JACQUES ROUSSEAU (1630-1693), French painter, a member of a Huguenot family, was born at Paris in 1630.
But it is as a literary man pure and simple - that is to say, as an exponent rather than as an originator of ideas - that Rousseau is most noteworthy, and that he has exercised most influence.
He was lionized in London to his heart's content and discontent, for it may truly be said of Rousseau that he was equally indignant at neglect and intolerant of attention.
We learn that Luther had a hot temper and said such and such things; we learn that Rousseau was suspicious and wrote such and such books; but we do not learn why after the Reformation the peoples massacred one another, nor why during the French Revolution they guillotined one another.
The infant was entrusted to the wife of a glazier named Rousseau who lived close by.
She has all the abandon of an Italian improvisatore, the simplicity of a Bernardin de St Pierre without his mawkishness, the sentimentality of a Rousseau without his egotism, the rhythmic eloquence of a Chateaubriand without his grandiloquence.
In religion Rousseau was undoubtedly what he has been called above - a sentimental deist; but no one who reads him with the smallest attention can fail to see that sentimentalism was the essence, deism the accident of his creed.
At any rate, Rousseau quitted the Hermitage in the winter of 1757-58, and established himself at Montlouis in the neighbourhood.
There is little doubt that for the last ten or fifteen years of his life, if, not from the time of his quarrel with Diderot and Madame d'Epinay, Rousseau was not wholly sane - the combined influence of late and unexpected literary fame and of constant solitude and discomfort acting upon his excitable temperament so as to overthrow the balance, never very stable, of his fine and acute but unrobust intellect.
Here and there Fenelon carries his philanthropy to lengths curiously prophetic of the age of Rousseau - fervid denunciation of war, belief in nature and fraternity of nations.