Skip to main content Accessibility help
  • Print publication year: 1993
  • Online publication date: January 2010

7 - Comte's Efforts to Establish Himself


I have no friends at all around me, nobody but indifferent or almost [indifferent] persons. Many people take a great interest in my head … but no one takes a true interest in my heart, where in intimate relations such sweet compensation is found for deep inner pains, pains of which I have a good number, especially right now.

Comte, 1824


Disappointed by many of his friends, Comte decided in July 1824 to marry Caroline Massin, the woman with whom he had been living since early February. He later lamented that this was the “sole irreparable mistake” of his life. The question, then, is, Who was she and why did he marry her?

Throughout his life, Comte tried to keep the background of his wife a mystery, even portraying her as a young widow. Yet the year before he died, he wrote a five-page description of their relationship, which he sealed in an envelope and called the “Secret Addition” to his testament. It was to be opened by his executors at his death.

In this “Secret Addition,” Comte described his wife's background and the circumstances surrounding their meeting. He explained that on May 3, 1821, he took advantage of a public holiday to wander about his neighborhood.