Rousseau continued his interest in music. He wrote both the words and music of his opera Le devin du village ( The Village Soothsayer ), which was performed for King Louis XV in 1752. The king was so pleased by the work that he offered Rousseau a lifelong pension. To the exasperation of his friends, Rousseau turned down the great honor, bringing him notoriety as "the man who had refused a king's pension". He also turned down several other advantageous offers, sometimes with a brusqueness bordering on truculence that gave offense and caused him problems. The same year, the visit of a troupe of Italian musicians to Paris, and their performance of Giovanni Battista Pergolesi 's La serva padrona , prompted the Querelle des Bouffons , which pitted protagonists of French music against supporters of the Italian style. Rousseau as noted above, was an enthusiastic supporter of the Italians against Jean-Philippe Rameau and others, making an important contribution with his Letter on French Music .
He does, however, have a penchant for talking about the soul of man, about the importance of language, and social equality. Given Shaw's socialist leanings (he was a member of the British socialist group, The Fabian Society , and wrote on and debated various social issues— learn more here ) it's hard to dismiss everything Higgins says as meaningless claptrap.
Higgins's fervor can get him into trouble, however. He spends so much time "inventing new Elizas" with Pickering that he seems to sometimes forget that she's a human being (). He forgets to congratulate her for her bet-winning performance. He gets so angry he nearly hurts her, and he ultimately puts her into a very tricky position.
Talking all this into consideration, it's hard to pass judgment on Higgins. He's always likeable, sure. He's the play's voice of reason, the preacher and poet, but he's also a slovenly, absent-minded troublemaker. He is the engine that drives the play. He's not Mr. Perfect, but he has heart.