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Charles Rollin

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Born in Paris, 1661; died there, 1741. The son of a cutler, intended to follow his father's trade, he was remarkable for the piety with which he served Mass and which secured for him a collegiate scholarship. He studied theology and received the tonsure, but not Holy Orders. He was assistant professor, and then professor of rhetoric at the Collège de Plessis; of Latin eloquence at the Collège Royal (1688), and at the age of thirty-three was appointed rector of the university. In 1696 he became principal of the Collège de Beauvais, from which post he was dismissed in 1722 because of his opposition to the Bull "Unigenitus". He was a member of the Academy of Inscriptions from 1701. His works were written during his retirement. He was nearly sixty when he began the "Traité des Etudes", sixty-seven when he undertook his "Histoire Ancienne", seventy-seven when he became engaged on his "Histoire Romaine", which death prevented him from finishing. The "Traité des Etudes" (in 12°, 1726-31) explains the method of teaching and studying belles-lettres; it contains ideas which seem hackneyed, but which then were fairly new, e.g. the necessity of studying national history and of making use of school-books written in the vernacular. The "Histoire Ancienne" (1730-38) consists of twelve volumes in 12°. The "Histoire Romaine", of which he was able to finish only five volumes out of the nine composing the work, displays facility, interest, enthusiasm, but lack of a critical spirit. Rollin was a talented writer, though according to his own statement he was sixty years old when he decided to write in French. He was upright and serene, a pious and sincere Christian, whom it is deplorable to find concerned in the ridiculous scenes at the cemetery of St. Médard near the tomb of the deacon Paris. Without the annoyances due to his Jansenism, his pure conscience, sweet gaiety, vigorous health, and the esteem he enjoyed should have made him one of the most fortunate men of his times.

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