plicity, and disinterested devotion tongreat principles; and … his virtuousncharacter and impressive personalitynlent authority to his writings.” Recently,nthis line of reasoning was carried tonits reductio ad absurdum by ChristophernKelly in Rousseau’s ExemplarynLife (1987). Although MacDonald’snsources for the empirical facts of thatnlife were severely limited, she claimednthat all scholars who deal with thenbiographical facts and writings, andnavoid the pejorative myths, admirenRousseau, and that only those whonignore or despise historical facts calumniatenhim and his philosophy, and castnboth to the dogs.nMaurice Cranston’s biography, utilizingnmanuscript sources far beyondnthose employed by MacDonald andnother biographers, is perhaps best perceivednas a judicious, prudent, empiricallynobjective, and thoroughly poisednscholarly work in the long traditionnbegun by MacDonald of rehabilitatingnRousseau. His first volume, Jean-nJacques: The Early Life and Work ofnJean-Jacques Rousseau (1983), coverednthe formative years of his subject’snlife up to age 42, from 1712 to 1754. Itnwas almost universally acclaimed as annoutstanding achievement in biography,nparticularly for its perceptive insightsninto Rousseau’s life and in its judiciousnbut brief treatment of such eady importantnworks as Discours sur les sciencesnet les arts and Discours surnI’origine et les fondements denI’inegalite. Cranston based his work onnthe magnificent edition of Rousseau’sncorrespondence, edited by the late ProfessornRalph Leigh, and on originalnmanuscript sources in Geneva, Neuchatel,nParis, Savoy, Turin, Oxford,nand many other research centers. Hisnstated objective was to reverse the habitnof writing biographies of Rousseaunbased upon published books andn”printed folklore.” His basic methodnwas to deal as completely as possiblenexclusively with empirical and’ historicalnfacts, to be wholly descriptive, andnto omit emotive responses and normativenmoral or intellectual judgmentsnregarding Rousseau’s character, temperament,nphilosophy, and historicalnsignificance by setting forth the evidencenin a straightforward chronologicalnmanner. To this end he correlatednthe facts of his subject’s life and worksnwith the account presented in thenConfessions, noting where Rousseau’snstatements were confirmed, qualified,nor contradicted.nCranston extends his “Lockean biography”nin volume two, and utilizesnthe same manuscript sources and neutralnempirical method so evident in thenfirst volume. He covers the vital yearsn1754-1762, when Rousseau wrote andnpublished such important works as Lettrena m. d’Alernbert, Julie ou La nouvellenHeloise, Emile, and Contrat social.nCranston’s empirical approach tonRousseau’s life and works has the greatnvirtues, and also the inevitable limitations,nof all positivist descriptive scholarshipnin the humanities.nIts greatest strength lies in the firmnfoundation of its concrete historicalnfacts. Perhaps its chief negative merit isnthat it almost wholly avoids every kindnof subjective, doctrinaire, or ideologicalnbasis, theory, or interpretation for ornagainst Rousseau. Judgments are left upnto each reader. Cranston is about as farnremoved as any biographer can be fromnthe solipsistic anarchy of a reductionistnaccount of Rousseau’s life and philosophy.nBeyond noting some intellectualninconsistencies, he refuses to pass judgmentnon Rousseau, so that although hencleariy admires much about Rousseau,nhis subject is pictured largely withoutnblame or praise. Cranston is too carefulna scholar to make imprudently dubiousncorrelations between Rousseau’s autobiographynand his politics, so that unlikenChristopher Kelly’s Rousseau’s ExemplarynLife he avoids the crude error ofnreading Rousseau’s Confessions as politicalntheory or practice. The wholenspirit of his study differs in every waynboth from past pejorative scholarlyncommentaries and from the eulogisticnencomium that characterizes Kelly’snbiographical-political panegyric.nOnly once does Cranston digressnsignificantly from his empirical-descriptivenmethod. The great knowledge,nunderstanding, and skills he acquirednduring his long career as andistinguished teacher of political philosophynat the London School of Economicsnand elsewhere are very evidentnin the chapter “Two Social Contracts,”nwhere in some detail he analyzesnRousseau’s Social Contract. He comparesnRousseau and Hobbes for similaritiesnand differences regarding thenfictional precivil “state of nature,” thennnhypothetical primitive state from whichnmen supposedly formed the originaln”social contract.” As compared to thensocial compacts of the Old Testamentnin the Decalogue and the covenant ofn1620 of the Puritan colonists of NewnEngland, Cranston writes: “Rousseau’snsocial contracts are less specificallynhistorical events.” In truth,nRousseau’s social contracts are not historicalnat all, but purely speculativenfictions. Rousseau himself admittednthat men know nothing of the state ofnnature, not even whether such a statenever existed. He then proceeds to arguenas though it had an actual historicalnexistence, and Cranston, like all scholarsnfavorably disposed to Rousseau,ngives serious credence to his hypotheticalnpremises and endows the precivilnstate of nature with historical significance.nIn contrast, Edmund Burkenrefused to accept Rousseau’s fiction asna historical fact, or even as a metaphoricalnhypothesis, and held that it isnnecessary to draw a veil over the unknownnprehistorical origins of government.nBurke held that it is preposterousnto ignore totally the known actualnhistory and culture of Europe, fromnthe ancient classical world of Greecenand Rome, and what he called “thenChristian commonwealth of Europe,”nand to substitute for the empirical factsnof known history the purely imaginary,nspeculative fictions of Hobbes, Locke,nand Rousseau.nAs Orestes Brownson noted in 1865nin The American Republic, it is annempirical fact that no nation ever cameninto existence out of a social contractnformed by men living in a state ofnnature. All such social contract theories,nBrownson argued, are false tonhistorical fact, false to human nature,nand therefore false to any valid politicalnphilosophy. The precivil “state of nature”nis best dismissed as a wild figmentnof speculative imagination, a mere fictionalnabstraction that has no existencenin the world of reality. The total historicalninheritance of Western civilization,nand not any ideological speculativentheory, was the only safe and sanensource for political and social philosophy.nCranston admits that there is non”instinct” in human nature to form ornsupport Rousseau’s supposed socialncontract. Rousseau’s own belief in thenradical, self-contained individualism ofnAPRIL 1992/29n