Madame d Epinay, how she is remembered in history, was a lady who hosted a salon in the 18th century with famous artists and writers of the époque. Rousseau was one of the writers and since 1748 they began a long friendship. Madame, the salonniere, offered him a place on her property, called L Hermitage, where he wrote Julie, ou la nouvelle Heloise.
No matter how scholars have tried to reinterpret the scandal between the two figures, we know the two friends had a row after the wealthy patron had asked him to accompany her when ill, on her journey, and he refused to be a postchaise...which led to the separaration. Ingratitude? Irreverence? Indulgence?
As it happens, Rousseau s words about his former protector remain written for the eternity:
”Her conversation, though agreeable enough in mixed company, was uninteresting in private... I was happy to show her little attentions, and gave her little fraternal kisses, which seemed not to be more sensual than herself.... She was very thin, very pale, and had a bosom like the back of her hand. This defect alone would have been sufficient to moderate my most ardent desires.”