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Jean-Jacques Rousseau

“I have entered upon a performance which is without example, whose
accomplishment will have no imitator. I mean to present my
fellow-mortals with a man in all the integrity of nature; and this man
shall be myself.

I know my heart, and have studied mankind; I am not made like any one I
have been acquainted with, perhaps like no one in existence; if not
better, I at least claim originality, and whether Nature did wisely in
breaking the mould with which she formed me, can only be determined after
having read this work.

Whenever the last trumpet shall sound, I will present myself before the
sovereign judge with this book in my hand, and loudly proclaim, thus have
I acted; these were my thoughts; such was I. With equal freedom and
veracity have I related what was laudable or wicked, I have concealed no
crimes, added no virtues; and if I have sometimes introduced superfluous
ornament, it was merely to occupy a void occasioned by defect of memory:
I may have supposed that certain, which I only knew to be probable, but
have never asserted as truth, a conscious falsehood. Such as I was, I
have declared myself; sometimes vile and despicable, at others, virtuous,
generous and sublime; even as thou hast read my inmost soul: Power
eternal! assemble round thy throne an innumerable throng of my
fellow-mortals, let them listen to my confessions, let them blush at my
depravity, let them tremble at my sufferings; let each in his turn expose
with equal sincerity the failings, the wanderings of his heart, and, if
he dare, aver, I was better than that man.”


Jean-Jacques Rousseau
tags: confessions
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