1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Servan, Joseph Michel Antoine

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SERVAN, JOSEPH MICHEL ANTOINE (1737-1807), French publicist, was born at Romans (Dauphiné) on the 3rd of November 1737. After studying law he was appointed avocat-général at the parlement of Grenoble at the age of twenty-seven. In his Discours sur la justice criminelle (1766) he made an eloquent protest against legal abuses and the severity of the criminal code. In 1767 he gained great repute by his defence of a Protestant woman who, as a result of the revocation of the Edict of Nantes, had been abandoned by her Catholic husband. In 1772, however, on the parlement refusing to accede to his request that a present made by a grand seigneur to a singer should be annulled on the ground of immorality, he resigned, and went into retirement. He excused himself on the score of ill-health from sitting in the States General of 1789, to which he had been elected deputy, and refused to take his seat in the Corps Législatif under the Empire. Among his writings may be mentioned Réflexions sur les Confessions de J.-J. Rousseau (1783) and Essai sur la formation des assemblées nationales, provinciales, et municipales (1789). His Œuvres choisies and Œuvres inédites have been published by De Portets. His brother Joseph Servan de Gerbey (1741-1808) was war minister in the Girondist ministry of 1792.

See “Lettres inédites de Servan,” in Souvenirs et mémoires (vol. iv., Paris, 1900).