Mauprat eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 457 pages of information about Mauprat.

Before putting my actor Patience on the stage, and with many apologies for inflicting on you such a long preliminary biography, I have still to mention that during the twenty years of which I have spoken the cure’s mind had bowed to a new power.  He loved philosophy, and in spite of himself, dear man, could not prevent this love from embracing the philosophers too, even the least orthodox.  The works of Jean Jacques Rousseau carried him away into new regions, in spite of all his efforts at resistance; and when one morning, when returning from a visit to some sick folk, he came across Patience gathering his dinner of herbs from the rocks of Crevant, he sat down near him on one of the druidical stones and made, without knowing it, the profession of faith of the Savoyard vicar.  Patience drank more willingly of this poetic religion than of the ancient orthodoxy.  The pleasure with which he listened to a summary of the new doctrines led the cure to arrange secret meetings with him in isolated parts of Varenne, where they agreed to come upon each other as if by chance.  At these mysterious interviews the imagination of Patience, fresh and ardent from long solitude, was fired with all the magic of the thoughts and hopes which were then fermenting in France, from the court of Versailles to the most uninhabitable heath.  He became enamoured of Jean Jacques, and made the cure read as much of him as he possibly could without neglecting his duties.  Then he begged a copy of the Contrat Social, and hastened to Gazeau Tower to spell his way through it feverishly.  At first the cure had given him of this manna only with a sparing hand, and while making him admire the lofty thoughts and noble sentiments of the philosopher, had thought to put him on his guard against the poison of anarchy.  But all the old learning, all the happy texts of bygone days—­in a word, all the theology of the worthy priest—­was swept away like a fragile bridge by the torrent of wild eloquence and ungovernable enthusiasm which Patience had accumulated in his desert.  The vicar had to give way and fall back terrified upon himself.  There he discovered that the shrine of his own science was everywhere cracking and crumbling to ruin.  The new sun which was rising on the political horizon and making havoc in so many minds, melted his own like a light snow under the first breath of spring.  The sublime enthusiasm of Patience; the strange poetic life of the man which seemed to reveal him as one inspired; the romantic turn which their mysterious relations were taking (the ignoble persecutions of the convent making it noble to revolt)—­all this so worked upon the priest that by 1770 he had already travelled far from Jansenism, and was vainly searching all the religious heresies for some spot on which he might rest before falling into the abyss of philosophy so often opened at his feet by Patience, so often hidden in vain by the exorcisms of Roman theology.


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Mauprat from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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