페이지 이미지
[ocr errors]

opera of “-Zenobia” for the great theatre of San Carlo, which was crowned with still greater success than his comic operas. In 1758, he composed “ Alessandro nell' Indie,"? for Rome; and after this, every theatre in Italy was eager to engage him. In 1760, his celebrated comic opera of the “ Buona Figliuolo” had a success that no musical drama could boast before. It was no sooner heard at Rome than copies were multiplied; and there was no musical theatre in Europe where this burletta was not frequently performed, in some language or other, during many years. In 1761, he composed six operas, three serious and three comic, for different theatres of Italy; and was at once applauded in Turin, Reggio, Bologna, Venice, Rome, and Naples. Sacchini assured us, in 1776, that Piccini had composed at least three hundred operas, thirteen of which were produced in seven months. On his arrival at Paris, he received many mortifications before his reputation was firmly established, from the partizans of the old French music, as well as the friends of Gluck. The success of his operas of “ Roland,” “ Atys,” “ Iphigénie en Tauride," < Adele de Ponthieu,” “Didon," " Diane et Endymion,” and " Penelope," seems to have solved a problem which was long thought insolvable: “Whether the French language was capable of receiving Italian melody ?" add to so many dramatic works the oratorios, masses, cantatas, and occasional songs and scenes in pasticcio operas, it would prove, that in twenty-five years he had produced more music, and good music, than any other ten masters had done in their whole lives.

What still more astonishes, in such innumerable works, is the prodigious variety which reigns in them all, and the science which never degenerates into pedantry or affectation; an harmony pure, clear, and profound; à melody perfectly suited to the subject and situation of the performers; and a force, an originality, and resources of all kinds, unknown till his time, and of which, perhaps, the secret will long remain undiscovered. And what appears as extraordinary as the rest is, that the genius of this master, far from being exhausted by so many labours, by frequent and severe sickness, by domestic disquietude and chagrin, inseparable from a numerous family, seemed, before the revolution, to continue in full force. Deprived of all his appointments and well-earned theatrical pensions, he returned to Napies; where, after he had established

If we

[ocr errors]


himself in France, all his appointments had been disposed of. On the arrival of a French army at Naples, he was supposed to be in correspondence with them, which occasioned his precipitate fight back to Paris, where he was received with open arms, and placed at the head of a new singing-school. He died at Passy, May 7, 1800.

PICCOLOMINI (ALEXANDER), archbishop of Patras, and coadjutor of Sienna, his native place, was born in 1508. His family was illustrious, and originally Roman, but settled afterwards at Sienna. He was a successful writer of the drama; but, though involved in that seducing pursuit, preserved the credit of exemplary morals, as well as genius. His general charity was extreme, but he was particularly considerate of the wants of literary men. His works are numerous, all written in Italian, which language he was the first author who applied to philosophical subjects. He died at Sienna on the 12th of March, 1578. The most distinguished of his works are these: 1. Several dramatic compositions, which formed the chief basis of his reputation. 2. “The Morality of Nobles," Venice, 1552, 8vo. 3. “A Treatise on the Sphere.” 4. "A Theory of the Planets." 5. “A Translation of the Rhetoric and Poetic of Aristotle," 4to. 6. “ The Institution of Morality,” Venice, 1575, 4to. Many of his works evince a profound knowledge of natural philosophy, mathematics, and divinity. One work attributed to him, “ Della bella Creanza della Donne," "On the Education of Ladies," printed in 1541, 1558, and 1574, has been valued because scarce, but is disgraced by many dangerous maxims, and must have been a production of his youth; during which, we are told, he was a correspondent of the infamous Peter Aretin.

PICCOLOMINI (FRANCIS), a learned man of the same family, was born in 1520, and having taught philosophy for twenty-two years in the most celebrated universities of Italy, retired to Sienna, where he died in 1604. He was so much respected, that the whole city put on mourning at his death, His works are less numerous than those of his relation, but they were esteemed in their day. They are, 1.“ Commentaries on Aristotle,” 4to, published at


* Burney, in Rees's Cyclopædia.--Dict. Hist. ---Notice sur la Vie, par Giņ. guené, in Brit. Crit. vol. XVIII. : Tiraboschi.-Niceron, vol. XXIII.-Bullart's Académie des Sciences,

[ocr errors]

Mayence in 1608. 2. “ Universa:Philosophia de Moribus,"? Venice, 1583, folio.'

PICTET (BENEDICT), a theologian and historian, born at Geneva in 1655, was of a distinguished family, and went through his studies with success. He travelled into Holland and England, and then became a professor of theology in his native city, with a considerable reputation. He was invited to Leyden, but refused to leave his own country. From excess of application to his duties, he fell into a languid state, and died on the 9th of June, 1724, at the age of 69. He was a Protestant, of a mild and tolerant disposition, and a father to the poor. His principal works are, 1. “ Theologia Christiana," 3 rols. 4to, the best edition of which is that of 1721. 2. “Christian Morality,” Geneva, 1710, 8 vols. 12mo; a very excellent work. 3. “The History of the 12th and 13th Centuries,” intended as a continuation of that of Le Sueur; but the supplementary work is more esteemed than the original, 2 vols. 4to. 4. “ Sermons.” 5. “ Letters." 6. “A Treatise against indifference in Religion," 1716, 12mo. 7. Many tracts of morality and piety, among which that on “ The Art of living and dying well," Geneva, 1716, in 12mo, is particularly esteemed. The subject is the same, and the title nearly the same, as one by our countryman Taylor. 8. Several controversial tracts.

PICUS (John), of Mirandula, considered as a prodigy of learning in his day, was the youngest child of John Francis Picus, prince of Mirandula and Concordia, by Julia, of the noble house of Boirado; and was born Feb. 24, 1463. His father dying early, his mother took great care of his education ; and the progress he made in letters was so extremely rapid, that his friends are said to have seen with astonishment a mere boy become one of the first poets and orators of his age. What contributed to this progress, besides intense application, was great vigour of intellect, and a memory so tenacious, as to let nothing be lost which he bad ever read or heard. At fourteen years of age, being designed for the church, he was sent to Bologna to study canon law; and though he was soon disgusted with a stady so little suited to his talents and fertile imagination, he acquired a knowledge of it sufficient to enable him to com


1 Gen. Dict.-Niceron, vol. XXIII.-Landi Hist. Lit. d'Italie. Tomasini Elogia.

2 Bibliotheque Germanique, vols. IX. and X.-Niceron, vol. I.


[ocr errors]

pose an abbreviated digest, or manual, of the pontifical letters, termed Decretals, in a manner that would have done credit to the most accomplished professor. Having afforded this proof of early capacity, on a subject so ungenial, he left Bologna, and visiting successively all the most celebrated schools and colleges of Italy and France, hae profited so well by what was taught there, or by what he learned in discussions with the eminent scholars and professors, that, before he had attained to manhood, he was universally recognized as a most consummate philosopher and divine.

During this early period be distinguished himself likewise as a poet, by his compositions both in the Latin and Italian languages, almost all wbich, however, as they were disapproved either by the nicety of his maturer judgment, or by the purity of his religious and moral feelings, at æ later period, he was induced to destroy. Many also of his letters, which are still extant, were written whilst he was yet very young; and from them proofs might be selected, tending greatly to support the high juvenile reputation of their author. We have, indeed, few other documents to ilustrate his literary career; and the little we know of his progress, during the seven years that he spent in visiting the universities, must be taken from them, as Mr. Gress well has done with great judgment. Among the acades mies where he passed the greater part of the above period, were those of Ferrara, Padua, Florence, and Perugia; and among the eminent scholars, with whom he entered into friendship and correspondence, were Guarinus, Marsilius Ficinus, Politian, and Nic. Leonicenus. When not engaged in any literary excursion, he spent his time at Fratta, a rural retreat in the neighbourhood of Mirandula. In 1482, he informs Leonicenus that he bad erected this villa, and bad written a poem in its praise. With the commencement of 1484, the literary career of Picus became more distinct and conspicuous: he was now approaching the age of manhood'; and went to Florence to perfect himself in the Greek Within a few months after his arrival here, he composed his well-known panegyrical criticism on the Italian poems of Lorenzo de Medici. It is drawn up in the form of a letter, and addressed to Lorenzo himself. With many remarks in the true spirit of criticism, there is, perhaps, rather too much of a courtly partiality to the productions of Lorenzo. While at Florence, we : fiad Picus employed in investigating the manuscripts of

ancient authors, both in Greek and Latin, of the value of which he was already enabled to form a just estimate. Indeed the mere discovery of them was a service of high importance at that time, when the invention of printing was forming a new æra in literature. He had now added to his correspondents Jerome Donatus, Hermolaus Barbarus, Philip Beroaldus, and Alexander Cortesius, the latter of whom seems to carry his admiration of Picus to the very borders of gross and extravagant flattery; which, however, a little moderated, was a distinguishing feature in the literary correspondence of that age.

Picus quitted Florence about the end of the year 1485, with a view to visit Perugia, and appears to have been employed, for some time, in adding to his other stores a knowledge of the oriental languages; stimulated, as he says, by the acquisition of certain oriental works, which he deemed of inestimable value, and which were thrown in his way, he adds, by the peculiar kindness of Providence. In a letter, written in Oct. 1486, to Andreas Corneus, another of his learned correspondents, he says : “I have, by assiduous and intense application, attained to the knowledge of the Hebrew and Chaldaic languages, and am at present struggling with the difficulties of the Arabic. Such are the achievements which I have ever thought, and still think, worthy the ambition of a nobleman : though the expression may contain as much satire as truth.” In this letter he gives a hint of his intended visit to Rome, which constitutes one of the most singular occurrences in his life.

-The love of fame (says his excellent biographer, whom wė principally follow in this sketch,) and a too ardent thirst for praise, have perhaps justly been imputed to Picus, as constituting his ruling passion (notwithstanding the modesty and diffidence with which he frequently speaks of his own talents and productions), especially if the charge be restricted to that period of his life, when maturer experience' and those religious impressions by which his latter years were more especially influenced, had not yet combined to rectify the errors of youth. Caressed, flattered, courted, extolled as a prodigy of erudition by the most distinguished scholars of his age, he was at the same time conscious of his own qualifications and powers, and began to think that they ought to be exhibited on the most extensive stage which the world then afforded. With this view he resolved on a journey to Rome; and imme. diately on his arrival, în November 1486, he published a

« 이전계속 »