Historical Period: The 18th Century
Jean-Francois Melon was born in 1675 into a judicial family and became a lawyer attached to the Parlement of Bordeaux. He came to be associated with the literary elite of the city and suggested the establishment of a literary circle. Under the protection of the Duke of La Force, that circle became a formal provincial academy in September 1712, with Melon as its secretary. Melon worked for La Force during the Regency and subsequently with the Guardian of the Seal d’Argenson, as well as with Cardinal Dubois, John Law, and the Duke of Orléans, whom he served as secretary and general financial adviser. According to Voltaire, it was Melon who persuaded the regent to recall Law from Venice to direct the administration’s finances. Melon died in Paris in 1738. The only historically important work, Essai politique sur le commerce (1734), was refuted by Dutot but praised by Voltaire in the midst of the latter’s polemic over the "Mondain".