Page:Studies of a Biographer 4.djvu/284

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STUDIES OF A BIOGRAPHER

transplant the British Constitution bodily. In literature, Rousseau was attracted by a style which was breaking with the old conventions, and was admired for its frank utterance of common sentiments and freedom in dealing with common objects and simple human emotions. He loved the 'individualism' which meant an expression of a man's natural feelings without deference to pretentious authority. But in politics, Anglomania turned out to be an impossible compromise; and, in literature, the new spirit introduced by Rousseau came into alliance with a radical revolt against the old order. Cowper in England impressed his sentimentalism in terms of Evangelical religion; but Rousseau made a religion out of the rights of man.

If this be true, as, at least, it is tolerably commonplace, we must surely modify the statement of Rousseau's influence. Clearly he learnt something from England, but what he learnt was mainly encouragement to express more directly sentiments which he had learnt from nobody outside of himself. We might rather say that he assimilated just what was cosmopolitan in the English movement, and rejected whatever was really national. A curious illustration of the same