This article counters the Burkean legacy of contempt and distaste that has dominated recent critical discussions of Rousseau's British reception with an analysis of the incredible response of men to Jean‐Jacques Rousseau and his literary and literal remains. Intertwining the man of feeling with the man of virtuous action, writing with the private self, Rousseau put forward models of self‐representation that were accommodating to the ordinary man, searching for an accessible hero. Coupled with the democratization and domestication of the hero‐figure in the later eighteenth century came the desire for propinquity, if not to the worshipped idol, then with his or her accoutrements. While the Grand Tourists brought back classical works of art, the alternative traveller sought for private objects with a more recent history. This article examines the growth of an industry dealing in objects revered with a startling religiosity by the fervent British admirers of Jean‐Jacques, only too eager effectively to own part of their hero in order to be continually inspired by his genius, and, for some, hopefully, to profit from his fame. After revolution, regicide, Terror and war, ordinary readers remained loyal to and intrigued by Jean‐Jacques. Far from rejecting Jean‐Jacques Rousseau, British men sought him out, embracing his doctrines. Persistently, and in spite of detractors like Burke, Rousseau remained.
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