S. Austin Allibone, comp. Prose Quotations from Socrates to Macaulay. 1880.
Jean Jacques Rousseau
I will confess that the majesty of the Scriptures strikes me with admiration, as the purity of the gospel has its influence on my heart. Peruse the works of our philosophers, with all their pomp of diction: how contemptible are they, compared with the Scriptures! Is it possible that a book at once so simple and so sublime should be merely the work of man? Is it possible that the sacred personage whose name it records should be himself a mere man? What sweetness, what purity, in his manner! What sublimity in his maxims! What profound wisdom in his discourses! Where is the man, where the philosopher, who could so live and so die without weakness and without ostentation? If the life and death of Socrates were those of a sage, the life and death of Jesus were those of a God.
When my reason is afloat, my faith cannot long remain in suspense, and I believe in God as firmly as in any other truth whatever: in short, a thousand motives draw me to the consolatory side, and add the weight of hope to the equilibrium of reason.
In my opinion, idleness is no less the pest of society, than of solitude. Nothing contracts the mind, nothing engenders trifles, tales, backbiting, slander, and falsities, so much as being shut up in a room, opposite each other, and reduced to no other occupation than the necessity of continual chattering. When all are employed, they speak only when they have something to say; but if you are doing nothing, you must absolutely talk incessantly, which of all constraints is the most troublesome and the most dangerous. I dare go even further, and maintain, that to render a circle truly agreeable, every one must be not only doing something, but something which requires a little attention.
I now found myself, in the decline of life, a prey to tormenting maladies, and believing myself at the close of my career without having once tasted the sublime pleasures after which my heart panted. Why was it that, with a soul naturally expansive, whose very existence was benevolence, I have never found one single friend with feelings like my own? A prey to the cravings of a heart which have never been satisfied, I perceived myself arrived at the confines of old age, and dying ere I had begun to live. I considered destiny as in my debt for promises which she had never realized. Why was I created with faculties so refined yet which were never intended to be adequately employed? I felt my own value, and revenged myself of my fate by recollecting and shedding tears for its injustice.
Jean Jacques Rousseau: Confessions, Pt. II., Book ix.