Jacques Parrain

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Author and translator Jacques Parrain, Baron of Coutures, first embarked upon a military career, but later dedicated his life to literature and philosophy. He published various works, like for example La Morale d’Epicure (1686). One of his correspondents was Pierre Bayle. See: Houber, 1852–66, vol. 12, pp. 291–2.

From the correspondence of the Huguenot Pierre Bayle it becomes evident that indeed some foreign ‘inquisitive spirits’ had made a serious effort to go meet Spinoza to discuss with him matters philosophical. That can be particularly gathered from a letter of Parrain sent to Bayle in the summer of 1688. Among many other issues, Parrain tells his correspondent that he feels flattered to hear from Bayle he had been delighted to make the acquaintance of ‘mademoiselle de Blessebois’ (the intermediary of Parrain’s letter) and that he showed her around to see the ‘beauties’ of Rotterdam. I for myself, writes Parrain, admired the city when I was travelling in Holland and visited Spinoza:

I feel flattered that I did you a pleasure to have you make her [Blessebois] acquaintance and that you have had her see the beauties of your city which I much enjoyed an another occasion when I was going to Holland to see the learned Spinoza.

Source: Bayle, 1999–…, vol. 7, p. XXX, no. 717.

It is unknown whether Parrain did indeed visit Spinoza. If his claim is historically authentic, it is also uncertain when their rendezvous exactly took place or what the purpose of the visit was. If they met each other, Parrain probably had a rendezvous with the philosopher in The Hague when serving as a soldier in the Sun King’s army during the Franco-Dutch war.


Benedictus Spinoza, de


Pierre Bayle