(b. Paris, France. 11 June 1632; d. Paris, 19 April 1707)
history of science
The son of a counsel to the Parlement of Paris, Gallois seems to have distinguished himself in that city around 1664 by the breadth of his learning, by his knowledge of Hebrew and of both living and classical languages, by his interest in the sciences, and by a genuine literary talent. Today his name is associated with the famous Journal des sçavans. He collaborated with its founder, Denys de Sallo, from January to April 1665, during the brief period in which the new publication provoked the violent polemics that led to its suspension; and it was to him that Colbert assigned its resumption. Gallois made the periodical a success, publishing forty-two issues as sole editor, beginning in 1666. The Académic Royale des Sciences, established that year, found a vehicle of expression in the Journal; yet, despite its support, the number of issues published decreased to sixteen in 1667 and to thirteen in 1668. Named a member of the Academy in 1667, Gallois temporarily assumed the duties of the perpetual secretary, Jean Baptiste Duhamel, who was on a diplomatic mission to England. The Journal des sçavans continued to appear under Gallois’s editorship, but with steadily decreasing frequency.
Gallois entered the Académic Française in 1673 and in 1675 turned over the editorship of the Journal to the Abbé Jean-Paul de La Roque, although he became involved with the Journal again in 1684. Meanwhile, the death of his patron Colbert had led him to seek the position of custodian of the Royal Library. A few years later he was appointed professor of Greek at the Collège Royal. His name is mentioned in conjunction with various publications planned by the Académic Royale des Sciences, especially in 1692–1693. Starting in this period Gallois became an opponent of the introduction of infinitesimal methods in mathematics.
With the reorganization of the Acadèmie Royale des Sciences in 1699 Gallois was made pensionary geometer with Michel Rolle and Pierre Varignon. He stated his intention of publishing a critical translation of Pappus, but nothing came of this project. Instead, he stimulated the quarrel between his two colleagues concerning differential calculus and impeded its settlement until 1706.
Despite this negative attitude, the consequences of which might have been disastrous, Gallois deserves recognition by historians of science for his activities as a publicist. Although he wrote somewhat fancifully and with little concern for coherence, he was of service in his time as a disseminator of ideas and his work is still valuable as an historical source.
I. Original Works. Gallois’s translations and other works include Traduction latine du traité de paix des Pyrénées (Paris, 1659); Breviarum Colbertinum (Paris, 1679); “Extrait du livre intitulé: Observations physiques et mathématiques envoyées des Indes et de la Chine . . . par les P. P. Jésuites . . . à Paris . . . par l’abbé Galloys,” in Mémories de mathématiques et de physique tirés des registres de l’Académie royale des sciences (31 July 1692), pp. 113-120;, “Extrait d’un écrit composé par Dom François Quesnet, religieux bénédictin, et envoyé à l’Académie royale des sciences, ibid. (30 Apr. 1693),pp. 49–64; and “Réponse à l’ècrit de David Gregory touchant les lignes appelàes Robervalliennes qui servent à transformer les figures,” in Mémoirés de l’Académie royale des sciences pour l’année 1703 (paris, 1705), pp. 70-77.
Many accounts of sessions are in the MS registers of Procés-verbaux des séances de l’Académire royale des sciences (1688–1699), Passim, Correspondence with Leibniz is Hannover, LBr 295, 35 fol.
II. Secondary Liteature. See Denis-François Camusat, Histoire critique des journaux (Amsterdam, 1734), pp. 214-310; Bernard de Fontenelle,: “Éloge de M’r l’abbé Gallois, “Histoire et mémories de l’Académie royale des sciences pour l’année 1707; and “Bibliographie de Jean Galloys, “in Histoire de l’académie royale des sciences depuis 1666 jusqu’à son renouvellement en 1699, II (paris, 1733), p.360.