Rousseau's Confessions was the favourite book of both (as it was of Emerson), but George Eliot was never converted by the high priest of sentimentalism into a belief in human perfectibility and a return to nature.
The tawdry and exaggerated rhetoric; the petty vanity and jealousies; the weak sentimentalism; the utter incapacity for proportioning means to ends, and for grasping the stern realities of things, which so commonly disfigure the lives and conduct even of the more honest members of his class, were wholly alien to his nature.
But he does not follow his idea into the details of human duty, though he passes in review fatalism, mysticism, pantheism, scepticism, egotism, sentimentalism and rationalism.
He availed himself of the reviving interest in legitimism and Catholicism which was represented by Bonald and Joseph de Maistre, of the nature worship of Rousseau and Bernardin de Saint Pierre, of the sentimentalism of Madame de Stael, of the medievalism and the romance of Chateaubriand and Scott, of the maladie du siecle of Chateaubriand and Byron.
Clothe the bad law in nice language and people will accept it.
But he early taught his son to read, and seems to have laid the foundation of the flighty sentimentalism in morals and politics which Rousseau afterwards illustrated with his genius.
Severe English moralists like Johnson thought but ill of him, but the public generally was not unwilling to testify against French intolerance, and regarded his sentimentalism with favour.
In religion Rousseau was undoubtedly what he has been called above - a sentimental deist; but no one who reads him with the smallest attention can fail to see that sentimentalism was the essence, deism the accident of his creed.
These books do not display the apocalyptic style which, partly borrowed from Lamennais, characterizes Michelet's later works, but they contain in miniature almost the whole of his curious ethicopolitico-theological creed - a mixture of sentimentalism, communism, and anti-sacerdotalism, supported by the most eccentric arguments, but urged with a great deal of eloquence.
But their attitude towards the "way out" (a-ycory7 1 7) of incurable discomforts is quite unlike the anxious sentimentalism with which Seneca dwells upon death.
The fact is that amid the analysis of feelings aroused by the sentimentalism of Shaftesbury's school, the fundamental questions " What is right ?