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THE significance of Kousseau in education as well as 
in politics must be found in his revolutionary attitude 
toward established institutions. Some of his biographers 
relate the story that when the Academy of Dijon, in 1749, 
offered a prize for an essay on the question whether the 
progress of the arts and sciences has tended to the puri- 
fication of morals and manners, he followed the sugges- 
tion of Diderot, who reminded him of the greater noto- 
riety which he could gain by advocating the negative 
side. He accordingly wrote an essay denouncing civil- 
ized life in such eloquent terms that he became at once 
famous as a censor of civilization. He found this line 
of authorship so flattering to his conceit and so well 
fitted to his mode of life, his habits of thought, and lit- 
erary style, that he adopted it as a career, and attacked 
one after the other the existing foundations of civilization. 
The essay just named was published in 1750 ; that on 
the origin of inequality among men, in which he laid the 
axe to the root of the social system of Europe, in 1752 ; 
in 1762 he completed his raid against the political basis of 
government by his work on the social contract ; his Nou- 
velle Heloi'se appeared in 1760, sapping the ethics of the 
family relation ; his Emile, in 1762, uproots whatever is 
traditional in education and religion. Thus he attacks 

the four cardinal institutions of civilization the family, 
civil society, the state, and the Church together with the 
school, which is the means of conserving them. 

There have been many reformers, but none more radi- 
cal than Rousseau ; for he advocates the overthrow of 
civilization and the return to a state of nature. 

Nature is a word of many meanings. It may signify 
human nature as revealed in the institutions which man 
has founded. The nature of bees and ants appears in 
the social organizations that they form and in the prod- 
ucts of their united industry. So, too, human nature 
is revealed in the social unities of civilized life and 
in the works erected to continue them and secure 

But the word nature may signify physical nature as 
opposed to man it may stand for matter and brute force ; 
it may mean the untamed animal appetites that hold 
sway in human beings when not guided by moral or re- 
ligious principles. 

The opposite of civilization is savagery, and Voltaire 
wittily exposed the fallacy of the revolutionary appeal to 
Nature when he wrote to Eousseau acknowledging the 
gift of his essay on the origin of inequality among 
men : " I have received your new book against the hu- 
man race, and I thank you for it. No one could paint 
in stronger colors the horrors of human society from 
which our ignorance and weakness promise themselves 
so many delights. Never has any one employed so much 
genius to make us into beasts. When one reads your 
book he is seized at once with a desire to go down on all- 

The truth is, that this appeal to Nature is always a 
piece of jugglery. A high-sounding word is used in two 
very different senses, and, as Macbetli says, the word of 


promise is kept to our ear but broken to our hope.* This 
juggling with ambiguous words lends itself most readily 
to a purely literary style wielded by a man unscrupulous 
of truth and ambitious of producing an effect on his 
audience. This is the besetting sin in the great orators 
of reform ; they are mostly close imitators of Rousseau. 

Spurzheim, the phrenologist, in his tractate on The 
Natural Laws of Man, takes the word in an ideal sense 
when he says : " Natural laws are necessarily conformable 
to reason ; they produce certain never- varying effects ; 
whatever is undertaken in conformity with their decrees 
prospers, and penalty is always in proportion to their in- 
fringement. . . . Natural law is submitted to the free 
scrutiny of all, and is appreciated in great part by means 
of reason. ... It is not the arbitrary dictum of self- 
elected and presumed interpreters of a revelation. . . . 
Natural laws are inherent in beings and are often plainly 
to be seen ; always demonstrable, universal, invariable, and 

It is obvious that the appeal to Nature in this case is 
prompted by a desire to escape from the control of author- 
ity. If my individual intellect can discover the laws of 
Nature, and these laws are the highest truth, then I am 
right in emancipating myself from " self -elected and pre- 
sumed interpreters of a revelation." I may take on my- 
self a free and independent attitude, and find for myself 
the rules of conduct by examining the structure of the 

The impulse to escape from the bonds of external 

* " And be these juggling fiends no more believed, 
That palter with us in a double sense ; 
That keep the word of promise to <jur ear, 
And break it to our hope." MACBETH, Act V, Scene 7. 


arbitrary authority by attaining scientific knowledge is 
reasonable and good, and furnishes a justification of this 
revolutionary movement. But its watchword, " Return to 
Nature," involves the danger of paltering in a double sense. 
Instead of finding the laws of human nature, it may find 
only the laws of animal nature, or, worse still, the laws of 
matter and brute force. 

The nature or principle of matter is exclusion ; each 
body excludes all others and is impenetrable. Spiritual 
being is inclusive, and each soul lives its true life only in 
communion with others ; each avails itself of the experi- 
ence of all others ; each lives the life of all. The truth 
and goodness discovered by another can be made mine by 
my self-active participation in it. Spiritual participation 
does not divide and diminish, but increases rather. My 
truth grows in me when I impart it to others. Material 
participation diminishes ; the barrel of meal or the cruse 
of oil if consumed by one can not be consumed by another. 
This confusion between spiritual and material laws which 
we find in the school of writers that demand freedom 
from external authority, explains the mixture of good and 
bad, wise and unwise prescriptions which we find side by 
side in their books. When Nature as a spiritual principle 
is followed for a while in Rousseau's Emile, there is whole- 
some truth; when he takes Nature as the principle of 
matter and force, the result is paradox and error. 

Rousseau's first sentence gives his argument Virgil 
begins his ^Eneid with " arms and the man," and Homer's 
Iliad with " Achilles's wrath " : " Everything is good as it 
comes from the hands of the Author of Nature ; but every- 
thing degenerates in the hands of man." But is man as 
he comes from Nature good ? No, says Rousseau. " We 
are born weak we have need of strength ; we are born 
destitute of everything we have need of assistance ; we 


are born stupid we have need of judgment." How 
can that be good which lacks everything necessary for its 
perfection ? It is not good, but needs education in order 
to become good. This, too, Rousseau admits, and at once 
sets up the claim for three sorts of education from 
nature, from men, and from things. Education from 
things is what we learn from personal experience of 
objects ; education from nature is " the internal develop- 
ment of our faculties and organs" that is to say, our 
vital growth ; education from men is the use we make of 
our natural growth, and this, he says, " is the only educa- 
tion of which we are truly masters." Nature gives us the 
raw material to be educated it gives us bodily growth 
and organs. But this is only man as an animal. Man 
even as a savage is above this, for he has a tribal institu- 
tion, a language, and an elaborate system of conventional 
usages which he teaches to his children. 

When Rousseau attempts to tell us further what he 
means by Nature, he speaks of " primitive dispositions, in- 
cluding our sensations and feelings of pleasure and pain, 
together with the judgments founded on these ; . . . these 
dispositions are what I call our nature." It would follow 
from this that education by nature is the reaction upon 
ourselves of the deeds that flow from our disposition. 
Man's will-power is the agent of his education. He learns 
by doing. Yes, he grows by doing ; for the exercise of 
his faculties educatively depends on his will-power. The 
will permits and causes exercise, or it inhibits exercise ; 
it retards the growth of one faculty while it promotes 
growth in another. 

According to this, Rousseau ought to have seen that 
nearly all the education which he describes as the result 
of nature is only education from men ; for this includes 
all action of the will to control and direct nature. Man 

xii EMILE. 

in so far as he is a spiritual being is self-determined, and 
it is this higher nature which is properly called human 

Human nature does not " come from the hand of the 
Author of Nature" directly like the sun and stars, nor 
even like plants and animals ; for human nature is di- 
rectly the product of man's will, strange as it always 
seems to us when we first realize this sublime truth. For 
.human nature is the result of the realization of moral 
ideals, and these are realized only by the virtuous action 
of the will. Before moral ideals and without them we 
have only the natural man (or perhaps only the anthro- 
poid ape). 

Nature, as material existence in time and space, is the 
polar opposite of man as spirit. Man, as merely natural, 
finds himself to be his own worst foe. " By nature he is 
totally depraved " that is, he is governed by his environ- 
ment of external things and internal impulses, just like 
the lower orders of being. The greedy swine fight for the 
possession of the acorn that drops in their midst. Vio- 
lence reigns where there is no self-determination ; it 
reigns still where the principle of exclusion and selfish- 
ness is adopted among men. 

The state of human nature exists as the product of 
culture. All things in time and space exist for man on 
condition that he have intelligence and skill to use them. 
He conquers Nature by two kinds of combinations prac- 
tical and theoretical both being forms of social combina- 
tion. All arts and industries, all manufactures and com- 
merce, all division of labor, and all civil order, are the 
result of practical combination. All knowledge and sci- 
ence give us power over things and forces; all moral, 
religious, and aesthetic ideals belong to the theoretical 
combination. They come from the participation of the 


individual in the experience and reason of his fellow- 

The mere animal does not progress in experience ex- 
cept in the slow vital process of transmission by inherit- 
ance. But the human being can amass experience and 
communicate it to others by language after he has gener- 
alized it. Each can help all, and all each. Each con- 
tributes his mite to society, giving to all the small out- 
come of his individual experience; each receives from 
society the immeasurable gift of the aggregate experience 
of all mankind in all ages. Thus, in the case of the ani- 
mal, the species and individual are at two extremes ; in 
the case of man these extremes approach, and the indi- 
vidual becomes more and more able to sum up in himself 
the net results of the experience and thought of the entire 

It is this revelation of human nature in social combi- 
nation which Eousseau fails to see, and, failing in this, he 
misses the chief aim of education. " The natural man," 
says he, "is complete in himself; he is the numerical 
unit, the absolute whole, who is related only to himself or 
to his fellow-man. Civilized man is but the fractional 
unit that is dependent on its denominator, and whose 
value consists in its relation to the whole, which is the 
social organization. Good social institutions are those 
which are best able to make man unnatural, and to take 
from him his absolute existence in order to give him one 
which is relative." 

He had forgotten that he wrote a moment before, " We 
are born weak, and stupid, and destitute of everything"; 
that we are, as products of Nature, the pitifullest fractions 
until we borrow denominators from education by our fel- 
low-men, who teach us the arts by which we can conquer 
Nature and obtain clothing, shelter, and daily food. 


Since Rousseau's time natural science has turned 
through half a circle. In D'Holbach's System of Nature, 
matter and force, by mere mechanical action, produce 
plants, animals, and men. Under the leadership of Dar- 
win, it is no longer mechanical action of the environment, 
but internal reaction against environment, that produces 
development. New and higher species are developed 
through the struggle for existence. Each being strives 
not only to adjust itself to its environment, but also to 
modify its environment so as to promote its own pur- 

Here we have the opposite principle, or that of " strive," 
instead of Rousseau's " let alone." The evolutionist of to- 
day regards human progress as the result of innumerable 
strivings in short, as the result of what Rousseau calls 
the education of man as opposed to the education of na- 
ture and things. If man had let himself alone, he would 
have remained the monkey, that he was. Not only this, 
but if the monkey had let himself alone he would have 
remained a lemur, or a bat, or a bear, or some other creat- 
ure that now offers only a faint suggestion of what the 
ape has become by his struggle to exist. 

The invention that makes man successful in the strug- 
gle for existence is participation of the fractional indi- 
vidual in the integer or total which he creates in the form 
of institutions family, society, and the state ; for it is 
the savage man who is the fraction. The civilized man is 
made a whole by society, which offers him his share of the 
products of all ages and all climes as an equivalent for his 
daily labor. 

Robinson Crusoe on a desert island is the type of man 
as an isolated individual. He has to do all for himself, 
and he does nothing well. By division of labor in civil- 
ized society each one does some one thing rapidly and 


well, and partakes by exchange in what others produce 
rapidly, cheaply, and well. 

Rousseau was the prophet of the French Revolution, 
whose center was in Paris and its circumference in all the 
cities of Europe ; especially in those national capitals 
which had imitated the splendors of Versailles and with- 
drawn their nobility from useful supervision and admin- 
istration of affairs on their own estates, causing them to 
attend royal court and consume in riotous living the sub- 
stance produced by their down-trodden peasantry. 

Rousseau is still a prophet for the youth who has be- 
gun to question external authority. He impels to free 
thinking, but does not get further than to suggest para- 
doxes. Rousseau voices the problem of Europe in the 
eighteenth century ; it is Goethe alone who solves it, and 
shows the true relation of the individual to the social 
whole. Since roan ascends above the animal by his ability 
to profit by the experience and labor of all his fellow-men, 
he can not choose but live in a social whole and subordi- 
nate himself to authority. But the authority must be 
organized not for itself as a final end, but solely for the 
increasing self-direction of the individual. Each submits 
to external authority because it is his own general human 
nature governing himself as an individual. Each learns 
the lessons of morality and religion because they contain 
the wisdom of the race ; but he is bound to change the 
lessons out of the form of external authority into internal 
conviction through verification and insight. 

But Rousseau builded better than he knew. Dr. 
Payne, the translator of this volume, has well shown the 
great positive impulse that Emile gave to education. It 
has made educators recognize the sacredness of childhood. 
Its author is the great pioneer in the work of studying 
human character as it develops in children. 



Without a study of the Emile one can not explain 
Pestalozzi, Basedow, Froebel, or any of the great leaders 
in education that belong to the present century. 


WASHINGTON, D. C., November, 1892. 


AN educational classic might be defined as an epoch- 
making book in the history of education a book which 
has served as a starting-point for a new advance into this 
field of investigation, and to which the thoughts of men 
are ever returning for fresh inspiration and direction. As 
thus defined, an educational classic is not necessarily the 
book which in its period contains the greatest amount of 
absolute truth, but the book which has been the greatest 
stimulus to educational thought, and which has longest 
held a high place in the esteem of thoughtful men. A 
seductive style may give a long currency to educational 
sophisms and paradoxes, and the very perversity of a book 
may challenge to better thinking, though any literary work 
which has received the long sanction of the wise and good 
is likely to have a large measure of truth in it. Save as 
an interesting curiosity, men will finally abandon a book 
which experience has shown to be pervaded with actual 

It is not probable that any two persons equally com- 
petent would entirely agree on a list of the great worthies 
among educational writers, but I venture to enumerate the 
following as the GREATER EDUCATIONAL CLASSICS of the 
world: Plato's Republic, Aristotle's Politics, Plutarch's 

xviii EMILE. 

Morals, Quintilian's Institutes, the Didactica Magna of 
Comenius, Richter's Levana, Pestaiozzi's How Gertrude 
teaches her Children, Froebel's Education of Man, Ro- 
senkranz's Philosophy of Education, Rabelais's Gargantua, 
Montaigne's Essays, Eousseau's Emile, Mulcaster's Posi- 
tions, Ascham's Schoolmaster, Locke's Thoughts, Spencer's 
Education. Of this list of educational classics, the three 
books that best deserve this pre-eminence are Plato's Re- 
public, Rousseau's Emile, and Spencer's Education ; and 
if a further reduction were to be made, I would designate 
Rousseau's Emile as the great educational classic of the 
world. This, of course, is largely a matter of opinion, 
depending in part on our conception of what constitutes a 
great classic, and then on our estimate of the intrinsic 
worth and actual influence of the various books which 
have affected the education of the world. When we con- 
sider the fact that the idea of universal education has 
prevailed in civilized countries for only about one hundred 
years; that the great leader in the social and political 
reform which characterizes this period was Rousseau ; that 
all the great writers on education since Rousseau's time, 
irrespective of country Madame Necker in France, Pesta- 
lozzi and Froebel in Germany, Spencer in England, and 
Horace Mann in America have caught their inspira- 
tion from the Emile ; and that the ideas which dominate 
in the education of the moment sense-perception, self- 
instruction, mild discipline, the sacredness of childhood, 
care of health, etc. are easily traceable to the pages of 
Rousseau ; we are justified in saying of the Emile what 
Rousseau himself said of the Republic, " C'est le plus beau 
traite d 1 education qu'on ajamaisfait." 

Just as the Republic is in its main intent a treatise on 
political philosophy, and only incidentally, though neces- 
sarily, a treatise on education, so the educational doctrines 


contained in the Emile are incidental to his political and 
social theory ; his reconstruction of society and govern- 
ment required men and woman radically different from 
those of the existing type, and for their creation there 
was required an education radically different from the 
education of the times. The parent works are the Dis- 
cours sur 1'Inegalite and the Contrat Social. In these 
works Rousseau's theory is that man is naturally good, 
but has been depraved by society, and that the only means 
of reform is to return to nature. The Emile is the 
development of this theory, and is the most complete 
monument of Rousseau's philosophy.* The opening 
sentence furnishes the key to this philosophy, political, 
social, and educational : " Tout est bien, sortant des mains 
de 1'auteur des choses ; tout degenere entre les mains 
de rhomme." This fiction of Nature as the benignant, wise, 
and infallible patron and guide of the human race was not 
a new thing in philosophy, but Rousseau gave it such an 
air of respectability, and surrounded it with such a halo 
of sentiment, that it has almost run rampant in the pages 
of Rousseau's disciples. 

That such a man as Rousseau should have been the 
prophet, if not the author, of the French revolution, and 
that his Emile should have revolutionized modern educa- 
tion, is certainly one of the most curious phenomena of 
history, but a phenomenon which can be explained, at least 
in part, by the condition of French society, goaded to the 
verge of revolution by secular abuses of royal prerogative ; 
by the vehemence of his denunciations of existing wrongs ; 
by his deft and matchless appeals to sentiment, emotion, 
and passion ; and to a style of composition which is the 

* G. Vapereau, in J. J. Rousseau juge par les Fran^ais d'au- 
jeurd'hui, p. 56. 

xx EMILE. 

perfection of graceful and seductive rhetoric. The ideas 
which he expresses are neither new nor remarkable they 
had been heard hundreds of times before but he had 
the skill to put back of these ideas such intensity of 
motive power that they became projectiles of irresistible 
force. Despite his obvious and lamentable imperfection 
in other respects, Rousseau was an ardent patriot, a devot- 
ed advocate of the rights of the people, and had a heart 
overflowing with sympathy and affection for the helpless 
and the friendless. His intense emotional nature was at 
once his weakness and his strength ; it made it difficult 
for him to see men and ideas in their actual relations, for 
intense feeling blunts intellectual discernment; but it 
made him the impetuous and resistless champion of the 
people as against the usurpations of prerogative and 

As the world goes, those abrupt changes in national 
and social life known as reforms seem inevitable. Like 
eruptions on the surface of the body, they are at once the 
proofs of internal disorder and the prophecies of returning 
health. In a normal state of the bodily functions the 
processes of waste and repair produce needed readjust- 
ments from moment to moment, and leave no occasion for 
remedial processes of the spasmodic or convulsive type, and 
much less for heroic treatment by cautery and knife ; and 
it is conceivable that in the body politic there might be 
such adaptation and readjustment from moment to mo- 
ment that growth and progress might be uninterrupted, 
and never require the intervention of the reformer. This 
is the ideal mode of progress, but the actual or historical 
mode is very different. In government there has always 
been a tendency to exalt office over function, and at inter- 
vals in human history the course of popular liberty has 
been obstructed till revolution has cut through a way for 


a farther advance. In the history of human thought there 
have been periods when formula and sign have usurped 
the place of thought and thing, and then some analyst, 
witn his dialectics, cuts clear through to the substance of 
trJngs, and the world has a reform in philosophy. In 
religion the tendency has always been immanent to exalt 
symbol over substance, and to degrade worship into soul- 
less formalism ; but the soul's needs are so vital and so 
pressing that a reascent toward truth can not long be 
delayed, and in response to this need a Martin Luther or 
a George Fox appears, and then follows what we call a 
reform in religion. Similarly in education, there have been 
recurring periods when some partial thought has secured 
such domination that wholesome training has become 
impossible, till a reformer appears who restores the lost 
equilibrium, and then very likely he inaugurates a move- 
ment which leads up to another catastrophe. Usually 
these reforms have consisted in bringing about some 
readjustment between words and things, or between 
thoughts and things. At times education becomes almost 
wholly " livresque," devoted to the study of books and 
words rather than of things, and at others it becomes 
mainly literary or humanistic, to the neglect of the study 
of matter. The records of human thought, sentiment, and 
achievement form one term of the contrast, while matter 
and its phenomena, under the term Nature, constitute the 
other. Ever since education began to have a history 
human thought has oscillated with almost rhythmical 
movement from one of these poles to the other, but with 
a general tendency toward the study of letters ; and so it 
has usually happened that educational reform has invited 
a return to Nature, and has sounded a warning against 
books and words. 

Rousseau has all the marks of a reformer of the his 

XXI 1 


torical type. He is animated by intense feeling; his 
nature is emotional rather than intellectual, and seen 
through the haze of his warm imagination, things lose 
their normal proportions and relations and become distort- 
ed and vague. The political, social, and religious aspect of 
things in France was doubtless bad enough in his day, but 
Rousseau works himself up into the belief that nothing 
short of a revolution will meet the requirements of the 
case ; things have become so bad that they are not worth 
saving ; they should be destroyed, in order to make room 
for something better ; and so he breaks entirely and ab- 
ruptly with the past, and sets his face squarely toward the 
state of nature and that condition of primitive innocence 
and bliss which had been destroyed by the pernicious acts 
of man. And Rousseau had in full measure another 
characteristic of the reformer he was tender-hearted and 
humane, and his foremost motive was the happiness and 
good of the human race. I believe this is the one constant 
virtue that runs through his entire career. In addition to 
these qualities, he was liberally endowed with another 
which distinguishes him from all other reformers he was 
a genius in literary art, and could clothe with matchless 
grace and eloquence whatever flowed from his voice and 
pen. The words of a mere thinker are often lifeless, and 
as soon as uttered fall powerless to the ground ; but Rous- 
seau's were winged words, that are still making the circuit 
of the world, and wherever they go they touch the human 
heart and so produce an effect that is perennial. 

Rousseau's dominating passion was his love of solitude, 
or, as the phrase goes, his love of Nature. He chafed 
under the restraints of society, and was truly himself and 
at his best only in the seclusion of some remote valley or 
forest, where he could repose under the shadows of great 
trees, hear the song of the nightingale, and wander at 


will in solitary places without fear of contact with man 
and human institutions. To escape from the din and 
turmoil of Paris into the peaceful solitude of Montmo- 
rency was to gain an entrance into an earthly paradise. 
Probably most men at times feel this instinct to revert to 
a state of nature, but in Rousseau this instinct was a 
ruling passion. In his early life this instinct induced a 
sort of vagabondage which led to long foot- journeys into 
Italy ; and in later life it found satisfaction in the Her- 
mitage at Montmorency, and finally at Ermenonville. 
The ideal life was that of a solitary, and the ideal man 
was a savage in the unmolested freedom of the wilderness, 
untainted by the leaven of civilization. To a man of 
Rousseau's temperament the reading of Robinson Crusoe 
must have been a decisive event, and this book may proper- 
ly be held accountable for the general spirit that is discern- 
ible throughout his writings, and particularly in the Emile. 

There are but few books of a philosophical character so 
thoroughly autobiographical as the Emile, and there is no 
other philosophy that is so colored and modeled by the 
personality of its author. The Confessions is a sort of 
running commentary on the Emile. Rousseau hated so- 
ciety, despised doctors, preferred reverie to books, found 
his happiest inspiration in trees and brooks, and birds and 
mountains, and his natural deism found delight in con- 
templating the grander aspects of Xature dawn, sunrise, 
storm, thunder-peal, darkling forest, cloudless night ; and 
so Emile, his illustrative pupil, is to share all these pre- 
possessions, and be led in the way of all such inspiration 
and influence. 

The general plan of the Emile exhibits Rousseau's 
skill in literary art. Instead of writing a formal treatise 
on education in didactic style, after the fashion of the 
day, he gives us in moving pictures a sort of panorama of 



a human life from very infancy up to maturity, passing 
through the various stages of an education according to 
Nature. The iWile might be called an educational 
romance, after the style of the Cyropaedia or of the 
Gargantua, and its form might have been suggested by 
these works, or quite possibly by that incomparable political 
romance, the Eepublic. As Tom Brown at Eugby gives 
us a vivid idea of a boy's life at an English public school, 
so the history of Emile's imaginary career as the pupil 
and companion of Eousseau for twenty years gives us a 
detailed account, in the concrete, of the principles and 
methods of a new system of education. 

There have been but few historical personages so diffi- 
cult to comprehend as Eousseau. His life is full of con- 
tradictions and surprises. He had his evil genius and his 
good angels. In aspiration he could be almost angelic, 
while in fact and act he sometimes descended to poltroon- 
ery, and almost to infamy. In forming a judgment of him 
as a man, it is easy to take a partial view, and condemn or 
praise without stint ; but it is a very hard thing to form 
of him a perfectly just and equitable judgment ; just as in 
general it is easier to be an impassioned advocate than an 
impartial judge. It is the spirit of modern historical 
criticism to read the story of a human life with suspended 
judgment, and in the making up of a final verdict to take 
an account of environment, and in the award of commen- 
dation and censure to exercise the spirit of judicial fair- 
ness. The features of Eousseau 's career that first attract 
the attention very naturally alienate our good-will, and 
there are many indisputable facts that admit of no just 
defense ; but a closer and more discerning scrutiny will 
give rise to a sympathetic and appreciative spirit, and will 
discover much that is worthy of hearty approval and 
warm admiration, 


Rousseau's books reflect the spirit of the man, and 
they should be read with the judgment held in suspense. 
His aphoristic, unqualified statements, and particularly his 
paradoxes, give us an unpleasant mental shock, and we 
decline to be taught by a man who falls so easily and so 
frequently into what seem rank absurdities ; but when we 
discover that aphorism and paradox are with Rousseau 
favorite rhetorical devices that their very intent is to 
surprise and startle ; when we discover by further reading 
that these extreme statements, seemingly so arbitrary and 
untrue, are qualified and illustrated in such a way as to 
give us a glimpse of a many-sided truth that had hitherto 
escaped us ; and when, finally, by a sort of syntax or syn- 
thesis, we catch the general spirit of the book as a whole, 
we find ourselves in a state of wholesome respect, and 
even of admiration. 

These remarks epitomize my experiences with this 
man and his books, and I counsel the reader to begin his 
studies without prejudice, to weigh as he goes, but when he 
has finished to reweigh all with scrupulous fidelity, and in 
the final estimate of character to temper justice with charity. 

As a sort of general preparation for the interpretation 
of the Emile, the attention of the reader is called to the 
following observations : 

The method of the book is best described in Rousseau's 
own words : " Un recueil de reflexions et d'observations, 
sans ordre et presque sans suite." The argument is purely 
deductive, starting with assumed principles or general 
truths, and terminating with supposed conclusions or 
facts ; but the argument is never conducted in a system- 
atic way. There is frequent repetition, apparent contra- 
diction, long digressions, and, at times, tedious details ; so 
that it is by a process of slow induction that the purpose 
and spirit of the whole become manifest. 


Kousseau had a grievance that weighed heavily on his 
mind ; the old order of things in education appeared to 
him an iniquity, the abolition of which seemed to justify 
the extremest measures. The book, therefore, embodies a 
violent reaction against the education then in vogue, and 
we may expect the impetus of the author's zeal to carry 
him considerably beyond the limit of actual truth. In- 
deed, exaggeration and overstatement seem to be necessary 
elements of the reformer's art ; and he who is intent on 
seeing things in their just proportions and actual relations 
must make allowance for overwrought zeal, and discount, 
sometimes at a heavy rate, those overdrafts on the 

Eousseau was a man of sentiment rather than of rea- 
son, and this book is a record of his emotions rather than 
of his thoughts. In this respect he is the very antithesis 
of Locke, whose Thoughts are so devoid of feeling as to 
be almost sterile. The immense motive power of the 
Emile is due to the feeling which tinges every thought ; 
but when the purpose of the reader is to discern the 
thought and estimate its value, he should be careful not 
to mistake sentiment for logic. 

After so much that is preliminary, let us make a sum- 
mary analysis of the education that Eousseau would have 
substituted for that which he covers with his condemna- 
tion. Let it be recollected that many of the reforms 
which he recommended have been adopted and embodied 
in modern education, and that for this reason it is not 
easy to see the contrasts that Rousseau saw. 

I. Education should be natural. It is not an easy thing 
to form a clear conception of what Rousseau and the writ- 
ers of his school mean by Nature when they say that edu- 
cation should be natural, and that the teacher in his 
method should follow Nature. And there is no proof 


that these writers themselves have ever clarified this term 
in their own minds. Indeed, it may not be uncharitable 
to suppose that, if they have not resorted to the use of 
this term in order to conceal thought, they have at 
least fallen into such a loose habit of employing it that 
they willingly bewilder their readers who attempt to dis- 
cover their meaning. Mr. Spencer's personification of 
the term is well known, and his pages are easily distin- 
guished by the recurrence of the proper noun Nature. 
It is a little astonishing that a grave philosopher should 
assign no better reason for denying a proposition than that 
it is " contrary to the beautiful economy of Nature " ; but 
his manner of using the term is dignified, and though the 
reader is not instructed by this fiction, he is not disgusted 
with it. We can not say so much of the copyists and 
echoes of Rousseau and Spencer. Their easy familiarity 
with " Xature " does not edify, but disgusts, and even a 
benevolent reader who is in search of truth soon has the 
conviction fastened on him that his author is playing 
with sound, vox et prater ea niliil. What patience shall we 
have with a writer * who runs on in this way, " Nature 
furnishes knowledge by object lessons ? She makes her 
pupil learn to do by doing, to live by living. She gives 
him no grammar of seeing, hearing, etc. ; she gives no 
compendium of abstract principles. She teaches quietly ; 
she bides her time." 

Returning to Rousseau, it is evident that we can not 
interpret his Emile till we have formed a notion, more or 
less adequate, of what he means by Nature. In his case 
this is not so difficult if we are guided simply by the con- 
text, and do not attempt to understand his own definition 
of the term (pages 3, 4). City and country, Paris and the 

* Joseph Payne, Lectures, etc., (p. 45 Araer. ed.) 

xxviii EMILE. 

forest of Montmorency, Eobinson Crusoe on his desert 
isle and a city lad confined to ceiled house and brick 
pavements, the Red Indian roaming at will in his native 
forests and a creature and slave of society fashioned by 
the priest, the tailor, and the school-master these are the 
terms of a contrast that was ever present to the mind of 
Rousseau. The ideal man was the savage, isolated from 
human society and untainted by civilization; the ideal 
life was independence of custom, freedom from the re- 
straints of other wills, and obedience to nothing but things ; 
the ideal religion was a spontaneous theism, a direct com- 
munion with unseen powers without the intervention of 
creeds or priest, an artless and childish wonderment pro- 
duced by natural phenomena, and a reverential fear pro- 
duced by the incomprehensible ; and the ideal education 
was experience resulting from personal contact with mat- 
ter and force, and thus converted into prudence. 

It was not through sheer perversity that Rousseau 
maintained the thesis that society had been corrupted by 
the arts and sciences, and that civilization itself was a 
lapse from a state of primitive innocence and peace. He 
was a constitutional idealist, sentimentalist, and utopian, 
and his recoil from the corruptions and restraints of exist- 
ing society was so complete that only a new world, con- 
structed on new principles, or, what would amount to the 
same thing, the present world divested of its so-called 
civilization, would satisfy his ideals. In this general pur- 
suit it must be said that Rousseau was in respectable, 
even illustrious, company. Plato wrote his Republic, Har- 
rington his Oceana, More his Utopia, Sidney his Arcadia, 
and Hobbes his Leviathan, each to express his dissatisfac- 
tion with things as they existed, and to find gratification 
in the ideal construction of a world on better principles. 
In all these creations there is some element of perennial 


truth, something of which the succeeding generations of 
men need to be reminded in order to keep the world, or 
to make the world, a delectable habitation for the race. 
This surely is no mean pursuit, and their seeming vagaries 
deserve at least an honest effort at interpretation. 

A return to Nature is a return to simplicity. There 
is much truth in Rousseau's saying, that we no longer 
know how to be simple in anything. Look at the count- 
less devices and machines for teaching a child how to 
read ! What useless lumber ! Create in the child a desire 
to read, and all this apparatus is of no account ; the pro- 
cess becomes simplified to the last degree, and the child 
can not be held back from learning how to read. 

In geography we invent maps, charts, globes, armillary 
spheres, etc., but all this rubbish comes between the 
child's eyes and the real object which is to be observed, 
namely, the earth. In other words, art has obscured Na- 
ture, or reality, and a reform in teaching requires us to 
do away with these obstructions and to return to sim- 

There is no doubt a tendency, as education is studied 
as an art, to encumber teaching with devices, aids, and 
methods without number, and what is simple as an actual 
fact becomes wonderfully complex from the analyst's point 
of view. A foreign language as seen through an analyti- 
cal grammar is frightfully complex, but when learned by 
contact with a native its difficulties are unnoticed. The 
methods and devices brought from normal schools are 
many times incumbrances that compromise if not destroy 
the talent that was native in the teacher. Eousseau would 
say that the short cut to a good method is a strong desire 
to teach ; that when the end is clearly seen there will be 
but little difficulty in finding a direct route to it. " Fol- 
low Nature " is thus convertible into " Simplify " / The 


time will never come when this precept will not be whole- 

To follow Nature also signifies to return to reality. 
There may be formal teaching just as there is formal 
logic, both arts being occupied with symbols and not with 
realities. The universal teaching instrument is language, 
and the use of symbols is unavoidable, but teacher and 
pupil should understand that these symbols must be vital- 
ized by a content. The question of the ages has been how 
to connect symbol and substance in such a way that learn- 
ing may be a concrete, living process. Hobbes aimed a 
blow at a secular error in learning when he wrote : " Words 
are wise men's counters but the money of fools " ; and 
Comenius attempted to work a reform in teaching by 
writing his Orbis Sensualium Pictus, a scheme for bring- 
ing symbol and substance together by means of pictures. 
Here is an undoubted evil ; it has affected education from 
time immemorial, and it will threaten the education of 
all succeeding times. 

In the third place, to follow Nature is to resort to per- 
sonal experience rather than to follow authority ; it is to 
gain knowledge at first hand rather than to accept the 
results of other men's experience. As Eousseau puts it in 
a concrete way, " The child is not to learn science, but to 
discover it." This is akin to the dogma of Socrates, 
" Science can not be taught, only drawn out." This doc- 
trine has been pushed to its furthest limit by Mr. Spencer, 
who makes education consist in the process of rediscovery? 
and requires each child to reproduce the experiences of 
the race. 

It would not seem a very difficult achievement to reach 
right conclusions on this point. To trust to mere author- 
ity altogether is absurd ; it is to forego the pleasure of 
living, and in an important sense to cease to be a man ; 


but to renounce authority altogether, and to depend for 
our knowledge wholly on our own experience, is simply 
impossible, and, if possible, would be very absurd. There 
is evidently a middle ground which leaves a wide field for 
personal experience, and at the same time allows the indi- 
vidual to give almost indefinite extension to his knowledge 
by appropriating the accumulated experiences of the race. 

Simplify your methods as much as possible ; distrust 
the artificial aids that complicate the process of learning ; 
bring your pupil face to face with reality ; connect symbol 
with substance ; make learning, so far as possible, a pro- 
cess of personal discovery ; depend as little as possible on 
mere authority. This is my interpretation of Eousseau's 
precept, " Follow Nature." 

II. Education should be progressive. The mind, like 
the body, passes through successive stages of growth, and 
in both cases the transition from one stage to the next 
indicates a corresponding change in treatment. The in- 
fant is a creature sui generis. Infancy is a little world so 
peculiar in nature and need as to be virtually cut off from 
the succeeding stage of life, and hence requires a treat- 
ment peculiarly its own. There is an infant physiology 
and an infant psychology. 

The next section of human life is childhood. The child 
has his peculiar nature and needs ; the treatment due an 
infant must be abandoned, and a new system adopted 
in conformity with the nature of this new creature. 

Boyhood follows childhood, and manhood, in turn, suc- 
ceeds boyhood. These are successive, and in some sense 
independent, sections of human life, and so peculiar in 
nature and need as to require modes of treatment specific- 
ally different. 

This, in outline, is Eousseau's theory of progressive 
education. The obvious thing to be said of it is that it is 

xxxii MILE. 

so systematic and artificial as to be unnatural. The one 
momentous fact common to all these so-called stages is 
growth, and all normal growth is a series of insensible 
transitions. Throughout the history of each individual 
there is an unbroken continuity of the same organic pro- 
cesses, mental and physical. All the so-called faculties of 
the mature man have their roots or beginnings in very 
childhood, and at no one of these artificial stages can we 
say that there is the appearance of anything essentially 
new so new and peculiar as to require special treatment. 
Education should be progressive in the same sense and to 
the same degree that life and growth are progressive ; not 
progressive in the sense of an abrupt winding up of a 
lower system of regimen and an equally abrupt inaugura- 
tion of a higher, but progressive in the actual and whole- 
some sense of insensible ascent and modification. 

Kousseau's theory on this subject embodies a reaction 
from an old-time error, which consisted either in ignoring 
the rights of children altogether or of prescribing the 
same general treatment for children and men. Modern 
education is peculiarly the education of children. Child- 
life has been so much studied, and so much sympathy and 
sentiment have been created in the child's behalf, that 
infant methods have gained an ascendency that is not 
only harmful to children but to adults, for infant methods 
have been transported into the higher schools. It is not 
altogether wise to treat children as though they were men, 
but it is still more unwise to treat men as though they 
were children. It is not even best to fix a child's treat- 
ment on a dead level with his present condition ; the edu- 
cation that is not moderately presumptive and aspiring is 
not of the right type. I think it can not be doubted that 
in many cases the education of children has become so 
puerile as not only to be worthless, but positively harmful. 


In our effort to make it progressive it has become station- 
ary, and even retrograde. The reform of Jean-Jacques 
has gone too far. 

III. Education should be negative. Discipline, train- 
ing, the development of faculty, power, and skill this 
may be set off as one of the ends of education, while the 
acquirement of knowledge, or the furnishing of the mind, 
may stand for the second purpose of this art. Generally 
speaking, the acquisition of knowledge has occupied the 
first place in the teacher's art, and education has been 
reduced to the process of learning memory-lessons, while 
the development and discipline of the mind itself have re- 
ceived no special attention. Rousseau believed that as 
education was administered in the schools of his day there 
was a vast disproportion between the mass of knowledge 
accumulated and the child's power to comprehend and 
use it ; and so, in his usual aphoristic style, he says that the 
important thing in education is not to gain time, but to 
lose it, and that he would prefer that Emile should reach 
his twelfth year without knowing his right hand from his 
left, or right from wrong. He pushes this doctrine so 
far as to say that the only habit a child should form is 
that of forming no habit. His thought is, that as far as 
possible the child's mind should be kept a tabula rasa up 
to the age of twelve, but with all its powers developed, and 
ready when the signal is given to undertake the work of 
acquisition, without prepossession or prejudice, and thus 
able to maintain its equipoise and independence. 

This notion of making education negative, and that 
of reducing it to a process of rediscovery by requiring the 
child to gain his knowledge by personal experience 
these two ideas Rousseau may have borrowed from the 
Abbe de Condillac, for whom he has expressed great ad- 
miration. In the introduction to his Grammaire, Con- 


dillac develops the theory which Mr. Spencer has so 
happily formulated, but he is met with the objection 
that if the child is to repeat the experience of the race his 
progress in knowledge will be very slow. The Abbe 
meets this objection in a very clever way. The child's 
first study should be mental and moral science, for by this 
means his mind will be prepared for rapid acquisition ! 
It may not have occurred to him that, according to the 
4 genesis of knowledge in the race," mental science comes 
somewhat late. Kousseau generalizes his friend's theory, 
and so escapes the special absurdity referred to. He 
would extend this process of mental discipline and prep- 
aration over a period of twelve years, and thus abridge the 
time required for gaining the knowledge really necessary 
for the conduct of life. 

Here as elsewhere we shall fail in our interpretation 
of Rousseau if we do more or less then catch the general 
spirit of his paradox. This is doubtless all he expected 
or intended ; but a reformer must needs quicken the pace 
of his sluggish disciples by the stimulus of exaggeration. 
To form the mind before furnishing it, is as impossible as 
to form the body without feeding it. To train the mind, 
it must be exercised on something, and a secondary fruit 
of this exercise is some acquisition. 

If, in imitation of Rousseau, I were to try my hand at 
a paradox, I would say, in this connection, that useless 
knowledge is sometimes the most useful ; meaning by this 
that the subjects that are best for pure training are some- 
times of the least value for practical purposes. Algebra 
and geometry are instances of this ; they are incompa- 
rable disciplines, but the average student derives only very 
little advantage from the knowledge that is acquired 
while the discipline is in progress. Rousseau may not 
have had this case in mind when he uttered this paradox, 



but the thought is large enough to include it. A man 
may say implicitly what was never before his mind ex- 
plicitly, aud all legitimate interpretation assumes this. 

Again, by making education negative, or, as Rousseau 
says to the same purpose, by losing time rather than by 
trying to gain it, we extend the period of childhood and 
allow the pupil to lead a sort of vegetative life, which 
Froebel seems to have had in mind when he conceived 
the occupations and gifts at the kindergarten. This is a 
century of haste ; of all peoples, we seem to be the most 
addicted to this vice, and the general drift of our educa- 
tion is to curtail the period of discipline and preparation. 
We need, therefore, to be recalled from time to time to 
the duty of going slowly in order that we may go safely 
and well. Festina lente ! 

Though my purpose in this introduction is appreci- 
ation rather than criticism, it is manifestly fair to state 
what seem to be some errors in Rousseau's pedagogy. It 
is inevitable that an author whose theories are not con- 
trolled by actual experience should fall into serious error, 
and this is the more likely to happen when the thought is 
begotten of intense, tumultuous feeling. 

The reader will not have gone far before discovering 
that, while his author is preaching the simplicity and 
artlessness of Nature, he is at the same time devising a 
scheme of education which is artificial to the last degree. 
The discipline to which Emile is subjected is a systematic 
espionage. Everything is foreseen and prearranged to such 
a degree that the poor boy has not the privilege of one 
spontaneous act. The story of the juggler is typical of 
Rousseau's system of discipline. What will such a boy be 
worth when the moment of emancipation comes ? 

Whenever the value of knowledge is discussed the 
emphasis is put on what is coarsely practical, and there is 


no appearance of the thought that for the higher life of 
^the soul there must be attainment whose value is purely 
contemplative, without the least taint of practical utility. 
Kousseau's doctrine of memory makes it necessary for 
Emile to live a sort of hand-to-mouth intellectual life, 
but does not allow him to store up resources within him- 
self. Such an education is unwise and unsafe. 

In the isolation of Emile from society during the 
period of his education Eousseau doubtless intended to 
show what a human being might become when allowed to 
develop under normal conditions. It is related that a 
naturalist once discovered in a mine what seemed to be a 
new species of plant, but when transplanted on the sur- 
face of the earth it turned out to be the common tansy 
an abnormal habitat had altered its appearance past 
recognition. This return to Nature accords with Rous- 
seau's theory of society as being unnatural and corrupt, 
but an education molded after this conception is mani- 
festly vicious. Society is an existing fact, and is doubtless 
the normal human state, while solitude, though whole- 
some and necessary at times, is an exceptional state and 
ever abnormal. As Emile must finally live in society, he 
should be educated in society, and an essential part of his 
training should come from his contact with other wills. 
Educated to be obedient only to things and to his own 
inclinations, he will cut a sorry figure when transplanted 
into the world of the Contrat Social. 

Should the child be adjusted to his environment, or 
should his environment be adapted to him ? Doubtless 
there should be created within the child a power of re- 
sistance, and even of conquest, that will not only allow him 
to support existence under change of surroundings, but 
will enable him to modify, almost to recreate, his environ- 
ment to suit his caprices or his needs. Rousseau seems 


to racillate between these two purposes, but the general 
spirit of the Emile is to regard the child's nature as a 
fixed, hard fact, and to bend surroundings and circum- 
stances to his needs. 

Emile's education is of the liberal type. He is, first of 
all, to be a fully developed man, capable of becoming 
anything or of doing anything at need ; and the course 
of his training is not to be perverted by narrow and grov- 
eling aims. All this is admirable; but when Sophie's 
education is taken in hand Rousseau makes an abrupt 
descent. It is not a woman who is to be trained to the 
perfection of her powers as a human being, but a serv- 
ant to man's needs and pleasures, or at most a compan- 
ion to share his joys and sorrows. In kind, his concep- 
tion was the Hebrew ideal,* which is doubtless the ideal 
of all sensible men, but Sophie falls far short of this lov- 
able, this matchless original. Rousseau earns our applause 
when he counsels against the selection of a blue-stocking 
for a wife, but Sophie bears too much resemblance to his 
Theresa to merit even our respect. 

The Emile has justly been called the Gospel of Child- 
hood. If it had no other claims to consideration it would 
deserve the homage of parents and teachers by reason of 
that sacredness with which it invests the personality of 
every child. In what other book of human origin can 
we find such compassion for the weakness of childhood, 
such tender regard for its happiness, and such touching 
pleas for its protection and guidance ? What other book 
has ever recalled mothers to a sense of their duties with 
such pathos and effect ? The Emile has made the ministry 
of the school-room as sacred as the ministry of the altar ; 
and by unfolding the mysteries of his art and disclosing 

*Proyerbs xxxi, 10-31. 


the secret of his power, it has made the teacher's office 
one of honor and respect. 

The power of the book lies in its general spirit rather 
than in any doctrine or method which it embodies. If 
read with kindly feeling and without prejudice, it can not 
fail to inspire teachers with the noblest ambition, and to 
quicken their methods with living power. I have read 
many books which profess to illustrate the art of educa- 
tion and to prescribe rational methods of instruction, but 
to none am I so much indebted in all good ways as to the 
Emile, and there is no other book which I can so heartily 
commend to teachers as a perennial source of inspiration 
and kindly aid. 

It has been no easy task to make the selections com- 
posing this volume to decide what to retain and what to 
reject from the original work. It was plain, on the start, 
that a translation of the whole was not desirable, simply 
on the ground of bulk, for it would require at least two 
volumes like this ; and then, by omitting merely the un- 
important or less important parts, the volume would be 
swelled to an unwieldy size. A fragment of the whole 
would be misleading ; it would convey an erroneous im- 
pression of the book and its author, and would leave the 
statement of important doctrines without the illustrations 
and amendments necessary for their proper interpretation. 
In making my selections I have endeavored to give the 
reader a fair idea of the book as a whole. I have not re- 
stricted myself to what is currently orthodox in doctrine, 
or to what will have the approval of sobriety and good 
taste. At times Rousseau preaches false doctrines, and 
sometimes is almost grotesquely prejudiced and absurd, 
and it would be unfair to the reader to omit specimens of 
these bad humors. 


In my translation I have aimed to give a faithful re- 
production of Rousseau's thought, and to this end I have 
seldom or never resorted to paraphrase, even when the 
author's meaning seemed obscure, but have made my ren- 
dering as nearly literal as good English would allow. It 
is quite possible that my close adherence to the text may 
sometimes have betrayed me into the use of Gallicisms, 
but such mistakes are less vexatious and misleading than 
those which almost inevitably result from free translation. 

Partly to re-enforce my own opinions of Rousseau and 
his work, but much more to place before my readers the 
opinions of distinguished Frenchmen on their immor- 
tal countryman, I add an appendix containing short 
quotations from a very remarkable book by John Grand- 
Carteret J. J. Rousseau juge par les Fran9ais d'au- 

My translation of the Emile is made from the collected 
edition of Rousseau's works, in twenty-nine volumes, pub- 
lished in Paris, 1824, and edited by Auguis. The notes 
unsigned are mainly Rousseau's own, and those in brack- 
ets are by his editors ; my own annotations (signed P.) are 
such as I have been accustomed to give students as aids in 
the interpretation of the Emile. 

As I sum up my impressions of Rousseau and the 
Emile, I chance to be upon a mountain of the Cumberland 
range, where the peculiar effects and charms of Nature 
are almost wholly undisturbed by human agency. My 
cottage is in the midst of a forest, where wild birds and 
wild flowers hold undisputed sway. 

As I have read and written and meditated from day 
to day thus in touch with Nature, I think I have been 
able in some measure to discern the secret which was 
working itself outward in Rousseau's heart and thought ; 
and this sympathy with Nature has helped me to under- 

x l EMILE. 

stand and interpret much that before had been obscure 
and meaningless ; and, while not blind to his weaknesses 
and vices, I come from my studies with a new admiration 
and respect for the man and his works. 



THIS collection of reflections and observations, with- 
out order and almost without connection, was begun to 
please a good mother,* who knew how to think. My 
original purpose was to write only a memorandum of a 
few pages ; but my theme led me on against my will, and 
that memorandum insensibly became a sort of book, too 
large, doubtless, for what it contains, but too small for 
the subject which it discusses. I hesitated a long time 
about publishing it ; and I was often made to feel, while 
working at it, that the writing of a few pamphlets is not a 
sufficient preparation for composing a book. After mak- 
ing vain efforts to do better, I think it my duty to publish 
my book just as it is, judging that it is important to turn 
public attention in this direction, and that, even though 
my ideas are perchance bad, my time will not be wholly 
lost if I succeed by this means in stimulating others to 
produce better ones. A man who, from his retreat, casts 
his reflections before the public without puffers or parti- 
sans to defend them, without even knowing what is said 
or thought of them, has no reason to fear that, if he has 
deceived himself, his errors will be accepted without ex- 

* Madame de Chenonceauz. 


I shall say little of the importance of a good educa- 
tion, nor shall I stop to prove that the education of the 
day is bad. Thousands of others have said this before 
me, and 1 have no desire to fill a book with things which 
everybody knows. I shall merely observe, that for count- 
less ages there has been a perennial protest against the 
current practice, but no one has seen fit to propose a bet- 
ter. The literature and the learning of our century tend 
much more to destroy than to construct. Censure is ad- 
ministered in a tone of authority ; but in order to bring 
about a reform, there must be adopted a different tone, 
and one less pleasing to philosophic arrogance. Notwith- 
standing so many treatises whose only purpose, it is said, 
is public utility, the very first of all the utilities that of 
forming men is still forgotten. My subject was entirely 
new after Locke's treatise,* and I am very much afraid it 
will be still so, after my own. 

We do not know childhood. Acting on the false ideas 
we have of it, the farther we go the farther we wander 
from the right path. Those who are wisest are attached 
to what is important for men to know, without consider- 
ing what children are able to apprehend. They are al- 
ways looking for the man in the child, without thinking 
of what he was before he became a man. This is the 
study upon which I am most intent, to the end that, 
though my method may be chimerical and false, profit 
may always be derived from my observations. I may have 
a very poor conception of what ought to be done, but I 
think I have a correct view of the subject on which we 
are to operate. Begin, then, by studying your pupils 
more thoroughly, for it is very certain that you do not 
know them. Now, if you read this book of mine with this 

* Thoughts on Education, 1721. 


purpose in view, I do not believe that it will be without 
profit to you. 

With respect to what will be called the systematic part 
of my work, which in this instance is nothing but the 
order of nature, I allow that this is what will disconcert 
the reader the most. It is here, doubtless, that attacks 
will be made upon me, and perhaps with justice. People 
will think they are reading, not so much a treatise on 
education, as the reveries of a visionary upon education. 
How should I proceed in the case? In what I write I do 
not follow the ideas of others, but my own. I do not see 
as other men do, and this has long been a reproach to 
me ; but is it within my power to give myself other eyes, 
and to affect myself with other ideas ? By no means. It 
is within my power, however, not to confide too much in 
my own opinion, and not to think that I am wiser than 
all the world beside. In a word, I can not avoid feeling 
as I do, but I can be on my guard against my own feel- 
ings. This is all I can do, and is what I shall engage to 
do. And if I sometimes speak in the indicative mode, it 
is not for the purpose of imposing my beliefs on the 
reader, but to speak to him just as I think. Why should 
I declare, under the form of a doubt, a thing of which I 
have not the least doubt ? I say exactly what passes within 
my own mind. 

While setting forth my opinions with such freedom, I 
have so slight a purpose to make them seem authoritative 
that I always state my reasons for them, so that men may 
weigh them and judge of me accordingly ; but though I 
have no obstinate desire to defend my opinions, I still 
feel obliged to assert them ; for the maxims which give 
rise to differences of opinion between myself and others 
are by no means indifferent. They are maxims whose 
truth or falsity it is important to understand, for they 


effect the happiness or the unhappiness of the human 

I am continually admonished to propose what is prac- 
ticable ! This is equivalent to saying, " Propose to do 
what is being done " ! or, at least, " Propose some good 
which is allied to the existing evil " ! Such a proposition, 
with respect to many things, is much more chimerical 
than my own; for by such an alliance the good is cor- 
rupted, and the evil is not cured. I would rather follow 
the established usage throughout than to adopt a good 
one by halves there would be less contradiction in man ; 
he can not direct his efforts to two opposite ends at once. 
Fathers and mothers, what you are willing to do is the 
practicable ! Ought I to be held accountable for what 
you desire ? 

In every kind of undertaking there are two things to 
be considered : first of all, the absolute good of the pro- 
posed measure ; and then, the facility with which it can 
be executed. 

Thus, in the first place, it suffices, in order that an 
undertaking may be admissible and practicable in itself, 
that it have in it some intrinsic good in the present case, 
for example, that the proposed education shall be fit for 
man and well adapted to the human heart. 

The second consideration depends on conditions found 
in certain situations conditions accidental io the thing 
itself, and which consequently are not essential, but may 
vary ad infinitum. Thus, an education of a certain kind 
may be practicable in Switzerland, but not in France; 
one kind of education may be best for the middle class, 
and another for the nobility. The facility of execution, 
greater or less, depends on a thousand circumstances 
which it is impossible to determine save by a particular 
application of the method to such or such a country, or 


to such or such a condition. Now, all such special appli- 
cations, not being essential to my subject, do not form a 
part of my plan. Others may give attention to them if 
they see fit, each for the country or class which he has in 
view. It is sufficient for me that, wherever men are born, 
they may be trained according to my plan; and that, 
having been trained as I propose, they will constitute 
what is best both for themselves and for others. If I do 
not fulfill this agreement, I am doubtless wrong; but if I 
do fulfill it, it would be wrong to demand more of me, for 
this is all I promise. 




EVERYTHING is good as it comes from the hands of 
the Author of Nature ; but everything degenerates in the 
hands of man.* He forces one country to nourish the 
productions of another; one tree to bear the fruits of 
another. He mingles and confounds the climates, the 
elements, the seasons; he mutilates his dog, his horse, 
and his slave ; he overturns everything, disfigures every- 
thing ; he loves deformity, monsters ; he will have noth- 
ing as Nature made it, not even man ; like a saddle-horse, 
man must be trained for man's service he must be made 
over according to his fancy, like a tree in his garden. 

* This is the key-note to Rousseau's theory of education, and is 
the central thought of all the writers of the Spencerian school, 
whose definition of education might be formulated as follows: 
Education is adaptation to environment by environment. By Nature, 
these writers seem to mean the world of matter and of physical 
forces, personified as an intelligent and infallible guide ; and from 
environment they carefully exclude all the modifications of matter 
and force which have been made by human art. 

Rousseau, who was ever inclined to adopt extreme views, and who 
was incapable of stating a case with judicial fairness, sought to 
divest the current education of its artificial and absurd forms by a 


Plants are formed by cultivation and men by educa- 
tion. Had man been born tall and strong, his stature and 
strength would have been useless to him until he had been 
taught to use them ; they would have been injurious to 
him by preventing others from thinking of assisting him ; 
and, left to himself, he would have died of want before 
he had known his needs. People pity the lot of the child ; 
they do not see that the -human race would have perished 
if man had not begun by being a child. 

We are born weak ; we have need of strength : we are 
born destitute of everything; we have need of assistance: 
we are born stupid ; we have need of judgment. All that 
we have not at our birth, but which we need when we are 
grown, is given us by education. 

We derive this education from nature, from men, or 
from things. The internal development of our faculties 
and organs is the education of nature ; the use which we 
learn to make of this development is the education of 
men ; while the acquisition of personal experience from 
the objects that affect us is the education of things.* 

return toward primitive simplicity ; and so he sequesters Emile, his 
trial pupil from the abnormal society of the day, somewhat as & 
naturalist might remove a plant from an abnormal habitat in order 
to discover its real character and to restore it to proper conditions 
of growth. Rousseau believed that French society had become so 
bad, or so unnatural, that a child could not be trained into a real 
man while surrounded by so many perverting-and disturbing influ- 
ences ; but after he has received his training he is restored to so- 
ciety, protected against its allurements, and capable of working for 
its regeneration. Possibly his scheme of education may have been 
borrowed from Plato's Allegory of the Cavern. (P.) 

* This is a very crude statement. " The internal development of 
our faculties and organs " is not education in any intelligible and 
helpful sense ; " the use which we learn to make of this develop- 
ment " is only a part of education, while " the acquisition of per- 


Each one of us is thus formed by three kinds of teach- 
ers. The pupil in whom their different lessons are at 
variance is badly educated, and will never be in harmony 
with himself ; while he in whom they all agree, in whom 
they all tend to the same end he alone moves toward 
his destiny and consistently lives ; he alone is well edu- 

Now, of these three different educations, that of nature 
is entirely independent of ourselves, while that of things 
depends on ourselves only in certain respects. The edu- 
cation we receive of men is the only one of which we are 
truly the masters ; but even this is true only in theory, 
for who can hope to have the entire direction of the con- 
versation and acts of those who surround a child ? 

As soon, then, as education becomes an art, it is well- 
nigh impossible for it to succeed, for no one has in his 
control all the conditions necessary for its success. All 
that can be done by dint of effort is to approach the final 
purpose as nearly as possible ; but to attain it we must be 
aided by fortune. 

What is this purpose ? It is the very one proposed by 
nature, as has just been shown. Since the co-operation of 
the three educations is necessary for their perfection, it is 
to the one over which we have no control that we must 
direct the other two. But perhaps this word nature has 
too vague a meaning ; we must here make an attempt to 
determine it. 

Xature, we are told, is but habit. f What does this 

sonal experience from the objects that affect us " is more properly 
the education of nature. (P.) 

* See Plutarch's Morals : Of the Education of Children. 

f M. Formey assures us that this is not exactly what has been 
said ; but yet it seems to me the very thing that is said in the fol- 
lowing line to which I proposed to respond : 

4 tiMILE. 

mean '{ Are there not habits that we contract only through 
compulsion, and that never stifle nature ? Such, for ex- 
ample, is the habit of plants whose vertical direction is 
impeded. The plant, set at liberty, preserves the incli- 
nation it was forced to take ; but the sap has not on this 
account changed its primitive direction, and if the plant 
continues to grow, its prolongation again becomes vertical. 
The same is true of the inclinations of men. So long as we 
remain in the same condition we can preserve those which 
result from habit and which are the least natural to us ; 
but the moment the situation changes, habit ceases and 
the natural is restored. Education is certainly nothing 
but a habit. Now, there are people who forget and lose 
their education, and others who hold to it. Whence 
comes this difference ? If we were to limit the term na- 
ture to habits that are in conformity with Nature, we 
might spare ourselves this nonsense. 

We are born sensible, and from our birth we are affect- 
ed in different ways by the objects which surround us. As 
soon as we have the consciousness, so to speak, of our 
sensations, we are disposed to seek or to shun the objects 
which produce them : first, according as they are agree- 
able or disagreeable to us ; then, according to the con- 
gruity or the incongruity which we find between ourselves 
and these objects ; and, finally, according to the judg- 
ments which we derive from them relative to the idea of 
happiness or perfection which is given us by the reason. 

" La nature, crois-moi, n'est rien que Thabitude." 
M. Formey,* who does not wish to make his fellow-creatures 

proud, modestly gives us the measure of his own brain for that of 

the human understanding. 

* This M. Formey was the author of an Anti-Emile, and edited 

an expurgated edition of the fimile, under the title of the lmile 

Chretien. (P.) 


These dispositions are extended and strengthened in pro- 
portion as we become more susceptible and enlightened ; 
but, constrained by our habits, they change more or less 
with our opinions. Before this alteration, these disposi- 
tions are what I call our nature. 

It is, then, to these primitive dispositions that every- 
thing should be referred ; and this might be done if our 
three educations were merely different : but what are we 
to do when they are opposed to one another; when, 
instead of educating a man for himself, we wish to edu- 
cate him for others? Then agreement is impossible. 
Compelled to oppose nature or our social institutions, we 
must choose between making a man and a citizen, for we 
can not make both at once.* 

The natural man is complete in himself; he is the 
numerical unit, the absolute whole, who is related only to 
himself or to his fellow-man. Civilized man is but a 
fractional unit that is dependent on its denominator, and 
whose value consists in its relation to the whole, which 
is the social organization. Good social institutions are 
those which are the best able to make man unnatural, 
and to take from him his absolute existence in order to 

* This is like the difficulty which Mr. Bain finds in " reconciling 
the whole man with himself " (Education as a Science, p. 2), and 
points to one of the most serious problems in education. There is 
some degree of incompatibility, as things go, between the artisan, 
or the citizen, and the man, and there is always occasion to readjust 
these relations on the basis of the higher claims of manhood. This 
is the explanation of " labor troubles," " civil-service reform," etc. 
Rousseau's doctrine is doubtless correct : education must have chief 
and direct reference to the future man, and only a subordinate and 
remote reference to the future artisan or citizen. In his famous 
" orders of activities " (Education, p. 32) Mr. Spencer would seem to 
reverse this order, placing the narrower aim first and the wider 
last. <P.) 

give him one which is relative, and to transport the me 
into the common unity, in such a way that each individual 
no longer feels himself one, but a part of the unit, and 
is no longer susceptible of feeling save when forming a 
part of the whole. 

In order to be something, to be one's self and always 
one, we must act as we speak ; we must always be decided 
on the course we ought to take, must take it boldly, and 
must follow it to the end. I am waiting to be shown this 
prodigy in order to know whether he is man or citizen, 
or how he manages to be both at the same time. 

From these objects, necessarily opposed one to the 
other, there come two forms of institutions of contrary 
nature the one public and common, the other private and 

Would you form an idea of public education ? Read 
the Republic of Plato. It is not a work on politics, as 
those think who judge of books by their titles, but it is 
the finest work on education ever written.* 

When one would refer us to the land of chimeras, he 
names the educational system of Plato ; though if Lycur- 
gus had formed his only on paper, I should have thought 
it the more chimerical. Plato has done no more than 
purify the heart of man ; but Lycurgus has made it un- 

A system of public instruction no longer exists and 
can no longer exist, because where there is no longer a 
country there can no longer be citizens. These two words, 

* Perhaps the reader need not be admonished that the Republic 
is a treatise on government, and that education is treated only as 
an incidental question ; though the general doctrine of education 
as a function of the state is so profound, that this dialogue may 
justly be regarded as the first great educational classic in order of 
time. (P.) 


country and citizen, onght to be expunged from modern 
languages. I have a good reason for saying this, but I do 
not care to state it, as it has no bearing on my subject. 

I do not regard as a system of public instruction 
these ridiculous establishments called colleges.* Xor do 
I take into account the education of the world, because 
this education, tending toward two opposite ends, fails 
to reach either of them ; it is fit only to make men double- 
faced, seeming always to attribute everything to others, 
but never attributing anything save to themselves. X ow 
these pretenses, being common to everybody, deceive no 
one. They are so many misspent efforts. 

Finally, there remains domestic education, or that of 
nature ; but what would a man be worth for others who 
had been educated solely for himself ? If perchance the 
double object proposed could be realized in a single indi- 
vidual by removing the contradictions in human life, we 
should remove a great obstacle to man's happiness. To 
form a conception of such a one, we should need to see 
him in his perfect state, to have observed his inclinations* 
to have seen his progress, and to have followed the course 
of his development. In a word, it would be necessary to 
know the natural man. I believe that my reader will have 
made some progress in these researches after having read 
this essay. 

To form this rare creature, what have we to do ? Much, 
doubtless, but chiefly to prevent anything from being done. 

* In several schools, and particularly in the University of Paris, 
there are professors whom I love, whom I hold in high esteem, and 
whom I deem very capable of wisely instructing youth, if they were 
not compelled to follow the established usages. I have urged one of 
these to publish the plan of reform which he has thought out. Per- 
haps we may finally be tempted to cure the evil when we see that it 
is not without a remedy. 


When all we have to do is to sail before the wind, simple 
tacking suffices ; but if the sea runs high and we wish to 
hold our place, we must cast anchor. Take care, young 
pilot, that your cable does not slip, that your anchor does 
not drag, and that your boat does not drift on shore before 
you are aware of it ! 

In the social sphere, where all have their destined 
places, each should be educated for his own. If an indi- 
vidual who has been trained for his place withdraws from 
it, he is no longer good for anything. Education is useful 
only so long as fortune accords with the vocation of par- 
ents. In every other case it is harmful to the pupil, were 
it only for the prejudices which it has given him. In 
Egypt, where the son was obliged to follow the vocation of 
his father, education at least had an assured object ; but 
with us, where the classes alone are permanent, and where 
men are ever passing from one to another, no one knows 
whether, in educating his son for his own social order, he 
may not be working in opposition to the son's interest. 

In the natural order of things, all men being equal, 
their common vocation is manhood, and whoever is well 
trained for that can not fulfill badly any vocation con- 
nected with it. Whether my pupil be destined for the 
army, the church, or the bar, concerns me but little. Re- 
gardless of the vocation of his parents, nature summons 
him to the duties of human life. To live is the trade I 
wish to teach him.* On leaving my hands, he will not, I 
grant, be a magistrate, a soldier, or a priest. First of all 
he will be a man ; and all that a man ought to be, he can 
be when the occasion requires it, just as well as any one 

* Qui se totam ad vitam instruxit, non desiderat particulatim 
admoneri, doctus in totum, non quomodo cum uxore aut cumfiliis 
viveret, sed quomodo bene viveret. SENECA, Ep. 94. 


else can ; and fortune will make him change his place in 
vain, for he will always be in his own.* 

Our real study is that of human destiny. He who 
knows how best to support the good and the evil of this 
life, is, in my opinion, the best educated ; whence it fol- 
lows that the real education consists less in precepts than 
in practice. Our instruction begins when we begin to 
live ; our education begins with our birth ; and our first 
teacher is our nurse. 

AVe must, then, generalize our views, and consider in our 
pupil man in general man exposed to all the accidents 
of human life. If men were born attached to their native 
soil, if the same weather lasted the whole year, if the for- 
tune of each were so fixed that it could never change, the 
current practice would be good in certain respects ; the 
child educated for his special vocation, and never with- 
drawing from it, would not be exposed to the inconven- 
iences of another. But, considering the mutability of hu- 
man affairs, and the restless, revolutionary spirit of this 
century, which overthrows the whole existing order of 
things once in each generation, can we conceive a more 
senseless method than that of educating a child as though 
he were never to leave his chamber, and were always to 
be surrounded by his attendants? If the unfortunate 
creature take a single step on the ground, or attempts to 
descend the stairs, he is lost. This is not teaching him to 
endure suffering, but is training him to feel it. 

We think only of protecting our child, but this is not 
enough. We ought to teach him to protect himself when 
he has become a man ; to bear the blows of destiny ; to 
brave opulence and misery ; to live, if need be, amid the 

* Occupavi te, fortuna, atque eepi ; omnesque aditus tuos inter' 
cliisi, ut ad me aspirare non posses, CICERO, Tuscul. v, cap. ix. 


snows of Iceland or on the burning rocks of Malta. It is 
in vain that you take precaution against his dying, for 
after all he must die ; and even though his death may not 
result from your solicitudes, they are nevertheless unwise. 
It is of less consequence to prevent him from dying than 
to teach him how to live. To live is not to breathe, but 
to act ; it is to make use of our organs, of our senses, of 
our faculties, of every element of our nature which makes 
us sensible of our existence. The man who has lived 
most is not he who has numbered the most years, but he 
who has had the keenest sense of life. Men have been 
buried at the age of a hundred who died at the moment 
of birth. They would have gained by going to their 
graves in their youth, if up to that time they had really 

All our wisdom consists in servile prejudices, all our 
customs are but servitude, worry, and constraint. Civil- 
ized man is born, lives, and dies in a state of slavery. At 
his birth he is stitched in swaddling-clothes ; at his death 
he is nailed in his coffin ; and as long as he preserves the 
human form he is fettered by our institutions. 

It is said that nurses sometimes pretend to give the 
heads of infants a more proper form by a sort of molding ; 
and we suffer them to do this! It seems that our heads 
were badly fashioned by the Author of Nature, and that 
they need to be made over, outwardly by nurses and in- 
wardly by philosophers ! The Caribbeans are more for- 
tunate than we are by half ! 

The inaction and constraint imposed on the limbs of 

* Longa est vita, si plena est. Impletur autem cum animus sibi 
bonum suum reddidit, et ad se potestatem sui transtulit. Quid ilium 
octoginta anni juvant per inertiam exacti ? Non vixit iste, sed in 
vita moratus est, , . , Actu illam metiamur^ non tempore. SENECA, 
Ep. 93, 


a child can but impede the circulation of the blood and 
other fluids, prevent him from growing strong, and 
weaken his constitution. In countries where these ex- 
travagant precautions are not taken the men are all tall, 
strong, and well-proportioned ; but where children are 
bound in swaddling-clothes, the country swarms with the 
hump-backed, the lame, the knock-kneed, and the sick- 
ly with all sorts of patched-up men. For fear that the 
body may be deformed by free movements, we hasten to 
deform it by putting it in a press. We would purposely 
render it impotent in order to prevent it from becoming 
crippled ! 

Could a constraint so cruel fail to leave its effect on 
the dispositions of children as well as on their physical 
constitution ? Their first feeling is that of suffering and 
pain. They find only obstacles to all the movements 
they have need of making; more unfortunate than a 
criminal in chains, they make useless efforts, they become 
irritated, they cry. Their first language, you say, is a 
tear. I can well believe it. From the moment of their 
birth you cross their desires ; the first gifts they receive 
from you are chains ; the first attentions they experi- 
ence are torments. Being free in nothing save in voice, 
why should they not use it to utter their complaints? 
They cry because of the wrong you do them. If you 
were thus pinioned, your cries would be louder than 

Whence comes this unreasonable, this unnatural cus- 
torn ? Ever since mothers, despising their first duty, have 
been no longer willing to nourish their own children, they 
must be intrusted to hireling nurses, who, thus finding 
themselves mothers to others' children for whom the voice 
of nature did not plead, have felt no anxiety but to rid 
themselves of their burdens. A free child must have 

12 EMILE. 

ceaseless care, but when he is securely tied we may toss 
him into a corner and pay no heed to his cries. 

It is asserted that if children were allowed their free- 
dom they might fall into bad postures, and so contract 
movements that would be unfavorable to the proper de- 
velopment of their limbs. This is one of those vain con- 
jectures begotten of our false wisdom, which no actual 
experience has ever confirmed. Of that multitude of chil- 
dren who, among people that are more sensible than we 
are, have been brought up with limbs left in perfect 
freedom, not a single one is to be seen who is maimed 
or lame. They can not give to their movements force 
enough to make them dangerous; and when they fall 
into a strained position, the pain they suffer at once warns 
them to change it. 

Where there is no mother there can be no child. 
Their duties are reciprocal ; and if they are badly fulfilled 
on one side, they will be neglected on the other. The 
child should love his mother before he knows that this 
is his duty. If the voice of kin is not strengthened by 
habit and duty, it dies out in early life, and the heart is 
dead, so to speak, before it is born. Thus, at the very 
start, the path of nature is forsaken. 

But a woman may miss the right way by taking an 
opposite course : when, instead of neglecting her motherly 
duties, she carries them to an extreme ; when she makes 
of her child her idol ; when she augments and nourishes 
his weakness in order to prevent him from feeling it ; and 
when, through the hope of rescuing him from the laws 
of nature, she shields him from painful experiences, with- 
out thinking how, in the attempt to preserve him for 
the moment from slight inconveniences, she is laying up 
in store for him a multitude of accidents and perils, and 
forgets what a barbarous precaution it is to prolong the 


weakness of children at the expense of fatigue that must 
be suffered in later life. Thetis, as the story goes, plunged 
her son into the waters of the Styx in order to render him 
invulnerable. This is a beautiful and instructive allegory. 
The cruel mothers of whom I speak proceed in a different 
manner. By rearing their children so delicately, they pre- 
pare them for suffering ; they make them susceptible to 
countless evils of which they are to be the victims later 
in life. Observe Nature, and follow the route which she 
traces for you. She is ever exciting children to activity ; 
she hardens the constitution by trials of every sort ; she 
teaches them at an early hour what suffering and pain are. 
Experience shows that there are more deaths among 
children delicately reared than among others. Provided 
the strength of children is not overtaxed, there is less 
risk in using it than in preventing its use. Then school 
them to the hardships which they will one day have to 
endure. Harden their bodies to the changes of seasons, 
climates, and elements, as well as to hunger, thirst, and 
fatigue ; dip them in the waters of the Styx. Before the 
body has been broken to habit, we may do with it what- 
ever we please, without danger; but when it has once 
received a set, every change in it becomes perilous. A 
child will support changes that a man could not endure. 
The fibers of the first, soft and flexible, take without effort 
the bent that is given them ; while those of the man, 
being harder, they no longer change, except by violent 
effort, the bent which they have received. Hence we may 
make a child robust without endangering his life and his 
health ; and though this might involve some risk, still we 
need not hesitate. Since these are risks which are insepar- 
able from human life, can we do better than to place them 
on that portion of existence where they are attended with 
the least danger ? 


A child becomes more precious as he advances in age. 
To the value of his person there comes to be added that 
of the care which he has cost ; and to the loss of his life 
there is to be added his apprehension of death. It is then 
especially of the future that we must think, while guard- 
ing his preservation ; it is against the ills of youth that 
we must arm him before he has come upon them ; for if 
the value of life increases up to the age that renders it 
useful, what folly it is to spare infancy some ills while 
heaping them up for the age of reason ! 

Suffering is the lot of man at every period of life. The 
very care of his preservation is connected with pain. 
Happy he if in his infancy he knows only physical ills 
ills much less cruel and much less painful than others, 
and which much more rarely than they cause us to re- 
nounce life ! One does not kill himself from the suffer- 
ings of the gout ; and hardly anything but sufferings of 
the soul produce despair. We pity the lot of infancy, and 
it is our own that we should really pity. Our greatest ills 
come to us from ourselves. 

A child cries as soon as born, and his first years are 
spent in tears. At one time we trot and caress him to 
pacify him, and at another we threaten and beat him to 
keep him quiet. We either do what pleases him, or we 
exact of him what pleases us ; we either subject ourselves 
to his whims, or subject him to ours. There is no middle 
ground ; he must either give orders or receive them. And 
so his first ideas are those of domination and servitude. 
Before knowing how to speak, he commands ; and before 
knowing how to act, he obeys ; and sometimes he is pun- 
ished before he is able to know his faults, or, rather, to 
commit any. It is thus that, at an early hour, we pour 
into his young heart the passions that we straightway 
impute to nature; and that, after having taken the 


trouble to make him bad, we complain of finding him 

Would you, then, have him preserve his original form ? 
Guard it from the moment of the child's birth. As soon 
as born take possession of him, and do not give him up 
until he is a man. Save in this way, you will never suc- 
ceed. As the real nurse is the mother, the real preceptor 
is the father. Let them agree in the discharge of their 
functions as well as in the system they follow, and let the 
child pass from the hands of one into the hands of the 
other. He will be better educated by a judicious though 
ignorant father, than by the most skillful teacher in the 
world ; for zeal will much better supply the place of tal- 
ent than talent the place of zeal. 

But business, official cares, duties, you say ! Duties 
indeed ! the last, doubtless, is that of a father ! * Let us 
not think it strange that a man whose wife disdains to 
nourish the fruit of their union himself disdains to under- 
take its education. There is no more charming picture 
than that of family life ; but the lack of one trait dis- 
figures all the others. If the mother has too little strength 
to be a nurse, the father will have too much business to be 
a teacher. The children sent from home and dispersed in 

* When we read in Plutarch that Cato the Censor, who governed 
Rome with so much glory, was himself the teacher of his son from 
his very infancy, and with such assiduity that he left everything to 
be present when the nurse that is, the mother was dressing and 
bathing the child : when we read in Suetonius that Augustus, the 
master of the world which he had conquered and which he governed, 
himself taught his grandsons to write and to swim, and the elements 
of the sciences, and that he kept them constantly about him : we 
can not help laughing at the good people of that period who amused 
themselves with such trifles too limited in their capacity, doubt- 
less, to be able to grasp the important affairs of the great men of 
our time ! 

16 EMILE. 

boarding-schools, convents, and colleges, will carry other- 
wheres the love of home or, rather, they will bring home 
the habit of being attached to nothing. Brothers and 
sisters will scarcely know one another. When they are all 
assembled in state, they can be very polite and formal, and 
will treat each other as strangers. The moment that in- 
timacy between parents ceases, the moment that family 
intercourse no longer gives sweetness to life, it becomes at 
once necessary to resort to lower pleasures in order to sup- 
ply what is lacking Where is the man so stupid as not 
to see the logic of all this ? 

A father who merely feeds and clothes the children he 
has begotten so far fulfills but a third of his task. To the 
race, he owes men ; to society, men of social dispositions ; 
and to the state, citizens. Every man who can pay this 
triple debt and does not pay it, is guilty of a crime, and 
the more guilty, perhaps, when the debt is only half 
paid. He who can not fulfill the duties of a father has 
no right to become such. Neither poverty, nor busi- 
ness, nor fear of the world, can excuse him from the 
duty of supporting and educating his own children. 
Reader, believe me when I predict that whoever has a 
heart and neglects such sacred duties will long shed bit- 
ter tears over his mistake, and will never find consolation 
for it.* 

A teacher ! What an exalted soul he should be ! In 
truth, to form a man, one must be either a father or more 

* " The course that I had pursued with respect to my children, 
however reasonable it may have appeared to me, had not always left 
my conscience tranquil. While planning my Treatise on Education, 
I felt that I had neglected duties from which nothing could excuse 
me. My remorse finally became so keen that it came near forcing 
me to make a public avowal of my fault in the beginning of the 
fimile." (LES CONFESSIONS, Partie II, livre vii.) 


Mian a man. And yet this is the service you calmly intrust 
to mercenaries ! 

Is it impossible to find this rare mortal? I do not 
know. In these degenerate times, who knows to what 
height of virtue a human soul may yet ascend? But 
suppose we have 'found this prodigy. It is by considering 
what he ought to do that we shall see what he ought to 
be. The first thing that occurs to me is that a father who 
should comprehend the full price of a good tutor would 
decide to do without one ; for it would require more 
trouble to secure one than to become one himself. Or, 
if he desires to secure a friend, as I have suggested, let 
him educate his son for becoming such, and Nature will 
Already have done half the work. 

But what does this rich man do, this father who is so 
full of business, and compelled, as he says, to abandon 
his children ? He pays another man to discharge those 
duties which are binding on himself. Venal soul ! do 
you expect with your money to give your son another 
father ? Be not deceived ; it is not even a master whom 
you give him, but a valet ; and presently he will make of 
your son a second. 

We hear much said about the qualities of a good tutor. 
The first that I would require of him and this single one 
supposes many others is that he should not be a man for 
sale. There are employments so noble that we can not 
practice them for money without showing ourselves un- 
worthy to practice them : such is the pursuit of arms, and 
such the office of a teacher. Who, then, shall educate my 
child ? I have already told you yourself. I can not. 
You can not, do you say ? Then call in a friend to your 
aid. I see no other resource. 

Some one, of whom I know nothing save his rank, 
made me a proposition to educate his son. Doubtless he 

18 EMILE. 

did me a great honor ; but, rather than complain of my 
refusal, he ought to commend my discretion. Had I ac- 
cepted his offer and erred in my method, the education 
would have been a failure. Had I succeeded, it would 
have been still worse : the son would have renounced his 
title, he would no longer have desired to be a prince. 

I have too high an opinion of the magnitude of a teach- 
er's office, and too keen a sense of my own incapacity for 
it, ever to accept such an employment, no matter whence 
the offer may come ; and even the plea of friendship would 
be to me but an additional motive for refusing it. I fancy 
that, after having read this book, but few will be tempted 
to make me such a proposition ; and I beg those who 
might do so no longer to give themselves the useless 
trouble. I once made a trial of this employment which 
sufficed to assure me that I had no fitness for it ; * and 
my position would excuse me from it even though my 
talents had rendered me capable of it. It has seemed to 
me that I owe this public declaration to those who appear 
not to hold me in sufficient esteem to believe me sincere 
and firm in my resolution. 

I have therefore formed the plan of providing myself 
with an imaginary pupil, and of assuming that I have the 
age, the health, the knowledge, and all the talents suit- 
able for undertaking his education and conducting it from 
the moment of his birth up to the time when, having be- 

* This refers to Rousseau's engagement with M. de Mably as tutor 
to his children. (P.) " The mildness of my disposition would have 
made me a very proper person to teach, had not fits of anger mingled 
their storms with my work. As long as all went well and I saw my 
plans and labors succeeding, I could not do too much I was an 
angel , but when things went wrong, I was a devil. When my pupils 
did not understand me, I raved ; and when they showed signs of ugli- 
ness, I could have killed them." LES CONFESSIONS, part i, liv. vi. 


come a mature man, he will no longer need any other 
guide than himself. This method seems to me useful for 
preventing an author who is distrustful of himself from 
losing himself in speculation ; for, the moment he departs 
from established usage, he has only to test his own method 
on his pupil and he will at once discover, or his reader 
will discover for him, whether he is following the progress 
of infancy and the course natural to the human heart. 

I will merely observe, contrary to the ordinary opinion, 
that the tutor of a child ought to be young just as young 
as a man can be and be wise. Were it possible, I would 
have him a child, so that he might become a companion 
to his pupil and secure his confidence by taking part in 
his amusements. There are not things enough in com- 
mon between infancy and mature years, so that there 
comes to be formed at that distance a really solid attach- 
ment. Children sometimes flatter old people, but they 
nevei love them.* 

It is thought that a tutor should already have had the 
training of one pupil. This is requiring too much, for a 
man can have trained but one. If two were necessary for 
his success, by what right did he undertake the care of 
the first? 

There is a great difference, I assure you, between fol- 
lowing a young man four years and conducting him 
twenty-five. You give your son a tutor when he is 
already grown ; but I would have him have one before he 
is born. Your man can take another pupil every four 
years; but mine shall never have but one. You make 

* It is a mistake to suppose that there can be any real sympathy 
between two children, as Rousseau seems to assume. Some disparity 
in age is essential to the rise of this emotion. We sympathize with 
another, not because we have experiences similar to his, but because 
we have had them. (P.) 

20 tiMILE. 

a distinction oetween & preceptor and a tutor,* which is 
another piece of folly. Do you distinguish between a 
disciple and a pupil ? There is but one science which is to 
be taught children, and this is the science of human duty. 
This science is one ; and, notwithstanding what Xenophon 
has said of the education of the Persians, it is not to be 
divided. And I would call the master of this science a 
tutor rather than a preceptor, because we are less con- 
cerned with the instruction of our pupil than with his 
guidance. The master ought not to give precepts, but 
should cause his pupil to find them. 

The poor man has no need of an education, for his 
condition in life forces one upon him, and he could re- 
ceive no other, f On the contrary, the education which 
the rich man receives from his station is the one which 
befits him the least, both with respect to himself and to 
society. Moreover, the education of nature ought to 
make a man fit for all the conditions of human life. 
Now, it is less reasonable to educate a poor man for 
becoming rich, than to educate a rich, man for becoming 
poor ; for, in proportion to the number of these two classes, 
there are more men who are ruined than there are who 
rise from poverty to wealth. Let us, therefore, choose our 
pupil from among the wealthy, for we shall at least be 
sure of having given one more man to society, while a 
poor man may make a man of himself. 

For the same reason I shall not be offended if Emile 

* Precepteur et gouverneur. ' 

f At this day it is not necessary to challenge such a statement 
as this, the basis of our public-school policy being the right of every 
child, regardless of condition in life, to participate in the blessings 
of education. Education is another name for freedom, and free- 
dom is a right from which no man, not a criminal, should be de- 
barred. (P.) 


is a child of rank, for there will be at least one victim 
rescued from prejudice. 

Emile is an orphan. It is not important that he have 
a father and mother. Charged with their duties, I suc- 
ceed to all their rights. He ought to honor his parent.*, 
but he owes obedience to no one but me. This is the 
first, or rather the only, condition that I require. 

To this I should add what is but a corollary to it, that 
we shall never be separated from each other save by our 
own consent. This clause is essential, and I would have 
the pupil and his tutor regard themselves so inseparable 
that their destiny in life should always be a subject of 
common interest between them. The moment they dis- 
cover their separation in the distance, the instant they 
foresee the moment which is to render them strangers to 
each other, they are already so in effect ; each one lays his 
plan for himself ; and both, thinking of the time when 
they shall no longer be together, maintain their associa- 
tion with reluctance. The pupil regards his master only 
as the overseer and scourge of infancy ; and the master 
regards his pupil only as a heavy burden from which he 
longs to be released. With one accord they long for the 
moment when they may be delivered from each other ; 
and as there is never any real attachment between them, 
one has but little vigilance and the other but little do- 

In the family which God gives him, a father has no 
choice and ought to have no preference. All his children 
are equally his children, and he owes them all the same 
care and the same tenderness. "Whether crippled or not, 
whether sickly or robust, each of them is a trust of which 
he must render an account to him from whom he has re- 
ceived it ; and marriage is a contract made with Nature, as 
well as between the husband and wife. 

22 SMILE. 

But whoever takes upon himself a duty which Nature 
has not imposed on him, should provide himself in advance 
with the means for fulfilling it ; otherwise he makes him 
self accountable for what he will not be able to accomplish. 
He who charges himself with an infirm and sickly pupil, 
exchanges his function of tutor for that of a nurse ; in 
caring for a useless life, he loses the time which was des- 
tined to the augmentation of its value ; and he runs the 
risk of seeing a weeping mother some day reproach him 
with the death of a son whom he has long kept alive for 

I would not assume charge of a sickly and debilitated 
child, were he to live for eighty years. I do not want a 
pupil always useless to himself and to others, whose only 
occupation is to keep himself alive, and whose body is a 
hindrance to the education of the soul. What would I 
accomplish by lavishing my care upon him to no purpose, 
except to double the loss of society by taking from it two 
men instead of one? If some one else would take my 
place and devote himself to this invalid, I have not the 
least objection, and would approve his charity ; but my 
own talent does not run in this line. I can not teach one 
to live whose only thought is to keep himself from dying. 

The body must needs be vigorous in order to obey the 
soul : a good servant ought to be robust. I know that 
intemperance excites the passions, and also that in the 
long run it debilitates the body ; mortification and fast- 
ing produce the same effect from opposite causes. The 
weaker the body, the more it commands ; the stronger it 
is, the better it obeys. All the sensual passions find lodg- 
ment in effeminate bodies ; and the less they are satisfied 
the more irritable they become. 

A debilitated body enfeebles the soul. Hence arises 
the sway of medicine an art more pernicious to men 


than all the ills which it pretends to cure. For my part, 
I do not know of what malady the doctors cure us, but I 
do know that they give us some which are very fatal 
cowardice, pusillanimity, credulity, and fear of death. If 
they cure the body, they destroy courage. Of what con- 
sequence is it to us that they make dead bodies walk? 
What we need is men, and we do not see them coming 
from their hands. 

Medicine is in fashion with us, and it ought to be. It 
is the amusement of indolent and unemployed people, 
who, not knowing what to do with their time, spend it in 
keeping themselves alive. If they had had the misfortune 
to be immortal, they would be the most wretched of 
creatures ; for life, which they would never have any fear 
of losing, would have no value for them. These people 
need physicians to threaten in order to natter them, and 
each day to give them the only pleasure of which they are 
susceptible, that of not being dead. 

If you would find men who are truly courageous, look 
for them in places where there are no doctors, where peo- 
ple are ignorant of the consequences of disease, and where 
they hardly think of death. Naturally, man can suffer 
with constancy and die in peace. It is the doctors with 
their prescriptions, the philosophers with their precepts, 
and the priests with their exhortations, who abase his 
heart and make him unlearn how to die. 

Then give me a pupil who needs none of these gentry, 
or I will not take him. I do not wish others to spoil my 
work ; I will educate him alone r or will have nothing to 
do with him. The wise Locke, who had spent a part of 
his life in the study of medicine, strongly recommends 
that children should never be doctored, neither by way of 
precaution nor for trifling ailments. I shall go further, 
and I declare that, never calling physicians for myself, I 

94 EMILE. 


snaa never call them for my Emile unless his life is in 
evident danger ; for then they can do nothing worse thac 
kill him. 

The only useful part of medicine is hygiene ; and hy- 
giene is less a science than a virtue. Temperance and 
labor are the two real physicians of man ; labor sharpens 
his appetite, and temperance prevents him from abusing it. 

Men were not made to be massed together in herds, but 
to be scattered over the earth which they are to cultivate. 
The more they herd together the more they corrupt one 
another. Infirmities of the body, as well as evils of the 
soul, are the inevitable effect of this over-accumulation. 
Man is of all animals the one that can least support life 
in flocks ; men herded together like sheep would all perish 
within a little time. The breath of man is fatal to his 
fellows ; this is no less true literally than figuratively. 

Cities are the graves of the human species. After a 
few generations, races perish or degenerate ; they must be 
renewed, and this regeneration is always supplied by the 
country. Send your children away, therefore, so that they 
may renew themselves, so to speak, and regain, amid the 
fields, the vigor they have lost in the unwholesome air of 
places too thickly peopled. 

Children should be bathed frequently ; and in propor- 
tion as they gain strength the warmth of the water may 
gradually be diminished, until, finally, winter and summer, 
they may be bathed in cold water, and even in water at 
the point of freezing. As, in order not to expose their 
health, this lowering of temperature must be slow, suc- 
cessive, and insensible, a thermometer may be employed 
for the purpose of exact measurement. 

This use of the bath, once established, ought not to be 
interrupted, but should be maintained throughout life. I 
value the bath not merely in its bearing on cleanliness and 


actual health, but also as a salutary precaution for render- 
ing the tissues and fibers flexible, and for making them 
adapt themselves without effort and risk to different de- 
grees of heat and cold. For this purpose, while the body 
is growing, I would have people gradually accustom them- 
selves to bathe, sometimes in water of all degrees of 
warmth, and often in waters of all possible degrees of cold. 
Thus, after having accustomed themselves to support the 
different temperatures of water, which, being a dense 
fluid, touches them at more points and affects them more 
sensibly, they would become almost insensible to atmos- 
pheric changes. 

Do not suffer the child to be restrained by caps, bands, 
and swaddling-clothes ; but let him have gowns flowing and 
loose, and which leave all his limbs at liberty, not so heavy 
as to hinder his movements, nor so warm as to prevent him 
from feeling the impression of the air. By keeping them 
dressed and within-doors, children in cities are suffocated. 
Those who have them in charge have yet to learn that 
cold air, far from doing them harm, invigorates them, 
and that warm air enfeebles them, makes them feverish, 
and kills them. Place the child in a wide cradle, well 
cushioned, where he can move at his ease and without 
danger. When he begins to grow strong, let him creep 
about the room and develop his little limbs, by giving 
them exercise ; you will see him gain in strength day by 
day. Compare him with a child of the same age who has 
been tightly confined in swaddling-clothes, and you will 
be astonished at the difference in their progress. 

I repeat it, the education of man begins at his birth. 
Before he can speak, before he can understand, he is 
already instructing himself. Experience precedes lessons ; 
the moment he knows his nurse he has already acquired 
much knowledge. We should be surprised at the knowl- 

26 EMILE. 

edge possessed by the most boorish man, if we followed 
his progress from the moment of birth to the present 
hour of his life. If we were to divide all human knowl- 
edge into two parts, one common to all men and the 
other restricted to scholars, the last would be very small 
compared with the first. But we scarcely think of general 
acquisitions, because they are made without our notice and 
even before the age of reason ; whereas science brings 
itself into notice only by the distinctions which it creates : 
just as, in algebraic equations, quantities in common are 
not taken into account. 

The only habit which the child should be allowed to 
form is to contract no habit whatever.* Let him not be 
carried on one arm more than on another ; let him not 
be accustomed to hold out one hand more than the other, 
nor to use it more often ; nor to desire to eat, to sleep, or 
to be awake at the same hours ; nor to be unable to stay 
alone by day or by night. Make a preparation long in 
advance for the exercise of his liberty and the use of his 
strength by allowing his body to have its natural habits, 
by putting him in a condition to be always master of him- 
self, and in everything to do his own will the moment he 
has one. 

* This is one instance out of very many which illustrates Rous- 
seau's rhetorical style. He seemed to fear that the exact statement 
of a truth might not affect the dull understandings of his readers, 
and so he resorts to the story-teller's trick of exaggeration. Reform- 
ers count on the dullness or the inertia of their followers, and make 
a considerable margin between what they require and what they ex- 
pect. There is, doubtless, a truth at the bottom of this statement. 
Habit prevents versatility, and so is opposed to growth. It is 
easier to follow an old route, though a bad one, than to strike out a 
new and better one. During the formative or growing period, fixed 
habits are an obstruction ; but in the end, the half of education is 
habit. (P.) 


As soon as the child begins to distinguish objects, it is 
important that a choice should be made in those which 
are presented to him. Naturally, man is interested in all 
objects which are new. He has such a sense of his feeble- 
ness that he fears whatever is unknown to him ; and the 
habit of seeing new objects without being injured by them 
destroys this fear. Children brought up in nicely kept 
houses where spiders are not tolerated, are afraid of spi- 
ders, and in many cases this fear clings to them when 
they have become grown. I have never seen peasants, 
whether man, woman, or child, who were afraid of spiders. 

Why, then, should not the education of a child begin 
before he speaks and understands, since a mere choice in 
the objects presented to him is sufficient to render him 
timid or courageous? I would have him accustomed to 
see new objects, such as ugly, disgusting, or nondescript 
animals, but little by little, or at a distance, till he be- 
comes accustomed to them, and till, from having seen 
them handled by others, he finally comes to handle them 
himself. If, during his infancy, he has seen toads, snakes, 
and crabs, without being frightened, he will see without 
horror, when grown, any animal whatever. Objects cease 
to be frightful to him who sees them every day. 

All children are afraid of masks. I begin by showing 
Emile a mask of a pleasing appearance, and presently some 
one puts it on before him. Thereupon I begin to laugh, 
and, as everybody joins in the laugh, the child laughs 
as the others do. Gradually I accustom him to masks 
that are less pleasing, and finally to faces that are hideous. 
If I have managed my gradation skillfully, far from being 
frightened at the last mask, he will laugh at it as at the 
first one. After this I have no fear that he will be fright- 
ened at masks. 

When, in the farewell scene between Andromache and 


Hector, the little Astyanax, frightened at the plumes which 
waved from his father's helmet, does not recognize him, 
but, crying, clings to the breast of his nurse and draws 
from his mother a smile mingled with tears, what is 
needed in order to cure him of this fright? Precisely 
what Hector does : throw the helmet on the ground and 
then kiss the child. In a calmer moment one would not 
stop at that point, but would take up the helmet, play 
with its plumes, and cause the child to handle them. 
Finally, the nurse would take the helmet, and put it on her 
own head while laughing if, indeed, a woman's hand 
might dare to touch the arms of Hector. 

If Emile is to be accustomed to the noise of fire-arms, 
I first burn a wad in a pistol. This sudden and moment- 
ary flash, this sort of lightning, pleases him, and I repeat 
the same thing with more powder. Little by little I load 
the pistol with a small charge without a wad ; then I in- 
crease the charge, and, finally, I accustom him to the dis- 
charge of a gun, to bombs, to cannons, and to the most 
frightful explosions. 

The discomfort caused by needs is expressed by signs, 
when the aid of others is necessary in order to provide for 
them. Hence the cries of children. They shed many 
tears, and this is as it should be. Since all their sensa- 
tions are affective, children enjoy them in silence when 
they are agreeable, but when they are painful they make 
them known by their language and demand relief. Now, 
as long as they are awake they can hardly rest in a state 
of indifference ; they either sleep, or are affected by their 

When a child weeps he is in a state of discomfort ; he 
has some need which he can not satisfy. We look about 
in search of this need, and when we have found it we 
provide for it. When we do not find it, or when we can 


not provide for it, the tears continue to flow and we are 
importuned by them. We caress the child to keep him 
still, and we rock him or sing to him to put him to sleep. 
If he is obstinate, we become impatient and threaten 
him. Brutal nurses sometimes strike him. Strange les- 
sons these for one who is just beginning to live ! 

This disposition of children to outbursts of temper, to 
spite, and to anger, requires the nicest management. 
Boerhaave is of the opinion that the most of their ail- 
ments are of a convulsive type, because, the head being 
proportionally larger than that of the adult, and the 
nervous system more extended, the nervous tract is more 
susceptible of irritation. Use the utmost care to keep 
them out of the reach of servants who annoy them, irri- 
tate them, and try their patience; they are a hundred 
times more dangerous to them, and more likely to do them 
harm, than the bad effects of air and climate. So long as 
children find resistance only in things, and never in wills, 
they will become neither rebellious nor choleric, and will 
the better keep themselves in a state of health.* Here is 
one of the reasons why children of the common people, 
freer and more independent, are generally less infirm, less 
delicate, and more robust than those whom we profess to 
bring up more wisely by a system of ceaseless restraints ; 
but we must always recollect that there is a very great 

* So far is this from being true, that children very readily ascribe 
will and intent to things, and will punish inert objects that have 
hurt them. This doctrine of the beneficent discipline of things, as 
distinguished from the discipline exercised by the human will, is 
one of Rousseau's favorite themes, and forms the groundwork of Mr. 
Spencer's chapter on Moral Education. As human wills must be en- 
countered in actual life, as they form an essential part of our en- 
vironment, the child may very properly be made to count with 
them. (P.) 

30 EMILE. 

difference between obeying them and not exciting their 

The first tears of children are prayers, and unless we 
are on our guard they soon become orders. Children be- 
gin by being assisted, but end by being served. Thus 
out of their very weakness, whence proceeds at first the 
feeling of their dependence, there presently springs the 
idea of empire and domination ; but this idea being ex- 
cited not so much by their needs as by our services, 
there begin to appear, at this point, the moral effects 
whose immediate cause is -not in nature; and already we 
begin to see why, in this early period of life, it is impor- 
tant to discern the secret intention which dictates the 
gesture or the cry. 

When the child makes the effort and reaches out his 
hand without saying anything, he expects to reach the 
object because he does not make a proper estimate of its 
distance he has made a mistake ; but when he complains 
and cries while reaching out his hand, he then no longer 
makes a mistake as to the distance, but is either com- 
manding the object to come to him, or is commanding 
you to bring him the object. In the first case, carry him 
to the object slowly, stopping at short intervals ; in the 
second, give no sign whatever of hearing him ; the louder 
he cries the less you should listen to him. It is important 
to accustom him at an early period neither to command 
men, for he is not their master, nor things, for they do 
not hear him. Thus, when a child desires something 
which he sees or which you wish to give him, it is much 
better to carry him -to the object than to bring this object 
to him. He draws from this procedure a conclusion 
suitable to his age, and one which can be suggested to 
him in no other way. 

The Abbe de Saint Pierre called men large children ; 


conversely, we might call children little men. These 
propositions have their truth as maxims; but as prin- 
ciples they have need of explanation. When Hobbes 
called a rogue a robust child, he said a thing absolutely 
contradictory. All wickedness comes from weakness. A 
child is bad only because he is weak ; make him strong, 
and he will be good. He who can do everything does 
nothing bad.* Of all the attributes of the omnipotent 
Divinity, goodness is the one which we can spare from his 
conception with the greatest difficulty. All peoples who 
have recognized two principles have always regarded the 
evil as inferior to the good ; otherwise they would have 
made an absurd supposition. 

Reason alone teaches us to know good and evil. The 
conscience, which makes us love the one and hate the 
other, although independent of the reason, can not be 
developed without it. Before the age of reason we do 
good and evil without knowing it ; and there is no mo- 
rality in our actions, although there sometimes may be 
in the feeling we have from the actions of others as they 
relate to us. A child wishes to disarrange whatever he 
sees; he breaks and injures whatever he can reach; he 
seizes a bird as he would seize a stone, and strangles it 
without knowing what he does. 

Why is this? At first sight philosophy goes on to 
account for it by natural vices. Pride, the spirit of dom- 
ination, self-love, the wickedness of man, and, it might 
be added, the sense of his weakness, make the child eager 
to do feats of strength, and to prove to himself his own 
power. But see this infirm and broken old man, brought 
back by the cycle of human life to the feebleness of in- 
fancy. He not only remains immobile and peaceable, but 

* Nero and Charles V, for example ! (P.) 

32 EMILE. 

would have everything about him remain so ; the least 
change troubles and disquiets him, and he would see the 
reign of universal calm. If the original cause were not 
altered, how could the same impotence, connected with 
the same passions, produce such different effects in the 
two ages ? And where can we look for this difference in 
causes, save in the physical condition of the two individu- 
als ? The active principle, common to both, is in a state 
of development in one and in a state of extinction in 
the other ; one is in a state of formation, and the other in 
a state of decay ; one is tending to life and the other to 
death. The decaying activity is concentrated in the heart 
of the old man ; in that of the child this activity is super- 
abundant and extends itself outward ; he is conscious of 
life enough, so to speak, to animate his whole environ- 
ment. Whether he makes or unmakes matters not; it 
suffices that he changes the state of things, and every 
change is an action. Though he seems to have a greater 
inclination to destroy, this is not through badness. The 
activity which forms is always slow ; and as that which 
destroys is more rapid, it is better adapted to his vi- 

At the same time that the Author of Nature gives to 
children this active principle, he takes care that it shall 
do but little harm, by giving them but little strength to 
indulge themselves in it ; but as soon as they come to con- 
sider the people who surround them as instruments which 
they can employ, they make use of them to follow their 
inclinations, and to supplement their own feebleness. 
This is how they become troublesome, tyrannical, imperi- 
ous, depraved, unconquerable ; a progress which does not 
come from a natural spirit of domination, but which 
gives them this spirit ; for it does not require a long ex- 
perience to feel how agreeable it is to act through the 


hands of others, and to need only to set the tongue a-going 
in order to set the universe in motion. 

This principle once known, we see clearly the point at 
which we abandon the order of nature. We see what 
must be done in order to maintain ourselves in it. 


1. Far from having superfluous strength, children do 
not have enough for all the demands that Nature makes 
on them. AVe must therefore grant them the use of all 
the strength which Nature gives them and of which they 
can not make a misuse. 

2. "We must aid them, and supply whatever they lack 
either in the way of intelligence, or in the way of strength, 
in whatever concerns their physical need. 

3. In the aid which we give them, we must limit our- 
selves exclusively to the actually useful, without grant- 
ing anything to caprice or to unreasonable desires; for 
caprice will not torment them if we have not called 
it into being, provided it does not have its origin in 

4. We must carefully study their language and their 
signs, to the end that, at an age when they do not know 
how to dissemble, we may distinguish in their desires 
what comes immediately from nature and what from 

The spirit of these rules- is to grant to children more 
real liberty and less domination, to leave them more to 
do on their own account, and to exact less from others. 
Thus, early accustoming themselves to limit their desires 
to their powers, they will have but little sense of the pri- 
vation of what is not within their power. 

Here, then, is a new and very important reason for 
leaving the body and the limbs of children absolutely 


free, with the single precaution of shielding them from 
the danger of falls, and of keeping out of their hands 
whatever may injure them. 

Infallibly, a child whose body and limbs are free will 
cry less than one who is bound up in swaddling-clothes. 
He who experiences only physical needs weeps only when 
he suffers, and this is a very decided advantage ; for then 
we know to a certainty when he needs help, and we 
ought not to lose a moment in giving it to him, if it be 
possible. But if you can not help him, keep quiet, and do 
not pet him in order to soothe him. Your caresses will 
not cure his colic ; but he will recollect what he must do 
in order to be petted ; and if he once learns that he can 
interest you in his case at his own pleasure, he has be- 
come your master, and all is lost. 

Less opposed in their movements, children will weep 
less; less importuned by their tears, we shall be less 
troubled to keep them still ; threatened or petted less 
often, they will be less timid or less willful, and the 
better remain in their natural condition.' It is less by 
letting children cry, than by our efforts to keep them still, 
that we cause them to contract ruptures ; and my proof 
of this is that the children who are the most neglected 
are much less subject to them than others. I am very 
far from wishing that on this account they should be 
neglected ; on the contrary, it is important that we an- 
ticipate their needs, and that we do not wait to be ap- 
prised of them by their cries. But, on the other hand, I 
would not have the care we bestow on them misunder- 
stood. Why should they not resort to tears when they 
see that they are available to secure so many things? 
When taught the price put on their silence, they take 
good care not to be prodigal of it. They finally make it 
so valuable that we can no longer purchase it ; and it is 


then that, by reason of weeping without success, they are 
exhausted by their efforts and become quiet. 

The long crying-spells of a child who is neither band- 
aged nor ill, and who is left in need of nothing, are but 
the cries of habit or of obstinacy. They are not the work 
of Nature, but of the nurse, who, not being able to endure 
the trouble caused by them, multiplies the difficulty, with- 
out thinking that, by causing the child to keep quiet to- 
day, she encourages him to cry the more to-morrow. 

The only way to cure or to prevent this habit is to pay 
no attention to it. No one likes to take useless trouble 
not even children. They are obstinate in their under- 
takings ; but if your firmness is greater than their obsti- 
nacy, they are beaten, and will not try the contest again. 
It is in this way that they are taught to spare their tears, 
and are accustomed to shed them only when pain forces 
them to cry. 

Besides, when they cry through caprice or obstinacy, 
a sure way to prevent them from continuing is to divert 
their attention by some agreeable or striking object, which 
makes them forget that they wish to cry. Most nurses 
excel in this art, and, well managed, it is very useful ; but 
it is of the utmost importance that the child does not no- 
tice the intention to divert him, and that he amuse him- 
self without suspecting that we are thinking of him ; but 
on this point all nurses are unskillful. 

We no longer know how to be simple in anything, not 
even in our dealings with children. Gold or silver bells, 
coral, elaborate crystals, toys of all kinds and prices 
what useless and pernicious furniture ! Nothing of all 
this. No bells, no toys. Little branches with their fruits 
and flowers, a poppy -head in which the seeds are heard to 
rattle, a stick of licorice which he can suck and chew, will 
amuse him just as much as these gorgeous trinkets, and 



will not have the disadvantage of accustoming him to 
luxury from the day of his birth. 

Children hear spoken language from their birth ; we 
speak to them not only before they comprehend what is 
said to them, but before they can reproduce the tones 
which they hear. Their organs of speech, still torpid, 
adapt themselves only little by little to the imitations of 
the sounds which are addressed to them ; and it is not 
even certain that these sounds are at first carried to their 
ears as distinctly as to our own. I do not disapprove of 
the nurse's amusing the child with songs, and very cheer- 
ful and varied accents ; but I do disapprove of her inces- 
santly stunning him with a multitude of useless words of 
which he comprehends nothing except the tone which she 
throws into them. I would have the first articulations 
which he is made to hear few in number, easy to repro- 
duce, distinct, and often repeated ; and I would have the 
words which they express relate to sensible objects which 
can at once be shown to the child. The unfortunate 
facility which we have of using words which we do not 
understand commences sooner than we think. The pupil 
in class hears the verbiage of his master just as he heard 
in the cradle the babble of his nurse. It seems to me 
that it would be instructing him very usefully to bring 
him up without comprehending anything of this. 

But an abuse of far greater importance, and one not 
less easy to prevent, is our over-haste in making children 
speak, as though we were afraid that they would never 
learn to speak of themselves. This indiscreet haste pro- 
duces an effect directly contrary to the one we aim to 
secure ; for by this means children are later in learning 
to speak, and they speak more indistinctly. The extreme 
attention which we give to all they say makes it unneces- 
sary for them to articulate distinctly, and as they scarcely 


deign to open their mouths, many of them retain for life 
a vicious pronunciation and a confused manner of speak- 
ing which render them almost unintelligible. 

I have passed much of my life among the peasantry, 
and I have never known one of them, either man or 
woman, girl or boy, whose articulation was indistinct, 
How does this happen ? Are the organs of peasants con- 
structed differently from our own? No; but they are 
differently exercised. Opposite my window is a hillock, 
on which the children of the neighborhood collect to play. 
Although they are at some distance from me, I perfectly 
distinguish all they say, and from this source I often 
draw illustrations for this essay. Every day my ear de- 
ceives me as to their age. I hear the voices of children 
ten years old ; but I observe, and I see the stature and 
the features of children from three to four. But I do not 
limit this experience to myself alone. City friends who 
come to see me, and whom I consult on this matter, all 
fall into the same error. 

The cause of this is, that up to the age of five or six, 
city children, brought up within doors, under the wing of 
a governess, need only to mutter in order to make them- 
selves understood. The moment they move their lips, 
special effort is made to hear them ; words are addressed 
to them which they reproduce imperfectly ; and, forced to 
pay attention to them, those who are constantly about 
them guess what they wish to say rather than what they 
do say. 

In the country everything is different. Here, a mother 
is not always near her child, and he is obliged to learn 
how to say very distinctly and with a very loud voicr 
what he needs to have her hear. In the open countr}*, as 
children are relatively few in number, and often sepa- 
rated from father, mother, and other children, they exert 

38 EMILE. 

themselves to be heard at a distance, and to adapt then 
force of voice to the distance which separates them 
from those by whom they wish to be heard. This is the 
way we really learn to pronounce, and not by lisping a 
few vowels in the ear of an attentive governess. Thus, 
when we interrogate the child of a peasant, diffidence 
may prevent him from replying, but whatever he says he 
says distinctly ; whereas it is necessary for the nurse to 
act as interpreter to the city child, without whose aid 
we understand nothing of what is muttered between his 

I grant that country and village people go to the other 
extreme ; that they almost always speak louder than is 
necessary ; that in pronouncing too distinctly their articu- 
lation is strong and rough ; that they overdo the matter 
of accent, and that their choice. of terms is bad. 

But, in the first place, this extreme seems to me less 
vicious than the other, seeing that the first law of dis- 
course being to make one's self understood, the greatest 
fault one can commit is to speak without being under- 
stood. To pride one's self on having no accent, is to pride 
one's self on taking away from sentences their grace and 
force. Accent is the soul of discourse ; it gives to it feel- 
ing and truth. Accent lies less than speech, and it is 
perhaps for this reason that well-bred people fear it so 
much. It is from the custom of saying everything in the 
same tone that has come the practice of quizzing people 
without their knowing it. This proscription of accent is 
followed by modes of pronunciation which are ridiculous, 
affected, and governed by fashion, such as are noticed 
particularly in the young people in court circles. This 
affectation in speech and bearing is what generally renders 
Ae presence of Frenchmen repulsive and disagreeable to 
other nations. Instead of putting accent into his speech, 


he puts it in his manner. This is not a means of pre- 
possession in his favor. 

All these little faults of language which we so much 
fear to have children contract, are of no account they 
are prevented or corrected with the greatest facility ; but 
those which they are made to contract by making their 
speech indistinct, confused, and timid, by incessantly criti- 
cising their tone, and by picking over their words, are 
never corrected. A man who learns to speak only in his 
chamber will make himself but poorly understood at the 
head of a battalion, and will hardly overawe people who 
are engaged in a riot. 

The child who would learn to talk should hear only 
the words which he can understand, and speak only those 
which he can articulate. The efforts which he makes 
for this purpose lead him to repeat the same syllable, as 
though practicing to pronounce it more distinctly. When 
he begins to stammer, do not fret yourselves so much to 
conjecture what he says. Always to claim the attention 
of others is of itself a sort of domination which the child 
ought not to exercise. Let it suffice for you to provide 
very attentively for what is necessary ; it is his part to try 
to make you understand what is not necessary. Still less 
should you be in haste to require him to talk; he will 
easily learn to talk as he comes to feel the utility of it. 

The greatest evil coming from the precipitation which 
makes children talk prematurely, is not that the first 
conversations held with them, and the first words which 
they speak, have no meaning for them, but that they 
have a different meaning from our own, and this with- 
out our being conscious of it ; so that, while seeming to 
reply to us with great exactness, they speak to us with- 
out understanding us and without our understanding 
them. It is for the most part to such ambiguities that 

40 EMILE. 

is due the surprise produced in us by some of their say- 
ings to which we attach ideas that they have never con- 
nected with them. This inattention, on our part, to the 
real meaning which words have for children, seems to me 
the cause of their first errors, and these errors, even after 
they had been cured, have an influence on their turn of 
mind for the rest of their life. 

Contract, then, as much as possible, the vocabulary of 
the child. It is a great disadvantage for him to have 
more words than ideas, and to know how to say more 
things than he can think. I believe that one of the 
reasons why peasants generally have more accurate minds 
than people of the city is that their vocabulary is less ex- 
tensive. They have few ideas, but they compare them 
very accurately.* 

The first developments of infancy take place almost 
simultaneously. A child learns to talk, to eat, and to 
walk, almost at the same time. Here is properly the first 
epoch of his life. Before this, he is nothing more than 
he was before he was born ; he has no feeling, no ideas, 
he hardly has sensations ; he is not even conscious of his 
own existence. 

" Virit, et est vitce nescius ipse suce." OVID, Tristia, lib. i. 

* " Words," says Hobbes, " are wise men's counters, but the 
money of fools." The disposition to accept empty words for ideas 
has justified educational reformers in declaiming against mere 
word-study and routine memorizing; but it is to be recollected 
that words are the instruments of thought, and that a small vo- 
cabulary implies a narrow range of thinking and a low power of 
intellectual discrimination. Provided words are properly signifi- 
cant, a large vocabulary is in every way desirable. Whether the 
child proceeds from ideas to words or from words to ideas is im- 
material, provided there is an indissoluble union effected between 
the sign and the thing signified. Both orders of sequence are 
" natural." (P.) 




WE are now at the second period of life that where 
infancy properly ends ; for the words in/arts and puer are 
not synonymous. The first is comprised in the second, 
and signifies one who can not speak. Whence it happens 
that in Valerius Maximus we find puerum infantem* 
But I shall continue to employ this word according to 
current usage, until the age for which we have other 

When children begin to speak, they cry less. This 
progress is natural ; one language is substituted for an- 
other. As soon as they can use words to say that they 
suffer, why should they say it by cries ,save when the 
suffering is too keen to be expressed by words ? If they 
continue to cry, it is the fault of those who are about 
them. When Emile has once said, / am sick, his suffer- 
ings must be very keen in order to force him to weep. 

If a child is so delicate and sensitive as naturally to 
resort to crying, I at once dry up the source of his tears 
by making them useless and without effect. As long as 
he is crying, I do not go to him ; but I run to him the 
moment he has become still. Very soon, his way of 
calling me will be to cease crying, or at least to utter but 

* Lib. i, cap. vi, 

42 fiMILE. 

one cry. It is through the sensible effects of signs that 
children judge of their meaning ; for them, there is no 
other convention. Whatever ill may befall the child, it 
is very rare that he cries when he is alone, at least if he 
has no hope of being heard. 

If he falls and bumps his head, if his nose bleeds, or 
if he cuts his fingers, instead of rushing to him with an 
air of alarm, I remain unmoved, at least for a little time. 
The mischief is done, and he must necessarily endure it ; 
all my assiduity serves only to frighten him the more and 
to increase his suffering. In reality it is not so much the 
cut, but the fear, which torments him when he is wounded. 
I will at least spare him this last suffering ; for most cer- 
tainly he will judge of his misfortune as he sees that I 
judge of it. If he sees me run to him with a disturbed 
air, console him, and pity him, he will think himself lost ; 
but if he sees that I remain cool, he will soon regain his 
own composure, and will think the evil cured when he no 
longer feels it. It is at this age that the first lessons of 
courage are learned, and that, suffering slight pains with- 
out dismay, we learn by degrees to endure those that are 

Far from being careful to prevent Emile from harm- 
ing himself, I should be very sorry never to have him hurt, 
and to have him grow up without knowing what pain is. 
To suffer is the first thing he ought to learn, and that 
which he will have the greatest need to know. It seems 
that children are small and weak in order to learn these im- 
portant lessons without danger. If a child falls from his 
chair, he will not break his leg ; if he strikes himself with 
a stick, he will not break his arm ; if he takes hold of a 
sharp knife, he will hardly press it tightly enough to make 
a very deep wound. I do not know that a case has ever 
been known where a child, left at liberty, has killed or 


maimed himself, or has done himself any very great harm, 
save when he has been indiscreetly seated in some high 
place, or left alone near the fire, or when dangerous instru- 
ments have been left within his reach. What shall be 
said of that stock of machines collected around a child to 
arm him from head to foot against suffering, to such an 
extent that when grown he remains at their mercy, with- 
out courage and without experience, and thinks himself 
dead at the first scratch, and faints at the sight of the 
first drop of his own blood ? * 

Our pedantic mania for instruction is always leading 
us to teach children things which they would learn much 
better of their own accord, and to forget what we alone 
are able to teach them. Is there anything more foolish 
than the trouble we take to teach them how to walk, as 
though any one had ever been seen who, through the 
negligence of his nurse, was not able to walk when grown 
up? On the contrary, how many people have we seen 
who walk poorly all their lives, because they have been 
badly taught how to walk ! 

Emile shall have neither head-pads, nor wheeled pan- 
niers, nor go-carts, nor leading strings ; or, at least, from 
the moment he begins to know how to put one foot 
before the other, he shall be supported only on paved 
places, and care shall be taken to pass over these in 
haste, f Instead of allowing him to stagnate in the pol- 
luted air of his chamber, let him be taken out daily into 
the open meadow. There let him run and frolic and fall 

* For the extreme development of this doctrine, see Spencer, 
Education, Chapter III. 

f There is nothing more ridiculous and mo-'e uncertain than the 
walk of persons who have been guided too much by leading-strings 
while young. This is another of those observations which are trivial 
because they are just, and which are just in more senses than one. 

44 EMILE. 

down a hundred times a day ; so much the better, for by 
this means he will learn the sooner to pick himself up. 
The blessings of liberty are worth many wounds. My 
pupil will often have bruises ; but in return he will always 
be in good spirits. If yours have fewer, they are always 
perverse, always restrained, always sad. I doubt whether 
the advantage is on their side. 

As children grow in strength, complaining is less 
necessary for them. As they grow in power to help 
themselves, they have less frequent need to resort to the 
assistance of others. Along with their growth in power 
there is developed the knowledge which puts them in a 
condition to direct it. It is at this second stage that the 
life of the individual properly begins. It is then that he 
takes knowledge of himself. Memory diffuses the feeling 
of identity over all the moments of his existence. He 
becomes truly one, the same, and consequently already 
capable of happiness or misery. It is important, then, 
that we begin to consider him here as a moral being. 

Although at any given age the longest term of human 
life, and the probability of attaining it, are in a great 
measure determinate, nothing is more uncertain than the 
duration of life of any particular man; for very few 
attain to this longest term. The greatest risks to life are 
at its beginning. The shorter time we have lived, the 
shorter time ought we to expect to live. Of all the chil- 
dren who are born, only a half, at most, come to adoles- 
cence ; and it is probable that your pupil will not live to 
be a man. 

What must we think, then, of that barbarous educa- 
tion which sacrifices the present to an uncertain future, 
which loads a child with chains of every sort, and begins 
by making him miserable in order to prepare for him, 
long in advance, some pretended happiness which it is 


probable he will never enjoy? Were I even to assume 
that education to be reasonable in its object, how could 
we witness, without indignation, these poor unfortunates 
subject to an insupportable yoke, and condemned, like 
galley-slaves, to never-ending toil, without any assurance 
that such sacrifices will ever be useful to them ? The age 
of mirth is passed in the midst of tears, chastisements, 
threats, and slavery. The victim is tormented for his 
good ; and we do not see the death which we invite, and 
which is coming to seize him in the midst of this sad 
preparation. Who knows how many children perish, the 
victims of the misdirected wisdom of a father or a teach- 
er? Happily released from his cruelty, the only advan- 
tage which they derive from the ills which they have 
been made to suffer, is to die without looking back with 
regret on a life of which they have known only the tor- 

men, be humane; it is your foremost duty. Be 
humane to all classes and to all ages, to everything not 
foreign to mankind. What wisdom is there for you out- 
side of humanity? Love childhood ; encourage its sports, 
its pleasures, its amiable instincts. Who of you has not 
sometimes looked back with regret on that age when a 
smile was ever on the lips, when the soul was ever at 
peace ? Why would you take from those little innocents 
the enjoyment of a time so short which is slipping from 
them, and of a good so precious which they can not 
abuse ? Why would you fill with bitterness and sorrow 
those early years so rapidly passing, which will no more 
return to them than to you ? Fathers, do you know the 
moment when death awaits your children ? Do not pre- 
pare for yourselves regrets by taking from them the few 
moments which Nature has given them. As soon as they 
can feel the pleasures of existence, allow them to enjoy it 

46 3MILE. 

and at whatever hour God may summon them, see to it 
that they do not die before they have tasted life. 

In order not to be running after chimeras, let us not 
forget what is befitting our condition. Humanity has its 
place in the order of things, and infancy has its place in 
the order of human life. We must consider the man in 
the man, and the child in the child. To assign to each 
his place, and to fix him there, to adjust human passions 
according to the constitution of man this is all that we 
can do for his well-being. The rest depends on extrane- 
ous causes which are not in our power. 

We do not know what absolute happiness or unhappi- 
ness is. In this life all things are intermingled ; we ex- 
perience no unmixed feeling ; we do not remain for two 
moments in the same state of emotion. The affections of 
our souls, like the modifications of our bodies, are in a 
continual flux. Good and evil are common to us all, but 
.in different degrees. He is the happiest who suffers the 
least pain ; and he the most wretched who feels the few- 
est pleasures. There are always more sufferings than 
enjoyments, and this is the difference which is common 
to all. Human felicity here below is, then, but a negative 
state, and we must estimate it by the smallest quantity of 
evils which we suffer. 

Every sensation of pain is inseparable from the desire 
to be delivered from it, and every idea of pleasure is in- 
separable from the desire to enjoy it. Every desire sup- 
poses privation ; and all the privations which we feel are 
painful. It is, then, in the disproportion between our de- 
sires and our faculties that our unhappiness consists. A 
sensible being whose powers should equal his desires would 
be an absolutely happy being. 

Keep the child dependent on things alone, and you 
will have followed the order of Nature in his education. 


Offer to his indiscreet caprices only physical obstacles or 
punishments which result from his actions themselves, 
and .which he recalls on occasion. Without forbidding 
him to do wrong, it suffices to prevent him from doing it. 
Only experience or want of power should serve as law for 
him. Grant nothing to his desires because he demands 
it, but because he has need of it. Do not let him know 
what obedience is when he acts, nor what control is when 
others act for him. Equally in his actions and in yours, 
let him feel his liberty. If he is lacking in power, sup- 
ply the exact amount of it which he needs in order to 
be free and not imperious ; and while receiving your aid 
with a sort of humiliation, let him long for the moment 
when he will be able to do without it, and when he will 
have the honor to serve himself. 

In order to strengthen the body and to make it grow, 
Nature resorts to means which ought never to be thwarted. 
A child must not be constrained to keep still when he 
wishes to move, nor to move when he wishes to remain 
quiet. When the will of children has not been spoiled by 
our fault, they wish nothing that is to no purpose. They 
must jump, and run, and scream, whenever they have a 
mind to do so. All their movements are needs of their 
constitution which is trying to fortify itself ; but we should 
distrust the desires which they themselves have not the 
power to satisfy. We must then be careful to distinguish 
the true or natural need from the fancied need which 
begins to appear, or from that which comes merely from 
that superabundance of life of which I have spoken. 

I have already directed what must be done when a 
child cries in order to obtain this or that. I will only add 
that when he can ask for what he wants in words, and 
when, in order to obtain it more quickly, or to overcome 
a refusal, he supplements his demands with tears, it 

48 fiMILE. 

ought to be firmly refused him. If a real need has made 
him speak, you ought to know it and to supply the de- 
mand at once ; but to yield something to his tears is to 
encourage him to cry the more, to teach him to doubt 
your good-will, and to believe that importunity goes 
further with you than kindness. If he does not believe 
that you are good, he will soon become bad ; and if he 
thinks you weak, he will soon become obstinate. It is 
important always to grant at the first intimation what we 
do not mean to refuse. Be not prodigal in refusals, but 
never recall them. 

Be especially on your guard against giving the child 
empty formulas of politeness which he may use at need 
as magic words to subject to his caprices all that sur- 
rounds him, and to obtain on the instant whatever it 
pleases him to demand. In the ceremonious education of 
the wealthy, children are always made politely imperious 
by prescribing for them the terms which they must em- 
ploy in order that no one may dare to resist them ; they 
are suppliant neither in tone nor manner, but are even 
more arrogant when they entreat than when they com- 
mand, as being more sure of being obeyed. We see at 
once that, in their mouth, If you please signifies It pleases 
me, and that I beg you signifies I command you. Admirable 
politeness, which for them amounts merely to a change in 
the meaning of words, and to an inability ever to speak 
otherwise than in a tone of command ! As for me, I 
would rather have Emile rude than arrogant ; I would 
much rather have him say, in making a request, Do this, 
than in commanding, / beg you. It is not the term which 
he uses that I care about, but rather the meaning which 
he connects with it. 

There is an excess of severity and an excess of indul- 
gence, and both are equally to be avoided. If you allow 


children to suffer, you expose their health and their life, 
and make them actually miserable ; if you are overcare- 
ful in sparing them every sort of discomfort, you are lay- 
ing up in store for them great wretchedness by making 
them delicate and sensitive ; you remove them from that 
condition of men to which they will one day return in 
spite of you. In order not to expose them to some ills 
of Nature, you are the author of others which she has not 
provided for them. You will tell me that I fall into the 
error of those unwise fathers whom I reproach with sacri- 
ficing the happiness of children out of consideration for a 
remote time which may never come. By no means ; for 
the liberty which I grant my pupil amply rewards him for 
the slight discomforts to which I allow him to be exposed. 
I see little vagabonds playing in the snow, purple with 
cold, benumbed and hardly able to move their fingers. 
They are at liberty to go and warm themselves, but they 
do not do it ; and if they were forced to go they would 
feel the rigors of constraint a hundred times more than 
they feel those of the cold. Of what, then, do you com- 
plain? Shall I make your child wretched by exposing 
him only to the discomforts which he is perfectly willing 
to suffer? I am doing him good at the present moment 
by leaving him free ; and I am doing him a future good 
by arming him against ills which he ought to endure. If 
he could choose between being my pupil and yours, do 
you think he would hesitate for an instant ? 

Can you conceive that any real happiness is possible 
for any being outside of his constitution ? And is it not 
to remove man from his constitutional state to desire to 
exempt him equally from all the ills of his species? This 
is certainly my belief. In order that man may appreciate 
great blessings, he must know small evils; such is his 
nature. If the physical life is too exuberant, the moral 

50 EMILE. 

rife degenerates. The man who has not experienced suf- 
fering knows neither human tenderness nor the sweetness 
of commiseration. He would be touched by nothing, would 
be unsocial, and a monster among his fellows. 

Do you know the surest way of making your child 
miserable? It is by accustoming him to obtain what- 
ever he desires ; for, as his desires are constantly growing 
through the facility of satisfying them, sooner or later 
your very inability will force you, in spite of yourself, to 
resort to a refusal; and this unaccustomed refusal will 
give him more distress than the very privation, of what he 
desires. First he would have your cane, presently your 
watch, next the bird which he sees flying in the air, and 
finally the stars which he sees glittering in the heavens 
in a word, he would have everything he sees ; and, short 
of being God himself, how is he to be satisfied ? 

If these notions of domination and tyranny make 
men wretched in infancy, what will be their condition 
when they have become grown, and their relations with 
other men have begun to extend and multiply ? Accus- 
tomed to see everything bend before them, what will be 
their surprise on entering the world to see that everything 
resists them, and to find themselves crushed under the 
weight of that universe which they imagined they could 
move at will ! Their insolent airs and puerile vanity 
bring upon them only mortification, disdain, and raillery ; 
they drink affronts like water ; and cruel experiences soon 
teach them that they know neither their condition nor 
their strength. Not being able to do everything, they 
think they can do nothing. So many unaccustomed ob- 
stacles dishearten them, so many rebuffs humiliate them, 
that they become cowardly, timid, and cringing, and fall 
as much below themselves as they were once raised above 


Considered in itself, is there anything in the world 
more helpless, more wretched, more at the mercy of every- 
thing that surrounds it, than an infant ? Is there any- 
thing that has such need of pity, attention, and protec- 
tion, as a child ? Does it not seem that he presents a face 
so benignant and a look so touching solely to the end that 
every one who approaches him may become interested in 
his helplessness and run to his assistance ? Then what is 
more shocking, more contrary to propriety, than to see a 
haughty and stubborn child give orders to all who are 
about him, and so indiscreet as to lord it over those who 
have only to abandoa him in order to cause him to perish ? 

On the other hand, who does not see that the helpless- 
ness of early life puts so many restraints on children that 
it is barbarous to add to this enthrallment that of our own 
caprices, by depriving them of a liberty so contracted, 
which they can so little abuse, and of which they can be 
deprived with so little advantage to them and to us ? If 
there is no object so ridiculous as a haughty child, there 
is none so pitiable as a timorous child. Since civil servi- 
tude begins with the age of reason, why anticipate it by 
private servitude ? Let us allow life to have a moment's 
exemption from that yoke that has not been imposed on us 
by Mature, and leave to infancy the exercise of that natural 
liberty which diverts the child, at least for a time, from the 
vices that are contracted in slavery. Then let those harsh 
tutors and those fathers who are enslaved to their children 
come forward with their objections, and, before vaunting 
their methods, let them once learn the method of Nature. 

Your child should obtain nothing because he demands 
it, but only because he has need of it ; * nor should he do 

* We should recollect that as pain is often a necessity, pleasure 
is sometimes a need. There is, then, but one simple desire of children 

52 EMILE. 

anything from obedience, but from necessity. And so the 
terms obey and command are proscribed from his vocabu- 
lary, and still more the terms duty and obligation ; but the 
terms force, necessity, impotency, and constraint, should 
have a large place in it. Before the age of reason there can 
be no idea of moral being, or of social relations. Hence, so 
far as possible, we must shun the use of the words which 
express them, for fear that the child may at first attach to 
these words false ideas which we have not the skill or the- 
power to destroy. The first false idea which enters his 
head is the germ of error and of vice ; and it is to this first 
step that we must pay particular attention. Proceed in 
such a way that as long as he is affected only by sensuous 
things all his ideas shall stop at sensation ; so proceed 
that on every hand he may perceive about him only the 
world of matter ; for, unless you do this, you may be sure 
that he will not listen to you at all, or that he will form 
of the moral world of which you speak to him fantastic 
notions which you will never efface from his life. 

To reason with children was the grand maxim of 
Locke, and it is the one chiefly in fashion to-day. Its 
success, however, does not appear to me to argue very 
much in its favor ; and for my part I know nothing more 
silly than those children with whom one has reasoned so 
much. Of all the faculties of man, reason, which, so to 
speak, is but the aggregate of all the others, is that which is 
developed with the most difficulty and the latest, and it is 
this one which we propose to employ to develop the first ! 

which should never be gratified that of being obeyed. Whence 
it follows that in whatever they demand we must give especial at- 
tention to the motive which leads them to demand it. Whenever 
it is possible, grant them whatever can give them a real pleasure ; 
but always refuse them what they demand merely through caprice r 
or in order to exert an act of authority. 


The master- work of a good education is to make a reason- 
able man, and we propose to train up a child through the 
reason ! This is to begin at the end, and to confound the 
instrument with the work. If children were capable of 
reasoning, they would have no need of being educated ; 
but by speaking to them from their earliest years in a 
language they do not understand, we accustom them to 
be satisfied with words, to pass judgment on everything 
said to them, to esteem themselves just as wise as their 
teachers, and to become disputatious and stubborn ; and 
whatever we expect to obtain from them by reasonable 
motives we never obtain save by motives of selfishness, 
fear, or vanity, which we are always obliged to add to the 

Here is the formula to which may be reduced almost 
all the moral lessons which are given, or may be given, to 
children : 

Teacher : You must not do that. Child : And why 
must I not do that ? T. Because it is wrong. C. Wrong ! 
"What is it to do wrong? T. To do what is forbidden. 
C. What is the penalty for doing what is forbidden ? 
T. You will be punished for your disobedience. C. I will 
do it in such a way that nothing will be known about it. 
T. You will be watched. C. I will hide myself. T. You 
will be questioned. C. I will lie. T. You must not lie. 
C. Why must I not lie ? T. Because it is wrong to lie. 
Etc., etc. 

This is the inevitable circle. Were you to go outside 
of it, the child would no longer understand you. Are not 
these very useful instructions ? I would be very glad to 
know what could be put in the place of this dialogue. 
Locke himself would certainly be very much embarrassed 
to tell us. To know good and evil, and to understand 
the reason of human duties, is not the business of a child. 

54: EMILE. 

Nature would have children be children before being 
men. If we wish to pervert this order, we shall produce 
precocious fruits which will have neither maturity nor 
flavor, and will speedily deteriorate ; we shall have young 
doctors and old children. Childhood has its own way of 
seeing, thinking, and feeling, and nothing is more foolish 
than to try to substitute our own for them. I would as 
soon require a child to be five feet in height as to have 
judgment at the age of ten. Indeed, of what use would 
reason be to him at that age? Reason is the check to 
strength, but the child has no need of this check.* 

In attempting to convince your pupils of the duty of 
obedience, you add force and threats to this pretended 
persuasion, or, still worse, flattery and promises. In this 
way, then, baited by interest or constrained by force, they 
pretend to be convinced by reason ; they see very clearly 
that obedience is very advantageous to them, and rebellion 
harmful, the moment you become aware of either. But 
as you exact nothing of them which is not disagreeable, 
and as it is always painful to obey the wills of others, they 
secretly gratify their own wishes, persuaded that they are 
doing right as long as their disobedience is unknown, but 
ready to acknowledge that they have done wrong if they 
are found out, for fear of a greater evil. The ground of 
duty not being within the compass of their years, there is 
not a man living who can succeed in making them truly 
conscious of it ; but the fear of punishment, the hope of 

* Rousseau's error at this point evidently consists in giving to 
the word reason too narrow a meaning. Later on he makes a similar 
mistake in the use of the word memory. Children are certainly 
capable of reasoning ; they can " deduce inferences justly from prem- 
ises"; but as compared with men the compass of their reason is 
small. Rousseau is often too systematic ; he draws hard and fast 
lines which his beloved and revered " Nature " repudiates. (P.) 


pardon, importunity, and embarrassment at replying, draw 
from them all the confessions that are exacted ; and we 
fancy that they have have been convinced when they have 
only been wearied or intimidated. 

What follows? In the first place, by imposing on 
them a duty which they do not feel, you arm them 
against your tyranny; then you teach them to become 
insincere, deceitful, untruthful, in order to extort rewards 
or to escape punishments ; and, finally, accustoming them 
always to cover a secret motive with an apparent motive, 
you yourselves furnish them the means of imposing on 
you constantly, of depriving you of the knowledge of their 
true character, and on occasion of satisfying you and 
others with empty words. The laws, you will say, though 
obligatory on the conscience, also employ restraint in the 
case of grown men. This I grant; but what are these 
men but children who have been spoiled by education ? 
This is precisely what we must prevent. Employ force 
with children and reason with men ; for such is the 
order of Mature. The wise man has no need of laws. 

Treat your pupil according to his age. On the start 
put him in his place, and hold him there so firmly that he 
will no longer be tempted to leave it. Then, before 
knowing what wisdom is, he will practice the most im- 
portant of its lessons. Xever command him to do any- 
thing whatever, not the least thing in the world.* Never 

* With equal consistency Rousseau might have said that a com- 
manding general should give no orders to his soldiers. In order to 
interpret such a statement as this we must recollect again that the 
writer was an extremist, fond of paradox and rhetorical display. 
When discounted at a proper rate, this astonishing statement doubt- 
less means that we should be sparing in our commands in order that 
the child may learn how to become a law unto himself in the art of 
right conduct. (P.) 


allow him even to imagine that you assume to have any 
authority over him. Let him know merely that he is 
weak and that you are strong ; that by virtue of his con- 
dition and your own he is necessarily at your mercy. Let 
him know this, let him learn it, let him feel it ; and at 
an early hour let him feel on his proud head the harsli 
yoke which Nature imposes on man, the heavy yoke of 
necessity under which every finite creature must bend. 
Let him see this necessity in things, but never in the 
caprice * of men. Let the rein which holds him be force, 
and not authority. Do not forbid him to do what he 
ought to abstain from doing; but prevent him from 
doing it without explanation and without argument. 
Whatever you allow him to do, allow him to do it at the 
first suggestion, without solicitation, especially without 
entreaty and without conditions. Give your assent with 
cheerfulness, and never refuse save with reluctance ; but 
let all your refusals be irrevocable. Let no importunity 
shake your resolution ; but, once pronounced, let it be a 
brazen wall against which he will not have exhausted his 
strength a half-dozen times before he gives up trying to 
overthrow it. 

It is in this way that you will make the child patient, 
calm, resigned, peaceable, even when his wishes have not 
been gratified ; for it is in the nature of man to endure 
patiently the necessity of things, but not the ill-will of 

It is very strange that, so long as men have concerned 
themselves with the education of children, they have de- 
vised no other instrument for managing them than emu- 

* We may be sure that the child will regard as a caprice every 
will which is contrary to his own, and of which he does not see the 
reason. Now, a child sees no reason in anything which opposes his 
own whims. 


lation, jealousy, envy, vanity, covetousness, and debasing 
fear, all of them passions of the most dangerous sort, the 
most prompt to ferment and the most fit to corrupt the 
soul, even before the body is formed. With each item of 
precocious instruction which we would cause to enter their 
heads, we plant a vice in the depth of their hearts. Sense- 
less instructors think they are doing marvels while mak- 
ing their pupils bad in order to teach them what goodness 
is ; and then they gravely tell us, such is man ! Yes, 
such is the man whom you have made. 

You have tried all instruments save one, the only one 
which can succeed well-regulated liberty. We should 
not undertake the education of a child unless we know 
how to conduct him where we will, simply by the laws of 
the possible and the impossible. The sphere of each be- 
ing equally unknown, we extend it or contract it about 
him as we will. AVe enchain him or urge him forward or 
hold him back with nothing but the restraint of neces- 
sity, without a murmur on his part ; and we make him 
supple and docile through the mere force of things, with- 
out giving occasion for any vice to germinate in him ; 
for the passions are never aroused so long as they are of 
no effect. 

Do not give your pupil any sort of verbal lesson, for 
he is to be taught only by experience. Inflict on him no 
species of punishment, for he does not know what it is to 
be in fault. Never make him ask your pardon, for he 
does not know how to offend you. Divested of all mo- 
rality in his actions, he can do nothing which is morally 
wrong, and which merits either chastisement or repri- 

* This declaration assumes that actions have no intrinsic ethical 
quality, that experience alone determines this quality ; and children 

58 EMILE. 

I see that the reader, already dismayed, is judging of 
this child by his own. But he is mistaken. The per- 
petual restraint under which you hold your pupils irri- 
tates their spirits ; and the more they are held in con- 
straint under your eyes, the more turbulent they become 
the moment they regain their liberty. They must needs 
compensate themselves, when they can, for the harsh con- 
straint in which you hold them. Two pupils from the 
city will do more mischief in the country than the youth 
of a whole village. Shut up a little gentleman and a 
little peasant in the same room, and the first will have 
overturned and broken everything before the second has 
stirred from his place. Why is this, unless the one is in 
haste to abuse a moment of license ; while the other, 
always sure of his liberty, is never in haste to make use of 
it ? And yet, village children, often humored or thwarted, 
are still very far from the condition in which I would 
have them kept. 

Shall I venture to state, at this point, the most im- 
portant, the most useful rule, of all education ? It is not 
to gain time, but to lose it. Ye ordinary readers, pardon 
my paradoxes, for they must be uttered, by any one who 
reflects ; and, whatever you may say to it, I would much 
rather be a man of paradoxes than a man of prejudices. 
The most dangerous period in human life is the interval 
between birth and the age of twelve. It is the time when 
errors and vices germinate, and when, as yet, there is no 
instrument to destroy them ; and when the instrument 
comes, the roots have gone down so deep that the time 
has passed for pulling them out. If children leaped at a 

have no innate sense of right and wrong assumptions which most 
moralists deny. I try to discover some vestige of truth in Rousseau's 
extremest statements, but my good-will and vigilance fail me here. 


single bound from the state of nurslings to the age of 
reason, the current education might be the best for them ; 
but in accordance with natural progress they require an 
education of a totally different sort. They must do noth- 
ing with their soul until it has all its faculties ; for it is 
impossible for the soul to perceive the torch which you 
present to it while it is blind, and to follow in the bound- 
less field of ideas a route which the reason traces so faintly 
even for the sharpest eyes.* 

The first education, then, ought to be purely negative. 
It consists not at all in teaching virtue or truth, but in 
shielding the heart from vice, and the mind from error. 
If you could do nothing and allow nothing to be done ; if 
you could bring your pupil sound and robust to the age 
of twelve years without his being able to distinguish his 
right hand from his left from your very first lessons the 
eyes of his understanding would be open to reason. With- 

* This doctrine has been formulated in a so-called " Pestaloz- 
zian principle," as follows : " First form the mind and then furnish 
it." This is very much like saying, " First form the body and then 
feed it " ; as though either mind or body could be formed save 
through a process of nurture. 

For the photographer's use, glass surfaces which have been made 
sensitive to light by chemical means will preserve this quality in- 
definitely if kept in darkness ; but when exposed to light they be- 
come instantly responsive to the actinic element that is in it. It 
seems to be Rousseau's thought that by sequestering a child from 
society his soul can be kept void of all positive impressions up to 
the age of twelve ; and that, when the right moment comes, with all 
its acquired powers as yet untried, but with the whole apparatus of 
feeling, perception, memory, and judgment in a state of perfect 
readiness and expectancy, it will be instantly and perfectly respon- 
sive to its environment. It seems to have been forgotten that such 
complete isolation is impossible even if it were desirable, and that 
the soul has already been affected to its very depths through he- 
redity. (P.) 

60 EMILE. 

out prejudice and without habit, he would have nothing 
in him which could counteract the effect of your endeav- 
ors. Ere long he would become in your hands the wisest 
of men ; and, while beginning with doing nothing, you 
will have produced a prodigy of education. 

Take the very reverse of the current practice, and you 
will almost always do right.* As the purpose is not to 
make of a child a child, but a master of arts, parents and 
teachers have lost no time in rebuking, correcting, repri- 
manding, humoring, threatening, promising, instructing, 
and talking reason. You should do better than this. Be 
reasonable, and do not reason at all with your pupil, espe- 
cially to make him approve of what is displeasing to him ; 
for to be always lugging reason into disagreeable things is 
but to make it wearisome to the child, and at once to 
bring it into, discredit with a mind which is not yet in a 
condition to listen to it. Exercise his body, his organs, 
his senses, and his powers, but keep his soul lying fallow 
as long as you possibly can. Be on your guard against 
all feelings which precede the judgment that can estimate 
their value. 

Another consideration, which confirms the utility of 
this method, is that of the particular genius of the child, 
which must be known in order to determine what moral 
regime is adapted to him. Each mind has its own form 
according to which it must be governed ; and for the 
success of our undertaking, it is necessary that it should 
be governed by this form and not by another. If you are 
a prudent man, you will watch nature for a long time, 
and will carefully observe your pupil before addressing the 

* This will have a familiar sound to all readers who are acquainted 
with the utterances of modern educational reformers. Pestalozzi 
thought it was his mission to " stop the car of European progress, 
and set it going in a new direction." (P.) 


first word to him. At first leave the germ of his charac- 
ter at perfect liberty to unfold itself, and put no con- 
straint whatever upon him, in order that you may the 
better see him in his completeness. , Do you think that 
this period of liberty is lost to him ? On the very con- 
trary, it will be time the best employed ; for it is in this 
way that you will learn not to lose a single moment of a 
time that is more precious. Otherwise, if you begin to 
act before knowing what should be done, you will act at 
random ; and, liable to fall into error, you will be obliged 
to retrace your steps, and will be further from your pur- 
pose than if you had been in less haste to attain it. 
Therefore, be not like the miser who loses much through 
his desire to lose nothing. In infancy, sacrifice time 
which you will regain with interest at a later period. 
The wise physician does not recklessly give a prescription 
at the first sight of his patient ; but he previously studies 
his temperament before prescribing for him ; he begins 
late in treating him, but he cures ; while the physician 
who is in overhaste, kills. 

Recollect that before presuming to form a man you 
must have become a man yourself ; you must needs- find 
in yourself the example which you are to propose for 
others. While the child is still without knowledge, there 
is time to prepare whatever is to come before him, so that 
nothing shall engage his early attention save objects 
which it is proper for him to see. Render yourself wor- 
thy the respect of every one, and make yourself loved, 
so that all will try to please you. You will not be the 
child's master unless you control all that surrounds him, 
and this authority will never be sufficient unless it is 
founded on respect for your goodness. It is not neces- 
sary to empty your purse and scatter your money by 
handfuls ; for I have never observed that money makes 

62 SMILE. 

any one loved. It is not necessary that you be avaricious 
and unfeeling, nor content merely to pity the wretched- 
ness you might relieve ; but it will be in vain for you to 
open your coffers, for, if you do not open your heart also, 
the hearts of others will forever remain closed to you. 
It is your time, your care, your affections, and yourself, 
that you must give. 

Here is another reason why I would bring up Emile 
in the country, far from the rabble of valets, far from the 
foul manners of cities which are made seductive and con- 
tagious for children by the varnish which covers them ; 
whereas, the vices of peasants, without anything to make 
them attractive and unrelieved of their grossness, are more 
likely to repel than to seduce, when one has no interest in 
imitating them. 

In the village, a tutor will have much more control 
over the objects which he would present to the child. 
His reputation, his conversation, and his example will 
have an authority which they could not have in the city. 
Being useful to everybody, each one will be eager to 
oblige him, to be esteemed by him, and to appear as a 
pupil just what the master would have him actually be ; 
and if there is no reformation from vice, there is at least 
no participation in scandal, and this is all that is required 
for our purpose. 

Cease to blame others for your own faults. The evil 
which children see corrupts them less than the evil which 
you teach them. Always preaching, always moralizing, 
always playing the pedant, for one idea which you give 
them in the belief that it is good, you give them at the 
same time twenty others which are worth nothing. Full 
of what is passing in your own head, you do not see the 
effect which you are producing in theirs. In that long 
stream of words with which you are incessantly tiring 


them, do you think there is not one which is thus wrong- 
ly apprehended ? Do you think that they do not com- 
ment in their way on your diffuse explanations, and that 
they do not find in them material for constructing a sys- 
tem of their own, which they will find occasion to set up 
against you ? 

Listen to a little fellow whom you have just indoctri- 
nated : let him chatter, ask questions, and run on at his 
ease ; and you will be surprised at the strange turn your 
arguments have taken in his mind. He confounds all 
you have said, perverts your entire meaning, puts you out 
of patience, and sometimes dismays you by unforeseen 
objections. He reduces you to silence or causes you to 
silence him ; and what can he think of that silence on 
the part of a man who has such love for talking ? If he 
once carries off this advantage and becomes conscious of 
it, farewell to education. From this moment there is 
nothing more to be done ; he seeks no longer to be in- 
structed, but searches for opportunities to refute your 

Zealous teachers, be simple, discreet, reserved, and 
never be in haste to act save to prevent others from act- 
ing. I shall never cease to repeat : discard, if it be pos- 
sible, a good system of instruction, for fear of giving one 
that is bad. On this earth where Nature has made the 
first paradise of man, beware of acting the part of the 
tempter by trying to give to innocence the knowledge of 
good and evil. Xot being able to prevent the child from 
being instructed by examples from without, limit all your 
vigilance to impressing these examples on his mind in a 
form best adapted to him. 

Your headstrong child spoils everything he touches; 
but do not be angry with him ; put out of his reach what- 
ever he can injure. If he breaks the furniture which he 

(54 EMILE. 

uses, be in no haste to give him more, but let him, feel 
the disadvantage of its loss. If he break the windows of 
his room, let the wind blow on him night and day, with- 
ont caring for the cold he may take ; for it is much bet- 
ter for him to have a cold than to be a fool. Never 
complain of the inconveniences he causes you, but let 
him be the first to feel them. Finally, you cause the 
windows to be repaired, but ? ^ways without saying any- 
thing. If he break them again, change your method, 
say to him plainly, but without anger : " These windows 
are mine ; they have been put there by my orders, and I 
shall protect them from injury." You then shut him up 
in a room where it is dark, in a room without windows. 
At this new procedure he begins to cry and storm, but 
no one hears him. He soon becomes tired of this, and 
changes his tune, and whines and moans. The servant 
appears and he begs him to let him out. Without seek- 
ing a pretext for not interfering in the case, the servant 
replies, "/ also have windows to take care of" and goes 
away. Finally, after the child has remained there for 
several hours, long enough to become weary of his con- 
finement and to remember it, some one suggests to him 
to propose to you an agreement whereby you shall set 
him at liberty if he will break no more windows. He 
will ask nothing better, he will send for you to come and 
see him. You go, and he states to you his proposition, 
which you accept instantly, while saying to him : " This is 
a very happy thought on your part, and we shall both be 
the gainers by it. Why did not this fine idea occur to 
you sooner ? " And then, without requiring of him either 
a declaration or a confirmation of his promise, you em- 
brace him with joy and take him back at once to his 
room, regarding this agreement as sacred and inviolable 
as though confirmed by an oath. What idea do you think 


he will form from this procedure of the sacredness of 
agreements and of their utility ? I am mistaken if there 
is in the world a single child, not already spoiled, who is 
proof against this mode of procedure, and will dare after 
this to break a window on purpose.* 

I have now said enough to make it appear that pun- 
ishment must never be inflicted on children as a punish- 
ment, but that it ought always to come to them as the 
natural consequence of their bad acts. Thus you will not 
preach against lying, nor punish them just because they 
have lied ; but when they have lied you will heap on their 
heads all the effects of falsehood, as not being believed 
when they have spoken the truth, and being accused of 
evil which they have not done and which they have denied. 

For myself, who give my pupils only practical lessons, 
and would much rather have them good than wise, I do 
not exact of them the truth, for fear they may conceal it, 
and I require them to make no promises which they may 
be tempted not to keep. If some mischief is done in my 
absence, and I do not know the author of it, I shall for- 
bear to accuse Emile of it, or to say to him, Did you do 
it ? f For in this case what else would I do than to teach 

* This is the " doctrine of consequences," which plays so large a 
part in Mr. Spencer's chapter on Moral Education. Rousseau is 
wiser and more considerate than Mr. Spencer, for he does not so 
completely hand over the child to the heartless discipline of ' Na- 
ture " ; by the adroit intervention of human foresight and human 
affection " Nature " is thwarted in her effort to vindicate the maj- 
esty of her broken laws, and the erring child is saved. Under 
prudent safeguards children may sometimes be allowed to experi- 
ence the natural consequences of their wrong-doing ; but to make 
this the standard and type of school and family discipline is in- 
human and therefore unnatural. (P.) 

f Nothing is more unwise than such a question, especially when 
the child is guilty ; for then, if he believes you know what he has 

66 tiMILE. 

him to deny it? And if his willful disposition ever com- 
pels me to make some agreement with him, I shall move 
with such precaution that the proposal shall always come 
from him and never from me ; that when he has made a 
compact he may always have a present and obvious inter- 
est in fulfilling his agreement ; and that, if he ever breaks 
it, this breach of faith may bring upon him evils which 
he knows proceed from the very nature of things and not 
from the revenge of his tutor. But, far from having need 
to resort to such cruel expedients, I am almost certain 
that Emile will not learn until very late what it is to lie, 
and that in learning it he will be very much astonished, 
not being able to conceive what advantage there is in 
falsehood. It is very clear that, the more I make his wel- 
fare independent either of the wills or of the judgments 
of others, the more I curtail in him all interest in lying. 

It is to be observed that we cause children to give 
away only things of whose value they are ignorant, such 
as pieces of metal which they carry in their pocket, and 
which serve them no purpose but this. The child would 
sooner give away a hundred guineas than a cake. But 
interest this prodigal dispenser in giving away the things 
which are dear to him his playthings, his sweetmeats, his 
delicacies and we shall soon know whether you have made 
him truly liberal. Another expedient has been devised 
for this purpose, and this is to restore at once to the child 
what he has given, so that he becomes accustomed to give 
whatever he is well assured will be returned to him. 
These two kinds of generosity are almost the only ones 

done, he will see that you are trying to entrap him, and this belief 
can not fail to prejudice him against you. If he does not believe 
this, he will say to himself, Why should I discover my fault? And 
so the direct effect of your imprudent question is his first temptation 
to falsify. 


I have observed in children ; they either give what has no 
value to them, or they give what they are sure will be re- 
turned to them. Proceed in such a way, says Locke, 
that they may be convinced by experience that he who 
is most liberal is always the best provided for. This is 
to make a child liberal in appearance, but avaricious in 
fact. He adds that children will thus contract the habit 
of liberality. Yes, of a usurious liberality which gives an 
egg to gain an ox, but, when it comes to giving in earnest, 
adieu to habit ; when we cease to restore what they have 
given, they will soon cease to give. We must consider 
the habit of the soul rather than that of the hands. All 
the other virtues which we teach children resemble this. 
And it is in preaching to them these solid virtues that 
we wear away their young years in dreariness ! Is not 
this a beautiful education ! 

Rattle-headed children become commonplace men. I 
know of no observation more general and more certain 
than this. Nothing is more difficult than to distinguish, 
in infancy, real stupidity from that apparent and decep- 
tive stupidity which is the indication of strong characters. 
It seems strange, at first sight, that the two extremes 
should have the same signs, and yet this must needs be 
so ; for, at an age when the man has as yet no real ideas, 
all the difference that exists between him who has genius 
and him who has it not, is that the latter gives admittance 
only to false ideas, while the former, finding no others, 
gives admittance to none. In so far, then, as one is 
capable of nothing, and nothing is befitting the other, 
both appear to be stupid. The only sign that can dis- 
tinguish them depends on chance, which may offer to the 
last some idea within his comprehension, whereas the 
first is always and everywhere the same. During his 
infancy the younger Cato seemed an imbecile in the 

68 EMILE. 

family. He was taciturn and obstinate, and this was all 
the judgment that was formed of him. It was only in 
the antechamber of Sylla that his uncle learned to know 
him. If he had not gone into that antechamber, perhaps 
he would have passed for a dolt till the age of reason. 
If Csesai' had not lived, perhaps men would always have 
treated as a visionary that very Cato who penetrated his 
baleful genius, and foresaw 'all his projects from afar. Oh, 
how liable to be deceived are they who are so precipitate 
in their judgments of children ! They are often the more 
childish. I myself have seen a man* somewhat ad- 
vanced in age, who honored me with his friendship, who 
was regarded by his family and his friends as lacking in 
intelligence ; but this was a superior mind maturing in 
silence. All at once he has shown himself a philosopher ; 
and I doubt not that posterity will assign him a dis- 
tinguished and honorable place among the best reasoners 
and the most profound metaphysicians of his age. 

Eespect childhood, and do not hastily judge of it either 
for good or for evil. Allow a long time for the excep- 
tions to be manifested, proved, and confirmed, before 
adopting special methods for them. Allow Nature to act 
in her place, for fear of thwarting her operations. You 
know, you say, the value of time and do not wish to waste 
it. You do not see that to make a bad use of time is 
much more wasteful than to do nothing with it ; and that 
a poorly taught child is further from wisdom than one 
who has not been taught at all. You are alarmed at 
seeing him consume his early years in doing nothing ! 
Really! Is it nothing to be happy? Is it nothing to 
jump, play, and run, all the day long ? In no other part 
of his life will he be so busy. Plato, in his Republic, 

* The Abbe lie Condillac. 


which is deemed so austere, brings up children only in 
festivals, games, songs, and pastimes. It might be said 
that he has done all when he has really taught them how 
to enjoy themselves ; and Seneca, speaking of the ancient 
Roman youth, says they were always on their feet, and 
were never taught anything which they could learn while 
seated.* Were they of less value for this when they 
reached the age of manhood ? Be not at all frightened, 
therefore, at this so-called idleness. What would you 
think of a man who, in order to turn his whole life to 
profitable account, would never take time to sleep ? You 
will say that he is a man out of his senses ; that he does not 
make use of his time but deprives himself of it ; and that 
to fly from sleep is to run toward death. Reflect, there- 
fore, that this is the same thing, and that childhood is 
the slumber of reason. 

The apparent facility with which children learn is the 
cause of their ruin. We do not see that this very facility 
is the proof that they are learning nothing. Their smooth 
and polished brain reflects like a mirror the objects that 
are presented to it ; but nothing remains, nothing pene- 
trates it. The child retains words, but ideas are reflected. 
Those who hear these words understand them, but the 
child who utters them does not. 

Although memory and reasoning are two essentially 

* Nihil liberos suos docebant, quod discendum esset jacentibus. 
Epist. 88. This same passage is found in Montaigne, liv. ii, chap, 

" It is wonderful," he says again (liv. i, chap, xxv), " what at- 
tention Plato gives in his Laws to the amusements and pastimes of 
the youth of his city; and what care he bestows on their races, 
sports, songSj leaps, and dances. He indulges in a thousand maxims 
for his gymnasia, while to the learned sciences he devotes but very 
little time." 


different faculties, yet the first is not truly developed 
save in conjunction with the second. Before the age of 
reason a child does not receive ideas, but images ; and 
there is this difference between them : images are but the 
faithful pictures of sensible objects, while ideas are no- 
tions of objects determined by their relations. An image 
may exist alone in the mind which forms the represen- 
tation of it ; but every idea supposes others. When we 
imagine, we do no more than see ; but when we conceive, 
we compare. Our sensations are purely passive, whereas 
all our perceptions or ideas spring from an active prin- 
ciple which judges. 

I say, then, that children, not being capable of judg- 
ment, have no real memory.* They retain sounds, forms, 

* The degradation of memory in the scale of the intellectual 
powers forms a curious and instructive chapter in the history of 
education. From a superstitious use of the memory in the old edu- 
cation we have come to a period when a studious mistrust of the 
memory lias become a common superstition. Rousseau's narrow 
construction of memory has already been alluded to. To " retain 
sounds, forms, and sensation " is real memory, and is peculiarly the 
memory of children ; and to retain " ideas and their combinations " 
is also memory, but is peculiarly the memory of the trained adult. 

In the face of the current and authorized superstition, it is vent- 
uresome to state the heterodox view of this subject, but I make the 
venture. With respect to reason and judgment, and what may be 
called the higher life of the mind, the memory is a subsidiary and 
subordinate facility, but a faculty without which these higher ac- 
tivities can not be maintained. The very possibility of education 
is dependent on memory. We must not only remember what we 
have understood, but we must remember in order that we may 
understand ; the memory must hold not only the finished products 
of thought, but also the crude materials for thinking ; for the elabo- 
rative process is impossible save as aliment is held within the range 
of the mind's disintegrating and assimilative powers. The memory 
necessarily precedes the intelligence ; we must apprehend and hold 


sensations, but rarely ideas, and still more rarely their 
combinations. The objection that they learn some ele- 
ments of geometry is thought to be a proof that I am 
wrong; but, directly to the contrary, it is a proof in my 
favor. It is shown that, far from knowing how to reason 
for themselves, they can not even retain the reasonings of 
others ; for if you follow these little geometricians in their 
recitations you will at once see that they have retained 
only the exact impression of the figure and the terms of 
the demonstration. If you interpose the least unforeseen 
objection to the argument, or if you reverse the figure 
they are following, they are at once disconcerted. All their 
knowledge is in sensation, and nothing has penetrated the 
understanding. Their memory itself is hardly more per- 
fect than their other faculties, since they must almost 
always learn over again, when grown, the things which 
they learned by rote in childhood. 

I am very far from thinking, however, that children 

in order that we may comprehend and keep. This mental grasp 
may be articulate and definite, as in sights and sounds and verbal 
statements ; or it may be inarticulate and vague, as in reverie and 
" trains of thought." It is in these two senses that we remember 
the text and remember the sermon. Facility in elaboration is de- 
pendent on a grasp that is definite and firm, whether this grasp be 
verbal or sensitive. When and to what extent this grasp should be 
of the articulate type is the disputed question. 

The memory may be charged without stimulating the elaborative 
process, and this is doubtless a traditional pedagogic vice, but this 
is a vice of administration ; the teaching process was only half ac- 
complished. The mind that merely memorizes becomes satisfied 
with storing, and its higher powers are left unemployed, just as a 
man may become absorbed in merely gaining without exercising the 
higher virtues of benevolence and liberality. 

May a child commit to memory what at the time he does not 
understand? Certainly. May he not see and remember natural 
phenomena that at the time he does not understand ? (P.) 

72 EMILE. 

are incapable of any kind of reasoning.* On the con- 
trary, I see that they reason very well on whatever they 
know, and on whatever is related to their present and 
obvious interests. But it is with respect to their knowl- 
edge that we are deceived. We give them credit for 
knowledge which they do not have, and make them reason 
on matters which they can not comprehend. We are de- 
ceived, moreover, in trying to make them attentive to 
considerations which in no wise affect them, as that of 
their prospective interest, of their happiness when grown 
to be men, or of the esteem in which they will be held 
when they have become great talk which, addressed to 
creatures deprived of all foresight, has absolutely no sig- 
nificance for them. Now, all the premature studies of 
these unfortunates relate to objects entirely foreign to 
their minds ; and we may judge of the attention which 
they can give to them. 

* It has occurred to me a hundred times while writing that it is 
impossible in a long work always to give the same sense to the 
same words. There is no language rich enough to furnish terms, 
turns, and phrases enough to equal the possible modifications of our 
ideas. The method of defining all the terms, and of constantly 
substituting the definition in place of the thing defined, is very well, 
but it is impracticable ; for how shall we avoid running in a circle? 
The definitions might be good if we did not employ words in mak- 
ing them. Notwithstanding this, I am persuaded that one can be 
clear, even in the poverty of our language, not by always giving the 
same acceptation to the same words, but by proceeding in such a 
way that whenever a given word is employed the acceptation given 
it shall be sufficiently determined by the ideas which are connected 
with it, and that each sentence where this word is found shall be, 
so to speak, its definition. At one time I say that children are in- 
capable of reasoning, and at another I make them reason with con- 
siderable acuteness. In doing this I do not think I contradict 
myself in my ideas, but I can not deny that I often contradict my- 
self in my expressions. 


The pedagogues who make such a great display of 
the subjects which they teach their disciples are paid to 
speak of this matter in different terms ; but we see by their 
own course of action that they think exactly as I do. For 
what do they really teach their pupils ? Words, words, 
nothing but words. Among the different sciences which 
they boast of teaching, they are very careful not to choose 
those which are really useful to them, because they are 
the sciences of things, and they would never succeed in 
teaching them; but they prefer the sciences which we 
seem to . know when we have learned their terminology 
such as heraldry, geography, chronology, the languages, 
etc. all of them studies so remote from man, and espe- 
cially from the child, that it would be a marvel if a single 
item of all this could be useful * to him once in the course 
of his life. 

It will seem surprising to some that I include the 
study of languages among the inutilities of education ; but 
it will be recollected that I am speaking here only of 
primary studies ; and that, whatever may be thought of it, 
I do not believe that, up to the age of twelve or fifteen 
years, any child, prodigies excepted, has ever really learned 
two languages. 

I grant that if the study of languages were but the 
study of words that is, of the forms or the sounds which 
express them it might be suitable for children ; but lan- 
guages, by changing the symbols, also modify the ideas. 

* The reader will note the narrow sense in which the term useful 
is employed. In this sense geography is of very little use in the way 
of what Mr. Spencer calls " guidance " ; and the same may be said 
of astronomy, history, and literature ; but on the assumption that 
we are to be something as a necessary condition of doing something, 
these subjects serve higher uses than any which seem to have been 
in Rousseau's mind. (P.) 

74 EMILE. 

which they represent. Languages have their several and 
peculiar effects in the formation of the intellectual facul- 
ties the thoughts are tinged by their respective idioms. 
The only thing common to languages is the reason. The 
spirit of each language has its peculiar form, and this 
difference is doubtless partly the cause and partly the 
effect of national characteristics. This conjecture seems 
to be confirmed by the fact that, among all the nations of 
the earth, language follows the vicissitudes of manners, 
and is preserved pure or is corrupted just as they are. 

Use has given one of these different forms of thought 
to the child, and it is the only one which he preserves to 
the age of reason. In order to have two of these forms, he 
must needs know how to compare ideas ; and how can he 
compare them when he is hardly in a condition to conceive 
them ? Each thing may have for him a thousand different 
symbols ; but each idea can have but one form. Hence, 
he can learn to speak but one language. Nevertheless, 
we are told that he learns to speak several. This I deny. 
I have seen such little prodigies that thought they were 
speaking five or six languages. I have heard them speak 
German in terms of Latin, French, and Italian, respect- 
ively. In fact, they used five or six vocabularies, but they 
spoke nothing but German. In a word, give children as 
many synonyms as you please, and you will change the 
words they utter, but not the language ; they will never 
know but one. 

It is to conceal their inaptitude in this respect that 
they are drilled by preference on dead languages, since 
there are no longer judges of those who may be called to 
testify. The familiar use of these languages having for a 
long time been lost, we are content to imitate the remains 
of them which we find written in books ; and this is what 
we call speaking them. If such is the Greek and Latin 


of the teachers, we may imagine what the Greek and 
Latin of children is ! Scarcely have they learned by 
heart the rudiments of these languages, of which they 
understand absolutely nothing, when they are taught, 
first to turn a French discourse into Latin words ; and 
then, when they are more advanced, to tack together in 
prose, sentences from Cicero, and in verse, scraps from 
Virgil. Then they think that they are speaking Latin, 
and who is there to contradict them ? 

In any study whatever, representative signs are of no 
account without the idea of the things represented. The 
child, however, is always restricted to these signs without 
ever being made to comprehend any of the things which 
they represent. We imagine that we are teaching him a 
description of the earth, but we are merely teaching him to 
know maps. We teach him the names of cities, countries, 
and rivers, but he conceives them as existing nowhere 
save on the paper where they are pointed out to him. I 
recollect having somewhere seen a geography which began 
in this wise : What is the world ? It is a globe of paste- 
board. This is precisely the geography of children. I dare 
assert that, after studying cosmography and the sphere 
for two years, there is not a single child of ten who, by 
the rules which have been given him, can go from Paris 
to Saint Denis. I dare assert that there is not one who, 
from the plan of his father's garden, can follow its wind- 
ing paths without becoming lost. These are the doctors 
that know exactly where Pekin, Ispahan, and Mexico are, 
and all the countries of the earth ! 

I hear it said that children should be occupied with 
studies where only eyes are needed. This might be, if 
there were such a study ; but I know of none such. 

By a still more ridiculous mistake, they are made to 
study history ; and history is supposed to be within their 

76 EMILE. 

reach because it is merely a collection of facts. But 
what do we understand by this word facts? Is it pre- 
sumed that the relations which determine historical facts 
are easy to grasp, and that ideas are formed from them 
without difficulty in the minds of children ? Is it sup- 
posed that real knowledge of events is separable from that 
of their causes and effects ; and that the historical is so 
little dependent on the moral that one can be known 
without the other? If you see in human actions only 
external and purely physical movements, what do you 
learn from history ? Absolutely nothing ; and this study, 
divested of all interest, gives you no more pleasure than 
instruction. If you would estimate these actions by their 
moral relations, try to make these relations understood by 
your pupils, and you will then see whether history ig 
adapted to their age.* 

Readers, always bear in mind that he who speaks to you 
is neither a scholar nor a philosopher, but a plain man, a 
friend of truth, attached to no system or party ; a recluse, 
who, living little among men, has fewer occasions for being 
imbued with their prejudices, and more time for reflecting 
on what strikes him when he associates with them. My ar- 
guments are founded less on principles than on facts ; and 
I imagine I can not better put you in a condition to judge 
of them than by frequently reporting to you some instance 
of the observations which have suggested them to me. 

* The same objection would lie against teaching facts of any 
sort. The relation of fact to fact may be more important than the 
facts themselves, but how can this relation be discovered unless the 
facts are previously learned I It is enough that the child learn his- 
torical facts, events, and narrations. For him this is history. Nei- 
ther geography, literature, nor history can be taught on the experi- 
mental plan, and very naturally Rousseau has a small opinion of 
their value. (P.) 


I once spent a few days in the country at the house 
of a lady who took great interest in the education of her 
children. One morning as I was present at the lesson of 
the eldest, his tutor, who had very thoroughly instructed 
him in ancient history, calling up the story of Alexander, 
dwelt on the well-known incident of his physician Philip, 
which has often been represented on canvas, and is surely 
well worth the trouble.* The tutor, a man of worth, 
made several reflections on the intrepidity of Alexander 
which did not please me, but which I refrained from com- 
bating in order not to discredit him in the estimation of 
his pupil. At table, according to the French custom, 
there was no lack of effort to make the little fellow chat- 
ter with great freedom. 

After dinner, suspecting from several indications that 
my young savant had comprehended nothing whatever of 
the history that had been so finely recited to him, I took 
him by the hand and we made the tour of the park to- 
gether. Having questioned him with perfect freedom, I 
found that he admired the boasted courage of Alexander 
more than any other one of the company ; but can you 
imagine in what particular he saw his courage ? It was 
merely in the fact of having swallowed at a single draught 
a disagreeable potion without hesitation, without the least 
sign of disgust. The poor child, who had been made to 
take medicine not a fortnight before, and who had swal- 
lowed it only after infinite effort, still had the taste of it 
in his mouth. In his mind, death and poisoning passed 

* See Quintus Curtius, lib. iii, chap. vi. The same incident is 
thus related by Montaigne : " Alexander having been informed by 
a letter from Parmenion that Philip, his most esteemed physician, 
had been bribed by Darius to poison him, at the same moment that 
he gave to Philip Parmenion's letter to read, drank the beverage 
which he had presented to him " (liv. i, chap, xxiii.) 

78 tiMILE. 

for disagreeable sensations, and he could conceive no 
other poison than senna. However, it must be acknowl- 
edged that the firmness of the hero had made a strong 
impression on his young heart, and that he had resolved 
to be an Alexander the very first time he should find it 
necessary to swallow medicine. Without entering into 
explanations which were evidently beyond his capacity, I 
confirmed him in these laudable intentions, and I returned 
laughing in my sleeve at the exalted wisdom of parents and 
teachers who think that they can teach history to children. 

It is easy to put into their mouths the words Icings, 
empires, wars, conquests, revolutions, and laws ; but when 
it comes to attaching definite ideas to these words, there 
will be a long distance between all these explanations and 
the conversation with Eobert the gardener. 

Unless words alone can convey a science, there is no 
study adapted to children. If they have no real ideas, 
there is no real memory ; for I do not call such, that which 
retains only sensations. Of what good is it to inscribe in 
their heads a catalogue of signs which represent nothing 
to them? In learning things will they not also learn 
signs? Why give them the useless trouble of learning 
them twice ? And yet, with what dangerous prejudices 
do we not begin to inspire them when we make them 
accept for science words which have no meaning for 
them ! It is with the first word which a child accepts 
without caring for its meaning, and with the first thing 
that he learns on the authority of others without seeing 
its utility for himself, that he begins to sacrifice his judg- 
ment ; and he will have a long time to shine in the eyes 
of fools before he can repair such a loss.* 

* Most scholars are such after the manner of children. Their 
vast erudition results less from a multitude of ideas than from a 


Xo ; if Xature gives to a child's brain that plasticity 
which renders it capable of receiving all sorts of impres- 
sions, it is not for the purpose of engraving upon it the 
names of kings, dates, terms in heraldry, astronomy, and 
geography, and all those words without any meaning for 
his age, and without any utility for any age whatever, 
with which his sad and barren infancy is harassed ; but 
it is in order that all the ideas which he can conceive and 
which are useful to him, all those which relate to his 
happiness, and are one day to enlighten him as to his 
duties, may be traced there at an early hour in inefface- 
able characters, and may serve him for self-conduct dur- 
ing his whole life in a manner adapted to his being and 
to his faculties. 

Without studying books, the kind of memory which a 
child may have does not on this account remain unem- 
ployed. All that he sees and hears attracts his notice, 
and he remembers it. He keeps within himself a register 
of the actions and conversations of men ; and all that 
surrounds him is the book from which, without thinking 
of it, he is continually enriching his memory while wait- 
ing till his judgment can derive profit from it. It is in 
the choice of these objects, and in the care of presenting 

multitude of images. Dates, proper names, places, all objects iso- 
lated or divested of ideas, are retained, simply through the memory 
of signs, and it is rare that any one of these things is recalled with- 
out seeing, at the same time, the right or the left of the page where 
it has been read, or the figure under which it was seen for the first 
time. Such was about the science in fashion in the last century. 
That of our century is something else. We no longer study, we no 
longer observe ; we dream, and for philosophy we are given the 
dreams of some bad nights. I shall be told that I am also dream- 
ing. I grant this, but what others have not refrained from doing, 
I give my dreams for dreams, leaving the reader to inquire whether 
there is something in them useful to people who are awake. 


to him without cessation those which he may know, and 
of concealing from him those of which he ought to be 
ignorant, that consists the real art of cultivating in him 
this primary faculty ; and it is in this way that the effort 
must be made to form within him a store-house of knowl- 
edge which may contribute to his education during his 
youth, and to his conduct during the whole of life. This 
method, it is true, does not produce little prodigies, and 
does not reflect glory on governesses and tutors ; but it 
forms judicious and robust men, sound in body and in 
understanding, who, without making themselves admired 
while young, make themselves honored when grown. 

Emile shall never learn anything by heart, not even 
fables, and not even those of La Fontaine, artless and 
charming as they are ; for the words of fables are no more 
fables than the words of history are history. How can 
one be so blind as to call fables the morals of children, 
without reflecting that the apologue, while amusing them, 
also deludes them ; that, while seduced by the fiction, they 
allow the truth to escape them ; and that the effort made 
to render the instruction agreeable, prevents them from 
profiting by it? Fables may instruct men, but children 
must be told the bare truth ; for the moment we cover 
truth with a veil, they no longer give themselves the trouble 
.to lift it. 

All children are made to learn the fables of La Fon- 
taine, but there is not one of them who understands them. 
Even if they were to understand them it would be still 
worse ; for the moral in them is so confused, and so out of 
proportion to their age, that it would incline them to vice 
rather than to virtue. These are mere paradoxes, you 
say. Possibly ; but let us see whether they are not true. 

I say that a child does not understand the fables that 
he is made to learn, because, whatever effort is made to 


lender them simple, the instruction which we wish to 
draw from them necessarily brings into them ideas which 
he can not comprehend, and the poetical form, while 
making them easier to retain, itself makes them more 
difficult for him to understand ; so that entertainment is 
purchased at the expense of clearness. 

Observe children as they are learning these fables, and 
you will see that when they come to make an application 
of them they almost always adopt one contrary to the 
intention of the author ; and that, instead of becoming 
conscious of the fault of which they are to be cured, or 
from which they are to be preserved, they are inclined to 
love the vice which turns the faults of others to profitable 
account. In the fable of the Crow and the Fox, children 
despise the crow, but they all form a liking for the fox ; 
and in the fable of the Ant and the Cricket you fancy 
you are giving them the cricket * for an example, but you 
are greatly mistaken : it is the ant that they will choose. 
No one likes to be humiliated. They will always take the 
part of the most dashing character ; this is the choice of 
self-love, and it is perfectly natural. Now, what a horri- 
ble lesson this is for children ! The most odious of all 
monsters would be an avaricious and unfeeling child, de- 
liberating between request and refusal. The ant does still 
more : she teaches the child to add insult to refusal. 

In thus relieving children of all their school-tasks, I 
take away the instruments of their greatest misery, name- 
ly, books. Reading is the scourge of infancy, and almost 
the sole occupation which we know how to give them. 
At the age of twelve, Emile will hardly know what a book 
is. But I shall be told that it is very necessary that he 
know how to read. This I grant. It is necessary that he 

Cigctle, of course, means the cicada or tree-locust. P. 

know how to read when reading is useful to him. Until 
then, it serves only to annoy him. 

If we ought to exact nothing from children through 
obedience, it follows that they can learn nothing of which 
they do not feel the actual and present advantage, either 
on the score of pleasure or of utility ; otherwise, what 
motive would induce them to learn it? The art of speak- 
ing to those who are absent and of hearing them speak in 
turn, the art of communicating to them at a distance 
and without the intervention of another, our feelings, our 
wishes, and our desires, is an art whose utility may be 
made sensible to people of every age. Through what 
wonder-working has an art so useful and so agreeable 
become a torment to infancy ? It is because children 
have been constrained to apply themselves to it against 
their wills, and because it has been turned to uses which 
they do not at all comprehend. A child is not very 
anxious to perfect the instrument with which he is being 
tormented ; but make this instrument contribute to his 
pleasures, and he will at once apply himself to it in spite 
of you. 

A great ado has been made about finding the best 
methods of teaching children to read. Cabinets and 
charts have been invented, and the child's apartment has 
been turned into a printing-office. Locke would have 
him learn to read by means of dice. Was not that a 
happy invention ? What useless effort ! A surer means 
than all these, and the one which is always forgotten, is 
the desire to learn. Give the child this desire, and you 
may lay aside your cabinets and dice. Every method will 
be a good one. 

Present interest is the grand motive power, the only one 
which leads with certainty to great results. Emile some- 
times receives from his parents, relatives, or friends, notes 


of invitation for a dinner, a walk, a boat-ride, or to see 
some public entertainment. These notes are short, clear, 
concise, and well written. Some one must be found to 
read them to him, and this person is either not always to 
be found at the right moment, or he is as little disposed 
to accommodate the child as the child was to please him 
the evening before. In this way the moment passes, and 
the occasion is lost. Finally, the note is read to him, 
but it is too late. Ah ! if one could read for himself ! 
Other notes are received. How short they are! How 
interesting the matter is ! The child would make an at- 
tempt to decipher them, and at one time finds some help 
and at another meets with refusal. Finally, after a great 
effort, the half of one note is deciphered, and it speaks 
of going out to eat cream to-morrow ; but where or with 
whom, no one knows. What an effort is now made to 
read the rest of the note ! I do not believe that Emile 
has need of a cabinet. Shall I speak at present of writ- 
ing ? Xo ; I am ashamed to spend my time with such 
nonsense in a treatise on education. 

I will add this one remark which constitutes an im- 
portant maxim viz., we usually obtain very surely and 
very quickly what we are in no haste to obtain. I am 
almost certain that Emile will know how to read and 
write perfectly before the age of ten, precisely because I 
care but very little whether he learns these things before 
the age of fifteen. I would much rather he would never 
know how to read than to buy this knowledge at the price 
of all that can make it useful. Of what use would read- 
ing be to him after he had been disgusted with it for- 

If, in accordance with the plan I have begun to trace, 
you follow rules directly contrary to those which are in 
use i if, instead of transporting the mind of your pupil 


io a distance ; if, instead of incessantly leading him astray 
in other places, in other climates, in other centuries, to 
the extremities of the earth, and even into the heavens, 
you make it your study to make him always self-con- 
tained and attentive to whatever immediately affects him 
then you will always find him capable of perception, of 
memory, and even of reasoning : this is the order of Na- 
ture. In proportion as a sensitive being becomes active, 
he acquires a discernment proportional to his powers ; and 
it is only with the power which is in excess of what is 
needed for self -conservation that there comes to be de- 
veloped in him the speculative faculty suitable for em- 
ploying that excess of power for other uses. If, then, 
you would cultivate the intelligence of your pupil, culti- 
vate the power which it is to govern. Give his body con- 
tinual exercise ; make him robust and sound in order to 
make him wise and reasonable ; let him work, and move 
about, and run, and shout, and be continually in motion ; 
let him be a man in vigor, and soon he will be such by 
force of reason. 

You will stultify him by this method, it is true, if you 
are always directing him, always saying to him, Go, come, 
stop, do this, do not do that. If your head is always 
directing his arms, his own head will become useless to 
him. But bear in mind our agreement ; if you are but 
a pedant, it is not worth your while to read this book. 

It is a very deplorable error to imagine that the exer- 
cise of the body is injurious to the operations of the mind ; 
as if these two activities were not to proceed in concert, 
and the second were not always to direct the first ! 

Subject in everything to an authority that is always 
teaching, your pupil does nothing except at the word of 
command. He does not dare eat when he is hungry, 
laugh when, he is pleased, weep when he is sad, present 


one hand for the other, or move his foot, save as he has 
been ordered to do it; and very soon he will not dare 
breathe save according to your rules. To what purpose 
do you desire to have him think if you do all his think- 
ing for him ? Assured of your foresight, what need has 
he of any ? Seeing that you charge yourself with his con- 
servation and well-being, he feels himself relieved from 
this anxiety. His judgment reposes on yours ; whatever 
you do not forbid him to do he does without reflection, 
well knowing that he does it without risk. What need 
has he of learning to foretell rain ? He knows that you 
observe the clouds for him. Why should he determine 
the length of his walk ? He has no fear that you will let 
him pass the dinner-hour. So far as you do not forbid 
him to eat, he eats ; he no longer listens to the advice of 
his stomach, but to your commands. It is in vain for 
you to soften his body in inaction, for by this means you 
will not render his understanding the more flexible. 
Directly to the contrary, you will succeed in discrediting 
his reason by making him use the little he has of it on 
the things which seem to him most useless. Never see- 
ing the worth of it, he finally comes to the conclusion 
that it is good for nothing. The worst that can happen 
to him from his bad reasoning is to be worsted in argu- 
ment, and this happens to him so often that he scarcely 
thinks of it; the danger that is so common no longer 
frightens him. 

As for my pupil, or rather the pupil of Nature, 
early trained to rely on himself as much as possible, he 
is not in the habit of constantly resorting to others, 
and still less of displaying to them his great learning. 
On the other hand, he judges, foresees, and reasons on 
everything which is directly related to him. He does 
not prate, but he acts ; he does not know a word about 

86 EMILE. 

what is going on in the world, but he knows very well 
how to do whatever is proper for him to do. As he is 
incessantly active, he is forced to observe many things 
and to know many effects. He early acquires a large ex- 
perience. He receives his lessons from Nature, and not 
from men. He learns the more rapidly, from the fact 
that he nowhere sees any intention to instruct him. 
Thus his body and his mind are called into exercise at 
the same time. Always acting in accordance with his 
own thought, and not according to that of another, he is 
continually uniting two processes ; the stronger and the 
more robust he renders himself, the more sensible and 
judicious he becomes. This is the means of finally pos- 
sessing two things which are thought incompatible, but 
which are found together in almost all great men, strength 
of body and strength of mind, the reason of a sage and 
the vigor of an athlete. 

Youthful instructor, I am preaching to you a difficult 
art, that of governing without precept, and of doing all 
while doing nothing. This art, I allow, is not adapted to 
your age ; it is not calculated to give your talents a brill- 
iant display at first, nor to make you popular with parents ; 
but it is the only one calculated to succeed. You will 
never succeed in making scholars if you do not at first 
make rogues. This was the education of the Spartans ; 
instead of being made to pore over books, they were first 
taught to steal their dinner. Were the Spartans, when 
grown, more boorish on this account? Who does not 
know the force and wit of their repartees? Always in 
readiness to conquer, they crushed their enemies in every 
sort of conflict, and the babbling Athenians stood as much 
in awe of their sayings as of their blows. 

In the most carefully conducted education the teacher 
commands and fancies that he governs ; but, in fact, it is 


the child who governs. He makes use of what you exact 
of him in order to obtain from you what is pleasing to 
himself ; and he can always make you pay for one hour of 
assiduity by eight days of compliance. At each instant 
you must make compacts with him. These treaties which 
you propose in your way, and which he executes in his 
own, always turn to the gratification of his humors, espe- 
cially when you are so unskillful as to put within his 
power what he is very sure of obtaining whether he fulfill 
or not his part of the agreement. Ordinarily, the child 
reads the mind of his teacher much better than the teacher 
reads the heart of the child. And this is to be expected ; 
for all the sagacity which the child, left to himself, 
would have employed in providing for the preserva- 
tion of his person, he employs in saving his natural 
liberty from the chains of his tyrant ; whereas the latter, 
not having such a pressing interest in penetrating the 
heart of his pupil, sometimes finds it more to his advan- 
tage to leave him in the enjoyment of his idleness or his 

Take an opposite course with your pupil. Let him 
always fancy that he is the master, but let it always be 
yourself that really governs. There is no subjection so 
perfect as that which preserves the appearance of liberty ; 
in this way, the will itself is held captive. Is not the 
poor child who knows nothing and can do nothing wholly 
at your mercy ? So far as he is concerned, have you not 
the disposition of everything which surrounds him? 
Have you not the authority to affect him as you please ? 
His employments, his sports, his pleasures, his sorrows 
is not everything in your hands without his knowing it? 
Doubtless he ought to do only what he chooses ; but he 
ought to choose only what you will to have him do. He 
ought not to take a step which you have not foreseen ; he 

88 EMILE. 

ought not to open his mouth unless you know what he is 
going to say. 

Under these conditions the child may freely indulge 
in the physical exercises which his age demands without 
brutalizing his mind ; instead of sharpening his craftiness 
to evade a distasteful system of domination, you will see 
him occupied solely in drawing from all that surrounds 
him whatever is best adapted to promote his actual well- 
being; and you will be astonished at the aptness of his 
inventions for appropriating all the objects which are 
within his reach, and for really enjoying things without 
borrowing the opinions of others. 

In leaving him thus the master of his purposes, you 
will not foment his caprices. By never doing anything 
which is not pleasing to himself, he will very soon do only 
that which he ought to do ; and though his body is in a 
state of constant activity, so long as his present and obvious 
interest is at stake, you will see all the reason of which he 
is capable developing itself much better, and in a man- 
ner very much better adapted to him, than in studies of 
pure speculation. 

Thus, seeing that you are not bent on thwarting him, 
never distrusting you, and having nothing to conceal from 
you, he will never deceive you, and will never lie to you ; 
he will show himself just as he is, without fear ; and you 
may study him wholly at your ease, and arrange around 
about him lessons which you wish to give him, without his 
ever suspecting that he is being taught. 

You reproach the child with being capricious; but 
you are wrong. The caprice of children is never the work 
of Nature, but results from bad training. It is because they 
have obeyed or have commanded ; and I have said a hun- 
dred times that they must do neither. Your pupil, then, 
will have only those caprices which you have given him ; 


and it is just that you should suffer the consequences of 
your faults. 

These continual exercises, thus left wholly to the direc- 
tion of Nature, not only do not brutalize the mind while 
fortifying the body, but, on the contrary, they form with- 
in us the only species of reason of which childhood is 
susceptible, and the most necessary at any and all periods 
of life. They teach us thoroughly to understand the use 
of our powers, the relations between our own bodies and 
surrounding bodies, and the use of the natural instru- 
ments which are within our reach and which are adapted 
to our organs. Is there any stupidity like that of a child 
reared wholly in the house and under the eyes of his 
mother, who, ignorant of what weight and resistance are, 
would pull up a large tree or lift a rock ? The first time 
I went out of Geneva I attempted to follow a galloping 
horse, and threw stones at the mountain of Saleve which 
was two leagues away. The laughing-stock of all the chil- 
dren in the village, I was a veritable idiot in their sight. 
At eighteen, we learn from physics what a lever is ; but 
there is no little peasant of twelve who does not know how 
to nse a lever better than the first mechanician of the Acad- 
emy. Lessons which scholars learn from each other in a 
college-yard are a hundred times more useful to them 
than all that will ever be told them in the class-room. 

The first natural movements of man being to measure 
himself with all that surrounds him, and to test in each 
object which he perceives all the sensible qualities which 
are capable of affecting him, his first study is a sort of ex- 
perimental physics relative to his own preservation, from 
which he is turned aside by speculative studies before he 
has recognized his place here below. While his delicate 
and flexible organs can adjust themselves to the bodies on 
which they are to act ; while his senses, still unimpaired, 

90 EMILE. 

are exempt from illusions, it is time to put both in action 
on the functions which are appropriated to them, and the 
time to ascertain the sensible relations which things have 
with us. As all that enters the human understanding 
comes there through the senses, the first reason of man 
is a sensuous reason; and it is this which serves as a 
basis for the intellectual reason. Our first teachers of 
philosophy are our feet, our hands, and our eyes. To 
substitute books for all these is not to teach us to reason, 
but to teach us to use the reason of others ; it is to teach 
us to believe much and never to know anything. 

In order to practice an art, it is necessary to begin by 
procuring the instruments used in it ; and in order to be 
able to employ these instruments usefully, they must be 
made strong enough to sustain the use made of them. In 
order to learn to think, we must then exercise our limbs, 
our senses, and our organs, which are the instruments of 
our intelligence ; and in order to derive all the advantage 
possible from these instruments, it is necessary that the 
body which furnishes them should be robust and sound. 
Thus, so far is it from being true that the reason of man 
is formed independently of the body, it is the happy con- 
stitution of the body which renders the operations of the 
mind facile and sure. 

The limbs of a growing child should have plenty of 
room in their clothing. Nothing should impede their 
movements or their growth ; nothing should fit so closely 
as to pinion the body. French dress, uncomfortable and 
unhealthy for men, is especially injurious for children. 
The sluggish humors, arrested in their circulation, stag- 
nate in a repose intensified by an inactive and sedentary 
life, become corrupted, and produce the scurvy, a disease 
which is every day becoming more common among us, 
but which was almost unknown among the ancients, who 


were preserved from it by their manner of dress and life. 
The hussar style of dress, far from remedying this incon- 
venience, really increases it, for, in order to relieve chil- 
dren of some ligatures, it keeps their whole body in a 
kind of press. A better plan is to let them wear short 
skirts for as long a time as possible, then to give them a 
very loose dress, and to take no pride in showing off their 
form, a thing which serves only to deform it. Almost all 
their defects of body and mind come from the same cause 
we wish to make men of them before their time. 

There should be little or no head-dress at any time of 
the year. The ancient Egyptians always went bareheaded, 
while the Persians covered the head with high tiaras, and 
they still wear high turbans, whose use, according to 
Chardin, is made necessary by the climate of the country. 
In another place * I have mentioned the distinction made 
by Herodotus on a field of battle between the skulls of Per- 
sians and those of Egyptians. As it is important that the 
bones of the head become harder, more compact, less 
fragile, and less porous, in order the better to protect the 
brain, not only against wounds, but also against colds, 
inflammations, and all the variations of temperature, accus- 
tom your children to go bareheaded summer and winter, 
day and night. But, if for cleanliness and for keeping 
their hair in order, you would give them a head-dress for 
the night, let it be a light cap of open-work, like the net 
in which the Basques bind up their hair. I am well 
aware that most mothers, more affected by the observa- 
tion of Chardin than by my reasons, will think the air of 
Persia is found everywhere ; but, as for me, I have not 
chosen my European pupil in order to make an Asiatic 
of him. 

* Lettre a M. d'Alembert sur les Spectacles. 

92 EMILE. 

In general, children are too warmly clothed, especially 
in infancy. They should be inured to cold rather than 
to heat. Great cold never disturbs them when they are 
exposed to it from early life ; but the tissue of their skin, 
still too tender and too loose, leaving too free a passage 
for perspiration, exposes them through an extreme heat 
to an inevitable exhaustion. Thus, it is observed that 
more children die in the month of August than in any 
other month. Moreover, it appears to be an established 
fact, from a comparison between the people of the North 
and those of the South, that an excess of cold is more 
favorable to robustness than an excess of heat. But in 
proportion as the child grows and his fibers strengthen 
accustom him, little by little, to brave the rays of the sun. 
Proceeding by degrees, you will inure him without danger 
to the ardors of the torrid zone. 

In the midst of the manly and sensible precepts which 
Locke gives us, he falls into contradictions which we 
should not expect from so exact a reasoner. This very 
man, who would have children in summer bathe in cold 
water, would not have them drink cool water when they 
are warm, nor lie down on the ground in damp places.* 
But since he would have the shoes let in water at all 
seasons, will they leak the less when the child is warm ? 
And may we not require him to make the same induc- 
tions from the body with respect to the feet that he 
makes from the feet with respect to the hands and from 
the body with respect to the face? If, I would say to 

* As if little peasants selected very dry ground on which to sit 
or to lie, and as if one had ever heard say that the dampness of the 
earth had ever made one of them ill ! To hear the doctors on this 
subject, one would fancy that all savages are impotent with rheu 
mat ism. 


him in reply, you would have a man be all face, why do 
you blame me for wishing him to be all feet ? * 

Children require a long period of sleep, because their 
physical activity is extreme. One serves as a corrective 
for the other, and we thus see that they have need of 
both. Night is the season for repose,* as is indicated by 
Nature. It is a common observation that sleep is the more 
tranquil and sweet while the sun is below the horizon, and 
that when the air is warmed by its rays it does not tend 
to maintain our senses in a state of such great calmness. 
Thus, it is certainly the most wholesome habit to rise and 
to lie down with the sun. Whence it follows that in our 
climate, as a general rule, men and animals need to sleep 
longer in winter than in summer. But civilized life is 
not so simple, natural, and exempt from revolutions and 
accidents as to justify us in accustoming man to this 
uniformity to such a degree as to make it necessary for 
him. Doubtless we must subject ourselves to rules ; but 
it is of the first importance to break them without risk 
when necessity requires it. Therefore, do not commit the 
indiscretion of enervating your pupil by a continuous and 
peaceful sleep which is never to be interrupted. At first 
surrender him without restraint to the law of Nature ; but 
do not forget that, in the present state of society, he 
ought to be above this law that he should be able to go 
to bed late, to rise early, to be abruptly awakened, and 
to sit up all night, without being disturbed thereby. 

It is important early to accustom ourselves to indiffer- 

* All this may be very well for savages, but if any enthusiastic 
disciple of Rousseau or of Locke should apply this hardening pro- 
cess to the children of civilized parents, the result would be like 
that which followed Peter the Great's attempt to habituate his 
naval cadets to drinking sea-water. See Compayre, History of 
Pedagogy, English tr., p. 198. (P.) 

94 EMILE. 

ent lodgings, for by this means we shall no longer find 
poor beds. In general, a life of endurance, once con- 
verted into habit, multiplies our agreeable sensations, 
while a life of ease prepares for a countless number of 
unpleasant sensations. People too delicately reared no 
longer find sleep save on a bed of down; while people 
accustomed to sleep on boards find it everywhere. No 
bed is hard for one who falls asleep the moment he lies 

The best bed is that which brings us the best sleep. 
It is such a bed that Emile and I prepare for ourselves 
during the day. We do not need to be furnished with 
Persian slaves to make our beds; for while tilling the 
earth we are shaking up our mattresses. 

I shall sometimes awaken Emile, less from the fear 
that he may form the habit of sleeping too long than for 
the purpose of accustoming him to everything, even to 
being abruptly awakened. Besides, I should be poorly 
qualified for my employment if I could not force him to 
awaken of himself, and to get up, so to speak, at my com- 
mand, without my saying a single word to him. 

If he does not sleep enough, I allow him to foresee for 
the following day a tedious morning ; and he will regard 
as a clear gain whatever part of it he can devote to sleep. 
If he sleep too much, I show him on rising an amusement 
which he likes. If I wish him to waken at a given moment, 
I say to him : " To-morrow morning at six o'clock we will 
go a-fishing, or we will take a walk to such a place ; would 
you like to go ? " He consents and begs me to awaken 
him ; I promise, or do not promise, to do so, as seems 
best ; but if he awakens too late, he finds me gone. It 
will be unfortunate if he does not soon learn to awake of 

How shall we proceed with our pupil in regard to 


the danger from small-pox? Shall we have him inocu- 
lated for it in infancy, or shall we wait for him to take it 
in the natural way ? The first course, more in conformity 
with our practice, shields from peril the age when life is 
most precious, at the risk of that age when life is of the 
least account if indeed we can give the name risk to 
inoculation wisely administered. 

But the second course is more in accord with our 
general principles of giving to Nature a complete laisser 
faire in the attentions which she loves to give alone, 
and which she abandons the moment man attempts to 
interfere. The man of Nature is always prepared. Let 
him be inoculated by this tutor, for she will choose better 
than we can the moment that is best. 

Do not draw the conclusion from this that I censure 
inoculation, for the grounds on which I exempt my pupil 
from it would be very wrong with respect to yours. Your 
education entirely prevents them from escaping from the 
small-pox whenever they are exposed to it; and if you 
allow it to come whenever it will, it is probable that they 
will die of it. I observe that, in different countries, 
inoculation is more violently opposed in those places 
where it becomes the more necessary, and it is easy to see 
the reason of this. So I shall hardly stop to discuss this 
question for my Emile. He shall be inoculated, or he 
shall not be, as time, place, and circumstance may deter- 
mine it is to him almost a matter of indifference. If 
he take the small-pox through inoculation, we shall have 
the advantage of foreseeing his disease and of knowing 
what to expect, and this is something ; but if he take it 
naturally, we shall have saved him from the doctor, and 
this is even more. 

We fear a child may drown while learning to swim ; 
but whether he drowns while learning, or from not having 


learned, it will be in all cases your own fault. It is vanity 
alone which makes us rash ; we are not foolhardy when 
no one is observing us ; and Emile would not be so though 
the whole universe were looking on. As exercise does not 
consist in taking risks, while swimming in a canal of his 
father's park he might learn to cross the Hellespont. 
But he must be familiarized with peril in order that . he 
may not be affected by it, and this is an essential part of 
the apprenticeship of which I spoke just now. Moreover, 
careful to proportion the danger to the powers at his 
command, and always to share it with him, I shall hardly 
have any imprudence to fear when I regulate my care 
for his preservation by that which I owe to my own. 

To exercise the senses is not merely to make use of 
them, but it is to learn how to judge by them ; and it is 
also, so to speak, to learn how to feel, for we neither 
know how to touch, nor to see, nor to hear, save as we 
have been taught.* 

There is an exercise purely natural and mechanical 
which serves to render the body robust without giving 
any hold on the judgment, f Swimming, running, jump- 
ing, spinning a top, throwing stones, are all very well ; 
but have we only arms and legs ? Have we not also eyes 

* This remark is especially true with respect to the discernment 
of harmony and beauty. It is the business of education to reveal 
and to interpret. The world is a x^tr/tos only to those who have 
been taught the art of aesthetic discernment. (P.) 

f When so much is said about the intellectual value of manual 
training, it is well to recollect the truth of this observation. The 
only way to train the mind is to call it into exercise, and the mo- 
ment any form of labor becomes automatic, as it speedily does and 
must, it ceases to make any demands on the intelligence, and there- 
fore ceases to have an education value. The best intellectual train- 
ing will always be found not among those who use their hands 
most, but among those who use their brains most. (P.) 


and ears ? And arc these organs superfluous with respect 
to the use of the first? Therefore do not exercise the 
child's strength alone, but call into exercise all the senses 
which direct it. Draw from each of them all the advan- 
tage possible, and then employ one to verify the impression 
made by another. Measure, count, weigh, compare, and do 
not employ force till after having estimated the resistance. 
Always proceed in such a way that an estimate of the 
effect shall precede the use of means. Teach the child 
never to make insufficient or superfluous efforts. If you 
accustom him thus to foresee the effect of all his move- 
ments, and to correct his errors by experience, is it not 
clear that the more he acts the more judicious he will 
become ? 

If, in undertaking to move a mass, he take too long a 
lever, he will employ too much motion ; and if the lever 
be too short, he will not have power enough. Experience 
will thus teach him to choose the fulcrum that is neces- 
sary. This wisdom is not above his age. If a burden is 
to be carried, and he wishes to take one as heavy as he can 
carry, but not to try one he can not lift, will he not be 
compelled to estimate its weight at sight? If he can 
compare masses of the same material, but of different 
sizes, let him choose from among masses of the same size, 
but of different material ; and he must necessarily under- 
take to compare their specific weights. I once knew a 
young man, very well educated, who would not believe, 
until after a trial, that a pail full of large oak-chips was 
lighter than the same pail filled with water. 

If you are shut up in a building, in the middle of the 
night, clap your hands and you will perceive by the re- 
sound whether the space is large or small, and whether 
you are in the middle of the room or in a corner. At the 
distance of half a foot from a wall, the air, less free 

and more resisting, will bring a different sensation to 
your face. Stand still and turn in all directions, and if 
there is an open door a slight current of air will indicate 
the fact. If you are in a boat, you will know by the way 
in which the air strikes your face not only in what direc- 
tion you are going, but whether the current is carrying 
you forward slowly or rapidly. These observations, and 
a thousand others like them, can not well be made save at 
night. However attentive we might wish to be to them 
in broad daylight, we are aided or distracted by the sight, 
and they will escape us And still we are not yet aided in 
this either by hands or oars. How much ocular knowl- 
edge we may acquire through the sense of touch, even 
without touching anything ! 

Children should have many sports by night. This 
advice is more important than it seems. The night nat- 
urally frightens men, and sometimes animals. Eeasoii, 
knowledge, intelligence, courage, relieve but few people 
from paying this tribute. I have seen logicians, strong- 
minded men, philosophers, and soldiers, who were intrepid 
by day, tremble at night like women at the rustling of a 
leaf. We attribute this affright to the tales told by nurses, 
but we are mistaken ; it has a natural cause. What is 
this cause ? The same which makes the deaf distrustful 
and the people superstitious ignorance of the things which 
surround us and of what takes place about us. Accus- 
tomed to perceive objects at a distance, and to foresee 
their impressions in advance, how, no longer seeing any- 
thing of that which surrounds me, should I not imagine 
that there are a thousand beings and a thousand move- 
ments which may harm me, and against which it is impos- 
sible for me to protect myself ? It is to no purpose that 
I am secure in the place where I happen to be, for I can 
never know it as well as though I actually saw it ; and so 


I always have a subject of fear which I did not have in 
broad daylight. I know it is true that a foreign body 
can hardly act upon my own without announcing itself by 
some noise ; and so my sense of hearing is always on the 
alert. At the least sound, whose cause I can not discern, 
anxiety for my safety makes me at once imagine every- 
thing that is most suitable for keeping me on my guard, 
and consequently everything which is most likely to 
frighten me. 

We have a key to the remedy of an evil when we have 
found its cause. In all cases habit destroys imagination ; 
it is only new objects which excite it. In those which we 
see every day, it is no longer the imagination which is at 
work, but the memory ; and in this fact we have an ex- 
planation of the axiom ab assuetis non fit passio, for it is 
only from the fire of the imagination that the passions 
are kindled. Therefore do not reason with one whom 
you would cure of the horror of darkness ; but take him 
often into dark places, and you may be sure that this 
practice is worth more than all the arguments of philoso- 
phy. Tilers on roofs do not become dizzy, and no one 
who is accustomed to being in darkness is any longer 
afraid of it. 

Here, then, is an additional argument for our sports 
by night ; but in order that these sports may be success- 
ful, I can not too strongly recommend that they may be 
full of glee. Nothing is so cheerless as darkness. Never 
shut up your child in a black-hole. Let him laugh as he 
goes into the darkness, and let him laugh again when he 
comes out of it ; so that, while he is in it, the thought of 
the amusements which he has left, and of those which he 
is going to renew, may protect him from the fantastic 
imaginations which might come to haunt him there. 

I have known people who would resort to surprises in 


order to accustom children not to be frightened at any 
thing in the night. This is a very bad method, for it 
produces an effect directly contrary to the one intended, 
and serves only to make them always the more timorous. 
Neither reason nor habit can overcome the idea of a pres- 
ent danger of which we can know neither the degree nor 
the kind, nor the fear of surprises which have often been 
experienced. Nevertheless, how can you make sure of 
always keeping your pupil exempt from such accidents ? 
The best advice I can give for preserving him from 
them is the following : Your case, I will say to my Emile, 
seems to be that of a just defense ; for the aggressor does 
not allow you to judge whether he intends to do you harm 
or to frighten you ; and as he has the advantage of you, 
you can not escape even by flight. Then boldly lay hold 
of whatever surprises you in the night, it matters not 
whether man or beast. Close with him and pinion him 
with all your strength. If he fights, strike him, and be 
not sparing of your blows ; and whatever he may say or 
do, never let him go till you fully know what the object 
is. The clearing up of the mystery will doubtless show 
you that there was not much to fear ; but this manner of 
treating jokers ought to discourage them from repeating 
their tricks. 

Always arm men against unforeseen accidents. Let 
Emile spend his mornings in running barefoot in all sea- 
sons around his chamber, up and down stairs, and through 
the garden. Far from scolding him for this, I shall imi- 
tate him ; only I shall take care to remove broken glass. 
I shall presently speak of his employments and manual 
recreations. However, let him learn to make all the steps 
which favor the evolution of the body, and in all his 
attitudes to take an easy and firm position. Let him 
learn to make jumps, now long, now high ; to climb a tree, 


to leap a wall. Let him always find his equilibrium ; 
and let all his movements and gestures be regulated ac- 
cording to the laws of gravity, long before the science of 
statics intervenes to explain them to him. From the 
manner in which his foot rests on the ground, and his 
body on his leg, he should feel whether the position is 
good or bad. A secure position is always graceful, and 
the firmest postures the most elegant. Were I a dancing- 
master, I would not perform all the tricks of Marcel,* 
though well enough for the country where he teaches 
them; but instead of occupying my pupil forever with 
gambols, I would take him to the base of a rock and there 
show him what attitude he must take, how he must carry 
his body and his head, what movement he must make, 
and how he must place first his foot and then his hand, 
in order to follow nimbly the steep, rugged, and uneven 
pathways, and to spring from point to point both in 
ascending and in descending. I would make of him the 
rival of a roe-buck rather than the dancer of the opera. 

Whatever gives movement to the body without putting 
restraint upon it, is always easy to obtain from children. 
There are a thousand ways of interesting them in measur- 
ing, ascertaining, and estimating distances. Here is a very 
tall cherry-tree : how shall we proceed in order to pick 
cherries from it ? Will the ladder in the barn answer the 
purpose ? Here is a very wide brook : how shall we cross 
it ? Will one of the planks in the yard reach from bank 
to bank ? From our windows we would fish in the moat 
that surrounds the castle : how many feet long shall our 
line be ? I would make a swing between these two trees : 
will a rope twelve feet long answer the purpose ? I am 
told that in the other house our chamber will be twenty- 

* A celebrated dancing-master of Paris. 


five feet square : do you think it will suit us ? Will it 
be larger than this ? We are very hungry : which of these 
two villages could we the sooner reach for dinner? 

It was once my duty to train in running an indolent 
and sluggish child who had no inclination for that exer- 
cise or for any other, although he was destined for the life 
of a soldier. He had become convinced I do not know 
how that a man of his rank ought neither to do anything 
nor to know anything, and that his nobility ought to serve 
him instead of arms and legs, as well as of every species 
of merit. The skill of Chiron himself would hardly suffice 
to make of such a gentleman a light-footed Achilles. The 
difficulty was so much the greater because I had resolved to 
enjoin absolutely nothing upon him. I had excluded 
all resort to exhortations, promises, threats, emulation, 
and the desire to excel. How could I give him a desire 
to run without saying anything to him ? To run myself 
might be a means somewhat uncertain, and subject to 
difficulties. Moreover, it was a further purpose of mine 
to draw from this exercise some object of instruction for 
him, in order to accustom the operations of the machine 
and those of the judgment to move always in concert. 
This is the plan that occurred to me that is, to him who 
speaks in this example. On going out to walk with him 
in the afternoon I sometimes put in my pocket two 
cakes of a kind that he liked very much. Each of us 
ate one of these during the walk, and we returned well 
pleased. One day he noticed that I had three cakes. He 
could have eaten six without inconvenience, and promptly 
dispatched his own, only to demand of me the third. No, 
I said to him ; I could eat it very well myself, or we might 
divide it ; but I prefer to see those two little boys yonder 
run a race for it. I called them, showed them the 
cake, and stated the terms. They asked nothing better. 


The cake was placed on a large stone which served as the 
goal ; the course was marked off, and we took our seats. 
At a given signal the little boys started ; the victor seized 
the cake and ate it without pity before the eyes of the 
spectators and the vanquished comrade. 

This amusement was worth more than the cake ; but 
it did not succeed in the first instance, and produced 
nothing. I was neither discouraged nor in a hurry. The 
instruction of children is a business in which we must 
know how to lose time in order to gain it. We kept up 
our walks, often taking three cakes, and sometimes four ; 
and from time to time there was one, and sometimes two, 
for the runners. If the prize was not great, those who con- 
tested for it would not be ambitious. Hence he who car- 
ried it off was commended and honored ; everything was 
done with due formality. To give variety to the entertain- 
ment, and to increase the interest in it, I marked off a 
longer course and allowed several contestants to enter it. 
They had hardly begun the race when all the passers-by 
stopped to see them. The cheers, the shouts, the clap- 
ping of hands, lent them animation. I sometimes saw my 
little fellow give a start, rise to his feet and shout when 
one of the contestants was on the point of overtaking 
or passing another. For him, these were the Olympic 

The contestants, however, sometimes resorted to foul 
play : they held each other back, or threw each other 
down, or put stones in each other's way. This gave me 
occasion to separate them, and to make them start from 
different points, although equally distant from the goal. 
The reason of this foresight will soon appear ; for I must 
treat this important affair in great detail. 

Constantly annoyed at seeing eaten before his very 
eyes the cakes which he coveted, my young knight finally 

104 EMILE. 

began to suspect that to be a good runner might be 
worth something ; and seeing that he also had two legs, 
he began to make a trial of them in secret. I was 
careful to observe nothing of this, but I saw clearly 
that my stratagem had succeeded. When he believed 
himself sufficiently prepared, and after I had been able to 
divine his thoughts, he pretended to importune me for 
the remaining cake. I refused him, but he persisted, and 
at last said to me with a spiteful air : " Very well ! Put 
the cake on the stone, mark off the ground, and we shall 
see ! " " Good ! " I laughingly said to him ; " can a noble- 
man really run? You will have a better appetite, but 
not the wherewithal to satisfy it." Stimulated by my 
banter, he does his best, and carries off the prize all the 
more easily because I had made the course "very short, 
and had taken care to exclude the best runner. This 
first point having been gained, it will be understood how 
easy it was for me to keep up his interest. He soon ac- 
quired such a taste for this exercise that, unfavored, he 
was almost sure to beat my ragamuffins in running, how- 
ever long the course might b,e. 

This advantage having been gained, it produced an- 
other which I had not suspected. As long as he carried 
off the prize only rarely, he almost always ate the cake 
alone, just as his competitors did ; but as he became ac- 
customed to victory he became generous, and often shared 
the prize with those he had defeated. This furnished me 
a moral observation, and I learned from it what the true 
principle of generosity is. 

In continuing to mark with him, in different places, 
the bounds whence each was to start at the given signal, 
without his perceiving it I made the distances unequal, so 
that one, having a greater distance to run than another 
in order to reach the same goal, had an obvious disad- 


vantage ; but though I left the choice to my disciple, he 
did iiot know how to take advantage of it. Without 
being troubled about the distance, he always preferred the 
finest route ; so that, easily foreseeing his choice, it was 
almost wholly within my power to make him lose or gain 
the cake as I might desire ; and this scheme was also 
useful in more than one way. Meanwhile, as my pur- 
pose was to make him take notice of the difference in 
distance, I tried to make it sensible to him ; but, though 
indolent in his ordinary state, he was so excited in his 
sports, and was so little distrustful of me, that I had all 
the trouble in the world to make him see that I was cheat- 
ing him. I finally succeeded in spite of his heedlessness, 
and he reproached me for my deceit. I said to him : 
" What have you to complain about ? In bestowing a 
gift of my own choice, may I not make my own condi- 
tions? Who compels you to run? Did I promise to 
make the courses of equal length, and are you not free to 
choose ? No one prevents you from taking the shortest. 
How is it that you do not see that it is yourself that I 
favor, and that the inequality of which you complain is 
wholly to your advantage if you know how to make use 
of it?" This was clear; he saw the situation, and in 
order to make a choice it was necessary to look at the 
matter more closely. At first he proposed to count the 
steps ; but to measure the steps of children is a slow and 
uncertain process. Moreover, I took it into my head to 
provide several races for the same day ; and then, the 
sport becoming a sort of passion, it was with regret that 
time was lost in measuring distances which should have 
been employed in running them. The vivacity of infancy 
is poorly adapted to these delays ; and so an effort was 
made to see better, and better to estimate a distance by 
sight. Then I had but little trouble in extending and 

106 tiMILE. 

nourishing this taste. Finally, after months of trial and 
corrected errors, his compass of sight was so trained that 
when I placed before him, in thought, a cake on some 
distant object, his eye was almost as sure as the chain of 
a surveyor. 

As the sight is the sense which is the most intimately 
connected with the judgments of the mind, it requires a 
long time to learn to see. Sight must have been com- 
pared with touch for a long time in order to accustom the 
first of these two senses to make a faithful report of forms 
and distances ; ' without the sense of touch, without pro- 
gressive movement, the most piercing eyes in the world 
could not give us an idea of extension. To the oyster, the 
entire universe must appear only as a mere point ; and 
were this oyster to be informed by a human soul, the 
world would seem nothing more. It is only by walking, 
feeling, numbering, and measuring dimensions that we 
learn to estimate them ; but also, if we were always measur- 
ing, the eye, reposing on the instrument, would acquire no 
accuracy. Nor must the child pass at a bound from meas- 
uring to estimating ; but it is necessary at first that, con- 
tinuing to compare by parts what can not be compared at 
a single glance, he should substitute, for definite measure- 
ments, measurements by estimate ; and that, instead of 
always applying the measure with the hand, he become 
accustomed to apply it only with the eyes. However, I 
would have him verify his first attempts by real measure- 
ments, in order that he may correct his errors, and that, 
if the sense retains any false appearance, he may learn to 
rectify it by a better judgment. We have natural meas- 
ures which are nearly the same in all places, as the foot of 
a man, the length of his arm, or his stature. When the 
child estimates the height of a room, his tutor may serve 
him as a toise or yard-stick. If he estimate the height 


of a steeple, let him take a house as his unit of measure- 
ment; if he wishes to know the length of a road in 
leagues, let him count the hours he has been traveling ; 
and, above all, let nothing of all this be done for him, but 
let him do it for himself. 

We could not learn to judge correctly of the volume 
and height of bodies without learning also their forms, and 
even to reproduce them ; for, at bottom, this reproduction 
is absolutely dependent on the laws of perspective ; and 
we can not estimate the volume from its appearance, un- 
less we have some notion of these laws. Children, who 
are great imitators, all try their hand at drawing. I 
would have my pupil cultivate this art, not exactly for 
the art itself, but for rendering the eye accurate and the 
hand flexible ; and, in general, it is of very little conse- 
quence that he understand such or such an exercise, pro- 
vided he acquire the perspicacity of sense, and the cor- 
rect habit of body, which are gained from that exercise. 
I shall take great care, therefore, not to give him a draw- 
ing-master who will give him only imitations to imitate, 
and will make him draw only from drawings. He shall 
have no master but Nature, and no models but objects. 
He shall have before his eyes the very original, and not 
the paper which represents it ; he shall draw a house from 
a house, a tree from a tree, a man from a man, so as to 
become accustomed .to observe bodies and their appear- 
ances correctly, and not to take false and conventional 
imitations for real imitations. I shall discourage him 
even from tracing anything from memory in the absence 
of objects, until, by frequent observations, their exact 
figures are firmly impressed on his imagination ; for fear 
that, substituting odd and fantastic forms for the truth 
of things, he lose the knowledge of proportions and the 
taste for the beauties of Nature. 

108 EMILE. 

I am well aware that in this way he will scrawl for a 
long time without making anything that is recognizable ; 
that he will be late in catching the elegance of contours, 
and the light touch of designers, and perhaps never a 
discernment of picturesque effects and good taste in 
drawing ; but by way of compensation he will certainly 
contract a juster glance of the eye, a steadier hand, a 
knowledge of the true relations of volume and form 
existing in animals, plants, and natural bodies, and the 
more ready use of the play of perspective. This is pre- 
cisely what I wish to do, and my intention is not so much 
to have him imitate objects as to know them. I prefer 
to have him show me the plant acanthus, even though he 
be less skillful in tracing the foliage of a capital. 

Besides, in this exercise, as in all the others, I do not 
intend that my pupil shall have the enjoyment of it all to 
himself. I wish to make it still more agreeable to him 
by always sharing it with him. I do not wish him to 
have any other rival than myself; but I shall be his 
rival without respite and without risk ; and this will put 
interest into his occupations without causing jealousy 
between us. In holding the pencil, I should follow his 
example ; and at first I shall use it as awkwardly as he 
does. Were I an Apelles, I would appear to be no more 
than a dauber ; I shall begin by tracing a man just as 
lackeys trace them on walls a stroke for each arm, a 
stroke for each leg, and the fingers larger than the arms. 
After a very long time we shall both take note of this 
disproportion ; we shall observe that a leg has thickness, 
and that this thickness is not the same throughout ; and 
that the arm has its determinate length with respect to 
the body, etc. In this progress I shall do no more than 
keep up with him, or I shall advance so little beyond 
him that it will always be easy for him to overtake me, and 


often to surpass me. We shall have paints and brushes ; 
and we shall try to imitate the colors of objects and their 
whole appearance, as well as their form. We will color, 
we will paint, we will daub ; but in all our daubings we 
shall not cease to watch Nature ; we shall do nothing save 
under the eyes of the master. 

We were in want of ornaments for our chamber ; but 
now we find all we want. I have our drawings framed 
and put under glass, so that no further touches may be 
given them, and that, seeing them remain in the state 
in which we put them, each one may have an interest in 
not neglecting his own. I arrange them in order about 
the chamber, each drawing repeated twenty or thirty 
times, and showing by each copy the progress of the 
author, from the moment when the house is hardly more 
than a formless square, until its fa9ade, its side view, its 
proportions, and its shadows are represented with the 
greatest exactness. These gradations in finish can not 
fail to offer us numberless pictures interesting to our- 
selves and surprising to others, and always to excite our 
emulation more and more. On the first of these, on the 
coarser of our drawings, I put very bright and nicely 
gilded frames, which set them off to advantage ; but 
when the imitation becomes more exact, and the drawing 
is really good, I give it nothing better than a very simple 
black frame ; 'for it needs no other ornament than itself, 
and it would be a pity to have the frame divide the at- 
tention which is merited by the object itself. Thus, each 
of us aspires to the honor of a simple frame ; and when 
any one would slight the drawing of another he condemns 
it to a gilt frame. Some day, perhaps, these gilt frames 
will become a byword among us; and we shall wonder 
that so many men think to do themselves justice by fram- 
ing their pictures in this manner. 

110 EMILE. 

I have said that geometry is not within the compre- 
hension of children; but this is our fault. We do not 
perceive that their method is not ours, and that what 
becomes for us the art of reasoning ought to be for them 
only the art of seeing. Instead of giving them our meth 
od, it would be better for us to borrow theirs ; for our 
way of learning geometry is as much a matter of imagi- 
nation as of reasoning. When the proposition has been 
announced, we must imagine its demonstration that is, 
we must ascertain from what proposition already learned 
this one is to be the consequence, and from all the conse- 
quences which may be drawn from this given proposition 
to choose precisely the one which is required. 

In this way the most exact reasoner, if he has not the 
gift of invention, must remain at a standstill. What fol- 
lows? Instead of making us find the demonstrations, 
they are dictated to us ; instead of teaching us to rea- 
son, the teacher reasons for us and exercises only our 

Draw exact figures, combine them, superimpose them, 
and examine their relations. You will find the whole of 
elementary geometry by advancing from one observation 
to another, without the need of definitions, problems, or of 
any other form of demonstration than simple superposi- 
tion. For myself, I do not profess to teach geometry to 
Emile, but it is he who will teach it to me. I will look for 
relations, and he will find them ; for I will look for them 
in a way to make him find them. For example, instead 
of using a compass to trace a circle, I will trace it with a 
point at the end of a thread turning about a centre. 
After this, when I would compare the radii of a circle, 
Emile will laugh at me, and will give me to understand 
that the same thread, while stretched tight, can not have 
traced unequal distances. 


If I wish to measure an angle of sixty degrees, I de- 
scribe from the vertex of this angle not an arc but an 
entire circle ; for, with children, there must be nothing 
unexpressed. I find that the part of a circle included 
between the two sides of the angle is the sixth part of the 
circle. After this I describe from the same vertex another 
and larger circle, and I find that this second arc is still 
the sixth part of its circle. I describe a third concentric 
circle on which I make the same experiment ; and so I go 
on with new circles, till Emile, shocked at my stupidity, 
informs me that every arc, large or small, intercepted by 
the same angle, will always be the sixth part of its cir- 
cle, etc. Thus early we have learned the use of a pro- 

Accuracy in drawing geometrical figures is neglected ; 
they are assumed to be correct, and the whole thought is 
given to the demonstration. With us, on the contrary, 
the question of demonstration will never be raised. Ou> 
more important business will be to draw lines that are 
perfectly straight, perfectly accurate, perfectly equal; to 
make a square that is perfectly regular, and to trace a 
circle that is perfectly round. To verify the accuracy of 
the figure, we will examine it in all its sensible properties ; 
and this will give us daily occasion to discover new ones. 
We will fold the two semicircles along the diameter, and 
the two halves of the square along the diagonal. We 
will compare our two figures in order to discover the one 
whose -edges match the most exactly, and which, conse- 
quently, is the better made ; and we will discuss whether 
this equality of division ought always to take place in 
parallelograms, trapeziums, etc. Sometimes we will try 
to foresee the success of the experiment ; before making 
it, we will endeavor to find reasons for it. 

For my pupil, geometry is but the art of making good 

112 . EMILE. 

use of the rule and compass ;* and he ought not to con- 
found it with drawing, where he will employ neither of 
these instruments. The rule and compass shall be kept 
under lock and key, and he shall be granted the use of 
them only very rarely, and for a little time, in order that 
he may not become accustomed to slovenly draAving ; but 
we shall sometimes take our figures with us while out for 
a walk, and talk of what we have done or of what we 
propose to do. 

I shall never forget a young man I saw at Turin, 
who in his infancy had been taught the relations be- 
tween contours and surfaces, by allowing him each day to 
make a choice of isoperimetric cakes cut into various 
geometrical forms. The little glutton had exhausted the 
art of Archimedes in order to find in which figure there 
was the most to eat.f 

When a child plays at shuttle-cock he trains his eye 
and arm in accuracy ; when he whips a top he increases 
his strength by using it, but without learning anything. 
I have sometimes asked why we do not offer children 
the same games of skill which men have, such as ten- 
nis, fives, billiards, bow and arrow, foot-ball, and musi- 
cal instruments. I have been told, in reply, that some 
of these sports are. beyond the strength of children, 
and that their limbs and organs are not sufficiently de- 

* Rousseau must have been too wise to believe that any system 
of measurements, however exact, could take the place of mathemati- 
cal demonstration. No experimental process can ever establish the 
general truth that the sum of the three angles of a triangle is equal 
to two right angles. We should not confound " geometrical recre- 
ations" with geometrical science. (P.) 

f Isoperimetric figures are those whose contours or circumfer- 
ences are equal in length, Now, of all these figures it is proved that 
the circle is the one which contains the greatest surface. Hence the 
child has to choose cakes in the form of a circle. 


veloped for the others. I find these reasons bad. A 
child has not the stature of a man, and is not allowed to 
wear a coat made like his. I do not mean that he shall 
play with our maces on a table three feet high ; I do not 
mean that he shall knock the balls in our tennis-courts, 
nor that his little hands shall be made to hold the racket 
of an expert; but that he shall play in a hall whose 
windows are protected ; that, at first, he use only soft 
balls ; that his first rackets shall be of wood, then of 
parchment, and finally of catgut stretched to accord 
with his progress. You prefer the shuttle-cock because 
it is less fatiguing and less dangerous ; but you are wrong 
in both these reasons. Shuttle-cock is a game for women ; 
but there is not one of them who can not be made to run 
by a moving ball. Their white skin is not to be hardened 
to bruises, and their faces are not expected to suffer con- 
tusions. But do we imagine that we who are intended 
to be vigorous can become so without trouble ? And of 
what defense shall we be capable if we are never at- 
tacked ? We always play games indolently in which we 
can be unskillful without risk. A falling shuttle-cock 
does harm to no one ; but nothing invigorates the arms 
like having to protect the head with them, and nothing 
makes the sight so accurate as having to protect the eyes 
from blows. To spring from one end of the hall to an- 
other, to estimate the bound of a ball still in the air, and 
to send it back with a strong and steady hand, such sports 
do not befit a man but they serve to train a youth. 

Whatever has been done can be done again. Xow, noth- 
ing is more common than to see dexterous and sprightly 
children whose limbs have the same agility as those of 
a man. At almost all the fairs we see them performing 
feats of balancing, walking on the hands, jumping, and 
rope-dancing. For how many years have not troops 

of children attracted spectators to the Italian comedy 
by their ballet-dances ! Who is there who has not heard 
the pantomime troop of the celebrated Nicolini spoken 
of in Germany and in Italy ? Has any one ever no- 
ticed in these children movements less perfect, attitudes 
less pleasing, an ear less accurate, and a dance less airy, 
than in the dancers of mature age ? Though the fingers 
at first may be thick, short, and stiff, and the hands 
plump and incapable of grasping anything, does this 
prevent multitudes of children from knowing how to 
write and draw at an age when others can not yet hold 
the pencil or pen? All Paris still recollects the little 
English girl of ten who performed prodigies on the harp- 
sichord. On one occasion, at the house of a magistrate, 
I saw his son, a little fellow of eight years, put on the 
table, at dessert, like a statue in the midst of the table- 
service, and there play on a violin almost as large as him- 
self, and surprise even the artists present by his execu- 

All these examples, and thousands like them, prove, 
as it seems to me, that the inaptitude attributed to chil- 
dren for manly exercises is imaginary ; and that, if they 
are not successful in some of them, it is because they have 
never been trained to them. 

I shall be told that, with respect to the body, I am 
here falling into the mistake of that premature intellectual 
culture which I censure in children. The difference in 
the two cases is very great ; for, in one, the progress is 
only apparent, while in the other it is real. I have 
proved that the intelligence which they seem to have, 
they do not have ; whereas, they really do all they seem 
to do. Moreover, we ought always to recollect that all 
this is, or ought to be, but play, the facile and voluntary 
direction of the movements which Nature demands of 


Jiem, the art of varying their amusements in order to 
make them more agreeable, without the least appearance 
of that constraint which turns them into labor ; for, in 
short, what amusements shall they have from which I 
can not draw material for their instruction ? And when 
this can not be done, provided they amuse themselves 
without inconvenience, and the time passes, their progress 
in any given direction is of no importance, so far as the 
present is concerned; whereas, when they must neces- 
sarily be taught this or that, as things now go, it is always 
impossible to attain the end without constraint, without 
vexation, and without ennui. 

Man has three kinds of voice : namely, the speaking 
or articulated voice, a singing or melodious voice, and the 
impassioned or modulated voice, which serves as a language 
for the passions, and which gives animation to song and 
speech. The child, like the man, has these three kinds 
of voice without knowing how to combine them as he 
does. Like us, he resorts to laughter, to cries, to wailing, 
to exclamations, and to groans, but he does not know 
how to mingle their inflections with the two other 

A perfect music is that which best unites these three 
voices. Children are incapable of this music, and their 
singing never has soul. So also, in the speaking voice, 
their language has no accent ; they cry, but they do not 
modulate ; and as there is little accent in their conver- 
sation, there is little energy in their voice. The speech 
of our pupil will be more uniform and still more simple, 
because his passions, not yet being awakened, will not 
mingle their language with his own. Therefore, do not 
make him recite parts in tragedy, or in comedy, nor at- 
tempt to teach him, as the phrase is, to declaim. He will 
have, too much sense to know how to give tone to things 

116 EMILE. 

which he can not understand, and expression to senti- 
ments which he will never experience. 

Teach him to speak simply and clearly, to articulate 
correctly, to pronounce accurately and without affecta- 
tion, to know and to follow grammatical accent and pros- 
ody, always to employ voice enough to be heard but never 
more than is necessary a common fault in children 
brought up in colleges; and in everything have him 
avoid whatever is superfluous. 

And so, in singing, make his voice accurate, uniform, 
flexible, sonorous ; and his ear sensitive to measure and 
harmony, but nothing more than this. Imitative and 
theatrical music is not adapted to his age ; and I would 
not even have him sing words if he wished to sing them, 
but would try to compose songs expressly for him, inter- 
esting for his age, and as simple as his ideas. 

It might reasonably be supposed that, being in such 
little haste to teach him to read writing, I should be in no 
great hurry to teach him how to read music. Let us save 
his brain all attention that is too laborious, and be in no 
haste to fix his mind on conventional signs. This, I ac- 
knowledge, seems to present a difficulty ; for if the knowl- 
edge of notes does not, at first, seem more necessary for 
knowing how to sing than that of letters for knowing 
how to talk, there is, however, this difference that in 
speaking we render our own ideas, while in singing, we 
do hardly more than render the ideas of others. Now, in 
order to render them, we must be able to read them. 

But in the first place, instead of reading them, we can 
hear them, and a song is translated by the ear still more 
faithfully than by the eye. Moreover, in order to know 
music well, it does not suffice to render it ; it is necessary 
to compose it, and one should be learned along with the 
other, for except in this way music is never very well 


learned. At first, drill your little musician in composing 
very regular and well-cadenced phrases ; then in uniting 
them by a very simple modulation ; and, lastly, in marking 
their different relations by a correct punctuation, which 
is done by a wise choice of cadences and rests. Above all, 
never introduce into singing what is odd or strange, and 
never indulge in the pathetic or the expressive; but 
choose a melody that is always harmonious and simple, 
always springing from the essential chords of the piece, 
and always indicating the bass in such a way that the 
child may easily perceive and accompany it ; for, in order 
to train the voice and the ear, he ought never to sing save 
with the harpsichord. 

We should die of hunger or poison if we were com- 
pelled to wait in order to choose the food that is best for 
us, till experience had taught us to know and to choose 
it ; but the Supreme Goodness which has caused the pleas- 
ure of sensitive beings to be the instrument of their con- 
servation shows us, from what pleases our palate, what is 
best for our stomach. Naturally, there is no safer physi- 
cian for a man than his own appetite, and, taking him 
in his primitive condition, I doubt not that the food 
which he found most agreeable was also the most whole- 

The farther we depart from the state of Xature the 
more we lose our natural tastes ; or, rather, habit becomes 
to us a second nature, which we substitute so completely 
for the original that none of us longer know what our 
original is. 

Those who say that children must be accustomed to 
the aliments which they will use when grown, do not seem 
to me to reason correctly. Why ought their nurture to 
remain the same while their manner of living is so dif- 
ferent ? A man exhausted by labor, care, and trouble, 

118 EMILE. 

needs succulent food, which brings new energy to the 
brain; while the child who has just been playing, and 
whose body is growing, needs a copious diet which pro- 
duces an abundance of chyle. Moreover, the grown man 
already has his station in life, his occupation and his 
home ; but who of us can be sure of what Fortune has in 
reserve for the child ? In no particular let us impose on 
him so determinate a form that it will cost him too much 
to change it when necessity requires. Let us not cause 
him to die of hunger in foreign countries, if he does not 
keep a French cook with him wherever he goes, nor to 
say, one day, that people know how to eat only in France. 
This, by the way, is a fine compliment ! For myself I 
would say, on the contrary, that it is only the French who 
do not know how to eat, since such a peculiar art is re- 
quired in order to render their food palatable. 

Gluttony is the vice of natures which have no sub- 
stance in them. The soul of a glutton is all in his palate 
he is made only for eating ; in his stupid incapacity, he 
is himself only at table, he is able to judge only of dishes. 
Leave him to this employment without regret ; both for 
ourselves and for him, this employment is better for him 
than any other. 

The fear that gluttony may take root in a child of any 
capacity is a narrow-minded precaution. The child thinks 
of nothing but eating ; but in adolescence we no longer 
think of it ; for everything tastes good, and we have many 
other things to occupy our thoughts. However, I would 
not have an indiscreet use made of so low a motive, nor 
support the honor of doing a noble deed on the promise 
of some toothsome morsel. But as the whole of child- 
hood is, or ought to be, devoted only to sports and gay 
amusements, I see no reason why exercises purely corporeal 
should not have a material and sensible reward. When a 


little Majorcan,* seeing a basket on the top of a tree, 
brings it down by the use of his sling, is it not very proper 
that he should profit by the feat ? When a young Spartan, 
at the risk of a hundred blows of the whip, cleverly slips 
into a kitchen and there steals a live fox, and while 
carrying him off in his frock is scratched, bitten, and 
covered with blood ; and when, for fear of being caught, 
the child allows his bowels to be lacerated without a scowl 
and without uttering a single cry is it not just that he 
finally profit by his booty, and that he eat it, after having 
been eaten by it ? A good dinner never ought to be a 
reward ; but why should it not sometimes be the effect of 
the pains we have taken to procure it ? Emile never 
regards the cake which I put on the stone as a reward for 
having run well ; he knows merely that the only means of 
getting the cake is to be the first to reach it. 

This does not at all contradict the maxims which I 
lately stated concerning simplicity of diet ; for, in order 
to sharpen the appetite of children, it is not necessary to 
excite their gustatory pleasure but only to satisfy their 
hunger ; and this will be accomplished by the most com- 
mon things in the world if we do not set ourselves at work 
to refine their taste. Their continual appetite, excited by 
the need of growth, is a sure condiment which takes the 
place of many others. Fruits, milk, some piece of cook- 
ery more delicate than ordinary bread, and, above all, the 
art of dispensing all this with moderation this is the way 
to lead armies of children through the world without giv- 
ing them a taste for exciting savors or running the risk of 
blunting their palates. 

Whatever diet you give your children, provided you 

* The Majorcans have abandoned this custom for many cent- 
uries ; it was in force during the celebrity of their slingers. (P.) 


accustom them only to common and simple dishes, let 
them eat, ran, and play as much as they please, and you 
may be sure that they will never eat too much, and will 
never be troubled by indigestion ; but if you starve them 
half the time, and they find the means of escaping your 
vigilance, they will make up for what they have lost with 
all their might : they will eat to repletion, almost to burst- 
ing. Our appetite is inordinate only because we give it 
other rules than those of Nature ; always regulating, pre- 
scribing, adding and retrenching, we do nothing save with 
the balance in hand ; but this balance is governed by our 
fancies and not by our stomachs. I am always recurring 
to my illustrations. Among peasants the cupboard and 
the fruit-room are always open, and neither children nor 
men know what indigestion is. 

If it should happen, however, that a child eat too 
much a thing which I do not believe possible, according 
to my method it is so easy to distract him with amuse- 
ments which he likes that we might finally exhaust him 
with inanition without his thinking of it. How is it that 
means so sure and easy escape all our teachers ? Herodo- 
tus-* relates that the Lydians, sore pressed by an extreme 
famine, bethought themselves of inventing games and 
other amusements, by which they diverted attention from 
their hunger and passed whole days without thinking of 
eating. Your wise tutors have perhaps read this passage 
a hundred times without seeing the application that might 
be made of it to children. Some of them will say to me 
that a child does not willingly leave his dinner in order 
to study his lesson. Master, you are right. I was not 
thinking of that sort of amusement. 

Supposing, then, that my method is that of Nature, 

* Book I, chap. xciv. 


and that I am not deceived in its application, we have 
led our pupil across the regions of the sensations up to 
the confines of juvenile reason. The first step that we 
are going to take beyond this ought to be the step of a 
man ; but before entering on this new course let us look 
back for a moment on that which we have just traversed. 
Each age, each period of life, has its proper perfection, a 
sort of maturity which is all its own. We have often 
heard mention made of a grown man; but let us now 
consider a grown child. This spectacle will be something 
newer for us, and perhaps not less agreeable. 

The existence of finite beings is so poor and so con- 
tracted, that when we see only that which is, our emotions 
are not excited. It is fancy which lends ornament to real 
objects, and if the imagination does not add a charm to 
that which strikes our attention, the sterile pleasure which 
we receive from it is limited to the organ of sense, and 
always leaves the heart cold. The earth, adorned with 
the treasures of autumn, displays riches which the eye 
admires; but this admiration is not affecting; it comes 
more from reflection than from feeling. In the spring, 
the fields, almost bare, are still without adornment ; the 
woods afford no shade, and the verdure is only beginning 
to appear; but the heart is touched at the sight. In 
seeing Xature thus return to life, we feel ourselves reani- 
mated ; we are encompassed by the imagery of pleasure. 
Those companions of pleasure, those gentle tears always 
ready to accompany every delicious emotion, are ready to 
fall from our eyes ; but however animated, lively, and 
agreeable the sight of the vintage may be, we always look 
on it with tearless eyes. 

Why this difference ? It is because to the splendor of 
spring the imagination adds that of the seasons which are 
to follow ; because, to those tender buds which the eye 

122 tiMILE. 

perceives, it adds flower, fruit, shadow, and sometimes the 
mysteries which they may conceal. The imagination 
unites in a single point successive periods of time, and 
sees objects less as they shall be than as she desires them to 
be, since it depends on her to choose them. In autumn, on 
the contrary, we see nothing more than that which actu- 
ally exists. If we wish to pass on to the spring-time, the 
winter stops us, and the chilled imagination dwells on the 
snow and the hoar-frost. 

Such is the source of the charm we find in contem- 
plating a beautiful infancy rather than the perfection of 
mature age. When is it that we experience a real pleas- 
ure in seeing a man ? It is when the memory of his ac- 
tions causes us to go back over his life rejuvenates him, 
so to speak, in our eyes. If we were compelled to consider 
him as he is, or to imagine him as he will be in his old age, 
the idea of declining nature destroys all our pleasure. 
There is no pleasure in seeing a man advancing at long 
strides toward the tomb, and the image of death disfigures 

But when I represent to myself a child from ten to 
twelve years old, healthy, vigorous, and well formed for 
his age, he does not excite in me an idea which is not 
agreeable, either for the present or for the future. I see 
him impetuous, sprightly, animated, without corroding 
care, without long and painful foresight, wholly absorbed 
in his actual existence, and enjoying a plenitude of life 
which seems bent on reaching out beyond him. I look 
forward to another period of life, and I see him exercis- 
ing the senses, the mind, and the powers which are being 
developed within him from day to day, and of which he 
gives new evidences from moment to moment. I con- 
template the child, and he pleases me ; I imagine the man, 
and he pleases me more ; his ardent blood seems to add 

warmth to my own ; I seem to live with his life, and his 
vivacity makes me young again. 

The clock strikes, and what a change ! In a moment 
his eye grows dull and his mirth ceases; adieu to joy, 
adieu to frolicsome sports. A stern and angry man takes 
him by the hand, says to him gravely, " Come on, sir ! " and 
leads him away. In the room which they enter I discover 
books. Books ! What cheerless furniture for one of his 
age ! The poor child allows himself to be led away, turns 
a regretful eye on all that surrounds him, holds his peace 
as he goes, his eyes are swollen with tears which he dares 
not shed, and his heart heavy with sighs which he dares 
not utter. 

thou who hast nothing like this to fear thou for 
whom no period of life is a time of weariness and unrest 
thou who seest the day come without anxiety and the 
night without impatience, and countest the hours only by 
thy pleasures, come, my happy, my lovable pupil, and by 
thy presence console me for the departure of this un- 
fortunate youth. Come ! He comes, and at his approach 
I am conscious of an emotion of joy which I see that he 
shares with me. It is his friend, his comrade, his play- 
fellow whom he approaches. On seeing me he is very 
sure that he will not remain long without amusements. 
We are never dependent on each other, but we are always 
in accord, and are never so content as when we are to- 

His form, his bearing, and his countenance bespeak 
self-assurance and contentment. A glow of health is on 
his face ; his firm step gives him an air of vigor ; his com- 
plexion, still delicate without being insipid, has no trace 
of effeminate softness the air and the sun have already 
placed on it the honorable imprint of his sex ; his feat- 
ures, still rounded, begin to exhibit some marks of devel- 


oping character of their own ; his eyes, which the warmth 
of feeling does not yet animate, have at least all their na 
tive serenity; long sorrows have not dimmed them, and 
endless tears have not furrowed his cheeks. In his prompt 
but sure movements you may see the vivacity of his age, 
the firmness of independence, and the experience coming 
from his multiplied activities. His manner is open and 
free, but neither insolent nor vain. His face, which has 
not been glued down to books, does not rest on his stom- 
ach, and there is no need of telling him to hold up his 
head. Neither shame nor fear has ever made him bow it. 

Let us make room for him in the midst of an assem- 
bly. Examine him, gentlemen ; interrogate him without 
reserve, and be in no apprehension either of his impor- 
tunities, his babble, or his indiscreet questions. Have no 
fear that he will take possession of you, that he will pre- 
sume to engross your whole attention, and that you will 
no longer be able to shake him off. 

Nor should you expect from him agreeable small-talk, 
nor that he tell you things which I have dictated to him. 
Expect from him only the truth, artless and simple, with- 
out ornament, without affectation, and without vanity. 
He will tell you whatever wrong he has done or thought, 
just as freely as he will the good, without feeling em- 
barrassed in any way by the effect which his utterances 
will produce on you. The speech that he will employ 
will have all the simplicity of its primitive institution. 

We are fond of forming happy predictions of children, 
and we always feel regret for that stream of absurdities 
which almost always comes to overthrow the hopes that we 
have founded on some happy witticism which has chanced 
to fall from their lips. If my pupil rarely furnishes such 
hopes, he will never occasion this regret ; for he never 
speaks a useless word, and does not exhaust himself on 


babble which he knows receives no attention. His ideas 
are limited, but they are clear ; if he knows nothing by 
heart, he knows much by experience ; if he reads less 
than other children in our books, he reads better in the 
book of Nature ; his mind is not in his tongue, but in his 
head ; he has less memory than judgment ; he knows how 
to speak but one language, but he understands what he 
says ; and if he does not speak as well as others, he has 
the merit of doing better than they do. 

He does not know what routine, usage, and habit are. 
What he did yesterday has no influence on what he does 
to-day.* He follows no formula, yields neither to author- 
ity nor to example, and neither acts nor speaks save as it 
seems best to him. So expect from him neither formal 
conversation nor studied manners, but always the faithful 
expression of his ideas, and the conduct which springs 
from his inclinations. 

You will find in him a small number of moral notions 
which relate to his actual condition, but none bearing on 
the relative condition of men. And of what use would 
these be to him, since a child is not yet an active mem- 
ber of society ? Speak to him of liberty, of property, and 
even of convention, and he can understand you so far. 
He knows why that which belongs to him is his own, and 

* The charm of habit comes from the indolence natural to man, 
and this indolence increases as we abandon ourselves to it. We do 
more easily what we have already done ; the route having been 
marked out, it becomes the easier to follow. Thus it is observed 
that the power of habit is very great in old men and indolent peo- 
ple, and very small in the young and in active people. This power 
is good only for weak natures, and it enfeebles them more and more 
from day to day. The only habit useful to children is to subject 
themselves without trouble to the necessity of things, and the only 
habit useful to men is to subject themselves without trouble to 
reason. Every other habit is a vice. 

126 EMILE. 

why that which does not belong to him is not his own-, 
but beyond this he knows nothing. Speak to him of duty, 
or of obedience, and he does not know what you mean. 
Command him to do something, he will not understand 
you ; but say to him, " Do me this favor, and I will do the 
same for you when I have an opportunity," and instantly 
he will make haste to please you, for he asks nothing bet- 
ter than to extend his authority, and to acquire rights 
over you which he knows to be inviolable. Perhaps he 
is not even averse to holding a place, to making up a 
number, and to be counted for something ; but if he has 
this last motive, he has already departed from Nature, 
and you have not properly closed in advance all the 
avenues of vanity. 

On his part, if he needs any assistance he will ask it 
indifferently of the first one he meets ; he would ask it 
of the king just as he would of his servant ; for in his 
eyes all men are still equal. By his manner of asking, 
you see that he feels that no one owes him anything ; he 
knows that what he asks is a favor. He knows also that 
men are inclined to grant these favors. 'His expressions 
are simple and laconic. His voice, his looks, and his 
movements are those of a being equally accustomed to 
compliance and to refusal. It is neither the cringing and 
servile submission of a slave, nor the imperious tone of a 
master, but a modest confidence in a fellow-creature ; it is 
the noble and touching sweetness of a free but sensitive 
and feeble being, who implores the assistance of one who 
is free, but strong and beneficent. If you grant his re- 
quest, he will not thank you, but will feel that he has 
contracted a debt. If you refuse him, he will not com- 
plain nor insist, for he knows that this will be use- 
less. He will not say that he has been refused, but 
that what he asked could not be granted ; for, as I have 


already said, we rarely rebel against a well-recognized 

Leave him to himself in perfect liberty, and observe 
what he does without saying anything to him ; consider 
what he will do and how he will go about it. Having no 
need of being assured that he is free, he never does any- 
thing thoughtlessly, or simply to exhibit his power over 
himself. Does he not know that he is always master of 
his own conduct? He is alert, catick, agile; his move- 
ments have all the vivacity of his age, but you do not see 
one which has not a purpose. Whatever he chooses to 
do, he will never undertake anything which is beyond his 
powers, for he has fairly tested them and knows them. 
The means he employs will always be adapted to his de- 
signs, and he will rarely act without being assured of suc- 
cess. He will have an attentive and discerning eye, and 
will never go about foolishly interrogating others concern- 
ing everything he sees ; but he will examine it himself, and 
will leave no effort untried to find out what he wishes to 
know before soliciting it from others. If he falls into 
unforeseen difficulties, he will be less disturbed than an- 
other ; and if there is risk to run, he will also be less dis- 
mayed. As his imagination still remains inactive, and as 
nothing has been done to stimulate it, he sees only what 
is real, estimates dangers for only what they are worth, 
and always maintains his composure. He has too often 
felt the pressure of necessity to be still kicking against 
it ; he has felt its yoke from his birth, and has become 
fully accustomed to it ; he is always ready for whatever 
may happen. 

Whether he is at work or at play, he is content with 
either ; his sports are his occupations, and he feels no 
difference between them. Into whatever he does he 
throws an interest which excites cheerfulness and a 

128 EMILE. 

liberty which gives pleasure ; and this exhibits both his 
turn of mind and the range of his knowledge. Is it not 
a charming and grateful sight to see a pretty child, with 
bright and merry eye, with pleased and placid mien, with 
open and smiling countenance, doing the most serious 
things under the guise of play, or profoundly occupied 
with the most frivolous amusements ? 

Do you now wish to judge of him by comparison ? Put 
him among other children and let him act. You will 
soon see which is the most truly educated, which most 
nearly approaches the perfection of their age. Among 
city children, there is none more dexterous than he, but 
he is stronger than any other. Among the young peas- 
antry, he equals them in strength and surpasses them in 
skill. In everything which is within the compass of in- 
fancy, he judges, reasons, and foresees better than any one 
else. As to working, running, jumping, moving bodies, 
lifting masses, estimating distances, inventing amuse- 
ments, and gaining prizes, it might be said that Nature 
is at his command, so easy is it for him to make every- 
thing bend to his will. He is made for guiding and 
governing his equals. Talent and experience serve him 
instead of law and authority. It matters little what dress 
or name you give him ; he will everywhere take prece- 
dence, will everywhere become the chief of others. They 
will always feel his superiority over them. Without 
wishing to command, he will always be their master ; and 
without thinking of obedience, they will always obey. 

Emile has arrived at the end of the period of infancy, 
has lived the life of a child, and has not bought his per- 
fection at the cost of his happiness. On the contrary, 
they have lent each other mutual aid. While acquiring 
all the reason suited to his age, he has been as happy and 
as free as his constitution permitted him to be. If the 


fatal scythe has come to cut down in him the flower of our 
hopes, we shall not have to mourn at the same time his 
life and his death, nor to intensify our griefs by the recol- 
lection of those which we have caused him ; and we can 
say to ourselves that he has at least enjoyed his childhood, 
and that we have caused him to lose nothing of all that 
Nature had given him. 

The great disadvantage of this primary education is 
that none but clear-sighted men take account of it, and 
that, in a child educated with such care, vulgar eyes see 
nothing but a vagabond. A teacher thinks of his own 
interest rather than that of his pupil. He endeavors to 
prove that he does not waste his time, and that he earns 
the money which is paid him ; and so he furnishes the 
child with acquisitions capable of easy display, and which 
can be exhibited at will. Provided it can easily be seen, 
it matters not whether what he learns is useful. He stores 
his memory with this rubbish, without discernment and 
without choice. When the time comes for examining the 
child, he is made to display his wares ; he brings them out, 
and we are satisfied ; then he ties up his bundle and goes 
his way. My pupil is not so rich ; he has no bundle to 
display, and has nothing to show but himself. Now, a 
child can no more be seen in a moment than a man. 
Where are the observers who can seize at the first glance 
the traits which characterize him ? There are such, but 
they are few ; and out of a hundred fathers not one of 
this number will be found. 

Too many questions weary and disgust people in gen- 
eral, and especially children. At the end of a few minutes 
their attention flags ; they no longer hear what a persistent 
questioner requires of them, and no longer reply save at 
random. This manner of examining them is vain and 
pedantic. It often happens that a random word portrays 


their mind and heart better than a long discourse could 
do ; but care must be taken that this word is neither dic- 
tated nor fortuitous. We must have good judgment our- 
selves in order to appreciate the judgment of a child. 

I once heard the late Lord Hyde relate an anecdote 
concerning one of his friends, who, having returned from 
Italy after an absence of three years, wished to examine 
the progress of his son, a boy nine or ten years of age. In 
company with the child and his tutor, they were walking 
one afternoon where pupils were engaged in the sport of 
flying their kites. As they were going along, the father 
said to his son, " Where is the kite whose shadow we see 
yonder?" Without hesitating or raising his head, the 
child replied, " On the highway." And in fact, added 
Lord Hyde, the highway was between us and the sun. 
At this reply the father embraced his son, and, finishing 
the examination at that point, continued his walk with- 
out saying a word. The next day he sent the tutor a life- 
pension in addition to his salary. 

What a man that father was ! And what a son was 
promised him ! * The question was precisely adapted to 
the child's age. The reply was very simple ; but observe 
what accuracy of childish judgment it supposes. It is 
thus that Aristotle's pupil f tamed the celebrated steed J 
which no horseman could subdue. 

* A letter of Rousseau to Madame Latour de Franqueville, Sep- 
tember 26, 1762, informs us that this young man was the Count de 
Gisors. He will be mentioned again in Book V. 

f Alexander the Great. 

\ Bucephalus. The horse was frightened only at his shadow. 
The young Alexander discovered the cause and the remedy. 



ALTHOUGH the whole course of life up to adolescence 
is a period of weakness, there is a point in the course of 
this first stage of life when, growth in power having sur- 
passed the growth of needs, the growing animal, still 
absolutely weak, becomes relatively strong. All his needs 
not being developed, his actual powers are more than 
sufficient to provide for those which he has. As a man 
he would be very weak, but as a child he is very strong. 

Whence comes the weakness of man ? From the in- 
equality which exists between his strength and his desires. 
It is our passions which make us weak, because we need 
more strength than Nature gives us in order to satisfy them. 
Therefore, to diminish our desires is the same as to aug- 
ment our powers. He whose strength exceeds his desires 
has some power to spare ; he is certainly a very strong 
being. This is the third stage of childhood, and the one 
of which I have now to speak. 

At the age of twelve or thirteen the strength of the 
child is developed much more rapidly than his needs. 
The most violent, the most terrible, has not yet made 
itself felt in him. But slightly sensitive to the bad effects 
of air and weather, he braves them without danger ; the 
growing warmth of his body takes the place of clothing ; 

his appetite serves him. instead of condiments ; whatever 

132 EMILE. 

can nourish him satisfies one of his age ; if he is sleepy, 
he stretches himself on the ground and sleeps. He sees 
himself surrounded on all sides by everything that is 
necessary for him ; no imaginary need torments him ; he 
is unaffected by opinion ; his desires reach no further than 
his arms. He is not only able to find a sufficiency in 
himself, but he has strength in excess of his needs ; and 
this is the only time in his life when he will be in this 

I foresee an objection. I shall not be told that the 
child has more needs than I ascribe to him, but it will be 
denied that he has the power that I attribute to him. 
People will not reflect that I am speaking of my own pupil, 
and not of those walking dolls for whom it is a journey to 
go from one room to another, who are so boxed up as to 
labor for breath, and carry about burdens of pasteboard. 
I shall be told that manly strength manifests itself only 
at the period of manhood ; and that the vital forces, 
elaborated in special organs and distributed through the 
whole body, can alone give to the muscles that consist- 
ency, activity, tone, and spring which are needed to pro- 
duce real strength. This is the philosophy of books, but 
I appeal to experience. Out in your fields I see large 
boys tilling the earth, dressing vines, holding the plow, 
handling a cask of wine, and driving a wagon, just as 
their father would. They would be taken for men if the 
sound of their voices did not betray them. Even in our 
cities, young artisans, such as blacksmiths, sledge-tool 
makers, and farriers, are almost as robust as their masters, 
and would be hardly less skillful if they had been properly 
trained. If there is any difference and I grant that there 
is it is much less, I repeat, than that between the vehe- 
ment desires of a man and the moderate desires of a child. 
Moreover, it is not simply a question of physical strength, 


but especially of that strength and capacity of mind which 
supplies and directs it. 

This interval when the power of the individual is 
greater than his desires, although it is not the period of 
his greatest absolute strength, is, as I have said, the 
period of his greatest relative strength. It is the most 
precious period of life, a period which comes but once ; 
it is very short, and all the shorter, as we shall subse- 
quently see, because it is the more important that it be 
well employed. 

What, then, shall our pupil do with that surplus of 
faculties and powers which he has on hand at present, 
but which he will stand in need of at a subsequent period 
of life ? He will endeavor to employ it in tasks which 
may profit him when the occasion comes ; he will project 
into the future, so to speak, that which is superfluous for 
the time being. The robust child will make provisions 
for the feeble man ; but he will place these stores neither 
in coffers which can be stolen from him, nor in barns 
which are not his own. In order that he may really 
appropriate his acquisitions to himself, it is in his arms, in 
his head, and in himself, that he will lodge them. This, 
then, is the period of labor, of instruction, and of study ; 
and observe, it is not I who have arbitrarily made this 
choice, but it is Nature herself who indicates it. 

Human intelligence has its limits; and not only is 
man unable to know everything, but he can not even 
know completely the little that other men know. Since 
the contradictory of every false proposition is a truth, the 
number of truths is as inexhaustible as the number of 
errors. There is, then, a choice in the things which ought 
to be taught, as well as in the time which is fit for learn- 
ing them. Of the knowledges which are within our reach, 
some are false, some are useless, and others serve to nour- 

134: tfMILE. 

ish the pride of him who has them. The small number 
of those which really contribute to our well-being are 
alone worthy the pursuit of a wise man, and consequently 
of a child whom we wish to render such. It is not at all 
necessary to know everything, but merely that which is 

From this small number we must still subtract the 
truths which require, for being comprehended, an under- 
standing already formed ; such as those which suppose 
a knowledge of the relations of man to man, which a 
child can not acquire ; or those which, while true in them- 
selves, dispose an inexperienced mind to think falsely on 
other subjects. 

We are thus reduced to a circle which is very small 
with respect to the existence of things ; but yet what an 
immense sphere this circle forms with respect to the mind 
of a child ! What rash hands shall dare to touch the veil 
which darkens the human understanding? What abysses 
I see dug by our vain sciences about this young unfortu- 
nate ! thou who art to conduct him in his perilous 
paths, and to draw from before his eyes the sacred curtain 
of Nature, tremble ! In the first place, make very sure of 
his head and your own, and have a fear lest either or 
both become giddy. Beware of the specious attractions 
of falsehood and of the intoxicating fumes of pride. 
Remember, ever remember, that ignorance has never 
been productive of evil, but that error alone is dangerous, 
and that we do not miss our way through what we do not 
know, but through what we falsely think we know. 

His progress in geometry may serve you as a certain 
test and measure for the development of his intelligence ; 
but as soon as he can discern what is useful and what is 
not, it is important to use much tact and skill to interest 
him in speculative studies. If you wish, for example, to 


have him find a mean proportional between two lines, 
begin in such a way as to make it necessary for him to find 
a square equal to a given rectangle. If two mean pro- 
portionals are required, we must first interest him in the 
problem of the duplication of the cube, etc. Observe how 
we are gradually approaching the moral notions which 
distinguish good from evil. Up to this time we have 
known no law save that of necessity ; we now have regard 
to that which is useful ; and we shall soon come to what 
is proper and good. 

The same instinct animates the different faculties of 
man. To the activity of the body, which seeks to develop 
itself, succeeds the activity of the mind, which seeks to be 
instructed. At first, children are merely restless, then 
they are curious ; and this curiosity, well directed, is the 
motive power (mobile *) of the age which we have now 
reached. Let us always distinguish the inclinations which 
come from Nature from those which come from opinion. 
There is an ardor for knowledge which is founded merely 
on the desire to be esteemed wise ; but there is another 
which springs from a curiosity natural to man for all that 
can interest him from near or from far. The innate desire 
for well-being, and the impossibility of fully satisfying this 
desire, cause him to seek without intermission means for 
contributing to it. Such is the first principle of curiosity 
a principle natural to the human heart, but the develop- 
ment of which takes place only in proportion to the 
growth of our passions and our intelligence. Imagine a 
philosopher banished to a desert isle with his instruments 

* By mobile, according to Jouffroy, is meant the element of feel- 
ing, which is one factor in action. The term motif is used to desig- 
nate the rational element in action. Maternal affection is a mobile, 
while a cool consideration of duty is a motif. See Marion's Psy- 
chologie appliquee a 1'education, p. 127, (P.) 


and his books, sure of spending there in solitude the rest 
of his days ; he will hardly occupy himself longer with 
the solar system, with the laws of attraction, or with 
the differential calculus. Perhaps he will not open a 
single book during the remainder of his life ; but he 
wi/1 never refrain from visiting his isle, even to the re- 
motest corner, however great it may be. Let us then 
likewise reject from our primary studies those branches 
of knowledge for which man has not a natural taste, and 
let us limit ourselves to those which instinct leads us to 

The earth is the isle of the human race ; and the ob- 
ject which strikes our eyes the most forcibly is the sun. 
The moment we begin to go beyond ourselves, our first 
observations will naturally fall on these two objects. Thus 
the philosophy of almost all savage peoples is occupied 
wholly with the imaginary divisions of the earth and the 
divinity of the sun. 

" What a leap ! " some one will possibly say. A moment 
ago we were occupied simply with what touches us, with 
what immediately surrounds us ; but all at once we are 
scouring the globe, and leaping to the extremities of the 
universe. This sudden transition is the effect of our pro- 
gress in power, and of our mental inclinations. In our 
state of feebleness and insufficiency, the care of self-pres- 
ervation wraps us up within ourselves ; while in our state 
of potency and strength, the desire to give extension to our 
being carries us out of ourselves and makes us reach out 
as far as it is possible for us to go ; but, as the intellectual 
world is still unknown to us, our thought goes no farther 
than our eyes, and our understanding widens only with 
the space which it measures. 

Let us transform our sensations into ideas, but let us 
not jump abruptly from sensible objects to intellectual 


objects ; for it is through the first that we are to reach 
the second. In the first movements of the mind, let the 
senses always be its guides ; let there be no book but the 
world, and no other instruction than facts. The child 
who reads does not think he merely reads ; he is not re- 
ceiving instruction, but is learning words. 

Make your pupil attentive to natural phenomena, and 
you will soon make him curious ; but, in order to nourish 
his curiosity, never be in haste to satisfy it. Ask ques- 
tions that are within his comprehension, and leave him to 
resolve them. Let him know nothing because you have 
told it to him, but because he has comprehended it him- 
self ; he is not to learn science, but to discover it.* If you 
ever substitute in his mind authority for reason, he will 
no longer reason ; he will be but the sport of others' 

You wish to teach this child geography, and you go in 
search of globes, spheres, and maps. What machines! 
Why all these representations ? Why not begin by show- 
ing him the object itself, so that he may know, at least, 
what you are talking about ! 

On a fine evening you go out to walk in a favorable 
place where the horizon, happily unclouded, allows a full 
view of the setting sun, and you observe the objects which 

* The spirit of this precept is good ; the child should be " curious 
to learn and never satisfied " ; but the teacher can not proceed far on 
the hypothesis that learning is a process of rediscovery, and that 
knowledge is synonymous with personal experience. Mr. Bain 
rightly calls such an assumption a " bold fiction." Rediscovery 
is impossible in history, and impracticable, save to a limited extent, 
even in science. Rousseau's denunciation of authority is well 
enough as a protest and a warning against a servile dependence on 
it ; but no sane man can renounce authority if he would, and would 
not if he could. (P.) 

138 tiMILE. 

make it possible to recognize the place of his setting. 
On the morrow, in order to take an airing, you return to 
the same place before the sun has risen. You see his 
coming announced from afar by flashes of fire which he 
shoots forth before him. The conflagration increases; 
the east seems all in flames. From their brightness we 
expect the sun long before he comes to view; at each 
moment we think we see him approaching, but at last he 
comes. A brilliant point darts forth like lightning and 
at once fills all space ; the veil of shadows is effaced and 
falls. Man recognizes his place of sojourn and finds it 
embellished. During the night the verdure has acquired 
new vigor; the rising day which illumines it, and the 
early rays which gild it, show it covered with a brilliant 
tracery of dew which reflects light and colors to the eye. 
The birds unite in chorus, and salute in concert the 
father of life. At this moment not one is silent ; their 
chirping, still feeble, is slower and sweeter than in the rest 
of the day, as if feeling the languor of a peaceful awaken- 
ing. The concourse of all these objects brings to the 
senses an impression of freshness which penetrates even 
to the soul. This has been a half -hour of enchantment 
which no man can resist ; a spectacle so grand, so beauti- 
ful, so delicious, leaves no one with a heart untouched. 

Full of the enthusiasm which he has experienced, the 
teacher wishes to communicate it to the child. He fan- 
cies he can move him by making him attentive to the 
sensations by which he himself has been moved. Pure 
folly ! The living spectacle of Nature is in the heart of 
man ; and to see it, it must be felt. The child perceives 
objects; but he can not perceive the relations which 
unite them, and can not hear the sweet harmony of their 
concert. He needs an experience which he has not 
acquired, and emotions which he has not experienced, 


in order to feel the composite impression which results 
at once from all these sensations. If he has not long 
traversed arid plains, if hot sands have not burned 
his feet, if the stifling reflections of the sun's rays from 
the rocks have never oppressed him, how will he enjoy 
the fresh air of a beautiful morning ? How will the per- 
fume of flowers, the charm of the verdure, the humid 
vapor of the dew, and the soft and peaceful step on the 
lawn enchant his senses? How will the song of birds 
cause him a rapturous emotion, if the accents of love and 
pleasure are still unknown to him ? With what trans- 
ports will he see the dawn of a beautiful day, if his imagi- 
nation can not paint for him those with which it may be 
fiJled ? Finally, how will he be affected by the beautiful 
spectacle of Nature, if he does not know the hand that 
has taken care to adorn it ? 

Do not address to the child discourses which he can 
not understand. Let there be no descriptions, no elo- 
quence, no figures of speech, no poetry. Neither senti- 
ment nor taste is now at stake. Continue to be simple, 
clear, and dispassionate; the time will come, only too 
soon, for assuming a different language. 

Educated in the spirit of our maxims, and accustomed 
to derive all his instruments from himself, and never to 
resort to another until after having recognized his own 
insufficiency, he examines each new object which he sees 
for a long time without saying anything. He is thought- 
ful, but asks no questions. Be content, then, with pre- 
senting to him suitable objects ; and then, when you see 
his curiosity sufficiently excited, address to him some 
laconic question which will put him in the way of resolv- 
ing it. 

On the occasion just stated, after having attentively 
contemplated with him the rising sun after having 

140 EMILE. 

caused him to observe in the same direction the mount- 
ains and other neighboring objects after having allowed 
him to talk of these things, wholly at his ease, keep silent 
for a few moments, like a man who is dreaming, and then 
say to him : " I think that last evening the sun set yonder, 
and that he rose at another place this morning ; how can 
you account for this ? " Add nothing more. If he ad- 
dresses questions to you, do not reply to them, but speak 
of something else. Leave him to himself, and you may 
be sure that he will set himself to thinking. 

In order that a child may accustom himself to being 
attentive, and that he may be thoroughly impressed with 
some sensible truth, it is necessary that it give him some 
days of unrest before he discover it. If he does not form 
a proper conception of it in this way, there is a means of 
making it still more obvious to him, and this is to repeat 
the question in a different form. If he does not know 
how the sun goes from his setting to his rising, he knows, 
at least, how he goes from his rising to his setting ; his 
eyes alone teach him this. Elucidate the first question by 
the second ; and your pupil is either absolutely stupid, or 
the analogy is too clear to escape him. This is his first 
lesson in astronomy. 

As we always proceed slowly from one sensible idea to 
another, as we familiarize ourselves for a long time with 
the same thing before passing to another, and, finally, as 
we never force our pupil to be attentive, it is a long dis- 
tance from this first lesson to the knowledge of the revo- 
lution of the sun and the shape of the earth ; but as all 
the apparent movements of the celestial bodies depend on 
the same principle, and as the first observation leads to all 
the others, it requires less effort, though more time, to 
pass from the earth's diurnal revolution to the calculation of 
eclipses, than to form a proper conception of day and night. 


We have seen the sun rise on St.-John's-day, and we 
.shall also see him rise on Christmas-day, or some other 
fine day of winter ; for it is known that we are not indo- 
lent, and that it is a pastime for us to brave the cold. I 
take care to make this second observation in the same 
place where we had made the first ; and by means of some 
tact in order to prepare the way for the remark, one or 
the other of us will not fail to exclaim : " Oh, oh ! This 
is strange ! The sun no longer rises in the same place ! 
Here are our old records ; and now the sun rises yonder. 
There is, then, one place of rising in summer, and another 
for winter." Youthful teacher, you are now on the right 
route. These examples ought to suffice you for teaching 
the sphere with great clearness, while taking the world for 
the world and the sun for the sun. 

In general, never substitute the sign for the thing 
itself save when it is impossible to show the thing ; for 
the sign absorbs the attention of the child and makes him 
forget the thing represented. 

The armillary sphere seems to me a machine badly 
arranged, and constructed in false proportions. This 
confusion of circles and fantastical figures which are 
traced on it give it the air of a conjuring book, which 
scares the minds of children. The earth is too small and 
the circles too large and too numerous ; some of them, 
as the colures, are perfectly useless each circle is wider 
than the earth ; the thickness of the pasteboard gives 
them an appearance of solidity which causes them to be 
taken for really existing circular masses ; and when you 
tell the child that these circles are imaginary, he does not 
know what he sees, and no longer understands anything. 

We never know how to put ourselves in the place of 
children ; we do not enter into their ideas, but we ascribe 
to them our own ; aud always following our own modes 

142 tfMILE. 

of reasoning with series of truths, we crarn their heads 
only with extravagances and errors. 

It is a disputed question whether we shall resort to 
analysis or to synthesis * in the study of the sciences ; but it 
is not always necessary to make a choice. Sometimes we 
can resolve and compose in the same researches, and may 
guide the child by the method of instruction when he 
fancies he is merely analyzing. Then, while employing 
both at the same time, they serve each other mutually in the 
way of tests. Starting at the same moment from two oppo- 
site points, without thinking of traversing the same route, 
he will be wholly surprised at the unexpected meeting, 
and this surprise can not fail to be very agreeable. For 
example, I would begin the study of geography from 
these two starting-points, and connect with the study of 
the revolutions of the globe the measurements of its 
parts, starting from the place where the child lives. 
While the child is studying the sphere, and is thus trans- 
ported into the heavens, recall his attention to the divis- 
ions of the earth, and show him at first the spot where he 

His first two starting-points in geography will be the 
city where he lives and the country-seat of his father. 
After these will come the intermediate places, then the 

* By synthesis, in the study of geography, Rousseau seems to mean 
the process which begins with the immediate surroundings of the 
child, and, by successive additions of territory, finally rises to the 
conception of the globe as a whole ; and by analysis, the counter- 
process which, starting with a conception of the globe as a whole; 
or, it may be, with the solar system, descends by successive division 
to the child's immediate neighborhood. The ancient method was 
analytic, but the modern, in obedience to the supposed requirements 
of intuition, has been synthetic, though there is now a partial re- 
turning toward the older, and, I venture to say, the better and more 
philosophical method, (P.) 


neighboring rivers, and lastly the observation of the sun, 
and the manner of finding one's way. This is the point 
of reunion. Let him make for himself a map of all this. 
This map will be very simple, and composed, at first, of 
only two objects ; but to these he will gradually add the 
others as he ascertains or estimates their distance and 
position. You already see what advantage we have pro- 
cured for him in advance by causing him to use his eyes 
for a compass. 

Notwithstanding all this, it will doubtless be necessary 
to guide him somewhat ; but only a very little, and with- 
out seeming to guide him. If he makes mistakes, let him 
do it ; do not correct his errors, but wait in silence till he 
is in a condition to see them and to correct them for him- 
self ; or, at most, on a favorable occasion introduce some 
procedure which will make him conscious of them. If 
he were never to make mistakes, he would not learn so 
well. Moreover, it is not proposed that he shall know the 
exact topography of the country, but the means of gain- 
ing this knowledge for himself. It is of little importance 
for him to carry maps in his head, provided he has a clear 
conception of what they represent, and a definite idea 
of the art which serves for constructing them. You 
already see the difference there is between the learning of 
your pupils and the ignorance of mine ! They know the 
maps, but he makes them. These are new ornaments for 
his chamber. 

Always recollect that the spirit of my system is not to 
teach the child many things, but never to allow anything 
to enter his mind save ideas which are accurate and clear. 
Though he learn nothing, it is of little importance to me 
provided he is not deceived ; and I furnish his head with 
truths only to protect him from errors which he would 
learn in their place. Reason and judgment come slowly j 

144 EMILE. 

but prejudices rush forward in flocks, and it is from these 
that he must be preserved. But if you make knowledge 
your sole object, you enter a bottomless and shoreless 
sea, everywhere strewn with rocks, and you will never 
extricate yourself from it. When I see a man smitten 
with the love of knowledge allow himself to be seduced 
by its charm, and to run from one subject to another 
without knowing how to stop, I fancy I see a child upon 
the sea-shore gathering shells. At first, he loads himself 
with them ; then, tempted by those he sees beyond, he 
throws them away and picks up others, until, weighed 
down by their number, and not knowing what to select, 
he ends by throwing all away and returns empty-handed. 

During the period of infancy the time was long, and 
we sought only to lose it, for fear of making a bad use 
of it. It is now the very reverse of all this, and we have 
not time enough in which to do all that is useful. Reflect 
that the passions are approaching, and that the moment 
they knock at the door your pupil will no longer be 
attentive save to them. The peaceful epoch of intelligence 
is so short, it passes so rapidly, it has so many necessary 
uses, that it is folly to imagine that it suffices to make a 
child wise. It is not proposed to teach him the sciences, 
but to give him a taste for them, and methods for learning 
them, when this taste shall be better developed. Without 
doubt this is the fundamental principle of all good edu- 

This is also the time for accustoming the pupil, little 
by little, to give consecutive attention to the same sub- 
ject; but it is never constraint, but always pleasure or 
desire, which should produce this attention. Great care 
should be taken that attention does not become a burden 
to him, and that it does not result in ennui. Therefore 
keep a watchful eye over him, and, whatever may happen, 


abandon everything rather than have his tasks become 
irksome ; for how much he learns is of no account, but 
only that he does nothing against his will.* 

If he asks you questions, reply just enough to stimu- 
late his curiosity, but not enough to satisfy it. Above 
all, when you see that, instead of asking questions for 
instruction, he undertakes to beat the bush and to annoy 
you with silly questions, stop on the instant, for you may 
then be sure that he no longer cares for the thing itself, 
but merely to subject you to his interrogations. You 
must have less regard to the words which he pronounces 
than for the motive which prompts him to speak. This 
caution, hitherto less necessary, becomes of the utmost im- 
portance the moment the child begins to reason. 

There is a chain of general truths by which all the 
sciences hold to common principles and are developed in 
logical succession. This chain is the method of the phi- 
losophers ; but in this place we are not at all concerned 
with it. There is a totally different one, by means of 
which each individual object brings forward another, and 
always points out the one which follows it. This order, 
which through a continual curiosity stimulates the atten- 
tion required of us, is the one which most men follow, and 
is especially the one required by children. 

We had observed for a long time, my pupil and I, 
that amber, glass, wax, and other bodies, when rubbed, 
attracted straws, and that others did not attract them. By 
chance we found one which has a property still more 

* In the actual conduct of life the path of duty often crosses 
that of inclination, and ^raile will have a sorry preparation for 
living if he does not learn to bend his neck to the yoke of au- 
thority. This is a fundamental and fatal vice in Rousseau's ethical 
system, and he is here following the bias of his own disordered 


singular that of attracting at some distance, and without 
being rubbed, filings and other bits of iron. How many 
times this quality amused us without our being able to 
see anything more in it ! At last we discover that it is 
communicated even to iron magnetized by a certain 
process One day we went to the fair, where we saw a 
juggler attract with a piece of bread a wax duck floating 
in a basin of water.* We were greatly surprised, but we 
did not say that the man was a sorcerer, for we did not 
know what a sorcerer was. Continually impressed by 
effects of whose cause we were ignorant, we were in no 
hurry to come to any conclusion, and we quietly reposed 
in our ignorance until we found occasion to escape from it. 
On reaching home we continued to talk of the duck 
at the fair, and so took it into our heads to imitate it. 
"We took a good needle, well magnetized, and surrounded 
it with white wax, which we did our best to mold into the 
form of a duck in such a way that the needle traversed 
the body, and with its eye formed the beak of the bird 
We placed the duck on the water, brought a key near the 
beak, and saw, with a joy easy to comprehend, that our 
duck followed the key precisely as the one at the fair fol- 
lowed the piece of bread. At another time we might have 
observed in what direction the duck turns his head when 
left on the water in a state of repose ; but at that moment, 

* I can not resist laughing while reading a spirited criticism of 
M. de Formey on this little story : " This juggler," he says, " who 
takes pride in competing with a child, and gravely lectures his 
instructor, is an individual living in a world of Emiles." The witty 
M. de Formey can not suppose that this little scene was prearranged, 
C,nd that the juggler had been instructed in the part he was to play , 
for this, in fact, is what I have not said. But how many times, let 
me remind him, have I declared that I did not write for people who 
needed to have everything told to them ! 


wholly occupied with our object, we had no further pur- 
pose in view. 

That same afternoon we returned to the fair with pre- 
pared bread in our pockets ; and as soon as the juggler 
had performed his trick, my little doctor, who could 
scarcely contain himself, said to him that the trick was 
not difficult, and that he could do it just as well him- 
self. He was taken at his word. He at once took from 
his pocket the bread in which a piece of iron was con- 
cealed. With beating heart he approached the table, 
and with trembling hand presented the bread. The 
duck came forward and followed, the child shouting 
and trembling with joy. At the clapping of hands and 
the cheers of the crowd, his head was turned and he was 
beside himself. The juggler, though confounded, came 
forward to embrace and congratulate him, and begged 
the honor of his presence for the morrow, adding that he 
would do his best to bring together still more people to 
applaud his cleverness. My little philosopher, puffed up 
with pride, was bent on prating ; but I at once shut his 
mouth and took him away, loaded with praises. 

With an uneasiness that was laughable the child 
counted the minutes until the next morning. He in- 
vited everybody he met, and would have the whole human 
race witness his glory. He awaited the hour with im- 
patience, and anticipated it by rushing off to the place of 
assembly, which he found already crowded. On entering, 
his young heart expanded. Other sports were to precede ; 
the juggler surpassed himself, and executed surprising 
feats. The child saw nothing of all this, but was nervous, 
in a state of perspiration, and scarcely breathed. He spent 
his time in handling with impatience the piece of bread 
which he carried in his pocket. At last his turn came, and 
he was formally presented to the public. He stepped for- 

ward, somewhat abashed, and took the bread from his 
pocket. A new vicissitude in human affairs ! The duck, 
yesterday so tame, had become wild to-day, and instead of 
presenting his beak he turned tail and sailed away. He 
refused the bread and the hand that offered it with as 
much care as he had previously followed them. After a 
thousand useless attempts, which were always greeted with 
hoots, the child complained, said that he had been de- 
ceived, that it was another duck which had been substi- 
tuted for the first, and dared the juggler to attract this 

The juggler, without making any reply, took a piece 
of bread and presented it to the duck, which instantly 
followed the bread, and approached the hand which drew 
it back. The child took the same piece of bread; but 
far from succeeding better than before, he saw the duck 
make fun of him, and execute pirouettes all around the 
basin. He finally withdrew, covered with confusion, and 
no longer dared expose himself to the hoots and jeers. 

Then the juggler took the piece of bread which the 
child had brought, and used it with as much success as 
he did his own. He drew out the piece of iron in the 
presence of the audience, and there was another laugh at 
our expense ; and then with this bread alone he attracted 
the duck as before. He did the same thing with another 
piece of bread cut in the presence of the audience by a 
third hand. He did the same with his glove, and with 
the tip of his finger. Finally he withdrew to the mid- 
dle of the room, and, with a pompous tone peculiar to 
these people, declaring that his duck would obey his voice 
no less than the movement of his hand, he spoke to it 
and the duck obeyed. He told it to go to the right, and 
it went to the right ; to come back, and it came ; to turn, 
and it turned ; the movement was as prompt as the order. 


The redoubled plaudits were so many affronts for us. We 
slipped out without being observed, and shut ourselves up 
in our chamber, without going to relate our success to 
everybody, as we had intended. 

The next morning some one knocked at our door. I 
opened it, and there was the juggler. He modestly com- 
plained of our conduct. What had he done to us to make 
us willing to discredit his feats and to take away from 
him his livelihood ? What was there so wonderful in the 
art of attracting a wax duck as to make us willing to buy 
this honor at the expense of the subsistence of an honest 
man ? " On my honor, gentlemen, if I had some other 
talent for making a living I would hardly plume myself 
on this one. You may well believe that a man who has 
spent his life in working at this sorry trade knows much 
more about it than you who have been occupied with it 
for only a few minutes. If I did not at first show you 
masterpieces of my art, it was because it was not neces- 
sary to be in haste to make a foolish exhibition of what 
one knows. I have always taken care to save my best 
tricks for special emergencies, and besides what I showed 
you I have still others to arrest the attention of young 
inconsiderates. Finally, gentlemen, I have cheerfully come 
to teach you the secret which has caused you so much 
trouble, praying you not to use it to my disadvantage, and 
hereafter to be more discreet." 

Then he showed his machine, and we saw with the 
utmost surprise that it consisted merely of a strong mag- 
net, well mounted, which a child concealed under the 
table caused to move without being detected. 

The man put up his machine, and, after having ex- 
pressed our thanks and our excuses, we wished to make 
him a present, but he refused it. " No, gentlemen, you 
have not sufficiently commended yourselves to my favor 

150 fiMILE. 

to permit me to accept jour gifts ; and against your will 
I leave you under obligations to me. This is my only 
revenge. Learn that there is generosity in men of all con- 
ditions ; I receive pay for my tricks, not for my lessons." 

All the details of this example are more important 
than they seem. How many lessons in this single one ! 
How many mortifying consequences follow the first move- 
ment of vanity ! Youthful teacher, carefully watch this 
first movement. If you can thus draw from it humili- 
ation and disgrace, you may be sure that it will be a long 
time before a second instance will occur. What prepa- 
rations ! you will say. I grant it, and all for the sake of 
making a compass to serve us instead of a noon-mark. 

Having learned that the magnet acts through other 
bodies, we have nothing else to do than to make a ma- 
chine similar to that which we have seen a hollow table, 
a very shallow basin adjusted to this table and filled 
with a few inches of water, a duck made with a little 
more care, etc. Often directing our attention to the 
basin, we finally observe that the duck in repose always 
affects nearly the same direction. We repeat this experi- 
ment, examine this direction, and find that it is from 
south to north. Nothing more is necessary. Our com- 
pass is found, or something equally good, and we are now 
ready for physical science. 

On the earth there are different climates, these climates 
have different temperatures. The seasons vary more sen- 
sibly as we approach the pole ; all bodies are contracted by 
cold and are expanded by heat ; this effect is more meas- 
urable in liquids, and more sensible in spirituous liquors. 
Hence the thermometer. The wind strikes the face ; the 
air is then a body, a fluid ; we feel it, although we have 
no means of seeing it. Invert a glass in water, and the 
water will not fill it unless you leave a place for the air to 


escape ; the air is then capable of resistance. Press the 
glass farther down and the water will gain on the air but 
can not wholly replace it ; the air is then capable of com- 
pression up to a certain limit. A ball filled with com- 
pressed air has greater elasticity than if filled with any 
other matter; the air is then an elastic body. While 
lying in your bath, lift your arm horizontally from the 
water, and you will feel it loaded with a terrible weight ; 
the air is then a heavy body. By putting the air in 
equilibrium with other fluids we can measure its weight. 
Hence the barometer, the siphon, the air-gun, and the 
pneumatic engine. All the laws of statics and hydro- 
statics are discovered by experiments which are just as 
rude. I would not have one enter a laboratory of experi- 
mental physics for anything of this kind. All this parade 
of instruments and machines displeases me.. The scien- 
tific atmosphere kills science. All these machines either 
frighten the child, or their appearance divides and absorbs 
the attention which he owes to their effects. 

I wish we might make all our own apparatus ; and I 
would not begin by 'making the instrument before the ex- 
periment ; but, after having caught a glimpse of the ex- 
periment, as by hazard, I would invent, little by little, the 
instrument which is to verify it. I prefer that our instru- 
ments should be less perfect and accurate, and that we 
should have more exact ideas of what they ought to be, 
and of the operations which ought to result from them. 
For my first lesson in statics, instead of hunting for bal- 
ances, I put a stick crosswise on the back of a chair 
and measure the length of the two parts of the stick in 
equilibrium, and I add weights to both sides, sometimes 
equal and sometimes unequal, and drawing back or ex- 
tending the stick as it may be necessary, I finally dis- 
cover that equilibrium results from a reciprocal propo'r- 

i 52 EMILE. 

tion between the amount of the weights and the length 
of the levers. Here is my little physicist already capable 
of rectifying balances before having seen any. 

Without doubt we derive much clearer and much 
more accurate notions of things which we learn for 
ourselves than of those which we gain from the instruc- 
tion of others; and besides, not accustoming our reason 
to submit slavishly to authority, we become more ingen- 
ious in discovering relations and in associating ideas, than 
when, accepting all this just as it is given us, we allow 
our mind to become weighed down with indifference, just 
as the body of a man who is always dressed and attended 
by his servants and carried about by his horses finally 
loses the strength and use of his limbs. Boileau boasted 
of having taught Racine to rhyme with much difficulty. 
Among so many admirable methods for abridging the 
study of the sciences, it is very necessary that some one 
give us a method for learning them with effort. 

The most obvious advantage of these slow and labori- 
ous investigations is to maintain, in the midst of specu- 
lative studies, the body in activity, the limbs in their 
flexibility, and the ceaseless training of the hands to 
labor and to employments useful to man. So many 
instruments invented to guide us in our experiments and 
to supply the place of accurate sense-perception cause us 
to neglect the exercise of it. The graphometer relieves us 
from estimating the size of angles ; the eye which meas- 
ured distances with precision relies on the chain which 
measures them for it. The steelyard relieves me from 
estimating by the hand the weight which I was accus- 
tomed to ascertain by it. The more ingenious our instru- 
ments are, the blunter and more clumsy our organs be- 
come By collecting machines about us we no longer 
find them within ourselves. 


But when we bestow on the manufacturer of these 
machines the skill which supplied their place, when we 
employ in making them the sagacity which was needed 
for doing without them, we gain without losing anything 
we add art to nature, and we become more ingenious 
without becoming less dextrous. Instead of making a 
child stick to his books, if I employ him in a workshop, 
his hands labor to the profit of his mind ; he becomes a 
philosopher, but fancies he is only a workman. Finally, 
this exercise has other uses, of which I shall speak here- 
after ; and we shall see how from the recreations of 
philosophy we may rise to the real functions of a man. 

I have already said that purely speculative knowledge 
is hardly adapted to children, even when they have ap- 
proached adolescence ; but, without carrying them very 
far into systematic physics, proceed in such a way that all 
their experiments may be connected through some sort 
of deduction, so that by the aid of this chain they may 
place them in order in their mind, and recall them when 
occasion requires ; for it is very difficult to hold isolated 
facts, or even trains of reasoning, for a very long time in 
the memory when we have no hold by which to recall 

In your search for the laws of Nature, always begin 
with the most common and the most obvious phenomena, 
and accustom your pupil not to take these phenomena 
for reasons, but for facts. I take a stone and pretend to 
set it in the air ; I open my hand, and the stone falls. I 
look at Emile, who is attentive to what I am doing, and 
say to him, Why did that stone fall ? What child would 
stop short at this question? No one, not even Emile, 
unless I had taken great pains to prepare him for not 
knowing how to reply to it. All will say that the stone 
falls because it is heavy. And what is it to be heavy? 

154 EMILE. 

It is that which makes a body fall. Then the stone falls 
because it falls ! Here my little philosopher stopped in 
earnest. This is his first lesson in systematic physics, and 
whether or not it may be profitable in this way, it will 
always be a lesson in good sense. 

In proportion as the child advances in intelligence, 
other important considerations oblige us to be more care- 
ful in the choice of his occupations. As soon as he comes 
to have sufficient knowledge of himself to conceive in 
what his welfare consists, as soon as he can grasp rela- 
tions sufficiently extended to judge of what is best and 
what is not best for him, from that moment he is in a 
condition to feel the difference between work and play, 
and to regard the second merely as a respite from the 
first. Then objects of real utility may enter into his 
studies, and may invite him to give to them a more con- 
stant application than he gave to simple amusements. 
The law of necessity, always reappearing, teaches man 
from an early hour to do what does not please him, in 
order to prevent an evil which would be more displeasing. 
Such is the use of foresight ; and from this foresight, well 
or badly regulated, springs all human wisdom or all hu- 
man misery. 

When, before feeling their needs, children foresee 
them, their intelligence is already far advanced, and they 
begin to know the value of time. It is then important 
to accustom them to direct its employment to useful ob- 
jects, but of a utility sensible at their age and within the 
scope of their understanding. Whatever relates to the 
moral order and to the usages of society ought not to be 
presented to them so soon, because they are not in a con- 
dition to understand it. It is absurd to require them to 
apply themselves to things which are vaguely declared to 
be for their good, without their knowing what this good 


is of which they are assured they will derive profit when 
grown, and without their taking any present interest in 
this assumed advantage which they can not comprehend. 

Let the child do nothing on trust. Nothing is good 
for him which he does not feel to be such. In always 
keeping him in advance of his intelligence you think 
you are exercising foresight, but you are lacking in it. 
In order to furnish him with some vain instruments of 
which he will perhaps never make use, you take from 
him the most universal instrument of man, which is good 
sense ; you accustom him to allow himself always to be 
led, and never to be anything but a machine in the hands 
of others. You wish him to be docile while young ; but 
this is to wish him to be credulous and a dupe when 
grown. You are always saying to him : " All I require 
of you is for your advantage ; but you are not in a con- 
dition to know it. Of what advantage is it to me whether 
or not you do what I require ? It is for yourself alone 
that you are working." With all these fine speeches 
which you now address to him in order to make him 
wise, you are preparing for the success of those which a 
visionary, a pretender, a charlatan, a rogue, or fools of 
every sort, will one day address to him in order to catch 
him in their net, or to make him adopt their folly. 

A man should know many things whose utility a 
child could not comprehend ; but must and can a child 
learn all that it is important for a man to know ? Try to 
teach a child all that is useful for one of his age, and you 
will discover that his time Avill be more than filled. Why 
will you, to the prejudice of studies which are adapted to 
nim to-day, apply him to those of an age which he is so 
little certain to reach ? But you will say : " Will there 
be time to learn what one ought to know when the mo- 
ment shall have come to make use of it ? " I can not 

156 EMILE. 

say ; but what I do know is that it is impossible to learn 
it sooner, for our real masters are experience and feel- 
ing, and a man never really feels what is befitting a man 
save in the relations where he has found himself. A 
child knows that he is destined to become a man, and all 
the ideas which he can have of man's estate are occasions 
of instruction to him ; . but of the ideas of that state 
which are not within his comprehension, he ought to 
remain in absolute ignorance. My whole book is but a 
continual proof of this principle of education. 

As soon as we have succeeded in giving our pupil an 
idea of the word useful, we have another strong hold for 
governing him ; for this word makes a strong impression 
on him, provided he has only an idea of it in proportion 
to his age, and clearly sees how it is related to his actual 
welfare. Your children have not been impressed by this 
word because you have not taken care to give them an 
idea of it which is within their comprehension ; and be- 
cause, as others always take it upon themselves to pro- 
vide what is useful for them, they never have occasion 
to think of it themselves, and do not know what util- 
ity is. 

What is this good for 9 Henceforth this is the conse- 
crated word, the decisive word between him and me in all 
the transactions of our life. This is the question which 
on my part invariably follows all his questions, and which 
serves as a check on those multitudes of foolish and tire- 
some questions with which children weary all those who 
are about them, without respite and without profit, more 
to exercise over them some sort of domination than to 
derive any advantage from them. When one has been 
taught, as his most important lesson, to desire nothing 
in the way of knowledge save what is useful, he asks ques- 
tions like Socrates ; he does not ask a question without 


framing for himself its answer, which he knows will be 
demanded of him before resolving it. 

As it is of little importance that your pupil learn this 
or that, provided he has a clear conception of what he 
learns and of its use, the moment you can not give him 
an explanation of what you have told him is good for him, 
give him no explanation at all. Say to him without scru- 
ple : I have no good reply to make to you ; I was wrong ; 
let it all go. If your instruction was wholly out of place, 
there is no harm in abandoning it wholly ; if it was not, 
with a little care you will soon find occasion to make him 
conscious of its utility. 

I do not like discursive explanations ; young people 
pay little attention to them, and hardly ever retain them. 
Things ! things ! I shall never repeat often enough that 
we give too much power to words. With our babbling 
education we make nothing but babblers. 

Suppose that while I am studying with my pupil the 
course of the sun and the manner of finding the points 
of the compass, he suddenly interrupts me, by asking 
what all this is good for. What a fine discourse I might 
hold with him ! On how many things I might take occa- 
sion to instruct him while replying to his questions, espe- 
cially if Ave had witnesses of our conversation ! * I might 
speak to him of the utility of travel, of the advantages of 
commerce, of the productions peculiar to each climate, 
of the manners of different peoples, of the use of the cal- 
endar, of the computation of the return of seasons for agri- 
culture, of the art of navigation, of the manner of making 

* I have often observed that in the learned instructions which 
we give to children we think less of making ourselves heard by 
them than by the grand personages who are present. 1 am very 
certain of what I have now said,' for 1 have observed this very thing 
of myself. 

158 EMILE. 

one's way on the sea, and of following our route with ex- 
actness without knowing where we are. Politics, natural 
history, astronomy, even ethics and the law of nations 
might enter into my explanation in such a way as to give 
my pupil a grand idea of all these sciences and a great 
desire to learn them. When I had said all, I would have 
made the display of a real pedant, and my pupil would 
not have gained a single idea. He would have a great 
desire to ask me, as before, what purpose it serves to find 
the points of the compass, but he dares not for fear of 
offending me. He finds it more to his advantage to feign 
to understand what he has been forced to hear. It is in 
this way that children get what is called a polished edu- 

But our Emile, educated in a more rustic manner, to 
whom we have given, with so much trouble, a dull under- 
standing, will listen to nothing of all this. From the 
first word which he does not understand he runs away, 
goes frolicking through the room, and leaves me to hold 
forth all alone. Let us look for a more homely solution ; 
my scientific apparatus is worth nothing to him. 

We were observing the position of the forest at the 
north of Montmorency when he interrupted me by his 
importunate question, Of what use is that? You are 
right, I say to him ; we must think of that at our leisure ; 
and if we find that this work is good for nothing, we will 
not resume it, for we have no lack of useful amusements. 
We occupy ourselves with something else, and the ques- 
tion of geography is not raised for the rest of the day. 

On the following morning I propose to him a walk 
before breakfast ; he asks nothing better. Children are al- 
ways ready for a ramble, and this one has good legs. We . 
enter the forest, we stroll through the meadows, we be- 
come lost, we no longer know where we are ; and when 


we attempt to return we are no longer able to find our 
way back. Time passes, the heat increases, and we are 
hungry; we hurry on, we wander about to no purpose 
from place to place, and everywhere we find but woods, 
walks, plains, but no information for finding our way. 
Very warm, very weary, very hungry, the only purpose 
served by our wanderings is to lead us farther astray. 
We finally seat ourselves in order to rest and deliberate. 
Emiie, whom I suppose to be educated as other children 
are, does not deliberate ; he weeps. He does not know 
that we are at the gate of Montmorency, and that a simple 
hedge conceals it from us ; but this hedge is a forest for 
him ; a man of his stature is buried in bushes. 

After a few moments' silence, I say to him with a dis- 
turbed air : " My dear Emile, how shall we proceed to get 
out of this place ? " 

EMILE (dripping with sweat and weeping bitterly). 
" I know nothing about it. I am tired, hungry, and 
thirsty ; I can do nothing more." 

JEAX JACQUES. " Do you fancy I am in a better con- 
dition than you are, and do you think that I should fail 
to weep if I could dine on my tears ? It is not a question 
of weeping, but of finding our way. Let us see your 
watch ; what time is it ? " 

E. " It is noon, and I have not had my break- 

J. J. " That is true ; it is noon, and I, too, have had 
nothing to eat." 

E. " Oh, then you too must be hungry ! " 

J. J. " The misfortune is that my dinner will not come 
to find me here. It is noon, and it is exactly the hour 
when we were observing yesterday from Montmorency 
the position of the forest. If we could also observe from 
the forest the position of Montmorency? ..." 

160 EMILE. 

E\ "Oh, yes; but yesterday we saw the forest, and 
from this place we do not see the city." 

J. J. " This is the difficulty. ... If we could do with- 
out seeing it and still find its position ? . . . " 

E. " my good friend ! " 

J. J. " Did we not say that the forest was? ..." 

E. " At the north of Montmorency." 

J. J. " Consequently, Montmorency should be ..." 

E. " At the south of the forest." 

J. J. " We have a means of finding the north at 

E. " Yes, by the direction of a shadow." 

J. J. " But the south ? " 

E. " How shall we find it?" 

J. J. " The south is opposite the north." 

E. " That is true ; we have only to look opposite the 
shadow. Oh ! there is the south ! There is the south ! 
surely Montmorency is in that direction ; let us look for 
it there." 

J. J. " Perhaps you are right ; let us take this path 
through the woods." 

E. (clapping his hands and shouting for joy}. Ah! I 
see Montmorency ! There it is before us, in plain sight. 
Let us go to breakfast, let us go to dinner, let us make 
haste. Astronomy is good for something." 

Be assured that if he does not say these last words, 
he will think them ; it is of little importance, provided it 
is not I who speak them. Now, you may be sure that as 
long as he lives he will not forget the lesson of that day ; 
whereas, if I had done no more than invent all this for 
him in his chamber, my discourse would have been for- 
gotten by the following day. So far as possible, we must 
speak by actions, and tell only what can not be done. 

The relations of effects to causes whose connection we 


do not see, the good and the evil of which we have no 
jdea, the needs which we have never felt, are as nothing to 
us ; it is impossible to interest us through them in doing 
anything connected with them. At the age of fifteen we 
see the happiness of a wise man, just as at thirty we see 
the glory of paradise. If we have no clear conception of 
either we shall do but little to acquire it ; and even when 
we form a conception of it, we shall still do but little if 
we do not desire it, if we do not think it good for us. It 
is in vain that dispassionate reason makes us approve or 
blame ; it is only passion that can make us act ; and how 
can we become impassioned for interests which we have 
not yet had ? 

Never direct the child's attention to anything which he 
can not see. While humanity is almost unknown to him, 
as you are not able to raise him to the state of man, lower 
man for him to the state of childhood. While thinking 
of what would be useful to him at another age, speak to 
him only of that whose utility he sees at present. More- 
over, let there never be comparisons with other children ; 
as soon as he begins to reason let him have no rivals, no 
competitors, even in running. I would a hundred times 
rather he would not learn what he can learn only through 
jealousy or through vanity. But every year I will mark 
the progress he has made ; I will compare it with that 
which he makes the following year. I will say to him : 
" You have grown so many inches ; there is the ditch 
which you jumped and the load which you carried ; here 
is the distance you threw a stone and the course you ran 
at one breath. Let us see what you can do now." In this 
way I excite him without making him jealous of any one. 
I would have him surpass himself, and he ought to do it. 
I see no harm in his being his own rival. 

I hate books ; they merely teach us to talk of what 


we do not know.* It is said that Hermes engraved on 
columns the elements of the sciences in order to protect 
his discoveries from the deluge. If he had thoroughly 
imprinted them in the heads of men they would have 
been preserved there through tradition. Well-prepared 
brains are the monuments on which human knowledges 
are most permanently engraved. 

Might there not be a means of bringing together so 
many lessons scattered through so many books, and of 
reuniting them under a common object which may be 
easy to see, interesting to follow, and which may serve as 
a stimulus, even to children of this age ? If we can in- 
vent a situation where all the natural needs of man are 
exhibited in a manner obvious to the mind of a child, 
and where the means of providing for these same needs 
are successively developed with the same facility, it is by 
the living and artless portraiture of this state that the 
first exercise must be given to his imagination. 

Zealous philosopher, I see that your imagination is 
already excited. Do not disturb yourself ; this situation 
has been found, has been described, and, by your leave, 
much better than you can describe it yourself at least, 
with more truth and simplicity. Since we must neces- 
sarily have books, there exists one which, to my way of 
thinking, furnishes the happiest treatise on natural edu- 
cation. This book shall be the first which my Emile will 
read ; for a long time it will of itself constitute his whole 

* This is doubtless a rhetorical style of saying that knowledge at 
first hand is preferable to knowledge that comes to us through the 
interpretation of language. Pestalozzi and even Plato affected a 
contempt for books : yet they were prolific authors, and owe their 
immortality to their writings. There are modern instances of this 
self-inflicted and unconscious satire of writing books to prove that 
books are useless ! (P.) 


/ibrary, and always hold a distinguished place in it. It 
shall be the text on which all our conversations on the 
natural sciences will serve merely as a commentary. Dur- 
ing our progress it will serve as a test for the state of our 
judgment ; and, as long as our taste is not corrupted, the 
reading of it will always please us. What, then, is this 
wonderful book? Is it Aristotle? Is it Pliny? Is it 
Buffon ? No ; it is Kobinson Crusoe. * 

Robinson Crusoe on his island, alone, deprived of the 
assistance of his fellows and of the instruments of all the 
arts, yet providing for his own subsistence and preserva- 
tion, and procuring for himself a state of comparative 
comfort here is an object interesting for every age, 
and one which may be made agreeable to children in 
a thousand ways. This is how we realize the desert 
island which first served me as a means of compari- 
son. This, I grant, is not the condition of man as a 
social being, and probably is not to be that of Emile ; but 
it is with reference to this state that we are to appreciate 
all the others. The surest means of rising above preju- 
dices, and of ordering our judgments in accordance with 
the true relations of things, is to put ourselves in the 
place of an isolated man, and to judge of everything as 
this man must judge of it, having regard to its proper 
utility. This romance, divested of all its rubbish, be- 
ginning with the shipwreck of Eobinson near his island, 
and ending with the arrival of the vessel which comes to 
take him away from it. will be at once the amusement 
and the instruction of Emile during the period now under 

* Rousseau owed many of his ideas to the greater writers of 
ancient and modern times ; but the source of his inspiration was 
Robinson Crusoe. This narrative accorded exactly with Rousseau's 
temperament, and afforded him an ideal gratification of his in- 
stincts. (P.) 

discussion. I , would have his head turned by it, and 
having him constantly occupied with his castle, his goats, 
and his plantations, I would have him learn in detail, not 
in books but from things, all that he would need to know 
in a similar situation ; I would have him think he is 
Robinson himself ; and have him see himself dressed in 
skins, wearing a broad hat, a large saber, and all the gro- 
tesque equipage of the character, even to the umbrella 
which he will never need. I would have him, when 
anxious about the measures to be adopted, in case he 
is in want of this or that, examine the conduct of his 
hero, and inquire if nothing has been omitted, and 
whether something better might not have been done; 
I would have him attentively note his faults, and profit 
by them, so as not to fall into them himself under similar 
circumstances; for do not doubt that he is forming a 
scheme to go and set up a similar establishment. This 
is the real castle-building of that happy age when we 
know no other happiness than necessity and liberty. 

What a resource this play is for a man of ability who 
calls it into being only to the end that he may turn it to 
profitable account ! The child, in haste to make a store- 
house for his island, will be more zealous to learn than 
his master to teach. He will wish to know everything 
that is useful, and to know only that ; you will no longer 
need to guide him, but only to hold him back. Therefore 
let us make haste to establish him in his island while he 
finds all his happiness in it ; for the day will come when, 
if he still wishes to live there, he would no longer live 
there alone, and when Friday, who now scarcely interests 
him, will not long suffice him. 

The practice of the natural arts, for which a single 
man may suffice, leads to the cultivation of the industrial 
arts, which need the co-operation of several hands. The 


first may be practiced by recluses and savages ; but the 
others can be developed only in society which they render 
necessary. As long as we know only physical needs, 
each man suffices for himself; but the introduction of 
the superfluous makes indispensable the division and dis- 
tribution of labor ; for, while a man working alone gains 
merely the subsistence of one man, a hundred men work- 
ing in concert will gain enough for the subsistence of 
two hundred. As soon, then, as a part of mankind seek 
repose, the united arms of those who labor are needed to 
supplement the idleness of those who are doing nothing. 

Your greatest anxiety ought to be to divert the mind 
of your pupil from all the notions of social relations 
which are not within his comprehension ; but when the 
relationships of knowledge compel you to show him the 
mutual dependence of men, instead of showing it to him 
on its moral side, first turn his attention to industry and 
the mechanic arts which make men useful to one another. 
In conducting him from shop to shop never suffer him 
to see any labor without putting his own hand to the 
work, nor to go away without perfectly knowing the rea- 
son of all that is done there, or at least of all that he has 
observed. For this purpose, labor yourself, and be an 
example to him in all things. In order to make him a 
master, be everywhere an apprentice ; and count that an 
hour's labor will teach him more things than he will re- 
tain from a day of explanations. 

" My son is made to live in the world ; he will not 
live with sages, but with fools ; he must therefore know 
their follies, since it is through them that they wish to be 
governed. The real knowledge of things may be good, 
but- that of men and their judgments is worth still more ; 
for in human society the greatest instrument of man is 
man, and the wisest is he who uses this instrument the 

best. Why give children the idea of an imaginary order 
of things wholly contrary to that which they will find 
established, and according to which they must regulate 
their conduct? First give them lessons to make them 
wise, and then you will give them the means of judging 
in what respect others are fools." 

These are the specious maxims by which the false 
prudence of parents strives to render their children the 
slaves of prejudice on which they have been nourished, 
and themselves the puppets of the senseless crowd whom 
they think to make the instruments of their passions. In 
order to attain to a knowledge of man, how many things 
must be previously learned ! Man is the final study of 
the sage, and you presume to make of him the first study 
of a child ! Before instructing him in our feelings, 
begin by teaching him to appreciate them. Is it knowing 
folly to take it for reason ? In order to be wise we must 
discern what is not wise. How will your child know 
men if he can neither judge of their judgments nor detect 
their errors ? It is a misfortune to know what they think 
when we do not know whether what they think is true or 
false. First teach him, then, what things are in them- 
selves, and you will afterward teach him what they are as 
you see them. It is in this way that he will learn to com- 
pare opinion with truth, and to rise above the common 
herd ; for we do not recognize prejudices when we adopt 
them, and we do not lead the people when we resemble 
them. But if you begin by instructing your child in' 
public opinion before teaching him to estimate its value, 
be assured that whatever you may do, it will become his 
own, and that you will no longer destroy it. My con- 
clusion is, that to render a young man judicious, we must 
carefully form his judgments instead of dictating to him 
our own. 


You see that up to this point I have not spoken to my 
pupil of men, for he will have too much good sense to 
understand me ; his relations with his species are not yet 
obvious enough for him to be able to judge of others by 
himself. He knows no other human being save himself, 
and he is even very far from knowing himself ; but if he 
expresses few judgments of himself, at least he expresses 
only those that are just. He does not know what the 
place of others is, but he recognizes his own and keeps 
it. Instead of by social laws which he can not know, we 
have bound him by the chains of necessity. He is hardly 
more than a physical being ; let us continue to keep him 

It is through their sensible relations with his utility, 
his safety, his preservation, and his comfort, that he 
ought to appreciate all the bodies of nature, and all the 
works of men. Thus, in his eyes, iron ought to have a 
far greater value than gold, and glass than a diamond. 
So also he will honor a shoemaker or a mason much more 
than a Lempereur, a Le Blanc, and all the jewelers of Eu- 
rope. A pastry-cook, in particular, is a very important 
man in his eyes, and he would give the whole Academy of 
Science for the smallest confectioner of Lombard Street. 
Goldsmiths, engravers, gilders, embroiderers, are, in his 
opinion, but idlers who amuse themselves at pastimes 
which are perfectly useless ; he does not even put much 
value on clock-making. 

I do not inquire whether it is true that industry is 
more important and deserves a higher recompense in the 
elegant arts, by which a finish is given to original materi- 
als, than in the primary labor which converts them to 
human use ; but I do say that in all cases the art whose 
use is the most general and the most indispensable is 
incontestably the one which deserves the most esteem ; and 

168 tiMILE. 

that the one to which fewer arts are necessary deserves it 
still more than those more subordinate, because it is freer 
and nearer independence. These are the true rules for 
estimating arts and industries; all others are arbitrary, 
and depend on opinion. 

The first and most respectable of all the arts is agri- 
culture. I would place the forge in the second rank, 
carpentering in the third, and so on. The child who has 
not been seduced by vulgar prejudices will judge of them 
precisely in the same way. How many important reflec- 
tions on this point will our Emile draw from his Robin- 
son Crusoe ! What will he think as he sees that the arts 
are perfected only by subdivision and by multiplying to 
infinity their respective instruments? He will say to 
himself: "All these people are stupidly ingenious; one 
would think that they are afraid that their arms and 
fingers may be good for something, seeing they invent so 
many instruments for dispensing with them. In order to 
practice a single art they have put a thousand others 
under contribution ; a city is necessary for each work- 
man. As for my companion and myself, we place our 
genius in our dexterity; we make for ourselves instru- 
ments which we can carry everywhere with us. All these 
people, so proud of their talents in Paris, would be of no 
account on our island, and in their turn would be our 

Eeader, do not pause here to see the bodily training 
and manual dexterity of our pupil, but consider what di- 
rection we are giving to his childish curiosity ; consider 
his senses, his inventive spirit, his foresight; consider 
what a head we are going to form for him ; in everything 
he sees, in everything he does, he will wish to know every- 
thing, and understand the reason of everything : from 
instrument to instrument, he will always ascend to the 


first; he will take nothing on trust; he will refuse to 
learn that which can not be understood without an ante- 
rior knowledge which he does not possess. If he sees a 
spring made, he would know how the steel was taken from 
the mine ; if he sees the pieces of a box put together, he 
would know how the tree was cut; if he himself is at 
work, at each tool that he is using he will not fail to say 
to himself : " If I did not have this tool, how should I 
go to work to make one like it or to do without it ? " 

Besides, it is an error difficult to avoid, in occupations 
for which the teacher has a passion, always to suppose 
that the child has the same taste. Take care, when the 
amusement of labor engrosses you, lest your pupil grow 
tired of it without daring to notify you of it. The child 
ought to be wholly absorbed in the thing he is doing ; but 
you ought to be wholly absorbed in the child observing 
him, watching him without respite, and without seeming 
to do so, having a presentiment of his feelings in advance, 
and preventing those which he ought not to have, and, 
finally, employing him in such a way that he not only 
feels that he is useful in what he is doing, but that he 
may feel a pleasure in it from clearly comprehending that 
what he does has a useful purpose. 

The need of a conventional standard of value by which 
things may be measured and exchanged has caused money 
to be invented ; for money is but a term of comparison 
for the value of things of different kinds; and in this 
sense money is the true bond of society. But every- 
thing may be money. Formerly, cattle were money, and 
shells still are among several peoples ; iron was money in 
Sparta, leather has been in Sweden, and gold and silver 
are with us. 

Thus explained, the use of this invention is made ob- 
vious to the most stupid. It is difficult to compare 


immediately things of different kinds cloth, for example 
with wheat ; but when a common measure has been 
found, namely, money, it is easy for the manufacturer and 
the laborer to refer the value of the things which they 
wish to exchange to this common measure. If a given 
quantity of cloth is worth a given sum of money, and if a 
given quantity of wheat is also worth the same sum of 
money, it follows that the merchant receiving this wheat 
for his cloth makes an equitable exchange. Thus it is 
by means of money that goods of different kinds become 
commensurable, and may be compared. 

Do not go further than this, and do not enter into an 
explanation of the moral effects of this institution. In 
everything it is important clearly to set forth its uses 
before showing its abuses. If you attempt to explain to 
children how signs cause things to be neglected, how from 
money proceed all the vagaries of- opinion, how countries 
rich in money must be poor in everything else, you are 
treating these children not only as philosophers, but as 
men of wisdom ; and you are attempting to make them 
understand what few philosophers even have clearly com- 

To what an abundance of interesting objects may we 
not thus turn the curiosity of the pupil without ever 
quitting the real and material relations which are within 
his reach or allowing a single idea to arise in his mind 
which he can not comprehend ! The art of the teacher 
consists in never allowing his observations to bear on 
minutiae which serve no purpose, but ever to confront him 
with the wide relations which he must one day know in 
order to judge correctly of the order, good and bad, of 
civil society. He must know how to adapt the conversa- 
tions with which he amuses his pupil to the turn of mind 
which he has given him. A given question which might 



not arouse the attention of another would torment Emile 
for six months. 

"We go to dine at an elegant house, and find all the 
preparations for a feast many people, many servants, 
many dishes, and a table-service elegant and fine. All 
this apparatus of pleasure and feasting has something in- 
toxicating in it which affects the head when we are not 
accustomed to it. I foresee the effect of all this on my 
young pupil. While the repast is prolonged, while the 
courses succeed each other, and while a thousand noisy 
speeches are in progress around the table, I approach his 
ear and say to him : " Through how many hands do you 
really think has passed all that you see on this table be- 
fore it reaches it?" What a host of ideas do I awaken in 
his mind by these few words ! In an instant all the 
vapors of delirium are expelled. He dreams, he reflects, 
he calculates, he becomes restless. While the philoso- 
phers, enlivened by the wine, and perhaps by their com- 
panions, talk nonsense and play the child, he philoso- 
phizes all alone in his corner. He interrogates me, but I 
refuse to reply, and put him off until another time ; he 
becomes impatient, forgets to eat and drink, and longs to 
be away from the table in order to converse with me at 
his ease. What an object for his curiosity ! What a text 
for his instruction ! With a sound judgment which noth- 
ing has been able to corrupt, what will he think of luxury 
when he finds that all the regions of the world have been 
put under contribution, that twenty millions of hands, 
perhaps, have been at work for a long time to create the 
material for this feast, and that it may have cost the lives 
of thousands of men? 

Carefully watch the secret conclusions which he draws 
in his heart from all these observations. If you have 
guarded him less carefully than I suppose, he may be 

172 EMILE. 

tempted to turn his reflections in another direction, and to 
regard himself as a personage of importance to the world, 
seeing there has been this vast combination of human in- 
dustry for the preparation of his dinner. If you have a 
presentiment of this reasoning, you may easily prevent it 
before he forms it, or, at least, may at once efface its 
impression. Not yet knowing how to appreciate things 
save through the material enjoyment of them, he can not 
judge of their fitness or uufitness for him save through 
obvious relations. The comparison of a simple and rus- 
tic dinner, prepared for by exercise and seasoned by hun- 
ger, liberty, and joy, with a feast so magnificent and elab- 
orate, will suffice to make him feel that as all this festal 
preparation has given him no real profit, and as his 
stomach comes just as well satisfied from the table of the 
peasant as from that of the banker, there was nothing at 
the one more than at the other which he could truly call 
his own. 

What remains for us to do after having observed all 
that surrounds us ? To convert to our use all of it that 
we can appropriate to ourselves, and to make use of our 
curiosity for the advantage of our own well-being. Up to 
this point we have provided ourselves with instruments of 
all sorts, without knowing which of them we shall need. 
Perhaps, though useless to ourselves, ours will be able to 
serve others ; and possibly, on our part, we shall have 
need of theirs. Thus we shall all find our advantage 
in these exchanges ; but, in order to make them, we 
must know our mutual needs, each one must know 
what others have for their use, and what he can offer to 
them in return. Let us suppose ten men, each of whom 
has ten different needs. It is necessary that each one, 
for his own necessities, apply himself to ten sorts of labor ; 
but by reason of difference in genius and talent one will 


be less successful in one sort of work, and another in an- 
other. All, fit for different things, will do the same things 
and will be poorly served. Let us form a society of these 
ten men, and let each one apply himself, both for his own 
sake and for that of the nine others, to the kind of occu- 
pation to which he is best adapted. Each will profit by 
the talents of the others as if he alone had them all ; each 
will perfect his own by a continual exercise ; and it will 
come to pass that all the ten, perfectly well provided for, 
will still have something left for others. This is the ob- 
vious basis of all our institutions. It is not my purpose 
in this place to examine its consequences ; this is what 
I have done in another treatise.* 

On this principle a man who would regard himself as 
an isolated being, dependent on no one and sufficing for 
himself, would not fail to be miserable. It would be even 
impossible for him to subsist; for, finding the entire 
earth covered with thine and mine, and having nothing 
of his own but his body, whence would he derive the 
necessaries of life? By withdrawing from the state of 
nature, we force our fellows to withdraw from it also. 
No one can remain there against the will of others ; and 
it would really be to withdraw from it to desire to remain 
there in the impossibility of subsisting ; for the first law 
of Nature is the duty of self-preservation. 

Thus are formed little by little in the mind of a child 
the ideas of social relations even before he is really able 
to be an active member of society. Emile sees that in 
order to have articles for his own use he must have some 
necessary for the use of others, through whom he can ob- 
tain in exchange the things which he needs, and which 
are in their power. I easily lead him to feel the need of 

* Discours sur 1'Inegalite. 


these exchanges, and to put himself in a condition to profit 
by them. 

" Sir, it is necessary for me to live" said an unfortu- 
nate satirical author to the minister who reproached him 
with the infamy of his calling " / do not see the necessity 
for it" coldly replied the man in power. This response, 
well enough for a minister, would have been barbarous 
and false in the mouth of any one else. Every man must 
live. This argument, to which every one gives more or 
less force in proportion as he is more or less human, 
seems to me without reply when made by any one with 
reference to himself. Since, of all the aversions given us 
by Nature, the strongest is that for death, it follows that 
anything is permitted by her to any one who has no other 
means of living. The principle on which the virtuous 
man despises life and sacrifices it to his duty is very far 
from this primitive simplicity. Happy the people among 
whom one can be good without effort and just without 
virtue ! If there is any miserable country in the world where 
one can not live save through evil doing, and where the 
citizens are rogues by necessity, it is not the criminal who 
should be hung, but he who compels him to become such. 

As soon as Emile comes to know what life is, my 
first care shall be to teach him how to preserve it. So 
far I have not distinguished classes, ranks, or fortunes; 
nor shall I distinguish them scarcely more in the sequel, 
because man is the same in all conditions. A rich man 
does not have a larger stomach than a poor man, and it 
digests no better than his; the arms of the lord are 
neither longer nor stronger than those of his slave ; a 
great man is no larger than a common man ; and, finally, 
natural needs being everywhere the same, the means of 
providing for them ought everywhere to be equal. Adapt 
the education of man to man, and not to that which, he 


is not. Do you not see that in striving to educate him 
exclusively for one condition you are making him useless 
for every other ? and that, if it please Fortune, you have 
labored only to make him unhappy? What is there more 
ridiculous than a man once a great lord, but now poor, 
who retains in his misery the prejudices of his birth? 
What is there more abject than an impoverished rich 
man, who, recollecting the contempt shown to poverty, 
feels that he has become the lowest of men ? The sole 
resource of one is the trade of public cheat, and of the 
other that of a cringing valet with this fine phrase, "It is 
necessary for me to live." 

You place confidence in the actual state of society with- 
out reflecting that this state is subject to inevitable revolu- 
tions, and that it is impossible to foresee or to prevent that 
which may confront your children. The great become 
small, the rich become poor, the monarch becomes a sub- 
ject. Are the blows of Fortune so rare that you can count 
on being exempt from them ? We are approaching a state 
of crisis and a century of revolutions.* Who can answer 
to you for what you will then become ? Whatever men 
have made, men may destroy ; there are no ineffaceable 
characters save those which Nature impresses, and Nature 
makes neither princes, nor millionaires, nor lords. What, 
then, will that satrap do in his fallen state whom you have 
educated only for grandeur ? What will that extortioner 
do in his poverty who knows how to live only on gold ? 
What will that pompous imbecile do, deprived of every- 
thing, who can make no use of himself, and who employs 

* I hold it to be impossible for the great monarchies of Europe 
to last much longer ; all have achieved brilliancy, and every state in 
this condition is in its decline. I have for my opinion reasons more 
cogent than this maxim ; but this is not the time to declare them, 
and they must be evident to all. 

176 EMILE. 

his existence only in what is foreign to himself ? Happy 
he who then knows how to turn away from the station 
which he quits, and can remain a man in spite of Fort- 
une ! Praise as much as you will that conquered king 
who, in his fury, would be buried under the ruins of his 
throne : for myself I despise him. I see that he owes his 
existence solely to his crown, and that if he were not king 
he would be nothing at all. But he who loses his crown 
and does without it, is then superior to it. From the rank 
of king, which a craven, a villain, or a madman might 
occupy as well, he ascends to the state of man which so 
few men know how to fill. He then triumphs over Fort- 
une and braves her; he owes nothing save to himself 
alone ; and when all that remains to him to show is him- 
self, he is not a cipher, but is something. Yes, I would a 
hundred times rather be the King of Syracuse as a school- 
master at Corinth, and the King of Macedon as a clerk 
at Rome,* than an unfortunate Tarquin, not knowing 
what will become of him if he does not reign, or than the 
heir of the possessor of three kingdoms, f the puppet of 
whoever dares insult his misery, wandering from court to 
court, seeking assistance everywhere and everywhere find- 
ing affronts, all from not knowing how to do something 
besides the thing which is no longer in his power. 

The man and the citizen, whichever he may be, has 
no other valuable to give to society than himself, all his 
other valuables being there without his will ; and when a 
man is rich, either he does not enjoy his riches, or the 
public enjoys them also. In the first case, he steals from 
others that of which he deprives himself ; and in the sec- 

* Alexander [the son of Perseus, last], King of Macedonia, was 
the secretary of a Roman magistrate. 

f The Prince Charles Edward, called the Pretender, grandson of 
James II, King of England, dethroned in 1688. (P.) 


ond, he gives them nothing. So the entire social debt 
remains with him as long as he pays only with his prop- 
erty. " But," you say, " my father served society while 
gaining this property." Be it so ; he has paid his own 
debt, but not yours. You owe more to others than as 
though you were born without property ; you were favored 
in your birth. It is not just that what one man has done 
for society should release another from what he owes it ; 
for each one, owing his entire self, can pay only for him- 
self, and no father can transmit to his son the right of 
being useless to his fellows ; yet that is what he does, 
according to you, in leaving him his riches, which are 
the proof and reward of labor. He who eats in idleness 
what he himself has not earned, steals ; and a land-holder 
whom the state pays for doing nothing does not differ 
from a brigand who lives at the expense of travelers. 
Outside of society, an isolated man, owing nothing to any 
one, has a right to live as he pleases ; but in society, where 
he necessarily lives at the expense of others, he owes them 
in labor the price of his support ; to this there is no ex- 
ception. To work, then, is a duty indispensable to social 
man. Rich or poor, powerful or weak, every idle citizen 
is a knave. 

Now, of all the occupations which can furnish sub- 
sistence to man, that which approaches nearest to the 
state of Nature is manual labor ; of all the conditions 
the most independent of fortune and of men, is that of 
the artisan. The artisan depends only on his labor. He 
is free as free as the husbandman is a slave ; for the lat- 
ter is dependent on his field, whose harvest is at the dis- 
cretion of others. The enemy, the prince, a powerful 
neighbor, may take away from him this field ; on ac- 
count of it he may be harassed in a thousand ways ; but 
wherever there is a purpose to harass the artisan, his bag- 


gage is soon ready ; he folds his arms and walks off. 
Still, agriculture is the first employment of man ; it is 
the most honorable, the most useful, and consequently the 
most noble that he can practice. I do not tell Emile to 
learn agriculture, for he knows it. All rustic employ- 
ments are familiar to him ; it is with them that he began, 
and to them he will ever be returning. I say to him, then, 
Cultivate the heritage of your fathers. But if you lose 
this heritage, or if you have none, what are you to do ? 
Learn a trade. 

" A trade for my son ! My son an artisan ! My dear 
sir, are you serious ? " , More serious than you are, madam, 
who would make it impossible for him ever to be any- 
thing but a lord, a marquis, a prince, or perhaps, one day, 
less than nothing ; but on my part I wish to give him a 
rank which he can not lose, a rank which will honor him 
as long as he lives. I wish to raise him to the state of 
manhood ; and whatever you may say of it, he will have 
fewer equals by this title than by all those which he will 
derive from you. 

The letter kills and the spirit makes alive. It is im- 
portant to learn a trade, less for the sake of knowing 
the trade than for overcoming the prejudices which de- 
spise it. You say you will never be compelled to work 
for a living. Ah, so much the worse so much the worse 
for you ! But never mind ; do not work from necessity, 
but work for glory. Condescend to the state of the artisan 
in order to be above your own. In order to put fortune 
and things under subjection to you, begin by making 
yourself independent of them. In order to reign by 
opinion, begin by reigning over opinion. 

Recollect that it is not an accomplishment that I de- 
mand of you, but a trade, a real trade an art purely 
mechanic, where the hands work more than the head, 


which does not lead to fortune, but with which one can 
dispense with fortune. In families far above the danger 
of lacking for bread, I have seen fathers carry foresight 
so far as to add to the duty of instructing their children 
the duty of providing them with the knowledge from 
which, whatever may happen, they may gain the means 
for living. These provident fathers think they are doing 
a great deal ; but they are doing nothing, because the re- 
sources which they fancy they are economizing for their 
children depend on that very fortune of which they wish 
to make them independent. So that with all those accom- 
plishments, if he who has them does not chance to be in 
circumstances favorable for making use of them, he will 
perish of hunger just as soon as though he had none of 

But instead of resorting for a livelihood to those high 
knowledges which are acquired for nourishing the soul 
and not the body, if you resort, in case of need, to your 
hands arid the use which you have learned to make of 
them, all difficulties disappear, all artifices become useless ; 
you have resources always ready at the moment of need. 
Probity and honor are no longer an obstacle to living. 
You no longer need to be a coward and a liar before 
the great, compliant and cringing before knaves, the base 
pimp of everybody, borrower or thief, which are almost 
the same thing when one has nothing. The opinions of 
others do not affect you ; you have no one's favor to court, 
no fool to flatter, and no porter to conciliate. That 
rogues manage great affairs is of little importance to you ; 
this will not prevent you in your obscure mode of life 
from being an honest man and from having bread. You 
enter the first shop whose trade you have learned : " Fore- 
man, I am in need of employment." " Fellow- workman, 
stand there and go to work." Before noon comes you 

180 EMILE. 

have earned your dinner, and if you are diligent and fru- 
gal, before the week has passed you will have the where- 
withal to live for another week; you will have lived a 
free, healthy, true, industrious, and just man. It is not 
to lose one's time to gain it in this way. 

I insist absolutely that Emile shall learn a trade. " An 
honorable trade, at least," you will say. What does this 
term mean ? Is not every trade honorable that is useful 
to the public ? I do not want him to be an embroiderer, 
a gilder, or a varnisher, like Locke's gentleman ; neither 
do I want him to be a musician, a comedian, or a writer 
of books.* Except these professions, and others which 
resemble them, let him choose the one he prefers ; I do not 
assume to restrain him in anything. I would rather have 
him a cobbler than a poet ; I would rather have him pave 
the highways than to decorate china. But, you will say, 
" Bailiffs, spies, and hangmen are useful people." It is 
the fault only of the government that they are so. But 
let that pass ; I was wrong. It does not suffice to choose 
a useful calling ; it is also necessary that it does not require 
of those who practice it qualities of soul which are odious 
and incompatible with humanity. Thus, returning to our 
first statement, let us choose an honorable calling; but 
let us always recollect that there is no honor without 

This is the spirit which should guide us in the choice 
of Emile's occupation, though it is not for us to make 
this choice, but for him ; for, as the maxims with which 
he is equipped preserve in him a natural contempt for 

* " You yourself are one," some one will say. I am, to my sorrow, 
I acknowledge ; and my faults, which I think I have sufficiently ex- 
piated, are no reasons why others should have similar ones. I do 
not write to excuse my faults, but to prevent my readers from imi- 
tating them. 


useless things, he will never wish to consume his time in 
work of no value, and he knows no value in things save 
that of their real utility. He must have a trade which 
might serve Robinson in his island. 

By causing to pass in review before a child the pro- 
ductions of Xature and art, by stimulating his curiosity 
and following it where it leads, we have the advantage of 
studying his tastes, his inclinations, and his propensities, 
and to see glitter the first spark of his genius, if he has 
genius of any decided sort. But a common error, and 
one from which we must preserve ourselves, is to attrib- 
ute to the ardor of talent the effect of the occasion, and 
to take for a marked inclination toward such or such an 
art the imitative spirit which is common to man and 
monkey, and which mechanically leads both to wish to do 
whatever they see done without knowing very well what 
it is good for. The world is full of artisans, and espe- 
cially of artists, who have no natural talent for the art 
which they practice, and in which they have been urged 
forward from their earliest age, either through motives of 
expedience, or through an apparent but mistaken zeal 
which would have also led them toward any other art if 
they had seen it practiced as soon. One hears a drum 
and thinks himself a general ; another sees a house built 
and wishes to be an architect. Each one is drawn to the 
trade which he sees practiced, when he believes it to be 
held in esteem. 

But perhaps we are giving too much importance to 
the choice of a trade. Since we have in view only manual 
labor, this choice is nothing for Emile, and his apprentice- 
ship is already more than half done, through the tasks 
with which we have occupied our time up to the present 
moment. What do you wish him to do ? He is ready 
for everything. He already knows how to handle the 

182 ^MILE. 

spade and the hoe ; he can use the lathe, the hammer, 
the plane, and the file; the tools of all the trades are 
already familiar to him. All he has to do in addition is 
to acquire of some of these tools such a prompt and facile 
use as to make him equal in speed to good workmen 
using the same tools, and on this point he has a great 
advantage over all others ; he has an agile body and flex- 
ible limbs, which can assume all sorts of attitudes without 
difficulty and prolong all sorts of movements without 
effort. Moreover, he has accurate and well-trained or- 
gans ; all the machinery of the arts is already known to 
him. For the duties of master-workman all he lacks is 
habit, and habit is acquired only with time. To which of 
the trades whose choice it depends on us to make will he 
give sufficient time in order to make himself expert in it ? 
This is the only question in the case. 

Give to the man a trade which befits his sex, and to 
a young man a trade which befits his age ; every sedentary 
and domestic profession which effeminates and softens the 
body is neither pleasing nor adapted to him. A young 
lad should never aspire to be a tailor. 

Work in metals is useful, and even the most useful of 
all. However, unless some special reason inclines me to it, 
I would not make of your son a farrier, a locksmith, or a 
blacksmith ; I would not like to see him in his shop the 
figure of a Cyclops. So also I would not have him a 
mason, and still less a shoe-maker. All trades must be 
practiced, but he who can choose ought to have regard for 
cleanliness, for this is not a matter of opinion ; on this 
point the senses decide for us. Finally, I would have 
none of those stupid trades whose operatives, without in- 
genuity and almost automata, never exercise their hands 
save at one kind of labor, such as weavers, stocking-makers, 
and stone-cutters. Of what use is it to employ men of 


sense at these trades ? They are machines in charge of 
another machine. 

All things considered, the trade which I would rather 
have be to the taste of my pupil is that of cabinet-maker. 
It is cleanly, it is useful, and it may be practiced at home ; 
it keeps the body sufficiently exercised ; it requires of the 
workman skill and ingenuity, and in the form of the 
products which utility determines, elegance and taste are 
not excluded. But if, perchance, the genius of your 
pupil is decidedly turned toward the speculative sci- 
ences, then I would not blame you for giving him a trade 
adapted to his inclinations ; that he learn, for example, 
to make mathematical instruments, spy-glasses, telescopes, 


AY hen Emile learns his trade I wish to learn it with 
him ; for I am convinced that he will never learn anything 
well save what we learn together. We then put ourselves 
in apprenticeship, and we do not assume to be treated as 
gentlemen, but as real apprentices, who are not such for 
the sport of the thing. Why should we not be apprentices 
in real earnest ? The Czar Peter was a carpenter at the 
bench and a drummer in his own army ; do you think that 
this prince was n6t your equal by birth or by merit ? You 
understand that I am not saying this to Emile, but to you, 
whoever you may be. Unfortunately, we can not spend all 
our time at the bench. We are not only apprenticed work- 
men, but we are apprenticed men ; and our apprenticeship 
to this last trade is longer and more difficult than the other.* 

* Rousseau here enunciates a cardinal doctrine in education, 
though he does not consistently and logically maintain it through- 
out his treatise, as when he gives a narrow construction to the term 
useful. As the child's prime vocation is manhood, liberal or hu- 
mane studies should have precedence over technical or professional 
studies; they are the more useful. The pupils of an elementary 

184 EMILE. 

How, then, shall we proceed ? Shall we have a master of 
the plane one hour a day, just as we have a dancing- 
master ? No ; we shall not be apprentices, but disciples ; 
and our ambition is not so much to learn cabinet-making 
as to rise to the position of cabinet-maker. I am there- 
fore of the opinion that we should go, at least once or 
twice a week, to spend a whole day with the master work- 
man ; that we should rise when he does ; that we should 
be at work before he comes ; that we should eat at his 
table, work under his orders, and that, after having 
had the honor to sup with his family we, if we wish, should 
return to rest on our hard beds. This is how we learn 
several trades at once, and how we employ ourselves at 
manual labor without neglecting the other apprenticeship. 

If I have been understood thus far, it ought to be plain 
how, with the habitual exercise of the body and labor of 
the hands, I insensibly give to my pupil a taste for reflection 
and meditation in order to counterbalance in him the in- 
dolence which would result from his indifference for the 
judgments of men and from the repose of his passions. 
He must work as a peasant and think as a philosopher in 
order not to be as lazy as a savage. The great secret of 
education is to make the exercises of the body and of the 
mind always serve as a recreation for each other. 

We have now returned to our theme. Here is our 
child on the point of ceasing to be such, and of assuming 
his individuality. Here he is feeling more than ever the 
necessity which attaches him to things. After having be- 
gun by training his body and his senses, we have trained 
his mind and his judgment. Finally, we have connected 
with the use of his limbs the use of his faculties ; we have 

school may be predestined to a dozen different vocations, but their 
education should be essentially the same. (P.) 


made him an active and a thinking being ; and nothing 
more is left for us in order to complete the man than to 
make of him a being who loves and feels that is, to perfect 
the reason .through the feelings. But before entering on 
this new order of things, let us look back on that from 
which we started, and see, as exactly as possible, what 
point we have reached. 

At first our pupil had only sensations, but now he has 
ideas ; all he did was to feel, but now he judges ; for from 
the comparison of several successive or simultaneous sen- 
sations with the judgment which we derive from them 
there proceeds a sort of mixed or complex sensation which 
I call an idea. 

The manner of forming ideas is what gives its charac- 
teristic to the human mind. The mind which forms its 
ideas solely on real relations is a strong mind ; that which 
contents itself with apparent relations is a superficial 
mind ; that which sees relations just as they are is an accu- 
rate mind ; that which estimates their value imperfectly is 
an unsound mind; he who invents imaginary relations 
which have neither reality nor appearance is a lunatic ; 
while he who does not compare at all is an imbecile. The 
greater or less aptitude for comparing ideas and finding 
their relations is that which makes the minds of men the 
larger or the smaller. 

Simple ideas are but compared sensations. There are 
judgments in simple sensations as well as in complex 
sensations, which I call simple ideas. In sensation the 
judgment is purely passive ; it affirms that one feels what 
he feels. In perception or idea the judgment is active ; 
it brings together, it compares, it determines relations 
which sense does not determine. This is the whole differ- 
ence, but it is great. Nature never deceives us. It is 
always we who deceive ourselves. I see a child eight years 

186 EMILE. 

old served with ice cream; he carries the spoon to his 
mouth without knowing what it is, and, shocked by the 
cold, cries out, "Ah f that burns me." He experiences a 
very vivid sensation ; he knows nothing more vivid than 
the heat of fire, and he thinks that it is this which he 
feels. Nevertheless he is mistaken ; the shock of the cold 
hurts him, but it does not burn him. These two sensa- 
tions are not similar, since those who have experienced 
both do not confound them. It is not, then, the sensation 
which deceives him, but the judgment which he derives 
from it. 

Since all our errors come from our judgment, it is 
clear that if we never needed to judge we should have no 
need to learn ; we should never be in a situation to de- 
ceive ourselves ; we should be happier in our ignorance 
than we could be with our knowledge. Who denies that 
scholars know a thousand true things which the ignorant 
will never know ? Are scholars nearer the truth on this 
account ? Quite the contrary : they depart from truth as 
they advance ; because the vanity of judging, ever making 
greater progress than knowledge, each truth which they 
learn brings with it a hundred false judgments. It is 
absolutely certain that the learned societies of Europe are 
but so many public schools of falsehood ; and very surely 
there are more errors in the Academy of Sciences than in 
the whole tribe of Hurons. 

Since the more men know the more they are deceived, 
the only means of shunning error is ignorance.* Do not 
judge and you will never be mistaken. This is the teach- 

* If liability to error increases with our knowledge, the infinitely 
wise would also be infinitely fallible. Rousseau's declaration that 
ignorance is a defense against error, might well raise the question 
of his sanity if we did not recollect his passion for paradox and 
rhetoric. (P.) 


ing of Nature as well as of reason. Outside of a very 
small number of immediate and very obvious relations 
which things have with us, we have naturally only a pro- 
found indifference for everything else. A savage would 
not take a step to see the operation of the finest machine 
and all the wonders of electricity. What is that to me 9 
is the phrase most familiar to the ignorant and the most 
appropriate to the wise. 

But, unfortunately, this phrase is no longer in keeping 
with us. Everything concerns us, since we are dependent 
on everything ; and our curiosity necessarily extends with 
our needs. This is why I have ascribed very great curi- 
osity to the philosopher and none at all to the savage. 
The latter stands in need of no one ; the other has need of 
everybody, and especially of admirers. 

I shall be told that I am departing from Nature, but 
this I do not admit. She chooses her instruments, not 
according to opinion but according to necessity. Now, 
needs change with the situation of men. There is a 
wide difference between natural man living in a state 
of nature and natural man living in a state of society. 
Emile is not a savage to be banished to a desert, but a 
savage made to live in cities. He must know how to find 
his subsistence there, to derive advantage from their in- 
habitants, and to live, if not as they do, at least to live 
with them. 

As he knows by experience that my most frivolous 
questions have some object which he does not at first 
perceive, he has not formed a habit of replying to them 
carelessly ; on the contrary, he is cautious of them, gives 
them his attention, and examines them with great care 
before replying to them. He never makes me a reply 
with which he is not himself satisfied ; and he is very 
hard to satisfy. Finally, neither of us is in a fret to 

188 EMILE. 

know the truth of things, but only not to fall into 
error. We should be much more unwilling to accept a 
reason which is not good than not to find it at all. / do 
not know is a phrase which becomes us both so well, and 
which we repeat so often, that it no longer costs either of 
us anything. But, whether some thoughtlessness escape 
him, or whether he shun it by our handy / do not know, 
my reply is the same : Let us see ; let us examine. 

Emile will never have dissected insects, will never have 
counted the spots on the sun, and will not know what a 
microscope or a telescope is. Your wise pupils will ridi- 
cule his ignorance, and they will not be wrong ; for, before 
using these instruments, I intend that he shall invent 
them, and you are very doubtful whether this can be done 
so soon. 

This is the spirit of my whole method so far. If the 
child places a little ball between two crossed fingers and 
thinks he feels two balls, I will not allow him to look at 
them until he is convinced that there is but one there. 

These explanations will suffice, I think, clearly to mark 
the progress which the mind of my pupil has so far made, 
and the route by which he has followed this progress. 
But you are frightened, perhaps, at the quantity of things 
which I have made to pass before him. You fear lest I 
weigh down his mind under this mass of knowledge. 
The very contrary is true : I teach him much more to 
ignore these things than to know them. I show him the 
route to learning, easy, in truth, but long, boundless, and 
slow to traverse. I have made him take the first steps 
in order that he may recognize the entrance to it, but I 
shall never allow him to go far. 

Compelled to learn for himself, he uses his own reason 
and not that of others ; for in order to grant nothing to 
opinion, you must grant nothing to authority ; and the 


most of our errors come much less from ourselves than 
from others. From this continual exercise there should 
result a vigor of mind similar to that which is given the 
body by labor and fatigue. Another advantage is that 
we advance only in proportion to our strength. The 
mind like the body can carry no greater weight than it can 
support. When the understanding appropriates things 
before depositing them in the memory, that which it 
afterward draws from it is its own ; whereas by overbur- 
dening the memory unwarily we run the risk of never 
drawing from it anything which is our own. 

Emile has little knowledge, but what he has is really 
his own; he knows nothing by halves. Of the small 
number of things which he knows, and knows well, the 
most important is that there is much which he does not 
know but which he may one day know ; much more that 
other men know and that he will never know ; and an in- 
finity of other things which no man will ever know. He 
has a mind that is universal, not through its knowledge, 
but through its facility of acquiring it; a mind that is 
open, intelligent, ready for everything, and, as Montaigne 
says, if not taught, at least teachable. It is sufficient for 
me that he can find the what profits it of everything he 
does, and the why of everything he believes. Once more, 
my purpose is not at all to give him knowledge, but to 
teach him how to acquire it when necessary, to make him 
estimate it exactly for what it is worth, and to make him 
love truth above everything else. With this method we 
advance slowly, but we never take a useless step and are 
never compelled to go back. 

Emile has only natural and purely physical knowl- 
edge. He does not know even the name of history, nor 
what metaphysics and ethics are. He knows the essential 
relations of man to things, but nothing of the moral rela- 

190 EMILE. 

tions of man to man. He can generalize ideas but little, 
and can make but few abstractions. He sees qualities 
common to certain bodies without reasoning on these 
qualities in themselves. He knows abstract extension by 
the aid of geometrical figures, and abstract quantity by the 
aid of algebraic signs. These figures and these signs are 
the supports of these abstractions on which his senses rest. 
He does not seek to know things through their nature, 
but only through the relations which interest him. He 
estimates what is foreign to him only through its relation 
to himself ; but this estimate is exact and sure. Fancy 
and convention play no part in it. He sets most store by 
what is most useful to him ; and never departing from 
this manner of appraising, he pays no attention to opinion. 

Emile is industrious, temperate, patient, firm, and full 
of courage. His imagination, in nowise enkindled, never 
magnifies dangers for him. He is sensible to few evil?, 
and knows how to suffer with constancy because he has 
not learned to contend against destiny. "With respect to 
death, he does not yet know clearly what it is ; but ac- 
customed to submit without resistance to the law of ne- 
cessity, when he must die he will die without a groan and 
without a struggle ; and this is all that Nature permits in 
that moment abhorred by all. To live in freedom and in 
but slight dependence on things human is the best means 
of learning how to die. 

In a word, Emile has every virtue which is related to 
himself. In order to have the social virtues also, all he 
lacks is to know the relations which exact them ; he lacks 
merely the knowledge which his mind is wholly prepared 
to receive. 

He considers himself without regard to others, and 
thinks it well that others are not thinking at all of him. 
He exacts nothing of any one, and believes that he is in 


debt to nobody. He is alone in human society, and counts 
only on himself. He has also a greater right than any 
other to count upon himself, for he is all that one can be 
at his age. He has no faults, or has only those which are 
inevitable to us; he has no vices, or only those against 
which no man can protect himself. He has a sound 
body, agile limbs, a just and unprejudiced mind, and a 
heart that is free and without passions. Self-love, the 
first and the most natural of all, is as yet scarcely excited 
in it. Without disturbing the repose of any one, he has 
lived as contented, happy, and free as Nature has per- 
mitted. Do yon think that a child who has thus reached 
his fifteenth year has lost the years preceding ? 



How swift is our passage over this earth ! The first 
quarter of life has slipped away before we know its use, 
and the last quarter also slips away after we have ceased 
to enjoy it. At first we do not know how to live ; soon 
we are no longer able to live ; and in the interval which 
separates these two useless extremities three quarters of 
the time which remains to us is consumed in sleep, in 
labor, in suffering, in constraint, in troubles of every de- 
scription. Life is short, less through the brevity of the 
time that it lasts than because, of this brief period,' we 
have almost nothing for enjoying it. It matters not that 
the moment of death is far removed from that of birth, 
for life is always too short when this space is badly filled. 

We have two births, so to speak one for existing and 
the other for living; one for the species and the other 
for the sex. 

But man in general is not made to remain always in a 
state of infancy. He passes out of it at a time prescribed 
by Nature ; and this critical moment, though very short, 
has lasting influences. 

As the tempest is announced from afar by the roaring 
of the sea, so this stormy revolution is foretold by the 
murmur of the rising passions; a rumbling agitation 
warns us of the approach of danger. 



Here is the second birth of which I have spoken ; it is 
here that man really begins to live, and nothing human is 
foreign to him. So far our cares have been but child's 
play; it is only now that they assume a real importance. 
This epoch, where ordinary education ends, is properly the 
one where ours ought to begin. 

Our passions are the principal instruments of our con- 
servation, and it is therefore an attempt as vain as it is 
ridiculous to wish to destroy them ; it would be to control 
Nature and reform the work of God. If God were to tell 
man to destroy the passions which he has given him, God 
would and would not, he would contradict himself. But 
he has never gived this senseless order ; nothing like it is 
written in the human heart; and whatever God wishes a 
man to do he does not cause it to be told to him by 
another man, but he says it to him himself, he writes it in 
the depths of his heart. 

The source of our passions, the origin and basis of all 
the others, the only one which is born with man and never 
leaves him while he lives, is the love of self. This passion 
is primitive, innate, anterior to every other, and of which, 
in some sense, all the others are but modifications. In 
this sense all of them, so to speak, are natura. 1 ; but the 
most of these modifications have foreign causes without 
which they would never have existed, and these very 
modifications, far from being advantageous to us, are 
harmful ; they change the primitive object and go counter 
to their purpose. It is then ' that man finds himself 
estranged from Nature and in contradiction with him- 

Love of one's self is always good and always in con- 
formity with order. Each one being especially charged 
with his own conservation, the first and the most impor- 
ant of all his cares is and ought to be to guard it with 


o-easeless vigilance; and how shall he do this unless he 
takes the greatest interest in it ? 

It is therefore necessary that we love ourselves in order 
to preserve ourselves. We must love ourselves more than 
anything else ; and, through an immediate consequence of 
the same feeling, we love that which preserves us. Every 
child becomes attached to his nurse. Romulus must needs 
feel an attachment for the wolf that suckled him. What- 
ever favors the well-being of an individual attracts him, 
and whatever harms him repels him ; and this is but a 
blind instinct. That which transforms this instinct into 
a feeling, attachment into love, and aversion into hatred, 
is the manifest intention of hurting *us or of doing us 

The first feeling of a child is to love himself, and the 
second, which is derived from the first, is to love those 
who come near him ; for in the state of weakness in which 
he is he knows no one save through the care and assist- 
tance which he receives. At first, the attachment which 
he has for his nurse and his governess is but habit. He 
seeks them because he has need of them and finds it well 
to have them ; it is rather knowledge than benevolence. 
It requires much time for him to comprehend that they 
are not only useful to him, but that they wish to be so. 
It is then that he begins to love them. 

A child is then naturally inclined to benevolence be- 
cause he sees that everything which approaches him is 
brought to assist him, and he derives from this observa- 
tion the habit of feeling favorably disposed toward his 
species ; but in proportion as he extends his relations, his 
needs, and his active or passive dependencies, the feeling 
of his relations to others is aroused and produces that of 
duties and preferences. Then the child becomes imperi- 
ous, jealous, deceptive, and vindictive. If he is con- 


strained to obedience, not seeing the utility of what he is 
commanded to do, he attributes it to caprice or to the in- 
tention of tormenting him, and he rebels. If he himself 
is obeyed, the moment anything resists him he sees in it 
a rebellion, an intention of resisting him; and he beats 
the chair or table for having disobeyed him. The love 
of self (amour de soi), which regards only ourselves, is 
content when our real needs are satisfied ; but self-love 
(amour-propre), which makes comparisons, is never satis- 
fied, and could not be, because this feeling, by preferring 
ourselves to others, also requires that others prefer our- 
selves to them a thing which is impossible.* This is 
how the gentle and affectionate passions spring from the 
love of self, while the malevolent and irascible passions 
spring from self-love. Thus, that which makes man 
essentially good is to have few needs and to compare 
himself but little with others ; while that which makes 
him essentially bad is to have many needs and to pay 
great deference to opinion. On this principle it is easy 
to see how we may direct to good or to evil all the passions 
of children and of men. It is true that, not being able to 
live always alone, they will find it difficult to live always 
good. And this very difficulty will necessarily increase 
with their relations ; and it is particularly in this that the 
dangers of society render art and care the more indis- 
pensable to us for preventing in the human heart the 
depravation which springs from its new needs. 

The study proper for man is that of his relations. 

* Rousseau distinguishes love of self (amour de soi) from self- 
love (amour-propre). The first feeling is directed toward simple 
well-being, has no reference whatever to others, and is unselfish, 
The second feeling, on the contrary, leads the individual to compare 
himself with others, and sometimes to seek his own advantage at 
their expense. Our term self-love includes both meanings. (P.) 

196 ^MILE. 

While he knows himself only through his physical being, 
he ought to study himself through his relations with 
things, and this is the occupation of his childhood ; but 
when he begins to feel his moral nature, he ought to study 
himself through his relations with men, and this is the 
occupation of his entire life, beginning at the point we 
have now reached. 

As soon as man has need of a companion, he is no 
longer an isolated being, his heart is no longer alone. All 
his relations with his species, and all the affections of his 
soul, are born with her. His first passion soon causes the 
rise of others. 

The instructions of nature are tardy and slow, while 
those of men are almost always premature. In the first 
case, the senses arouse the imagination ; and in the second, 
the imagination arouses the senses and gives them a pre- 
cocious activity which can not fail to enervate and en- 
feeble, first the individual, and then, in the course of time, 
the species itself. A more general and a more trust- 
worthy observation than that of the effect of climate is 
that puberty and sexual power always come earlier among 
educated and refined people than among ignorant and 
barbarous people. Children have a singular sagacity in 
discerning through all the affectations of decency the bad 
manners which it conceals. The refined language which 
we dictate to them, the lessons of propriety which we give 
them, the veil of mystery which we affect to draw before 
their eyes, are so many spurs to their curiosity. From 
the manner in which we go about this, it is clear that 
what we feign to conceal from them is only so much for 
them to learn ; and of all the lessons which we give them 
this is the one which they turn to the largest account. 

If the age at which man acquires the consciousness of 
his sex differs as much through the effect of education as 


through the action of nature, it follows that we may ac- 
celerate or retard this age according to the manner in 
which children are educated ; and if the body gains or 
loses consistency in proportion as we retard or accelerate 
this progress, it also follows that the more we strive to 
retard it the greater the vigor and power which a young 
man will acquire. I am now speaking of purely physical 
effects ; but we shall soon see that these are not the only 

From these reflections I draw the solution of this ques- 
tion so often agitated, whether it is best to enlighten chil- 
dren at an early hour on the objects of their curiosity, or 
whether it is not best to satisfy them with modest but false 
explanations. I do not think it necessary to do either. In 
the first place, this curiosity does not come to them unless 
we have paved the way for it. We must then proceed in 
such a way that they will not have it. In the second place, 
questions which we are not compelled to answer do not 
require us to deceive the one who asks them ; it is much 
better to impose silence on him than to make him a reply 
which is false. This law will cause him little surprise 
if we have taken care to subject him to it in things which 
are indifferent. Finally, if we decide to reply to them, 
let it be done with the greatest simplicity, without mystery, 
without embarrassment, and without a smile. There is 
much less danger in satisfying the curiosity of the child 
than in exciting it. 

Let your replies always be grave, short, decided, and 
without ever seeming to hesitate. I need not add that 
they ought to be true. We can not teach children the 
danger of lying to men without feeling, as men, the great- 
er danger of lying to children. One single falsehood told 
by a teacher to his pupil, and known to be such, would 
forever ruin all the fruits of an education. 

198 EMILE. 

An absolute ignorance of certain things is perhaps 
what is most advisable for children ; but let them learn 
at an early hour that which it is impossible always to con- 
ceal from them. It is necessary either that their curiosity 
be not awakened in any way, or that it be satisfied before 
the age when it is no longer a danger. In this matter 
your manner of treating your pupil will depend much on 
his particular situation, on the society in which he moves, 
and on the circumstances by which it is foreseen he will 
be surrounded. It is important in such cases to trust 
nothing to chance ; and if you are not sure of keeping him 
in ignorance of the difference of the sexes up to his six- 
teenth year, take care that he learn it before the age of ten. 

In your dealings with children I would not have you 
affect a language which is too refined ; nor that you make 
long detours, which they perceive, in order to avoid giving 
to things their real names. In these matters good man- 
ners always have great simplicity ; but imaginations sul- 
lied by vice make the ear fastidious, and are ever forcing 
us to adopt refinements of expression. Gross terms are 
of no consequence; it is lewd thoughts which must be 

Though modesty is natural to the human species, chil- 
dren are naturally destitute of it. Modesty is born only 
with the knowledge of evil ; how, then, shall children 
who neither have nor ought to have this knowledge have 
the feeling which is the effect of it ? To give them les- 
sons in modesty and honor is to teach them that there 
are things that are shameful and dishonorable, and to 
give them a secret desire to know these things. Sooner 
or later they succeed in this, and the first spark which 
touches the imagination will most certainly accelerate the 
conflagration of the senses. Whoever blushes is already 
guilty ; true innocence is ashamed of nothing. 


1 see but one good means of preserving the innocence 
of children ; and this is, that all those who surround them 
respect and love it. Without this all the prudence which 
we try to make use of with them comes to naught sooner 
or later ; a smile, a wink, a chance gesture, tell them all 
that we seek to conceal from them ; it suffices for them 
in order to learn it to see that we have designed to keep 
it from them. The nice turns of expression which gen- 
teel people use among themselves, taking for granted 
knowledge which children ought not to have, are wholly 
out of place with them ; but when we truly honor their 
simplicity we easily adopt, in speaking to them, that sim- 
plicity of language which befits them. There is a certain 
artlessness of language which becomes innocence and is 
pleasing to it ; this is the true tone which turns aside a 
child from a dangerous curiosity. By speaking to him of 
everything in simple terms, we do not allow him to suspect 
that there is anything more to say to him. In giving to 
coarse words the displeasing ideas which befit them, we 
smother the first fire of the imagination ; we do not for- 
bid him to pronounce these words and to have these ideas ; 
but without his thinking of it we give him a repugnance 
for recalling them. And from what embarrassment would 
not this artless liberty save those who, drawing it from 
their own heart, always say that which must be said, and 
always say it just as they have felt it ! 

Your children read ; and in their reading they acquire 
knowledge which they would not have had if they had not 
read. If they study, the imagination becomes inflamed 
and sharpened in the silence of the study chamber. If 
they live in the world, they hear a strange jargon and see 
examples by which they are strongly impressed. They 
have been so thoroughly persuaded that they are men, 
that in all that men do in their presence they at once try 


to ascertain how all this may be adapted to their use ; it 
must necessarily be that all the actions of others serve 
them as a model when the judgments of others serve them 
as a law. The domestics who are made to wait on them 
and who are consequently interested in pleasing them, 
curry favor with them at the expense of good morals ; and 
giggling governesses address conversation to them at four 
years which the most shameless would not dare to hold at 
fifteen. These nurses soon forget what they have said, 
but the children never forget what they have heard. Li- 
centious conversation leads to dissolute manners ; a vile 
servant makes a child debauched, and the secret of one 
serves as a guarantee for that of the other. 

Would you put order and control into the nascent 
passions? Lengthen the time during which they are de- 
veloped, to the end that they may have the time to adjust 
themselves in proportion as they come into being. Then 
it is not man who ordains them, but Nature herself, and 
your only care is to let her arrange her work. If your 
pupil were alone you would have nothing to do ; but 
everything that surrounds him inflames his imagination. 
The torrent of prejudices hurries him on, and in order to 
rescue him you must push him in a contrary direction. 
Feeling must restrain the imagination, and reason must 
put to silence the opinions of men. The source of all the 
passions is the sensibility; the imagination determines 
their inclination. Every being who feels his relations 
must be affected when these relations are altered, and 
when he imagines, or thinks he imagines, those which are 
better adapted to his nature. These are the errors of 
imagination which transform into vices the passions of all 
limited beings, even of angels, if they have passions ; for 
they must needs know the nature of all beings in order to 
know what relations are most consonant with their own. 


This, then, is the sum of all human wisdom in the use 
of the passions : 1, to feel the true relations of man both 
in the species and in the individual ; 2, to order all the 
affections of the soul according to these relations. The 
first feeling of which a young man who has been carefully 
educated is susceptible is not love, but friendship. The 
first act of his nascent imagination is to teach him that he 
has fellow-creatures, and the species affects him before the 
sex. Here is another advantage of prolonged innocence ; 
it is to profit by the nascent sensibility for sowing in the 
heart of the young adolescent the first seeds of humanity, 
an advantage all the more precious as it is the only time 
of life when the same cares can have a real success. 

Would you excite and nourish in the heart of a young 
man the first movements of the nascent sensibility, and 
turn his character toward benevolence and goodness ? Do 
not cause pride, vanity, and envy to germinate in him ; 
through the deceptive image of the happiness of men, do 
not at first expose to his eyes the pomp of courts, the 
pageantry of palaces, and the attractions of the theatre ; 
do not take him about in social circles and brilliant assem- 
blies ; do not show him the exterior of grand society until 
after having put him in a condition to form an estimate 
of it in itself. To show him the world before he knows 
men is not to form him, but to corrupt him ; it is not to 
instruct him but to deceive him. 

Men are by nature neither kings, nor grandees, nor 
courtiers, nor millionaires ; all are born naked and poor ; 
all are subject to the miseries of life, to chagrins, evils, 
needs, and sorrows of every sort ; and, finally, all are con- 
demned to death. This is what man truly is ; this is that 
from which no mortal is exempt. Begin, then, by study- 
ing that which is most inseparable from human nature, 
that which most truly constitutes humanity. At the age 


of sixteen the adolescent knows what it is to suffer, for he 
himself has suffered ; but he hardly knows that other 
beings also suffer. To see without feeling is not to know ; 
and, as I have said a hundred times, the child, not imagin- 
ing what others feel, knows no ills save his own ; but when 
the first development of the senses enkindles in him the fire 
of imagination, he begins to know himself in his fellows, 
to be affected by their complaints, and to suffer with their 
sorrows. It is then that the sad picture of suffering hu- 
manity ought to carry to his heart the first feeling of ten- 
derness which he has ever experienced. 

If this period is not easy to note in your children, 
whom do you blame for it ? You instruct them so early 
to counterfeit feeling, you teach them its language so soon, 
that, always speaking in the same tone, they turn your 
lessons against you, and leave you no means to distinguish 
when, ceasing to pretend, they begin to feel what they say. 
But see my Emile. At the age to which I have conduct- 
ed him he has neither felt nor feigned. Before knowing 
what it is to love, he has said to no one, / love you very 
much. No one has prescribed for him the countenance 
he is to assume on entering the sick chamber of his father, 
mother, or tutor ; no one has shown him the art of affect- 
ing the sadness which he does not feel. He has not 
feigned to weep over the death of any one, for he does not 
know what it is to die. The same insensibility which he 
has in his heart is also in his manners. Indifferent to 
everything outside of himself, like all other children he 
takes an interest in no one ; all that distinguishes him is 
that he does not wish to seem interested, and that he is 
not false like them. 

Emile, having reflected little on sentient beings, will 
be late in knowing what it is to suffer and die. Com- 
plaints and cries will begin to agitate his feelings; the 


sight of flowing blood will make him turn away his eyes ; 
and the convulsions of a dying animal will give him un- 
told agony before he knows whence these new emotions 
come to him. If he had remained stupid and barbarous 
he would not have them ; if he were wiser, he would know 
their source. He has already compared ideas too much 
not to suffer, but not enough to conceive what he feels. 

Thus arises pity, the first related feeling which touches 
the human heart according to the order of Nature. In 
order to become sensible and compassionate the child must 
know that there are beings similar to himself, who suffer 
what he has suffered, who feel the sorrows which he has 
felt, and others of which he can form an idea as being able 
to feel them also. In fact, how shall we allow ourselves to 
be moved to pity if not by transporting us outside of our- 
selves and identifying ourselves with the suffering animal, 
by quitting, so to speak, our own being, in order to assume 
his ? We suffer only as much as we judge he suffers ; and 
it is not in us, but in him, that we suffer. Thus no one 
becomes sensible save when his imagination is aroused and 
begins to transport him outside of himself. 

In order to excite and nourish this nascent sensibility, 

J * 

and to guide it or to follow it in its natural course, what 
have we then to do save to offer to the young man objects 
on which may be exerted the expansive force of his heart, 
which will increase it and extend it over other beings, 
which will ever call "his attention away from himself ; and 
to avoid with care those objects which contract and con- 
centrate the human heart and compress the springs of 
selfishness ? In other terms, what can we do save to excite 
in him goodness, humanity, commiseration, beneficence, 
and all the attractive and gentle passions which naturally 
please men, and to prevent the rise of envy, covetousness, 
hatred, and all the repulsive and cruel passions which ren- 

204 SMILE. 

der, so to speak, the sensibility not only null, but negative, 
and are the torment of him who experiences them ? 

Do not accustom your pupil to look down from the 
summit of his glory on the afflictions of the unfortunate 
and the toils of the wretched ; and never hope to teach 
him to pity them if he considers them as strangers to 
himself. Make him clearly understand that the lot of 
these unfortunates may be his own, that all their misfort- 
unes lie before him, and that a thousand unforeseen and 
inevitable events may at any moment plunge him into 
them. Teach him to count neither upon birth, nor upon 
health, nor upon riches ; show him all the vicissitudes of 
fortune ; search out examples for him, always too frequent, 
of men who from a higher station than his own have fallen 
below that of these unfortunates. Whether this is through 
their fault or not is not now in question ; only, does he 
even know what is meant by fault? Never encroach 
upon the order of his knowledge and never enlighten him 
save through knowledge which is within his comprehen- 
sion ; he need not be very wise in order to know that no 
human prudence can determine whether he shall be living 
or dying within an hour ; whether the pains of colic shall 
not make him grind his teeth before night ; whether in a 
month he shall be rich or poor ; or whether within a year, 
perhaps, he shall not be rowing in the galleys of Algiers. 
Above all, do not tell him all this coldly, as you would his 
catechism ; but let him see and feel human calamities. 
Disturb and affright his imagination with the perils by 
which every man is ceaselessly surrounded ; let him see 
about him all these abysses, and as he hears you describe 
them, let him cling to you for fear of falling into them. 
We shall make him timid and cowardly, you will say. We 
shall see in the sequel ; but for the present let us begin 
by making him human ; this is what chiefly concerns us. 


It is at this age that begins with a skillful teacher the 
real function of the observer and philosopher who knows 
the art of exploring the heart while attempting to mold 
it. While the young man does not yet think of disguising 
himself, and has not yet learned to do it, at each new 
object which we present to him we see in his manner, in 
his eyes, and in his movements, the impression which he 
receives from it ; we see on his face all the emotions of 
his soul ; and by watching them we come to foresee them, 
and finally to direct them. 

I do not know whether, through not having learned to 
imitate conventional manners and to feign sentiments 
which he does not have, my young man will be the less 
agreeable ; but with this we are not concerned in this 
place. I know only that he will be more affectionate, and 
I find it very difficult to believe that he who loves only 
himself can disguise himself so well as to be as pleasing 
as he who draws from his attachment for others a new 
feeling of happiness. But as to this feeling itself, I 
think I have said enough to guide a reasonable reader 
on this point, and to show that I have not contradicted 

I return to my method, and say : When the critical age 
approaches, offer to young people spectacles which hold 
them in check, and not those which excite them; divert 
their nascent imagination by objects which, far from in- 
flaming their senses, repress their activity. Kemove them 
from large cities, where the attire and immodesty of wom- 
en hasten and anticipate the lessons of nature, and where 
everything presents to their eyes pleasures which they 
ought not to know until they can choose them wisely. 
Take them to their early homes, where the simplicity of 
country life alloAvs the passions of their age to be devel- 
oped less rapidly ; or, if their taste for the arts still attaches 

206 SMILE. 

them to the city, prevent in them through this very taste 
an idleness that is full of danger. Select with care their 
company, their occupations, and their pleasures; show 
them only pictures which are touching but modest, which 
move without seducing, and which nourish their sensibility 
without exciting their senses. Eecollect also that there 
are everywhere some excesses to fear, and that immoder- 
ate passions always do more harm than we are willing to 
encounter. It is not proposed to make of your pupil a 
nurse or a brother of charity, to afflict his sight by con- 
tinual objects of sorrow and suffering, to conduct him 
from infirmary to infirmary, from hospital to hospital, 
and from La Greve * to the prisons ; he must be touched 
but not hardened by the sight of human suffering. Long 
struck by the same sights, we no longer feel their impres- 
sions. Habit accustoms us to everything, and what we 
see too often we no longer imagine ; and it is only the 
imagination which makes us feel the ills of others. It is 
thus that, through seeing people suffer and die, priests 
and physicians become unpityiug. Then let your pupil 
know the lot of man and the miseries of his fellows, but 
do not let him too often be the witness of them. One 
single object, well chpsen and exhibited in a suitable light, 
will give him tender reflections for a month. It is not so 
much what he sees as his reflection on what he has seen 
that determines the judgment which he derives from it ; 
and the durable impressions which he receives from an 
object come less from the object itself than from the 
point of view under which it is brought to his recollection. 
It is thus that, by carefully managing these examples, 
lessons, and images, you will for a long time blunt the 

* A public square in Paris where executions formerly took place. 


edge of the senses and will divert nature by following her 
own direction. 

Teacher, be sparing of words ; but learn to make a 
jhoice of times, places, and persons ; then give all your 
lessons by examples, and you may be sure of their effect. 

Teachers complain that the ardor of this age renders 
the young unruly, and I see that this is true. Is not this 
their own fault? As soon as they have allowed this 
ardor to take its course through the senses, are they igno- 
rant that they no longer can give it another? Will the 
long and lifeless sermons of a pedant efface from the mind 
of his pupil the image of the pleasures which he has con- 
ceived ? Will they banish from his heart the desires which 
torment him ? Will they allay the ardor of a tempera- 
ment whose use he knows? Will he not be irritated at 
the obstacles which oppose the only happiness of which he 
has an idea ? And in the harsh law which we prescribe 
for him without being able to make him understand it, 
what will he see except the caprice and hatred of a man 
who is trying to torment him? Is it strange that he 
rebels, and hates him in his turn ? 

I well understand that by making ourselves compliant 
we can make ourselves more endurable and thus preserve 
an apparent authority. But I fail to see what purpose 
is served by the authority which is preserved over a pupil 
only by fomenting the vices which it ought to repress. It 
is as though a horseman, in order to pacify a mettlesome 
horse, should make him jump over a precipice. 

So far is the ardor of youth from being an obstacle to 
education, that it is through it that education is com- 
pleted and perfected ; it is this ardor which gives you a 
hold on the heart of a young man when he ceases to be 
less strong than you are. His first affections are the reins 
with which you direct all his movements ; he was free, but 


I see him brought under subjection. As long as he loved 
nothing, he depended only on himself and his needs ; but 
the moment he loves, he depends on his attachments. 
Thus are formed the first bonds which unite him to 
his species. By directing his nascent sensibility along this 
line, do not think that it will at first embrace all men, and 
that this term human species will signify anything to him. 
No, this sensibility will be limited at first to his fellows ; 
and these will not be for him unknown beings, but those 
with whom he has relations ; those whom habit has made 
dear or necessary to him ; those whom he sees evidently 
having with him common ways of thinking and feeling ; 
those whom he sees exposed to the pains he has suffered, 
and sensible to the pleasures he has tasted ; in a word, 
those whom the more manifest identity of nature gives 
him a greater disposition to love. It will not be until 
after having cultivated his nature in a thousand ways, and 
after many reflections on his own feelings and on those 
which he observes in others, that he will be able to gen- 
eralize his individual notions under the abstract idea of 
humanity, and unite with his particular affections those 
which may identify him with his species. 

In becoming capable of attachment he becomes sen- 
sible of the attachment of others, and in the same way at- 
tentive to the symbols of this attachment. Do you see 
what a new empire you have acquired over him? how 
many chains you have thrown around his heart before he 
perceived them ! What will be his feelings when, opening 
his eyes upon himself, he shall see what you have done for 
him, and when he shall be able to compare himself with 
other young men of his age and to compare you with 
other tutors ? I say, when he shall see it. But beware of 
saying this to him ; for if you tell him this, he will no 
longer see it. If you exact obedience of him in return for 


the good offices you have done him, he will think that you 
have overreached him. He will say to himself, that in 
pretending to oblige him gratuitously you have presumed 
to charge him with a debt, and to bind him by a contract 
to which he has not consented. It is in vain for you to 
rejoin, that what you have required of him is only for his 
own good ; but after all you make a requirement, and you 
do it by virtue of what you have done without his con- 
sent. When a poor wretch takes money which some one 
pretends to give him, and finds himself enlisted without 
his consent, you denounce the injustice. Are you not still 
more unjust when you demand of your pupil pay for the 
services which he has not accepted ? 

If gratitude is a natural sentiment, and you have not 
destroyed its effect by your own fault, be assured that 
your pupil, beginning to see the value of your services, 
will be sensible of them provided you yourself have not 
put a price on them ; and that they will give you an au- 
thority over his heart which nothing will be able to de- 
stroy. But, before being well assured of this advantage, 
guard against losing it by magnifying yourself in his 
sight. To extol your services to him is to make them in- 
supportable to him ; to forget them is to make him re- 
member them. Until it is time to treat him as a man, 
let there never be a question of what he owes you, but of 
what he owes himself. In order to render him docile, 
leave him in complete liberty ; conceal yourself in order 
that he may look for you ; elevate his soul to the noble 
sentiment of gratitude by never speaking to him save of 
his own interest. 1 have not wished to have him told 
that what was done was for his good, before he was in a 
condition to understand it ; in that remark he would have 
seen only your dependence, and would only have taken 
you for his servant. But now that he begins to feel what 

210 6MILE. 

it is to love, he also feels what a kindly, benignant bond 
may unite a man to what he loves ; and in the zeal which 
makes you devote yourself to him without respite, he no 
longer sees the attachment of a slave, but the affection of 
a friend. 

We finally enter upon the moral order, and come to 
take a second step in manly culture. If this were the 
place for it, I would try to show how, from the first 
movements of the heart, arise the first utterances of the 
conscience ; and how, from the feelings of love and hate, 
spring the first notions of good and evil. I would make 
it seem that justice and goodness are not merely abstract 
terms, pure moral creations formed by the understanding, 
but real affections of the soul enlightened by reason, and 
which are but a progress ordained by our primitive affec- 
tions ; that by the reason alone, independently of the con- 
science, we can not establish any natural law. ; and that 
the whole law of Nature is but a delusion if it is not 
founded on a need natural to the human heart. But I do 
not think I am here required to write dissertations on 
metaphysics and ethics, nor courses of study of any sort ; 
it is sufficient for me to mark the order and progress of our 
feelings and knowledge with respect to our constitution. 
Others will perhaps demonstrate what I have only indi- 

My Emile having thus far regarded only himself, the 
first look which he throws upon his fellows leads him to 
compare himself with them, and the first feeling which 
this comparison excites within him is to desire the first 
place. This is the point at which the love of self changes 
into self-love, and where begin to arise all the passions 
which depend upon it. But in order to decide whether 
those of his passions which shall dominate in his char- 
acter shall be humane and beneficent, or cruel and malev- 


olent, whether they shall be passions of benevolence and 
commiseration, or of envy and covetousness, it is necessary 
to know to what place he will aspire among men, and what 
kind of obstacles he will think he has to overcome in 
order to reach the one which he wishes to occupy. 

In order to guide him in this investigation, after hav- 
ing shown him men by the accidents common to the 
species, we must now show them to him by their differ- 
ences. Here comes the measurement of natural and 
civil inequality, and the picture of the whole social order. 

Society must be studied through men, and men 
through society ; those who would treat politics and 
morals separately will never understand anything of 

This is now the study that concerns us ; but in order 
to pursue it properly we must begin by knowing the hu- 
man heart. 

If it were proposed merely to show to young people 
man through his mask, we should not need to show him 
to them they will always see him more than enough ; 
but since the mask is not the man, and it is not necessary 
that its varnish delude them, in painting men for them 
paint them just as they are, not to the end that young 
people may hate them, but that they may pity them and 
not wish to resemble them. This, to my mind, is the 
rational feeling which man can have respecting his species. 

In this view it is important in this place to take a 
route opposite that which we have hitherto followed, and 
to instruct the young man through the experience of oth- 
ers rather than through his own. If men deceive him, he 
will hate them ; if, respected by them, he sees them de- 
ceive one another, he will pity them. " The spectacle of 
the world," said Pythagoras, " resembles that of the Olym- 
pic games : some keep shop there, and think only of theit 

212 EMILE. 

profits ; others pay there with their persons and seek glory; 
still others are content to see the games, and these are not 
the worst." 

I would have the associates of the young man chosen 
in such a way that he may think well of those who live 
with him ; and that he be taught to know the world so 
well that he may think ill of all that is done in it. Let 
him know that man is naturally good ; let him feel it ; let 
him judge of his neighbors by himself ; but let him see 
how society depraves and perverts men ; let him find in 
their prejudices the source of all their vices ; let him be 
inclined to esteem each individual, but let him despise the 
multitude ; let him see that all men wear nearly the same 
mask, but let him know also that there are faces more 
beautiful than the mask which covers them. 

This method, it must be admitted, has its disadvan- 
tages, and is not easy in practice ; for if he becomes an 
observer too early, if you train him in watching the 
actions of others too closely, you will make him slander- 
ous and satirical, decisive and prompt in judging ; he will 
take an odious pleasure in looking everywhere for sinister 
interpretations, and in seeing in the good nothing what- 
ever that is good. You will accustom him, at least, to the 
sight of vice ; and, by seeing wrong-doers without horror, 
he will accustom himself to see the unfortunate without 
pity. Very soon the general perversity will serve him 
bss as a lesson than as an excuse ; and he will say to 
himself that if men are of this sort he need not wish to 
be otherwise. 

In order to remove this obstacle and to place the 
human heart within the reach of our pupil without the 
risk of spoiling his own, I would show him men at a dis- 
tance ; show them to him in other times or in other places, 
and in such a way that he may see the stage without ever 


being an actor on it. This is the time to begin history. 
It is through this study that he will read hearts without 
philosophical lectures ; it is through it that he will see 
them as a simple spectator, without interest and without 
passion, as their judge and not as their accomplice or their 

In order to know men we must see them act. In the 
world we hear them speak ; they make a show of words 
and conceal their actions ; but in history they are unveiled, 
and we judge them by their deeds. Even their sayings 
aid in appreciating them ; for, comparing what they do 
with what they say, we see at once what they are and 
what they would seem to be ; the more they disguise 
themselves the better we know them. 

Unhappily this study has its dangers 'and its incon- 
veniences of more than one kind. It is difficult to place 
ourselves at a point of view from which we can judge our 
fellow-beings with equity. One of the great vices of his- 
tory is that it portrays men much more through their bad 
qualities than through their good. As it is interesting 
only as it describes revolutions and catastrophes, so long 
as a people grows and prospers in the calm of a peaceful 
government it says nothing of it ; history begins to speak 
of a people only when, no longer able to suffice for itself, 
it takes part in the affairs of its neighbors or allows them 
to take part in its own. History makes a people illus- 
trious only when it is already in its decline. All our his- 
tories begin where they ought to end. We have very 
exact histories of peoples which are in a state of decay. 
What we lack is an account of peoples which are growing ; 
they are so happy and so wise that history has nothing to 
say of them ; and, in fact, we see even in our day that the 
best conducted governments are those of which the least 
is said. We know, then, only the bad ; the good hardly 

21 4r tiMILE. 

forms an epoch. It is only the wicked who attain celeb- 
rity ; the good are forgotten or turned to ridicule ; and 
this is how history, like philosophy, ever calumniates the 
human race. Moreover, the facts described in history are 
very far from being the exact portraiture of facts as they 
really happened ; they change form in the head of the 
historian ; they are molded in accordance with his interest 
and take the tint of his prejudices. Who is there who 
can place the reader at exactly the right spot on the stage 
to see an event just as it happened ? Ignorance or par- 
tiality disguises everything. Without altering even one 
historical fact, by amplifying or retrenching circumstances 
which are connected with it, how many different aspects 
can be given to it ! 

The worst historians for a young man are those who 
judge. Facts ! facts ! Supply him with these, and let 
him form his own judgments. It is in this way that he 
learns to know men. If the author's judgment is always 
guiding him, he does no more than see through the eye 
of another ; and when this eye fails him he no longer sees 

Thucydides, in my opinion, is the true model for his- 
torians. He relates facts without judging them, but he 
omits none of the circumstances necessary for enabling us 
to judge of them ourselves. He places all he relates under 
the eye of the reader ; and, far from interposing between 
events and readers, he steps aside, and we no longer 
think we are reading, but seeing. Unfortunately, he is 
always speaking of .wars, and we see scarcely anything in 
his writings save what is of all the least instructive 
namely, combats. The Retreat of the Ten Thousand and 
Caesar's Commentaries have nearly the same wisdom and 
the same fault. The good Herodotus, without portraits, 
without maxims, but flowing, artless, and full of details 


the most capable of interesting and pleasing, would per- 
haps be the best of historians if these very details did not; 
often degenerate into puerile simplicities, better adapted 
to spoil the taste of youth than to form it. Discernment 
is already necessary for reading him. I say nothing of 
Livy his turn will come ; but he is a politician, a rhetori- 
cian, and everything not adapted to the age of our pupil. 

History, in general, is defective in that it registers 
only the obvious and marked facts which can be fixed by 
names, places, and dates; but the slow and progressive 
causes of these facts, which can not be marked out in the 
same way, always remain unknown. We often find in a 
battle gained or lost the reason of a revolution which, 
even before that battle, had become inevitable. War does 
hardly more than make manifest events already deter- 
mined by moral causes which the historians are rarely able 
t j see. 

The philosophic spirit has turned in this direction 
the reflections of several writers of this century ; but I 
doubt whether truth has gained- by their labors. The 
fury of systems having taken possession of them all, 
nobody attempts to see things as they are, but only so far 
as they are in accord with his system. 

Add to all these reflections that history exhibits actions 
much more than men, because it grasps the latter only 
at certain chosen moments and on dress parade ; it brings 
to view only the man in public who has dressed himself 
up to be seen ; it does not follow him into his house, his 
study, his family, and into the society of his friends ; it 
portrays him only when he is keeping up his dignity; 
and it is more his dress than his person that history 

I would much prefer the reading of individual lives for 
beginning the study of the human heart ; for then it is in 

216 tiMILE. 

vain for the man to conceal himself, for the historian pur- 
sues him everywhere ; he leaves him no moment of respite, 
no corner where he may avoid the piercing eye of a spec- 
tator ; and it is when we think ourselves the best con- 
cealed that the author makes us best known. "The 
writers of lives who please me most," says Montaigne, " are 
those who take more pleasure in counsels than in events, 
more in what proceeds from within than in what comes 
from without ; and this is why in all respects my man is 
Plutarch." * 

Plutarch excels by these very details on which we dare 
enter no further. He has an inimitable grace in painting 
great men in little things ; he is so happy in the choice of 
his strokes that often a word, a smile, or a gesture suffices 
him for characterizing his hero. There are very few peo- 
ple in a condition to see the effects which reading, thus 
directed, may produce on the wholly inexperienced mind 
of a young man. Weighed down by books from our 
childhood and accustomed to read without thinking, what 
we read impresses us so much the less, as, already carry- 
ing within us the passions and the prejudices which fill 
the history and the lives of men, all that they do seems 
to us natural, because we have departed from nature and 
judge of others by ourselves. But let us picture to ourselves 
a young man educated according to my precepts ; let us 
imagine my Emile, for whom eighteen years of assiduous 
care have had no other purpose than to preserve an un- 
impaired judgment and a sound heart let us imagine him, 
at the raising of the curtain, gazing for the first time on 
the stage of the world, or rather placed back of the 
theatre, seeing the actors as they take on or put off 
their attire, and counting the ropes and pulleys with 

* Book ii, chap. x. 


which gross prestige abuses the eyes of the spectators. 
Very soon his first surprise will be succeeded by emotions 
of shame and disdain for his species ; he will be indig- 
nant at thus seeing the whole human race, its own dupe, 
stooping to these puerile amusements ; he will be afflicted 
to see his brothers tearing one another in pieces for phan- 
toms and turning themselves into ferocious beasts for not 
having been able to content themselves with being men. 

Certainly, with the natural disposition of the pupil, 
with however little prudence the teacher may select his 
course of reading, and however little he may put this 
youth in the way of reflections to be drawn from it, this 
exercise will be for him a course in practical philosophy, 
better surely, and better conceived, than all the vain spec- 
ulations with which the minds of young men in our 
schools are perplexed. 

One step more and we touch the goal. Self-love is a 
useful but dangerous instrument ; it often wounds the 
hand which uses it, and rarely does good without doing 
evil. Emile, on considering his rank in the human spe- 
cies, and seeing himself so happily situated there, will be 
tempted to do honor to his own reason for the work of 
yours, and to attribute to his own merit the effect of his 
good fortune. He will say to himself, I am wise, and men 
are fools. While pitying them he will despise them, and 
while felicitating himself he will esteem himself the more ; 
and feeling himself happier than they are, he will fancy 
that he is more worthy of being so. This is the error to be 
feared most, because it is the most difficult to destroy. If 
he were to remain in this condition, he would have gained 
little from all our services ; and if I were to choose, I do 
not know whether I should not much more prefer the 
illusion of prejudices than that of pride. 

There is no folly, save vanity, of which we can not cure 

218 EMILE. 

a man who is not a fool. Nothing corrects the latter save 
experience if, indeed, anything can correct it. At its 
birth, at least, we may prevent it from growing. Do not, 
then, waste your strength in fine arguments to prove to a 
youth that he is a man like others, and subject to the 
same weaknesses. Make him feel this, or he will never 
know it. Here, again, is an exception to my own rule ; 
it is that of voluntarily exposing my pupil to all the ac- 
cidents which may prove to him that he is not wiser than 
we are. I would let flatterers take every advantage of him 
they could. If giddy heads were to entice him into any 
extravagance, I would let him run the risk of it. If 
sharpers were to beset him at play, I would hand him 
over to them to be made their dupe. I would allow him 
to be flattered, plucked, and robbed by them ; and when, 
having stripped him of everything, they were to finish by 
deriding him, I would still thank them in his presence 
for the lessons which they had been so good as to give 
him. The only snares from which I would carefully 
guard him would be those of courtesans. The only con- 
siderations I would have for him would be to share all the 
dangers which I had allowed him to incur and all the 
affronts which I had allowed him to receive. I would 
endure everything in silence, without complaint or re- 
proach, and without ever saying to him a single word on 
the subject ; and you may be sure that with this discretion 
well maintained, all that he will have seen me suffer for 
him will make more impression on his heart than what he 
will have suffered himself. 

I can not here avoid exposing the false dignity of 
tutors who, in order foolishly to play the sage, underrate 
their pupils, affect to treat them always as children, and 
always to distinguish themselves from them in whatever 
they make them do. Far from disparaging in this way 


their young spirits, spare nothing in order to exalt their 
souls ; make of them your equals in order that they may 
become such ; and if they can not yet ascend to you, de- 
send to them without shame and without scruple. 

This is not saying that the pupil ought to suppose in 
his teacher an intelligence as limited as his own, and the 
same facility for allowing himself to be deluded. This 
opinion is good for a child, who, not knowing how to see 
anything nor to make any comparisons, puts all the world 
within his reach, and gives his confidence only to those 
who can actually put themselves there. But a young man 
of Emile's age, and as sensible as he is, is no longer foolish 
enough to be imposed on in this way, and it would not be 
well if he were. The confidence which he ought to have 
in his tutor is of another sort ; it should be based on the 
authority of reason, on superior intelligence, and on ad- 
vantages which the young man is in a condition to ap- 
preciate and of whose utility he is sensible. Long experi- 
ence has convinced him that he is loved by his guide ; that 
his guide is a wise and enlightened man, who, wishing 
his happiness, knows what can procure it for him. He 
ought to know that for his own interest it is best for him 
to listen to his advice. Now, if the master were to allow 
himself to be deceived like the disciple, he would lose the 
right to exact deference from him and to give him in- 
struction. Still less ought the pupil to suppose that his 
teacher purposely allows him to fall into snares, and that 
he lays ambushes for his simplicity. What must be done, 
then, in order to shun at the same time these two difficul- 
ties ? That which is the best and the most natural : Be 
simple and true as he is ; warn him of the dangers to 
which he is exposed ; show them to him clearly, plainly, 
without exaggeration or temper, without pedantic display, 
and especially without giving him your advice for com- 

220 EMILE. 

mands until they become such, and this imperious tone is 
absolutely necessary. Does he hold out after this, as he 
will often do ? Then say no more to him ; allow him his 
liberty, follow him, imitate him, cheerfully and frankly 
iinbend yourself, and, if it is possible, amuse yourself as 
much as he does. If the consequences become too serious, 
you are always on hand to arrest them ; and yet, how 
thoroughly must the young man, a witness of your fore- 
sight and of your kindness, be at the same time impressed 
by one and touched by the other ! All his faults are so 
many bonds which he furnishes you for holding him in 
check when it becomes necessary. Now, that which here 
constitutes the greatest art of the teacher is to bring for- 
ward the occasions and to direct the exhortations in such 
a way as to know in advance when the young man will 
yield and when he. will hold out, in order to surround 
him everywhere with the lessons of experience without 
ever exposing him to too great dangers. 

Warn him of his faults before he falls into them ; but 
when he has fallen into them do not reproach him with 
them : you would merely cause his self-love to rise in re- 
bellion. The lesson which revolts does not profit. I 
know nothing more stupid than this saying, / told you so. 
The best means to make him recollect what you have said 
to him is to appear to have forgotten it. On the con- 
trary, when you see him ashamed for not having believed 
you, mildly efface this humiliation by kind words. He 
will become firmly attached to you when he sees that you 
forget yourself for his sake, and that instead of completely 
crushing him you offer him consolation. But if to his 
chagrin you add reproaches, he will hate you, and will 
make it a law no longer to listen to you, as though to 
prove to you that he does not think as you do on the im- 
portance of your advice. 


The manner of your consolation may still be a means 
of instruction to him, all the more useful because he will 
not distrust it then. In saying to him, for example, that 
a thousand others have committed the same faults, you 
will place him far above his own reckoning ; you will cor- 
rect him by not seeming to pity him ; for, to one who be- 
lieves he is of more account than other men, it is a very 
mortifying excuse to be consoled by their example ; it is 
to conceive that the most that he can assume is that they 
are worth no more than he is. 

The time of faults is the time for fables.* By censur- 
ing the wrong-doer under an unknown mask we instruct 
without offending him ; and he then understands, through 
the truth whose application he makes to himself, that the 
apologue is not a falsehood. The child who has n^ver 
been deceived by flattery understands nothing of the 
fable which I have previously examined ; f but the heed- 
less child who has just been the dupe of a flatterer under- 
stands wonderfully well that the crow was only a block- 
head. Thus, from a fact he derives a maxim ; and the 
experience which he would have soon forgotten becomes 
fixed in his judgment by means of a fable. There is no 
ethical knowledge which can not be acquired through the 

* Rousseau now modifies somewhat his condemnation of fables, 
though he is manifestly wrong in thinking that their real use is in 
the instruction of men their purpose is not to throw a veil over 
truth, but by means of comparison to bring a great moral truth 
within the comprehension of children. The art of the fabulist con- 
sists in giving to a general truth a concrete and attractive form, or 
in making it easy to infer a general truth from a concrete instance. 
Instruction by fable, by allegory, and by parable, is one of the most 
ancient and effective of teaching devices, and on all accounts is 
worthy of being restored to something of its ancient place of 
honor. (P.) 

f The Fox and the Crow. 

222 EMILE. 

experience of others or through one's own. In case 
experience is dangerous, instead of making it ourselves 
we draw the lesson from history. AVhen the trial is with- 
out consequence, it is well for the young man to remain 
exposed to it ; then, by means of the apologue, we formu- 
late as maxims the particular cases which are known to 

I do not intend, however, that these maxims should be 
developed, or even announced. Nothing is so useless, so 
badly conceived, as the moral by which most fables are 
terminated ; as though this moral was not or ought not 
to be developed in the fable itself, in a way to make it 
obvious to the reader ! Why, then, by adding this moral 
at the end, take from him the pleasure of finding it for 
himself ? Skillful teaching causes the learner to take 
delight in instruction. Now, in order that he may take 
delight in it, his mind must not remain so passive to all 
you say to him that he has absolutely nothing to do to 
understand you. The pride of the teacher must always 
allow some exercise of his own ; he must be able to say : 
" I conceive, I discern, I act, I instruct myself." One of 
the things which make the Pantalon of the Italian com- 
edy a bore is the pains he takes to interpret to the pit 
the platitudes which are already too well understood. 
I would not have a tutor be a Pantalon, and still less an 
author. We must always make ourselves understood, but 
we need not always tell everything. He who tells all tells 
little, for at the end we no longer listen to him. What 
signify those four lines which La Fontaine adds to the 
fable of the toad who would swell himself to the size of 
the ox ? Was he afraid that he would not be understood ? 
Did this great painter need to write names below the 
objects which he painted ? Far from generalizing his 
moral by this process, he particularizes it, restricts it in 


some sort to the example cited, and prevents its applica- 
tion to others. Before placing the fables of this inim- 
itable author in the hands of a young man, I would have 
stricken from them all those conclusions by which he 
takes the trouble to explain what he has just said so clear- 
ly and agreeably. If your pupil does not understand the 
fable save through the aid of the explanation, you may 
be sure that he will never understand it even in that way. 
Again, it is important to give to these fables an order 
more didactic and more in conformity with the ado- 
lescent's progress in feeling and intelligence. Can we 
conceive anything less reasonable than to follow with 
exactness the numerical order of the book, without re- 
gard to need or to occasion ? First the crow, then the 
grasshopper, then the frog, then the two mules, etc. I 
have in mind these two mules, because I recollect having 
seen a child who had been educated for finance, and 
whose thoughts were full of the employment which he 
was going to take up, read this fable, learn it by heart, re- 
cite it, and repeat it hundreds and hundreds of times, with- 
out ever drawing from it the least objection to the calling 
to which he was destined. Not only have I never seen chil- 
dren make any substantial application of the fables which 
they learn, but I have never seen that any one cared to 
make this application for them. The pretext for this 
study is moral instruction ; but the real object of mother 
and child is to occupy the whole company with him while 
he recites his fables. Thus, while growing up, and when 
it is no longer a question of reciting them, but of deriving 
profit from them, he forgets them all. Once more : It 
belongs only to men to be instructed by fables ; and it 
is now time for Emile to begin.* 

* At the age of eighteen. 

224 EMILE. 

When I see that in the age of their greatest activity 
young people are restricted to purely speculative studies, 
and that afterward, without the least experience, they are 
all at once sent forth into the world and into business, I 
find that reason, no less than nature, is shocked, and I 
am no longer surprised that so few people know how to 
get on in the world. Through what strange turn of mind 
is it that we are taught so many useless things, while the 
art of self-conduct counts for nothing? It is asserted 
that we are trained for society, and yet we are taught as 
though each of us was to spend his life in thinking alone 
in his cell, or in discussing idle questions with the indif- 
ferent. You fancy you are teaching your pupils to live 
by teaching them certain contortions of the body and 
certain verbal formula which have no significance. I 
also have taught my Emile to live, for I have taught him 
to live by himself, and, in addition, to know how to 
earn his daily bread. But this is not enough. In order 
to live in the world, we must know how to get on with 
men, and must know the instruments which give us a 
hold on them ; we must calculate the action and reaction 
of individual interest in civil society, and must foresee 
events so accurately that we shall rarely be deceived in 
our enterprises, or at least shall always take the means 
most likely to succeed. The laws do not permit young 
men to transact their own business and to dispose of 
their own property; but of what use would these pre- 
cautions be to them if up to the prescribed age they 
could acquire no experience ? They would have gained 
nothing by waiting, and would be just as inexperienced 
tt twenty-five as at fifteen. Doubtless, a young man 
blinded by his ignorance or deceived by his passions 
must be prevented from doing harm to himself ; but at 
every age it is permissible to be beneficent ; at every age, 


under the direction of a wise man, protection may be 
given to the unfortunate whose only need is proper sup- 

Nurses and mothers become attached to children 
through the service they render them; the exercise of 
the social virtues fills the heart with the love of human- 
ity. It is by doing good that we become good ; I do not 
know of a surer process. Interest your pupil in all the 
good deeds which are within his reach. Let the cause of 
the poor always be his own ; let him assist them, not 
only with his purse, but with his good offices ; let him 
serve them, protect them, and consecrate to them his per- 
son and his time ; let him make himself their man of 
business ; he will never perform so noble a service during 
the course of his life. How many of the oppressed, 
whose petitions have never been heard, will obtain justice 
when he shall demand it for them with that intrepid 
firmness which is given by the exercise of virtue ; when 
he will force open the doors of the great and the rich ; 
and when he will go, if necessary, even to the foot of the 
throne, to make heard the petitions of the unfortunate, to 
whom every way of approach is closed by their misery, 
and whom the fear of being punished for wrongs which 
have been done them prevents even from daring to utter 
a word of complaint ! 

But shall we make of Emile a knight-errant, a re- 
dresser of wrongs, a paladin? Shall he go to meddle 
before public affairs, make himself the sage and defender 
of the laws before the great, before magistrates, before 
the prince, and become a solicitor before judges, and 
an advocate in the courts ? I know nothing of all this. 
The nature of things is not changed by the use of banter 
and ridicule. He will do whatever 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 not befit- 
ting his age. He knows that his first duty is toward 
himself ; that young men ought to distrust themselves, 
to be circumspect in their conduct, respectful in the 
presence of older persons, reserved and discreet in speak- 
ing only on proper occasions, modest in indifferent things, 
but bold in well-doing, and courageous in speaking the 
truth. Such were those illustrious Romans who, before 
being admitted to office, spent their youth in punishing 
crime and defending innocence, with no other thought 
than that of improving themselves by serving justice and 
protecting good morals. 

Emile loves neither disturbance nor quarrels, neither 
among men,* nor even among animals. He will never 

* But if some one seeks a quarrel with him, what will he do f 
I reply that he will never have a quarrel : that he will never con- 
duct himself so as to have one. But, after all, some one will re- 
join : Who is there who is safe from a blow or from an insult on the 
part of a brute, a drunkard, or a bold rascal who, in order to have 
the pleasure of killing his man, begins by insulting him ? This is a 
different thing. It is not necessary that the honor or the life of 
citizens should be at the mercy of a brute, a drunkard, or a bold 
rascal; and we can no more preserve ourselves from such an acci- 
dent than from the fall of a tile. A blow and an insult received and 
suffered are civil consequences which no wisdom can foresee and 
the victim of which no tribunal can avenge. In such cases the in- 
sufficiency of the laws restores to one his independence ; he then 
becomes sole magistrate and sole judge between the offender and 
himself; he is sole interpreter and minister of the law of Nature; 
he owes himself justice, and can alone render it ; and there is rto 
government on the earth insane enough to punish him for having 
justified himself in such a case. I do not say that he ought to 
fight, for this is folly ; but I do say that he owes justice to himself, 
and that he is sole dispenser of it. Without so many useless edicts 
against duels, if I were sovereign, I guarantee that there should 
never be a blow or an insult given within my domains, and this 


.ncite two dogs to fight, and will never cause a cat to be 
pursued by a dog. This spirit of peace is an effect of 
his education, which, not having fomented self-love and 
a high opinion of himself, has prevented him from seek- 
ing his pleasures in domination and in the misfortunes 
of others. He suffers when he sees suffering. This is 
a natural feeling. That which hardens a young man 
and causes him to take pleasure in seeing a sensible 
creature tormented is that turn of vanity which makes 
him regard himself as exempt from the same suffering 
through his wisdom or through his superiority. He who 
has been preserved from this turn of mind can not fall 
into the vice which is the consequence of it. Hence 
Emile loves peace. The image of happiness charms him, 
and when he can contribute toward producing it he has an 
additional means of sharing in it. I have not supposed 
that while seeing the unfortunate he has for them only 
that sterile and cruel pity which contents itself with 
pitying the evils which it can cure. His active benefi- 

by a very simple means, one with which courts would have nothing 
to do. However it may be, fimile knows in such cases the justice 
which he owes to himself and the example which he owes to the 
safety of men of honor. It does not depend on the bravest man to 
prevent himself from being insulted, but it does depend on him to 
prevent another from long boasting of having insulted him.* 

* Rousseau's theory of natural right is here extended to its 
logical conclusion ; men, on occasion, may resume the natural 
rights which society had extorted from them, and may punish 
offenders without the intervention of legal processes. Much of our 
Fourth-of-July oratory fosters this political heresy : This is a gov- 
ernment of the people, for the people, by the people ; and the easy 
inference is that when the people become dissatisfied with the pro- 
tection promised them by the laws they may resume their delegated 
authority, and become their own court, judge, and executioner. 




cence soon gives him knowledge which, with a harder 
heart, he would not have acquired, or which he would 
have acquired much later. If he sees discord prevailing 
among his companions, he seeks to reconcile them ; if he 
sees persons in affliction, he informs himself of the cause 
of their sorrows ; if he sees two men hating each other, 
he wishes to know the cause of their enmity ; if he sees a 
victim of oppression groaning under the vexations of the 
powerful and the rich, he seeks for ways by which these 
vexatious may be made to cease ; and in the interest 
which he takes in all the unfortunate, the means for cur- 
ing their ills are never matters of indifference for him. 
What, then, have we to do to avail ourselves of these 
dispositions in a manner suitable to his age ? To regu- 
late his good offices and his knowledge, and to employ his 
zeal in augmenting them. 

I do not grow weary of repeating that all the lessons 
of young men should be given in actions rather than in 
words. Let them learn nothing in books that can be taught 
them by experience. What an extravagant idea to train 
them in speaking without a topic for discussion, and to 
fancy that they can be made to feel, on the benches of a 
college, the energy of a language of the passions and all the 
force of the art of persuading, without being interested in 
some one who is to be persuaded ! All the precepts of 
rhetoric seem but pure verbiage to one who does not see 
that they can be employed to his advantage. Of what 
importance is it to a scholar to know how Hannibal pro- 
ceeded in order to prevail upon his soldiers to cross the 
Alps ? If, in place of these magnificent harangues, you 
tell him how he ought to proceed in order to induce his 
master to grant him a leave of absence, you may be sure 
that he will be more attentive to your rules. 

The more I think of it, the more I am convinced that 


in thus putting beneficence in action and drawing from 
our good or bad success reflections on their causes, there 
is little useful knowledge which can not be cultivated in 
the mind of a young man ; and that, with all the real 
knowledge which can be acquired in colleges, he will 
acquire a still more important science in addition, which 
is the application of this acquisition to the usages of life. 

What grand designs I see arranged, little by little, in 
his mind ! What sublime sentiments stifle in his heart the 
germ of petty passions ! What clearness of judgment and 
what accuracy of reason I see formed in him by his cult- 
ured propensities and from the experience which concen- 
trates the desires of a great soul within the narrow limits 
of the possible, and causes a man superior to others, but 
not able to raise them to his level, to know how to con- 
descend to theirs ! The true principles of the just, the 
true models of the beautiful, all the moral relations of 
beings, and all the ideas of order, are engraved in his un- 
derstanding ; he sees the place of each thing, and the 
cause which removes the thing from its place'; he sees 
what can produce the good, and what prevents it. With- 
out having experienced the human passions, he knows 
their illusions and their manner of acting. 

Consider that, while wishing to form the man of na- 
ture, it is not proposed for this purpose to make a savago 
of him and to banish him to the depths of a forest ; but 
that, confined within the social vortex, it suffices that he 
does not allow himself to be drawn there either by the 
passions or the opinions of men ; that he see with his eyes 
and feel with his heart ; and that he be governed by no 
authority save that of his own reason. 

Locke would have us begin with the study of mind, 
and pass thence to the study of the body. This is the 
method of superstition, of prejudice, and of error, but not 

230 fiMILE. 

that of reason, nor even of well-ordered nature ; it is to 
close one's eyes in order to learn how to see. We must 
have studied the .body for a long time in order to form a 
correct notion of mind and to suspect that it exists. The 
contrary order serves only to establish materialism. 

I foresee that many of my readers will be surprised to 
see me pursue the entire primary period of my pupil's 
education without speaking to him of religion. At the 
age of fifteen he did not know that he had a soul, and per- 
haps at eighteen it is not yet time for him to learn it ; 
for, if he learn it sooner than is necessary, he runs the 
risk of never knowing it. 

Let us refrain from announcing the truth to those who 
are not in a condition to understand it, for this is equiva- 
lent to substituting error for it. It would be much better 
to have no idea of the Divinity, than to have ideas which 
are low, fanciful, wrongful, or unworthy of him. Not to 
know the Divinity is a lesser evil than to have unworthy 
conceptions of him. " I would much prefer," says the 
good Plutarch, " that one should believe there is no Plu- 
tarch in existence, than to say that Plutarch is unjust, 
envious, jealous, and so tyrannical as to exact more than 
he gives power to perform." 

The great evil of the deformed images of the Divinity 
which are traced in the minds of children is that they 
remain there as long as they live, and that when they have 
become men they have no other conception of God than 
that of their childhood. In Switzerland I once saw a 
good and pious mother so convinced of this truth, that 
she would not instruct her son in religion in his child- 
hood for fear that, satisfied with this rude instruction, 
he would neglect a bettei at the age of reason. This 
child never heard God spoken of save with seriousness 
and reverence ; and the moment he attempted to speak 


af him himself silence was imposed on him, as though 
the subject were too sublime and too grand for him. 
This reserve excited his curiosity, and his self-love yearned 
for the moment when he might know this mystery which 
was so carefully kept from him. The less one spoke to 
him of God, and the less he was suffered to speak of him 
himself, the more his thoughts were occupied with him ; 
fchat child saw God everywhere. And what I would fear 
from this air of mystery indiscreetly affected is, that by 
exciting the imagination of a young man too vividly 
his head might be turned, and that finally he would be- 
come a fanatic instead of a believer.* 

But let us fear nothing of this sort for my Emile, who, 
constantly refusing his attention to whatever is beyond 
his reach, hears with the most profound indifference the 
things which he does not understand. There are so many 
things respecting which he is accustomed to say that they 
do not fall within his province, that an additional one 
scarcely embarrasses him ; and when he begins to be dis- 
turbed by these great questions, it is not from having 
heard them proposed, but because the natural progress 

* One of Rousseau's cardinal doctrines is the progressive devel- 
opment of the child's powers ; but he seems to miss the truth that 
there is a corresponding progress in the child's knowledge, fimile 
shall not read fables till he can form a clear comprehension of them ; 
shall not learn the demonstration of a proposition till the logical 
faculty has been fully developed ; and shall have no notion of the 
Supreme Being till the time comes when he can form an adequate 
notion of him. St. Paul was wiser : " When I was a child I spake 
as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child ; but when 
I became a man I put away childish things." The natural genesis 
of knowledge is from the vague to the definite. Rude notions suf- 
fice for the child ; they serve his present needs best, and are the 
necessary antecedents to the higher form of knowledge which is 
befitting to men. (P.) 

232 EMILE. 

of his intelligence carries his researches in that direc- 

We work in concert with Nature, and while she is 
forming the physical man, we are trying to form the 
moral man ; but our progress is not the same. The body 
is already robust and strong while the soul is still lan- 
guishing and feeble, and notwithstanding all that human 
art can do, temperament always precedes reason. It is to 
hold the one and to excite the other that we have so far 
devoted all our care, so that as far as possible man might 
always be one. While developing the disposition we have 
diverted his nascent sensibility ; we have regulated it by 
cultivating the reason. Intellectual objects modify the 
impressions of sensible objects. By ascending to the prin- 
ciple of things we have withdrawn him from the empire 
of the senses. It was easy to rise from the study of Na- 
ture to the search for its author. 

When we have reached this point what new holds we 
have gained on our pupil ! What new means we have 
of speaking to his heart ! It is only then that he finds 
his real interest in being good and in doing good, with no 
regard to men, and without being forced to it by the laws ; 
in being just between God and himself ; in performing 
his duty, even at the cost of his life ; and in maintaining 
purity of heart, not only for the love of order to which 
each always prefers the love of self, but for the love of his 
Creator which is mingled with this very love of self, in 
order that he may finally enjoy the lasting happiness 
which the repose of a good conscience and the contem- 
plation of that Supreme Being promise him in the other 

* At this point intervenes the Savoyard Vicar's Confession of 
Faith, a sort of philosophical gospel of deism and natural religion. 
It forms a religious tract too long to quote, and a mere extract 
would give only a very imperfect idea of it. (P.) 


life, after having made a good use of this. Depart from 
this, and I see nothing but injustice, hypocrisy, and false- 
hood among men ; and the individual interest which, in 
competition, necessarily prevails over everything else, 
teaches each of them to adorn vice with the mask of vir- 
tue. Let all other men consult my happiness at the ex- 
pense of their own ; let everything have reference to me 
alone ; let the whole human race die, if necessary, in pain 
and in wretchedness, in order to spare me a moment of 
sorrow or of hunger : such is the inward language of 
every unbeliever who reasons. Yes, I will maintain it as 
long as I live : whoever has said in his heart there is no 
God, and speaks differently, is but a liar or a fool. 

The true moment of nature finally comes, as it ne- 
cessarily must. Since man must die, he must reproduce 
himself in order that the species may endure and the 
order of the world be preserved. When, by signs which 
I have mentioned, you have a presentiment of the critical 
moment, instantly and forever abandon your former man- 
ner with him. He is still your disciple, but he is no 
longer your pupil. He is your friend he is a man ; hence- 
forth treat him as such. 

What ! must I abdicate my authority when it is the 
most necessary ? Must the adult be abandoned to him- 
self at the moment when he is the least capable of self- 
conduct, and is in danger of making the greatest mis- 
takes ? Must I renounce my rights when it is of the most 
importance to him that I use them ? 

I freely acknowledge that, if coming in direct collision 
with his nascent desires, you were stupidly to treat as 
crimes the new needs which make themselves felt within 
him, you would not long be listened to by him ; but the 
moment you abandon my method I am no longer respon- 
sible to you for anything. Always recollect that you 


are the minister of Nature; you are never to be her 

But what course shall we follow ? All that is to be 
expected here is the alternative of favoring his propen- 
sities or of opposing them ; of being his tyrant or his ac- 
complice ; and both have such dangerous consequences 
that it is only too difficult to decide between them. 

Considering that Nature has no fixed limit which can 
not be advanced or retarded, I think I may assume that, 
without departing from her law, Emile has remained up 
to this time, through my care, in his primitive innocence ; 
and I see this happy epoch ready to terminate. Sur- 
rounded by ever-increasing perils, he is on the point of 
escaping from me on the first occasion, regardless of all I 
may do ; and this occasion will not be slow in making its 
appearance. He will follow the blind instinct of his 
senses, and a thousand to one he will be lost. I have re- 
flected too much on the manners of men not to see the 
invincible influence of this first moment on the rest of his 
life. If I dissimulate and pretend to see nothing, he takes 
advantage of my weakness ; thinking that he deceives me, 
he holds me in contempt, and I am the accomplice of his 
ruin. If I attempt to hold him back, the time for it is 
passed, and he no longer listens to me. I become dis- 
agreeable to him, odious, unendurable, and he will not be 
likely to lose any time in getting rid of me. There is 
therefore, henceforth, only one reasonable course for me 
to take : and this is, to make him accountable to himself 
for his actions, to shield him, at least, from the surprises 
of error, and to show him without concealment the perils 
by which he is surrounded. Up to this time I have held 
him back through his ignorance ; but now he must be 
controlled by his intelligence. 

These new instructions are important, and it behooves 


us to discuss matters from a higher point of view. This 
is the moment, so to speak, for presenting to him my ac- 
count, by showing him the use that has been made of his 
time and of my own ; for declaring 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, and all 
the engagements which he has contracted; what point 
he has reached in the progress of his faculties, what part 
of the route remains to be traversed, the difficulties he 
will find there, the means for overcoming them, and how 
far I am able to aid him ; then, how far he alone is hence- 
forth able to aid himself ; lastly, the critical point where 
he now stands, the new perils which surround him, and 
all the valid reasons which should induce him to watch 
attentively over himself before listening to his nascent 

Recollect that for adult conduct we must adopt the 
very reverse of the course you have followed in the man- 
agement of. a child. Do not hesitate to instruct him in 
those dangerous mysteries which you have so long con- 
cealed from him with so much care. Since he must 
finally know them, it is important that he learn them 
neither from another nor from himself, but from you 
alone. For fear of surprise, he must know his enemy, 
since he will henceforth be compelled to fight him. 

Young men who are found wise on these subjects, 
without knowing how they became so, have never gained 
their wisdom with impunity. This indiscreet instruction, 
as it can not have an honest purpose, at least sullies the 
imagination of those who receive it, and disposes them to 
the vices of those who give it. This is not all : domes- 
tics thus insinuate themselves into the mind of the child, 
gain his confidence, make him regard his tutor as a gloomy 
and disagreeable person, and one of the favorite purposes 


of their secret gossip is to slander him. When the pupil 
has reached this point the master may retire, for there is 
no longer any good that he can do. 

But why does the child choose secret confidants ? 
Always through the tyranny of those who govern him. 
Why should he conceal himself from them if he were not 
forced to do so ? Why should he complain of them if he 
had no subject of complaint ? Naturally they are his first 
confidants ; and we see from the eagerness with which he 
comes to tell them what he thinks, that he believes that he 
has only half thought it until he has told them. Consider 
that, if the child fears neither lecture nor reprimand on 
your part, he will always tell you everything ; and that 
no one will dare confide anything to him which he ought 
to conceal from you, if he is very sure that he will conceal 
nothing from you. 

So long as he continues thus to open his heart freely 
to me, and tell me with pleasure whatever he feels, I have 
nothing to fear the* danger is not yet near ; but if he be- 
comes more timid and more reserved, and I perceive in 
his conversation the first embarassment from shame, the 
instinct is already developing itself, and the idea of evil 
is already beginning to be -associated with it. There is no 
longer a moment to lose ; and, if I do not make haste to 
instruct him, he will soon be instructed in spite of 

Reading, solitude, idleness, an aimless and sedentary 
life, intercourse with young men and women, these are 
the paths dangerous to open to one of his age, and 
which ceaselessly keep him alongside of peril. It is 
through other sensible objects that I divert his senses ; it' 
is by tracing another course for his inclinations that I 
turn them aside from the one which they began to follow ; 
it is by exercising his body at painful labor that I arrest 


the activity of the imagination that is leading him 

When the hands are fully occupied, the imagination is 
in repose ; when the body is very weary, the heart does not 
become excited. The promptest and easiest precaution 
is to take him away from local danger. At first I re- 
move him from cities, far from objects capable of tempt- 
ing him. But this is not enough. In what desert, in what 
wild retreat, will he escape the images which pursue him ? 
It is of no account to withdraw him from dangerous 
objects, if I do not also withdraw him from the recol- 
lection of them ; if I do not find the art of detaching 
him from everything. If I do not distract his attention 
from himself, I might as well leave him where he was. 

Emile knows a trade, but this trade is not our resource 
here; he loves and understands agriculture, but agri- 
culture does not suffice us. The occupations which he 
knows become routine ; in devoting himself to them it is 
as though he were doing nothing ; he is thinking of a 
wholly different thing ; head and hands are acting sep- 
arately. What is needed is a new occupation which in- 
terests him by its novelty, which keeps him in good 
humor, gives him pleasure, occupies his attention, and 
keeps him in training an occupation of which he is pas- 
sionately fond and in which he is wholly absorbed. Now 
the only one which seems to me to fulfill all these condi- 
tions is hunting. If hunting is ever an innocent pleasure, 
if it is ever fitting for a man, it is now that we must have 
recourse to it. ^mile has everything necessary for success 
in it ; he is robust, dexterous, patient, indefatigable 
Without fail he will contract a taste for this exercise ; 
he will throw into it all the ardor of his age ; for a time, 
at least, he will lose in it all the dangerous inclinations 
which spring from idleness. Hunting toughens the heart 

238 EMILE. 

as well as the body; it accustoms us to blood and to 
cruelty. Diana has been represented as the enemy of love, 
and the allegory is very appropriate. The languors of 
love spring only from a pleasing repose ; violent exercise 
suppresses tender emotions. 

Never employ dry reasoning with the young ; therefore 
clothe reason with a body, if you would make it effect- 
ive. Cause the language of the intellect to pass through 
the heart, in order that you may make it understood. I 
repeat it, cold arguments may determine our opinions, but 
not our actions ; they cause us to believe, but not to act ; 
we demonstrate what must be thought, but not what must 
be done. If this is true for men in general, it is all the 
more true for young men who are still enveloped in their 
senses, and who think only as they imagine. 

I shall carefully refrain, therefore, even after the prep- 
arations of which I have spoken, from going suddenly 
into Emile's chamber to treat him to a long and dull dis 
course on the subject designed for his instruction. I will 
begin by arousing his imagination ; I will choose the time, 
the place, and the objects most favorable for the impres- 
sion which I wish to make ; I will summon the whole of 
Nature, so to speak, to witness our conferences ; I will call 
the Eternal, whose work Nature is, to witness the truth of 
what I shall say ; I will make him the judge between 
Emile and myself ; I will mark the place where we are, the 
rocks, the woods, and the mountains which surround us, as 
so many monuments to his engagements and my own ; 
and in my eyes, my accent, and my gestures, I will put the 
enthusiasm and ardor with which I wish to inspire him. 
Then I shall speak to him, and he will hear me ; I shall grow 
tender, and he will be moved. By impressing myself with 
the sanctity of my duties I shall give him a greater respect 
for his own, I will employ images and figures to give ani- 


mation and force to my reasoning. I will not be tedious 
and diffuse by the use of lifeless maxims, but will abound 
in overflowing emotions. My reasoning will be grave and 
sententious, but my heart will never have said enough. It 
is then, while showing him all I have done for him, that 
I shall show it to him as done for myself, and he will see 
in my tender affection the reason of all my cares. What 
surprise, what agitation I shall cause him by this sudden 
change in my manner of speech ! Instead of contracting 
his soul by always speaking to him of his own interest, it is 
of mine alone that I shall henceforth speak to him, and I 
shall affect him the more by it. I shall make his young 
heart burn with all the feelings of friendship, generosity, 
and gratitude which I have already caused to spring up 
there, and which are so sweet to cherish. I will press 
him to my heart while shedding over him tears of tender- 
ness, and I will say to him : " You are my all, my child, 
my workmanship ; it is from your happiness that I expect 
my own ; if you frustrate my hopes, you rob me of twenty 
years of life, and becloud my old age with unhappiness." 
It is thus that we make ourselves heard by a young man, 
and engrave in the depths of his heart the remembrance 
of what we have told him. 

If I have been able to take all the necessary precau- 
tions in the use of these maxims, and to hold with my 
Emile the conversations adapted to the juncture to which 
his progress in years has brought him, I do not doubt for 
an instant that he will come of himself to the point where 
I wish to lead him ; that he will put himself with eager- 
ness under my protection ; and that he will say to me, with 
all the warmth of his age, when pressed by the dangers 
which he sees surrounding him : " my friend, my pro- 
tector, my master, resume the authority which you would 
lay down at the moment when it most concerns me that 

240 1SMILE. 

it should remain with you. Thus far you have had this 
authority only through my weakness, but you shall 
henceforth have it through my will, and it shall be the 
more sacred to me on this account. Protect me from all 
the enemies who assail me, and especially from those whom 
I carry with me and who betray me. Watch over your 
work to the end, that it may remain worthy of you. It is 
my constant wish to obey your laws, and this forever. If 
I ever disobey you, it will be against my will. Make me 
free by protecting me against the passions which assail 
me ; prevent me from being their slave, and compel me to 
be my own master by not obeying my senses, but my rea- 

When you have brought your pupil to this point (and 
if he does not come to it it will be your fault), be on your 
guard against taking him too quickly at his word, for fear 
that, if your control should ever seem to him too harsh, 
he might think himself entitled to escape from it by ac- 
cusing you of having taken him by surprise. It is at this 
moment that reserve and gravity are in place ; and this 
tone will affect him all the more because it will be the 
first occasion on which he will have seen you assume it. 

How narrow one must be to see in the nascent desires 
of a young man only an obstacle to the lessons of reason ! 
As for myself, I see in them the true means of making 
him docile to these very lessons. We have no hold on the 
passions save through the passions ; it is through their 
empire that we must make war on their tyranny, and it is 
always from Nature herself that we must draw the instru- 
ments proper for controlling her. 

Emile is not made for living always in solitude ; as a 
member of society he ought to fulfill its duties. Made to 
live with men, he ought to know them. He knows men 
in general, and it remains for him to know them as in- 


dividuals. He knows what is done in the world, and it 
remains for him to see how men live in it. It is time to 
show him the exterior of that grand stage whose concealed 
workings he already knows. He will no longer entertain 
for it the stupid admiration of a young rattle-brain, but 
the discernment of an upright, an accurate mind. His 
passions will be able to impose on him, doubtless ; but 
when will it happen that they do not impose on those who 
abandon themselves to them ? But at least he will not be 
deceived by the passions of others. If he sees them, he 
will see them with the eye of a sage, without being influ- 
enced by their examples or seduced by their prejudices. 

As there is a proper age for the study of the sciences, 
there is also one for properly apprehending the use of the 
world. Whoever learns this use too young follows it all 
his life without choice or reflection, and, although with 
self-conceit, without ever really knowing what he does ; 
but he who learns it and sees the reasons of it, follows it 
with more discernment, and consequently with more pro- 
priety and grace. Give me a child of twelve years who 
knows nothing at all, and at fifteen I will guarantee to 
make him as wise as he whom you have instructed from 
infancy ; but with this difference, that the knowledge of 
your pupil will be only in his memory, while that of mine 
will be in his judgment. So also, introduce a young man 
of twenty into the world ; if well trained, he will in one 
year be more amiable and more judiciously polished than 
he whom you have reared there from infancy ; for the 
first, being capable of feeling the reasons of all the pro- 
cedures relative to age, condition, and sex, which constitute 
this usage, can reduce them to principles and extend them 
to unforeseen cases ; whereas the other, having only rou- 
tine for his sole guide, is embarrassed the moment there is 
a departure from it. 

242 13M1LE. 

It is true, on the other hand, that we must not wait 
too long. Whoever has passed all his youth at a distance 
from cultivated society will maintain there for the rest 
of his life an air of embarrassment and restraint, a style 
of conversation that is always inappropriate, and dull and 
awkward manners which the habit of living there no 
longer corrects, and which become only the more ridicu- 
lous by the effort to escape from them. Each kind of in- 
struction has its fit time which must be known, and its 
dangers which must be avoided. There are special dan- 
gers clustering around the subject in hand ; but I shall 
not expose my pupil to them without taking precautions 
to shield him from them. 

Your heart, I say to the young man, has need of a 
companion, and we are going to look for one who is suit- 
able for you. We shall not find her easily, perhaps, for 
true merit is always rare ; but we shall neither be in haste 
nor discouraged. Doubtless there is such an one, and we 
shall at last find her, or at least one who approaches our 
ideal the nearest. With a project so flattering for him, 
I introduce him into society. What need have I to say 
more of it? Do you not see that I have done all that is 
necessary ? 

In describing to him the lady whom I destined for 
him, imagine whether I shall be able to make myself 
heard on the subject ; whether I can make agreeable and 
dear to him the qualities which he ought to love ; whether 
I shall be able to bring all his feelings into conformity 
with what he ought to seek or shun. I must be the 
most unskillful of men if I do not make him enamored 
in advance without knowing the object of his affections. 
It does not matter that the object which I picture to him 
is imaginary ; it suffices that it disgusts him with those 
who might tempt him, and that he everywhere finds com- 


parisons which make him prefer his dream to the real 
objects which will excite his attention. What is real 
love itself, if not a dream, a fiction, an illusion ? "We love 
the picture which we form much more than the object to 
which we apply it. If we saw what we love exactly as it 
is, there would no longer be any love in the world. When 
we cease to love, the person whom we loved remains the 
same as before, but we no longer see her the same. The 
veil of delusion falls, and love vanishes. Now, by fur- 
nishing the imaginary object, I am the master of compar- 
isons, and easily prevent the illusion of real objects. 

For this purpose I do not wish the young man to be 
deceived by painting for him a model of perfection which 
can not exist ; but I will so choose the faults of his sweet- 
heart that they befit him, please him, and serve to correct 
his own. Xor do I wish to deceive him by falsely assert- 
ing that the object depicted to him really exists ; but if 
he is pleased with the picture, it will soon make him wish 
for the original. 

But whether he personify or not the object which I 
shall have made endearing to him, this model, if it is 
well conceived, will not attach him the less to whatever 
resembles it, and will give him no less repulsion for what- 
ever does not resemble it than as if the object were real. 
What an advantage to preserve his heart from the dan- 
gers to which his person must be exposed, to restrain his 
senses through his imagination, and especially to rescue 
him from those mistresses of education who make it so 
costly, and who train a young man to politeness only by 
divesting him of all his honor ! Sophie is so modest ! 
How will he view their advances ? Sophie has such sim- 
plicity ! How will he love their airs ? There is too great 
a distance between his ideals and his observations for 
the latter ever to be dangerous to him. 


You can not imagine how Emile, at the age of 'twenty, 
can be docile. How different our ideas are ! As for me, 
I can not conceive how he could be docile at ten ; for 
what hold had I on him at that age? It cost me the 
cares of fifteen years to secure that hold. I was not then 
educating him, but was preparing him for being edu- 
cated. He is now sufficiently trained to be docile; he 
recognizes the voice of friendship, and can be obedient to 
reason. I grant to him, it is true, the appearance of 
independence ; but he was never in more complete sub- 
jection, for his obedience is the result of his will. So 
long as I could not make myself the master of his will 
I remained master of his person ; I did not take a step 
from him. Now I sometimes leave him to himself, 
because I always govern him. On leaving him, I em- 
brace him, and say to him with an air of assurance : 
" Emile, I confide you to my friend ; I intrust you to his 
honest heart, and he will be accountable to me for you." 

What precautions to be taken with a young man of 
good birth, before exposing him to the scandalous man- 
ners of the times ! These precautions are painful, but 
they are indispensable; it is through neglect on this 
point that so many of the young are lost. It is through 
the disorders of early life that men degenerate, and that 
we see them become what they are to-day. 

In whatever station he may have been born, and into 
whatever society he may begin to introduce himself, his 
first appearance shall be simple and without display. 
God forbid that he shall be so unfortunate as to shine 
there ! The qualities which instantly attract attention 
are not his ; he neither has them nor wishes to have them. 
He sets too little value on the judgments of men to incur 
their prejudices, and is not at all anxious to be esteemed 
before being known. His manner of presenting himself 


is neither modest nor vain, but natural and true. He 
knows neither constraint nor disguise, and is the same in 
society as when alone and without witness. On this 
account- will he be rude, scornful, and attentive to no 
one ? Just the contrary. If, alone, he takes no account 
whatever of other men, does it follow that he should take 
no account of them while living with them ? He indi- 
cates no preference for them over himself in his manners, 
because he does not prefer them in his heart ; but, on the 
other hand, he does not treat them with an indifference 
which he is very far from feeling ; if he has not the for- 
malities of politeness, he has the active instincts of human- 
ity. He does not love to see any one suffer. He will not 
offer his place to another through affectation, but will 
yield it to him voluntarily through goodness of heart, if, 
seeing him neglected, he thinks that this neglect morti- 
fies him ; for it will cost my young man less to remain 
standing voluntarily than to see the other remain stand- 
ing by compulsion. 

He speaks little, because he hardly cares to occupy 
the attention of others ; for the same reason, he says 
only things that are of some importance ; otherwise, what 
excuse has he for engaging in conversation? Emile is 
too wise ever to be a babbler. Excessive prattle neces- 
sarily comes either from pretension to wit of which I 
shall speak hereafter or from the value put on trifles 
which we are silly enough to think are valued as highly 
by others as by ourselves. He who has such a knowl- 
edge of things as to give to all of them their real value, 
never speaks too much, for he can also appreciate the 
attention which is given him, and the interest which can 
be taken in his conversation. Generally speaking, people 
who know little speak much, and people who know much 
speak little. It is plain that an ignorant man thinks 


everything that he knows is important, and so tells it to 
everybody. But a wise man does not readily open his 
stores ; he will have too much to say, and he sees that 
there is still more to be said after he is done, and so he 
remains silent. Far from shocking the manners of others, 
Emile conforms to them with good grace ; not for the 
sake of seeming well informed in social usages, nor to 
affect the airs of a polished gentleman, but, on the con- 
trary, for the sake of escaping notice, for fear that he 
may be observed ; and he is never more at ease than when 
no one is paying attention to him. 

Although, on entering society, he is in absolute igno- 
rance of its usages, he is no'., on this account timid and 
nervous. If he keeps in the background, it is not through 
embarrassment, but because in order to see well, he must 
not be seen ; for he is hardly disturbed by what people 
think of him, and ridicule does not cause him the least 
fear. It is on this account that, always being calm and 
cool, he is not troubled by bashfulness. Whether he is 
observed or not, whatever he does is always the very best 
he can do ; and being wholly free to observe others, he 
catches their manners with an ease that is not possible 
to the slaves of opinion. We may say that he learns the 
habity of society the more readily, precisely because he 
sets but little value on them. 

I grant that with principles so different, Emile will 
not be like other people, and may God preserve him from 
ever being so ! But in so far as he is different from 
others he will be neither disagreeable nor ridiculous ; the 
difference will be felt, but will occasion no inconvenience. 
Emile will be, if you please, an amiable foreigner, and 
at first his peculiarities will be pardoned by saying : " He 
will outgrow all that ! " In the end, people will become 
wvfectly accustomed to his manners, and, seeing that 


he does not change them, he will again be pardoned for 
them by saying : " He was made so ! " 

He will not be feted in society as a popular man, but 
people will love him without knowing why. No one will 
extol his understanding, but he will readily be accepted 
as an umpire among men of genius ; his own comprehen- 
sion will be clear and limited, and he will have good 
sense and sound judgment. Never running' after new 
ideas, he could not pride himself on his wit. I have 
made him feel that all ideas which are wholesome and 
truly useful to men are the first that were known, that 
they have ever constituted the true bonds of society, and 
that all that is left for transcendent minds to do is to 
distinguish themselves by ideas which are pernicious and 
dangerous to the human race.* This manner of gain- 
ing admiration scarcely affects him ; he knows where he 
ought to find the happiness of his life, and in what way 
he can contribute to the happiness of others. The sphere 
of his knowledge does not extend beyond what is profit- 
able. His route is straight and well defined. Not being 
tempted to step aside from it, he is lost among those 
who follow it. He aims neither at eccentricity nor brill- 
iancy. Emile is a man of good sense, and wishes to be 
nothing else ; any attempt to hurt his feelings by this 
title will be in vain, for he will always think himself 
honored by it. 

Although the desire to please does not leave him 
absolutely indifferent to the opinion of others, he will 
accept only so much of that opinion as relates directly 
to his own person, without caring for those arbitrary 
appreciations which have no law save fashion or preju- 

* This is good philosophy, but has a strange sound when uttered 
by Rousseau. (P.) 


dice. He will have the pride of wishing to do well what- 
ever he undertakes, and even of wishing to do better than 
others. In running he would be the fleetest, in a con- 
test the strongest, in work the most clever, and in games 
of skill the most dexterous ; but he will care little for 
advantages which are not clear in themselves, but which 
need to be established by the judgment of others as of 
having more genius than another, of being a better talker, 
of being more learned, etc. ; still less those which become 
no one, as of being better born, of being thought richer, 
more respectable, more highly esteemed, and of overawing 
by a grander display. 

Loving men because they are his fellows, he will love 
those in particular who resemble him the most, because 
he will feel that he is good ; and judging of this resem- 
blance by conformity of taste in things moral, in what- 
ever pertains to a good character he will be very glad to 
be approved. He will not say exactly that he rejoices 
because people approve him, but that he rejoices because 
people approve the good he has done ; and that he rejoices 
because the people who honor him honor themselves in 
doing it. So long as they judge in this wholesome way, 
it will be a fine thing to obtain their esteem. 

Studying men through their manners in society, just 
as he previously studied them through their passions in 
history, he will often have occasion to reflect on what 
gratifies or shocks the human heart. In this way he 
philosophizes on the principles of taste, and this is the 
study that is proper for him during this period. 

If, in order to cultivate the taste of my disciple, I 
had to choose between countries where this culture is yet 
to be born and others where it has degenerated, I would 
follow the retrograde order : I would begin his round 
with the latter and finish it with the former. The reason 


of this choice is that taste is corrupted by an excessive 
delicacy, which makes us sensitive to things which the 
most of mankind do not perceive. This refinement leads 
to the spirit of discussion, for the more we subtilize ob- 
jects the more they are multiplied; and this subtilty 
makes the tact more delicate and less uniform. Then 
there are formed as many tastes as there are minds. In 
disputes as to the preference, philosophy and learning are 
exhausted ; and it is in this way that we learn to think 
that shrewd observations can hardly be made save by 
people who are much in society, whereas they occur after- 
ward to all the others, and people who are little accus- 
tomed to large assemblies there exhaust their attention 
on the more obvious features. At this moment there is 
perhaps no civilized place on the globe where the general 
taste is as bad as in Paris. And yet it is in this capital 
that good taste is cultivated ; and there appear but few 
books esteemed in Europe whose author was not trained 
in Paris. Those who think it suffices to read the books 
which are written there are deceived, we learn much more 
from the conversation of authors than from their books ; 
and the authors themselves are not those from whom we 
learn the most. It is the spirit of society which develops 
the thinking mind and extends the view as far as it can 
go. If you have a spark of genius, come and spend a 
year in Paris; you will soon be all you are capable of 
being, or you will never be anything. 

I will go to still greater lengths in order to secure to 
him a taste that is pure and wholesome. In the tumult 
of dissipation I shall hold carefully arranged conversa- 
tions with him, and always directing them to objects 
which please him, I shall be careful to make them both 
amusing and instructive. This is the time for reading 
and for agreeable books, the time to teach him to make 

250 fiMILE. 

an analysis of a discourse, and to make him sensible 
to all the beauties of eloquence and diction. It is of 
little account to learn languages for themselves, for their 
use is not so important as we think ; but the study of 
language leads to the study of general grammar. We 
must learn Latin in order to know French well ; and we 
must study and compare both in order to understand the 
rules of the art of speaking. 

There is, moreover, a certain simplicity of taste which 
penetrates the heart and which is found only in the writings 
of the ancients. In oratory, in poetry, in every species of 
literature, he will find them, just as in history, abundant 
in matter and sober in judgment. Our authors, on the 
contrary, say little and talk much. To be ever giving 
their judgment for law is not the means of forming our 
own. The difference between the two tastes is visible on 
monuments, and even on tombstones. Ours are covered 
with eulogies, while on those of the ancients we read 
facts : 

Sta, viator ; heroem calcas. 

In general, Emile will contract a greater taste for 
the books of the ancients than for our own, on the sim- 
ple ground that, being the first, the ancients are nearer 
to Nature, and have more native genius. Whatever La 
Motte and the Abbe Terrasson may say to the contrary, 
there is no real progress in reason in the human race, 
because what is gained on the one hand is lost on the 
other ; for as all minds always start from the same point, 
and as the time spent in learning what others have 
thought is lost for teaching one's self how to think, we 
have more acquired knowledge and less vigor of mind. 
Our minds, like our hands, are trained to do everything 
with tools, and nothing by themselves. Fontenelle said 
that all this dispute on the ancients and moderns reduced 


itself to knowing whether the trees of former times were 
taller than those of to-day. If there had been a change 
in agriculture this question would not be an improper one 
to discuss. 

After having thus ascended to the sources of pure 
literature, I show him also their outlets in the reservoirs 
of modern compilations newspapers, translations, dic- 
tionaries. He throws a glance over all this, and then he 
leaves it never to return to it. For his amusement I 
make him listen to the babble of the academies ; I call 
his attention to the fact that each of the members alone 
is always worth more than the whole body ; and thence 
he will draw an inference as to the utility of those noble 

I take Emile to the theatre in order to study, not 
manners, but taste ; for it is there, in particular, that he 
will be presented to those who know how to reflect. Let 
alone precepts and ethics, I will say to him ; it is not 
here that he is to learn them. The theatre is not made 
for truth, but to please and amuse men ; there is no 
school where we learn so well the art of pleasing them 
and of interesting the human heart. The study of the 
theatre leads to that of poetry; they have exactly the 
same object. If he has the least spark of taste for poetry, 
with what pleasure he will cultivate the languages of 
poets the Greek, the Latin, and the Italian ! These 
studies will be amusements for him without constraint, 
and will profit him only the more for it. They will be 
delicious to him at an age and in circumstances when the 
heart is interested so charmingly in all varieties of beauty 
calculated to touch it. Imagine on one side my Emile, 
and on the other a college blade, reading the fourth 
book of the j3Zneid, or Tibullus, or the Banquet of Plato. 
What a difference ! How the heart of one is stirred by 

252 fiMILE. 

that which does not even affect the other ! choice 
young man ! pause, suspend your reading, for I observe 
that you are too much affected. It is my earnest wish 
that the language of love may please you, but not that it 
mislead you. Be a man of feeling, but be a wise man. 
If you are but one of these, you are nothing. Moreover, 
whether he succeed or not in the dead languages, in the 
belles-lettres, or in poetry, matters but little to me. He will 
be worth none the less if he knows nothing of all this, and 
we have to do with none of this nonsense in his education. 

My principal object in teaching him to feel and to 
love the beautiful in all its forms is to fix on it his affec- 
tions and his tastes, to prevent his natural appetites from 
becoming corrupted, and to prevent him from some day 
seeking in his riches the means of happiness which he 
ought to find within himself. I have said elsewhere * that 
taste is but the art of discerning the value of little things, 
and this is' very true ; but since the happiness of life de- 
pends on the contexture of little things, such concerns 
are far from being unimportant ; for it is through them 
that we learn to fill up life with the good things placed 
within our reach, to the full extent of the truth which 
they may have for us. I do not here mean moral good, 
which depends on a happy frame of the soul, but only 
physical good and real pleasure, leaving out of account 
the prejudices of opinion. 

In order to develop my thought the better, allow me 
to leave Emile for a moment, whose pure and wholesome 
heart can no longer serve as a rule for any one, and to 
seek in myself a more obvious and familiar example of 
the manners which I wish to commend to the reader, f 

* Lettre a d'Alembert. 

f What follows is characteristic of Rousseau's mind and heart 


There are positions which seem to change our nature, 
and to recast, for better or for worse, the men who fill 
them. I have thought a hundred times that if I had the 
misfortune to-day to fill such a position as I have in mind, 
in a certain country, to-morrow I should be almost inevi- 
tably a tyrant, an extortioner, a destroyer of the people, a 
menace to the prince, an enemy by profession of the 
whole human race, a foe to all equity and to every species 
of virtue. 

So also, if I were rich, I should have done whatever 
was necessary to become such. I should therefore be 
insolent and mean, tender-hearted and sensitive for myself 
alone, pitiless and harsh for all the world, a scornful wit- 
ness of the miseries of the rabble. I should make of my 
fortune the instrument of my pleasures, and these would 
be my sole occupation. 

From that boundless profusion of good things which 
cover the earth I should seek whatever is most agreeable 
to me, and which I can the best appropriate to my use. 
To this end, the first use I should make of my riches 
would be to purchase leisure and liberty, to which I should 
add health if it were to be bought; but as it can be 
bought only with temperance, and as there is no pleasure 
in life without it, I should be temperate for sensual 

I would always keep as near to Nature as possible in 
order to humor the senses which I have received from 
her, very sure that the more of herself that is added to my 
enjoyments the more of reality I should find in them. 

his ideal, in brief, of happiness in this world. It is almost auto- 
biographic, for it reproduces memories of some of his happiest 
moments. He was addicted to meditation, was shy of society, loved 
solitude and simple pleasures, was a man of the people, and a foe to 
oppression in all its forms. (P.) 

254 SMILE. 

In the choice of objects for imitation I should always 
take her for my model ; in my appetites I would give her 
the preference ; in my tastes I would always consult her ; 
and in my viands I should always prefer those which she 
has made the most toothsome, and which have passed 
through the fewest hands in order to reach my table. 

For the same reason I should not imitate those who, 
finding nothing good save where they are not, always 
place the seasons in contradiction with themselves, and 
the climate in contradiction with the seasons ; who, seek- 
ing for summer in winter and winter in summer, would 
have cold in Italy and heat in the north. For my part I 
would stay in my place, where I would adopt the oppo- 
site course. I would draw from a season whatever was 
agreeable in it, and from a climate all that was peculiar 
to it. I would go to spend the summer in Naples and 
the winter in St. Petersburg, now breathing sweet zephyrs, 
half reclining in the cool grottoes of Tarentum, and now 
in the illumination of an ice palace, out of breath and 
fatigued with the pleasures of a ball. 

In my table service and in the adornment of my 
apartments I would imitate the variety of the seasons by 
the use of simple ornaments, .and I would draw from 
each all the delight it could afford, without anticipating 
those which were to follow. 

In order to be well served, I would have few domestics. 
A private citizen derives more real service from a single 
servant than a duke from the ten gentlemen who sur- 
round him. 

I would not have a palace for a dwelling, for in that 
palace I would occupy but one apartment. Every room 
in common belongs to no one, and the apartment of each 
of my household would be as foreign to me as that of my 


My furniture should be as simple as my tastes. I 
would have neither picture-gallery nor library, especially 
if I loved books and were a judge of pictures. I should 
then know that such collections are never complete, and 
that the loss of what is lacking in them occasions more 
regret than to have nothing. In this case abundance 
causes misery ; there is not a collector who has not ex- 
perienced this. 

Play is not an amusement for a rich man, but the 
resource of an idler; and my pleasures would give me 
too much employment to leave me much time to be so 
poorly employed. Being solitary and poor, I do not play 
at all, save sometimes at chess, and this is too much. 
"\Ve rarely see thinkers who take much pleasure in play, 
for it suspends this habit, or employs it in dry combina- 
tions, and so one of the benefits, and perhaps the only 
one, which a taste for the sciences has produced, is to 
deaden somewhat this sordid passion. 

I would be the same in my private life as in my inter- 
course with the world. I would have my fortune diffuse 
comfort everywhere, and never create a sense of inequality. 
The glitter of apparel is an inconvenience in a thousand 
respects. To preserve among men all possible liberty, I 
should be dressed in such a way that among all classes I 
should seem in my place, and that I should be an object 
of remark in none. 

The only bond between me and my associates should 
be mutual attachment, conformity of tastes, and fitness of 
character. I would enter society simply as a man, and 
not as a man of wealth. 

We are never so ridiculous as when acting in set 
forms. He who can vary his situations and his pleasures 
effaces to-day the impression of yesterday ; he may go for 
nobody with other men ; but he enjoys life, for at each 

256 fiMILE. 

hour and in everything he is his own master. My only 
set form shall be this : in each situation I shall not busy 
myself with any other, and I shall employ each day on its 
own account, independently of yesterday or of to-morrow. 
As I would be one with the people, I shall be a country- 
man in the country, and when I talk of farming, the 
peasant will not laugh at me. I shall not go and build 
me a villa in the country, or expect in the solitude of some 
province to have the Tuileries before my apartment. On 
the slope of some pleasant and well-shaded hill I would 
have a little rustic cottage, a white house with green 
blinds ; and though a roof of thatch is the best for all 
seasons, I should prefer, on the score of magnificence, not 
the gloomy slate, but tile, because it has a more befitting 
and pleasing appearance than a roof of thatch, and, besides, 
it recalls somewhat the happy period of my youth, for the 
houses in my native country were commonly covered with 
tile. For court-yard I would have a poultry-yard, and 
for stable a cow-house, in order to have milk, cream, 
butter, and cheese, of which I am very fond. My garden 
I would devote to the raising of vegetables, and for a 
park I would have a fine orchard like the one which I 
shall mention hereafter. The fruit, at the service of all 
who pass, shall be neither counted nor picked by my 
gardener ; and my miserly magnificence shall never dis- 
play to the eye superb espaliers which one dare scarcely 
touch. Now this slender prodigality would cost but little, 
because I should have chosen my retreat in some remote 
province, poor in money but rich in food, where abundance 
and poverty prevail. 

There I would bring together a society, more select 
than numerous, of friends loving pleasure and knowing 
how to find it, and of women who can leave their chairs, 
take part in rustic sports, and sometimes, instead of the 


netting-needle and cards, use the line, the lime-twig, the 
hay-rake, and the vintage-basket. There all the manners 
of the city would be forgotten, and, having become vil- 
lagers of the village, we should find ourselves addicted to 
hosts of different amusements, which each evening would 
give us the embarrassment of a choice for the morrow. 
Exercise and an active life would give us a new stomach and 
new tastes. All our repasts would be feasts, more pleas- 
ing by their abundance than by their delicacy. Gayety, 
rustic employments, and frolicsome sports are the prime 
cooks of the world, and elaborate stews are very ridic- 
ulous to people who have been up and doing since sun- 
rise. The table service would have no more order than 
elegance. The dining-room would be everywhere in the 
garden, in a boat, under a tree, and sometimes at a dis- 
tance, near a living spring, on the grass, fresh and green, 
and under clusters of alders and hazels. A long pro- 
cession of happy guests would carry the preparations for 
the feast singing as they went ; the grass would serve for 
table and chairs, the rim of the spring for a buffet, and the 
dessert would hang on the trees. The dishes would be 
served without order, appetite dispensing with manners; 
for each one, openly preferring himself to others, would 
find good what every other one also preferred for himself. 
From this cordial and temperate familiarity would spring, 
without coarseness, .insincerity, or constraint, a playful 
contest a hundred times more charming than politeness, 
and better adapted to unite human hearts. 

The objection will doubtless be made that such amuse- 
ments are within the reach of all men, and that one does 
not need to be rich to enjoy them. This is precisely thd 
point I wish to make. We have pleasure when we are 
willing to have it. It is opinion alone which makes 
everything difficult, which drives happiness from us; 


and it is a hundred times more easy to be happy than to 
appear so. A man of taste and fond of pleasure has the 
necessary riches at his command : all he needs is to be 
free and his own master. Whoever enjoys health and has 
the necessaries of life, is rich enough if he plucks from 
his heart the things which are made good by opinion. 
This is the aurea mediocritas of Horace. Men who are 
hoarding their wealth should therefore look for some 
other use for their riches, for on the score of pleasure 
they are good for nothing. Emile will not know all this 
better than I do ; but having a purer and sounder heart 
he will feel it still more, and all his observations in the 
world will only confirm him in this belief. 

"While passing the time in this way we are always 
looking for Sophie, but we do not find her. It were 
better that she should not be found so soon, and we 
have been looking for her where I was very sure she 
was not.* 

Finally, the pressing moment comes. It is time to 
look for her in earnest, for fear he may meet one whom 
he will take for her, and discover his mistake too late. 
Adieu to Paris, therefore, city of renown, of noise, of 
smoke, and of dirt, where women no longer believe in 
honor, nor men in virtue. Adieu, Paris. As we are look- 
ing for love, happiness, and innocence, we shall never be 
too far away from you. 

* " Who can find a virtuous woman f for her price is far above 
rubies." Proverbs xxxi, 10. 



WE have now reached the last stage of youth, but we 
are not yet at the denouement. 

It is not good for man to be alone. Emile is a man. 
We have promised him a companion, and she must be 
given to him. This companion is Sophie. In what 
region is her abode? Where shall we find her? In 
order to find her we must know her. Let us first know 
what she is, and then we shall the more easily determine 
the place where she dwells. And when we have found her 
all will not yet be done. " Since our young gentleman" 
says Locke, " is now got within sight of matrimony, it is 
time to leave him to his mistress. 1 '' And thereupon he 
finishes his work. For myself, who have not the honor 
to educate a gentleman, I shall refrain from imitating 
Locke in this particular. 

Sophie ought to be a woman, as Emile is a man that 
is, she should have whatever is befitting the constitution 
of her species and of her sex, in order to fill her place in 
the physical and moral world. Let us then begin by ex- 
amining the conformities and the differences between her 
sex and ours. 

All that we know with a certainty is that the only 
thing in common between man and woman is the species, 
and that they differ only in respect of sex. Under this 
20 059> 


double point of view we find between them so many re- 
semblances and so many contrasts, that it is perhaps one 
of the wonders of Nature that she could make two beings 
so similar and yet constitute them so differently. 

These correspondences and these differences must 
needs have their moral effect. This consequence is ob- 
vious, is in conformity with experience, and shows the 
vanity of the disputes as to the superiority or the equality 
of the sexes ; as if each of them, answering the ends of 
Nature according to its particular destination, were not 
more perfect on that account than if it bore a greater re- 
semblance to the other ! With respect to what they have 
in common they are equal ; and in so far as they are 
different they are not capable of being compared. A 
perfect man and a perfect woman ought no more to re- 
semble each other in mind than in features ; and per- 
fection is not susceptible of greater and less. 

In the union of the sexes each contributes equally toward 
the common end, but not in the same way. Hence arises 
the first assignable difference among their moral relations. 
One must be active and strong, the other passive and 
weak. One must needs have power and will, while it 
suffices that the other have little power of resistance. 

This principle once established, it follows that woman 
is especially constituted to please man. If man ought 
to please her in turn, the necessity for it is less direct. 
His merit lies in his power; he pleases simply because 
he is strong. I grant that this is not the law of love, 
but it is the law of Nature, which is anterior even to love. 

Plato, in his Eepublic, enjoins the same exercises on 
women as upon men, and in this I think he was right. 
Having excluded private families from his ideal state, and 
not knowing what to do with the women, he sees himself 
compelled to make men of them, This great genius had 


arranged everything, foreseen everything, and had antici- 
pated objections which perhaps no one would have thought 
of making ; but he has poorly resolved one which has been 
raised against him. I do not speak of that ordained 
community of wives, the censure of which, so often re- 
peated, proves that those who make it have never read 
him ; but I speak of that civil intermingling which every- 
where confounds the two sexes in the same employments, 
the same duties, and can not fail to engender the most 
intolerable abuses; I speak of that subversion of the 
sweetest feelings of nature, sacrificed to an artificial feel- 
ing. which can not exist save through them. Just as 
though a natural power were not necessary in order to 
form conventional ties ! As though the love we have for 
our neighbors were not the basis of that which we owe 
the state ! As though it were not through the little com- 
munity, which is the family, that the heart becomes 
attached to the great ! And as though it were not the 
good son, the good husband, and the good father, who 
makes the good citizen ! 

The moment it is demonstrated that man and woman 
are not and ought not to be constituted in the same way, 
either in character or in constitution, it follows that they 
ought not to have the same education. In following the 
directions of Nature they ought to act in concert, but 
they ought not to do the same things ; their duties have a 
common end, but the duties themselves are different, and 
consequently the tastes which direct them. After having 
tried to form the natural man, let us also see, in order 
not to leave our work incomplete, how the woman is to be 
formed who is befitting to this man. 

Would you always be well guided ? Always follow 
the indications of Xature. All that characterizes sex 
ought to be respected or established by her. You are 


always saying that women have faults which you have 
not. Your pride deceives you. They would be faults in 
you, but they are virtues in them ; and everything would 
not go so well if they did not have them. Prevent these 
so-called faults from degenerating, but beware of destroy- 
ing them. 

All the faculties common to the two sexes are not equal- 
ly divided, but, taken as a whole, they offset one another. 
Woman is worth more as a woman, but less as a man ; 
wherever she improves her rights she has the advantage, 
and wherever she attempts to usurp ours she remains 
inferior to us. Only exceptional cases can be urged 
against this general truth the usual mode of argument 
adopted by the gallant partisans of the fair sex. 

To cultivate in women the qualities of the men and 
to neglect those which are their own is, then, obviously to 
work to their detriment. The shrewd among them see 
this too clearly to be the dupes of it. In trying to usurp 
our advantages they do not abandon their own ; but from 
this it comes to pass that, not being able to manage both 
properly on account of their incompatibility, they fall 
short of their own possibilities without attaining to ours, 
and thus lose the half of their value. Believe me, judi- 
cious mother, do not make of your daughter a good man, 
as though to give the lie to Nature, but make of her a 
good woman, and you may be sure that she will be worth 
more for herself and for us. 

Does it follow that she ought to be brought up in 
complete ignorance, and restricted solely to the duties of 
the household ? Shall man make a servant of his com- 
panion ? Shall he deprive himself of the greatest charm 
of society ? The better to reduce her to servitude, shall 
he prevent her from feeling anything or knowing any- 
thing? Shall he make of her a real automaton? No, 


doubtless. Nature, who gives to women a mind so agree- 
able and so acute, has not so ordered: On the contrary, 
she would have them think, and judge, and love, and 
know, and cultivate their mind as they do their form : 
these are the arms which she gives them for supplement- 
ing the strength which they lack, and for directing our 
own. They ought to learn multitudes of things, but only 
those which it becomes them to know. Whether I con- 
sider the particular destination of woman, or observe her 
inclinations, or take account of her duties, everything 
concurs equally to indicate to me the form of education 
which befits her. 

On the good constitution of mothers depends, in the 
first place, that of children ; on the care of women de- 
pends the early education of men ; and on women, again, 
depend their manners, their passions, their tastes, their 
pleasures, and even their happiness. Thus the whole 
education of women ought to be relative to men. To 
please them, to be useful to them, to make themselves 
loved and honored by them, to educate them when young, 
to care for them when grown, to counsel them, to con- 
sole them, and to make life agreeable and sweet to them 
these are the duties of women at all times, and what 
should be taught them from their infancy. So long as 
we do not ascend to this principle we shall miss the goal, 
and all the precepts which we give them will accomplish 
nothing either for their happiness or for our own. 

Little girls, almost from birth, have a love for dress. 
Not content with being pretty, they wish to be thought 
so. We see in their little airs that this care already occu- 
pies their minds ; and they no sooner understand what is 
said to them than we control them by telling them what 
people will think of them. The same motive, very indis- 
creetly presented to little boys, is very far from having 

264 EMILE. 

the same power over them. Provided they are independ- 
ent and happy, they care very little of what will be 
thought of them. It is only at the expense of time and 
labor that we subject them to the same law. 

From whatever source this first lesson comes to girls, 
it is a very good one. Since the body is born, so to 
speak, before the soul, the first culture ought to be that 
of the body ; and this order is common to both sexes. 
But the object of this culture is different; in one this 
object is the development of strength, while in the other 
it is the development of personal charms. Not that these 
qualities ought to be exclusive in each sex, but the order 
is simply reversed : women need sufficient strength to do 
with grace whatever they have to do ; and men need 
sufficient cleverness to do with facility whatever they 
have to do. 

The extreme lack of vigor in women gives rise to 
the same quality in men. Women ought not to be robust 
like them, but for them, in order that the men who shall 
be born of them may be robust also. In this respect the 
convents, where the boarders have coarse fare, but many 
frolics, races, and sports in the open air and in gardens, 
are to be preferred to the home where a girl, delicately 
reared, always flattered or scolded, always seated under 
the eyes of her mother in a very close room, dares neither 
to rise, to walk, to speak, nor to breathe, and has not a 
moment's liberty for playing, jumping, running, shout- 
ing, and indulging in the petulance natural to her age ; 
always dangerous relaxation or badly conceived severity, 
but never anything according to reason. This is the 
way in which the young are ruined both in body and in 

Whatever obstructs or constrains nature is in bad taste, 
and this is as true of the ornaments of the body as of the 


ornaments of the mind. Life, health, reason, and com- 
fort ought to take precedence of everything else. There 
is no grace without freedom. Delicacy is not languor, and 
one need not be sickly in order to please. We excite pity 
when we suffer ; but pleasure and desire seek the fresh- 
ness of health. 

Children of the two sexes have many amusements in 
common, and this ought to be so. Is not the same thing 
true of them when grown? They have also individual 
tastes which distinguish them. Boys seek movement and 
noise drums, tops, carts; but girls prefer what appeals 
to the sight and serves for ornament mirrors, trinkets, 
rags, and especially dolls. The doll is the especial amuse- 
ment of this sex ; and in this case the girl's taste is very 
evidently determined by her destination. The mechanics 
of the art of pleasing consists in dress, and this is all of 
this art that children can cultivate. 

Observe a little girl spending her time with her doll, 
constantly changing its attire, dressing and undressing it 
hundreds of times, continually seeking for new combi- 
nations of ornaments, well or badly selected, no matter 
which ; the fingers lack deftness, the taste has not been 
formed, but the disposition is already seen. In this end- 
less occupation the time goes on without notice; the 
hours pass but she takes no note of them ; she even for- 
gets to eat, and has a greater hunger for dress than for 
food. But, you will say, she dresses her doll, but not her- 
self. Doubtless. She sees her doll, but does not see her- 
self ; she can do nothing for herself ; she has not been 
developed ; she has neither talent nor strength ; she is all 
absorbed in her doll, and on it she expends all her coquetry. 
She will not always devote herself to it, but waits the mo- 
ment when she shall be her own doll. 

Here, then, is a very decided primitive taste, and you 

266 EMILE. 

have only to follow it and regulate it. It is certain 
that the little one wishes with all her heart that she 
might adorn her doll and adjust its sleeve, its neck- 
erchief, its furbelows, its lace ; but in all this she is 
made to depend so rigorously on the pleasure of others 
that it would be very much easier for her to owe every- 
thing to her own industry. Thus appears the reason for 
the first lessons which are given her ; they are not tasks 
which are prescribed for her, but kindnesses which we 
feel for her. And, in fact, almost all little girls learn 
to read and write with repugnance ; but as to holding the 
needle, they always learn this willingly. They imagine 
themselves already grown, and take pleasure in thinking 
that these talents will one day be of service in adorning 

Once opened, this first route is easy to follow ; sew- 
ing, embroidery, and lace-work will come of themselves. 
Tapestry is not so much to their liking ; and as furniture 
is not connected with the person, but with mere opinion, 
it is too far out of their reach. Tapestry is the amuse- 
ment of women ; young girls will never take very great 
pleasure in it. 

This voluntary progress will easily extend itself to 
designing, for this art is not immaterial to that of dressing 
with taste ; but I would not have it applied to landscape, 
and still less to portrait painting. Foliage, fruits, flowers, 
draperies, and whatever may serve to give an elegant 
outline to attire, and to make for one's self a pattern for 
embroidery when one can not be found to the taste this 
is sufficient for them. In general, if it is important for 
men to restrict their studies to knowledge of practical 
use, this is still more important for women ; for as the 
life of the latter, though less laborious, is, or ought to be, 
more devote^ to their duties, and is more interrupted by 


different cares, it does not allow them to devote them- 
selves by choice to any talent to the prejudice of their 

Whatever may be said on the subject jokingly, the 
two sexes are equally endowed in respect of good sense. 
In general, girls are more docile than boys, and we ought 
to use even more authority over them, as I shall presently 
explain ; but it does not follow that we are to require of 
them anything whose utility they can not see. The art 
of mothers is to show them the utility of everything 
which they prescribe for them ; and this is so much 
easier as the intelligence of girls is more precocious than 
that of boys. This rule banishes from their sex, as it 
does from ours, not only all trifling studies which end in 
nothing good, and even fail to make those who have 
pursued them more agreeable to others; but even all 
those which have no utility for children of that age, and 
whose utility at a later period of life the child can not 
foresee. If I would not urge a boy to learn to read, for a 
stronger reason I would not force young girls to do this 
before I had made them understand the purpose of read- 
ing ; and according to the usual manner of showing them 
this utility we follow our own idea much more than 
theirs. After all, why is it necessary that a girl should 
learn to read and write at an early age ? Will she have a 
household to govern so soon ? There are very few who 
will not abuse rather than use this fatal science ; and all 
are a little too curious not to learn it without compulsion 
when they have the leisure and the occasion for it. Per- 
haps they ought to learn to cipher before everything else, 
for nothing offers a more obvious utility at all times, 
requires longer practice, or gives a stronger defense against 
error than the art of computation. If the little one could 
have cherries to her taste only through an arithmetical 


process, I warrant you she would soon know how to cal- 

Always justify the duties which you impose on young 
girls, but never fail to impose them. Idleness and indo- 
cility are their two most dangerous faults, and when once 
contracted they are cured with the greatest difficulty. 
Girls ought to be heedful and industrious, and this is not 
all : they ought early to be brought under restraint. This 
misfortune, if it is one for them, is inseparable from their 
sex; and they never rid themselves of it save to suffer 
others which are much more cruel. As long as they live 
they will be subject to the most continual and the most 
severe restraint that which is imposed by the laws of 
decorum. They must early be trained to restraint, to the 
end that it may cost them nothing ; and to conquer all 
their whims, in order to subject them to the wills of 
others. If they wish always to be at work, they must 
sometimes be compelled to do nothing. Dissipation, fri- 
volity, and inconstancy are faults which easily spring 
from their first tastes which have been corrupted, and 
then always followed. In order to prevent this abuse, 
teach them above all else to conquer themselves. By 
reason of our senseless customs, the life of a good woman 
is a perpetual combat with herself; and it is just that 
this sex share the discomfort of the evils which it has 
caused us. 

Prevent young girls from becoming tired of their oc- 
cupations, and from becoming enamored of their amuse- 
ments, as it always happens in the common style of edu- 
cation, where, as Fenelon says, all the tedium is put on 
one side and all the pleasure on the other. The first of 
these two inconveniences will not occur if we follow the 
preceding rules, save when the persons who are with them 
are displeasing to them. A little girl who loves her 


mother or her aunt will work all day at her side without 
weariness ; her prattle alone will reward her for all her 
constraint. But if she who governs her is insupportable 
to her, she will include in the same disgust whatever she 
does in her presence. It is very difficult for those who 
are not happier with their mothers than with any one else 
in the world, ever to turn out well ; but in order to judge 
of their real feelings we must study them and distrust 
what they say ; for they are fawning, dissimulating, and 
soon know how to disguise themselves. Nor ought they 
to be ordered to love their mothers ; affection does not 
come through duty, and constraint serves no purpose in 
this place. Attachment, kind offices, and simple habit 
will make the mother loved by her daughter if she does 
nothing to incur her hatred. Even the constraint in 
which she holds her, when well directed, far from weaken- 
ing this attachment, will serve only to increase it, because, 
dependence being a state natural to women, girls feel 
that they are made to obey. 

For the very reason that they have or ought to have 
little liberty, they carry to excess the liberty which is 
granted them ; extreme in everything, they abandon 
themselves to their sports with even greater transport 
than boys do. This is the second of the inconveniences 
which I just mentioned. This transport ought to be 
toned down, for it is the cause of several vices peculiar to 
women as, among others, caprice and infatuation, by 
which a woman is to-day carried away with an object 
which she will not regard to-morrow. The inconstancy 
of their tastes is as hurtful as their excess, and both come 
to them from the same source. Do not deny them 
gayety, laughter, noise, and sportive diversions ; but pre- 
vent them from being satiated with one and running 
tu the other ; never suffer them for a single moment of 

270 EMILE. 

their lives to know themselves free from restraint. Ac- 
custom them to see themselves interrupted in the midst 
of their sports, and to be recalled to other things without 
a murmur. Mere habit is still sufficient for this purpose, 
because it merely supplements nature. 

There results from this habitual restraint a docility 
which women need during their whole life, since they 
never cease to be subject either to a man or to the judg- 
ments of men, and they are never allowed to place them- 
selves above these judgments. The first and most im- 
portant quality of a woman is gentleness. Made to obey a 
being as imperfect as man, often so full of vices, and 
always so full of faults, she ought early to learn to suffer 
even injustice, and to endure the wrongs of a husband 
without complaint ; and it is not for him, but for herself 
that she ought to be gentle. The harshness and obsti- 
nacy of women serve only to increase the wrongs and 
the bad conduct of husbands ; they feel that it is not 
with these arms that their wives should conquer them. 
Heaven has not made them insinuating and persuasive in 
order to become waspish ; has not made them weak in 
order to be imperious ; has not given them so gentle a 
voice in order to use harsh language ; and has not made 
their features so delicate in order to disfigure them by 
anger. When they become angry they forget themselves ; 
they often have reason to complain, but they are always 
wrong in scolding. , Each one ought to preserve the tone 
of his sex. The husband who is too mild may make a 
woman impertinent; but, unless a man is a brute, the 
gentleness of a wife reforms him, and triumphs over him 
sooner or later. 

Let daughters always be submissive, but let not moth- 
ers always be inexorable. In order to render a young 
woman docile, it is not necessary to make her unhappy; 


to render her modest, it is not necessary to brutalize her. 
On the contrary, I should not be sorry if she were some- 
times indulged in a little adroitness, not to escape punish- 
ment for her disobedience, but to make her exempt from 
obeying. It is not proposed to make her dependence 
painful, but it suffices to make her feel it. Artifice is a 
talent natural to the sex, and, persuaded that all natural 
inclinations are good and upright in themselves, I advise 
the cultivation of this one, as well as of the others ; all 
that is necessary is to prevent its abuse. 

As to the truth of this remark, I appeal to every honest 
observer. I do not wish women themselves to be ex- 
amined on this point ; our annoying customs may force 
them to sharpen their temper. I would have the girls 
examined, the little girls who have only just come into 
the world, so to speak ; compare them with little boys of 
the same age, and if the latter do not seem dull, thought- 
less, and stupid in their presence, I shall be unquestion- 
ably wrong. 

I know that austere teachers would have young girls 
taught neither singing, dancing, nor any other accom- 
plishment. This seems to me ludicrous. To whom, then, 
would they have these things taught ? To boys ? To whom 
does it pertain, by preference, to have these talents: to 
men, or to women ? To no one, they will reply ; profane 
songs are so many crimes ; the dance is an invention of 
the devil ; a young girl ought to have no amusement save 
her work and her prayers. Strange amusements these for 
a child of ten ! For myself, I greatly fear that all those 
little saints who are forced to spend their childhood in 
praying may spend their youth in something very differ- 
ent, and, when married, may do their best to redeem the 
time which they lost while girls. I think that we must 
have regard to what befits age as well as sex; that a 


young girl ought not to live like her grandmother, tut 
ought to be lively, playful, frolicsome ; to sing and dance 
as much as she pleases, and to taste all the innocent pleas- 
ures of her age. The time will come only too soon for 
being sedate and for assuming a more serious deport- 

We have gone too far in reducing the pleasure-giving 
talents to arts ; they have been systematized too much ; 
everything has been reduced to maxim and precept, and 
we have made very tedious to young persons what ought 
to be for them only amusements and pleasant diversions. 
I can imagine nothing more ridiculous than to see an old 
dancing-master approach with a grim air young persons 
who want merely to laugh, and, while teaching them his 
frivolous science, assume a tone more pedantic and magis- 
terial than if it were their catechism he was teaching. For 
example, is the art of singing limited to written music ? 
May not one render his voice flexible and accurate ; learn 
to sing with taste, and even to accompany an instrument, 
without knowing a single note? Is the same kind of 
singing adapted to all voices ? Is the same method adapted 
to all minds ? I shall never be made to believe that the 
same attitudes, the same steps, the same movements, the 
same gestures, and the same dances are equally becoming 
to a little brunette, lively and keen, and to a tall, beauti- 
ful blonde with languishing eyes. When, therefore, I see 
a master giving exactly the same lessons to both, I say 
that the man follows his routine but understands nothing 
of his art. 

It is asked whether the teachers for young girls should 
be men, or women. I do not know. I wish that neither 
might be necessary, but that they might be free to learn 
what they are so much inclined to learn, and that we 
might not see constantly going about in our cities so 


many laced buffoons. I have some difficulty in believing 
that the deportment of these fellows does not do more 
harm than good to young girls, and that their jargon, 
their tone, and their airs do not give to their pupils the 
first taste for those frivolities, so important for their 
masters, which they will hardly be slow, following theii 
example, to make their sole occupation. 

In the arts which are merely pleasure-giving in their 
purpose everything may serve to teach young persons 
their father, mother, brother, sister, their friends, their 
governesses, their mirror, and especially their own taste. 
We ought not to offer to give them lessons, but they 
should find it necessary to demand them. We should 
not turn a reward into a task; and it is especially in 
studies of this sort that the very condition of success is a 
desire to succeed. However, if formal lessons are abso- 
lutely necessary, I shall not decide the sex of those who 
are to give them. 

Through industry and talent the taste is formed ; and 
through the taste the mind is insensibly opened to ideas 
of the beautiful in all its forms, and finally to the moral 
notions which are connected with it. This is perhaps 
one of the reasons why the feeling of propriety and vir- 
tue is developed sooner in girls than in boys; for, in 
order to believe that this precocious feeling is the work 
of governesses, we must be very badly instructed in their 
style of lessons and in the progress of the human mind. 
Talent in speaking holds the first place in the art of 
pleasing, and it is through it alone that we can add new 
charms to those to which habit accustoms all the senses. 
It is the mind which not only vivifies the body, but which 
in some sort renews it; it is through the succession of 
feelings and ideas that it gives animation and variety to 
the features ; and it is through the discourse which it in- 

274 EMILE. 

spires that the attention is kept alive and for a long time 
sustains the same interest on the same object. It is for 
all these reasons, I presume, that young girls so soon ac- 
quire an agreeable prattle, that they throw an accent into 
their speech even before they are conscious of its mean- 
ing, and that men so soon find amusement in listening to 
them even before they can be understood by their fair 
listeners. Men watch the first movement of this intelli- 
gence in order thus to penetrate the dawn of emotion. 

Women have a flexible tongue ; they speak sooner, 
more easily, and more agreeably than men. They are 
accused also of speaking more. This is proper, and I 
would willingly change this reproach into a commenda- 
tion. With them the mouth and the eyes have the same 
activity, and for the same reason. A man says what he 
knows, and a woman what is pleasing. In order to speak, 
one needs knowledge and the other taste ; one ought to 
have for a principal object things which are useful ; the 
other, things which are agreeable. In their forms of 
conversation the only thing in common should be the 

If boys should not be allowed to ask indiscreet ques- 
tions, for a still stronger reason they should be forbidden 
young girls, whose curiosity, when satisfied, or when 
wrongly evaded, has very different consequences, due to 
their penetration in anticipating the mysteries which are 
concealed from them, and to their cleverness in dis- 
covering them. But, without awaiting their questions, I 
would have them thoroughly interrogated themselves, 
would take care to make them talk, and would tease 
them in order to make them speak easily and to loosen 
the mind and the tongue, when it could be done without 
danger. These conversations, always turned into pleas- 
ing channels, but managed with art and well directed, 


would make a charming amusement for that age, and 
might carry into the innocent hearts of these young per- 
sons the first and perhaps the most useful lessons in 
morals which they will ever learn, by teaching them, 
through the bait of pleasure and vanity, to what qualities 
men really accord their esteem, and in what the glory and 
happiness of a noble woman consist. 

It is easy to see that if boys are not in a condition to 
form any true idea of religion, for a still stronger reason 
the same idea is above the conception of girls. It is on 
this very account that I would speak to them the earlier 
on this subject ; for if we must wait till they are in a 
condition to discuss these profound questions methodi- 
cally, we run the risk of never speaking to them on this 
subject. The reason of women is a practical reason, which 
gives them great skill in finding the means for reaching 
a known end, but it does not cause them to find the end 
itself. The social relation of the sexes is admirable. 
From this association there results a moral personality of 
which woman is the eye and man the arm, but with such 
a dependence of one on the other that it is from the man 
that the woman learns what must be seen, and from the 
woman that the man learns what must be done. If the 
woman could ascend to principles as well as the man, and 
if the man had the same talents for details that she has, 
always independent of each other, they would live in 
perpetual discord, and their union could not subsist. 
But in the harmony which reigns between them every- 
thing tends to the common end, and we do not know 
which contributes the most to it, each follows the impul- 
sion of the other ; each obeys, and both are masters. 

For the reason that the conduct of woman is subject 
to public opinion, her belief is subject to authority. 
Every daughter should have the religion of her mother, 


and every wife that of her husband. Even were this re- 
ligion false, the docility which makes the mother and the 
daughter submit to the order of nature expunges in the 
sight of God the sin of error. As they are not in a con- 
dition to judge for themselves, women should receive 
the decision of fathers and husbands as they would the 
decision of the Church. 

Not being able to draw from themselves alone the rule 
of their faith, women can not confine it within the bound- 
aries of evidence and reason, but, allowing themselves to 
be carried away by a thousand extraneous impulses, they 
are always on this side or that of the truth. Always ex- 
tremists, they are all free-thinkers or devotees ; none of 
them are able to combine discretion with piety. The 
source of the evil is not only in the tendency to ex- 
tremes which characterizes their sex, but also in the badly 
regulated authority of our own. The looseness in morals 
makes this authority despised, and the fear of repentance 
makes it tyrannical ; and this is how we are always doing 
too little or too much. 

Since authority ought to regulate the religion of 
women, it is not so important to explain to them the rea- 
sons which we have for believing as to expound to them 
with clearness what we believe ; for the faith which we 
have in obscure ideas is the primitive source of fanati- 
cism, and that which we require for absurd things leads to 
madness or to incredulity. 

In the first place, in order to teach religion to young 
girls, never make it a thing of sadness and constraint for 
them, and never a task or a duty ; consequently, never 
make them learn by heart anything connected with it, 
not even their prayers. Be content with saying your own 
prayers regularly before them, but without forcing them 
to take part in them. Make them short, according to 


the precepts of Jesus Christ. Always make them with 
suitable solemnity and respect ; recollect that as we re- 
quire of the Supreme Being attention in order to listen 
to us, we are in duty bound to reflect on what we are 
going to say to him. 

It is less important that young girls know their re- 
iigion so soon than that they know it well, and especially 
that they love it. When you make it burdensome to 
them, when you always represent God as angry with 
them, when you impose on them in his name a thousand 
painful duties which they never see you fulfill, what can 
they think, save that to know one's catechism and to pray 
to God are the duties of little girls, and desire except 
to be grown up in order to be exempt, just as you are, 
from all this constraint ? Example ! Example ! With- 
out this we shall never succeed in anything with chil- 

When you explain to them the articles of faith, let it 
be in the form of direct instruction, and not by question 
and answer ; they ought never to answer save what they 
think, and not what is dictated to them. All the replies 
of the catechism are on the wrong side it is the pupil 
who instructs the teacher ; they are even falsehoods in 
the mouths of children, since they explain what they do 
not understand, and affirm what they are not able to be- 

I wish some man who thoroughly knows the steps of 
progress in the child's mind would write a catechism for 
him. This would perhaps be the most useful book that 
was ever written, and would not be, to my mind, the one 
which would do the least honor to its author. One thing is 
very certain : if this book were good, it would bear but 
little resemblance to those in use. 

Such a catechism will be good only when, from the 

278 fiMILE. 

questions alone, the child will make for himself the re- 
plies without, having to learn them, it being understood 
that he will sometimes take his turn in asking questions. 
To make what I wish to say understood, a sort of model 
would be necessary, and I well know what I lack in order 
to trace it out. 

It is well to recollect that until the age when the rea- 
son is illumined, and when dawning emotion causes the 
conscience to speak, that which is right or wrong for 
young persons is what the people who surround them 
have decided to be such. What they are commanded to 
do is right, what they are forbidden to do is wrong, and 
here their knowledge ought to end.* From this we see 
how important it is, and still more so for girls than for 
boys, to make a choice of the persons who are to approach 
them and have some authority over them. Finally, the 
moment comes when they begin to judge of things for 
themselves, and then it is time to change the plan of their 

To what condition should we reduce women if we make 
public prejudice the law of their conduct ? Let us not 
abase to this point the sex which governs us, and which 
honors us when we have not degraded it. There exists 
for the whole human - species a rule anterior to opinion. 
It is to the inflexible direction of this rule that all the 
others are to be referred. It judges prejudice even ; and 
it is only so far as the esteem of men accords with it that 
this esteem ought to constitute authority for us. 

This rule is the inner moral sense. I shall not repeat 
what I have previously said on this point. It is sufficient 

* This reflection should have occurred to Rousseau when he com- 
posed the dialogue intended to prove that children are incapable of 
reason. (P.) 


for me to remark, that if these two rules do not co-oper- 
ate in the education of women, it will always be defective. 
The moral sense, without opinion, will not give them 
that delicacy of soul which adorns good manners with 
universal honor; and opinion, without the moral sense, 
will never produce anything but artificial and immodest 
women, who substitute appearance in the place of virtue. 

It is important, then, to cultivate a faculty which 
serves as an arbitrator between the two guides, which does 
not allow the conscience to go astray, and which corrects 
the errors of prejudice. This faculty is the reason. But 
at this word how many questions arise ! Are women capa- 
ble of solid reasoning ? Is it important for them to cul- 
tivate it? Will they cultivate it with success? Is this 
culture useful to the functions imposed on them? Is it 
compatible with the simplicity which is becoming to 

It results from the different ways of approaching and 
resolving these questions that, going to opposite extremes, 
some restrict woman to sewing and spinning in her house- 
hold with her servants, and thus make of her but the head 
servant of the master ; while others, not content with se- 
curing her rights, go farther, and make her usurp our 
own. For, to place her above us in the qualities peculiar 
to her sex, and to render her our equal in everything else, 
what is this but to transfer to the wife the primacy which 
nature gives to the husband ? 

The reason which leads man to the knowledge of his 
duties is not very complex ; and the reason which leads 
woman to the knowledge of hers is still simpler. The 
obedience and fidelity which she owes to her husband, the 
tenderness and care which she owes to her children, are 
such natural and obvious consequences of her condition, 
that she can not, without bad faith, refuse her consent to 

280 EMILE. 

the inner sense which guides her, nor fail to recognize 
her duty in the inclination which has not yet been per- 

If a woman were wholly restricted to the tasks of her 
sex, and were left in profound ignorance of everything 
else, I would not indulge in indiscriminate censure ; but 
this would require a very simple and wholesome state of 
public morals, or a very retired manner of living. In 
large cities and among corrupt men such a woman would 
be too easily led astray, and in this philosophical age she 
must be above temptation ; she must know in advance what 
may be said to her, and what she ought to think of it. 

Moreover, subject to the judgment of men, she ought 
to merit their esteem ; she ought, above all, to secure the 
esteem of her husband ; she ought not only to make him 
love her person, but make him approve her conduct ; she 
ought to justify before the public the choice which he has 
made, and make her husband honored with the honor 
which is paid his wife. Now, how shall she go about all 
this if she is ignorant of our institutions, if she knows 
nothing of our usages and our social customs, if she knows 
neither the source of human judgments nor the passions 
which determine them ? When she depends at once on 
her own conscience and the opinions of others, she must 
learn to compare these two rules, to reconcile them, and 
to prefer the first only when they are in opposition. She 
becomes the judge of her judges ; she decides when she 
ought to submit to them and when she ought to challenge 
them. Before rejecting or admitting their prejudices she 
weighs them ; she learns to ascend to their source, to an- 
ticipate them, and to render them favorable to her ; she 
is careful never to draw censure upop herself when her 
duty permits her to avoid it. Nothing of all this can be 
well done without cultivating her mind and her reason. 


The search for abstract and speculative truths, princi- 
ples, and scientific axioms, whatever tends to generalize 
ideas, does not fall within the compass of women ; all 
their studies ought to have reference to the practical ; it 
is for them to make the application of the principles which 
man has discovered, and to make the observations which 
lead man to the establishment of principles. All the re- 
flections of women which are not immediately connected 
with their duties ought to be directed to the study of men 
and to that pleasure-giving knowledge which has only 
taste for its object ; for as to works of genius, they are 
out of their reach, nor have they sufficient accuracy and 
attention to succeed in the exact sciences ; and as to the 
physical sciences, they fall to that one of the two which is 
the most active, the most stirring, which sees the most 
objects, which has the most strength, and which exercises 
it most in judging of the relations of sensible beings and 
of the laws of nature. Woman, who is weak, and who sees 
nothing external, appreciates and judges the motive pow- 
ers which she can set to work to offset her weakness, and 
these motive powers are the passions of man. Whatever 
her sex can not do for itself, and which is necessary or 
agreeable to her, she must have the art of making us de- 
sire. She must therefore make a profound study of the 
mind of man, not the mind of man in general, through 
abstraction, but the mind of the men who surround her, 
the mind of the men to whom she is subject, either by law 
or by opinion. She must learn to penetrate their feelings 
through their conversation, their actions, their looks, and 
their gestures. Through her conversations, her actions, 
her looks, and her gestures she must know how to give 
them the feelings which are pleasing to her, without even 
seeming to think of them. They will philosophize better 
than she can on the human heart, but she will read better 


than they can in the hearts of men. It is for women to 
discover, so to speak, an experimental ethics, and for us to 
reduce it to a system. Woman has more spirit and man 
more genius; woman observes and man reasons. From 
this concurrence there result the clearest light and the 
most complete science which the human mind can acquire 
of itself the surest knowledge, in a word, of one's self 
and others which is within the scope of our species. And 
this is the way in which art may incessantly tend to per- 
fect the instrument given by nature. 

The world is woman's book ; when she reads it wrong, 
it is her fault or some passion blinds her. However, the 
real mother, far from being a woman of the world, is 
hardly less a recluse in her house than a nun in her clois- 
ter. We must then do for young women who marry just 
as we do or ought to do for those who are placed in con- 
vents show them the pleasures which they part with 
before allowing them to renounce them, for fear that the 
false image of those pleasures, which are unknown to 
them, may one day come to lead their hearts astray and 
disturb the happiness of their retreat. In France girls 
live in convents and women travel the world over. Among 
the ancients it was just the contrary : girls, as I have said, 
indulged in sports and public festivals, while the women 
lived in retirement. This custom was the more reason- 
able and better maintained the public morals. A sort of 
coquetry is granted to marriageable girls ; their chief 
business is to enjoy themselves. Women have other cares 
at home, and no longer have to search for husbands. 
Mothers, at least make companions of your daughters. 
Give them a sense of uprightness and a soul of honor, and 
then conceal nothing from them, nothing which a chaste 
eye may look at. Balls, banquets, games, even the theatre, 
everything which, wrongly viewed, makes the charm of 


unadvised youth, may be offered without risk to uncor- 
rupted eyes. The better they see these noisy pleasures 
the sooner will they be disgusted with them. 

I hear the clamor which is raised against me. What 
girl will resist this dangerous example ? They have no 
sooner seen the world than all their heads are turned ; not 
one of them is willing to abandon it. This may be ; but 
before offering them this deceptive picture, have you pre- 
pared them well for seeing it without emotion? Have 
you clearly announced to them the objects which it rep- 
resents ? Have you really painted them just as they are ? 
Have you thoroughly armed them against the illusions 
of vanity ? Have you put in their young hearts a taste 
for the true pleasures which are not found in this tumult ? 
What precautions, what measures, have you taken to pre- 
serve them from the false taste which is leading them 
astray ? Far from offering any opposition to the power 
of public prejudice which sways their minds, you have 
nourished it there ; you have made them love in advance 
all the frivolous amusements which they find. You make 
them love them still more by surrendering them to 
them. Young women entering society have no other 
governess than a mother who is often more senseless 
than they are, and who can show them objects only as she 
sees them. Her example, stronger even than reason, 
justifies them in their own eyes, and the authority of the 
mother is for the daughter an unanswerable excuse. 
When I advise a mother to introduce her daughter into 
society, it is on the supposition that she will make her see 
it just as it is. 

The evil begins still earlier. The convents are veri- 
table schools of coquetry not of that honest coquetry of 
which I have spoken, but of that which produces all 
the caprices of women and makes the most extravagant 

female fops. On leaving them to enter at once into the 
din of social life, young women at first feel that they 
are in their place. They have been educated to live there, 
and need we be astonished if they find themselves at 
home ? I do not put forward what I am going to say 
without fear of taking a prejudice for an observation; 
but it seems to me that, in general, Protestant countries 
have more family affection, more worthy wives, and more 
tender mothers than Catholic countries ; and if this is 
true, we can not doubt that this difference is due in part 
to the education of convents. 

In order to love the peaceful life of the home, we must 
know it; we must have felt its charms from infancy. 
It is only under the paternal roof that we contract a 
taste for our own home, and a woman who has not been 
educated by her mother will not love to educate her 
children. Unfortunately, private education in our large 
cities no longer exists. Society there is so general and 
so mixed that there is no longer an asylum for retreat, 
and we live in public even at home. By reason of living 
with everybody we no longer have a family, we hardly 
know our parents, we see them as strangers, and the 
simplicity of domestic manners has become extinct along 
with the sweet familiarity which constituted its charm. 
It is thus that with our milk we imbibe a taste for the 
pleasures of the world and for the maxims which we see 
prevailing there. 

An apparent restraint is imposed on girls to order to 
find dupes who will marry them on the strength of their 
deportment. But study these young persons for a mo- 
ment. Under an air of constraint they poorly disguise 
the lust which devours them, and already we read in their 
eyes the ardent desire to imitate their mothers. What 
they covet is not a husband, but the license of marriage. 


All these different educations equally create in young 
persons a taste for the pleasures of gay society, and to 
the passions which soon spring from this taste. In 
the large cities the depravation begins with life, and in 
the small it begins with reason. Young women from the 
provinces, taught to despise the happy simplicity of their 
manners, make haste to come to Paris to share the cor- 
ruption of ours ; the vices adorned with the fine name of 
talents are the sole object of their journey ; and, ashamed 
on arriving to find themselves so far from the noble free- 
dom of city women, they are not slow in deserving to be 
considered residents of the capital. In your opinion, 
where does the evil begin in the place where it was 
conceived, or in the place where it was accomplished ? 

I would not have a sensible mother take her daugh- 
ter from the provinces to Paris in order to show her these 
sights so pernicious to others ; but I say that if this is done, 
either that daughter has been badly educated or these 
sights will have little danger for her. With taste, sense, 
and love for things honorable, we do not find them so 
attractive as they are for those who allow themselves to 
be charmed by them. At Paris we may observe young, 
hare-brained girls, who have come in haste to copy the 
manners of the city and have devoted themselves to the 
fashions for six months, only to make themselves hissed 
for the rest of their lives ; but who takes notice of those 
who, disgusted by all this hubbub, return to their prov- 
ince content with their lot, after having compared it 
with that which is the envy of others ? How many young 
women I have seen brought to the capital by their good- 
natured husbands, and at liberty to stay there, who dis- 
suaded their husbands from this purpose, departed more 
willingly than they had come, and feelingly said, on. the 
eve of their departure : " Ah, let us return to our humble 

286 EMILE. 

home ; life is much happier there than in the palaces of 
Paris." We do not know how many good people there 
still are who have not bent the knee before the idol and 
who despise his senseless worship. Only fools are loud 
in their conduct ; women who are wise create no sensa- 

It is not necessary to disgust young girls with your 
long sermons nor to retail to them your dry moralities. 
For both sexes these moral lectures are the death of all 
good education. Gloomy lessons serve only to involve in 
hatred both those who give them and all that they say. 
It is not necessary, in speaking to young women, to make 
them afraid of their duties, nor to make more grievous 
the yoke which is imposed on them by nature. In setting 
forth their duties, be precise and affable ; do not allow 
them to think that the discharge of duty is disagreeable ; 
do not wear an air of displeasure or of solemnity. All 
that is to go to the heart ought to come from it ; their 
moral catechism ought to be as short and as clear as their 
religious catechism, but it ought not to be as grave. 
Show them that the source of their pleasures and the 
basis of their rights lie in the same duties. Is it so pain- 
ful to love in order to be loved, to make oneself amiable 
in order to be loved, to make oneself estimable in order 
to be obeyed, and to make oneself honorable in order to 
be honored ? 

Would you, then, inspire young women with a love for 
good morals ? Without saying to them constantly, Be dis- 
crete, create in them a strong interest in being so ; make 
them feel all the value of discretion, and you will make 
them love it. It is not enough to place this interest in a 
distant future ; show it to them in the present moment, 
in current events, and in the character of their admirers. 
Depict to them the man of probity, the man of merit, 


and prove to them that when they are loved, only such a 
man can make them happy. Encourage virtue through an 
appeal to reason ; make them feel that the power of their 
sex and all its advantages do not depend solely on their 
good conduct and morals, but also on those of men ; that 
they have little hold on vile and low natures, and that a 
man can serve his sweetheart only so far as he can serve 
virtue. You may then be sure that, by depicting to them 
the manners of the day, you will inspire them with a sin- 
cere disgust for them ; and that, by showing them the 
men of fashion, you will make them despise them ; you 
will give them only dislike for their maxims, an aversion 
for their sentiments, and a disdain for their vain compli- 
ments ; you will cause to spring up in them a nobler am- 
bition that of reigning over grand and powerful souls 
that of the women of Sparta, which was to command men. 

Sophie is well born and has a good disposition ; she 
has a very sensitive heart, and this extreme sensibility 
sometimes gives her an activity of imagination difficult 
to control. She has a mind less accurate than penetrat- 
ing ; a temper that is yielding and yet unequal ; a figure 
plain but agreeable ; a physiognomy which bespeaks a 
soul and does not lie ; people may approach her with 
indifference, but can not leave her without emotion. 
Others have good qualities which she lacks ; others have 
in a larger measure those which she has ; but no one has 
qualities better suited for producing a happy character. 
She knows how to derive advantage even from her 
faults ; and if she were more perfect she would be less 

Sophie is not beautiful ; but in her presence men for- 
get beautiful women, and beautiful women are discon- 
tented with themselves. At first sight she is hardly 
pretty, but the more we see her the more beautiful she 

288 EMILE. 

looks ; she gains where so many others lose, and what she 
gains she does not afterward lose. We may see more 
beautiful eyes, a finer mouth, and a more imposing pres- 
ence ; but no one can have a more finely shaped figure, a 
more beautiful complexion, a whiter hand, a more dainty 
foot, a sweeter smile, or a more touching countenance^ 
She interests without dazzling ; she charms, but no one 
can tell why. 

Sophie loves dress, and is a good judge of it; her 
mother has no other waiting-maid ; she has much taste in 
dressing herself to advantage, but she hates rich gar- 
ments, and in what she wears we always see simplicity 
united with elegance ; she does not love what glitters but 
what is becoming ; she does not know what the fashion- 
able colors are, but she knows perfectly which are becom- 
ing to her. There is no young woman who seems dressed 
with less study, yet whose attire is more elegant ; there is 
not a single article of her clothing chosen at random, yet 
in no one of them is there the appearance of art. Her 
attire is very modest in appearance but very coquettish in 
effect ; she does not display her charms, she covers them ; 
but in covering them she knows how to make them im- 

Sophie has natural talents ; she is conscious of them, 
and has not neglected them ; but not having been in a 
condition to devote much art to their culture, she has 
been content to exercise her fine voice in singing with 
accuracy and taste, her little feet in walking trippingly, 
easily, and gracefully, and in making courtesies in all sorts 
of situations without embarrassment or awkwardness. 
Moreover, she has had no teacher of singing save her 
father, and no dancing-master but her mother ; an organ- 
ist of the neighborhood has given her a few lessons in 
accompaniment on the harpsichord, which she has since 


practiced by herself. At first her only thought was to 
exhibit her hand to advantage on the black keys ; next 
she discovered that the sharp and thin sound of the 
harpsichord made the sound of her voice more melodi- 
ous ; little by little she became sensitive to the harmony ; 
and finally, as she grew up, she began to feel the charms 
of expression and to love music for itself. But this is a 
taste rather than a talent ; she is unable to play a tune 
by note. 

What Sophie knows best, and what has been taught 
her with the most care, is the work of her sex, even those 
kinds which are not usually considered, like cutting and 
making her dresses. There is no kind of needle-work 
which she does not know how to do, and which she does 
not do with pleasure ; but the work which she prefers to 
all others is lace-making, because there is none which 
affords a more pleasing attitude and in which the fingers 
are exercised with more grace and deftness. She has also 
devoted herself to all the details of housekeeping. She 
is acquainted with the kitchen and the pantry ; she knows 
the price of provisions, and also their qualities ; she has a 
thorough knowledge of book-keeping, and serves her 
mother as housekeeper. Destined one day to become 
the head of a family, by directing the father's household 
she learns to direct her own. She can take the place of 
servants, and always does so willingly. We can never 
order a thing done properly which we do not know how 
to do ourselves ; this is the reason why Sophie's mother 
employs her in this way. But Sophie does not look so far 
ahead ; her first duty is that of daughter, and it is now 
the only one which she thinks of fulfilling. Her simple 
purpose is to serve her mother, and to relieve her of a part 
of her cares. It is true, however, that she does not dis- 
charge all these duties with equal pleasure. For example, 


though she is fond of eating, she does not love cooking ; 
its details have something of disgust for her ; she never 
finds sufficient neatness in it. On this point she has an 
extreme delicacy, and this delicacy, carried to an extreme, 
has become one of her faults ; she would rather let the 
whole dinner burn up than soil a ruffle. For the same 
reason, she has never been willing to oversee the garden 
the earth seems unclean to her. 

She owes this fault to the lessons of her mother. 
According to her, among the duties of woman, one of 
the first is cleanliness a duty' that is special, indis- 
pensable, and imposed by nature. There is no more 
disgusting object in the world than a slovenly woman, 
and a husband who is disgusted with her is never wrong. 
She has preached this duty to her daughter so much from 
her childhood, she has exacted of her so much cleanliness 
with respect to her person, her clothing, her apartment, 
her work, and her toilet, that all these attentions, con- 
verted into habit, take up quite a large part of her time, 
and even encroach on the remainder ; so that to do well 
whatever she does is but the second of her cares ; the first 
is always to do it neatly. 

Nevertheless, all this has not degenerated into vain 
affectation nor into want of spirit, and the refinements of 
luxury play no part in it. Only simple water will ever 
enter her apartment ; she knows no other perfume than 
that of flowers, and her husband will never breathe one 
sweeter than her breath. Finally, the affection which she 
bestows on the exterior does not make her forget that she 
owes her life and her time to nobler duties. She ignores 
or disdains that excessive cleanliness of body which soils 
the soul. Sophie is much more than clean she is pure. 

I have said that Sophie was fond of eating ; she was so 
naturally ; but she has become temperate by habit, and is 


now so by virtue. It is not with girls as with boys, who 
can be governed up to a certain point by their appetite. 
This inclination has its consequences for the sex ; it is too 
dangerous to go unchecked. The little Sophie, in her 
girlhood, going alone into her mother's pantry, did not 
always come back empty-handed, and her fidelity with 
respect to sugar-plums and bonbons was not above sus- 
picion. Her mother detected her, reproved her, punished 
her, and made her fast. At last she succeeded in per- 
suading her that bonbons spoiled the teeth, and that eat- 
ing too much made one stout. In this way Sophie re- 
formed. As she grew up she contracted other tastes, 
which have turned her aside from this low sensuality. In 
women, as in men, as soon as the heart grows warm 
gluttony is no longer a dominant vice. Sophie has pre- 
served the characteristic taste of her sex : she likes milk, 
butter, cream, and sweetmeats ; is fond of pastry and des- 
sert, but eats very little meat ; she has never tasted either 
wine or intoxicating liquors. Moreover, she eats very 
moderately of everything; her sex, less laborious than 
ours, has less need to repair its waste. In everything she 
likes what is good, and knows how to enjoy it ; she also 
knows how to put up with what is not so, without allowing 
this privation to cost her anything. 

Sophie has a mind pleasing without being brilliant, 
and solid without being profound a mind of which 
people say nothing, because they never observe in it 
either more or less than in their own. She always has a 
mind which pleases the people who speak to her, although 
it is not copiously adorned according to the notion which 
we have of the intellectual culture of women ; for hers 
has not been formed by reading, but only by the conver- 
sations of her father and mother, by her own reflections, 
and by the observations which she has made in the little, 

292 EMILE. 

of the world which she has seen. Sophie is naturally 
gay she was even frolicsome in her childhood ; but little 
by little her mother has taken care to repress her giddy 
airs, for fear that too sudden a change might ere long 
apprise her of the moment which had rendered it neces- 
sary. She has therefore become modest and reserved even 
before the time for being so ; and now that this time 
has come, it is easier for her to preserve the tone she has 
taken, than it would have been to take it without indi- 
cating the reason for this change. It is a pleasant thing 
to see her occasionally abandoning herself, through a 
residuum of the habit, to the vivacities of childhood, and 
then suddenly come to herself, grow silent, lower her eyes, 
and blush. The intermediate term between the two ages 
must necessarily partake somewhat of each. 

Sophie has too great a sensibility to preserve a perfect 
evenness of disposition ; she has too much sweetness for 
this sensibility to be very annoying to others ; it is to her- 
self alone that she does wrong. Let a single word be 
spoken which wounds her, and she does not pout, but her 
heart swells, and she tries to escape in order to go and 
weep. But if, in the midst of her tears, she is recalled 
by her father or her mother, she instantly appears, cheer- 
ful and smiling, while drying her eyes and trying to stifle 
her sobs. 

Nor is she wholly exempt from caprice ; her temper, 
if provoked a little too much, degenerates into unruliness, 
and then she is liable to . forget herself. But allow her 
time to come to herself, and her manner of making amends 
for her fault will make it almost meritorious. When pun- 
ished, she is docile and submissive, and we see that her 
shame arises not so much from her chastisement as from 
the fault. If nothing is said to her, she never fails to 
make reparation of her own accord, but so frankly and 


with such good grace that it is not possible to bear any 
ill-will. She would kiss the ground before the meanest 
domestic, and yet this abasement would not cause her the 
least pain, and the moment she is pardoned she shows by 
her joy and her caresses of what a weight her good heart 
has been relieved. In a word, she suffers the wrongs of 
others with patience, and repairs her own with pleasure. 
Such is the lovable nature of her sex before we have spoiled 
it. Woman is made to submit to man, and even to endure 
his injustice. You will never reduce young boys to the 
same point ; in them the inner sense rises in revolt against 
injustice ; nature has not made them for tolerating it. 

Sophie is religious, but her religion is reasonable and 
simple, with few dogmas and fewer practices of devotion ; 
or rather, knowing no essential practice save morality, she 
devotes her whole life to serving God by doing good. In 
all the instructions which her parents have given her on 
this subject they have accustomed her to a respectful sub- 
mission, by always saying to her : " My daughter, this 
knowledge is beyond your years ; your husband will in- 
struct you in it when the time comes." However, in 
place of pious discourses long drawn out, they content 
themselves with preaching piety to her through their ex- 
ample, and this example is graven on her heart. 

Sophie loves virtue, and this love has become her 
ruling passion. She loves it because there is nothing so 
beautiful as virtue ; she loves it because virtue constitutes 
the glory of woman, and a virtuous woman seems to her 
almost equal to an angel ; she loves it as the only road to 
true happiness, and because she sees only misery, deser- 
tion, misfortune, opprobrium, and ignominy in the life of 
a corrupt woman ; finally, she loves it because it is dear to 
her venerated father and to her tender and honored moth- 
er. Not content with being happy in their own virtue, 

294 EMILE. 

they wish also to be happy in hers ; and her chief happi- 
ness is the hope of making them happy. All these feel- 
ings inspire her with an enthusiasm which exalts her soul, 
and holds all her lower inclinations in subjection to such 
a noble passion. Sophie will be chaste and upright even 
to her last breath ; she has sworn it in the depths of her 
soul, and at a time when she felt all that such an oath 
might cost her to keep ; she has sworn it when she might 
have revoked the engagement if her senses had been made 
to reign over her. 

Sophie has not the honor of being an amiable French 
woman, cold by temperament and coquettish by vanity, 
wishing rather to shine than to please, and seeking amuse- 
ment rather than pleasure. The one need of loving de- 
vours her, and comes to distract and trouble her heart in 
the midst of her enjoyments; she has lost her old-time 
gayety ; her playful amusements are no longer enjoyed by 
her; far from fearing the irksomeness of solitude, she 
seeks it ; she there thinks of the one who is to make it 
agreeable to her. All the indifferent displease her ; she 
does not desire a courtship, but a lover ; she would rather 
please a single good man, and please him always, than to 
excite in her favor the applause of the world, which lasts 
a day and then is turned into jeers. 

The judgment is developed sooner in women than in 
men ; being on the defensive almost from their child- 
hood, and charged with a treasure difficult to guard, good 
and evil are necessarily sooner known to them. As her 
temperament inclines her to be precocious in everything, 
the judgment is developed earlier in Sophie than in other 
girls of her age. There is nothing very extraordinary in 
this, for maturity is not everywhere the same at the same 

Sophie is instructed in the rights and duties of her sex 


and of ours. She knows the faults of men and the vices 
of women ; she also knows the good qualities, the oppo- 
site virtues, and has them all imprinted in the depth of 
her heart. One can not have a higher idea of a noble 
woman than she has conceived of her, and this idea does 
not frighten her ; but she thinks with more complacency 
of the noble man, the man of merit ; she feels that she is 
made for such a man, that she is worthy of him, that she 
can return to him the happiness which she will receive 
from him, and she feels that she will be perfectly able to 
recognize him ; it is merely a question of finding him. 

Women are the natural judges of the merits of men, as 
men are of the merits of women ; this is a mutual right, 
and neither sex is ignorant of it. Sophie is conscious 
of this right, and makes use of it, but with the modesty 
befitting her youth, her inexperience, and her station ; she 
judges only of things which are within her comprehen- 
sion, and she judges of them only when this serves to 
develop some useful rule of conduct. She speaks of the 
absent only with the greatest circumspection, especially if 
they are women. She thinks that what makes them slan- 
derous and satirical is the habit of speaking of their own 
sex ; for as long as they restrict themselves to speaking of 
ours they are only just. Sophie, then, limits herself to 
this. As to women, she never speaks of them save to say 
of them the good which she knows it is an honor which 
she thinks she owes to her sex ; and of her of whom she 
knows nothing good to say, she says nothing at all, and 
this is understood. 

Sophie is little versed in the ways of the world ; but 
she is obliging, attentive, and puts an air of grace into 
everything she does. A happy disposition serves her 
better than much art. She has a certain politeness of 
her own which does not depend on formulas, which is not 

296 EMILE. 

subject to fashion, which does not change with it, which 
does nothing through custom, but which comes from a 
true desire to please, and which does please. She knows 
nothing of trivial compliments, and does not go out of 
her way to invent them ; she does not say that she is 
greatly obliged, that one does her great honor, that one 
need not take the trouble, etc. Much less does she 
think of exchanging compliments. 

To a courtesy, or to a formal act of politeness, she 
replies by a bow or by an / thank you ; but this word 
from her mouth is worth many others. For a real serv- 
ice she lets her heart speak, and it is not a compliment 
that it dictates. She has never allowed French customs 
to subject her to the yoke of affectation, as in giving her 
arm, while going from one room to another, to an old 
man of sixty whom she might the rather desire to assist. 
When a perfumed gallant offers her this impertinent serv- 
ice she leaves this officious aid on the stairs, and trips into 
the parlor, saying that she is not lame. In fact, although 
she is not tall, she has never wished for high heels ; she 
has feet that are small enough to do without them. 

She not only maintains a silent and respectful bearing 
in the presence of women, but even in the presence of 
married men, or those much older than she is ; she will 
never accept a place above them save through obedience, 
and will resume her own place below them the moment 
she is able to do so ; for she knows that age has prece- 
dence over sex, as it carries with it the presumption of 
wisdom, which ought to be honored before everything 

"With young men of her age it is different. She has 
need of a different manner in order to impress them, and 
she can assume it without forsaking the modest air which 
becomes her. If they are modest and reserved them- 


selves, she will willingly continue with them the pleasing 
familiarity of youth ; their conversations, full of inno- 
cence, will be playful but decent ; if they become serious, 
she tries to make them useful ; if they degenerate into 
insipidity, she will soon bring them to a close ; for she 
has a supreme contempt for the petty cant of gallantry 
as very offensive to her sex. She well knows that the 
man whom she seeks does not indulge in this cant, and 
she never willingly suffers from another what is improper 
for him whose character is imprinted in the depths of 
her heart. The high opinion which she has of the rights 
of her sex, the pride of soul which gives her the purity 
of her feelings, that energy of virtue which she feels in 
herself and which makes her respectable in her own eyes, 
make her listen with indignation to the mawkish speeches 
with which people presume to amuse her. She does not 
receive them with an anger that is apparent, but with an 
ironical applause which is disconcerting, or with a cool- 
ness of manner which is unexpected. Let a loquacious 
beau pay her compliments, extol her in high terms for 
her wit, for her beauty, her graces, and for the priceless 
happiness of pleasing her, and she promptly interrupts 
him by saying politely : " Sir, I am very much afraid that 
I know those things better than you do, and if we have 
nothing more interesting to talk about, I think we had 
better cut short our conversation at this point." To ac- 
company these words with a grand courtesy, and then to 
find herself twenty paces from him, is to her but the work 
of an instant. Ask your fops if it is easy to show off 
their wit at any length before a character as testy as this 

This is not saying, however, that she does not greatly 
love to be praised, provided it is in earnest, and that she 
can believe that what is said of her is really sincere. In 

298 EMILE. 

order to appear affected by her merits we must begin by 
showing some ourselves. Homage founded on esteem 
may flatter her haughty spirit, but all gallant quizzing is 
always repelled ; Sophie was not made to practice the 
little arts of a stage-dancer. 

With such a great maturity of judgment, and devel- 
oped in all respects like a girl of twenty, Sophie at fifteen 
will not be treated by her parents as a child. They no 
sooner observe in her the first restlessness of youth than 
they hasten to provide for it before it progresses further ; 
they will hold tender and sensible conversations with her. 
These conversations are adapted to her age and character. 
If this character is such as I have imagined it to be, why 
might not her father address her somewhat as follows ? 

" Sophie, you are now a large girl, and it is not always 
to remain a girl that you have become such. We wish 
you to be happy, and it is for our sakes that we wish this, 
because our happiness depends on yours. The happiness 
of a noble girl consists in making a good man happy. 
We must therefore think of your marriage, and we must 
think of it thus early, for on marriage depends the des- 
tiny of life, and there is never too much time for think- 
ing of this. 

" Nothing is more difficult than the choice of a good 
husband, save, perhaps, that of a good wife. Sophie, 
you shall be that rare woman. You shall be the glory of 
our life and the happiness of our old age ; but with what- 
ever accomplishments you may be endowed, the world 
will never be lacking in men who are still more accom- 
plished than you are. There is not one who ought not to 
feel honored by honoring you, but there are many who 
would honor you more. Of this number it is your task to 
find one who is fit for you, and to make yourself acquainted 
with him, and him acquainted with you, 


" Your mother was of good family, and I was rich ; 
and these were the sole considerations which induced our 
parents to unite us I have lost my property and she has 
lost her rank. Forgotten by her family, of what use is 
it to her to-day to have been born a lady ? In our mis- 
fortunes the union of our hearts has consoled us for all 
our losses ; conformity of tastes has made us choose this 
retreat. We live here happy in our poverty, and what 
each is to the other takes the place of all besides. Sophie 
is our common treasure. We thank Heaven for having 
given her to us and for having taken from us everything 
else. See, my child, where Providence has led us. The 
considerations which led to our marriage have disap- 
peared, and we are happy only by reason of those which 
then counted for nothing. 

" Husband and wife must be matched. Mutual in- 
clination ought to be their first bond. Their eyes and 
their hearts ought to be their first guides ; for as their 
first duty, when united, is to love each other, as loving or 
not loving does not depend on ourselves, this duty neces- 
sarily involves another, and this is to begin by loving each 
other before becoming united. This is the law of nature, 
which nothing can abrogate ; and those who have ob- 
structed its action by so many civil laws, have had more 
regard for apparent order than for the happiness of mar- 
riage and the morals of citizens. You see, my Sophie, 
that we are not preaching to you a difficult morality. It 
tends merely to make you mistress of yourself, and to 
bring us into consultation with you on the choice of your 

" After having stated to you our reasons for granting 
you entire liberty, it is just to speak to you also of the 
reasons why you should use this liberty with wisdom. If 
equality of merit were the only question, I do not kno^v 

300 EMILE. 

what limit I ought to place on your hopes ; but do not 
raise them above your fortune, and do not forget that it is 
of the lowest rank. Although a man worthy of you does 
not count this inequality as an obstacle, you ought to do 
in that case what he will not do. Sophie ought to imitate 
her mother, and enter only a family which feels honored 
by her. You have not seen our opulence. You were born 
during our poverty, and you have made it sweet to us by 
sharing it without complaint. Believe me, Sophie, never 
seek property, of which we thank Heaven for having 
relieved us. We never tasted happiness until after having 
lost our wealth. 

" You will be sought for, and doubtless by persons who 
will not be worthy of you. If they appeared to you as 
they really are, you would estimate them for what they 
are worth; all their display would not long impose on 
you ; but, although you have good judgment and know 
your own merits, you are lacking in experience, and do 
not know to what extent men can disguise themselves. 
An adroit rascal may study your tastes in order to lead 
you astray, and in your presence feign virtues which he 
does not have. This one might ruin you, Sophie, before 
you were aware of it, and you would become conscious of 
your error only to weep over it. The most dangerous of 
all snares, and the only one which reason can not avoid, 
is that of the senses. If you ever have the misfortune to 
fall into it, you will see nothing but illusions and idle 
fancies ; your eyes will be fascinated, your judgment will 
be unsettled, your will will be corrupted, and you will 
cherish even your illusion, and when you are in a con- 
dition to be conscious of it you will not disown it. My 
daughter, it is to Sophie's reason that I confide you, but I 
do not confide you to the inclinations of her heart. As 
long as you are cool-headed, remain your own judge ; but 


as soon as you are in love, then trust the care of yourself 
to your mother. 

" I propose to you an agreement which indicates to 
you our esteem and reestablishes the order of nature be- 
tween us. Parents choose a husband for their daughter 
and consult her only as a matter of form ; this is the 
custom. But between ourselves, we shall do just the con- 
trary you shall choose, and we shall be consulted. Exer- 
cise your right, Sophie ; exercise it freely and wisely. 
The husband who is fit for you ought to be your choice, 
and not ours ; but it is for us to judge whether you are 
not deceived as to what is best, and whether, without 
knowing it, you are not doing something different from 
what you intend. Birth, wealth, rank, opinion, will not 
enter at all into our reasons. Choose an honorable man, 
whose person pleases you and whose character is adapted 
to you, and, whatever he may be in other respects, we 
shall accept him as our son-in-law. His wealth will 
always be great enough if he has hands, good morals, and 
loves his family. His rank will always be sufficiently 
illustrious if he ennobles it by virtue. Were the whole 
world to blame us, what matters it ? We are not seeking 
the approbation of the public, but are satisfied if you are 

Readers, I do not know what effect such a conversation 
would have on girls educated in your way. As to Sophie, 
she will not be able to reply to it in words ; shame and 
emotion will not allow her easily to express herself ; but I 
am very sure that it will remain graven in her heart as 
long as she lives, and that if we can count on any humar 
resolution, it is on that which she will make of being 
worthily esteemed of her parents. 

Man in a state of nature is hardly a thinker. Think- 
ing is an art that is learned, as other arts tire, and even 


with more difficulty. In the two sexes I know of but 
two classes that are really distinct people who think and 
people who do not think ; and this difference depends al- 
most wholly on education. A man belonging to the first 
of these two classes ought not to form an alliance with 
the second ; for the greatest charm of companionship fails 
him when, having a wife, he is reduced to thinking alone. 
Men who devote their whole lives to working for a living 
have no other idea than that of their work or their inter- 
ests, and their whole mind seems to be at the ends of their 
fingers. This ignorance is hurtful neither to probity nor 
io manners ; often it 'is serviceable to them. We often 
compromise with duty by reflecting on it, and in the end 
we substitute talk for things. The conscience is the clear- 
est of philosophers, and we need not know Cicero's Offices 
in order to be a man of worth ; and the most honorable 
woman in the world has perhaps the least idea of what 
honor is. But it is none the less true that only a culti- 
vated mind can make companionship agreeable ; and it 
is a sad thing for the father of a family who loves his 
home to be compelled to shut himself up there alone, 
unable to make himself understood by any one. 

Moreover, how shall a woman who has not the habit 
of reflection educate her children? How shall she dis- 
cover what is best for them ? How shall she incline them 
to virtues which she does not know, and to attainments 
of which she has no idea? She will be able only to 
humor or to threaten them, to make them insolent or 
timid ; she will make of them affected apes or rattle- 
headed rogues, but never children of good minds or amia- 
ble dispositions. 

It is then not meet for an educated man to take a 
wife who is uneducated, nor, consequently, to marry into 
a class where education is impossible. But I would a 


hundred times prefer a simple girl, rudely brought up, to 
a girl of learning and wit who should come to establish in 
my house a literary tribunal of which she should make 
herself the president. A woman of wit is the scourge of 
her husband, her children, her friends, her servants, of 
everybody. In the sublime elevation of her fine genius 
she disdains all the duties of woman, and always begins 
by making a man of herself, after the example of Made- 
moiselle de 1'Enclos. Away from home she is always the 
subject of ridicule, and is very justly criticised, as one 
never fails of being the moment she leaves her proper 
station and enters one for which she is not adapted. All 
this pretense is unworthy of an honorable woman. 
"Were she the possessor of real talents, her pretension 
would abase them. Her dignity is in leading a retired 
life ; her glory is in the esteem of her husband ; her 
pleasures are in the happiness of her family. Readers, I 
appeal to you on your honor which gives you the 
better opinion of a woman as you enter her room, which 
makes you approach her with the greater respect : to see 
her occupied with the duties of her sex, with her house- 
hold cares, the garments of her children lying around 
her ; or, to find her writing verses on her dressing-table, 
surrounded with all sorts of pamphlets and sheets of note- 
paper in every variety of color ? If all the men in the 
world were sensible, every girl of letters would remain un- 
married all her life. 

It is asked whether it is good for young men to travel, 
and the question is in great dispute. If it were differently 
stated, and it were asked whether it is good for men to 
have traveled, perhaps there would not be so much dis- 

The abuse of books kills science. Thinking they 
know "what they have read, men think they can dispense 


with learning it. Too much reading serves only to make 
presumptuous ignoramuses. Of all the centuries of litera- 
ture there is not one in which there has been so much 
reading as in this, and not one in which men have heen 
less wise ; of all the countries of Europe, there is not one 
where so many histories and travels have been printed as 
in France, and not one where less is known of the genius 
and customs of other countries. So many books make us 
neglect the book of the world ; or, if we still read in it, 
each one confines himself to his leaf. 

A Parisian fancies he knows men, while he knows only 
Frenchmen. In his city, always full of strangers, he 
regards each foreigner as an extraordinary phenomenon 
which has no fellow in the rest of the universe. We must 
have had a near view of the citizens of that great city, we 
must have lived with them, in order to believe that with 
so much spirit they can also be so stupid. The queer 
thing about it is, that each of them has read, perhaps ten 
times, the description of the country one of whose inhabi- 
tants has filled him with so much wonder. 

It is too much to have to wade through at the same 
time the prejudices of authors and our own in order to 
arrive at the truth. I have spent my life in reading books 
of travel, and I have never found two of them which gave 
me the same idea of the same people. On comparing the 
little which I was able to observe with what I had read, I 
have ended by abandoning travelers, and by regretting 
the time which I had spent in order to instruct myself in 
their reading, thoroughly convinced that in respect of 
observations of all sorts we must not read, but see. This 
would be true even if all travelers were sincere, if they 
related only what they have seen or what they believe, 
and if they disguised the truth only by the false colors 
which it takes in their eyes. What must it be when, in 


addition, we have to discern the truth through their false- 
hoods and their bad faith ? 

Let us, then, abandon the expedient of books which are 
commended to us, to those who are made to be contented 
with them. Like the art of Raymond Lully,* they are 
useful for teaching us to prate about what we do not 
know. They are useful for preparing Platos of fifteen for 
philosophizing in clubs, and for instructing a company 
on the customs of Egypt and India, on the faith of Paul 
Lucas or of Tavernier. 

I hold it for an incontestable maxim, that whoever 
has seen but one people, instead of knowing men, knows 
only those with whom he has lived. Hero, then, is still 
another way of stating the same question of travels. Is 
it sufficient for a well-educated man to know only his 
own countrymen, or is it important for him to know men 
in general ? There no longer remains dispute or doubt 
on this point. Observe how the solution of a difficult 
question sometimes depends on the manner of stating it. 

But, in order to study men, must we make the tour of 
the whole earth ? Must we go to Japan to observe Euro- 
peans ? In order to know the species, must we know all 
the individuals ? No ; there are men who resemble one 
another so closely that it is not worth the trouble to study 
them separately. He who has seen ten Frenchmen has 
seen them all. Although we can not say the same of the 
English and of some other peoples, it is nevertheless cer- 
tain that each nation has its peculiar and specific char- 
acter, which is inferred by induction, not from the obser- 
vation of a single one of its members, but of several. He 

* An allusion to the Ars Magna of Raymond Lully, a sort of 
verbal and syllogistic mechanism or machine for forming proposi- 
tions. (Souquet). 

who has compared ten peoples knows mankind, just as he 
who has seen ten Frenchmen knows the French. 

For purposes of instruction it is not sufficient to stroll 
through countries, but we must know how to travel. In 
order to observe, we must have eyes, and must turn them 
toward the object which we wish to examine. There are 
many people whom travel instructs still less than books, 
because they are ignorant of the art of thinking ; whereas 
in reading, their mind is at least guided by the author, 
while in their travels they do not know how to see anything 
for themselves. Others are not instructed because they 
do not wish to be instructed. Their object is so different 
that this hardly affects them. It is very doubtful whether 
we can see with exactness what we are not anxious to 
observe. Of all the people in the world, the Frenchman 
is he who travels the most ; but, full of his own ways, he 
slights indiscriminately everything which does not resem- 
ble them. There are Frenchmen in every corner of the 
world. There is no country where we find more people 
who have traveled than we find in France. But notwith- 
standing all this, of all the people of Europe, the one that 
sees the most of them knows them the least. The Eng- 
lish also travel, but in a different way ; and it seems that 
these two nations must be different in everything. The 
English nobility travel, the French nobility do not travel ; 
the French people travel, the English people do not travel. 
This difference seems to me honorable to the latter. The 
French have almost always some personal interest in their 
travels ; but the English do not go to seek their fortune 
abroad, unless it is through commerce, and with full 
pockets. When they travel, it is to spend their money 
abroad, and not to live there on the fruits of their indus- 
try ; they are too proud to go prowling about away from 
home. This also causes them to learn more from for- 


eigners than the French do, who have a totally different 
object in view. The English, however, have their national 
prejudices also, and even more of them than any one else ; 
but these prejudices are due less to ignorance than to 
passion. The Englishman has the prejudices of pride, 
and the Frenchman those of vanity. 

There is a great difference between traveling to see the 
country and traveling to see the people. The first object 
is always that of the curious, while the other is only inci- 
dental for them. It ought to be the very opposite for one 
who wishes to philosophize.. The child observes things, 
and waits until he can observe men. The man ought to 
begin by observing his fellows, and then he can observe 
things,, if he has the time. 

It is bad reasoning to conclude that travels are useless 
because we travel in the wrong way. But, admitting the 
utility of travels, does it follow that they are best for 
everybody ? Far from it ; on the contrary, they are good 
for only a very few people ; they are good only for men 
who have sufficient self-control to listen to the lessons of 
error without allowing themselves to go astray, and to see 
the example of vice without permitting themselves to be 
drawn into it. Travel develops the natural bent of char- 
acter, and finally makes a man good or bad. Whoever re- 
turns from a tour of the world is, on his return, what he 
will be for the rest of his life. Of those who return, more 
are bad than good, because more of those who start out 
are inclined to evil rather than good. Badly educated 
and badly trained young men contract during their trav- 
els all the vices of the peoples whom they visit, but not 
one of the virtues with which these vices are mingled ; 
but those who are happily born, those whose good-nature 
has been well cultivated, and who travel with the real 
purpose of becoming instructed, all return better ancl 


wiser than when they started out. It is thus that my 
Emile shall travel. 

Whatever is done through reason ought to have its 
rules : Travels, considered as a part of education, ought 
to have theirs. To travel for the sake of traveling, is to 
be a wanderer, a vagabond ; to travel for the sake of in- 
struction, is still too vague an object, for instruction which 
has no determined end amounts to nothing. I would give 
to the young man an obvious interest in being instructed ; 
and this interest, if well chosen, will go to determine the 
nature of the instruction. This is always the method 
which I have attempted to put in practice. 

Now, after having considered my pupil through his 
physical relations with other creatures, and through his 
moral relations with other men, it remains to consider 
him through his civil relations with his fellow-citizens. 
For this purpose he must begin by studying the nature 
of government in general, the different forms of govern- 
ment, and, finally, the particular government under which 
he lives. 


THE following quotations are taken from John Grand 
Carteret's J. J. Rousseau juge par les Fran9ais d'aujour- 
d'hui (Paris, 1890), and they doubtless represent the mature 
judgments of the most eminent French writers of to-day 
respecting their enigmatical countryman. As frequently 
happens, Rousseau's earliest and most enthusiastic ad- 
mirers and disciples were not Frenchmen, but Germans 
and Englishmen, and it was not till within a recent period 
that this prophet found honor in his own country. 

For the last one hundred years there has not been a single re- 
form which we may not see formulated in some one of Rousseau's 

All our current political theories are contained in the Contrat 

All our aspirations after justice are in the Discours sur L'inegalite. 

All our programmes of instruction and education' are found an- 
nounced in the Emile. 

All attempts at religious renovation are traceable to the Profes- 
sion de Foi du Vicaire Savoyard. JOHN GRAND CARTERET. 

The Emile is the most complete monument of Rousseau's phi- 
losophy. Under the pretext of education, he grasps at their very 
origin the principles of religion and morals, and follows them in all 
their applications to society and to human life. The fundamental 
idea is the one announced in his other works that man is naturally 
good, but that he has been depraved by society. The ordinary edu- 


310 SMILE. 

cation is the instrument of this depravation ; it substitutes our 
prejudices and acquired vices for the original rectitude of nature. 
The only good education is a " negative education," which does not 
produce the virtues, but prevents vices ; which does not teach the 
truth, but preserves from error. All foreign influence being avoided 
or paralyzed, the child must be allowed to grow up and develop in 
his natural liberty ; isolated and handed over to himself, he will in- 
vent in succession the arts and sciences, religion and morals ; he will 
learn to know the world and will find God. Each one must there- 
fore reproduce for his own use the work of the centuries, and redis- 
cover for himself whatever has a real value in the acquisitions of 
humanity. This isolation from society and its traditions, and from 
the progress which they summarize, or of the errors which they 
transmit, is a chimera which, by a flagrant contradiction, the pre- 
ceptor of Emile abandons almost constantly in practice. 

Within the compass of the most artificial system that can be 
imagined there are developed, one after another, with an equal elo- 
quence, the strangest paradoxes and the truest observations, the 
eccentricities of the partisan and the most sensible reforms. We 
everywhere feel ourselves in the presence of a thinker and writer 
who propagates ideas less through their truth than through senti- 
ment, and who addresses himself less to reason than to passion. 

While others devote themselves body and soul to the ardent task 
of breaking in pieces the religion of the past, and destroying the 
political and social order which rests upon it, he feels the need of 
reconstructing, in the midst of the ruins about him, a new society, 
where man, regenerated, may be both better and happier. He traces 
the plan of this in all its details with as much of imagination as of 
logic and of sentiment. After the grand philosophic dreamers the 
Platos, the Thomas Mores, and the Fenelons he opens the way and 
gives the inspiration to all modern Utopians. In place of humanity 
as it is, and as it has been created from day to day by the necessities 
of history and of life, he requires a new man for the society of his 
dreams, and fashions one as chimerical as the other, and both conform 
to his ideal. He who did not always take into account the duties of 
ordinary life, but accused himself indiscreetly of so many acts of 
baseness, would fashion and subject by authority all men to the 
highest and most formal perfection. 

To the service of his personal ideas he brings the magic of a style 
of a new order, and an eloquence full of movement and passion, 


scholarly and forceful, fanciful and personal, sonorous and colored, 
and of irresistible power. G. VAPEREAU. 

Rousseau has extolled the state of Nature, both for society and 
for the individual, and has pushed his indictment against the vices 
of civilization and the refinements of culture so far, that it has been 
held that he presumed to relegate men to the state of communism 
and barbarism. This is an error founded on a superficial or partial 
examination of his writings. 

Rousseau was not a pure theorist, proceeding by a + b and sub- 
jecting society without pity to the bed of Procrustes, nor a system- 
atic philosopher, obedient only to cold logic ; but was truly and 
above all else a man, with a heart profoundly human and reflective, 
and hence an impassioned moralist. 

Whatever may have been the sophisms, the contradictions, and 
the faults of Jean Jacques, it is nevertheless undeniable that he 
loved the true, the beautiful, and the good with an ardent affection, 
and that he bitterly repented whenever he allowed himself to be in- 
duced to betray them. This is true even of the deplorable abandon- 
ment of his children. It is certain that he preached and practiced 
the cult of friendship, country, and humanity. A. ESCHENAUER. 

Rousseau was never more than a man of the woods out of his 
native element. Obstinately opposed to civilized life, he pined in 
the midst of his fellows as though in an enemy's country, and he 
remained an unconquerable savage. He responded to friendship by 
suspicion, and to love by defiance ; "never saw fortune pass his door 
without thinking of a snare, and was always somber and, restless like 
a captive wolf. . 

No one felt to the same degree the worship of Nature. He who 
scorned to cut his beard in order to appear before the King of France, 
sprang from his bed at dawn in order to go to salute in the forest 
an early flower or a spring bird. Nature was his grand inspiration, 
and consoled him for his contact with men. Seated at the entrance 
of a solitary valley he found himself in his real country; he reposed 
with delight on grass untouched by human feet, forgot his bitter 
thoughts, and became good and tender-hearted ; a ray of the sun 
caused him to shed gentle tears, and his genius was called into life. 

Always and everywhere he loves Nature ; but his preferences are 
well known ; his ardent and restless imagination prefers to monotO' 


nous pictures the sight of contrasts and convulsions. " I have need 
of torrents, fir-trees, rocks, dark woods, rugged paths, and precipices 
which strike me with fear." JULES DE GLOUVET. 


The essential element in Rousseau's genius was imagination, and 
hence his striking originality. He might be defined as an impas- 
sioned, exalted imagination, a marvelous subjective imagination. 

This imagination was due to an extraordinary sensibility, to an 
excessive impressibility of the sensitive apparatus and nervous 
system, so that there was a continuous flow to his brain of innu- 
merable vivid and subtile emotions and of intense and sparkling 
pictures. Profoundly affected by praise and blame, but little sure 
of himself by reason of his febrile temperament and incomplete 
education, Jean Jacques was at the same time very conceited and 
very timid. 

He lacked the quality which, according to himself, was essential 
to a hero, namely, power of soul or action. He therefore became a 
philosopher and a novelist. Weak, poor, ignorant, timid, scarcely 
possessing an exact sense of reality, having but little direct hold on 
the world, and not being able to satisfy in person his double ad- 
vocacy of love and virtue, he satisfied it through cerebral invention, 
through books. 

Instead of furnishing sensations and affections, his imagination 
produced ideas. Not being able to adapt himself to people and to 
things, this thinker remade people and things according to his need. 
This same man, so weak and so powerless when it was necessary to 
act, became all-powerful the moment he was not trammeled by 
ponderous matter. And it is not in the air that he builds. He does 
not relegate the ideal to heaven, but logically and mathematically 
he builds upon the earth for a living humanity. 

Having the genius of imagination, he is naturally a man of all 
contrasts as of all harmonies. He resolutely traverses the paradox 
in order to arrive at the truth. Artist and philosopher, he revolts 
against art and civilization the moment he sees that through their 
excessive development, civilization and art, like a parasitic vegeta- 
tion, mask, pervert, and sterilize Nature and humanity. 

A revolution is the advent of a new moral force. In the eight- 
eenth century he created a new faith. Without him the United 
States of America would probably not be a republic. He is the sou\ 
of the French Revolution. This whole epoch is impregnated with 


him. Mirabeau interprets him, and Madame Roland is his Julie in 

Rousseau developed a superior ideal of society by conciliating 
the principles of authority and of liberty through the association of 
souls, wills, and interests, and a higher ideal of religion by con- 
ciliating reason and faith through the culture of the beautiful. This 
is his highest glory and his best title to the eternal gratitude of 
mankind. For divine right he substituted human right. The 
republic is no longer the ancient closed city, so narrow and so 
jealous, founded on paternal right and slavery. He would have 
each one find in it his share of liberty and of happiness. 

In order to place his work above all dispute, he rehabilitates the 
people. Full of a generous unselfishness, has not the people a 
supreme degree of moral power, and is not moral power as necessary 
to progress as intellectual power! By this superiority of the 
humble, Rousseau has justified the sovereignty of all, and has con- 
secrated universal suffrage. Then, feeling the importance of the 
education of a people which has become sovereign, he has shown 
that no one must be allowed the license to corrupt a multitude, as 
Villeroy corrupted Louis XV when a child, and that a government 
ought, above everything else, to be a system of national education. 


Rousseau is immortal ; his name will never perish. We may 
imagine and even predict that a day will come when there will no 
longer be a single man in the world who has opened a single volume 
of Voltaire ; but Rousseau ! As long as the French language shall 
resound in the world, his works will remain an integral part of the 
soul of France. 

The moment we scrutinize his system of morals and come into 
close relations with it, it stands the test no better than his philoso- 
phy or his politics. The form is a marvel, but the substance is only 
an incoherent jumble of maxims, relatively true, but often false in 
their application. 

His intelligence was no sounder than his morality. Admirable 
as an intellectual machine, it produced only false ideas. If the in- 
telligence, as the etymology of the word indicates, is the faculty of 
tying together accordant ideas in order to form a clear and true 
conception of things, there is nothing more directly opposed to the 
intelligence than the paradox. Just as the paradox is ingenious and 


startling when it is used to enforce a misconceived truth, so it is in- 
sufferable the moment it is reduced to a simple jeu cT esprit. Now, 
taking Rousseau's works from beginning to end, save descriptions of 
Nature and certain pictures of sentiment, we shall noi^fmd in them 
a line which is anything else than a paradox, eternally reproduced 
under all its forms. Whatever can decry, humiliate, disconcert, 
insult, revolt, or excite hatred and disgust, he sees everywhere, ex- 
hibits it at every word, and with a warmth and enthusiasm and an 
eloquence which does not leave the least doubt as to his sincerity. 
He sees the wrong side of everything that is, everything wrong side 
out; he does not see the right side, and he is not in a condition to 
see where it is. He does not perceive that all he has to do is to turn 
the fabric over. His mind was deformed from infancy, and could 
never be repaired. No ; he withdraws from the real world, and with 
the ink and paper of the old books with which he has stuffed his 
head he builds a moral and philosophic world, where imaginary men 
play a sort of fairy scene of ideal virtue. These are the models of 
reason and virtue that he presents to his contemporaries ; and, to 
crown all, it is always in the name of Nature and truth that he 
prof esses to speak. 

But this is not all ; for the more this frightful paradox is de- 
veloped and confirmed, the clearer the evidence becomes of another 
paradox, not less alarming, and one which we are constrained to 
acknowledge. It is this : if Rousseau, instead of the imaginary 
ideas which disturbed his intelligence, and instead of the moral de- 
rangement which upset his heart, had possessed only a mind that 
was sound and strong, and a heart that was pure and upright, there 
would have been one more honest man in the eighteenth century, 
but one less great man. 

This honest man would have brought up his children, instead of 
sending them to the hospital ; would have made watches and clocks 
of honest and merchantable quality ; would have had no enemies ; 
would have lived happy, and would have died in peace. 

As a great man this is what he has done : He brought back to a 
respect for God and virtue a society corrupted by irreligion and 
debauchery; he restored to the family the feeling of that simple 
fireside poesy which in the most humble condition can make of life 
an endless felicity ; he led man back to Nature, making him drink 
of its sweetness and revere its power ; he revealed to him, in the 
order and magnificence of creation, the eternal source of all justice 


and all truth ; in order to enjoy the grand spectacles of life and 
Nature, he taught him reverie as a new art for we may boldly say 
that before Rousseau humanity did not know how to dream. A 
martyr to all the exquisite and devouring passions of the human 
soul, it is in the midst of these flames that he raised to Heaven those 
cries of suffering or of love which after more than a century we 
can not hear without a shudder. For his reward, he lived the most 
unhappy of men, and died, God knows how ! Even his memory 
has found no repose ; as unfortunate as his life, it has been dragged 
from pinnacle to gutter and from gutter to pinnacle, by enemies or 
by admirers equally furious. 

That which gives to the work, as to the life of Rousseau, this 
savage violence, this childish rage, this drunkenness of morals or 
of reason, this blind zeal in error, this faith in things of which 
he is ignorant, is that heart of the workman which beats under 
the coat of the man of the world. It is that popular fiber which 
nothing can enervate, but which beats forever. This fact has not 
been sufficiently noticed, and perhaps has not been mentioned be- 

As the miseries of this poor man have now been buried with 
him, it is time that death, which absolves even assassins, should 
'finally and forever put an end to that inquest which has too long 
held in suspense the justice of posterity. The man is dead let him 
rest in peace ; but his genius survives, and whatever may be said of 
it by some ingrates and by some literary dolts, this genius is full of 
life, and still animates with its breath that art of writing which is 
the first of arts. We may boldly declare that it is Rousseau who 
has created the literature of the nineteenth century. He has cre- 
ated it by his inspiration, and has given it the blood and the nerves 
of the modern man, and the heart and the soul of France. He has 
also created it by his toil. He is the most consummate of dialecti- 
cians and the most potent of the artists who have explored, ex- 
tended, and elevated the science of thought. EUGENE MOUTON. 

In addition to his own Confessions, we have a thousand grounds 
for believing that his entire life was disordered by a wretched state 
of health, and by moral crises often bordering on madness. If he 
was not a madman, he certainly had a mind that was addicted to 
hyperbole and exaggeration, and a romantic imagination delighting 
in fictions and in delusive narrations. Men, things, and circum- 

316 lliMILE. 

stances developed beyond measure the original characteristics of his 
mental personality. 

Would Jean Jacques have risen to the admirable heights which 
he has attained if, in order to facilitate his flight, he had not ex- 
perienced the reaction which follows the phases of physical enfee- 
blement and moral concentration? Would he have become our 
Rousseau if he had been the father of a family, tied down to an 
orderly and sedentary life by cares for his children and by the neces- 
sities of daily bread 1 Certainly not. But he would probably have 
remained an excellent engraver. 

Endowed with the analytic sense, he discovered the source of 
public ills in the bad education of children by ignorant parents, 
and in the bad education of the people by a nobility heedless of the 
rights of man as well as of the grand duties of the social compact. 


It is the idea of the sovereignty of the people, proclaimed by the 
author of the Contrat social, as the only natural and legitimate basis 
of political power and national life, which made possible the Revolu- 
tion, by furnishing it at once with a flag, a motive of action, an ideal 
to realize, and an end to attain. CH. FAUVETY. 

Rousseau is far from having disregarded the importance of 
heredity in biology ; but he had a profound intuitive faith in the 
omnipotence of a rational education for the eradication of the 
morbid germs of body and mind. 

The Emile, burned at Paris and at Geneva, condemned in 1762 
by the faculty of theology, is a book clearly conceived and expressed 
a sort of memorandum of the griefs of childhood, in which Rous- 
seau eloquently demands for the little creature the right to the 
maternal bosom, and banishes without return swaddling-clothes, lead- 
ing-strings, memorizing, artificial prematurity, and that educational 
overpressure which Locke had just stigmatized in England. The 
first in our country to amplify the ideas of the great English 
philosopher, Rousseau dared to demand a little more art and less 
science in education. The Emile was the pedagogic gospel which 
preceded the doctrine of the Froebels and Pestalozzis, the declara- 
tion of rights of infancy, the real seed of new ideas and hygienic 
progress. DR. E. MONIN. 


Of all the great writers belonging to the cycle of modern civiliza- 
tion, Rousseau is, with Shakespeare, the one who has the most loved 
and the best understood music. OSCAR COMETTANT. 

The literary fortune of Rousseau is one of the most extraor- 
dinary in history. No writer is better informed than he ; none 
has better understood all the resources of the French language, so 
difficult to handle ; none has pursued with a more delicate taste and 
a more tenacious patience the perfection of form. 

To the appeal to reason Rousseau has added an appeal to 
passion ; it is with passion particularly that he brought the old 
regime to trial. Others, in fact, resigned themselves to the existing 
evil. They adapted themselves to that society which nursed them. 
Rousseau, on his part, hates this society with all his soul. He hates 
it because there is no place in it worthy of him ; he hates it because 
he is poor ; he hates it because he is misunderstood and humiliated. 
He has known hunger and cold, physical and moral sufferings. He 
was born susceptible, proud, jealous, envious. He carries within 
him appetites and lusts which he can not satisfy ; and his rancor 
makes an appeal not only to justice, which condemns the present 
state of things, but also to the lusts and appetites of all the disin- 
herited. He shows them the banquet where others are seated, and 
where, nevertheless, their place was marked. CHARLES BIGOT. 

According to Rousseau, the nature of man had been poorly un- 
derstood until he appeared ; the human intelligence had been 
developed to an extreme degree ; by going back to the culture of the 
body, humanity will find its primitive virtue. In reality, this mag- 
nificent system carries us back to the innocence of brutes ; the ideal 
proposed to us is the triumph of instinct, life without thought, and 
the unvarying toil of the beaver, the ant, and the bee. Since the 
great evil which the philosopher makes war against the inequality 
of human conditions is caused by the inequality of education, the 
less men think the more nearly equal they will be. It was once 
believed that the real sign of man's superiority, that which dis- 
tinguished him from animals, was the faculty of reflecting. This 
was a mistake ; the evil begins with reflection. The man who 
thinks is a depraved animal; the moment he reflects he is lost he 
leaves the state of Nature, and introduces inequality into the world 
through the disproportion of intelligences. The last word of the 



reform inaugurated with such pomp and so solemnly announced, is 
to invite humanity to adopt henceforth for a type a well-conditioned 

Shall Rousseau's errors make us insensible to the puissant quali- 
ties of his mind, to the force of his language, to so many noble 
sentiments which he often expresses with eloquence, and sometimes 
with charm ? Has he not understood, better than any one else in 
Prance, the life of Nature and the mysterious poesy of fields and 
woods ? Was he not the first to hear that universal voice which 
rises at certain hours from the bosom of the earth and which speaks 
of infinity? And the soul which is moved so profoundly by the 
spectacle of Nature, and which from tree or flower ascends with- 
out effort to Him who has created them, does it not preserve, not- 
withstanding its stains, a luminous trace of its divine origin ? It will 
be the eternal honor of Rousseau that he brought back in triumph, 
in the midst of a frivolous and incredulous society, sentiments which 
worldly irony had banished from it. The Emile introduces us into 
a moral world which has not yet the beauty of the Christian world, 
but which no longer has the frivolity of the century ; it speaks to 
us of duty and order, while we heard yesterday only of inclination 
and pleasure. ED. MEZIERES. 

Though Rousseau was born at Geneva, he belongs to France by 
his life and his death. Switzerland was his cradle, but France has 
his tomb. It is in France that he passed the greater part of his life ; 
it is with us that he suffered and struggled, and with us and for us 
that he wrote ; it was here that he was loved and hated, defended 
and persecuted. 

Rousseau is the ancestor of all of us who participate in political 
and literary life. In the largest and grandest sense of the term he 
was one of the fathers of the Revolution. 

He saw clearly that in order to build up a new society new men 
were necessary, and so he begins all his reforms, so to speak, ab ovo. 

In order to have in his state the citizens which he fancies, he 
must reform the whole education of his time. He takes the child 
at birth, in order to make of him a man absolutely different from 
what he had been in the past ; and he writes the l5mile, a powerful 
book, full of ideas, even to repletion, a book prodigiously fruitful, 
in which there is a complete renewal of the society which saw the 
end of the eighteenth century. 


His theories must not be interpreted literally, but must be adapt- 
ed to the situation, to the time, and to everything which, exterior 
to ourselves, modifies and sometimes binds our nature. But it is 
undeniable that Rousseau's books have been an inexhaustible mine 
of reforms, and even before the Revolution he exercised an astonish- 
ing influence on habits and manners. GUSTAVE RIVET. 

No one has raised a louder voice than Rousseau in behalf of ab- 
stract justice in favor of the poor and the oppressed ; no one has 
protested more strongly against human inequalities, even against 
those which result from the nature of things. To the definite but 
stationary and conservative notion of social utility, so dear to estab- 
lished governments, he opposes the higher doctrine, more favorable 
to progress, but also more equivocal and dangerous, of social justice, 
always ready to overthrow them. He was the ancestor and the pre- 
cursor of the socialists, so powerful in modern states. 


There is no book in the world so worthy of commendation as 
tha,t in which there is traced a plan of education. Read or reread 
the Emile, observe all that we are doing, the manner in which we 
train the child and conduct his instruction, and you will be con- 
vinced that our master is Rousseau. EDGAR MONTEIL. 




Whatever is natural is good, but whatever passes through the 
hands of men degenerates 1 

Human weakness makes education necessary. All that we do 
not have at our birth, but which we need when grown, is 
given us by education. This education is derived from 
nature, from men, or from things. We thus derive our 
training from three sorts of teachers ; and we are well edu- 
cated only when there is harmony in these three disciplines. 
The education derived from men is the only one under our 
control ; hence our success can be only partial . . . 2, 3 

Education must be natural in the sense that it must be based 
on the permanent elements in our constitution ... 4 

As things go, the man and the citizen are incompatible ; and 
our only course is to form the man, for manhood is the stuff 
out of which the citizen is made 5 

The Republic presents an ideal of public education ; but such 
an education is impossible in France, because we no longer 
have a country ; . . . 6 

In order to determine what education should be, we must form 
a conception of what man is in his natural state ... 9 

Education must make men superior to the accidents of life, and 
must be based on what is permanent and universal . . 10 

That man has lived most who has felt most, not he who has 
numbered the most years 10 

Society is a system of servitude ; but education should end in 
freedom 10 

Children should be subjected to no artificial restraints ; and 
mothers should perform all their natural duties . . .11 




Children should be allowed to suffer the natural consequences 
of their own acts, and should be schooled to suffering . 13 

A child's cries should invite us to help him when he is in i-eal 
need, but should not make us servile to his whims . . 14 

The child's natural teachers are his parents, and there is no real 
education outside of the family ; but if parents can not, or 
will not, assume this charge, a tutor must be found, and 
his highest qualification is that he is a man . . . .15 

Experience has shown that I have no fitness for teaching ; but I 

venture to write this book as a guide for others . . .18 

The tutor should be young, and should have had no other pupil, 19 

The pupil whose education is described in this book is wealthy, 
of noble birth, sound in health, and an orphan ; and he and 
his tutor must be inseparable companions . . . 20, 21 

Physical soundness is a postulate, for there can not be a vigor- 
ous soul in a feeble body. Medicine is an evil, and doctors 
are a pernicious tribe, Emile's only physicians shall be 
temperance and labor 21-23 

Real men can not be grown in cities, and so Emile must be 
reared in the country 24 

Baths are necessary, and should vary in temperature from cold 
to hot. All such artificial aids as swaddling-clothes, go- 
carts, etc., should be discarded 24 

The only habit a child should have is to contract no habit 

whatever 26 

Education should begin at birth, and children should be accus- 
tomed to see ugly objects, masks, etc., to hear alarming 
sounds, and to walk in dark places . . . 27, 28 

Children should find resistance only in things, never in human 
wills 29 

When they cry for an object, it is better to carry them to this 
object than to bring the object to them . . . .30 

When a child is bad, it is because he is weak ; to keep him 
good, therefore, add to his power. When he destroys or 
hurts, it is not because he is bad, but because his surplus 

activity must be expended 31 

We must supply the real needs of children in the way of in- 
telligence and strength, but must grant nothing to caprice, 32, 33 
Children left in freedom will cry less than others ; but when 



they cry their tears should not make them lord it over us. 
When they cry from obstinacy, pay no heed to their tears, 
but try to divert their attention. Give children no bells or 
toys, but simple things, like flowers and poppy-heads . 34, 35 
Use language that is simple and phin, and be in no haste to 
make children talk. Country children speak more distinct- 
ly than others, because they must make a greater effort to 
hear and to be heard. Let children throw accent into their 
speech, and avoid all affectation in manner and language. 
Restrict them to the use of a few words, and let these 
words express real thoughts 37-40 


When children begin to speak they cry less ; articulate language 
takes the place of signs. Make their tears useless by pay- 
ing no attention to them 41 

Make no ado over slight injuries, but teach the child to endure 
pain with composure. Allow mile to profit by the slight 
accidents that befall him, and thus teach him caution and 
prudence 42, 43 

As a child's life is uncertain, do not sacrifice his present happi- 
ness for the supposed good of a future that may never 
come 44 

As suffering is the lot of humanity, allow fimile to suffer when 
necessary, and do not protect him from the accidents inci- 
dent to childhood . 44 

Let childhood have its own proper happiness ; let children be 
children ; and lengthen as much as possible the period of 
innocent enjoyment 45 

In human life there is more suffering than enjoyment; and as 
our unhappiness depends on the excess of our desires over 
our power to gratify them, labor for the child's happiness 
by adding to his power and contracting his desires . . 46 

Keep the child dependent on things ; gratify only his actual 
needs ; supply power when needed ; grant nothing to mere 
importunity 47 

Make the child sincere in all he says and does, and do not allow 
him to use empty formulas of politeness .... 48 

324: EMILE. 


Avoid all excesses both of severity and of indulgence. Grant 
the child reasonable liberty, even at the expense of bodily 
discomfort and suffering, but stop short of exposing life 
and health 49, 50 

A man who has not experienced suffering knows neither hu- 
man tenderness nor the sweetness of commiseration . . 50 

The surest way to make a child miserable is to accustom him to 
obtain whatever he desires. If his infancy is made wretched 
in this way, what will be his condition as a man ? . .50 

As there is nothing in the world more helpless or more pitiable 
than an infant, so there is nothing more shocking than a 
haughty and stubborn child lording it over his protectors. 
But it is barbarous to add to this helplessness by the exer- 
cise of our own caprices, as when we deprive children of the 
liberties which they can so little abuse. Before tutors 
and parents insist on their own methods, let them learn the 
method of Nature 51 

The child should not hear the terms duty and obligation, for he 
can not comprehend their meaning; but as he should be 
obedient only to necessity, he can understand what is 
meant by force, impotency, and constraint . . . .52 

As mere children are incapable of reason, it is folly to argue 
with them ; they must be governed by necessity . . .52 

To know good and evil, and to understand the reason of human 
duties, is not the business of a child. I would as soon 
have a child be five feet in height as to have judgment at 
the age of ten . ' . 53, 54 

Jn order to please you, children will pretend to be governed by 
reason, but this intimidation makes them weak and deceit- 
ful, insincere and untruthful. Employ force with children 
and reason with men, for this is the order of Nature . 54, 55 

Never command a child to do anything ; never allow him even 
to suspect that you assume any authority over him ; but let 
him feel that he is weak, and that he is subject to the law 
of necessity which lies in things and not in human caprice ; 
keep him from doing wrong by preventing the opportunity 
for doing it. In this way you will make the child patient, 
calm, resigned, and peaceable 55. 5C 

Children have been depraved by making emulation, jealousy, 


envy, vanity, and covetousness their motives of conduct. 
All instruments have been tried save one well-regulated 
liberty . 56, 57 

Give your pupil no sort of verbal lesson ; inflict on him no sort 
of punishment ; and never make him ask your pardon. As 
there is no moral quality in his actions, he can do nothing 
wrong 57 

Children who live in perpetual constraint abuse their liberty 
when it is once gained. Two city children will do more 
mischief in the country than the youth of a whole vil- 
lage , 58 

The most important, the most useful, rule in all education is 
not to gain time, but to lose it. The most dangerous 
period in human life is the interval between birth and the 
age of twelve. The soul must have leisure to perfect its 
powers before it is called on to use them .... 58 

The first education should be purely negative; it should not 
consist in teaching virtue and truth, but in shielding the 
heart from vice and the mind from error . . . .59 

Follow the very reverse of the current practice and you will al- 
most always do right. Be reasonable, and do not reason at 
all with your pupils. Exercise his body, his senses, his 
organs, his powers, but keep his soul lying fallow as long as 
you can . .60 

Take time to discover the bent of a child's mind before you pro- 
ceed to instruct him. Sacrifice time which you will regain 
with interest at a later period 60, 61 

Another reason why femile should be brought up in the country 
is that his tutor will thus have more complete control over 
him, and he will not be corrupted by vicious servants . . 62 

Much more harm than good is done by your ceaseless preach- 
ing, moralizing, and pedantry. Children are confused by 
your verbiage, pervert your meaning, and draw conclusions 
directly contrary to your intent 63 

Teachers should be simple, discreet, reserved, and never in haste 
save to prevent others from interfering .... 63 

If your child is inclined to destroy property, let him learn wis- 
dom by suffering the natural consequences of his acts. If 
he break the windows of his chamber, do not mend them, 



but. let the cold wind blow on him day and night. It is 
better that he should take a cold than be a fool . 63, 64 

Punishment should never be visited on children simply as pun- 
ishment, but solely as the natural and necessary conse- 
quence of their wrong-doing , . 65 

I would not exact the truth from children for fear they may 
conceal it ; nor would I require them to make promises 
which they might be tempted not to keep . . . .65 

Children are sometimes taught liberality by having them 
give away things which they do not value, or by holding 
out the prospect of a larger return. This is Locke's theory, 
and is a sample of the current manner of teaching the solid 
virtues ! C6 

As it is difficult to foretell the genius of a child, be in no haste 
to judge of him either for good or for evil. Be in no haste, 
and allow Nature to have her way. Apparently we are los- 
ing time ; but is it nothing for a child to run and jump 
and play the livelong day ? Is it nothing to be happy ? In 
ancient Greece and Rome children and youth spent much of 
their time in play ; were they less useful as men on this ac- 
count! . . . . 67, 68 

The facility with which children learn memory-lessons is decep- 
tive. Words are learned, but the ideas they represent are 
merely reflected. There can be no real memory without 
reason ; and before the use of reason the child does not re- 
ceive ideas, but images. Images are but the pictures of sen- 
sible objects, while ideas are general notions derived from 
the comparison of objects 69 

As children are incapable of judgment, they have no real mem- 
ory. They seem to learn geometry, but in fact their mind 
grasps only the lines and angles of the figures used in their 
supposed demonstrations 70 

I do not deny that children have some capacity for reasoning ; 
but this process is limited to what falls within the grasp of 
the senses. All studies that transcend their actual experi- 
ence are premature 71, 72 

To display their skill, pedagogues prefer subjects that involve 
merely the verbal memory of their pupils. Hence their 
preference for geography, history, and the languages . . 73 



If the study of languages were but the study of words, it might 
be suitable for children ; but as each language has its own 
peculiar form of thought, and as this form can be acquired 
only through the habits of a lifetime, I deny that a child 
can learn more than one language. He may indeed learn 
several vocabularies Greek, Latin, French, German, and 
Italian but he can speak but one tongue, that in which he 
was born 73, 74 

Pedants have to show off the proficiency of their pupils in the 
classics because, these being dead languages, there is no 
one to question their success 74, 75 

As words are of no value unless connected with the ideas they 
represent, mere verbal teaching, as in geography, is fruit- 
less, if not pernicious. In this way a child is likely to be- 
lieve that the world is a globe of pasteboard. The same 
vice runs through the study of history; we fancy we are 
teaching historical facts, while in reality we are teaching 
only empty words 75 

lie who says these things is neither a scholar nor a philosopher, 
but a plain man, a friend to truth, and committed to no 
party or system. His arguments are founded less on prin- 
ciples than on facts which he has observed . . . .76 

Once at a dinner party 1 heard a child recite the history lesson 
which had just been taught him by his tutor. The main 
incident of the lesson was the famous one where Alexander 
drank the supposed poison presented to him by Philip. I 
suspected that this child was reciting mere words, and, dur- 
ing our after-dinner walk, I asked him what he so much ad- 
mired in Alexander's conduct, and he replied that it was the 
courage he displayed in drinking the disagreeable potion ! 77, 78 

Without ideas there is no real memory, and it is useless to in- 
scribe in the heads of children a list of words that represent 
nothing. In learning things, however, will they not also 
learn signs ! Then why need they be troubled to learn 
them twice ? By learning mere words on the authority of 
teachers, children early fall into snares and sacrifice their 
own judgment 78 

Nature intended the mind to be a storehouse not of words but 
of ideas, which may serve for self-conduct during the 

328 SMILE. 


whole life. Without the aid of books memory thus be- 
comes the register of all that the child observes ; and the 
art of the teacher consists both in presenting what his 
pupil ought to know, and in concealing from him what he 
should not know 79 

Emile shall learn nothing by heart, not even fables, for fables 
may instruct men, but not children ; because they can not 
understand them. Even if they could be understood by 
children the case would be still worse, for they would in- 
cline them to vice rather than to virtue . . . 80, 81 

In the Ant and the Cricket you fancy that the poor cricket 
receives the child's sympathy, but his whole thought is 
centered on the miserly ant, and he learns to make niggard- 
liness a virtue 81 

Heading is the scourge of infancy, and at the age of twelve 
Emile will hardly know what a book is. Until he learns 
how reading may be useful to him, books serve only to 
annoy him 81 

Children should learn nothing of which they'can not see the 
actual and present advantage, and it is because children 
have been made to learn to read against their wills that 
books have become their torment .82 

Various schemes have been invented to teach children how to 
read, but the surest has been forgotten. Give the child a 
desire to read, and you may lay aside all other devices ; every 
method will then be a good one 82 

Present interest is the grand spring of action, the only one 
which with certainty leads to great results. Emile some- 
times receives notes of invitation for a dinner, or a boat- 
ride, and as he feels a pressing interest in deciphering them, 
he soon learns how to read 82, 83 

We usually obtain very surely and very quickly what we are in 
no haste to obtain ; and I feel sure that Emile will know 
how to read and write perfectly before the age of ten, 
simply because I do not care to have him learn these things 
before he is fifteen 83 

If you interest your pupil in things which immediately affect 
him, rather than in things which -are remote, you will 
always find him capable of perception, memory, and even 



of reasoning. This is the order of Nature. But this 
method will stultify him if you are always telling him 
what to do. If your head is always directing his arms, his 
own head will become useless 83, 84 

The body and the mind should move in concert, and the second 
should direct the first. Your pupil should learn the art of 
self-conduct, but if you are forever prescribing this and that 
you leave him no opportunity to manage his own affairs. 
Assured of your foresight on his account, what need has he 
of any I 84, 85 

fimile is early trained to rely on himself as much as possible. 
He receives his lessons from Nature and not from men, and 
thus acquires a large experience at an early age. His body 
and his mind are called into exercise at the same time, and 
he thus comes into possession of two things which are 
thought to be incompatible strength of body and strength 
of mind, the reason of a sage and the strength of an 
athlete . 85, 85 

1 know I am preaching a difficult art that of governing with- 
out precept, and of doing all while doing nothing. You 
will never succeed in making scholars if you do not first 
make them rogues. This was the education of the 
Spartans 86 

In the ordinary education the teacher commands and fancies 
that he governs ; but, in fact, it is the child who governs. 
Your government is a system of treaties, which you propose 
in your way but which your pupil executes in his own, 86, 87 

Try an opposite course with your pupil. While you really 
govern, let him always fancy that he is the master. There 
is no subjection so perfect as that which preserves the ap- 
pearance of liberty. Doubtless your pupil ought to do 
only what he chooses, but he ought to choose only what 
you wish to have him do 87 

Under these conditions there may be free indulgence in physical 
exercise without any unhappy effect on the mind or 
character, fimile will turn all his surroundings to profit- 
able account, while pleasing himself will do only what he 
ought, will mature his judgment, and will become truth- 
ful and confiding , , , 88 

330 tiMILE. 


The so-called caprices of children do not come from Nature, 
but are the results of bad training 88 

This free intercourse with Nature gives the child the only kind 
of reason of which he is capable. This school of experience 
is worth more to the child than the lessons learned in class- 
rooms 89 

As man must measure himself with his environment, his first 
study is a sort of experimental physics for purposes of self- 
preservation. Our first teachers of philosophy are our feet, 
our hands, and our eyes, and to substitute books for these 
is not to teach us to reason, but to use the reason of others, 90 

As our limbs, our organs, and our senses are the instruments of 
our intelligence, they must be exercised and trained in 
order that we may learn to think. To make the processes 
of the mind facile and sure, the body must be kept strong 
and robust . . 90 

The child's dress should permit the full movement of his limbs 
and not so close-fitting as to produce stagnation of the 
bodily humors 90 

Children should wear little or no head-dress at any time of the 
year, and they should be inured to cold by wearing scanty 
clothing. The whole body should be subjected to a process 
of physical hardening 91, 92 

Growing children require long periods of sleep. If Emile were 
Nature's own, his sleep should be uninterrupted ; but the 
requirements of civilized life demand that he should be 
able to go to bed late, to rise early, to be abruptly awak- 
ened, and even to sit up all night 93 

fimile should be accustomed to hard beds, for he can not always 
sleep on down. If he does not sleep enough, I allow him to 
foresee for the next day a tedious forenoon. If he sleeps 
too late, I tell him of some amusement he has lost . . 94 

If fimile were simply a child of Nature he would not be shielded 
from the danger of small-pox by inoculation ; but as he 
must live in society he may be inoculated or not as time, 
place, and circumstance may determine . . . .95 

5Tour pupil must be familiarized with peril, and for this reason 
he should learn to swim. By taking proper precautions 
you may teach him this art without exposing his life , . 96 



We neither know how to touch, to see, nor to hear, save as we 
have been taught. Therefore, do not exercise the child's 
strength alone, but call into exercise all the senses which 
direct it 97 

Children should learn to determine the required length of levers 
by trial, and to estimate the weight of masses by sight. 
When in a dark room they may learn their place by echoes 
or by the movements of the air as it strikes their faces . 98 

To accustom children to darkness, they should have many sports 
by night. Do not try to dissipate the fear of darkness by 
reasoning, but take children into dark places, and while 
there make them laugh and play 98, 99 

To accustom children to unforeseen encounters at night, teach 
them to be cool and firm, and to give blow for blow. The 
result will usually show that there was no real danger . 100 

To arm fimile against unforeseen accidents, let him spend his 
mornings in running about everywhere barefoot. Let him 
learn to take risks by climbing trees, scaling rocks, leaping 
over brooks, etc 100, 101 

It is easy to interest children in estimating and measuring dis- 
tances by appealing to some ready motive. We wish to 
make a swing between two trees : will a rope twelve feet 
long answer the purpose! 101 

I once succeeded in interesting an indolent boy in athletic sports 
by letting him see two boys run for a small prize. After 
many trials he caught the contagion, and became as sensible 
as ordinary boys. Incidentally he was taught to be gener- 
ous, and he acquired great skill in estimating distances, 102-105 

The intuitions of sight must be corrected and perfected by the 
sense of touch. Between mere estimates by the eye and 
absolute measurements by the hand there should come 
relative measurements by well-known objects, as trees or 
houses ........... 106 

Children should learn to draw not merely for the art itself, but 
for rendering the eye accurate and the hand deft. They 
should have no master but Nature, and no models but ob- 
jects. In this way pupils will scrawl for a long time, but 
by this steady imitation of objects they will come to know 
them, I will encourage my pupil by blundering as he does. 

332 6MILE. 


Were I an Apelles, I would appear to be no more than a 
dauber . 107-109 

As we were in need of ornaments for our chamber, I make this 
a motive for ISmile to produce good pictures ; and to en- 
courage him still further I arrange his several copies of the 
same object in a series, in order to show him his progress. 
"On his best pictures I put a very plain frame, and on his 
poorest a fine gilt frame, thus teaching him that what is 
intrinsically the best needs nothing else to commend it . 109 

Geometry may be made a study suitable for children by treating 
it as a system of exact measurements. The properties of 
figures are not to be demonstrated a priori, but simply 
found by careful observation 110-112 

Children should not be restricted to sports and exercises that 
are merely childish ; but, in order to draw out their powers. 
we must presume somewhat on their strength and endur- 
ance. To acquire skill they must incur some risk . 113, 114 

The physical training we give children should be for them but 
play, the facile and voluntary direction of the movements 
which Nature demands of them without the least appear- 
ance of that constraint which turns them into labor . . 115 

A perfect music unites the articulated, the melodious, and the 
modulated or impassioned voice, but children are incapable 
of this music. There is but little accent in their conversa- 
tion, and no modulation in their voice. Do not trust your 
pupil to declaim, for he can not express sentiments he has 
never felt. Teach him to speak simply and clearly, to ar- 
ticulate correctly, and to pronounce accurately, but without 
affectation. And in singing make*his voice accurate, uni- 
form, flexible, sonorous, and his ear sensible to measure and 
harmony, but nothing more 115, 116 

A child may consistently learn his notes before learning his let- 
ters, because in speaking we render our own ideas, while 
in singing we do hardly more than render the ideas of 
others .116 

Appetite is the surest guide to what we ought to eat, the food 
that is most agreeable being, in general, the most whole- 
some. Children having free access to the pantry are not 
likely to become gluttons, and there is no reason why a good 



dinner may not be a reward of merit. Accustom children 
to common and simple dishes, and they may eat as much as 
they will without danger of indigestion. Should the appe- 
tite become inordinate, amusements may distract the mind 
from eating 117-120 

By the method of Nature our pupil has now been led across the 
region of the sensations up to the confines of juvenile reason ; 
but, before advancing to the next period of life, let us re- 
view the stage already passed. We have heard much of the 
grown man ; let us consider for a moment what a grown 
child is. The spectacle will be newer, but no less interesting. 121 

Why is it that the spring-time fills us with hope and delight, 
while the aspect of autumn produces sadness and gloom f 
It is because the spring is to pass into the glories of sum- 
mer, while autumn is to be followed by the dreariness of 
winter. So the aspect of childhood and youth is pleasing, 
because there is the promise of the riper and more beautiful 
manhood ; but the contemplation of old age is unlovely, be- 
cause beyond it is decrepitude and death. I contemplate 
the child and he pleases me ; I imagine the man and he 
pleases me more ; his ardent blood seems to add warmth to 
my own ; I seem to live with his life, and his vivacity makes 
me young again 121, 122 

The clock strikes, an austere man summons him to his books, 
and what a change ! In a moment his eye grows dull, his 
mirth ceases, and his heart is heavy with sighs which he 
dares not utter 122 

But come, my fitnile, thou who hast nothing to fear like this, 
and by thy presence console me for the departure of this 
unhappy youth ! He comes, and at his approach 1 am con- 
scious of feelings of joy which I see that he shares with me, 
for it is his friend, his comrade, his playfellow, that he ap- 
proaches ' 123 

finaile is self-assured and content, and is the picture of health 
and youthful vigor. All his movements bespeak firmness 
and resolution. He is open and frank, without insolence or 
vanity 124 

You need not tremble for him in the presence of company, for 
he will be self-possessed, candid, manly, and without affec- 

334 EMILE. 

tation. He does not say much, but he always speaks to the 
point. His knowledge is limited, but he is sure of what he 
knows. He has more judgment than memory, speaks but 
one language, but speaks this well. In his speech he fol- 
lows no set formulas, but speaks and acts just as seems to 
him best. His moral ideas are limited to his actual condi- 
tion, and beyond these he professes to know nothing. He 
will do anything to please you, but nothing because you 
commend it. He would ask information from a king just 
as he would from a servant, for in his eyes all men are 
equal. He is neither cringing nor imperious, but is mod- 
estly confident and sweetly conscious of his dependence on 
others. Refusals do not offend him, for he sees in them the 
law of necessity 125, 126 

When left to himself in perfect liberty you will observe that all 
his acts are prompt and have a definite purpose. Before 
seeking information from others he will try to obtain it for 
himself. If he falls into unforeseen difficulties he will be 
less disturbed than others. As he sees only what is real he 
estimates dangers only for what they are worth. He has 
borne the yoke of necessity from his birth, and is not dis- 
couraged at the inevitable 127 

Whether at work or at play he is equally content. His sports 
are his occupations, and he sees no difference between them. 
What more charming sight than a pretty child with bright 
and merry eye, with pleased and placid mien, doing the 
most serious things under the guise of play, or profoundly 
occupied with the most frivolous amusements? . . 127, 128 

Judged by comparison, Emile is superior to other children in 
dexterity, in strength, in judgment, in reason, and in fore- 
sight. It is so easy for him to make everything bend to his 
will that all Nature, so to speak, is at his command. He is 
born to guide and go,vern, for talent and experience serve 
him instead of law and authority 128 

Eraile has lived the life of a child, and has not bought his per- 
fection at the cost of his happiness. Were he now to die 
we should find consolation in the thought that he has at 
least enjoyed his childhood, and that we have caused him to 
lose nothing that Xature had given him . , . 128, 129 



The great disadvantage of this mode of education is that none 
but the clear-sighted can appreciate it. Ordinary teachers 
think of themselves rather than of their pupils, and so prize 
in their education only what can be exhibited. Emile has 
nothing to exhibit but himself, and we can no more see a 
child in a moment than a man 129 

Too many questions weary a child, and his attention soon flags. 
It therefore requires good judgment in us in order to ap- 
preciate the judgment of a child. As the late Lord Hyde 
was one day walking with his son, a boy of nine or ten, 
they observed some boys who were flying their kites, and 
the father said to his son, " Where is the kite whose shadow 
we see yonder?" Without raising his head, the child re- 
plied, "In the highway." And, in fact, added Lord Hyde, 
the highway was between us and the sun .... 130 



Man's weakness comes from the excess of his desires over his 
power to gratify them, and he becomes relatively strong 
when his growth in power surpasses the growth of his needs. 
This is the third stage of childhood, and the one now to be 
discussed 131 

I shall be told that a child of this age has less relative power 
than I ascribe to him ; but I am speaking of my own pupil, 
and not of those made-up creatures who faint at the least 
effort. In the country I see boys of twelve or thirteen who 
do the work of men. This is true also of the mental power 
which gives direction to the bodily powers . . . . 132 

This interval is the most precious period of life; it is short, it 
comes but once, and it must be well employed. It is the 
period of labor, instruction, and study, and its net acquisi- 
tion must be kept in store for future use .... 133 

As the human intelligence is limited it can not know every- 
thing, and if it could there is much that is not worth know- 
ing. Our pupil must be restricted to what is really useful. 
And from things useful we must eliminate whatever falls 
outside the compass of the child's intelligence. This circle 



is very small compared with the whole domain of knowl- 
edge, but how immense with respect to the mind of a 
child! 133, 134 

Curiosity is the grand spring of action at this age not that arti- 
ficial curiosity which springs from opinion or fashion, but 
that nobler passion which stimulates the child to know 
whatever is connected with his well-being. We must reject 
from a child's studies all those for which he has not a natu- 
ral taste . . 135, 136 

In our state of feebleness we are wrapped up in what concerns 
our physical well-being; but in our state of potency we 
reach but after what is beyond us. In this new period of 
the child's life the earth and the sun are the two objects 
that enlist his attention. Draw his attention to these nat- 
ural phenomena and you will make him curious; but to 
nourish this curiosity do not satisfy it. Emile is not to 
learn science, but to discover it 136, 137 

In teaching geography, maps and globes are useless machines. 
Take the child where he can see the glories of the sun's 
rising and setting, and feel the charms of the morning and 
the evening. Do not pour into his ears your own descrip- 
tions of these natural phenomena, but allow him to see, and 
feel, and reflect 138, 139 

Educated in this spirit, your pupil will long reflect in silence 
before asking aid from others. If, after some days of un- 
rest, he is not able to understand the earth's diurnal revolu- 
tion, and the cause of day and night, address to him some 
question which will put him in the way of a correct solu- 
tion 140, 141 

In general, never substitute the sign for the thing itself save 
when it is impossible to show the thing. The machines for 
teaching astronomical facts are misleading, for they distort 
actual proportions, and absorb the attention which would 
otherwise be applied to the real objects of study . . . 141 

It is a disputed question whether we should resort to analysis 
or to synthesis in the study of the sciences. We may em- 
ploy either or both. In geography, we may start from the 
child's home and go out toward the entire globe by suc- 
cessive additions, or we may begin with the artificial globe 



and meet the child as he is coming toward us. This unex- 
pected meeting will be an agreeable surprise . . . 142 

Let the child construct maps of these observations, first very 
simple, but gradually elaborated as he finds new facts to 
register 143 

The spirit of my system is not to teach the child many things, 
but to give him a few clear ideas on essential topics, and, 
above all, to shield his mind from error. This peaceful 
epoch of the intelligence is so short that we must improve 
it to the uttermost. We can not teach him the sciences, 
but we can inspire him with a taste for them, and this is 
the economic principle of all sound education . . 143, 144 

Emile must do nothing against his will. It is necessary, in- 
deed, that he learn to give consecutive attention to the 
same thing, but his motive should be pleasure, and never 
constraint. If he asks questions, let your replies merely 
stimulate his curiosity ; and if you discover that he asks 
questions merely to pass the time or to annoy you, pay no 
attention to them 144, 145 

Emile shall not learn the ready-made science of the philosophers, 
but shall proceed from fact to fact by the method of dis- 
covery. For example, to teach him the elements of elec- 
tricity, I take him to a fair where a juggler performs amus- 
ing tricks with an artificial duck floating in a basin of 
water. Emile experiences various chagrins, but in the end 
he learns in the school of experience what I wished to 
teach him 145-150 

Following the same general plan, Emile will learn the effects of 
temperature on solids and liquids, will discover the prin- 
ciple of the thermometer, the barometer, the siphon, etc., 
and will finally comprehend the laws of statics and hydro- 
statics. He will not resort to ready-made instruments, but 
will gradually invent and perfect simple apparatus to ver- 
ify his own discoveries 150, 152 

Our clearest and most valuable knowledge is that which we 
gain from our own independent observations, and anything 
which relieves us of necessary effort does us a positive in- 
jury. The artificial instruments we use disqualify us for 
using our own senses and organs . . . . . 152, 153 



In order that the child's knowledge may be firmly held and 
comprehended, it must gradually be reduced to scientific 
form on general principles. Always begin with the sim- 
plest and most obvious phenomena, and merge them into 
higher and higher generalizations . . 153 

As the child advances in intelligence, and learns what is best 
and what is -not best for him, it is time for him to distin- 
guish between work and play, and to exercise foresight 
with respect to all that involves his real good . . . 154 

Do not expect your pupil to work toward some supposed good 
which you vaguely set before him, but some good which is 
present and tangible. A child can not have a man's fore- 
sight, and a man's knowledge will not suffice for him . 155, 156 

The word useful is the key to the whole situation. What is 
this good for ? should be the question ever on the child's 
tongue. He will thus ask questions as Socrates did. It is 
of little importance whether he learns little or much, pro- 
vided he sees the clear utility of it . . . . 156, 15? 

Avoid discursive explanations, for young people will run away 
from them. Do not expatiate on the use of knowing how 
to find the points of the compass, but take your pupil into 
some forest, allow him to become lost, and then by sugges- 
tions teach him how to find his way home . . . 157-160 

Never direct the child's attention to anything he can not see. 
At the age of fifteen we see the happiness of a wise man 
just as at thirty we see the glory of paradise. While think- 
ing of what would be useful to your pupil at another age, 
speak to him only of that whose utility he sees at present. 
Moreover, never compare him with other children, lest you 
excite him to jealousy ; but teach him to excel himself, and 
thus make of him his own rival 161 

Books merely teach us to talk of what we do not know. In- 
stead of aiding the memory, they teach us to do without it. 
Still there is one book which shall constitute Smile's whole 
library a book which invents a situation where all the nat- 
ural needs of man are exhibited, and where the means of 
providing for these needs are successively developed ; this 
wonderful book is Robinson Crusoe .... 162-164 

The division of labor, which is a product of civilization, makes 



men mutually dependent; and when the time comes to 
teach Emile this mutual dependence, teach it in its indus- 
trial and not in its moral aspect. Go with him from shop 
to shop, become a laborer with him ; for in this way you 
can teach him more in an hour than he can learn from a day 
of explanations 165 

To shield your pupil from the false opinions of men, and to 
guard him against the snares set by evil men, show him 
things as they really are, and thus teach him how to distin- 
guish the true from the false, the good from the bad . . 166 

fimile knows little or nothing of the relations of man to man, 
but he knows his own place and keeps it. He is not yet 
bound by social laws, but by the laws of necessity. He esti- 
mates the value of men and things solely as they affect his 
happiness or his interests. In his eyes iron is more valuable 
than gold, and a pastry-cook a more important person than 
an academician 167 

The industries which minister to the most pressing wants of 
mankind are the most honorable ; and of all the arts, agri- 
culture is the first and the most respectable. I would place 
the forge in the second rank, carpentry in the third, and so 
on ; and a child who has not been perverted by prejudice will 
estimate them in the same way 168 

In the practice of these arts the manual dexterity acquired is 
less important than the mental and moral qualities which 
are induced, such as curiosity, invention, and foresight. 
The child's tastes may not be yours ; he should be wholly 
absorbed in his occupation, and you should be absorbed in 
him 169 

You may explain to your pupil the obvious nature and need of 
money as a standard of values and a medium of exchange ; 
but do not confuse him by going further than this, as in at- 
tempting to explain the moral effects of this institution. 169, 170 

In this way we may turn the curiosity of our pupil in many di- 
rections without leaving the domain of his real and material 
relations. At a dinner-party how many things there are 
to interest and instruct a thoughtful child the conversa- 
tion, the table-service, and the viands coming from so many 

sources! 170-172 


340 tiMILE. 


It will now be easy to teach Emile the necessity and value of 
mutual exchanges in instruments and products, and so of 
the distribution of men into societies and trades. This is 
the basis of our civilization. On this principle no one can 
remain an isolated being 172, 173 

fimile thus learns some notions of men's social relations even 
before he becomes a member of society. Each man has the 
right to live, and he must derive some assistance from 
organized society ; but he must also make some return to 
society for the benefit he has received .... 173, 174 

Emile's- education shall be directed according to what is uni- 
versal in human life. Generally speaking, all men have the 
same wants, the same destiny, and the same powers of body 
and mind, and men should be educated so as to live under 
all states of fortune. But by training a child to live in one 
special state he becomes unfitted to live in any other. 
Human society is in a state of perpetual flux, and no one 
can be assured of a permanent future. The solidarity of 
society must be respected, and each man owes to it a debt 
which must be discharged in person .... 175-177 

Of all human conditions the most independent of fortune is that 
of the artisan, and so Emile shall learn a trade. A trade does 
not degrade him who follows it, but raises him to the rank 
of manhood. A trade is to be learned not so much for it- 
self, as for overcoming the prejudices that despise it. In 
order to put fortune in subjection to you, begin by making 
yourself independent of it 177, 178 

It is not an accomplishment that I require, but a trade, a purely 
mechanic art, where the hand toils rather than the head, 
which does not lead to fortune, but which can dispense with 
it. The professions are capricious, and may land you in 
distress, but with a trade you are always sure of an honor- 
able maintenance 178, 179 

Emile must choose an honorable calling, but let us recollect that 
there is no honor without utility. I would rather have him 
a cobbler than a poet ; nor do I want him to be a musician, 
a comedian, or an author. In making his choice Emile 
must not be governed by passing whims, but by real 
aptitudes. In fact, his trade is already half learned, for 



be has acquired much manual dexterity. All that is 
needed is to devote enough time to any one of the manual 
arts to make himself dexterous in it. All things considered, 
the trade that I would have Emile learn is that of cabinet- 
maker. It is cleanly, is useful, may be practiced at home, 
keeps the body in exercise, and requires skill and inge- 
nuity 180-183 

When Emile learns his trade I must learn it with him. We 
must both be apprentices, not in sport, but in earnest. The 
Czar Peter worked at the bench ; why may not we f . 183, 184 

In this apprenticeship body and mind must work in concert, 
and my pupil must insensibly form a taste for reflection 
and meditation. The great secret of education is to make 
the exercises of the body and the mind always serve as a 
recreation for each other 184 

We have thus far trained the body and the senses, the mind 
and the judgment of our pupil, and have connected with 
the use of his limbs the use of his faculties ; and nothing 
more is left for us, in order to make a complete man, than 
to make of him a being who lives and feels that is, to per- 
fect the reason through the feelings. But before entering 
on this new field let us see just what point we have 
reached 184, 185 

At first our pupil had only sensations all he did was to feel ; 
but now he judges. The mind is characterized by its 
manner of forming ideas. A strong mind is one that forms 
its ideas on real relations ; the one that is satisfied with ap- 
parent relations is a superficial mind ; that which sees 
relations just as they are is an accurate mind ; that which 
estimates their value imperfectly is an unsound mind ; he 
who invents relations purely imaginary is a lunatic ; while 
he who does not compare at all is an imbecile . . . 185 

Nature never deceives us, but inferences from our sensations are 
sometimes false. As all our errors come from our judg- 
ment, it is clear that if we never needed to judge we should 
have no need to learn ; and since the more men know the 
more they are deceived, the only means of shunning error 
is ignorance. The man of Nature is profoundly indifferent 
to everything except a small number of immediate rela- 

342 SMILE. 

tions which things have with him. The philosopher has 
great curiosity, but the savage none. Emile is not a savage 
to be banished to a desert, but a savage made to live in 
cities. He is cautious in his replies to my questions, and 
takes time to examine them. Neither of us is in a fret to 
know the truth of things, but only not to fall into error. 
Our familiar phrases are : I do not know ; Let us consider. 
Emile will not know what a microscope or a telescope is ; 
but before using them I will have him invent them. This 
is the spirit of my whole method. I have not taught him 
many things, but have shown him the route to learning, 
easy, in truth, but long, boundless, and slow to traverse, 185-188 

Compelled to learn for himself, he uses his own reason and not 
that of others. Prom this continual exercise there must 
result a vigor of mind similar to that which is given the 
body by labor and exercise. Another advantage is that 
we advance only in proportion to our strength . . . 188 

Emile has little knowledge, but what he has is really his own ; 
he knows nothing by halves. He has a mind that is univer- 
sal, not through its knowledge but through its facility of 
acquiring it. My purpose is not at all to give him knowl- 
edge, but to teach him how to acquire it when necessary, 188, 189 

Emile has only natural and purely physical knowledge. He 
does not know even the name of history, nor what metaphys- 
ics and ethics are. He knows the essential relations of man 
to things, but nothing of the moral relations of man to 
man 189, 190 

Emile is industrious, temperate, patient, firm, and full of cour- 
age. He is sensible to few evils, and knows how to suffer 
with constancy because he has not learned to contend against 
destiny. In a word, Emile has every virtue which is re- 
lated to himself. He has no faults, or only those which are 
inevitable to man. He has a sound body, agile limbs, a just 
and unprejudiced mind, and a heart that is free and with- 
out passions 190, 191 





Our passage over the earth is so swift, that life is almost gone 
before we know how to live. We have two births, one for 
the species and the other for the sex. This second period 
is foretold by the rise of the passions ; this is our second 
birth, and it is here that we really begin to live. Ordinary 
education ends at this period, but it is here that ours ought 
to begin 192, 193 

The wish to destroy the passions is vain and impious, for they 
are the instruments of our conservation, and the source of 
our passions is the love of self. This passion is always good, 
for we must love ourselves in order to preserve ourselves. 
The first feeling of a child is to love himself, and his next 
to love those who come near him as his protectors. A child 
is thus naturally inclined to benevolence ; but as his rela- 
tions to others become extended he comes to have a feeling 
of his duties and preferences, and then he becomes jealous 
and imperious love of self, a benevolent passion, passes into 
self-love, a malevolent passion 193-195 

Up to this point Emile's study has been his relations with things, 
but henceforth his occupation must be the study of his re- 
lations with men. As soon as he has need of a companion 
he is no longer an isolated being, and his first passion calls 
him into relations with his species 196 

The instructions of Nature are slow and tardy, while those of 
men are almost always premature, the imagination giving a 
precocious activity to the senses ; but as the age at which 
man becomes conscious of sex depends on education as 
much as on Nature, it follows that this peiiod maybe hast- 
ened or retarded by the manner of the child's training; and 
the longer this critical period can be delayed, the greater 
will be the amount of physical vigor and power . . 196, 197 

So far as possible, we should prevent the rise of the child's 
curiosity ; and when he asks questions which we are not 
compelled to answer, it is better to say nothing than to say 
what is false ; but if we decide to reply, let it be done with 
the greatest simplicity, without mystery and without hesi- 

344 EMILE. 

tation. Absolute ignorance of certain things is no doubt bst 
for children ; but they should learn at an early hour what 
can not always be concealed from them. Do not affect too 
great refinement in your language, but speak plainly, simply, 
and directly. The way to preserve the innocence of chil- 
dren is not to give them lessons in modesty, but to surround 
them with those who love and respect innocency. Children 
are often corrupted by the books they read, and by vile do- 
mestics and nurses 196-200 

To subject to order and control the rising passions, prolong the 
time during which they are developed, so that they may 
gradually adjust themselves without danger. To feel our 
true relations both to the species and the individual, and 
to order all the affections of the soul according to these rela- 
tions this is the sum of human wisdom in the use of the 
passions 200, 201 

In order to arouse the nascent sensibility and turn the character 
toward benevolence and goodness, do not excite the young 
man's pride, vanity, and envy by showing him the exterior 
of grand society; but show him what men really are by 
nature that they are neither kings nor millionaires, but that 
they are born naked and poor, are subject to chagrins, evils, 
and sorrows, and, finally, that all are condemned to death . 201 

If your children are not capable of this humane culture you are 
to blame for it you have either taught them not to feel or 
have caused them to counterfeit feeling ; but my mile has 
neither felt nor feigned, for, having reflected little on sen- 
tient beings, he will be late in knowing what it is to suffer 
and die. But complaints and cries will soon begin to 
agitate his feelings, and the convulsions of a dying animal 
will give him untold agony before he knows the source of 
these new emotions. Thus arises pity, the first related feel- 
ing that touches the human heart. We suffer only as much 
as we judge the animal suffers. In order to nourish this 
nascent sensibility and to guide it in its natural course, we 
must offer to the young man objects on which he may exert 
the expansive force of his feelings, and which will give ex- 
tension to his sympathies. Do not let him look down on 
the afflictions of the unfortunate with feelings of superior- 


ity, but teach him that their lot may one day be his own ; 
teach him to count neither on birth, nor on health, nor on 
riches . 203, 204 

With pupils of this age the skillful teacher may become an ob- 
server and a philosopher in the art of exploring the recesses 
of the human heart and in devising means to mold the 
human character. Possibly my pupil may be less agreeable 
because he has not learned to imitate conventional man- 
ners, but he will certainly be more affectionate, and I can 
not think that his regard for others will render him the 
less agreeable on this account 205 

When this critical age comes, offer to the young not sights that 
excite and influence their passions, but those which check 
and soothe; take them from large cities to their early 
homes, where the simplicity of country life allows the pas- 
sions to develop less rapidly; carefully select their com- 
pany, their occupations, and their pleasures ; let them know 
the lot of man and the miseries of their fellows, but do not 
let them be seen too often ; be sparing of words ; make a 
choice of times, places, and persons ; give all your lessons 
by example, and you may be sure of their effect . . 205, 206 

Teachers complain that the ardor of this age makes the young 
ungovernable, and I can see why this may be true. When 
this ardor has been allowed to expend itself through the 
senses, can it be expected that the sermons of a pedant will 
efface from the mind the images of pleasure that have been 
impressed on it ? Doubtless, by being compliant we may 
maintain a show of authority ; but no good purpose is 
served by a supremacy gained by fomenting the passions of 
your pupil 207 

But this ardor may give you a hold on the human heart, and it 
is through it that education is to be perfected. The young 
man's affections are the reins by which he is to be guided ; 
they are the bonds which unite him to his species. In be- 
coming capable of attachment he becomes sensible of the 
attachment of others, and you have so many chains which 
you may throw around his heart without his perceiving 
them. If you have not destroyed the feeling of gratitude 
by your own fault, you will have o, new hold on your pupil 

346 EMILE. 


as he begins to see the value of your services ; but beware 
of extolling them, lest they become insupportable to him. 
In order to make him docile, leave him in complete lib- 
erty, and conceal yourself ill order that he may look for 
you 208, 209 

We now enter on the moral order, and come to the second stage 
of manly culture. I would have Emile feel that goodness 
and justice are not mere abstract terms, but real affections 
of the soul enlightened by reason. So far he has regarded 
only himself, but now that he comes to throw his first look 
over his fellows this comparison excites a desire to surpass 
them, and thus gives rise to the selfish passions. It now 
becomes important to determine to what place he shall as- 
pire among men, and so it becomes necessary to show him 
what man really is. Society must be studied through men, 
and men through society . . . . . 210, 211 

Men must not be shown through their masks, but must be 
painted just as they are, to the end that the young may not 
hate them, but pity them and avoid resembling them. Let 
him know that man is naturally good, but that society 
depraves him ; let him be induced to esteem the individual, 
but to despise the masses ; let him see that nearly all men 
wear the same mask, but let him also know that there are 
faces more beautiful than the mask which covers them, 211, 212 

This method of study has the disadvantage of tending to make 
the heart cynical and unfeeling, and a corrective must be 
found in the study of history ; for in history we see men 
simply as spectators, without interest or passion as their 
judge, and not as their accomplice or their accuser. But it 
is a vice of history to show us men by their bad qualities 
rather than by their good ; to occupy itself with wars and 
revolutions, and to portray peoples in a state of decadence 
rather than during periods of growth. The worst histo- 
rians are those who judge. But, wisely selected, a course in 
historical reading is a course in practical philosophy, better 
than all the vain speculations of the schools . . 212-217 

But self-love is a dangerous instrument, and often wounds the 
hand that uses it. In considering his place in human so- 
ciety nrile will be tempted to give all the credit to his own 



wisdom, and if he were to remain in this condition we 
should have done him but little good ; but there is no vice, 
save vanity, which may not be cured m any man who is not 
a fool. Do not use arguments to prove to your pupil that 
he is a man subject to the same weaknesses as other men, 
but make him feel this, if need be, by exposing him to the 
arts of knaves and sharpers 217, 218 

Teachers should not assume a false dignity and play the sage by 
affecting a vast superiority over their pupils. On the con- 
trary, they should exalt the purposes and ambitions of the 
young, and if they can not ascend to you, descend to them. 
This does not mean that teachers should appear on an equal- 
ity with their pupils in respect of intelligence and learn- 
ing, for this would be to sacrifice their confidence and 
respect 219, 220 

If your pupil falls into mistakes do not reproach him with them, 
for this would make his self-love rebel. The lesson which 
revolts does not profit. Give him, rather, your consolation, 
and you will correct him by seeming to pity him . . 220, 221 

The time of faults is the time for fables. By censuring the 
wrong-doer under an unknown mask we instruct without 
offending him. The moral of a fable should not be an- 
nounced, but the pupil should be left to discover it for 
himself; for if he does not understand the fable without this 
explanation, he will never understand it at all. Again, 
fables should be arranged in a more rational order than in 
the usual collections 221-223 

It is not through speculative studies that the young can be pre- 
pared for complete living, fimile has been taught to live 
by himself and to earn his daily bread, but this is not 
enough ; he must know how to get on with men, and must 
know the instruments that give him a hold on them. He 
must be taught to be beneficent. It is by doing good that 
we learn to be good. Interest your pupil in all the good 
deeds that are within his reach. Let the cause of the poor 
always be his own. To this end he need not meddle in pub- 
lic affairs, but will do only what he knows to be useful and 
good. He will never seek a quarrel, but if he is insulted he 
will have the resolution to defend his honor. If be sees 

34:8 EMILE. 


discord prevailing among his companions he will try to 
reconcile them 226-228 

It can not be repeated too often that all lessons given to 
young men should be in actions rather than in words. Let 
them learn nothing in books that can be taught them by 
experience. I am convinced that by putting beneficence in 
action, and drawing from our good or bad success reflec- 
tions on their causes, there is little useful knowledge which 
can not be cultivated in the mind of a young man with re- 
spect to the usages of life. The true principles of the just, 
the true models of the beautiful, all the moral relations of 
existence, and all the ideas of order, are engraved in his 
understanding ; and, without having experienced the hu- 
man passions, he knows their illusions. While thus trying 
to form the man of Nature, it is not proposed to make a 
savage of him and banish him to the woods, but to fit him 
to live in the social vortex without being seduced by the 
passions or the opinions of men 228, 229 

Locke would have us begin with the study of the mind, and 
pass thence to the study of the body ; but this is the method 
of superstition, prejudice, and error, and not that of reason, 
nor of Nature. We must have studied the body for a long 
time in order to form a correct notion of the mind . 229, 23(? 

So far nothing has been said to fimile on the subject of. religion. 
At the age of fifteen he did not know that he had a soul, 
and perhaps at eighteen it is not yet time for him to learn 
it. The truth should not be announced to those who are 
not able to understand it, for this is equivalent to substi- 
tuting error for it. It is much better to have no ideas of 
God, than to have ideas which are low, fanciful, or un- 
worthy. If children form such notions they retain them 
for life. Emile is so accustomed to refuse his attention to 
whatever is beyond his reach, and is so indifferent to what 
he does not understand, that this reserve in speaking to him 
of religion is attended with no risk. While Nature has 
been forming the physical man, we have been trying to 
form the moral man ; but while the body has become 
strong and robust, the soul is still languishing and feeble. 
Our aim has been to hold the senses in check, and to stimu- 



late the intellect. It is easy to rise from the study of Na- 
ture to the search for its Author. When we have reached 
this point what new holds we have gained on our 
pupil! 230-233 

The critical moment finally comes, as it must, and your former 
manner of treating your pupil must be abandoned. He is 
still your disciple, but no longer your pupil. He is a man, 
and must be treated as such. Up to this time he has been 
held in check by his ignorance, but he must now be con- 
trolled by his intelligence. So far he has remained in his 
primitive innocence, but now he must be instructed in the 
mysteries that have so long been concealed from him. 
Young men who are wise on these subjects have not gained 
their knowledge with impunity. So long as my pupil con- 
tinues to keep his heart open to me I have nothing to fear. 
His chief perils are reading, solitude, idleness, and an 
aimless life ; but by keeping his body at painful labor I 
arrest the activity of his imagination, and thus avoid these 
dangers. As his trade has become a routine, this will not 
answer my purpose, and nothing better can be devised than 
hunting 233-237 

Never employ dry reasoning with the young, but cause the lan- 
guage of the intellect to pass through the heart in order 
that it may be understood. Cold arguments may deter- 
mine our opinions but not our actions. So I will not be 
tedious and diffuse by the use of lifeless maxims, but my 
speech will abound in emotion. I will make his young 
heart burn with feelings of friendship, generosity, and grati- 
tude, and will press him to my heart while shedding tears 
of tenderness ; and if I am discreet in my use of this method, 
I do not doubt for an instant that my Emile will come of 
himself to the point where I wish to lead him. How nar- 
row must one be to see in the nascent desires of a young 
man only an obstacle to the lessons of reason ! We have 
no hold on the passions save through the passions . 237-240 

jjhnile now knows men in general, and it remains for him to 
know them as individuals. It is time to show him the ex- 
terior of that grand stage whose concealed workings he al- 
ready knows. As there is a proper age for studying the 

350 EMILE. 


sciences, there is also one for properly apprehending the use 
of the world. Give me a child of twelve years who knows 
nothing at all, and at fifteen I will guarantee to make him 
as wise as he whom you have instructed from infancy. So, 
also, introduce a young man of twenty into the world, and, 
if well trained, he will in one year be more amiable and 
better polished than he whom you have reared there from 
infancy. However, we must not wait too long, for it is 
hard to escape from manners hardened into habit . 240-242 

fimile must now have a companion, and he must be enamored 
of her before he knows the object of his affections. The 
picture I draw of her may be imaginary, but it is enough 
that it disgusts him with those who might tempt him, and 
that he everywhere finds comparisons which make him pre- 
fer his dreams to the real objects which excite his atten- 
tion. For what is real love itself if not a dream, a fiction, 
an illusion I I will not deceive him by pretending that the 
object depicted really exists; but if he is pleased with 
the picture, he will soon wish for the original . . 242, 243 

iEmile is now sufficiently trained 10 be docile. I grant him, it 
is true, the appearance of independence, but he was never 
in more complete subjection, for his obedience is the result 
of his will. Into whatever society he may be introduced, 
his first appearance will be simple and without display. 
His manner of presenting himself is neither modest nor 
vain, but natural and true. He speaks little, because he 
does not care to occupy the attention of others. Although, 
on entering society, he is in absolute ignorance of its usages, 
he is not on this account timid and nervous, but calm and 
cool. Doubtless Emile will not be like other people, and 
may God preserve him from ever being so ! He will never 
be feted in society as a popular man, but people will love 
him without knowing why. He is a man of good sense, 
and wishes to be nothing else 244-247 

ifimile is not indifferent to the opinion of others, but he would 
have this good opinion founded on the good he does, 
rather than on the mere opinions of others, and he will love 
those most who resemble him most. As he studies men 
through their manners in society, he must needs philoso- 



phize on the principles of taste, and this is his proper study 
during this period. At Paris the general taste is bad, but 
it is here that one should come if he has a spark of genius 
to cultivate. This is also the period for literary criticism, 
and by the reading of good books fimile shall be made sen- 
sible to the beauties of eloquence and diction. In order 
that he may learn simplicity of taste, he must study the 
writings of the ancients ; and he shall go to the theatre in 
order that he may acquire a taste for poetry. My object in 
teaching him to feel and love the beautiful in all its forms, 
is to fix on it his affections and tastes, so that his natural 
appetites may not be corrupted by lower pleasures . 247-252 

Leaving Emile for the moment, I will seek in myself a more 
obvious and familiar example of the tastes and manners 
which I wish to commend to the reader : were I rich, I 
would use my wealth to purchase leisure and liberty; and 
as health is not possible without temperance, I would be 
temperate for sensual reasons. I would keep as near to 
Nature as possible, and always take her for a model. I 
would draw from each season whatever is agreeable in it. 
I would have but few servants ; my house should be small 
and its furniture simple. I would be plain in my dress and 
living, and men of all conditions should feel at home with 
me. I would cultivate rustic enjoyments, and find happi- 
ness in modes of life unaffected by human opinion . 253-258 

But it is now time to look for Sophie in earnest ; and as we are 
looking for love, happiness, and innocence, we must bid 
adieu to Paris ...... ... 258 



It is not good for man to be alone, and, as fimile is now a man, 
he must have a companion ; and as fimile is a man, Sophie, 
his companion, must be a woman that is, she should have 
whatever is befitting the constitution of her species and of 
her sex ........... 259 

The only thing in common between man and woman is the 
species, and they differ only in respect of sex ; and it is one 


of the marvels of Nature that she could constitute two be- 
ings so similar and yet so different. With respect to what 
they have in common they are equal, and in so far as they are 
different they can not be compared. In the union of the 
sexes each contributes equally toward the common end, but 
not in the same way. One must be active and strong, the 
other passive and weak ; one must have power and will, 
while it suffices that the other have little power of resist- 
ance. Hence it follows that woman is especially constituted 
to please man ........ 259, 260 

Plato, in his Republic, by enjoining the same duties on woman 
as on man, subverts the sweetest feelings of Nature and 
sacrifices them to an artificial feeling which can not exist 
without them. Now, the moment it is admitted that man 
and woman are not and ought not to be constituted in the 
same way, it follows that they ought not to be educated in 
the same way ........ 260, 2C1 

Nature should be followed in all that characterizes sex. To cul- 
tivate in women the qualities of men, and to neglect those 
which are properly their own, is obviously to work to their 
detriment. Does it follow that woman ought to be brought 
up in complete ignorance, and restricted solely to the duties 
of the household t No, doubtless. On the contrary, Na- 
ture would have her think, and judge, and love, and know, 
and cultivate her mind as she does her form. She ought to 
learn multitudes of things, but only those which it befits 
her to know. The whole education of women ought to be 
relative to men to please them, to be useful to them, to 
make them happy ........ 260-263 

In both sexes the first culture ought to be that of the body. 
Women need sufficient strength to do with grace whatever 
they have to do, and men need sufficient cleverness to do 
with facility whatever they have to do. Women should be 
robust, in order that the men who shall be born of them 
may be robust also. Delicacy is not languor, and one need 
not be sickly in order to please ..... 263-265 

Children of the two sexes have many amusements in common, 
but boys prefer movement and noise, and girls what appeals 
to sight and serves to please. For the present the little 



girl is absorbed in her doll, but she waits the moment when 
she shall be her own doll. This is a decided primitive taste, 
and in order to regulate it we have only to follow it. The 
adornment of her doll will naturally lead to sewing, em- 
broidery, lace-work, designing, etc 265, 266 

In respect of good sense, the two sexes are equally endowed, 
and trifling studies should be banished from the education 
of both. There is no reason why a girl should learn to 
read and write at an early age. There are very few who 
will not abuse this fatal science. Girls should be obedient 
and industrious, and must be trained to restraint in order 
that it may cost them nothing. Maternal affection should 
attach them to their duties, and make necessary constraint 
easy. Their disposition to go to extremes should be toned 
down, and their natural inconstancy checked . . 267-269 

The first and most important quality of woman is gentleness, and 
she ought early to learn to suffer every injustice, and to en- 
dure the wrongs of a husband without complaint. But in 
order to make a young woman docile, it is not necessary to 
make her unhappy, and she should be indulged in all inno- 
cent amusements, such as dancing and singing. Her best 
teachers may often be her father, mother, brother, sister, 
friend ; but when formal lessons are needed her teachers 
may be of either sex 270-273 

Women speak sooner, more easily, and more agreeably than men. 
A man says what he knows, and a woman what will please, 
and so one needs knowledge and the other taste. In the use 
of speech girls should be trained to be discreet and pleasing, 274 

It is even more difficult for girls than for boys to form a true 
idea of religion. Women have great skill in finding the 
means for reaching a known end, but very little in finding 
the end itself. For this reason every daughter should have 
the religion of her mother, and every wife that of her 
husband. Naturally, women are either free-thinkers or 
devotees, and their religion should be regulated by au- 
thority 275,276 

Religious duties should be made pleasing to girls, and never a 
burden, and the mother's example is the best guide. In 
explaining the articles of faith, do not proceed by question 


and answer, but by direct instruction. A proper catechism 
for children is yet to be written. It will have but little 
resemblance to those in use. The questions should be so 
framed that the child can formulate his own answers. 
Until the age of reason comes, that which is right or 
wrong for the young is what they are commanded to do or 
not to do by those who surround them. Hence the im- 
portance of a right choice of associates . . . 277, 276 

The inner moral sense should co-operate with public opinion in 
the education of women, but a counterpoise to each of 
these forces should be found in the cultivation of the 
reason. Between a slavery to her domestic duties and the 
usurpation of man's prerogatives there is a middle ground 
where woman may cultivate her reason, and thus protect 
herself against the prejudices of society . . . 278-280 

Women should make a profound study of the men who sur- 
round them, and should learn to govern them by knowing 
what will please men. Woman has more spirit and man 
more genius ; woman observes and man reasons. Counseled 
by their mothers, girls should enter society in order to dis- 
cover its illusions, and thus be protected from them. Con- 
vents are schools of coquetry, and in Protestant countries 
there is a higher type of womanhood than in Catholic 
countries. In order to love the peaceful life of the home 
it must be known, and to this end domestic education is 
recommended. Mothers are warned against bringing their 
daughters to Paris to learn the manners of the gay 
capital ' 281-285 

Dry moral lectures and gloomy lessons disgust the young. In 
order to teach young women to be discreet, create in them 
a strong interest in being so ; and this interest should not 
be placed in a distant future, but in the present moment 
and in current events. Encourage virtue by an appeal to 
reason, and make girls feel that the power of their sex does 
not depend alone on their own good conduct and morals, 
but also on those of men that they can have but little 
hold on vile and low natures 286, 287 

Sophie's disposition, qualities, appearance, tastes, dress, talents, 
accomplishments, and faults described .... 287-298 



Admonitions to Sophie by her father 298-301 

Thoughtful men should not many women incapable of think- 
ing, but a simple girl, rudely brought up, is preferable to a 
wife of learning and wit, who would make of her house a 

literary bureau 301-308 

The reading of books is not a substitute for travel, but it is not 
necessary to know all the individuals in order to know the 
species. We must know how to travel in order to profit by 
it But travels are good for only a few people only for 
those who have sufficient self-control to listen to the lessons 
of error without allowing themselves to go astray . 304-308 



Pages i to 40. 

1. FROM what three sources is education derived? 

2. In what sense does nature consist in habits? 

3. What constitutes the "training for manhood " that 

Rousseau deems the sole education ? 

4. What general principle underlies the right care of 

the infant ? 

5. Has the young man as teacher more sympathy with 

childhood and youth than the older teacher ? 

6. Can Rousseau's treatment of his ideal child directly 

guide one in the care and training of children in 
real life ? 

7. What is meant by the assertion that the child should 

be allowed to contract no habit ? 

8. To what extent is it wise to permit liberty of action 

to the impulses of the child's mind and body ? 

Page 41 to 67. 

9. Is it wise to ignore a child's slight sufferings in 

order to make him more patient and courageous ? 
10. Should the end of education be found in future or 

in present happiness ? 
ir. To what extent should parent or teacher follow the 

maxim, " Keep the child dependent on things 

alone " ? 

12. Are the formulas of politeness in any sense condu- 

cive to false education ? 

13. What valuable benefits may result from early suffer- 

ing ? Are they certain to result ? 


14. Are children at the age of ten utterly incapable of 

reasoning upon questions of good and evil ? 

15. Does the practice of reasoning with children upon 

their conduct generally tend to make them deceit- 
ful and untruthful ? 

16. In what respects is it important in education to lose 

time rather than to gain it ? 

17. Can we discover the bent of a child's mind before 

beginning to instruct him ? 

18. Can punishments be limited to the direct conse- 

quences of wrong-doing ? 

Pages 67 to 100. 

19. Would it be wise to leave a child untaught from a 

fear that he might be taught wrong ? 

20. May it be right sometimes to require memory-work 

beyond the child's full grasp of the ideas in- 
volved ? 

21. How early may it be wise to instruct a child in a 

language other than his mother tongue ? 

22. May the instruction given to children be limited to 

that of which they can see the actual and present 
advantage ? 

23. Can school government be based on other founda- 

tion than the authority and direct command of the 
teacher ? 

24. Under home influences alone, would Rousseau's 

scheme of government prove successful ? 

25. How can the lessons learned upon the playground 

be made use of in increasing the value of lessons 
learned from books ? 

26. What general principle as regards clothing might 

avoid the evils from which Rousseau warns us, as 


well as those to which his directions would be 
likely to lead us? 

27. What argument for manual training, as a branch of 

school work, may be drawn from the plea for the 
exercise of all the senses ? 

Pages 100 to 130. 

28. How are children to be practically trained in school 

so as to " arm them against unforeseen accidents " ? 

29. Can a teacher be justified in adopting a willful de- 

ception in order to promote in a child that acute- 
ness of perception that will detect the deception ? 

30. What relation has the sense of sight to that of touch 

in its earliest development ? 

31. What is the especial great advantage in drawing 

from objects rather than from copy? 

32. What is the argument for combining drawing from 

the copy with object drawing ? 

33. What advantages has experimental geometry, as 

suggested for Emile, over the geometry as com- 
monly presented by theorem and formal demon- 
stration ? 

34. When should the latter properly come in to supple- 

ment the former ? 

35. To what extent should the physical exercises of the 

schoolroom have for their purpose muscular dex- 
terity and agility ? 

36. For what chief purpose are the arts of recitation 

and singing to be included in the training of 
youth ? 

37. From the age of five to twelve can all needed in- 

struction be acquired through experience and the 
senses under any conditions that can be assumed ? 


Pages i}i to 1 60. 

38. Is the normal boy, at the age of twelve to fifteen, 

possessed of physical and mental strength rela- 
tively greater than his desires ? 

39. Is Rousseau right in ascribing the exception to such 

rule to faults in educational training ? 

40. In what sense is it true, that it is only necessary to 

know that which is useful ? 

41. What are the necessary objections to the doctrine 

that the child " is not to learn science, but to dis- 
cover it " ? 

42. Can the child who does not read think more clearly 

than the child who reads ? 

43. How may Rousseau's doctrine concerning the sign 

and the thing be best observed in modern school 

44. What prevalent error violates his " fundamental prin- 

ciple " concerning the teaching of sciences ? 

45. What are the advantages in using simple and " home- 

made " apparatus rather than that which is more 
elaborate ? 

Pages 161 to 191. 

46. Is the stimulus of emulation necessarily harmful in 

dealing with children from twelve to fifteen years 
of age ? 

47. What objection is there to making the state of Rob- 

inson Crusoe the ideal state with reference to 
which the elements of early education are to be 
chosen ? 

48. In what manner may the instruction of children be 

extended from the material relations of life to the 
social and spiritual relations ? 


49. What is the most forcible argument in favor of teach- 

ing a trade to the young man whose circumstances 
indicate that he may never have occasion to resort 
to it for a livelihood ? 

50. Should manual training in the public schools have 

reference to artisan skill or to general mental de- 
velopment ? 

51. Does Rousseau's scheme give to the boy of fifteen 

years all of knowledge and of culture that should 
be acquired at that age ? 

Pages 192 to 224. 

52. How can the right self-love be kept distinct in the 

training of children from the evil self-love ? 

53. Can love of self be used as a basis of benevolence 

in the mind of a child ? 

54. How may the developing boy or girl be best guarded 

from the effects of evil imagination ? 

55. Is the thought that any given suffering may come 

to himself necessary to the awakening of pity for 
a sufferer ? 

56. Will all right feelings arise spontaneously in the 

heart of the child, or must there be direct effort 
to call them forth ? 

57. Can the author's distinction between man as indi- 

vidually good and man in society as evil be main- 
tained ? 

58. Is history a better field for the study of human na- 

ture than is current experience ? 

59. How may tables be most successfully made use of 

in the moral instruction of youth ? 


Pages 224 to 258. 

60. How is a youth best taught to be in sympathy with 

humanity ? 

61. Should the apparent tendency of many boys to little 

acts of cruelty toward the lower animals be dealt 
with as an acquired or as a natural trait ? 

62. Is it possible to acquire all the good lessons of ex- 

perience in social relations without any of the 
evil ? 

63. If all thought of God and of religion be kept from 

the child and the youth, can the man acquire a 
truer conception of divine things? 

64. Is the young man who has been restrained through 

ignorance more likely to be controlled by intelli- 
gence when the ignorance can be no longer main- 
tained ? 

65. Can the " child of twelve years who knows nothing " 

be well instructed at the age of fifteen ? 

66. Is the young man at twenty likely to become more 

" amiable and polished " in society because of not 
having any early contact with social requirements 
and customs ? 

67. How much of Rousseau's scheme of education and 

training commends itself as practicable? 

68. What would be the marked weaknesses or faults in 

a youth trained as this work suggests ? 

Pages 259 to 308. 

69. Is it in any sense true that while the perfect man 

should be active and strong, the perfect woman 
should be passive and weak ? 


70. Within the limits of school life is there any right 

education for the young man that is not right edu- 
cation also for the young woman ? 

71. Do the boy's love of noisy toys and the girl's love 

of dolls and ornament mark a natural or an ac- 
quired difference in their tendencies ? 

72. Is restraint, leading up to self-control, more impor- 

tant in the training of a girl than in the training 
of a boy ? 

73. Do women differ from men in the scope and power 

of the reasoning faculty ? 

74. Is marriage an end in life to be more definitely 

sought and prepared for by the young woman than 
by the young man ? 

75. What is your final judgment of Rousseau's scheme 

for the education of Emile ? 



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