William Tooke.

A new and general biographical dictionary; containing an historical and critical account of the lives and writings of the most eminent persons in every nation; particularly the British and Irish; from the earliest accounts of time to the present period .. (Volume 14) online

. (page 1 of 53)
Online LibraryWilliam TookeA new and general biographical dictionary; containing an historical and critical account of the lives and writings of the most eminent persons in every nation; particularly the British and Irish; from the earliest accounts of time to the present period .. (Volume 14) → online text (page 1 of 53)
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Moft Eminent Perfons


From the Earlieft Accounts of Time to the prefent Period*

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Their rerna^lfkbte'VVcfi&tfs 'ami SUFFER INGS^
Their ViRv;'Ed,;:^Rt^,'and LEARNING,


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With a CATALdGtf**oNheir fcif'ERARY PRODUCTIONS.













and HURST, and J. WHITE.





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QIRMOND (JAMES), a French Jefuit, whofe name ha*

\f\ O been famous among men of letters, was the fon of a

\* magi ilrate, and bom at Riom in 1559 [A]. At ten years of

ape; he was fent,tQ>thfi eoUee*-o |>illpm, the firfl which the

^~> f )>>)>* *^3 . -j * )

Tefuits had in F*ae. \Jfe effterejd ' inio, the fociety in ic?6,

*J ">-,>*>**, >-. J * _.*_ , J ~J /

and two years after ijnadg.^ 1 ^ YOWS. His fuperiors, finding
out his uncommon tsjk'if ts i i aj W g^ t ,g en ius, fent him to Paris;
where he taught dajIi^al^rit'eVahire ,two years, and rhetoric
three. During this thii^.ne/pcjmfce'd a perfect knowledge cf
the Greek and Latiir langniges ; 'and formed his ftyle, which
has been fo much efteemed by the learned. It is faid, that he
took Muretus for his model, and never pafTed a day without
.reading fome pages in his writings. In 1586, he began his
courfe of divinity, which lafted four years. He undertook at
that time to tranflate into Latin the works of the Greek fathers,
and began to write notes upon Sidonius Apollinaris. In 1590,
he was fent for to Rome by the general of the order, Aquaviva,
to take upon him the office of his fecretary ; which he dif-
charged fixteen years with fuccefs. He took the thoughts of
his general perfectly well, and exprefled them much better
than Aquaviva himfelf could have done. The fcudy of anti-
-quity was at that time his principal object : lie vifited li-
^S. braries, and confulted mjanufcripts: he contemplated antiques,
medals, and infcriptipns : and the Italians, though jealous of
the honour of their nation, acknowledged, that he knew thefe
curiofities better than they did; and frequently confulted him
upon difficult queftions. He made a friendfhip \vith the mod
eminently learned of Rome ; particularly with Bellarmine and

[A] Du Tin, BIbl, Aiit. Ectl.i". Cent. xvn.




Tolet, who- 'tvere of his own fociety, and with the cardinal
Baronius, D'OiTkt, and Du Perron. Baronius was greatly
a (lifted by him in his " Ecclefiaftical Annals," efpecially in
affairs relating to the Greek hiitory ; upon which he furniihed
him with a great number of works, trantlated from Greek into

Sirmond returned to Paris in 1606; and from that time did
not ceafe to enrich the public with a great number of works;
Many years after, pope Urban VIII. who had long known his
merit, had a deiire to draw him again to Rome; and can fed a
letter for that purpofe to be lent to him by father Vittellefchij
who was at that time general of their order: but Louis XIII.

^ O

would not fuffer a perfon who did to much honour to his
kingdom, and could do him great ferviccs, to be taken from
him. In 1637, ha was chofen the king's confeffor, in ths
room of father Canum, who had the misfortune to difpleafe
cardinal de Richelieu: which delicate office he accepted with
great reluctance, yet conducted it with the almolt caution and
prudence. After the death of Louis XIII. in 164.3, he left
the court, and refumed his ordinary occupations with the fame
tranquillity as if he'-Ji^i'd ..-never ou'ttwl his retirement. In
1645, he \Vent to RbWe;, '"iiotwilhftaridin^ his great age, for
the fake of affiftine at the, election, -of a rtmcral, upon the death

O . (T O o ._ i. o jP * _l

of Vittellefchi, as he had , done; ffii^t);; years before upon ths
death of Aquaviva; and, after hi,s,,retn;rn to France, prepared
Jiimfelf, as iifual, to pub! ilk nv>rc bvK;j ..>:. But having heated
himfelf a little, in the college of the ' Jefuits, by endeavouring
to fupport his opinion, he was attacked with the jaundice ;
which, being accompanied with a large efFufion of bile over
his whole body, carried him off in a tc\v days. He died O6t.
7, 1651, aged ninety-two.

He fpent a considerable part of his life in feeking out the
authors of the Middle, Age, in copying and cauiing them ro be
printed, and enriching them with notes, which fhevv great
juftnefs of underftanding, as well as extent of learning. Hs
was the author and editor of as many works as amounted to
15 vols. in folio; five of which, containing his own ? were
printed at the royal print ing-houfe at Paris in 1696, under this
title : " Jacobi Sirmondi Opera Varia, mine primum collcfta,
ex iplius fchedis emendatiora, Notis Pofthnmis, Epiftolis, &
Opufculis aliquibus audHora." The following character of
him is given in On Pin's " Bibliotheque :" " Father Sirmond
knew how to join a great delicacy of underftanding and the
juiteft difcernment to a profound and extenfive erudition. He
understood Greek and Latin in perfection, all the profane au-
thors, hiftory, and whatever goes under the name of belles
icttres. lie had a very extenfive knowledge in eccleliafticaL



antiquity, and had duelled with care all the authors of the
middle age. His ilyle is pure, concife, and nervous: yet lie
affects too much certain expreflions of the comic poets. He
meditated very much upon what he wrote, and had a particular
art of reducing into a note what comprehended a great many
things in a very few words. He is exact, judicious, fimpie;
yet never omits any thing that is necefTary. His differtations
have paffecl for a model ; by which it were to be wiihed that
every one who writes would form himfelf. When he treated
of one fubjeft, he never faid immediately all that he knew of
it; but referved fome new arguments always for a reply, like
auxiliary troops, to come up and affiil, in cafe of need, the
grand body of the battle. He was difmterefted, equitable,
iincere, moderate, modeil, laborious ; and by thefe qualities
drew to himfelf the eileem, not only of the learned, but of
all mankind. He'has left behind him a reputation, which will
lafl for many ages."

SIXTUS V. (POPE), whofe proper names were Felix Pe-
retti, was born in 1521, in the ligniory of Montalto [E] : his
father, Francis Peretti, for his faithful fervice to a country
gentleman, with whom he lived as a gardener, was rewarded
with his mailer's favourite fervant-maid for a wife. Thefe
were the parents of that pontiff, who, from the inftant of his
acceflion to the papacy, even to the hour of his death, made
himfelf obeyed and feared, not only by his own fubjects, but
by all who had any concern with him. This pope was their
eldeil child. Though he very early difcovered a fitnefs and incli-
nation for learning, the poverty of his parents prevented their
indulging it; for which reafon, at about nine years of age, his
father hired him to an inhabitant of the town, to look after his
iheep: but his mailer, being on fome occaiion difobliged, re-
moved him to a lefs honourable employment, and gave him the
care of his hogs. He was foon releafed, however, from this de-
grading occupation : for, in 1531, falling accidentally under the
cognifance of father Michael Angelo Selleri, a Francifcan friar,
who was going to preach during the Lent feafon at Afcoli, the
friar was io exceedingly ilruck with his converfatipn and beha-
viour, as to recommend him to the fraternity whither he was
going. Accordingly, with the unanimous approbation of the
community, he was received among them, invefted with the habit
of a lay-brother, and placed under " the facriiian, to ailiit iti
{weeping the church, lighting the candles, and fuch little
offices; who, in return for his fervices, was to teach him the
refponfes, and rudiments of grammar."

[B] Life of pope Sixtus V. from the Itatlan of Gregorio Lcti, by Ellis Fame-
worth, M. A. 1754, folio.

B 2 Such

4 s TXT us.

Such was Felix's introduction to grcatneis. By a quick
comprehenfion, flrorig memory, and unwearied application,
he made fuch a furprifmg progrefs in learning, that in 1534*
he was thought fit to receive the cowl, and enter upon his no-
viciate ; and, in 1535, was admitted to make his profellion*
being no more than fourteen. He pUriued his ftudies with fo
much afliduity, that, in 1539, he was accounted equal to the
beii: difputants, and was Toon admitted to deacon's orders. In
1545, he was ordained pricft, and afTumed the name of father
Montalto: the fame year, he took his batchelor's degree, and
two years after, his doctor's ; and was appointed to keep a
divinity act before the whole chapter of the order, at which
time he fo effectually recommended himfelf to cardinal de
Carpi, and cultivated fo clofe an intimacy with Boffins hb
fecretary, that they were both of them c\er after his fteady
friends. Frequent were the occafions he had for their inter-
pofition on his behalf; for the impetuofity of his temper, and
his impatience of contradiction, had already fubjected him to
feveral inconveniencies, and in the fubfequent part of his life
Involved him in many more difficulties. While all Italy was
delighted with his eloquence, he was perpetually embroiled in
quarrels with his monadic brethren: he had, however, the good
fortune to form, two new friend mips at Rome, which were
afterwards of fignal fervice to him : one with the Colonna
family, who thereby became his protectors ; the other with
father Ghifilieri, by whofe recommendation he was appointed
inquifilor-general at Venice, by Paul IV. foon after his ac-
ceition to the papacy in 1555. But the feverity with which
he executed his office, was fo offenfive to a people jealous of
their liberties, as the Venetians were, that he was obliged to
owe his prefervation to a precipitate flight from that city*

After his retreat from Venice, we hod him acting in many
public affairs at Rome, and as often engaged in difputes with
the conventuals of of his order ; till he was appointed as chap-
lain and confultor ot the inquiiilion, to attend cardinal Buon
Compagnon, afterwards Gregory XIII. who was then legate
a latere to Spain. Here Montalto had great honours paid
him: he was offered to be made one of the royal chaplains-,
with a table and an apartment in the palace, and a very large
ftipend, if he would flay there ; but having centred his view:
at Rome, he declined accepting theie favours, and only afked
the honour of bearing the title of his majeity's chaplain
\vherever he went. V/hile things were thus circumftanced at

Madrid, news was brought of the death of Pius IV. and the


elevation of cardinal Alexandrine to the holy fee> with the title
.of Pius V. Montalto was greatly tranfported at this news,
the new pontiff having ever been his fteady friend and patron ;


S I X T U S. 5

for this new pope was father Ghililieri, who had been pro-
moted to the purple by Paul IV. Montalto's joy at the pr-
inotion of his friend was not ill founded, nor were his ex-
pectations difappointed; for Pius V. even in the firft week of
his pontificate, appointed him general of his order, an office
that he executed with his accuftomed feverity. In 1568, he
was made bifhop of St. Agatha; and, in 1570, was honoure4
with a cardinal's hat and a penfion. During this reign he had
likewife the chief direction of the papal councils, and parti-
cularly was employed to draw up the bull of excommunication
againft queen Elizabeth.

Being now in pofleffion of the purple, he began to afpire to
the-jpapacy. With this view " he became humble, patient,
and affable ; fo artfully concealing the natural impetuofity of
his temper, that one would have fworn this gentlenefs and
moderation was born with him. There was fuch a change in
his drefs, his air, his words, and all his acxions, that his
neareft friends and acquaintance faid, he was not the fame man.
A greater alteration, or a more abfoiute victory over his paflions,
was never feen in any one ; nor is there an inftance, perhaps,
in all hiftory, of a perfon fupporting a fictitious character in fo
uniform and confident a manner, or fo artfully difguifing his
foibles and imperfections for fuch a number of years/' To
which may be added, that, while he endeavoured to court the
friendfhip of the ambafladors of every foreign power, he very
carefully avoided attaching himfelf to the intereft of any one ;
jior would he accept favours, that might be prefumed to lay
.him under peculiar obligations. He was not lefs fingular in his
conduct to his relations, to whom he had heretofore exprefled
himfelf with the utmoft tendernefs ; but now he behaved very
differently, <s knowing that difintereftednefs in that point was
one of the keys to the papacy. So that when his brother An-
tony came to fee him at Rome, he lodged him in an inn, and
fent him back again the next day with only a prefent of fixty
crowns; ftriclly charging him to rett rn immediately to his

nily, and tell them, ' That his fpirituai cares increafed upon
him, and he was now dead to his relations and the world ; but
as he found old ag;e and infirmities began to approach, he might,
perhaps, in a while, fend for one of his nephews to wait on

Upon the death of Pius V/which happened in 1572, Montalto
entered the conclave with the reft of the cardinals ; but, appear-
ing to give himfelf no trouble about the election, kept altogether
in his apartment, without ever ftirring from it, except to his
devotions. He affeeled a total ignorance of the intrigues of
the feveral factions ; and, if he was afked to engage in any

rty, would reply with feeming iaditference, -** that for his

B 3 P


part he was of no manner of confequence ; that, as he had
never been in the conclave before, he was afraid of making foine
falfe ftep, and mould leave the affair to be conducted wholly by
people of greater knowledge and experience." The decYiou
being determined in favour of cardinal Buon Compagnon, who
aiiurned the name of Gregory XIII. Montalto did not neglect
to afTure him, " that he had never wifhed for any thing fo much
in his life, and that he ihould always remember his gpodnefs,
and the favours he received from him in Spain." The new
pope, however, not only (hewed very little regard to his com-
pliment, but during his pontificate, treated him with the utmoi'l
contempt, and deprived him of the penfion which had been
granted to him by Pius V. Nor was he held in greater efltrem
by the generality of the cardinals, who confidered him as a
poor, old, doting fellow, incapable of doing either good or
harm ; and who, by way of ridicule, they were ufed frequently
to ftyle, " the afs of La Marca." He feldom interfered in,
or was prefent at any public tranfa&ions ; the chief part of
his time was employed in works of piety and devotion ; and
his benevolence to the indigent was fo remarkable, that, when
a terrible famine prevailed at Rome, the poor faid openly of
him, " that cardinal Montalto, who lived upon charity him-
felf, gave with one hand what he received with the other;
while the reft of the cardinals, who wallowed in abundance,
contented themfelves with fhewing them the way to the hof-

Notwithftanciing this affecled indifference to what parTed in
the world, he was never without able fpies, who informed him
from time to time of every the moil minute particular. He
had alTumed great appearance of imbecillity and all the infir-
mities of old age, for fome years before the death of Gregory
XIII. in 1585; when it was not without much feeming reluct-
ance, that Montalto accompanied the reft of the cardinals into
the conclave, where he maintained the fame uniformity of beha-
viour, in which he had fo long perlifted. " He kept hiinfelf
clofe (hut up in his chamber, and was no more thought or
fpoken of, than if he had not been there. He very feldom
ilirred out, and when he he went to mafs, or any of the fcru-
ttnies, appeared fo little concerned, that one would have
thought he had no manner of intereft in any thing that hap-
pened within thofe walls ; ; ' and, without promifing any thing,
he flattered every body. This method of proceeding was judi-
cioufly calculated to ferve his ambition. He was early apprifed,
that there would be great contefts or divilions in the conclave ;
and he knew it was no uncommon cafe, that when the chiefs
of the refpective parties met with oppofition to the perfon they
were ddirgus of electing, they would all willingly concur in


S I X T U S. 7

.ihe choice of fome very old and infirm cardinal, whqfe life would
Jail only long enough to prepare themfelves with more ftrength
againft another vacancy. Thefe views dire died his conduct,
-nor was he mifh.ken in his expectations of fuccefs. Three
cardinals, who were the heads of potent factions, finding them-
felves unable to choofe the perfons they refpedlively favoured,
all concurred to elect Montalto. As it was not yet riecelfary
for him to difcover himfelf, when they came to acquaint him
Vith their intention, " he fell into iuch a violent fir of cough-
Ing, that they thought he would have expired upon the fpot."
When he recovered himfelf, he told them, " that his reign
would be but for a few days ; that, beiides the continual diffi-
culty of breathing, he had not ftrength enough to fupport fuch
a weight ; and that his fmall experience in affairs made him
altogether unfit for a charge of fo important a nature." Nor
would he be prevailed on to accept it on any other terms, than
that " they fhotild all three promife not to abandon him, but
take the greateft part of the weight off his Ihoulders, as he was
neither able, nor could in conference pretend, to take the whole
upon himfelf." The cardinals giving a ready aflent to his
propofal, he added, " If you are refolved to make me pope,
it will be only placing yourfelves on the throne ; we muft (hare
the pontificate. For my part, I mall be content with the bare
title ; let them call rnc pope, and you are heartily welcome to
the power and authority." The bait was fwal lowed.; and, in
.confidence of engroiling the adminifl 'ration, they exerted their
joint intereds fo effectually, that Montalto was elected. He now
immediately pulled off the in a Ik which he had worn for fourteen
years, with an amazing fleadinefs and uniformity. As foon as
ever he found a fufiScient number of votes to fecure his elec-
tion, he threw the flaif with which he ufed to fupport himfelf
into the middle of the chapel ; and appeared taller by almoft a
foot than he had done for fcveral years. Being aiked according
to ejLtftom, " Whether he would pleafe to accept of the papacy,"
he replied fomewhat (harply, " It is trifling and impertinent
to afk whether I will accept what I have already accepted:
however, 10 fatisfy any fcru-ple that may arife, I tell you, that
I accept it with great pleafure ; -and would accept another, if
1 could get it ; for I find myfelf ftrong enough, by the divine
afliftance, to manage two papacies/' Nor \vas the change in
his manners lefs remarkable than in his perfon : he immediately
diverted himfelf of the humility he had fo long profeffed ; and,
laying afide his accuitomed civility and complaifance, treated
every body with referve and haughtinefs.

The lenity of Gregory's government had introduced a general
licentioufneis among all ranks of people ; which, though fome-
retrained while he lived, broke out into open violence

B 4 the


the very clay after his death. Riots, rapes, robberies, and
murders', were, during the vacancy of the fee, daily committed
in every part of the ecclefiaftical ftate ; fo that the reformation
of abufes, in the church as well as the Hate, was the firft and
principal care of Sixtus V. for fuch was the title Montalto
afTurned. The firft days of his pontificate were employed in
receiving the congratulations of the Roman nobility, and in
giving audience to foreign minifters; and though he received
them with feeming chearfulriefs and complaifance, yet he foon
difmilfed them, defiringto be excufed, " for he had fomethirig
elfe to do than to attend to compliments." It having been cuf-
tomary with preceding popes to releafe prifoners on the day of
their coronation, delinquents were wont to furrender themfelves
after the pope was chofen ; and feveral offenders, judging or
Montalto's difpoiition by his behaviour while a cardinal, came
voluntarily to :he prifons, not making the leaft doubt of a par-
don: but they were fatally difoppointed ; for when the governor
of Rome and the keeper of St. Angelo's caftle waited on his
holinefs to know his intention upon this matter, Sixtus replied,
6t You certainly do not either know your proper diftance, or are
very impertinent. What have you to do with pardons and ats
of grace, and releasing of prifoners? Don't you think it fuf-
ficieht, that our predecejfor has fufFered the judges to lie idle
and unemployed thefe thirteen years ? Would you have us
iikewife ftain our pontificate with the fame neglect of juftice?
We have too long feen, with inexpreflible' concern, the pro-
digious degree of wickednefs that reigns in the ecclefiaftical
ftate, to think of granting any pardon. God forbid we mould
entertain fuch adefign! So far from releafing any prifoners, it
is our exprefs command, that they be more clofely confined.
Let them be brought to a fpeedy trial, and punifhcd as they de-
ferve, that the prifons may be emptied, and room made for
others : and that the world may fee, that Divine Providence
has called us to the chair of St. Peter to reward the good, and
to chaftife the wicked ; that we bear not the fword in vain, but
are the miuifter of God, and a revenger to execute wrath upon
them that do evil."

In the place of fuch judges as were inclined to lenity, he
fubftituted others of a more auflere difpofition, and appointee!
comrmilanes to examine not only their conduct, but alfo that
of other governors and judges for many years paft ; promifing
rewards to thofe who could convict them of corruption, or of
having denied juftice to any one at the inftance or requeft of
me;? in power. All the nobility, and perfons of the higheft
quality, were ftrictly forbidden, on pain of difpleafure, to
afk the judges any thing in behalf of their neareft friends or
dependants j at the fame time the judges were to be fined in



cafe they liftened to any felicitation. He further commanded
every body, u on pain of death, not to terrify witneffes by
threats, or tempt them by hopes or promifes. He ordered the
iyndics and mayors of every town and iigniory, as well thofe
that were actually in office, as thofe who had been for the laft
ten years, to fend him a lift of all the vagrants, common de-
bauchees, loofe and diforderly people in their diftricts, threa-
tening them with the ftrappado and imprifonrnent, if they
omitted or concealed any one." In confequence of this
ordinance, the fyndic of Albano, leaving his nephew, who
was an incorrigible libertine, out of the lift, underwent the
ftrappado in the public market-place, though the Spanim am-
baflador interceded ftrongly for him. He particularly directed
the legates and governors of the ecclefiaftical ftate to be expe-
ditious in carrying on all criminal proceiles ; -declaring, "he
had rather have the gibbets and gallies full, than the prifons."
He alfo intended to have iliortened all other proceedings in law.
It had been ufual, and was pleafirtg to the people, as often as
his holinefs pafied by, to cry out, " Long live the pope:' 3 but
Sixtus, having a mind to go often unexpectedly to the tribunals

Online LibraryWilliam TookeA new and general biographical dictionary; containing an historical and critical account of the lives and writings of the most eminent persons in every nation; particularly the British and Irish; from the earliest accounts of time to the present period .. (Volume 14) → online text (page 1 of 53)