1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Roucher, Jean Antoine

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ROUCHER, JEAN ANTOINE (1745-1794), French poet, the son of a tailor of Montpellier, was born on the 22nd of February 1745. By an epithalamium on Louis XVI. and Marie Antoinette he gained the favour of Turgot, and obtained a salt-tax collector ship. His poem was entitled Les Mais; it appeared in 1779, was praised in MS., damned in print and restored to a just appreciation by the students of literature of the 19th century. It has the drawbacks of merely didactic descriptive poetry on the great scale, but occasionally displays much grace and spirit. The malicious wit of Rivarol's mot on the ill-success of the poem, “ C'est le plus beau naufrage du siecle,” is not intelligible unless it is said that one of the most elaborate passages describes a shipwreck. Roucher was a disciple of Voltaire, and therefore a friend of the Revolution, but he remained moderate in his opinions. He frequently presided over an anti-Jacobin club, and denounced the tyranny of the popular demagogues in supplements published with the Journal de Paris in 1792. He was arrested on the 4th of October 1793, and, accused of being the leader of a conspiracy among the prisoners at Saint Lazare, was sent to the guillotine on the same tumbril with his friend André Chénier on the 25th of July 1794. Roucher translated in 1790 Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations. His letters from prison were edited by his son-in-law under the title of Consolations de ma captivité (1797), and his death was made the subject of a tragedy in 1834 by his brother Claude Roucher-Deratte, a voluminous writer.

See A. Guillois, Pendant la terreur, la poète Roucher, 1745–1794 (1890), founded on the poet's papers by one of his descendants.