matter to exhibit fine
maxims in books; but the real question is--Are they really in
accordance with your teaching, are they the necessary consequences
of it? and this has not been clearly proved so far. It remains
to be seen whether philosophy, safely enthroned, could control
successfully man's petty vanity, his self-interest, his ambition,
all the lesser passions of mankind, and whether it would practise
that sweet humanity which it boasts of, pen in hand.--In theory,
there is no good which philosophy can bring about which is not equally
secured by religion, while religion secures much that philosophy
cannot secure.--In practice, it is another matter; but still we
must put it to the proof. No man follows his religion in all things,
even if his religion is true; most people have hardly any religion,
and they do not in the least follow what they have; that is still
more true; but still there are some people who have a religion
and follow it, at least to some extent; and beyond doubt religious
motives do prevent them from wrong-doing, and win from them virtues,
praiseworthy actions, which would not have existed but for these
motives.--A monk denies that money was entrusted to him; what of
that? It only proves that the man who entrusted the money to him
was a fool. If Pascal had done the same, that would have proved that
Pascal was a hypocrite. But a monk! Are those who make a trade of
religion religious people? All the crimes committed by the clergy,
as by other men, do not prove that religion is useless, but that
very few people are religious.--Most certainly our modern governments
owe to Christianity their more stable authority, their less frequent
revolutions; it has made those governments less bloodthirsty; this
can be shown by comparing them with the governments of former times.
Apart from fanaticism, the best known religion has given greater
gentleness to Christian conduct. This change is not the result of
learning; for wherever learning has been most illustrious humanity
has been no more respected on that account; the cruelties of the
Athenians, the Egyptians, the Roman emperors, the Chinese bear
witness to this. What works of mercy spring from the gospel! How
many acts of restitution, reparation, confession does the gospel
lead to among Catholics! Among ourselves, as the times of communion
draw near, do they not lead us to reconciliation and to alms-giving?
Did not the Hebrew Jubilee make the grasping less greedy, did it
not prevent much poverty? The brotherhood of the Law made the nation
one; no beggar was found among them. Neither are there beggars
among the Turks, where there are countless pious institutions;
from motives of religion they even show hospitality to the foes of
their religion.--"The Mahometans say, according to Chardin, that
after the interrogation which will follow the general resurrection,
all bodies will traverse a bridge called Poul-Serrho, which is
thrown across the eternal fires, a bridge which may be called the
third and last test of the great Judgment, because it is there that
the good and bad will be separated, etc.--"The Persians, continues
Chardin, make a great point of this bridge; and when any one suffers
a wrong which he can never hope to wipe out by any means or at any
time, he finds his last consolation in these words: 'By the living
God, you will pay me double at the last day; you will never get
across the Poul-Serrho if you do not first do me justice; I will
hold the hem of your garment, I will cling about your knees.' I
have seen many eminent men, of every profession, who for fear lest
this hue and cry should be raised against them as they cross that
fearful bridge, beg pardon of those who complained against them;
it has happened to me myself on many occasions. Men of rank, who
had compelled me by their importunity to do what I did not wish
to do, have come to me when they thought my anger had had time to
cool, and have said to me; I pray you "Halal becon antchisra," that
is, "Make this matter lawful and right." Some of them have even
sent gifts and done me service, so that I might forgive them and
say I did it willingly; the cause of this is nothing else but this
belief that they will not be able to get across the bridge of hell
until they have paid the uttermost farthing to the oppressed."--Must
I think that the idea of this bridge where so many iniquities are
made good is of no avail? If the Persians were deprived of this
idea, if they were persuaded that there was no Poul-Serrho, nor
anything of the kind, where the oppressed were avenged of their
tyrants after death, is it not clear that they would be very much
at their ease, and they would be freed from the care of appeasing
the wretched? But it is false to say that this doctrine is hurtful;
yet it would not be true.--O Philosopher, your moral laws are all
very fine; but kindly show me their sanction. Cease to shirk the
question, and tell me plainly what you would put in the place of

"My good youth, be honest and humble; learn how to be ignorant, then
you will never deceive yourself or others. If ever your talents are
so far cultivated as to enable you to speak to other men, always
speak according to your conscience, without oaring for their
applause. The abuse of knowledge causes incredulity. The learned
always despise the opinions of the crowd; each of them must have his
own opinion. A haughty philosophy leads to atheism just as blind
devotion leads to fanaticism. Avoid these extremes; keep steadfastly
to the path of truth, or what seems to you truth, in simplicity of
heart, and never let yourself be turned aside by pride or weakness.
Dare to confess God before the philosophers; dare to preach humanity
to the intolerant. It may be you will stand alone, but you will
bear within you a witness which will make the witness of men of no
account with you. Let them love or hate, let them read your writings
or despise them; no matter. Speak the truth and do the right; the
one thing that really matters is to do one's duty in this world;
and when we forget ourselves we are really working for ourselves.
My child, self-interest misleads us; the hope of the just is the
only sure guide."

I have transcribed this document not as a rule for the sentiments
we should adopt in matters of religion, but as an example of the way
in which we may reason with our pupil without forsaking the method
I have tried to establish. So long as we yield nothing to human
authority, nor to the prejudices of our native land, the light of
reason alone, in a state of nature, can lead us no further than to
natural religion; and this is as far as I should go with Emile. If
he must have any other religion, I have no right to be his guide;
he must choose for himself.

We are working in agreement with nature, and while she is shaping
the physical man, we are striving to shape his moral being, but
we do not make the same progress. The body is already strong and
vigorous, the soul is still frail and delicate, and whatever can be
done by human art, the body is always ahead of the mind. Hitherto
all our care has been devoted to restrain the one and stimulate
the other, so that the man might be as far as possible at one with
himself. By developing his individuality, we have kept his growing
susceptibilities in check; we have controlled it by cultivating
his reason. Objects of thought moderate the influence of objects
of sense. By going back to the causes of things, we have withdrawn
him from the sway of the senses; it is an easy thing to raise him
from the study of nature to the search for the author of nature.

When we have reached this point, what a fresh hold we have got over
our pupil; what fresh ways of speaking to his heart! Then alone
does he find a real motive for being good, for doing right when he
is far from every human eye, and when he is not driven to it by
law. To be just in his own eyes and in the sight of God, to do his
duty, even at the cost of life itself, and to bear in his heart
virtue, not only for the love of order which we all subordinate
to the love of self, but for the love of the Author of his being,
a love which mingles with that self-love, so that he may at length
enjoy the lasting happiness which the peace of a good conscience
and the contemplation of that supreme being promise him in another
life, after he has used this life aright. Go beyond this, and I see
nothing but injustice, hypocrisy, and falsehood among men; private
interest, which in competition necessarily prevails over everything
else, teaches all things to adorn vice with the outward show of
virtue. Let all men do what is good for me at the cost of what is
good for themselves; let everything depend on me alone; let the
whole human race perish, if needs be, in suffering and want, to
spare me a moment's pain or hunger. Yes, I shall always maintain
that whoso says in his heart, "There is no God," while he takes
the name of God upon his lips, is either a liar or a madman.

Reader, it is all in vain; I perceive that you and I shall never
see Emile with the same eyes; you will always fancy him like your
own young people, hasty, impetuous, flighty, wandering from fete to
fete, from amusement to amusement, never able to settle to anything.
You smile when I expect to make a thinker, a philosopher, a young
theologian, of an ardent, lively, eager, and fiery young man,
at the most impulsive period of youth. This dreamer, you say, is
always in pursuit of his fancy; when he gives us a pupil of his
own making, he does not merely form him, he creates him, he makes
him up out of his own head; and while he thinks he is treading in
the steps of nature, he is getting further and further from her.
As for me, when I compare my pupil with yours, I can scarcely find
anything in common between them. So differently brought up, it is
almost a miracle if they are alike in any respect. As his childhood
was passed in the freedom they assume in youth, in his youth he
begins to bear the yoke they bore as children; this yoke becomes
hateful to them, they are sick of it, and they see in it nothing
but their masters' tyranny; when they escape from childhood, they
think they must shake off all control, they make up for the prolonged
restraint imposed upon them, as a prisoner, freed from his fetters,
moves and stretches and shakes his limbs. [Footnote: There is no
one who looks down upon childhood with such lofty scorn as those
who are barely grown-up; just as there is no country where rank is
more strictly regarded than that where there is little real inequality;
everybody is afraid of being confounded with his inferiors.] Emile,
however, is proud to be a man, and to submit to the yoke of his
growing reason; his body, already well grown, no longer needs so
much action, and begins to control itself, while his half-fledged
mind tries its wings on every occasion. Thus the age of reason
becomes for the one the age of licence; for the other, the age of

Would you know which of the two is nearer to the order of nature!
Consider the differences between those who are more or less removed
from a state of nature. Observe young villagers and see if they
are as undisciplined as your scholars. The Sieur de Beau says that
savages in childhood are always active, and ever busy with sports
that keep the body in motion; but scarcely do they reach adolescence
than they become quiet and dreamy; they no longer devote themselves
to games of skill or chance. Emile, who has been brought up in full
freedom like young peasants and savages, should behave like them
and change as he grows up. The whole difference is in this, that
instead of merely being active in sport or for food, he has, in the
course of his sports, learned to think. Having reached this stage,
and by this road, he is quite ready to enter upon the next stage to
which I introduce him; the subjects I suggest for his consideration
rouse his curiosity, because they are fine in themselves, because
they are quite new to him, and because he is able to understand
them. Your young people, on the other hand, are weary and overdone
with your stupid lessons, your long sermons, and your tedious
catechisms; why should they not refuse to devote their minds to
what has made them sad, to the burdensome precepts which have been
continually piled upon them, to the thought of the Author of their
being, who has been represented as the enemy of their pleasures?
All this has only inspired in them aversion, disgust, and weariness;
constraint has set them against it; why then should they devote
themselves to it when they are beginning to choose for themselves?
They require novelty, you must not repeat what they learned
as children. Just so with my own pupil, when he is a man I speak
to him as a man, and only tell him what is new to him; it is just
because they are tedious to your pupils that he will find them to
his taste.

This is how I doubly gain time for him by retarding nature to the
advantage of reason. But have I indeed retarded the progress of
nature? No, I have only prevented the imagination from hastening
it; I have employed another sort of teaching to counterbalance
the precocious instruction which the young man receives from other
sources. When he is carried away by the flood of existing customs
and I draw him in the opposite direction by means of other customs,
this is not to remove him from his place, but to keep him in it.

Nature's due time comes at length, as come it must. Since man must
die, he must reproduce himself, so that the species may endure and
the order of the world continue. When by the signs I have spoken of
you perceive that the critical moment is at hand, at once abandon
for ever your former tone. He is still your disciple, but not your
scholar. He is a man and your friend; henceforth you must treat
him as such.

What! Must I abdicate my authority when most I need it? Must I
abandon the adult to himself just when he least knows how to control
himself, when he may fall into the gravest errors! Must I renounce
my rights when it matters most that I should use them on his behalf?
Who bids you renounce them; he is only just becoming conscious of
them. Hitherto all you have gained has been won by force or guile;
authority, the law of duty, were unknown to him, you had to constrain
or deceive him to gain his obedience. But see what fresh chains
you have bound about his heart. Reason, friendship, affection,
gratitude, a thousand bonds of affection, speak to him in a voice
he cannot fail to hear. His ears are not yet dulled by vice, he
is still sensitive only to the passions of nature. Self-love, the
first of these, delivers him into your hands; habit confirms this.
If a passing transport tears him from you, regret restores him to
you without delay; the sentiment which attaches him to you is the
only lasting sentiment, all the rest are fleeting and self-effacing.
Do not let him become corrupt, and he will always be docile; he
will not begin to rebel till he is already perverted.

I grant you, indeed, that if you directly oppose his growing desires
and foolishly treat as crimes the fresh needs which are beginning
to make themselves felt in him, he will not listen to you for
long; but as soon as you abandon my method I cannot be answerable
for the consequences. Remember that you are nature's minister; you
will never be her foe.

But what shall we decide to do? You see no alternative but either
to favour his inclinations or to resist them; to tyrannise or to
wink at his misconduct; and both of these may lead to such dangerous
results that one must indeed hesitate between them.

The first way out of the difficulty is a very early marriage; this
is undoubtedly the safest and most natural plan. I doubt, however,
whether it is the best or the most useful. I will give my reasons
later; meanwhile I admit that young men should marry when they reach
a marriageable age. But this age comes too soon; we have made them
precocious; marriage should be postponed to maturity.

If it were merely a case of listening to their wishes and following
their lead it would be an easy matter; but there are so many
contradictions between the rights of nature and the laws of society
that to conciliate them we must continually contradict ourselves.
Much art is required to prevent man in society from being altogether

For the reasons just stated, I consider that by the means I have
indicated and others like them the young man's desires may be kept
in ignorance and his senses pure up to the age of twenty. This is
so true that among the Germans a young man who lost his virginity
before that age was considered dishonoured; and the writers justly
attribute the vigour of constitution and the number of children
among the Germans to the continence of these nations during youth.

This period may be prolonged still further, and a few centuries
ago nothing was more common even in France. Among other well-known
examples, Montaigne's father, a man no less scrupulously truthful
than strong and healthy, swore that his was a virgin marriage at
three and thirty, and he had served for a long time in the Italian
wars. We may see in the writings of his son what strength and
spirit were shown by the father when he was over sixty. Certainly
the contrary opinion depends rather on our own morals and our own
prejudices than on the experience of the race as a whole.

I may, therefore, leave on one side the experience of our young
people; it proves nothing for those who have been educated in
another fashion. Considering that nature has fixed no exact limits
which cannot be advanced or postponed, I think I may, without going
beyond the law of nature, assume that under my care Emil has so far
remained in his first innocence, but I see that this happy period
is drawing to a close. Surrounded by ever-increasing perils, he
will escape me at the first opportunity in spite of all my efforts,
and this opportunity will not long be delayed; he will follow the
blind instinct of his senses; the chances are a thousand to one on
his ruin. I have considered the morals of mankind too profoundly
not to be aware of the irrevocable influence of this first moment
on all the rest of his life. If I dissimulate and pretend to see
nothing, he will take advantage of my weakness; if he thinks he
can deceive me, he will despise me, and I become an accomplice in
his destruction. If I try to recall him, the time is past, he no
longer heeds me, he finds me tiresome, hateful, intolerable; it
will not be long before he is rid of me. There is therefore only
one reasonable course open to me; I must make him accountable for
his own actions, I must at least preserve him from being taken
unawares, and I must show him plainly the dangers which beset his
path. I have restrained him so far through his ignorance; henceforward
his restraint must be his own knowledge.

This new teaching is of great importance, and we will take up our
story where we left it. This is the time to present my accounts,
to show him how his time and mine have been spent, to make known
to him what he is and what I am; what I have done, and what he has
done; what we owe to each other; all his moral relations, all the
undertakings to which he is pledged, all those to which others
have pledged themselves in respect to him; the stage he has reached
in the development of his faculties, the road that remains to be
travelled, the difficulties he will meet, and the way to overcome
them; how I can still help him and how he must henceforward help
himself; in a word, the critical time which he has reached, the
new dangers round about him, and all the valid reasons which should
induce him to keep a close watch upon himself before giving heed
to his growing desires.

Remember that to guide a grown man you must reverse all that you
did to guide the child. Do not hesitate to speak to him of those
dangerous mysteries which you have so carefully concealed from him
hitherto. Since he must become aware of them, let him not learn
them from another, nor from himself, but from you alone; since he
must henceforth fight against them, let him know his enemy, that
he may not be taken unawares.

Young people who are found to be aware of these matters, without
our knowing how they obtained their knowledge, have not obtained it
with impunity. This unwise teaching, which can have no honourable
object, stains the imagination of those who receive it if it does
nothing worse, and it inclines them to the vices of their instructors.
This is not all; servants, by this means, ingratiate themselves
with a child, gain his confidence, make him regard his tutor as a
gloomy and tiresome person; and one of the favourite subjects of
their secret colloquies is to slander him. When the pupil has got
so far, the master may abandon his task; he can do no good.

But why does the child choose special confidants? Because of the
tyranny of those who control him. Why should he hide himself from
them if he were not driven to it? Why should he complain if he had
nothing to complain of? Naturally those who control him are his
first confidants; you can see from his eagerness to tell them what
he thinks that he feels he has only half thought till he has told
his thoughts to them. You may be sure that when the child knows you
will neither preach nor scold, he will always tell you everything,
and that no one will dare to tell him anything he must conceal from
you, for they will know very well that he will tell you everything.

What makes me most confident in my method is this: when I follow
it out as closely as possible, I find no situation in the life of
my scholar which does not leave me some pleasing memory of him.
Even when he is carried away by his ardent temperament or when he
revolts against the hand that guides him, when he struggles and is
on the point of escaping from me, I still find his first simplicity
in his agitation and his anger; his heart as pure as his body, he
has no more knowledge of pretence than of vice; reproach and scorn
have not made a coward of him; base fears have never taught him
the art of concealment. He has all the indiscretion of innocence;
he is absolutely out-spoken; he does not even know the use of
deceit. Every impulse of his heart is betrayed either by word or
look, and I often know what he is feeling before he is aware of it

So long as his heart is thus freely opened to me, so long as he
delights to tell me what he feels, I have nothing to fear; the danger
is not yet at hand; but if he becomes more timid, more reserved,
if I perceive in his conversation the first signs of confusion and
shame, his instincts are beginning to develop, he is beginning to
connect the idea of evil with these instincts, there is not a moment
to lose, and if I do not hasten to instruct him, he will learn in
spite of me.

Some of my readers, even of those who agree with me, will think
that it is only a question of a conversation with the young man at
any time. Oh, this is not the way to control the human heart. What
we say has no meaning unless the opportunity has been carefully
chosen. Before we sow we must till the ground; the seed of virtue
is hard to grow; and a long period of preparation is required before
it will take root. One reason why sermons have so little effect is
that they are offered to everybody alike, without discrimination
or choice. How can any one imagine that the same sermon could be
suitable for so many hearers, with their different dispositions,
so unlike in mind, temper, age, sex, station, and opinion. Perhaps
there are not two among those to whom what is addressed to all is
really suitable; and all our affections are so transitory that perhaps
there are not even two occasions in the life of any man when the
same speech would have the same effect on him. Judge for yourself
whether the time when the eager senses disturb the understanding
and tyrannise over the will, is the time to listen to the solemn
lessons of wisdom. Therefore never reason with young men, even
when they have reached the age of reason, unless you have first
prepared the way. Most lectures miss their mark more through the
master's fault than the disciple's. The pedant and the teacher say
much the same; but the former says it at random, and the latter
only when he is sure of its effect.

As a somnambulist, wandering in his sleep, walks along the edge
of a precipice, over which he would fall if he were awake, so my
Emile, in the sleep of ignorance, escapes the perils which he does
not see; were I to wake him with a start, he might fall. Let us
first try to withdraw him from the edge of the precipice, and then
we will awake him to show him it from a distance.

Reading, solitude, idleness, a soft and sedentary life, intercourse
with women and young people, these are perilous paths for a young
man, and these lead him constantly into danger. I divert his senses
by other objects of sense; I trace another course for his spirits
by which I distract them from the course they would have taken; it
is by bodily exercise and hard work that I check the activity of
the imagination, which was leading him astray. When the arms are
hard at work, the imagination is quiet; when the body is very weary,
the passions are not easily inflamed. The quickest and easiest
precaution is to remove him from immediate danger. At once I take
him away from towns, away from things which might lead him into
temptation. But that is not enough; in what desert, in what wilds,
shall he escape from the thoughts which pursue him? It is not
enough to remove dangerous objects; if I fail to remove the memory
of them, if I fail to find a way to detach him from everything,
if I fail to distract him from himself, I might as well have left
him where he was.

Emile has learned a trade, but we do not have recourse to it; he
is fond of farming and understands it, but farming is not enough;
the occupations he is acquainted with degenerate into routine; when
he is engaged in them he is not really occupied; he is thinking of
other things; head and hand are at work on different subjects. He
must have some fresh occupation which has the interest of novelty--an
occupation which keeps him busy, diligent, and hard at work, an
occupation which he may become passionately fond of, one to which
he will devote himself entirely. Now the only one which seems to
possess all these characteristics is the chase. If hunting is ever
an innocent pleasure, if it is ever worthy of a man, now is the
time to betake ourselves to it. Emile is well-fitted to succeed in
it. He is strong, skilful, patient, unwearied. He is sure to take
a fancy to this sport; he will bring to it all the ardour of youth;
in it he will lose, at least for a time, the dangerous inclinations
which spring from softness. The chase hardens the heart a well as
the body; we get used to the sight of blood and cruelty. Diana is
represented as the enemy of love; and the allegory is true to life;
the languors of love are born of soft repose, and tender feelings
are stifled by violent exercise. In the woods and fields, the lover
and the sportsman are so diversely affected that they receive very
different impressions. The fresh shade, the arbours, the pleasant
resting-places of the one, to the other are but feeding grounds, or
places where the quarry will hide or turn to bay. Where the lover
hears the flute and the nightingale, the hunter hears the horn
and the hounds; one pictures to himself the nymphs and dryads, the
other sees the horses, the huntsman, and the pack. Take a country
walk with one or other of these men; their different conversation
will soon show you that they behold the earth with other eyes,
and that the direction of their thoughts is as different as their
favourite pursuit.

I understand how these tastes may be combined, and that at last men
find time for both. But the passions of youth cannot be divided in
this way. Give the youth a single occupation which he loves, and
the rest will soon be forgotten. Varied desires come with varied
knowledge, and the first pleasures we know are the only ones we
desire for long enough. I would not have the whole of Emile's youth
spent in killing creatures, and I do not even profess to justify
this cruel passion; it is enough for me that it serves to delay a
more dangerous passion, so that he may listen to me calmly when I
speak of it, and give me time to describe it without stimulating

There are moments in human life which can never be forgotten. Such
is the time when Emile receives the instruction of which I have
spoken; its influence should endure all his life through. Let us
try to engrave it on his memory so that it may never fade away. It
is one of the faults of our age to rely too much on cold reason,
as if men were all mind. By neglecting the language of expression
we have lost the most forcible mode of speech. The spoken word is
always weak, and we speak to the heart rather through the eyes than
the ears. In our attempt to appeal to reason only, we have reduced
our precepts to words, we have not embodied them in deed. Mere
reason is not active; occasionally she restrains, more rarely she
stimulates, but she never does any great thing. Small minds have a
mania for reasoning. Strong souls speak a very different language,
and it is by this language that men are persuaded and driven to

I observe that in modern times men only get a hold over others by
force or self-interest, while the ancients did more by persuasion,
by the affections of the heart; because they did not neglect the
language; of symbolic expression. All agreements were drawn up
solemnly, so that they might be more inviolable; before the reign
of force, the gods were the judges of mankind; in their presence,
individuals made their treaties and alliances, and pledged themselves
to perform their promises; the face of the earth was the book in
which the archives were preserved. The leaves of this book were
rocks, trees, piles of stones, made sacred by these transactions,
and regarded with reverence by barbarous men; and these pages were
always open before their eyes. The well of the oath, the well of
the living and seeing one; the ancient oak of Mamre, the stones of
witness, such were the simple but stately monuments of the sanctity
of contracts; none dared to lay a sacrilegious hand on these
monuments, and man's faith was more secure under the warrant of
these dumb witnesses than it is to-day upon all the rigour of the

In government the people were over-awed by the pomp and splendour
of royal power. The symbols of greatness, a throne, a sceptre, a
purple robe, a crown, a fillet, these were sacred in their sight.
These symbols, and the respect which they inspired, led them to
reverence the venerable man whom they beheld adorned with them;
without soldiers and without threats, he spoke and was obeyed.
[Footnote: The Roman Catholic clergy have very wisely retained
these symbols, and certain republics, such as Venice, have followed
their example. Thus the Venetian government, despite the fallen
condition of the state, still enjoys, under the trappings of
its former greatness, all the affection, all the reverence of the
people; and next to the pope in his triple crown, there is perhaps
no king, no potentate, no person in the world so much respected
as the Doge of Venice; he has no power, no authority, but he is
rendered sacred by his pomp, and he wears beneath his ducal coronet
a woman's flowing locks. That ceremony of the Bucentaurius, which
stirs the laughter of fools, stirs the Venetian populace to shed
its life-blood for the maintenance of this tyrannical government.]
In our own day men profess to do away with these symbols. What are
the consequences of this contempt? The kingly majesty makes no
impression on all hearts, kings can only gain obedience by the help
of troops, and the respect of their subjects is based only on the
fear of punishment. Kings are spared the trouble of wearing their
crowns, and our nobles escape from the outward signs of their
station, but they must have a hundred thousand men at their command
if their orders are to be obeyed. Though this may seem a finer
thing, it is easy to see that in the long run they will gain nothing.

It is amazing what the ancients accomplished with the aid of
eloquence; but this eloquence did not merely consist in fine speeches
carefully prepared; and it was most effective when the orator said
least. The most startling speeches were expressed not in words but
in signs; they were not uttered but shown. A thing beheld by the
eyes kindles the imagination, stirs the curiosity, and keeps the
mind on the alert for what we are about to say, and often enough
the thing tells the whole story. Thrasybulus and Tarquin cutting
off the heads of the poppies, Alexander placing his seal on the
lips of his favourite, Diogenes marching before Zeno, do not these
speak more plainly than if they had uttered long orations? What
flow of words could have expressed the ideas as clearly? Darius,
in the course of the Scythian war, received from the king of the
Scythians a bird, a frog, a mouse, and five arrows. The ambassador
deposited this gift and retired without a word. In our days he would
have been taken for a madman. This terrible speech was understood,
and Darius withdrew to his own country with what speed he could.
Substitute a letter for these symbols and the more threatening it
was the less terror it would inspire; it would have been merely a
piece of bluff, to which Darius would have paid no attention.

What heed the Romans gave to the language of signs! Different ages
and different ranks had their appropriate garments, toga, tunic,
patrician robes, fringes and borders, seats of honour, lictors,
rods and axes, crowns of gold, crowns of leaves, crowns of flowers,
ovations, triumphs, everything had its pomp, its observances,
its ceremonial, and all these spoke to the heart of the citizens.
The state regarded it as a matter of importance that the populace
should assemble in one place rather than another, that they should
or should not behold the Capitol, that they should or should not
turn towards the Senate, that this day or that should be chosen for
their deliberations. The accused wore a special dress, so did the
candidates for election; warriors did not boast of their exploits,
they showed their scars. I can fancy one of our orators at the
death of Caesar exhausting all the commonplaces of rhetoric to give
a pathetic description of his wounds, his blood, his dead body;
Anthony was an orator, but he said none of this; he showed the
murdered Caesar. What rhetoric was this!

But this digression, like many others, is drawing me unawares away
from my subject; and my digressions are too frequent to be borne
with patience. I therefore return to the point.

Do not reason coldly with youth. Clothe your reason with a body,
if you would make it felt. Let the mind speak the language of the
heart, that it may be understood. I say again our opinions, not our
actions, may be influenced by cold argument; they set us thinking,
not doing; they show us what we ought to think, not what we ought
to do. If this is true of men, it is all the truer of young people
who are still enwrapped in their senses and cannot think otherwise
than they imagine.

Even after the preparations of which I have spoken, I shall take
good care not to go all of a sudden to Emile's room and preach a
long and heavy sermon on the subject in which he is to be instructed.
I shall begin by rousing his imagination; I shall choose the time,
place, and surroundings most favourable to the impression I wish
to make; I shall, so to speak, summon all nature as witness to our
conversations; I shall call upon the eternal God, the Creator of
nature, to bear witness to the truth of what I say. He shall judge
between Emile and myself; I will make the rocks, the woods, the
mountains round about us, the monuments of his promises and mine;
eyes, voice, and gesture shall show the enthusiasm I desire to
inspire. Then I will speak and he will listen, and his emotion will
be stirred by my own. The more impressed I am by the sanctity of
my duties, the more sacred he will regard his own. I will enforce
the voice of reason with images and figures, I will not give him
long-winded speeches or cold precepts, but my overflowing feelings
will break their bounds; my reason shall be grave and serious, but
my heart cannot speak too warmly. Then when I have shown him all
that I have done for him, I will show him how he is made for me;
he will see in my tender affection the cause of all my care. How
greatly shall I surprise and disturb him when I change my tone.
Instead of shrivelling up his soul by always talking of his own
interests, I shall henceforth speak of my own; he will be more
deeply touched by this. I will kindle in his young heart all the
sentiments of affection, generosity, and gratitude which I have
already called into being, and it will indeed be sweet to watch
their growth. I will press him to my bosom, and weep over him in
my emotion; I will say to him: "You are my wealth, my child, my
handiwork; my happiness is bound up in yours; if you frustrate my
hopes. you rob me of twenty years of my life, and you bring my grey
hairs with sorrow to the grave." This is the way to gain a hearing
and to impress what is said upon the heart and memory of the young

Hitherto I have tried to give examples of the way in which a tutor
should instruct his pupil in cases of difficulty. I have tried to
do so in this instance; but after many attempts I have abandoned
the task, convinced that the French language is too artificial
to permit in print the plainness of speech required for the first
lessons in certain subjects.

They say French is more chaste than other languages; for my own
part I think it more obscene; for it seems to me that the purity
of a language does not consist in avoiding coarse expressions but
in having none. Indeed, if we are to avoid them, they must be in
our thoughts, and there is no language in which it is so difficult
to speak with purity on every subject than French. The reader is
always quicker to detect than the author to avoid a gross meaning,
and he is shocked and startled by everything. How can what is heard
by impure ears avoid coarseness? On the other hand, a nation whose
morals are pure has fit terms for everything, and these terms are
always right because they are rightly used. One could not imagine
more modest language than that of the Bible, just because of its
plainness of speech. The same things translated into French would
become immodest. What I ought to say to Emile will sound pure and
honourable to him; but to make the same impression in print would
demand a like purity of heart in the reader.

I should even think that reflections on true purity of speech
and the sham delicacy of vice might find a useful place in the
conversations as to morality to which this subject brings us; for
when he learns the language of plain-spoken goodness, he must also
learn the language of decency, and he must know why the two are
so different. However this may be, I maintain that if instead of
the empty precepts which are prematurely dinned into the ears of
children, only to be scoffed at when the time comes when they might
prove useful, if instead of this we bide our time, if we prepare
the way for a hearing, if we then show him the laws of nature in
all their truth, if we show him the sanction of these laws in the
physical and moral evils which overtake those who neglect them,
if while we speak to him of this great mystery of generation, we
join to the idea of the pleasure which the Author of nature has
given to this act the idea of the exclusive affection which makes
it delightful, the idea of the duties of faithfulness and modesty
which surround it, and redouble its charm while fulfilling its
purpose; if we paint to him marriage, not only as the sweetest form
of society, but also as the most sacred and inviolable of contracts,
if we tell him plainly all the reasons which lead men to respect
this sacred bond, and to pour hatred and curses upon him who dares
to dishonour it; if we give him a true and terrible picture of the
horrors of debauch, of its stupid brutality, of the downward road
by which a first act of misconduct leads from bad to worse, and at
last drags the sinner to his ruin; if, I say, we give him proofs
that on a desire for chastity depends health, strength, courage,
virtue, love itself, and all that is truly good for man--I maintain
that this chastity will be so dear and so desirable in his eyes,
that his mind will be ready to receive our teaching as to the way
to preserve it; for so long as we are chaste we respect chastity;
it is only when we have lost this virtue that we scorn it.

It is not true that the inclination to evil is beyond our control,
and that we cannot overcome it until we have acquired the habit of
yielding to it. Aurelius Victor says that many men were mad enough
to purchase a night with Cleopatra at the price of their life,
and this is not incredible in the madness of passion. But let us
suppose the maddest of men, the man who has his senses least under
control; let him see the preparations for his death, let him realise
that he will certainly die in torment a quarter of an hour later;
not only would that man, from that time forward, become able
to resist temptation, he would even find it easy to do so; the
terrible picture with which they are associated will soon distract
his attention from these temptations, and when they are continually
put aside they will cease to recur. The sole cause of our weakness
is the feebleness of our will, and we have always strength to
perform what we strongly desire. "Volenti nihil difficile!" Oh! if
only we hated vice as much as we love life, we should abstain as
easily from a pleasant sin as from a deadly poison in a delicious

How is it that you fail to perceive that if all the lessons given
to a young man on this subject have no effect, it is because they
are not adapted to his age, and that at every age reason must be
presented in a shape which will win his affection? Speak seriously
to him if required, but let what you say to him always have a charm
which will compel him to listen. Do not coldly oppose his wishes;
do not stifle his imagination, but direct it lest it should bring
forth monsters. Speak to him of love, of women, of pleasure; let
him find in your conversation a charm which delights his youthful
heart; spare no pains to make yourself his confidant; under this
name alone will you really be his master. Then you need not fear
he will find your conversation tedious; he will make you talk more
than you desire.

If I have managed to take all the requisite precautions in accordance
with these maxims, and have said the right things to Emile at the
age he has now reached, I am quite convinced that he will come of
his own accord to the point to which I would lead him, and will
eagerly confide himself to my care. When he sees the dangers by
which he is surrounded, he will say to me with all the warmth of
youth, "Oh, my friend, my protector, my master! resume the authority
you desire to lay aside at the very time when I most need it;
hitherto my weakness has given you this power. I now place it in
your hands of my own free-will, and it will be all the more sacred
in my eyes. Protect me from all the foes which are attacking me,
and above all from the traitors within the citadel; watch over
your work, that it may still be worthy of you. I mean to obey your
laws, I shall ever do so, that is my steadfast purpose; if I ever
disobey you, it will be against my will; make me free by guarding
me against the passions which do me violence; do not let me become
their slave; compel me to be my own master and to obey, not my
senses, but my reason."

When you have led your pupil so far (and it will be your own fault
if you fail to do so), beware of taking him too readily at his word,
lest your rule should seem too strict to him, and lest he should
think he has a right to escape from it, by accusing you of taking
him by surprise. This is the time for reserve and seriousness; and
this attitude will have all the more effect upon him seeing that
it is the first time you have adopted it towards him.

You will say to him therefore: "Young man, you readily make promises
which are hard to keep; you must understand what they mean before
you have a right to make them; you do not know how your fellows
are drawn by their passions into the whirlpool of vice masquerading
as pleasure. You are honourable, I know; you will never break your
word, but how often will you repent of having given it? How often
will you curse your friend, when, in order to guard you from the
ills which threaten you, he finds himself compelled to do violence
to your heart. Like Ulysses who, hearing the song of the Sirens,
cried aloud to his rowers to unbind him, you will break your
chains at the call of pleasure; you will importune me with your
lamentations, you will reproach me as a tyrant when I have your
welfare most at heart; when I am trying to make you happy, I shall
incur your hatred. Oh, Emile, I can never bear to be hateful in
your eyes; this is too heavy a price to pay even for your happiness.
My dear young man, do you not see that when you undertake to obey
me, you compel me to promise to be your guide, to forget myself
in my devotion to you, to refuse to listen to your murmurs and
complaints, to wage unceasing war against your wishes and my own.
Before we either of us undertake such a task, let us count our
resources; take your time, give me time to consider, and be sure
that the slower we are to promise, the more faithfully will our
promises be kept."

You may be sure that the more difficulty he finds in getting your
promise, the easier you will find it to carry it out. The young
man must learn that he is promising a great deal, and that you
are promising still more. When the time is come, when he has, so
to say, signed the contract, then change your tone, and make your
rule as gentle as you said it would be severe. Say to him, "My
young friend, it is experience that you lack; but I have taken care
that you do not lack reason. You are ready to see the motives of
my conduct in every respect; to do this you need only wait till
you are free from excitement. Always obey me first, and then ask
the reasons for my commands; I am always ready to give my reasons
so soon as you are ready to listen to them, and I shall never be
afraid to make you the judge between us. You promise to follow my
teaching, and I promise only to use your obedience to make you the
happiest of men. For proof of this I have the life you have lived
hitherto. Show me any one of your age who has led as happy a life
as yours, and I promise you nothing more."

When my authority is firmly established, my first care will be to
avoid the necessity of using it. I shall spare no pains to become
more and more firmly established in his confidence, to make myself
the confidant of his heart and the arbiter of his pleasures. Far
from combating his youthful tastes, I shall consult them that I
may be their master; I will look at things from his point of view
that I may be his guide; I will not seek a remote distant good at
the cost of his present happiness. I would always have him happy
always if that may be.

Those who desire to guide young people rightly and to preserve them
from the snares of sense give them a disgust for love, and would
willingly make the very thought of it a crime, as if love were
for the old. All these mistaken lessons have no effect; the heart
gives the lie to them. The young man, guided by a surer instinct,
laughs to himself over the gloomy maxims which he pretends to
accept, and only awaits the chance of disregarding them. All that
is contrary to nature. By following the opposite course I reach
the same end more safely. I am not afraid to encourage in him the
tender feeling for which he is so eager, I shall paint it as the
supreme joy of life, as indeed it is; when I picture it to him, I
desire that he shall give himself up to it; by making him feel the
charm which the union of hearts adds to the delights of sense, I
shall inspire him with a disgust for debauchery; I shall make him
a lover and a good man.

How narrow-minded to see nothing in the rising desires of a young
heart but obstacles to the teaching of reason. In my eyes, these
are the right means to make him obedient to that very teaching.
Only through passion can we gain the mastery over passions; their
tyranny must be controlled by their legitimate power, and nature
herself must furnish us with the means to control her.

Emile is not made to live alone, he is a member of society, and must
fulfil his duties as such. He is made to live among his fellow-men
and he must get to know them. He knows mankind in general; he has
still to learn to know individual men. He knows what goes on in the
world; he has now to learn how men live in the world. It is time
to show him the front of that vast stage, of which he already
knows the hidden workings. It will not arouse in him the foolish
admiration of a giddy youth, but the discrimination of an exact
and upright spirit. He may no doubt be deceived by his passions;
who is there who yields to his passions without being led astray
by them? At least he will not be deceived by the passions of other
people. If he sees them, he will regard them with the eye of the
wise, and will neither be led away by their example nor seduced by
their prejudices.

As there is a fitting age for the study of the sciences, so there
is a fitting age for the study of the ways of the world. Those who
learn these too soon, follow them throughout life, without choice
or consideration, and although they follow them fairly well they
never really know what they are about. But he who studies the ways
of the world and sees the reason for them, follows them with more
insight, and therefore more exactly and gracefully. Give me a child
of twelve who knows nothing at all; at fifteen I will restore him
to you knowing as much as those who have been under instruction
from infancy; with this difference, that your scholars only know
things by heart, while mine knows how to use his knowledge. In
the same way plunge a young man of twenty into society; under good
guidance, in a year's time, he will be more charming and more truly
polite than one brought up in society from childhood. For the former
is able to perceive the reasons for all the proceedings relating
to age, position, and sex, on which the customs of society depend,
and can reduce them to general principles, and apply them to
unforeseen emergencies; while the latter, who is guided solely by
habit, is at a loss when habit fails him.

Young French ladies are all brought up in convents till they are
married. Do they seem to find any difficulty in acquiring the ways
which are so new to them, and is it possible to accuse the ladies
of Paris of awkward and embarrassed manners or of ignorance of the
ways of society, because they have not acquired them in infancy!
This is the prejudice of men of the world, who know nothing of more
importance than this trifling science, and wrongly imagine that
you cannot begin to acquire it too soon.

On the other hand, it is quite true that we must not wait too long.
Any one who has spent the whole of his youth far from the great
world is all his life long awkward, constrained, out of place; his
manners will be heavy and clumsy, no amount of practice will get
rid of this, and he will only make himself more ridiculous by trying
to do so. There is a time for every kind of teaching and we ought
to recognise it, and each has its own dangers to be avoided. At this
age there are more dangers than at any other; but I do not expose
my pupil to them without safeguards.

When my method succeeds completely in attaining one object, and
when in avoiding one difficulty it also provides against another,
I then consider that it is a good method, and that I am on the
right track. This seems to be the case with regard to the expedient
suggested by me in the present case. If I desire to be stern and
cold towards my pupil, I shall lose his confidence, and he will soon
conceal himself from me. If I wish to be easy and complaisant, to
shut my eyes, what good does it do him to be under my care? I only
give my authority to his excesses, and relieve his conscience at
the expense of my own. If I introduce him into society with no
object but to teach him, he will learn more than I want. If I keep
him apart from society, what will he have learnt from me? Everything
perhaps, except the one art absolutely necessary to a civilised
man, the art of living among his fellow-men. If I try to attend to
this at a distance, it will be of no avail; he is only concerned
with the present. If I am content to supply him with amusement, he
will acquire habits of luxury and will learn nothing.

We will have none of this. My plan provides for everything. Your
heart, I say to the young man, requires a companion; let us go
in search of a fitting one; perhaps we shall not easily find such
a one, true worth is always rare, but we will be in no hurry, nor
will we be easily discouraged. No doubt there is such a one, and
we shall find her at last, or at least we shall find some one like
her. With an end so attractive to himself, I introduce him into
society. What more need I say? Have I not achieved my purpose?

By describing to him his future mistress, you may imagine whether
I shall gain a hearing, whether I shall succeed in making the
qualities he ought to love pleasing and dear to him, whether I shall
sway his feelings to seek or shun what is good or bad for him. I
shall be the stupidest of men if I fail to make him in love with he
knows not whom. No matter that the person I describe is imaginary,
it is enough to disgust him with those who might have attracted
him; it is enough if it is continually suggesting comparisons which
make him prefer his fancy to the real people he sees; and is not
love itself a fancy, a falsehood, an illusion? We are far more in
love with our own fancy than with the object of it. If we saw the
object of our affections as it is, there would be no such thing as
love. When we cease to love, the person we used to love remains
unchanged, but we no longer see with the same eyes; the magic veil
is drawn aside, and love disappears. But when I supply the object
of imagination, I have control over comparisons, and I am able
easily to prevent illusion with regard to realities.

For all that I would not mislead a young man by describing a model
of perfection which could never exist; but I would so choose the
faults of his mistress that they will suit him, that he will be
pleased by them, and they may serve to correct his own. Neither
would I lie to him and affirm that there really is such a person;
let him delight in the portrait, he will soon desire to find the
original. From desire to belief the transition is easy; it is a
matter of a little skilful description, which under more perceptible
features will give to this imaginary object an air of greater reality.
I would go so far as to give her a name; I would say, smiling. Let
us call your future mistress Sophy; Sophy is a name of good omen;
if it is not the name of the lady of your choice at least she will
be worthy of the name; we may honour her with it meanwhile. If
after all these details, without affirming or denying, we excuse
ourselves from giving an answer, his suspicions will become certainty;
he will think that his destined bride is purposely concealed from
him, and that he will see her in good time. If once he has arrived
at this conclusion and if the characteristics to be shown to him
have been well chosen, the rest is easy; there will be little risk
in exposing him to the world; protect him from his senses, and his
heart is safe.

But whether or no he personifies the model I have contrived to
make so attractive to him, this model, if well done, will attach
him none the less to everything that resembles itself, and will
give him as great a distaste for all that is unlike it as if Sophy
really existed. What a means to preserve his heart from the dangers
to which his appearance would expose him, to repress his senses
by means of his imagination, to rescue him from the hands of those
women who profess to educate young men, and make them pay so dear
for their teaching, and only teach a young man manners by making
him utterly shameless. Sophy is so modest? What would she think of
their advances! Sophy is so simple! How would she like their airs?
They are too far from his thoughts and his observations to be

Every one who deals with the control of children follows the same
prejudices and the same maxima, for their observation is at fault,
and their reflection still more so. A young man is led astray in
the first place neither by temperament nor by the senses, but by
popular opinion. If we were concerned with boys brought up in boarding
schools or girls in convents, I would show that this applies even
to them; for the first lessons they learn from each other, the only
lessons that bear fruit, are those of vice; and it is not nature
that corrupts them but example. But let us leave the boarders in
schools and convents to their bad morals; there is no cure for them.
I am dealing only with home training. Take a young man carefully
educated in his father's country house, and examine him when he
reaches Paris and makes his entrance into society; you will find
him thinking clearly about honest matters, and you will find his
will as wholesome as his reason. You will find scorn of vice and
disgust for debauchery; his face will betray his innocent horror at
the very mention of a prostitute. I maintain that no young man could
make up his mind to enter the gloomy abodes of these unfortunates
by himself, if indeed he were aware of their purpose and felt their

See the same young man six months later, you will not know him;
from his bold conversation, his fashionable maxims, his easy air,
you would take him for another man, if his jests over his former
simplicity and his shame when any one recalls it did not show that
it is he indeed and that he is ashamed of himself. How greatly has
he changed in so short a time! What has brought about so sudden and
complete a change? His physical development? Would not that have
taken place in his father's house, and certainly he would not have
acquired these maxims and this tone at home? The first charms of
sense? On the contrary; those who are beginning to abandon themselves
to these pleasures are timid and anxious, they shun the light and
noise. The first pleasures are always mysterious, modesty gives
them their savour, and modesty conceals them; the first mistress
does not make a man bold but timid. Wholly absorbed in a situation
so novel to him, the young man retires into himself to enjoy it,
and trembles for fear it should escape him. If he is noisy he knows
neither passion nor love; however he may boast, he has not enjoyed.

These changes are merely the result of changed ideas. His heart is
the same, but his opinions have altered. His feelings, which change
more slowly, will at length yield to his opinions and it is then
that he is indeed corrupted. He has scarcely made his entrance
into society before he receives a second education quite unlike the
first, which teaches him to despise what he esteemed, and esteem
what he despised; he learns to consider the teaching of his parents
and masters as the jargon of pedants, and the duties they have
instilled into him as a childish morality, to be scorned now that
he is grown up. He thinks he is bound in honour to change his
conduct; he becomes forward without desire, and he talks foolishly
from false shame. He rails against morality before he has any taste
for vice, and prides himself on debauchery without knowing how to
set about it. I shall never forget the confession of a young officer
in the Swiss Guards, who was utterly sick of the noisy pleasures
of his comrades, but dared not refuse to take part in them lest he
should be laughed at. "I am getting used to it," he said, "as I am
getting used to taking snuff; the taste will come with practice;
it will not do to be a child for ever."

So a young man when he enters society must be preserved from vanity
rather than from sensibility; he succumbs rather to the tastes
of others than to his own, and self-love is responsible for more
libertines than love.

This being granted, I ask you. Is there any one on earth better
armed than my pupil against all that may attack his morals, his
sentiments, his principles; is there any one more able to resist the
flood? What seduction is there against which he is not forearmed?
If his desires attract him towards women, he fails to find what
he seeks, and his heart, already occupied, holds him back. If he
is disturbed and urged onward by his senses, where will he find
satisfaction? His horror of adultery and debauch keeps him at a
distance from prostitutes and married women, and the disorders of
youth may always be traced to one or other of these. A maiden may
be a coquette, but she will not be shameless, she will not fling
herself at the head of a young man who may marry her if he believes
in her virtue; besides she is always under supervision. Emile, too,
will not be left entirely to himself; both of them will be under
the guardianship of fear and shame, the constant companions of
a first passion; they will not proceed at once to misconduct, and
they will not have time to come to it gradually without hindrance.
If he behaves otherwise, he must have taken lessons from his comrades,
he must have learned from them to despise his self-control, and to
imitate their boldness. But there is no one in the whole world so
little given to imitation as Emile. What man is there who is so
little influenced by mockery as one who has no prejudices himself
and yields nothing to the prejudices of others. I have laboured
twenty years to arm him against mockery; they will not make him
their dupe in a day; for in his eyes ridicule is the argument of
fools, and nothing makes one less susceptible to raillery than to
be beyond the influence of prejudice. Instead of jests he must have
arguments, and while he is in this frame of mind, I am not afraid
that he will be carried away by young fools; conscience and truth
are on my side. If prejudice is to enter into the matter at all,
an affection of twenty years' standing counts for something; no one
will ever convince him that I have wearied him with vain lessons;
and in a heart so upright and so sensitive the voice of a tried and
trusted friend will soon efface the shouts of twenty libertines.
As it is therefore merely a question of showing him that he is
deceived, that while they pretend to treat him as a man they are
really treating him as a child, I shall choose to be always simple
but serious and plain in my arguments, so that he may feel that I
do indeed treat him as a man. I will say to him, You will see that
your welfare, in which my own is bound up, compels me to speak; I
can do nothing else. But why do these young men want to persuade
you? Because they desire to seduce you; they do not care for you,
they take no real interest in you; their only motive is a secret
spite because they see you are better than they; they want to
drag you down to their own level, and they only reproach you with
submitting to control that they may themselves control you. Do you
think you have anything to gain by this? Are they so much wiser
than I, is the affection of a day stronger than mine? To give any
weight to their jests they must give weight to their authority; and
by what experience do they support their maxima above ours? They
have only followed the example of other giddy youths, as they would
have you follow theirs. To escape from the so-called prejudices
of their fathers, they yield to those of their comrades. I cannot
see that they are any the better off; but I see that they lose two
things of value--the affection of their parents, whose advice is
that of tenderness and truth, and the wisdom of experience which
teaches us to judge by what we know; for their fathers have once
been young, but the young men have never been fathers.

But you think they are at least sincere in their foolish precepts.
Not so, dear Emile; they deceive themselves in order to deceive you;
they are not in agreement with themselves; their heart continually
revolts, and their very words often contradict themselves. This man
who mocks at everything good would be in despair if his wife held
the same views. Another extends his indifference to good morals even
to his future wife, or he sinks to such depths of infamy as to be
indifferent to his wife's conduct; but go a step further; speak to
him of his mother; is he willing to be treated as the child of an
adulteress and the son of a woman of bad character, is he ready
to assume the name of a family, to steal the patrimony of the true
heir, in a word will he bear being treated as a bastard? Which of
them will permit his daughter to be dishonoured as he dishonours
the daughter of another? There is not one of them who would not kill
you if you adopted in your conduct towards him all the principles
he tries to teach you. Thus they prove their inconsistency, and
we know they do not believe what they say. Here are reasons, dear
Emile; weigh their arguments if they have any, and compare them
with mine. If I wished to have recourse like them to scorn and
mockery, you would see that they lend themselves to ridicule as
much or more than myself. But I am not afraid of serious inquiry.
The triumph of mockers is soon over; truth endures, and their
foolish laughter dies away.

You do not think that Emile, at twenty, can possibly be docile. How
differently we think! I cannot understand how he could be docile
at ten, for what hold have I on him at that age? It took me fifteen
years of careful preparation to secure that hold. I was not educating
him, but preparing him for education. He is now sufficiently educated
to be docile; he recognises the voice of friendship and he knows
how to obey reason. It is true I allow him a show of freedom, but
he was never more completely under control, because he obeys of
his own free will. So long as I could not get the mastery over his
will, I retained my control over his person; I never left him for
a moment. Now I sometimes leave him to himself because I control
him continually. When I leave him I embrace him and I say with
confidence: Emile, I trust you to my friend, I leave you to his
honour; he will answer for you.

To corrupt healthy affections which have not been previously
depraved, to efface principles which are directly derived from our
own reasoning, is not the work of a moment. If any change takes
place during my absence, that absence will not be long, he will
never be able to conceal himself from me, so that I shall perceive
the danger before any harm comes of it, and I shall be in time to
provide a remedy. As we do not become depraved all at once, neither
do we learn to deceive all at once; and if ever there was a man
unskilled in the art of deception it is Emile, who has never had
any occasion for deceit.

By means of these precautions and others like them, I expect to
guard him so completely against strange sights and vulgar precepts
that I would rather see him in the worst company in Paris than alone
in his room or in a park left to all the restlessness of his age.
Whatever we may do, a young man's worst enemy is himself, and
this is an enemy we cannot avoid. Yet this is an enemy of our own
making, for, as I have said again and again, it is the imagination
which stirs the senses. Desire is not a physical need; it is not
true that it is a need at all. If no lascivious object had met our
eye, if no unclean thought had entered our mind, this so-called
need might never have made itself felt, and we should have remained
chaste, without temptation, effort, or merit. We do not know how
the blood of youth is stirred by certain situations and certain
sights, while the youth himself does not understand the cause of
his uneasiness-an uneasiness difficult to subdue and certain to
recur. For my own part, the more I consider this serious crisis
and its causes, immediate and remote, the more convinced I am that
a solitary brought up in some desert, apart from books, teaching,
and women, would die a virgin, however long he lived.

But we are not concerned with a savage of this sort. When we
educate a man among his fellow-men and for social life, we cannot,
and indeed we ought not to, bring him up in this wholesome ignorance,
and half knowledge is worse than none. The memory of things we have
observed, the ideas we have acquired, follow us into retirement
and people it, against our will, with images more seductive than
the things themselves, and these make solitude as fatal to those
who bring such ideas with them as it is wholesome for those who
have never left it.

Therefore, watch carefully over the young man; he can protect
himself from all other foes, but it is for you to protect him
against himself. Never leave him night or day, or at least share
his room; never let him go to bed till he is sleepy, and let him
rise as soon as he wakes. Distrust instinct as soon as you cease
to rely altogether upon it. Instinct was good while he acted under
its guidance only; now that he is in the midst of human institutions,
instinct is not to be trusted; it must not be destroyed, it must
be controlled, which is perhaps a more difficult matter. It would
be a dangerous matter if instinct taught your pupil to abuse his
senses; if once he acquires this dangerous habit he is ruined. From
that time forward, body and soul will be enervated; he will carry
to the grave the sad effects of this habit, the most fatal habit
which a young man can acquire. If you cannot attain to the mastery
of your passions, dear Emile, I pity you; but I shall not hesitate
for a moment, I will not permit the purposes of nature to be evaded.
If you must be a slave, I prefer to surrender you to a tyrant from
whom I may deliver you; whatever happens, I can free you more easily
from the slavery of women than from yourself.

Up to the age of twenty, the body is still growing and requires
all its strength; till that age continence is the law of nature,
and this law is rarely violated without injury to the constitution.
After twenty, continence is a moral duty; it is an important
duty, for it teaches us to control ourselves, to be masters of our
own appetites. But moral duties have their modifications, their
exceptions, their rules. When human weakness makes an alternative
inevitable, of two evils choose the least; in any case it is better
to commit a misdeed than to contract a vicious habit.

Remember, I am not talking of my pupil now, but of yours. His
passions, to which you have given way, are your master; yield to
them openly and without concealing his victory. If you are able
to show him it in its true light, he will be ashamed rather than
proud of it, and you will secure the right to guide him in his
wanderings, at least so as to avoid precipices. The disciple must
do nothing, not even evil, without the knowledge and consent of his
master; it is a hundredfold better that the tutor should approve
of a misdeed than that he should deceive himself or be deceived by
his pupil, and the wrong should be done without his knowledge. He
who thinks he must shut his eyes to one thing, must soon shut them
altogether; the first abuse which is permitted leads to others, and
this chain of consequences only ends in the complete overthrow of
all order and contempt for every law.

There is another mistake which I have already dealt with, a mistake
continually made by narrow-minded persons; they constantly affect
the dignity of a master, and wish to be regarded by their disciples
as perfect. This method is just the contrary of what should be
done. How is it that they fail to perceive that when they try to
strengthen their authority they are really destroying it; that to
gain a hearing one must put oneself in the place of our hearers,
and that to speak to the human heart, one must be a man. All these
perfect people neither touch nor persuade; people always say, "It
is easy for them to fight against passions they do not feel." Show
your pupil your own weaknesses if you want to cure his; let him
see in you struggles like his own; let him learn by your example
to master himself and let him not say like other young men, "These
old people, who are vexed because they are no longer young, want to
treat all young people as if they were old; and they make a crime
of our passions because their own passions are dead."

Montaigne tells us that he once asked Seigneur de Langey how often,
in his negotiations with Germany, he had got drunk in his king's
service. I would willingly ask the tutor of a certain young man
how often he has entered a house of ill-fame for his pupil's sake.
How often? I am wrong. If the first time has not cured the young
libertine of all desire to go there again, if he does not return
penitent and ashamed, if he does not shed torrents of tears upon
your bosom, leave him on the spot; either he is a monster or you
are a fool; you will never do him any good. But let us have done
with these last expedients, which are as distressing as they are
dangerous; our kind of education has no need of them.

What precautions we must take with a young man of good birth before
exposing him to the scandalous manners of our age! These precautions
are painful but necessary; negligence in this matter is the ruin of
all our young men; degeneracy is the result of youthful excesses,
and it is these excesses which make men what they are. Old and base
in their vices, their hearts are shrivelled, because their worn-out
bodies were corrupted at an early age; they have scarcely strength
to stir. The subtlety of their thoughts betrays a mind lacking in
substance; they are incapable of any great or noble feeling, they
have neither simplicity nor vigour; altogether abject and meanly
wicked, they are merely frivolous, deceitful, and false; they have
not even courage enough to be distinguished criminals. Such are
the despicable men produced by early debauchery; if there were but
one among them who knew how to be sober and temperate, to guard his
heart, his body, his morals from the contagion of bad example, at
the age of thirty he would crush all these insects, and would become
their master with far less trouble than it cost him to become master
of himself.

However little Emile owes to birth and fortune, he might be this
man if he chose; but he despises such people too much to condescend
to make them his slaves. Let us now watch him in their midst, as he
enters into society, not to claim the first place, but to acquaint
himself with it and to seek a helpmeet worthy of himself.

Whatever his rank or birth, whatever the society into which he
is introduced, his entrance into that society will be simple and
unaffected; God grant he may not be unlucky enough to shine in
society; the qualities which make a good impression at the first
glance are not his, he neither possesses them, nor desires to
possess them. He cares too little for the opinions of other people
to value their prejudices, and he is indifferent whether people
esteem him or not until they know him. His address is neither shy nor
conceited, but natural and sincere, he knows nothing of constraint
or concealment, and he is just the same among a group of people
as he is when he is alone. Will this make him rude, scornful, and
careless of others? On the contrary; if he were not heedless of
others when he lived alone, why should he be heedless of them now
that he is living among them? He does not prefer them to himself
in his manners, because he does not prefer them to himself in his
heart, but neither does he show them an indifference which he is far
from feeling; if he is unacquainted with the forms of politeness,
he is not unacquainted with the attentions dictated by humanity.
He cannot bear to see any one suffer; he will not give up his place
to another from mere external politeness, but he will willingly
yield it to him out of kindness if he sees that he is being neglected
and that this neglect hurts him; for it will be less disagreeable
to Emile to remain standing of his own accord than to see another
compelled to stand.

Although Emile has no very high opinion of people in general, he
does not show any scorn of them, because he pities them and is sorry
for them. As he cannot give them a taste for what is truly good, he
leaves them the imaginary good with which they are satisfied, lest
by robbing them of this he should leave them worse off than before.
So he neither argues nor contradicts; neither does he flatter nor
agree; he states his opinion without arguing with others, because
he loves liberty above all things, and freedom is one of the fairest
gifts of liberty.

He says little, for he is not anxious to attract attention; for the
same reason he only says what is to the point; who could induce him
to speak otherwise? Emile is too well informed to be a chatter-box.
A great flow of words comes either from a pretentious spirit, of
which I shall speak presently, or from the value laid upon trifles
which we foolishly think to be as important in the eyes of others
as in our own. He who knows enough of things to value them at
their true worth never says too much; for he can also judge of the
attention bestowed on him and the interest aroused by what he says.
People who know little are usually great talkers, while men who
know much say little. It is plain that an ignorant person thinks
everything he does know important, and he tells it to everybody.
But a well-educated man is not so ready to display his learning;
he would have too much to say, and he sees that there is much more
to be said, so he holds his peace.

Far from disregarding the ways of other people, Emile conforms to
them readily enough; not that he may appear to know all about them,
nor yet to affect the airs of a man of fashion, but on the contrary
for fear lest he should attract attention, and in order to pass
unnoticed; he is most at his ease when no one pays any attention
to him.

Although when he makes his entrance into society he knows nothing
of its customs, this does not make him shy or timid; if he keeps in
the background, it is not because he is embarrassed, but because,
if you want to see, you must not be seen; for he scarcely troubles
himself at all about what people think of him, and he is not the
least afraid of ridicule. Hence he is always quiet and self-possessed
and is not troubled with shyness. All he has to do is done as well
as he knows how to do it, whether people are looking at him or
not; and as he is always on the alert to observe other people, he
acquires their ways with an ease impossible to the slaves of other
people's opinions. We might say that he acquires the ways of society
just because he cares so little about them.

But do not make any mistake as to his bearing; it is not to be
compared with that of your young dandies. It is self-possessed, not
conceited; his manners are easy, not haughty; an insolent look is
the mark of a slave, there is nothing affected in independence. I
never saw a man of lofty soul who showed it in his bearing; this
affectation is more suited to vile and frivolous souls, who have
no other means of asserting themselves. I read somewhere that a
foreigner appeared one day in the presence of the famous Marcel,
who asked him what country he came from. "I am an Englishman,"
replied the stranger. "You are an Englishman!" replied the dancer,
"You come from that island where the citizens have a share in the
government, and form part of the sovereign power? [Footnote: As if
there were citizens who were not part of the city and had not, as
such, a share in sovereign power! But the French, who have thought
fit to usurp the honourable name of citizen which was formerly the
right of the members of the Gallic cities, have degraded the idea
till it has no longer any sort of meaning. A man who recently wrote
a number of silly criticisms on the "Nouvelle Heloise" added to
his signature the title "Citizen of Paimboeuf," and he thought it
a capital joke.] No, sir, that modest bearing, that timid glance,
that hesitating manner, proclaim only a slave adorned with the
title of an elector."

I cannot say whether this saying shows much knowledge of the true
relation between a man's character and his appearance. I have not
the honour of being a dancing master, and I should have thought just
the opposite. I should have said, "This Englishman is no courtier;
I never heard that courtiers have a timid bearing and a hesitating
manner. A man whose appearance is timid in the presence of a dancer
might not be timid in the House of Commons." Surely this M. Marcel
must take his fellow-countrymen for so many Romans.

He who loves desires to be loved, Emile loves his fellows and
desires to please them. Even more does he wish to please the women;
his age, his character, the object he has in view, all increase
this desire. I say his character, for this has a great effect; men
of good character are those who really adore women. They have not
the mocking jargon of gallantry like the rest, but their eagerness
is more genuinely tender, because it comes from the heart. In the
presence of a young woman, I could pick out a young man of character
and self-control from among a hundred thousand libertines. Consider
what Emile must be, with all the eagerness of early youth and so
many reasons for resistance! For in the presence of women

I think he will sometimes be shy and timid; but this shyness will
certainly not be displeasing, and the least foolish of them will
only too often find a way to enjoy it and augment it. Moreover, his
eagerness will take a different shape according to those he has to
do with. He will be more modest and respectful to married women,
more eager and tender towards young girls. He never loses sight of
his purpose, and it is always those who most recall it to him who
receive the greater share of his att