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" hoc nobile Antonii Panonnitae editum ab illo quum vita functum audivisset."

" Quantum Romulidx sanctum videre Catonem,
" Quantum Cepheni volitantcm Persea ccelo,
" Alciden Thebe pacantem viribus orbem,
" Tantum laeta suum vidit Verona Guarinum."

Tiraboschi Storia della Letter. Ital. torn. vi. p. 255 $ seq. Facius de
Viris Illustr. p. 18.



k ' and the method so clear, that I hastily ran over the
" whole in one day. I afterwards read it again more
" deliberately. The subject is indeed a pleasant one ;
" and he has illustrated it by numerous and well arranged
" examples. I am however most of all captivated by the
" gravity of his diction. This dissertation on the duty of
" a wife, is, in my opinion, worthy to be classed with
" Tully's Offices. You know that I am no flatterer, but
" that I always speak from the impulse of the heart. Bar-
" baro unites with the greatest eloquence a dignity of senti-
" ment, worthy of a man of consummate gravity. Earn-
" estly exhort him to cultivate those talents, the first fruits
" of which are so admirable.' 1 *

The warm approbation which Poggio expressed of this
treatise De Re Uxorid, led the way to an intercourse of
mutual good offices between him and its author, in whose
character were united the dignity of the patrician, and the
accomplishments of the scholar.

Francesco Barbaro was descended from a noble Vene-
tian family, which formerly bore the name of Magadesi,
but exchanged that appellation for the honourable title
of Barbaro, or de 1 Barbari, which was conferred upon it
in the twelfth century, in consequence of the valorous
exertions of Marco Magadesi, in a battle fought against
the Saracens, ne^r Ascalon. Francesco was bom at
Venice, in the year 1 398. At an early age he was placed

* Poffffii Opera, p. 305.

88 (HAP. III.


under the tuition of John of Ravenna, and was after-
wards entrusted to the care of Gasperino Barziza.*'
Under the auspices of these instructors he made a surpris-
ingly rapid progress in the study of the Latin tongue. In
the acquisition of the rudiments of the Greek language he
was assisted by Guarino Veronese, and not, as some have
erroneously supposed, by Manuel Crysoloras. So suddenly
did the talents of Francesco come to maturity, that he
made a public exhibition of his acquirements in the eigh-
teenth year of his age, at which early period he pronounced
the funeral eulogiuin of Giovanni Corrodino, a physician of
Padua ; and also, at the command of the directors of the
Paduan university, delivered an oration on the occasion
of the conferring the degree of doctor of civil and canon

* Gasperino Barziza was a native of Bergamo, and was one of that numerous
assemblage of scholars, who were indebted for their knowledge of the Latin
tongue to John of Ravenna. He read lectures on Rhetoric, first at Padua, and
afterwards at Milan. His writings are not numerous : they consist of a treatise
on Orthography ; another on Elegance of Composition ; various Orations and
Letters ; and a commentary on the Epistles of Seneca. In undertaking to
supply the deficiencies which occurred in Cicero's treatise de Oratore, in conse-
quence of the mutilated condition of the ancient copies of that elegant and
useful work, he evinced a temerity of spirit which nothing but the most able
execution of his task could have justified. Happily however for the admirers
of ancient eloquence, the labours of Gasperino were rendered useless, by the
discovery of a complete copy of the work in question, made by the Bishop of
Lodi. It appears however that he had actually enlarged, by supplementary
chapters, the imperfect copies of Quintilian's Institutes. These were also

superseded by the labours of Poggio in search of auricMt manuscripts.

Several of Gasperino's letters were edited by Josepho Alessandro Fiirietti,

aud published at Rome, in 4 to. A. D. 1733. Mehi Vita Ambros. Travers.
p. xl. xlvi. Agostini Scrittori Finis, torn. i. p. 20, torn. xi. p. tt. Foetus de
Viris illus. p. 28.


law on Alberto Guidalotti, a noble Perugian. But a more
singular instance of the precocity of, his mind was displayed
in the course of the same year, in the publication of his
treatise De Re U^vorid, which was received by the learned
with universal applause.* The vacancy of the pontifical

* On the subject of matrimony, Francesco did not confine himself to
theoretical speculations. Trusting that in Maria, daughter of Piero Loredano,
procurator of St. Mark, he had found the union of good qualities which he had
represented in his dissertation, as requisite to the formation of the character of
a good wife, he married that lady in the year 1419.

So great was the reputation of his eloquence and prudence, that he had
scarcely attained the age of twenty-one, when notwithstanding the prohibitioji
of the Venetian law, he was admitted by the Concilio Maggiore into the number
of the senators. Three years after his exaltation to this honour, he was
appointed to the government of Como, which office, however, he did not
think proper to accept. It does not appear what were the motives which
induced him to decline this honour. His biographer Agostini attributes his
conduct in this instance to his modesty. If this amiable virtue, a quality of
such rare occurrence in the history of statesmen, prevented him from under-
taking the chief magistracy of the city of Como, it should seem that it did not
long continue to obstruct him in his way to preferment, since in the same year
in which he is supposed to have been thus diffident of his abilities, he suffered
himself to be invested with the government of Trivigi, in which city he presided
for the space of twelve months. The inhabitants of Trivigi lamented his depar-
ture, and long entertained a respectful remembrance of the wisdom of his admin-
istration. At the expiration of twenty-four years after the termination of his
government, they applied for his advice in the choice of a public preceptor ; and
on this occasion, Francesco assured them, that he should always regard their
welfare as an object of his particular attention. Immediately after his return to
the Venetian capital, he was appointed, in conjunction with Leonardo Giustini-
ano, to compliment the eastern emperor Palaeogolus on his arrival in Venice.
In the execution of this commission, he pronounced a Greek oration with such
elegance and purity of style and diction, that, as a contemporary writer affirms,
" He seemed to have been educated in the school of Homer." Early in the
year 1424 he was nominated to the prefecture of Vicenza. On his accession
to this office, he found the laws of that city in such a state of confusion, that



throne still affording to the officers of the Roman chancery
a considerable degree of leisure, Poggio about this time

he deemed it absolutely necessary to reduce them to order and consistency.
With the assistance of a committee of Vicentians, appointed for that purpose,
and of Antonio Lusco, a celebrated civilian, he happily accomplished this
difficult and delicate undertaking. Francesco was also the means of conferring
upon the citizens of Vicenza another public benefit, in inducing George of
Trebisond, whom he had invited from his native island Candia, to Italy, to
settle amongst them, in quality of professor of the Greek language. In the
year 142li he was sent by the Venetian seignory to Rome, invested with the
office of embassador extraordinary at the pontifical court. The object of his
mission was to persuade Martin V. to enter into an alliance with his country-
men against the duke of Milan, with whom the Venetians were then at war.
The pontiff, as became the common father of the faithful, interposed his good
offices between the contending powers ; and after encountering a variety of
difficulties, he at length had the satisfaction of assembling a congress at Ferrara,
which terminated April 18th, 1428, in the signing of a definite treaty of peace
between the Venetians and their adversary. At this congress Francesco assisted
as one of the deputies of his republic.

In the course of the war, the Venetians had taken the city of Bergamo.
Of this newly acquired possession, Francesco Barbaro administered the govern-
ment in 1430. On the expiration of this office, he was raised to the dignity of
counsellor, and in the year 1433 he was elected by the Venetian government as
a member of the embassy of honour, which they deputed to attend the emperor
Sigismund, who purposed to travel through the states of the republic, on his way
to the city of Basil, where the general council was then assembled. On this
occasion, the Venetian envoys received from the emperor the honour of knight-
hood. So great was the esteem which Sigismund had conceived of the good
qualities of Barbaro, that, with the permission of the seignory, he dispatched
him into Bohemia upon the difficult errand of soothing the irritation, and
abating the zeal of the confederated heretics. Nor was this the only instance of
the trust reposed in the fidelity of Francesco by foreign princes. On his return
from Germany he was employed by Eugenius IV. in conducting a negociation
with the emperor. His reputation being increased by these striking testimonies
to his merits, in the year 1434 he was appointed to the important and honour-
able government of Verona. In this station he conducted himself with his
wonted wisdom, and consequently gained the esteem and affection of his


undertook an expedition of no small importance to the
interests of literature. Having received information that

subjects. Soon after ttic expiration of the term of his new government, he was
dispatched to Florence, on an embassy to Eugenius IV. who then held his court
in that city. During this visit to Florence, the following circumstance took
plare, which is related by Maffei as a proof of the patience and forbearance of
liis temper. The steward of his household having been reproved by his nephew
Danicllo Barbara, was so much irritated, that he drew his sword, and attacked
the youth with an intention of killing him. Daniello complained of this out-
rage to his uncle. Francesco sent for the offender, who vented his rage in the
most violent and indecent reproaches against his master. The bystanders
trembled for the life of the steward, when, to their astonishment, Francesco
thus addressed him. " Begone ! and act more prudently in future ; I would not
" wish that your faults should make me lose that patience, of which, luckily
" for you, I am now possessed."

In the year 1437 Francesco was appointed governor of Brescia. In the
discharge of the duties of this office, he was obliged to call into exercise the full
vigour of his abilities. At the time of his appointment the Venetians were at
war with the duke of Milan, whose general, Piccinino, menaced their western
borders with a powerful army ; and in the month of September encamped before
Brescia. On Francesco's arrival in that city he had found it torn by fac-
tion, and scantily supplied with provisions. But by his prudent exertions he
reconciled the contending families, and used the most strenuous exertions to
provide the place with the necessary supplies. Encouraged by his example,
the inhabitants repelled the attacks of the enemy with great valour, and patiently
endured the evils of famine and pestilence, consequent upon their being for the
space of three months closely confined within the walls of the town. At
length, in the month of December, they had the satisfaction of seeing the
Milanese forces retire. In gratitude for Francesco's strenuous exertions in their
defence, the inhabitants of Brescia presented him with a banner ornamented
with the armorial bearings of their city ; and when he returned to Venice, to
give the seignory an account of the events of his administration, the Brescian
deputies detailed his services t that august assembly in the most flattering

He was afterwards called to the discharge of various other public offices, in
which he acquitted himself in smh a manner as to obtain universal coininendu-

\)2 CHAP. III.

many ancient manuscripts of classic authors were scattered
in various monasteries, and other repositories in the neigh-

tion. A most unequivocal testimony to his honour and intelligence occurred,
A. D. 1444, when he was chosen by the inhabitants of Verona and Vicenza as
umpire to settle a dispute which had arisen between those communities about
the limits of their respective territories. Having passed through all the inferior
offices of the state, on the 5th of January, 1 452, he received what he regarded
as an ample reward of his labours, in being elected procurator of St. Mark.
Two years after his exaltation to this distinguished honour, his earthly career
of glory was terminated by his death, which event took place towards the end
of January, 1454.

His remains were interred in the church of Santa Maria Gloriosa, and the
following inscription marks the spot where his body is deposited.

" Si quis honos, si fas lacrymis decorare sepultos,

" Flete super tumulum, moestisque replete querelis.

" Franciscus, cui prisca parem vix secla tulerunt,

" Barbarus hie situs cst ; linguae decus omne Lathue.

" Fortia facta viri pro libertate Scnatus

" Brixia, quain magno tenuit sudore, fatetur.

" Hie summi ingenii, scriptis, monumenta reliquit ;

" Graecaque praterea fecit Romana. Tenet mine

" Spiritus astra ; sacros tumulus complectitur artus."

The life of this illustrious scholar was so much occupied by active pursuits,
that the catalogue of his writings is necessarily short. The following produc-
tions of his pen are still extant.

1. Francisci Barbari Veneti pro insigni Viro Joannino Conradino
Veneto Physico Epilaphios Logo*. Manuscript copies of this oration were
preserved in the Dominican monastery of S. Nicole, in Trivigi, and in the
library of Apostolo Zeno.

2. Francisci Barbari Veneti Laudatio in Albertum Guidalotum cum eum
in Academa Patavina J. V. laurea decoraret. This oration was published
by Bernardo Fez, in a collection entitled Thesarurus novissimus Anecdoto-

3. Francisci Barbari Veneti ad insit/nem Laurentium de Medicis Flo-
rentinum de Re Uxoria Liber. The autograph of this treatise is preserved in



bourhood of Constance, where they were suffered to perish
in neglected obscurity, he determined to rescue these pre-

the Mediccan library at Florence ; an early edition of it, of uncertain date, was
printed at Antwerp. In the year 1513 it was printed at Paris, in 4to. in cedibus
Ascensianis. In 1533 it was printed at Hagcnau, in 8vo. A duodecimo
edition of it was published at Strasbourg, in 1612 ; and another in the same form
at Amsterdam, by John Janson, in IfiSD. This treatise was twice translated into
the French language, first by Martin du Pin, and afterwards by Claude Joly.
A beautiful MS. copy of the original Latin is preserved in the Cheethain
library, in Manchester.

4. Eloquentissimi ac Palricii viri Francisci Barbari Veneti Vitas Aris-
tidis et Majorls Catonis a Plutarcho conscriplce, a Grceco in La tin inn versa.
This translation was printed in an edition of Plutarch's lives, published at
Venice, by Nicolas Jenson, A. D. 1478, in folio ; and in the Basil folio edition
of the same work, printed by Bebelius in 1535. In Jenson's edition, the ver-
sion of the life of Aristidcs is erroneously ascribed to Leonardo Aretino.

5. Oralio Clariss. Viri Francisci Barbari ad Siytsmundum Ccesarem
pro Republica Veneta acta Ferraria. Agostini Las printed this oration in his
Isloria degli Scriltori l r iniziani, after a MS. copy belonging to Marco Fos-

6. Oralio Francisci Barbari Patricii Veneti, habita, anno 1J3JJ, in
templo Sanctorum Fauslini et Jovitca cum civitatis Brixiensls Magislralum
inirct. This oration is to be found in Pez's Thesaurus.

7. Francisci Barbari P. V. Apologia ad Mediolanemes pro populo Brix-
icnsi, anno 1439. A MS. copy of this work is preserved in the Vatican library.

8. Oratio Francisci Barbari P. V. ad Populum Brixiensem in rcnun-
ciatione illius Civitatis. This is in fact a report of an extempore speech of
Francesco's, composed from memory by Manelli, in whose Commentaries it is

9. Francisci Barbari, et aliorum ad ipsurn Epistofte alt anno Christi
1 425, ad annum 1 453, nunc primum editae ex duplici MS. Cod. Brixiano et
Vaticano uno, ijc. Brixiai cxcudebat Joannes Maria Rizzardi, 1743, in
Quarto mayno. This collection of Francesco's epistles, which was edited by
Cardinal Quirini, contains 284 of his letters, besides 94 addressed to him by
various correspondents. In the learned dissertation prefixed to this publication,
the cardinal has quoted at length fourteen other epistles of Barbaro.


cious relics from the hands of barbarians, who were so little
sensible of their value. lie was not deterred from this
laudable design by the inclemency of the season, or by the
ruinous state of the roads ; but with an industry and per-
severance, which cannot be too highly applauded, he made
several excursions to the places which were said to contain
the objects of his research. These excursions he even ex-
tended to the city of Paris. For the fatigue and trouble
which he encountered in these inquiries he was requited by
the most signal success. A great number of manuscripts,
some of which contained portions of classic authors, which
the admirers of ancient learning had hitherto sought for in
vain, were the reward of his literary zeal. The scholars of
Italy took a lively interest in these investigations of their
learned countryman. The noble art of printing has in mo-
dern times rendered books so easily accessible to all ranks of
men, that we cannot enter into the feelings of those whose
libraries were scantily furnished with volumes, which were
slowly multiplied by the tedious process of transcription.

10. Francisci Barbari viri illustris. pro Flavio Forliviensi pro Procmio
descriplionis Italics illustrates. Ad Alphonsum Serenissimum Arragonum
Regem. Cardinal Quirini, in the above mentioned dissertation, has printed
this pncfatory essay, which was written by Barbaro, in the name of Flavio

11. Epitaphium clarissimi viri Francisci Barbari Veneli in laudem
Gathamdatce Imperaloris Gentis Venetorum. This epitaph Agostiui has
published in his Istoria degli Scrittori Viniziani, from a MS. preserved in the
Guarnerian library in Friuli.

Agostini Istoria degli Scrittori Vinissani, torn ii. p. 28134.

CHAP. Ill- 95

But the epistolary correspondence of the studious of the fif-
teenth century contains frequent and striking intimations of
the value which was then set upon good modern copies of the
works of classic writers. It may therefore be easily pre-
sumed, that the discovery of an ancient manuscript was a
common subject of exultation to all the lovers of the polite
arts. In the following letter from Leonardo Aretino to Pog-
gio, congratulating him on the success of his expedition, and
particularly on his acquisition of a perfect copy of Quin-
tiliaiVs treatise on Oratory, the writer speaks the sentiments
of the literary characters of the age.

" I have seen the letter which you wrote to our friend
" Niccolo, on the subject of your last journey, and the
" discovery of some manuscripts. In my opinion the re-
" public of letters has reason to rejoice, not only on account
" of the acquisition of the works which you have already
" recovered, but also on account of the hope which I see you
" entertain of the recovery of others. It will be your glory
" to restore to the present age, by your labour and diligence,
" the writings of excellent authors, which have hitherto
" escaped the researches of the learned. The accomplish-
" ment of your undertaking will confer an obligation, not on
" us alone, but on the successors to our studies. The me-
" mory of your services will never be obliterated. It will
" be recorded to distant ages, that these works, the loss of
" which had been for so long a period a subject of lament-
" ation to the friends of literature, have been recovered by
" your industry. As Camillus, on account of his having
" rebuilt the city of Rome, was stiled its second founder, so


" you may be justly denominated the second author of all
" those pieces which are restored to the world by your meri-
" torious exertions. I therefore most earnestly exhort you
" not to relax in your endeavours to prosecute this laudable
" design. Let not the expense which you are likely to incur
" discourage you from proceeding. I will take care to pro-
" vide the necessary funds. I have the pleasure of inform-
" ing you, that from this discovery of yours, we have
" already derived more advantage than you seem to be
" aware of ; for by your exertions we are at length in pos-
" session of a perfect copy of Quintilian. I have inspected
" the titles of the books. We have now the entire treatise,
" of which, before this happy discovery, we had only one
" half, and that in a very mutilated state. Oh ! what a
" valuable acquisition ! What an unexpected pleasure ! Shall
" I then behold Quintilian whole and entire, who, even in
" his imperfect state, was so rich a source of delight ? I
" entreat you, my dear Poggio, send me the manuscript as
" soon as possible, that I may see it before I die. As to
" Asconius and Flaccus, I am glad that you have recovered
" them, though neither of these authors have conferred any
" additional grace on Latin literature. But Quintilian is so
" consummate a master of rhetoric and oratory, that when,
" after having delivered him from his long imprisonment in
" the dungeons of the barbarians, you transmit him to this
" country, all the nations of Italy ought to assemble to bid
" him welcome. I cannot but wonder that you and your
" friends did not eagerly take him in hand, and that,
" employing yourselves in the transcription of inferior
" writers, you should have neglected Quintilian an author,


" whose works I will not hesitate to affirm, are more an
" object of desire to the learned than any others, excepting
" only Cicero's dissertation De Republicd. I must next
" admonish you not to waste your time on the works which
" we already possess, but to search for those which we have
" not, especially the works of Cicero and Varro."*

Poggio was far from being unconscious of the good
service which he had done to the cause of letters, by the
successful assiduity of his researches after the lost writers of
antiquity. [A. D. 1416.] On the sixteenth of December
of this year, he wrote to Guarino Veronese an epistle, in
which, after duly extolling the importance and agreeable
nature of the intelligence which he was about to announce,
he gave him a particular account of the treasure which he
had lately brought to light. From this letter it appears,^
that in consequence of information which Poggio had
received, that a considerable number of books were deposited
in the monastery of St. Gall, he took a journey to that
town, accompanied by some of his friends. There they
found a large number of manuscripts, and among the rest
a complete copy of Quintilian, buried in rubbish and dust.
For the books in question were not arranged in a library,
but were thrown into the lowest apartment or dungeon of a
tower, " Which," says Poggio, " was not even a fit resi-

* Leonardi Aretini Epistolae, I. iv. ep. v.

f This letter from Poggio to Guarino Veronese is printed by L' Enfant, in
the supplement to the second volume of his Poggiana, from a MS. in the
Wolfenbuttle library. See Poggiana, torn. ii. p. 309.



u dence for a condemned criminal." Besides Quintilian they
found in this obscure recess the three first, and one half of
the fourth books of the Argonautics of Valerius Flaccus,
and Asconius Pedianus's comment on eight of Cicero's
orations. The two latter manuscripts Poggio himself tran-
scribed, with an intention of sending them to Leonardo
Aretino, who, as appears by his letters quoted above, was
so much elated by the revival of Quintilian, that he speaks
of the discovery of Asconius and Flaccus as a matter of
comparatively trifling moment.*

Poggio zealously concurred in the wish of his friend
Leonardo, to rescue from obscurity the lost works of Cicero.
Nor were his endeavours to accomplish this valuable object
entirely unsuccessful. In a monastery of the monks of
Clugny, in the town of Langres, he found a copy of Cicero^s
Oration for Csecina, of which he made a transcript for the
use of his Italian friends. In the course of various journeys,

Online LibraryWilliam ShepherdThe life of Poggio Bracciolini → online text (page 7 of 31)