LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
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The Life of William Roscoe
Chapter V. 1795

Vol I. Contents
Chapter I. 1753-1781
Chapter II. 1781-1787
Chapter III. 1787-1792
Chapter IV. 1788-1796
‣ Chapter V. 1795
Chapter VI. 1796-1799
Chapter VII. 1799-1805
Chapter IX. 1806-1807
Chapter X. 1808
Chapter XI. 1809-1810
Vol II. Contents
Chapter XII. 1811-1812
Chapter XIII. 1812-1815
Chapter XIV. 1816
Chapter XV. 1817-1818
Chapter XVI. 1819
Chapter XVII. 1820-1823
Chapter XVIII. 1824
Chapter XIX. 1825-1827
Chapter XX. 1827-1831
Chapter XXI.
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Produced by CATH
First idea of writing he Life of Lorenzo de’ Medici—want of materials—assistance rendered by Mr. William Clarke at Florence—progress of the work—printing of the inedited poems of Lorenzo—the Life sent to press.—Mr. M’Creery.—Lord Orford’s opinion.—Letter to Lord Lansdowne.—Publication of the Life—its popularity.—Letters from Lord Orford and Lord Bristol.—Opinions on the work—Lord Lansdowne, Dr. Aikin, the author of the “Pursuits of Literature”—correspondence with the latter.—Letters from Mr. J. C. Walker and Fuseli.—Dr. Parr’s criticisms, and correspondence with him.—Favourable reception from the periodical critics—review by Fuseli in the Analytical Review—success of the work abroad—opinions of the Italian scholars Fabroni and Bandini—translation into Italian by the Cav. Mecherini, and correspondence with him—criticism of the Abate Andres—opinions of Morelli and Moreni—translation into German by Sprengel—letter to him—translation into French—republication in America.

It has already been observed, that the idea of writing the Life of Lorenzo de’ Medici occurred to Mr. Roscoe at an early period of his life, when, with the assistance of his friend, Francis Holden, he first began to study the literature of Italy. Amid the avocations of business, and the variety of other pursuits in which his taste or his duty led him to engage, the design slumbered, but was not forgotten. In perusing the Italian historians, and especially the Florentine annals of Machiavelli and Ammirato, he was accustomed to note the various passages which threw a light on the life and character of Lorenzo. His reading was at the same time directed as well to the writers of that age, as to those later authors, such as Crescembeni, Muratori, and Tiraboschi, who have illustrated the literature of their country by their critical labours. Unfortunately, Liverpool did not at that period possess any public library to which, when he found his own collection deficient, he could resort; and amongst the first difficulties which he experienced in the prosecution of his task,
was the heavy and discouraging one of a want of materials. This deficiency he had in part supplied by the diligence with which he examined the catalogues of the London booksellers, and the zeal with which, during his visits to the metropolis, he sought for the volumes which his labours required. Fortunately, also, the sale of the Crevenna and Pinelli libraries, occurring at this period, enabled him to procure many scarce and valuable works, for which he had hitherto enquired in vain. But the riches treasured up in the literary repositories of Italy still remained inaccessible to him; and his professional engagements precluded every idea of his being able to make a personal examination of them. Even if the zeal of a foreign agent could be relied upon, who could be discovered with knowledge and judgment equal to the task? “The impracticability of obtaining in this country,” says Mr. Roscoe, in the preface to his Life of Lorenzo, “the information of which I stood in need, would perhaps have damped the ardour of any undertaking, had not a circumstance presented itself, in the highest degree favourable to my purpose. An intimate friend, with whom I had been many years united in studies and affection, had paid a visit to Italy, and had fixed his winter residence at Florence. I well knew that I had only to request his assistance, in order to obtain whatever information he had an oppor-
tunity of procuring, from the very spot which was to be the scene of my intended history. My enquiries were particularly directed to the Laurentian and Riccardi Libraries, which I was convinced would afford much original and interesting information. It would be unjust, merely to say that my friend afforded me the assistance I required; he went far beyond even the hopes I had formed; and his return to his native land was, if possible, rendered still more grateful to me, by the materials he had collected for my use.”

The gentleman to whom Mr. Roscoe was indebted for these important obligations, was Mr. William Clarke, the companion of his early studies, and the devoted friend of his maturer life. The state of his health having compelled him to seek a milder climate, he selected Italy as the place of his residence; and arriving in that country in 1789, he resolved to pass the winter at Fiesole, where he rented a furnished villula for the term of six months. The distance of Fiesole from Florence not being more than three miles, Mr. Clarke was in the daily habit of visiting the latter place, and of spending his mornings in the public libraries. Thus situated in the midst of those treasures which Mr. Roscoe so ardently desired to possess, himself an excellent classical scholar, and devoted to literary occupations, no one could have been dis-
covered better qualified than Mr. Clarke for the agreeable task which his friend imposed upon him. At the close of the year 1789, Mr. Roscoe informed him of his design, and requested his assistance in the prosecution of it. This was readily and joyfully granted; though not without many expressions of regret that his friend was unable personally to join him in his researches. “I wish,” he says, in a letter dated January 9. 1790, “you could have come into Italy yourself, to animate my researches, or rather to render them useless, by your native penetration and accumulated sçavoir:” and again, in a letter written during the following month,—“How much I lament the impossibility of our being together in Florence! A month passed on the spot would considerably enrich your work. As I fear it cannot be as I wish, accept my endeavours to supply the desideratum.”

The zeal and diligence of Mr. Clarke in the service of his friend, induced him to lose no time in enquiring into the various literary repositories of Florence. To the credit of the Grand Duke, his palaces, galleries, museums, and libraries, were thrown open, in the most liberal manner, to every stranger desirous of visiting them; while, in the other cities of Italy, access to the public collections was only to be obtained by means of a bribe. Even the public archives and state papers, lodged in the Palazzo Vecchio,—
documents, which the jealousy of other governments has guarded with a scrupulous secrecy,—were accessible, on presenting to the Grand Duke a memorial, the prayer of which was never refused. To these valuable repositories, and also to the extensive library of the Marquis Riccardi, Mr. Clarke resorted; and with the assistance of the very learned
Canonico Bandini, the Grand Duke’s librarian, and of the Abbate Fontani, the keeper of the Riccardi Library, he gained access to many curious and valuable manuscripts relating to the history of the Medici. These he carefully examined, making notes of such portions of them as appeared most likely to furnish materials for his friend. From the copious and excellent catalogue, by Bandini, of the MSS. preserved in the Laurentian Library, he extracted the titles of such as contained the desired information. “I wish,” he observes, in a letter dated February 4. 1790, “you had an opportunity of examining the catalogue; because, it would enable you to point out to me what you would have me examine; but, as I foresee that this is not likely to be in your power, I shall go on in the method I have begun, that is, of taking an account of all such materials as seem to be connected with your plan, with accurate references, as you desire; so that on a review of these materials, tête-à-tête, we can send our commissions to this city, to have the need-
ful transcriptions made. There will be no difficulty in finding amanuenses here for that purpose.” Nor did Mr. Clarke confine himself to an examination of the manuscript treasures of Florence. He assiduously sought for the printed works of the authors who have illustrated the Medicean age; and when able to procure copies of those which Mr. Roscoe did not possess, he transmitted them to Liverpool. With the view of making himself well acquainted with the subject, he twice perused the Life of Lorenzo by
Fabroni, with an especial reference to the authorities of that writer. “In a few days,” he says, in a letter dated in the month of March, 1790, “I remove to Florence, to remain there from fifteen to twenty days, totally occupied with your hero, who has won my warmest veneration. I have gone through (twice) Fabroni’s work. Many of his authorities will be useful to you. The life, which is composed in Latin, with laboured attention to the style, has more regard to the public conduct of Lorenzo than to his private character; with, however, some animadversions upon his patronage of learning and the arts. Yours, I am convinced, will be a more entertaining work. I need not recommend your taking time to digest it well. As I now know the principal sources that may afford materials, before I leave Florence I shall take such a general view of them, that I can leave or send directions to
have what is most within the compass of your plan copied and transmitted.”

With the valuable materials thus fortunately supplied to him, Mr. Roscoe proceeded with double ardour to the completion of his laborious yet agreeable task. Amongst the unpublished pieces transmitted to him from Florence, were many original poems of Lorenzo de’ Medici, of whose poetical talents Mr. Roscoe had already formed a very high opinion. A small collection of these inedited pieces he sent to the press in the year 1791; and a limited impression of only twelve copies was printed, to be distributed amongst his literary friends. The volume is appropriately inscribed to Mr. Clarke, in a short dedication written in Italian, from which we may gather that no inconsiderable progress was already made in his Life of Lorenzo. “Ben sapete,” he says, “che il Magnifico Lorenzo autore di essi, vero Mecenate, e restauratore delle belle lettere nel secolo decimo quinto, è da molto tempo l’oggetto di mia somma reverenza, ed ammirazione; applicandomi io ad investigar le particolarità della sua vita, la quale spero mettere fra poco sotto gli occhi de’ miei compatriotti, forse più estesamente, che non hanno fatto il Valori ed il Fabroni.” “Godo,” he adds, in conclusion, “che nel consecrare questo leggier tributo alla memoria d’ un uomo degno di perpetua lode e venerazione, mi sia
presentata occasione d’ unire insieme i nostri nomi siccome i nostri studj geniali ci hanno già da mold anni—
“In nodo d ’amistà congiunti, e stretti.”

All the leisure which his profession allowed him was now dedicated to the Life of Lorenzo; and in the autumn of the year 1793 he committed the first sheets of his work to the press. From a desire of encouraging the talents of those around him, he was led to intrust the printing of this work to Mr. John M’Creery, who, by his advice, had lately established a press in Liverpool. The typographical beauty of the first edition of the Life of Lorenzo de’ Medici sufficiently attests the skill of Mr. M’Creery as a printer; but it was not merely the professional ability of this gentleman which won the regard of Mr. Roscoe. The undeviating rectitude of his mind, and the warmth and devotedness of his feelings, led to a strict friendship, which remained unbroken to the termination of Mr. Roscoe’s life.* In the spring

* Mr. M’Creery did not long survive his friend. In company with Mrs. M’Creery, and one of his daughters, he visited Paris in the autumn of 1831, and was residing in that city when the cholera made its appearance there. On the eve of departing for Switzerland, he was attacked by that dreadful disease, and fell a victim to it in the course of two days.

He was a man of much cultivation of mind, and possessed considerable poetical powers, which were uniformly devoted to the cause of truth, of freedom, and of human improvement.

of 1794, a considerable portion of the first volume of the Life was printed, and the sheets were transmitted to
Mr. Edwards, the bookseller, of

In his political opinions he was inflexibly consistent, and had won the esteem and confidence of many persons distinguished in public life. Laborious, exact, and skilful, he had the satisfaction of finding himself at length rendered independent by the practice of his useful and honourable profession; and lie had begun joyfully to devote to literature the leisure he had earned.

Of his ardent and unfailing attachment to Mr. Roscoe, he has left a public memorial in the dedication of the two parts of his Poem of “The Press,” published in 1803 and in 1828. But his friendship was better exhibited in the never-tiring zeal with which he availed himself of every opportunity to serve his friend, in the deep sympathy with which he entered into all the vicissitudes of his life, and in the promptitude with which, at a season of difficulty, he endeavoured to procure him support and assistance. How sensible Mr. Roscoe was of his friendship, may be best seen from the following letter, written in the summer of 1820:—

“I have long wished to address a few lines of acknowledgment to you for your constant and invariable kindness to me and mine, during our long and painful state of suspense, but have delayed it in the hope of seeing our concerns in a fair way of being satisfactorily arranged. That expectation is not, however, yet realised: and as I have to send an additional poem or two for my daughter Jane’s little publication, I could no longer resist the desire of having a few words with you, and of assuring you that, though silent, I have not been insensible of that friendship which has been evinced under the most trying circumstances; nor of those kind and constant exertions on my behalf, which adversity, and the train of evils with which I have had to struggle, have only served to increase. I will not, however, dwell on this

Pall Mall, with whom Mr. Roscoe was in habits of correspondence. By him they were laid before the Miss Berrys, whose intimate acquaintance with Italian literature rendered them very competent judges of the work. The character given of it by them to the late
Lord Orford, induced that nobleman to apply to Mr. Edwards for permission to peruse the sheets; and the following note, which was immediately communicated to Mr. Roscoe, was highly gratifying to him, as proceeding from a person so distinguished in the literary world.*

Lord Orford feels himself sensibly obliged by Mr. Edwards allowing Miss Berry to communicate to him the fragment of the Life of Lorenzo de’ Medici. Lord O. has not enjoyed so much and such unexpected pleasure for a

* The satisfaction expressed by Mr. Roscoe at the judgment of Lord Orford seems to have excited the spleen of Fuseli. “I understand,” he says in a letter to Mr. Roscoe, “that Lord Orford, the quondam Horace Walpole, has given an ample suffrage to what he saw of “Lorenzo.” That he should have done so surprises me not, but I am a little hurt at your having wished for it. The editor of Vertue’s trash should not have had much consequence in your eyes, though I shall not deny that there are disjecti membra poetæ in the “Mysterious Mother.”

long time, as from this most able, informing, and entertaining work, which, though it will leave a most agreeable impression on his mind, gives him great inquietude too, as he does not think that it will appear very soon,—an afflicting circumstance to Lord O., as very soon may be of great consequence to a very infirm man of seventy-six, who has no hopes of being so well amused as he should be by reading the completion of this work, for the sight of which he again thanks Mr. Edwards.”

The feelings with which Mr. Roscoe committed his labours to the press may be gathered from the following extract from a letter addressed to Lord Lansdowne:—

“About the work itself, I confess I am less anxious. After having employed a great part of my leisure for some years past upon it, I feel at length something of the sensation described by Dr. Johnson on publishing his Dictionary, and may say with him, that I dismiss it into the world with frigid indifference. The truth is, it is a tale of other times, bearing but little on the momentous occurrences of the present day, and therefore not likely to be much applauded or abused by any party. I have, on all occasions, avoided violent and extreme opinions, and perhaps may be accused by some of having taken some pains to display the glossy side of aristocracy. Possibly, however, this may com-
pensate for a certain degree of republican spirit which others will discover towards the close. I feel also some confidence from the idea that the subject is new to this country, and that the critics will not be yet prepared to take advantage of my errors. The affairs of Italy, and particularly the transactions of the Medici, have been involved in endless confusion; and the only work which I have ever met with (not published in Italy), which gives any just idea of them, is that of
Mr. Tenhove.

“I am sensible that it may appear a strange waste of time to have employed so many hours on a subject which has no immediate tendency to develope or influence any of the important truths that are now unfolding; but I have at times consoled myself in the reflection, that if I should be fortunate enough to open a new source of rational amusement, my time would not have been uselessly employed; and that every thing which tends to soften down the irritation of political opinions, and introduce from past experience measures of moderation and forbearance, will finally tend to promote, in some degree, the general good.”

The Life of Lorenzo was at length published, in the month of February, 1796, by Mr. Edwards, of Pall Mall, whose first intimation of the success of the work was conveyed to Mr. Roscoe in the following letter:—


“All your parcel (50) of the Life of Lorenzo have gone off in three days, and we are most cruelly teazed for more. If they are not sent off, I beg they may come directly.”

On the following day he again wrote to urge the despatch of more copies.

“Every body,” he says, “tells me your second exceeds the first, though that gave the highest satisfaction. It is a subject of conversation in every company—not to be able to speak of it, or to say they are to have it from the next parcel, is to be void of all taste and discernment.”

The work, in short, had become the fashion. “We are most unfortunately deprived,” says Mr. Edwards, in another letter, “of receiving any parcel from you since the first fifty. I have sent day by day to the warehouse of the Duke of Bridgewater’s canal, and nothing is found there for me. I dare say, if you make enquiry, you will find them lying in your warehouse at Liverpool.

“After such a train as your book was in, nothing could be more mortifying. For I know the ill effect it will have on our people of fashion. If they have not things at first, when they are talked of, they save their guineas, and by affecting to speak of what they are strangers to, give a very indifferent impression to their companions, who buy by hearsay. This, you will say, is no-
thing to you, who seek the applause of the learned few.

“One, however, is corroborated by the other, and the mass of approbation, with its various concomitant conveniences, is the desirable reward of merit.

“Notwithstanding your other business, remember I am fretting and harassed continually from the disappointment of being without a copy of your book.”

The avidity with which the work was sought for appears likewise by the following note from Mr. Faulder, a respectable bookseller in New Bond Street.

“I am so distressed for your ‘History of the Medici Family,’ that I am under the necessity of requesting that you will send me two or three copies by the very first coach, and the money shall be paid immediately to your order. Since I have been in business, I have not given so much offence, as by not being able to serve my friends with your work.”

The first edition of “Lorenzo” was published on Mr. Roscoe’s own account; but soon after its appearance, he received a liberal offer (1200l.) for the copyright, from Messrs. Cadell and Davies, of the Strand, which he immediately accepted. A second edition was speedily put to press by these gentlemen, which was followed by a third in the early part of the year 1799.


On the completion of the second volume of the Life, it had been immediately transmitted by its author to Lord Orford, who acknowledged the receipt of it in the following letter:—

“Two days ago, sir, good Mr. Edwards brought me your eagerly expected, and most welcome, second volume. I must thank you for it immediately, though incapable of writing with my own hand. I have been extremely ill with the gout for above eleven weeks, and ten days ago was at the point of death with an inflammation in my bowels, but have happily lived to see the continuation of your work, of which I have already gone through two chapters, and find them fully equal to their predecessors. Indeed, as I cannot express, in words of my own, my sentiments both of your work and of you, I shall beg your leave to transcribe the character of another person, which so exactly suits my thoughts of you, that I should very awkwardly attempt to draw another portrait, which I am sure would not be so like.

“‘Although these volumes appear to be rather the amusement of the leisure hours of a polite scholar, than the researches of a professed historian, yet they display an acquaintance with the transactions of Italy, seldom acquired except by a native. To a great proficiency in the literature of that country, Mr. Tenhove united an indisputable taste in the productions of all
the fine arts, and a general knowledge of the state of manners, and the progress of science, in every period of society. The fertility of his genius, and the extent of his information, have enabled him to intersperse his narrative with a variety of interesting digressions and brilliant observations; and the most engaging work that has, perhaps, ever appeared on a subject of literary history, is written by a native of one country, in the language of another, on the affairs of a third.’

“Nothing, sir, but your own extreme modesty, and impartial justice, would have blinded you so far as to have prevented you discovering that this must be a more faithful picture of yourself than it can be of Mr. Tenhove’s imperfect performance, omitting the language of a third.

“In my own copy of your work, I shall certainly insert the quotation in lieu of Testimonia Auctorum.

“Give me leave to thank you (for your own sake too) for your improvement of the two lines beginning with imagined evils: you have completely satisfied me, sir; and since I find that you can correct as masterly as compose, I believe, that, with all my admiration and respect, I shall be impertinent enough to point out any new faults, if I can discover them, in your second volume.

“I hope, by this sincere sketch of my senti-
ments, I have so entirely convinced you of them that I can have no occasion to profess again how much

“I am, Sir,
“Your most obliged, and most delighted, and
most obedient, humble Servant,

That Lord Orford, in the commendations thus freely bestowed, did not intend merely to flatter the vanity of the author, may be inferred from the following letter addressed by the Rev. Mark Noble to Mr. Roscoe; from which it appears that his Lordship expressed his approbation to others in language almost equally strong:—

“Though an entire stranger to you, I have ventured to transcribe part of a letter, which I have just received from Lord Orford, in answer to one I wrote when I presented his Lordship with a copy of my Memoirs of the Medici Family. Such praise from so great a judge must, I am certain, be highly gratifying.

“Had I not been in the habit of keeping my letters, and this which I have received related to various other circumstances, I believe I should have sent you the original. I am extremely mortified that the distance precludes me waiting upon you, a small one would not. I should have been happy in your acquaintance, still more so in your friendship; but I am keep-
ing you too long from the praises you so justly merit.

“Extract of Lord Orford’s letter to me, dated from Berkeley Square, Jan. 12th, 1797:—

“‘I have received, Sir, your “History of the Medici,” and am much obliged to you for it; it is well, and judiciously, and impartially written, and a satisfactory supplement to Mr. Roscoe’s Lorenzo, who, I think, is by far the best of our historians, both for beauty and style, and for deep reflections; and his translations of poetry are equal to the originals.’”

Another nobleman, distinguished by his attachment to the arts, as much as by the singularity of his character, expressed in lively terms his approbation of Mr. Roscoe’s labours. The Earl of Bristol, then resident at Rome, addressed to Mr. Cadell, the publisher of the “Life of Lorenzo,” the following note, in the month of January, 1797:—

Lord Bristol’s compliments to Mr. Cadell, and begs to know the place of residence of Mr. Roscoe, the ingenious, learned, and elegant author of the ‘Life of Lorenzo de’ Medici’—what is his profession—what his resources in life—what his connection—and what present of books, pictures, or statues might be most welcome to him?”

In answer to this generous and unlooked for proposal, Mr. Roscoe addressed to Mr. Cadell the following letter:—


“The note from the Earl of Bristol, which you have been so kind as to send me to-day, does me the greatest honour, and demands my warmest acknowledgments.

“I am happy in the present opportunity, by your means, of conveying to his Lordship my most grateful thanks for the generous intentions he has expressed towards me, and of assuring his Lordship with the deepest sense of his goodness, that as I had no motive in publishing my work but a sincere desire of promoting the cause of letters, and of doing justice to a great and neglected character, so the approbation of such an acknowledged judge in works of taste and literature, as the Earl of Bristol, is the highest compensation which I can possibly receive.”

A few months afterwards, Lord Bristol addressed to Mr. Roscoe a letter expressing in the warmest terms his admiration of the “Life of Lorenzo.”

“It is impossible to read your elegant and most interesting history of that ornament of human nature, Lorenzo de’ Medicis, and not feel at the same time a kind of triumphant enthusiasm that we possess a contemporary writer of such superior talents and such indefatigable industry, with a choice of the most interesting, instructive, animating subjects that can improve his countrymen and honour himself.

“Your documents are as new as they are
authentic, and as interesting from the subjects as from the writer; and I have only to lament, that, being doomed, from a very frail state of health, to drag many years in a southern climate, I have not been the fortunate person to furnish so splendid and so useful an historian with those precious documents of which he has made so masterly an use.

“In the mean time I venture to exhort you, ‘Perge ut incepisti,’ and take for your next theme a subject still more extensive, still more exalted, and, of course, still more worthy of your very eminent abilities. ’T is the sequel of Lorenzo that I propose to you, in the life of his son, Leo X. You see at once, Sir, what a glorious, interesting, animating era it embraces; and who so fit to paint the manhood of arts, of science, of religious reformation, as that happy and elegant writer who has so satisfactorily sketched and delineated their infancy?

“If, during my abode at Rome, I can in any way serve you by my connection with the Vatican Librarian, you may command me.”

In another letter, written soon after the foregoing, Lord Bristol urged Mr. Roscoe to visit Italy, offering him, at the same time, the use of his apartments at Rome, or at Naples. This invitation opened a tempting prospect to Mr. Roscoe; but his situation compelled him to decline so gratifying an excursion.


“It will not seem strange to your Lordship,” he says, in answer, “that I should feel some desire to visit a portion of the earth which has been so frequently present to my imagination, or that this desire should be increased by the accommodation so generously proposed to me by your Lordship. But, however forcible these inducements may be, there are others which are still more powerful, and which prohibit me from indulging even a distant expectation of such an excursion. With the claims of a wife and eight children on my attention, I should feel little gratification in any pleasures which required a long absence from home, whilst the improvement of an extensive tract of waste moss land in the vicinity of Manchester calls for my constant superintendence. To say the truth, too, the striking picture your Lordship has given of the great seat of arms in ancient, and of arts in modern times, might almost shake the resolution of any one who was not determined, like Orpheus of old, to drag the object of his adoration from the jaws of hell itself. Under these united impressions, I must relinquish all idea of availing myself of your Lordship’s goodness, assuring you, however, that I shall always hold it in the most grateful remembrance.”

The sheets of the “Life of Lorenzo” were also communicated to the late Marquis of Lansdowne, and by him to Sir Samuel Romilly and M. Du-
mont. “I have had,” says that nobleman, in a letter to
Mr. Roscoe, “a gouty attack upon my stomach, which, though it has not confined me, has indisposed me to the least exertion, and made it a grievance to me so much as to take up a pen. But it did not prevent me a moment from reading the sheets which Edwards sent me. I assure you that I was quite delighted with them, and so were two much better judges, to whom I took the liberty of showing them. One is a counsel, Mr. Romilly, a particular friend of mine, who I wish was acquainted with you, and you with him; the other is M. Dumont, a Swiss, whom you may read of in the papers as having been a secretary of Mirabeau, and a political agent of mine.”

Lord Lansdowne also, with that friendly partiality which distinguished his intercourse with Mr. Roscoe, took an opportunity of publicly eulogising the “Life of Lorenzo.” “As there is no person,” says Mr. Roscoe, in a letter to his Lordship, “whose opinion I looked up to with so much anxiety as your Lordship’s, so the approbation you have been pleased to express of my book has given me the sincerest satisfaction, which is increased by the distinguished honour it received from your adverting to it in so favourable a manner in the House of Lords.”

On the publication of the work Lord Lans-
downe expressed his approbation of it in the following terms:—

“Assured on all hands of the success of ‘Lorenzo de’ Medici,’ which has been far beyond any book I remember (and Mr. Hume’s publication of his first volumes is within my memory), we determined to reserve it till we went to Wycombe, and could have the full enjoyment of it free from interruption; and I can venture to assure you that great as our prejudice was in its favour, it exceeded our expectation. Miss Fox has begun to translate the prose pieces in the Appendix, and I am determined to learn Italian without delay. In the mean time we are all suitors to you, to put us into a course of Italian reading, but I am sorry that we must, for the present, confine ourselves to translations. I do not know what the reason is, but Guicciardini is the only book of reputation which I have not been able to get through with pleasure.”

From various other quarters Mr. Roscoe received the most gratifying expressions of approbation. “Permit me,” says Dr. Aikin, in a letter addressed to him in May, 1796, “to return you my share of thanks for the pleasure you have communicated to the public by your admirable ‘History of Lorenzo.’ I have heard but one opinion of it, that it is the most elegant and interesting publication of the literary kind that has appeared in our language for many
years; and sincerely am I rejoiced, that a merit which has been so long conspicuous in the circle of your friends, is now fairly displayed and made manifest to the world at large.”

Amongst these numerous and gratifying testimonies to the merits of the “Life of Lorenzo de’ Medici,” the most singular and unlooked for was that given by the author of “The Pursuits of Literature.” The political sentiments which distinguished that celebrated work, and the severity with which every writer of liberal, or, as they were then termed, of Jacobinical principles, was treated in its pages, seemed to render it very improbable that the writings of Mr. Roscoe would meet with a more favourable consideration. But the attachment of the author to Italian literature, and his gratitude for the contributions made to it by Mr. Roscoe, overcame even the violence of party feeling, and drew from him the following eulogistic notice:—
“But hark! what solemn strains from Arno’s vales
Breathe raptures wafted on the Tuscan gales!
Lorenzo rears again his awful head,
And feels his ancient glories round him spread;
The Muses starting from their trance revive,
And at their Roscoe’s bidding wake and live.”

To these lines the following note was appended:—“See the ‘Life of Lorenzo de’ Medici, called the Magnificent, by William Roscoe.’ I
cannot but congratulate the public upon this great and important addition to classical history, which I regard as a phenomenon in literature, in every point of view.

“It is pleasant to consider a gentleman not under the auspices of an university, nor beneath the shade of academic bowers, but in the practice of the law, and business of great extent, and resident in the remote commercial town of Liverpool, (where nothing is heard of but Guinea ships, slaves, blacks, and merchandise,) investigating and describing the rise and progress of every polite art in Italy, at the revival of learning, with acuteness, depth, and precision, with the spirit of the poet and the solidity of the historian.

“For my own part I have not terms sufficient to express my admiration of his genius and erudition, or my gratitude for the amusement and information I have received. I may add that the manner in which Mr. Roscoe procured from the libraries at Florence many of the various inedited manuscripts with which he has enriched the appendix to his history, was singularly curious; not from a fellow or traveller of the dilettanti, but from a commercial man in the intervals of his employment.

“I shall not violate the dignity of the work by slight objections to some modes of expression, or even to a few words, or to some occasional
sentiments in the historian of a republic. But I recommend it to our country as a work of unquestionable genius and of uncommon merit. It adds the name of
Roscoe to the very first rank of English classical historians.”

To the honour of this highly flattering notice Mr. Roscoe could not be insensible, proceeding as it did from a person eminently skilled in the same studies in which he himself delighted. He therefore thought it proper to express, to the unknown author of the poem*, the gratifi-

* Much discussion has taken place with regard to the author of the “Pursuits of Literature,” who, like “Junius,” still remains involved in obscurity.

The following passage from a letter from Mrs. Riddell, dated 20th September, 1800, may serve to amuse those who are curious on the subject:—

“Do your absent friends the justice to believe that they can think of you, and admire you, at a distance; those who know you personally and those who know you by your works alone. There is one of the latter description in my neighbourhood just now that must be nameless, whose tribute of respect has been already paid in one of the most extraordinary productions that has been given to the world for a long while (I need not mention the ‘Pursuits of Literature’). I know you were not insensible to it. I have had the pleasure of passing three or four months in the almost uninterrupted society of the very accomplished writer and scholar at whose feet the reputation of this work is generally laid, and with whom the envy and malevolence, as well as the admiration, now rest. I have had more questions asked me about you than I was well able to answer, from that quarter, but I could report nothing that did not seem to confirm the opinion conveyed in his very elegant application of a line from Vida:
“‘Huic Musæ indulgent omnes, hunc pascit Apollo.’

cation he had experienced at the manner in which his literary labours had been treated. At the same time, as a letter of thanks and compliments only might seem to convey a more general approval of the principles promulgated in the poem, than in truth Mr. Roscoe felt, he undertook the difficult task of limiting the approbation which he expressed. He likewise availed himself of the opportunity to correct some errors with regard to himself, into which the author of “The Pursuits of Literature” had fallen.

Mr. Roscoe takes the liberty of presenting his sincere acknowledgments to the author of the ‘Pursuits of Literature,’ for the great pleasure and information he has derived from his very original, learned, and entertaining work; and is happy, at the same time, in an opportunity of expressing his grateful sense of the honour done him, in the very favourable notice taken in that poem of the ‘Life of Lorenzo de’ Medici;’ and which is the more estimable, inasmuch as the author of the ‘Pursuits of Liter-

“I must add one piece of information that will make you smile. ‘The vine-covered hills and gay valleys of France,’ and its sister, ‘Unfold Father Time,’ I ventured to show to the severe censor above alluded to, a day or two ago, who not only passes with unwonted toleration over ‘a few occasional sentiments of that tendency in the historian of a republic,’ but condescends to read these with delight, making every decent allowance for the poetical privilege.”

ature’ has so fully evinced, to every unprejudiced reader, his own thorough acquaintance with the various subjects which Mr. Roscoe has there had occasion to discuss.

“As Mr. Roscoe has just observed that a new and complete edition of the ‘Pursuits of Literature,’ with corrections and improvements, is now in the press, he thinks it incumbent on him to point out some inaccuracies respecting himself, which would have been of no moment, had not the author of the ‘Pursuits of Literature’ placed him before the public in so favourable a light. After having mentioned these particulars, he submits it to the author’s judgment, whether they are sufficiently important to merit correction in the edition now proposed.

“In the first place, Mr. Roscoe begs leave to assure the author of the ‘Pursuits of Literature’ that he is not the author of the letter published under the name of ‘Jasper Wilson,’ nor had any connection whatever with the writing or publication of that work. At the same time, he wishes it to be understood, that he makes this avowal only for the sake of truth, and not from the apprehension of any imputation which might arise from his being considered as the author of that performance, which he conceives to be not only strictly constitutional, but as deserving, in a high degree, the serious attention of every real friend to his country.


Mr. Roscoe also begs leave to notice another inaccuracy in the third part of the ‘Pursuits of Literature;’ viz. that the materials for the ‘Life of Lorenzo de’ Medici’ were collected abroad by a commercial man in the intervals of his employment. If this, indeed, were the fact, Mr. Roscoe would think, with the author of the ‘Pursuits of Literature,’ that it would by no means detract either from his book or himself, but this not being the case, Mr. Roscoe thinks it incumbent on him to notice it. The truth is, that Mr. Clarke, the gentleman referred to, (and who, to an intimate acquaintance with most of the European tongues, unites a thorough knowledge of the ancient languages,) was absent from home for upwards of seven years, in Italy, and other parts of the Continent; first, on account of his health, and afterwards for the same object that forms the title of the excellent poem before referred to, without any other business whatever. Mr. Roscoe observed, soon after the publication of the ‘Life of Lorenzo,’ a paragraph in one of the public papers, stating, that the book was written by a Liverpool merchant, with materials collected by an outrider, or to that effect. He did not think it worth his while to contradict the report of the day, though it was erroneous both as to him and his friend: but the ‘Pursuits of Literature’ will reach posterity; and, as Mr. Roscoe now hopes, through the partiality of the
author, to ‘pursue the triumph and partake the gale,’ he is unwilling, so far as depends on himself, to give permanency to error.

Mr. Roscoe would not think that he acted on this occasion with that candour, which he hopes it will always be his endeavour to maintain, did he not, in expressing his admiration of the ‘Pursuits of Literature,’ avow a difference of opinion with respect to some of the political subjects there discussed; consequently, with respect to the strictures on some distinguished characters, whose merits seem to have been measured by a political rather than by a literary standard. ‘Politics,’ as the author of the ‘Pursuits of Literature’ observes, ‘are temporary, but wit is eternal;’ but if these be the perishable parts of his work, they are the only parts that will perish. It would, however, be unpardonable in Mr. Roscoe to object to that freedom of opinion which the author of the ‘Pursuits of Literature’ has in so handsome a manner conceded to himself; nor does he conceive that the difference, to which he has ventured to allude, is a difference in principles. The sound learning, and extensive acquaintance, of the author of the ‘Pursuits of Literature,’ both with modern and ancient history, are an ample pledge that he could not for a moment entertain sentiments adverse to the rational liberty, improvement, and happiness of mankind; even if this
were not sufficiently evinced, as it certainly is, by numerous passages in his work. Of the best mode of obtaining these advantages, thinking men may be allowed to doubt, and good men may chance to differ—happy, indeed, if they would recollect, that, of all the calamities that can befall a nation, a spirit of mutual jealousy and vindictive resentment is the worst. Mr. Roscoe respectfully takes his leave of the author of the ‘Pursuits of Literature,’ with assuring him, in his own emphatic words, expressed in his last note, ‘That the most ardent wish of his heart is a secure peace after a war for ever to be deplored, bloody, fatal, and expensive, beyond example.’ And though Mr. Roscoe cannot join in the opinion that this war was inevitable, he hopes, that his wishes for the termination of it, and for the future union, tranquillity, and prosperity of this country, will not on that account be considered as less sincere.”

To this communication the author of the “Pursuits of Literature” sent the following answer, written in that feigned hand which he made the medium of his communications.

“The Author of the ‘Pursuits of Literature’ presents his compliments to Mr. Roscoe, and returns him many thanks for the favour of his obliging letter. He requests Mr. Roscoe’s acceptance of the new edition of his poem, with many corrections and additions. He hopes it
will be found not unworthy of another perusal.

“The introductory letter is entirely new. The author of the ‘Pursuits of Literature’ only observed, that Mr. Roscoe was presented by Mr. Clarke with some of the poems in the Appendix, not in his ‘History of Lorenzo.’

“The author continues the same high opinion of Mr. Roscoe’s work. In political matters he differs a little.

“The hint about Jasper Wilson’s letter was reprinted before Mr. Roscoe’s note was received. If there should be any other editions, it shall be attended to. The author of the ‘P. of L.’ wishes Mr. Roscoe health, happiness, and the enjoyment of his well-earned and well-deserved literary honours; but fears he never may have the satisfaction of seeing him. The author will be happy to know if the parcel is received by Mr. Roscoe.”

It would occupy too much space to insert in this place the various gratifying criticisms which Mr. Roscoe received from his literary correspondents. A few extracts from the letters of persons of taste and learning may, however, be considered as properly admissible. The following passage is from a letter addressed to Mr. Roscoe by Mr. J. C. Walker, the author of the “History of Italian Tragedy.”—“Allow me, Sir, to embrace this opportunity of offering you my
warmest thanks for the pleasure and interesting information which I derived from the perusal of your Life of ‘
Lorenzo de’ Medici.’ It is, in my opinion, one of the finest pieces of biography in the English, or perhaps in any other language. It is also a clear, elegant, and highly satisfactory account of the rise of literature and the belle arti in modern Italy. A hermit among the mountains of Wicklow, literary intelligence and new publications are slow in reaching me: however, soon after the appearance of your work, my friend Mr. Hayley recommended it to me as a performance of singular merit in every point of view, and I then, as you may suppose, lost no time in obtaining a copy.”

Fuseli, whose erudition and knowledge of art made him a very competent judge of many parts of the work, thus mentions it:—

“So much had I written when your dear epistle from Buxton found me; a balm to my wounded and overbalanced mind: ‘Ecce iterum Crispinus!’ But let me, if possible, forget my cursed self for one moment, and thank you for the genuine pleasure your book has given me. I value it not, you know, because its publication has been eminently successful, but because it deserves that success, and more; and does to you, and to my friendship for you, infinite honour. I am perhaps not so great a friend to Lorenzo
as you; perhaps I may think on some other points, more closely connected with my pursuits, somewhat differently from you; but, take the whole together, there is no writer with whom, on all the various topics he treats, I coincide more heartily than with you. The style is, in my eyes, original, ample without being loquacious, pointed without being epigrammatic, and sententious without affectation.

“As it is likely I shall immediately review it (you know for whom), I reserve finding fault with you for that lucubration.

“The head of Lorenzo prefixed is admirable; you could never have got so good a thing here; but I am very much mistaken if, by invigorating a few traits, it would not make an excellent head of Richard III.”

But it was from Dr. Parr that Mr. Roscoe received one of the most gratifying, and certainly the most valuable, communications on the subject of his new work. That learned and accomplished scholar had no sooner possessed himself of the volumes, than he applied himself to the critical perusal of them, with a degree of industry and accuracy which few persons would have been capable of bestowing. The result of his labours, comprised in many folio sheets of paper, containing corrections of the Latin quotations and documents, observations on the English narrative, and various literary notices, suggestions, and
remarks, applicable to different parts of the book, he laid before Mr. Roscoe.

The pleasure which this task afforded Dr. Parr, is described by one of his pupils. “I well recollect* the manner in which Dr. Parr devoured every page of Roscoe’sLife of Lorenzo de’ Medici.’ After his first perusal of the book, he went through it again with me, to whom he dictated numerous critical observations and suggestions, which he enclosed in a complimentary letter to Mr. Roscoe; and which, I believe, led to a friendly intercourse between the Doctor and that gentleman.”

The following letter announced these valuable communications:—

“For the liberty I am going to take with a gentleman whom I have not the honour personally to know, I have no other, and probably I could find no better apology, than the frankness which ought to subsist between literary men upon subjects of literature. Your ‘Life of Lorenzo de’ Medici’ had been often mentioned to me by critics whose approbation every writer would be proud to obtain; and, as the course of reading which I pursued about thirty years ago had made me familiar with the works of Poggius, Pico of Mirandola, Politian, and other illustrious

* Field’s Memoirs of Dr. Parr, p. 440.

contemporaries of Lorenzo, I eagerly seized the opportunity of borrowing your celebrated publication from a learned friend at Oxford. You will pardon my zeal, Sir, and you may confide in my sincerity, when I declare to you, that the contents of your book far surpassed my expectation, and amply rewarded the attention with which I perused them. You have thrown the clearest and fullest light upon a period most interesting to every scholar. You have produced much that was unknown, and, to that which was known, you have given perspicuity, order, and grace. You have shown the greatest diligence in your researches, and the purest taste in your selection; and, upon the characters and events which passed in review before your inquisitive and discriminating mind, you have united sagacity of observation, with correctness, elegance, and vigour of style. For the credit of our national curiosity and national learning, I trust that the work will soon reach a second edition; and, if this should be the case, I will, with your permission, send you a list of mistakes which I have found in some Latin passages, and which, upon seeing them, you will certainly think worthy of consideration. Perhaps I shall proceed a little further, in pointing out two or three expressions which seem to me capable of improvement, and in stating my reasons for dissenting from you upon a very few facts of very little importance.”


Mr. Roscoe, in acknowledging the receipt of this friendly letter, expressed the readiness and satisfaction with which he was prepared to receive the promised criticisms; and shortly afterwards Dr. Parr enclosed them to him, accompanied by the following letter:—

“I am determined to lose no time in acknowledging my good fortune upon the acquisition of a correspondent whose candour is worthy of his talents, and whose letters are fraught with all the elegance and all the vigour which decorate his publication. . . . I rejoice, Sir, not so much upon your account, as upon that of your readers, to whom you have opened so large and so delightful a field of entertainment and instruction, when you tell me that the ‘Life of Lorenzo’ has already gone through three editions, and that it will soon appear in an octavo form. The edition open before me is that of 1796. I borrowed it from the learned librarian of New College, Oxford; and I shall return it next week, because it belongs to a society, where you will have many readers very capable of appreciating your merit, and well disposed to acknowledge and to proclaim it. . . . By what the ancients would have called the afflatus divinus, I anticipated your willingness to let me speak with freedom; and your letter justifies me in ascribing to you that candour which is the sure criterion and happy effect of conscious and eminent worth.
Indeed, Sir, I saw in your work vestiges of excellence, which, in my estimation, is of a much higher order than taste and learning. I found deep reflection, and therefore I expected to find a dignified and virtuous moderation in the science of politics. I met with sentiments of morality, too pure to be suspected of hypocrisy, too just and elevated to be charged with ostentation; and give me leave to add, that they acted most powerfully on the best sympathies of my soul. If, in this season of old corruptions and new refinements, a
Fénélon were to rise up among us; and if, by a conversion in the understandings and hearts of sovereigns, not less miraculous than that recorded of Paul, he were appointed to train up the heir of a throne to solid wisdom and sublime virtue, sure I am that he would eagerly put your book into the hands of his pupil, and bid him—
“Nocturnâ versare manu, versare diurnâ.”

“I am no stranger to the sweets of literary and social intercourse between kindred spirits; and therefore I wonder not that you call Dr. Currie your friend. Present my best compliments to him, and believe me,” &c.

“I last night,” says Mr. Roscoe, in reply, “had the pleasure of receiving your packet, containing your corrections and observations on the ‘Life of Lorenzo de’ Medici,’ and, without
losing a moment, began the perusal of them. The great length to which they appeared to extend, alarmed and surprised me; the former, from an idea that my mistakes were almost innumerable; the latter, that the cleansing of such an Augaean stable had not entirely overcome your patience. . . . It is not incumbent on me to express the obligations I feel for the great labour and attention which you have bestowed upon my work, and which acquire a double value from that union of free remark and friendly expression which constantly occurs, and which, even if I were so weak or so ungrateful as to feel the slightest impulse of dissatisfaction against any one but myself for my own errors, have so effectually removed every emotion of the kind, that I can justly say I have perused the remarks from beginning to end with uniform pleasure, approbation, and respect.”

From the periodical critics of this country, the ‘Life of Lorenzo de’ Medici’ met with almost unqualified praise. In the Analytical Review, published by Johnson, of St. Paul’s Churchyard, it was reviewed by Fuseli, who at that time was one of the most active contributors to the work. The judgment of one who, like Fuseli, had been long in habits of friendship with the author, and who had avowed to him his intention of writing the review, can hardly be referred to as an impartial test of the merits
of the publication; yet the following character of it, given at the conclusion of the critique, will perhaps be thought, by more disinterested judges, to be not incorrect:—

“Notwithstanding the modesty of the title, the ‘Life of Lorenzo de’ Medici’ unites the general history of the times, and the political system of the most memorable country in Europe, with the characters of the most celebrated men, and the rise and progress of science and arts. The greatest praise of the historian and biographer, impartiality, might be called its most prominent feature, were it not excelled by the humanity of the writer, who touches with a hand, often too gentle, those blemishes which he scorns to disguise. It is impossible to read any part of his performance, without discovering, that an ardent love for the true interests of society, and a fervid attachment to virtue and real liberty, have furnished his motives of choice, and every where directed his pen. The diligence and correctness of judgment by which the matter is selected and distributed, notwithstanding the scantiness, obscurity, or partiality of the documents that were to be consulted, are equalled only by the amenity with which he has varied his subjects, and the surprising extent of his information. Simplicity, perspicuity, and copiousness, are the leading features of his style; often sententious without being abrupt, and de-
cided without an air of dogma; that it should have been sometimes verbose, sometimes lax or minute, is less to be wondered at, than that it should never be disgraced by affectation or pretence of elegance. If we be not always led by the nearest road, our path is always strewn with flowers; and if it be the highest praise of writing to have made delight the effectual vehicle of instruction, our author has attained it.”

The success of the work on the Continent was no less striking than in England. From the scholars of Italy, who were best able to appreciate its merits, it met with a very favourable reception. The learned Fabroni, with a candour not inferior to his erudition, was the first to make it known to his countrymen; and though he was on the point of presenting to them a translation of his own ‘Life of Lorenzo,’ written by him in Latin, yet, on the perusal of the English work, he abandoned that design, and prevailed upon a young gentleman of Pisa, the Cavaliero Gaetano Mecherini, to give a version into Italian of the English Life. The translation was accordingly published at Pisa, in the year 1799*, under the express patronage of Fabroni, who, in the following year, addressed a

* Vita di Lorenzo de’ Medici detto il Magnifico, del Dottore Guglielmo Roscoe; versione dall’ Inglese, 4 tom. 8vo. Pisa, 1799. See the Illustrations of the Life of Lorenzo, p. 10. and the Appendix, No. III.

letter to
Mr. Roscoe, congratulating him on the success of his labours.—“La celebrità,” says that distinguished scholar, “che vi siete acquistata colla Vita di Lorenzo il Magnifico fa che io non mi penta di avervi dato un impulso di scriverla con quella ch’ io publicai del medesimo. Voi avete supplito alle mie mancanze, e se avessi saputo in tempo il disegno vostro, avrei potuto trarre da quei medesimi archivj da cui presi molti preziosi monumenti relativi al mio soggetto, altre memorie che avrebbero potuto rendere anche piu copiosa l’opera vostra. Questa però e tale da non lasciare nulla da desiderare. Permettetemi che me ne congratuli con voi, con me, e coll’ Italia nostra; e questa vi sarà anche piu obligata se, come sento, darete anche al pubblico la Vita di Leon X. sulla quale anch’ io ho lavorato, publicando due anni fa il libro intitolato, Leonis X. Pontificis Maximi Vita.”* The approving judgment of so celebrated a scholar as Fabroni was in the highest degree gratifying to Mr. Roscoe. “It cannot but give me pleasure,” he says, in a letter to Mr. J. C. Walker, “to find that my work has had the good fortune to meet with the approbation of some distinguished scholars of that country (Italy), among whom I have the satisfaction to mention Monsignor

* This letter is published in the Illustrations of the Life of Lorenzo, Appendix, p. 86.

Fabroni, Principal of the University of Pisa; to whose valuable ‘Life of Lorenzo de’ Medici,’ and large historical collections on that subject, I have been so much indebted, and from whom I have just received a very obliging letter, offering me all his works, amongst which is a ‘Life of Leo X.,’ written in Latin, and published by him about two years ago. Fabroni I consider as a well informed, liberal, and judicious historian. His ‘Lives of Learned Italians,’ of which I have several volumes, is a great and national work, which will do him lasting honour. I look up to him as a sure guide, whenever I travel the same road with him; nor is there any man whose favourable opinion I should have been more anxious to obtain.”

The venerable Angelo Maria Bandini, who presided for more than half a century over the Laurentian Library at Florence, and to whose labours in the field of literature even the most learned scholars of that country are indebted, also expressed in strong language his admiration of the Life of Lorenzo:—“Eccede troppo la bonta sua verso di me,” he observes, in answer to a communication from Mr. Roscoe, “che altro merito non ho verso la sua degna persona, che quello di aver resa la dovuta giustizia all’ opera sua immortale della Vita del Magco. Lorenzo de’ Medici, uno di quei rari genii che nella rivo-
luzione dei secoli la natura produce, a confusione del viventi.”*

Mecherini’s translation was transmitted to Mr. Roscoe through the Marquis of Douglas, who was at that time travelling on the Continent, and who, immediately upon his return, addressed to Mr. Roscoe the following letter:—

“It is with particular pleasure that I address myself to a man whose extensive information and literary abilities have ensured him the esteem of the public. Nor is his reputation confined to his own country. I have been not a little gratified in hearing the ‘Life of Lorenzo de’ Medici’ most highly commended in Tuscany; and, as a proof of the estimation it is there held in, I am desired, by a friend of mine, to transmit the enclosed letter to Liverpool. I should tell you, Sir, that the translation of your work, which ought to accompany it, is not yet conveyed to England. It is packed up in a box of books of mine now at Leghorn. As soon as the case gets to England, I will forward your translation to Lancashire without delay. I shall say nothing of the young author who has so industriously sought to make known your work in Italy. He is a young man, a friend of Monsignor Fabroni, and one of the literary society at Pisa; and, being attached to the history of his country, naturally

* Illustrations of the Life of Lorenzo, Appendix, p. 82.

felt a lively sense of gratitude towards one who has investigated so interesting a period of it with so much ingenuity. In any communication, or in any thing that can testify my personal esteem for you, I shall most willingly assist you.”

On receiving this communication, Mr. Roscoe immediately addressed to the Cavaliero Mecherini the following letter:—

“I had yesterday the pleasure of receiving, through the kindness of Lord Douglas, your very obliging letter of the 4th of June last, informing me that you had sent me a copy of your translation from the English, of the ‘Life of the Mag. Lorenzo de’ Medici.’ This translation I had, indeed, already seen with the sensations of a parent who finds his offspring returned from a distant journey, improved in his appearance, language, and address. I shall, however, receive with additional pleasure, when it arrives, the copy with which you have honoured me; and shall regard it as a monument of that sincere esteem and attachment which a conformity of studies and pursuits cannot fail to inspire.

“You will readily conceive the satisfaction it must have afforded the author of a work on Italian literature, to find that his labours had been received by the judicious and learned of that country with not only indulgence, but protection and favour; but if there is a person whose approbation I should have wished to have
secured beyond that of any other, it is
Monsignor Fabroni, who has shown, by his own truly valuable and learned productions, how well he is qualified to judge on those subjects; and who, in the kind communications with which he has favoured me, has displayed a degree of liberality and candour which have made an indelible impression on my mind, and secured to him my unalterable attachment and respect.

“With regard to the work which, by your partiality, now appears in an Italian dress, let me be allowed to remark, that although I have observed, on some occasions, a difference of opinion between us, as appears by the Notes you have subjoined, yet, upon the whole, so far from being surprised at this diversity, I cannot but think it extraordinary that, in a work of such length, which has been the subject of consideration to two persons in different countries, of different religious habits, and opportunities of acquirement, there should be, in general, such an union between us, not only in matters of fact, but of judgment. In one instance (vol. iv. p. 112.), I could have wished that the original passage had either been given with the note, or the passage omitted without so pointed a reprehension; but it is of little importance; and I cannot, perhaps, expect that, in a passage where I certainly have not consulted the feelings of a great and respect-
able body of men, I should experience any extraordinary indulgence to my own.

“Since the publication of the work which has procured me the honour of your notice, I have employed a considerable portion of my leisure in compiling the ‘Life of Leo X.;’ in which I have made such progress, that I expect to send the first volume to the press in the course of the ensuing winter. As soon as this is completed, I shall have the pleasure of transmitting you a copy, as well as another for Monsignor Fabroni, to whose learned work on the same subject I shall stand greatly indebted, particularly in the more advanced stages of my narrative. As this publication will probably extend to three or four volumes, it will be some time before I can hope to see it completed; but I shall make a particular object of forwarding to you the volumes as they come from the press, and shall think myself much honoured by any observations that may occur to you on the perusal.”

Amongst the many other distinguished foreigners who expressed their opinions upon the work was the celebrated Abate Andres. “During my residence in Italy,” says Mr. Francis Drake, in a letter addressed to Mr. Roscoe, “I lent your excellent ‘Life of Lorenzo de’ Medici’ to several persons, who were eager to peruse a book which had acquired so much celebrity, and amongst others to the Abbé Andres, a Spanish
Jesuit, a gentleman of very extensive reading, and a critic of high reputation in Italy. The enclosed paper contains his opinion of the merits of the work; and I have taken the liberty to transmit it to you, thinking that it might be very flattering and grateful to see how few and how insignificant the inaccuracies are which the Abbé fancies he has discovered in it, perusing it, as he certainly did, with the prejudices of his order and of his religious tenets, and with a jealous desire of diminishing the reputation of a work so superior in every respect to any thing which has been produced by his own countrymen; for, though he was formerly a Jesuit in Spain, I believe he is a Florentine by birth.”—“I am equally honoured and obliged,” says Mr. Roscoe, in reply to Mr. Drake, “by your communication of the paper of remarks on my ‘Life of Lorenzo de’ Medici.’ I had, indeed, before seen them, through the favour of the
Earl of Bristol; but, as they were anonymous, your letter gratifies me by acquainting me with the name of the author, which I was very desirous of knowing. With the very learned and extensive work of the Abate Andres, ‘Dell’ Origine, Progressi, e Stato attuale d’ogni Letteratura,’ I am well acquainted, and I think myself particularly fortunate that I should have obtained, in any degree, the approbation of so well-informed a critic, who, since the death of
Tiraboschi of Modena, is, perhaps, the best literary historian in Italy. At the same time it must be confessed that his general approbation is pretty much counteracted by his particular criticisms, in some of which his reprehensions seem rather stronger than the occasion requires.”

The general commendation expressed by the Abate Andres is not inferior to that of the other Italian critics.—“Il piacere con cui ho letta la Vita di Lorenzo il Magnifico del Sig. Roscoe, e la sorpresa e maraviglia che m’ha recato il vedere in un Inglese non mai venuto in Italia tanta cognizione e si pieno possesso della letteratura Italiana, mi fanno sperare che tale opera, coronata dagli applausi de’ Letterati, otterrà nuove edizioni, e desiderare che venga in esse purgata d’alcuni lievi difetti osservabili soltanto perchè si trovano in mezzo a tanti e si belli pregi; nelle avvenenti belezze si rendono sensibili i più piccioli nei.”* The particular remarks of the learned critic are noticed by Mr. Roscoe in the “Illustrations of the Life of Lorenzo,” where he has, at some length, defended himself against them.

The Abate Jacopo Morelli, principal librarian of St. Mark at Venice, and the Canon Domenico Moreni, of Florence, likewise bore their testimony to the merits of Mr. Roscoe’s work. The

* Illustrations of the Life of Lorenzo, Appendix No. IV.

latter, in his “Bibliografia Storico-Ragionata della Toscana,” has thus spoken of it:—“Contiene questa Vita l’ Istoria di gran parte della Famiglia Medicea * * * un opera si bella che sembra fatta per l’ Italia, e che nell’ Italia dovea esser fatta.”* In the year 1809, Moreni edited a volume† which he dedicated to Mr. Roscoe, and in which he expressed, in high terms, his favourable opinion of the “
Life of Lorenzo.”—“Ex quo Laurentii Medicis cognomento Magnifici, Artium et Platonicæ Philosophiæ Restauratoris Eximii, Vitam typis Liverpoolianis impressam promulgâsti, Italorum omnium et præcipuè Florentinorum admirationem benevolentiam et maximam tui existimationem tibi conciliâsti. * * * Alia quidem extat Laurentii vita, quam non multis abhinc annis Angelus Fabronius, Academiæ Pisanae Praesæ, conscripsit, eaque prorsus laudanda tum rerum delectu, tum elegantia Latini sermonis; at Tua latius sese extendit, et præter propria Laurentii gesta, quidquid ad rem tum literariam, tum politicam, tum bellicam illius ævi pertinet, miro nexu comprehendit, ita ut non Italiæ solum, sed totius fermè Europæ historia potius appellari queat. Quapropter literaria Florentinorum historia maximam inde lucem acquisivit. Revera plures magni momenti quæstiones optimè elucidas, et resolvis, scriptores inter se discrepantes con-

* Illustrations of the Life of Lorenzo, p. 39.

† Petri Angelii Borgæi de Bello Senensi, 8vo. Flor. 1809.

cilias, eximios viros, eosque plures ea aetate, tum scientiâ, tum eruditione pollentes, et Laurentio, Medicæque familiæ acceptissimos enumeras, eorumque scripta percenses, et illustras, monumenta insuper perantiqua, et pretiosissima adeo accuratè detegis, et interpretaris, ut etsi in regionibus longe a nobis dissitis degas, in media tamen urbe nostrâ scripsisse videaris. Hanc vero adeo celebras, adeo laudibus exornas, ut sapientiæ sedem, doctrinæ emporium, ac universal prope Italiæ Athenæum tunc temporis fuisse affirmare non dubites.”

In Germany, as in Italy, the Life of “Lorenzo de’ Medici” met with many admirers, and was fortunate enough to find a translator in the celebrated Kurt Sprengel, of Halle, a name well known both in the scientific and the literary world.* That translation appeared at Berlin, in

* The character of this translation is described in a letter (dated 27th March, 1801,) from M. Hufeland, professor of jurisprudence at Jena, addressed to Mr. Roscoe.—“La traduction Allemande est tombé dans des mains bien habiles. L’auteur est M. Curt Sprengel, professeur en médecine et directeur du jardin botanique a l’université de Halle, savant justement estimé à cause de sa profonde connoissance dans l’Allemagne pour être à nul autre second. Il est outre cela extremement versé dans la littérature Italienne des siécles passés. Sa traduction de voire ouvrage est très-estimée; il n’y a que peu de morceaux qu’on a censuré comme ne rendant pas le sens de l’original, à la manière la plus exacte. Il a enrichi cette traduction des notes dont on fait l’éloge. Je n’en puis pas juger par mes propres yeux, n’ayant pas la traduction dans ce moment devant moi.”

the year 1797* and was enriched by the editor with many valuable annotations. A dedication by Sprengel to his brother was prefixed to it, containing an ingenious parallel between the characters of Lorenzo and of
Pericles.* At the conclusion of the dedication, the writer has expressed himself in the following manner with regard to the general merits of the Life:—

“I received the original of this work from my friend Forster in July last, to whom it was sent from England as a very interesting work. Not only my predilection for Italian literature, the study of which, as you know, has been the most agreeable employment of my leisure hours, but still more my profession, which embraces the sciences connected with physiology, prompted me to peruse this work with the greatest attention. As the author frequently refers to Fabroni, I endeavoured to procure that work likewise, and obtained the loan of it from a friend abroad. At first, I was, like Roscoe, inclined to translate Fabroni, and to take the additions from Roscoe; the more so, as the frequent digressions of the latter appeared to me to be detrimental to the unity of the work. But I soon found that the Italian was hesitating and partial in his judgments, and that he wanted, above all, the spirit of free discussion and extensive knowledge of the Englishman. I found, too, that the principal

* Illustrations of the Life of Lorenzo, Appendix No. I.

advantage of Fabroni’s work, as a careful supplier of original documents, the most important of which Roscoe had already inserted in his work, must be dispensed with in a German publication; and, finally that the want of unity and of a fixed plan, which appeared to me on first opening Roscoe’s work, was only imaginary, and vanished upon a mature and impartial investigation. I found, lastly, so many charms in the composition of the Englishman, that I readily preferred translating his work to rendering Fabroni into German, and endeavoured to supply out of Fabroni such references only as I found wanting in Roscoe.”

The success of the work in Germany was communicated to Dr. Currie by one of his medical correspondents in that country. “You will have heard,” says Dr. Currie to a friend in America, “of the great success of Mr. Roscoe’s Life of Lorenzo. It far exceeds the hopes of his most sanguine friends. A third English edition is preparing, and two translations into German are advertised in the Literary Gazette of Jena: the one by Forster, who went round the world with Cook; the other by K. Sprengel, author of the “Authentic History of Medicine;” both professors at Halle. The account given of it in this Literary Gazette (the first German Review) is extremely flattering.”*

* Life of Dr. Currie, vol. ii. p. 95.


It was not until the year 1801, that Mr. Roscoe was informed of the translation of his work which had appeared in Germany. On learning the fact, he immediately addressed to Professor Sprengel the following letter:—

“It is only a few days since I had the pleasure of knowing that a work I published some years ago—‘The Life of Lorenzo de’ Medici’—had been honoured by a translation into the German language, to which I find prefixed your very respectable name. Accept my thanks, Sir, not for the choice you made of the work,—for you were led to that by higher motives than a personal consideration for its author,—but for the abilities and learning you have shown in supplying my deficiencies, and particularly for the beautiful parallel drawn in your dedication between the character of Lorenzo and that of Pericles; of the golden age of Florence, with that of Athens,—a subject on which I knew my own deficiencies too well to venture, and which I rejoice to find executed with a degree of feeling, learning, and taste, which stamp a real value on the work. The enthusiasm which I felt in the composition of my history, and in the contemplation of the character of the great man who forms its principal subject, is again revived by the just commendations you have bestowed upon him; and in this similarity of sentiments, and of studies—this desire to diffuse and to per-
petuate the remembrance of those who have improved, ennobled, and humanised mankind—I feel a bond of union, a principle of attraction, which emboldens me, though a stranger, to request your favourable regard, your esteem, and your friendship, as one who, in a remote part of the world, and under innumerable disadvantages, has experienced similar emotions with yourself, and which he can only regret that it has never been in his power to participate with you.

“I cannot help remarking it as a pleasing circumstance, that in the course of last year I purchased, through the means of a mercantile house here, the Herbarium of the late celebrated Dr. Forster, at Halle, with whom I perceive you have lived in habits of friendship. The specification of this collection had been entrusted to your judgment, and I again recognised you in another capacity. I mention this circumstance to show that our pursuits have another similarity, and that our dispositions (if I may be allowed the expression) touch at more points than one. You will have a pleasure in hearing, that the Forsterian Herbarium is arrived safe at Liverpool, and has given perfect satisfaction; and that its utility will not be confined to an individual, as it is now destined to become one of the chief ornaments of a museum belonging to a botanical garden, now forming in this place by the aid of a public subscription, and which I
am in hopes will give an impulse to this most pleasing and attractive study, hitherto so greatly neglected in this part of the world.”

In the year 1799, a French translation of the Life of Lorenzo appeared at Paris. The translator, M. François Thurot, in a letter prefixed to the version, containing various criticisms upon the work, accuses the author of viewing his hero with too partial an eye, and of being unfaithful in his representations of the political history of Italy. In other respects, he speaks of the work in more commendatory terms:—“J’ai trouvé comme vous, citoyen, le livre de M. Roscoe extrêmement recommandable, par les idées libérales qui y sont répandues, par les connoissances étendues, et les recherches profondes qu’il renferme sur l’histoire et sur la littérature de la république de Florence, et même du reste de l’Italie. D’ailleurs, le ton de candeur, qu’y règne partout, la manière noble et décente avec laquelle l’auteur discute ou critique les opinions des écrivains que l’ont précédé dans la même carrière, inspirent une estime réelle pour son caractère personnel, en même temps que son style harmonieux et élégant, son gout pur et éclairé, donnent de ses talens l’idée la plus avantageuse.”*

In America, the Life of Lorenzo was not re-

* Illustrations of the Life of Lorenzo, Appendix No. II.

printed till the year 1803, when an edition was published at Philadelphia, by Messrs.
Bronson and Chauncey; and the whole impression was immediately disposed of. “It would be a proof of insensibility,” says Mr. Roscoe, in a letter to those gentlemen, “of which I am incapable, were I not highly gratified by this extension of my work through a new continent, and by the long list of eminent and respectable persons who, by their liberal encouragement of your proposed edition, have afforded it so unequivocal a testimony of their approbation; and this satisfaction is heightened by the consideration that this is the sentiment of a country where political, civil, and religious liberty are enjoyed in a degree almost unexampled in the history of the human race.”