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kind,; and our design must fall to the ground, for want of encouragement, before it can be so far advanced as to obtain general regard: by confining ourselves for any long time to any single subject, we shall reduce our readers to one class; and, as we shall lofe all the grace of variety, shall disgust all thofe who read chiefly to be diverted. There is likewise one objection of equal force, against both these methods, that we shall preclude ourselves from the advantage of any future discoveries; and we cannot hope'to assemble at once all the pamphlets which have been written in any age, or on any subject.
It may be added, in vindication of our intended practice, that it is the fame with that of Photius, whofe collections are no less miscellaneous than ours; and who declares, that he leaves it to his reader, to reduce his extracts under their proper heads.
Most of the pieces which shall be offered in this collection to the publick, will be introduced by short prefaces, in which will be given some account of the reasons for which they are inserted; notes will be sometimes adjoined, for the explanation of obscure pasfages, or obsolete expressions; and care will betaken to mingle use and pleasure through the whole collection. Notwithstanding every subject may not be relished by every reader; yet the buyer may be assured that each, number will repay his generous subscription.
OF A BOOK, CALLED
THE LIFE OF BENVENUTO CELLINI.
TH E original of this celebrated persormance lay in manuscript above a century and a half. Though it was read with the greatest pleasure by the learned of Italy, no man was hardy enough, during so long a period, to introduce to the world a book, in which the successors of St. Peter were handled so roughly: a narrative, where artists and sovereign princes, cardinals and courtezans, ministers of state and mechanics, are treated with equal impartiality.
At length, in the year 1730, an enterprizing Neapolitan, encouraged by Dr. Antonio Ccccbi, one of the politest scholars in Europe, published this somuch desired work in one volume Quarto. The Doctor gave the editor an excellent preface, which, with very slight alteration, is judiciousty preserved by the translator, Dr. Nugent: the book is, notwithstanding, very scarce in Italy: the clergy of Noples are very powersul and though the editor
very prudently put Colonia instead of Neapoli in the title-page, the fale of Cellini was prohibited; the court of Rome has actually made it an article in their Index Expurgatorius> and prevented the importation of the book into any country where the power of the Holy See prevails.
The lise of Benvenuto Cellini is certainly a phenomenon in biography, whether we consider it with respect to the artist himself, or the great variety of historical facts which relate to others: it is indeed a very good supplement to the history of Europe, during the greatest part of the sixteenth century, more especially in what relates to painting, sculpture, and architecture, and the most eminent masters in thofe elegant arts, whofe works Cellini praises or censures with peculiar freedom and energy.
As to the man himself, there is not perhaps a
more singular character among the race of Adam:
the admired Lord Herbert of Cberbury scarce equals
Cellini in the number of peculiar qualities which
* separate him from the rest of the human species.
He is at once a man of pleasure, and a slave to superstition; a despiser of vulgar notions, and a believer in magical incantations; a fighter of duels, and a compofer of divine sonnets; an ardent lover of truth, and a retailer of visionary fancies; an admirer of papal power, and a hater of popes; an offender against the laws, with a strong reliance on divine providence. If I may be allowed the expression, Cellini is one striking seature added to the human form—a prodigy to be wondered at, not an example to be imitated.
Though Cellini was so blind to his own impersections as to commit the moil unjustifiable actions, with a full persuasion of the goodness of his cause and the rectitude of his intention, yet no man was a keener and more accurate observer of the blemishes of others; hence his book abounds with farcafbek wit and fatirical expression. Yet though his portraits are sometimes grotesque and over-charge.J, from misinsormation, from melancholy, from infirmity, and from peculiarity of humour; in general it must be allowed that they are drawn from the lise, and consormable to the idea given by co temporary writers. His characters of pope Clement tar seventh, Paul the third, and his bastard son Fur Luigi; Francis the first, and his favourite mistrets madam d'Eftampes, Cc/mo duke of Florence, and his duchess, with many others, are touched by the hand of a master.
General history cannot descend to minute details of the domestick.lise and private tranfactions, the pasfions and foibles of great personages; but these give truer representations of their characters than all the elegant and laboured compofitions of poets and historians.
To some a register of the actions of a statuary may seem a heap of uninteresting occurrences; but the discerning will not disdain the efforts of a powerful mind, because the writer is not ennobled by birth, or dignified by station.
The man who raises himself by consummate merit i:i his prosession to the notice of princes, who con• verses with them in a language dictated by hondl sii'.'oni, »ho scruples not to tell them thole truths 'which they must despair to hear from courtiers and favourites, from minions and parasites, is a bold leveller of distinctions in the courts of powersul monarchs. Genius is the parent of truth and courage; and these, united, dread no opposition.
The Tuscan language is greatly admired for its elegance, and the meanest inhabitants of Florence speak a dialect which the rest of Italy are proud to imitate. The style of Cellini, though plain and familiar, is vigorous and energetick. He possesses, to an uncommon degree, strength of expression, and rapidity of fancy. Dr. Nugent seems to have carefully studied his author, and to have translated him with ease and freedom, as well as truth and fidelity.