Rousseau, Jean Jacques (17121778)

Rousseau, Jean Jacques, a celebrated French philosopher, and one or the great prose writers of French literature, born in Geneva, the son of a watchmaker and dancing-master; was apprenticed to an engraver, whose inhuman treatment drove him at the age of 16 into running away; for three years led a vagrant life, acting as footman, lackey, secretary, &c.; during this period was converted to Catholicism largely through the efforts of Madame de Warens, a spritely married lady living apart from her husband; in 1731 he took up residence in his patroness's house, where he lived for nine years a life of ease and sentiment in the ambiguous capacity of general factotum, and subsequently of lover; supplanted in the affections of his mistress, he took himself off, and landed in Paris in 1741; supported himself by music-copying, an occupation which was his steadiest means of livelihood throughout his troubled career; formed a liaison with an illiterate dull servant-girl by whom he had five children, all of whom he callously handed over to the foundling hospital; acquaintance with Diderot brought him work on the famous Encyclopédie, but the true foundation of his literary fame was laid in 1749 by “A Discourse on Arts and Sciences,” in which he audaciously negatives the theory that morality has been favoured by the progress of science and the arts; followed this up in 1753 by a “Discourse on the Origin of Inequality,” in which he makes a wholesale attack upon the cherished institutions and ideals of society; morosely rejected the flattering advances of society, and from his retreat at Montlouis issued “The New Héloïse” (1760), “The Social Contract” (1762), and “Émile” (1762); these lifted him into the widest fame, but precipitated upon him the enmity and persecution of Church (for his Deism) and State; fled to Switzerland, where after his aggressive “Letters from the Mountains,” he wandered about, the victim of his own suspicious, hypochondriacal nature; found for some time a retreat in Staffordshire under the patronage of Hume; returned to France, where his only persecutors were his own morbid hallucinations; died, not without suspicion of suicide, at Ermenonville; his “Confessions” and other autobiographical writings, although unreliable in facts, reflect his strange and wayward personality with wonderful truth; was one of the precursive influences which brought on the revolutionary movement (17121778).

Definition taken from The Nuttall Encyclopædia, edited by the Reverend James Wood (1907)

Rousseau, Jean Baptiste * Rousseau, Pierre Étienne Théodore
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Round Table, The
Round Towers
Rous, Francis
Rousseau, Jean Baptiste
Rousseau, Jean Jacques
Rousseau, Pierre Étienne Théodore
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Rowe, Nicholas
Rowlandson, Thomas
Rowley Regis
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Royal Academy of Arts
Royal Society of Edinburgh, The