Jacques Mallet du Pan
Jacques Mallet du Pan
Of an old Huguenot family, Mallet du Pan was born near Geneva, the son of a Protestant minister. He was educated at Geneva, and through the influence of Voltaire obtained a professorship at Cassel. He soon, however, resigned this post, and going to London joined HSN Linguet in the production of his Annales politiques (1778-1780). During Linguet's imprisonment in the Bastille Mallet du Pan continued the Annales by himself (1781-1783); but Linguet resented this on his release, and Mallet du Pan changed the title of his own publication to Mémoires historiques (1783).
From 1783 he incorporated this work with the Mercure de France in Paris, the political direction of which had been placed in his hands. On the outbreak of the French Revolution he sided with the Royalists, and was sent on a mission (1791-1792) by Louis XVI to Frankfurt to try and secure the sympathy and intervention of the German princes. From Germany he travelled to Switzerland and from Switzerland to Brussels in the Royalist interest.
He published a number of anti-revolutionary pamphlets, and a violent attack on Bonaparte and the Directory resulted in his being exiled in 1797 to Berne. In 1798 he came to London, where he founded the Mercure britannique. He died at Richmond, Surrey, on 10 May 1800, his widow being pensioned by the British government. Mallet du Pan has a place in history as a pioneer of modern political journalism. In 1771, at a time of mounting opposition to the oligarchic rule of the upper class, he wrote what was considered by the ruling council in Geneva to be an inflammatory pamphlet entitled "Compte rendu de la défense des citoyens bourgeois." It was condemned by the Council and burnt in the main square.
His son Jean Louis Mallet (John Lewis Mallet) (1775-1861) spent a useful life in the English civil service, becoming secretary of the Board of Audit (the Audit Office). Mallet's grandson, Sir Louis Mallet (1823-1890), also entered the civil service in the Board of Trade and rose to be a distinguished economist and a member of the Council of India.
Mallet du Pan's Mémoires et correspondance was edited by A. Sayous (Paris, 1851). See also Mallet du Pan and the French Revolution (1902) by Bernard Mallet, son of Sir Louis Mallet, author also of a biography of his father (1900).
He is known for coining the adage "like Saturn, the Revolution devours its children," which originally appeared as "A l'exemple de Saturne, la révolution dévore ses enfants" in his widely circulated 1793 essay Considérations sur la nature de la Révolution de France, et sur les causes qui en prolongent la durée. Translated into English at the time, the essay is known to have been read by and influenced William Pitt's views.
- Deborah Kennedy (2002). Helen Maria Williams and the Age of Revolution. Bucknell University Press. p. 113. ISBN 978-0-8387-5511-2.
- Sir Bernard Mallet (1902). Mallet du Pan and the French revolution. Longmans, Green. p. 164.
- Jacques Mallet du Pan (1793). Considerations sur la nature de la revolution de France. p. 80.
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Mallet du Pan, Jacques". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.