Inventory (Rousseau’s Herbarium)

Jean-Jacques Rousseau Page d'un herbier. Musée Carnavalet.Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

"I set out to compose," writes Rousseau in the "Fifth Walk", "a Flora Petrinsularis and to describe every single plant on the island in enough detail to keep me busy for the rest of my days. They say a German once wrote a book about a lemon peel; I could have written one about every grass in the meadows, every moss in the woods, every lichen covering the rocks – and I did not want to leave even one blade of grass or atom of vegetation without a full and detailed description. In accordance with this noble plan, every morning after breakfast I would set out with a magnifying glass in my hand and my Systema Naturae under my arm to study one particular section of the island, which I had divided for this purpose into small squares, intending to visit them all one after another in every season."

J.J. Rousseau in W.G Sebald, A place in the country, 62-3