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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 lose all the grace of variety, shall disgust all those 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 same with that of Photius, whose 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 passages, or obsolete expressions; and care will be taken 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.
SOME ACCOUNT OF A BOOK,
CALL E D
THE LIFE OF
HE original of this celebrated performance lay
in manuscript above, a century, and a half. Though it was rear 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 soyereign princes, cardinals and courtezans, ministers of state and mechanicks, are treated with equal impartiality.
At length, in the year 1730, an enterprising Neapolitan, encouraged by Dr. Antonio Cocchi, one of the politest scholars in Europe, published this so-much desired work in one volume quarto. The Doctor gave the editor an excellent preface, which, with very slight alteration, is judiciously preserved by the translator, Dr. Nugent: the book is, notwithstanding, very scarce in Italy: the clergy of Naples are very powerful; and though the editor
very prudently put Colonia instead of Neapoli in the title-page, the sale 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 life 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 those elegant arts, whose works Cellini .praises or censures with peculiar freedom and energy,
As to the man bimself, there is not perhaps a more singular character among the race of Adam: the admired Lord Herbert of Cherbury 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 composer of divine sonnets; an ardent lover of truth, and a retailer of vişionary 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 feature 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 imperfections as to commit the most 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 sarcastick wit and satirical expression. Yet though his portraits are sometimes grotesque and over-charged, from misinformation, from melancholy, from infirmity, and from peculiarity of humour; in general it must be allowed that they are drawn from the life, and conformable to the idea given by cotemporary writers. His characters of pope Clement the seventh, Paul the third, and his bastard son Pier Luigi; Francis the first and his favourite mistress madam d'Estampes; Cosmo 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 life and private transactions, the passions and foibles of great personages; but these give truer representations of their characters than all the elegant and laboured compositions 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 in his profession to the notice of princes, who conVerses with them in a language dictatet by honest freedom, who scruples not to tell them those truths 5
which they must despair to hear from courtiers and favourites, from minions and parasites, is a bold leveller of distinctions in the courts of powerful 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. *
• Dr. Nugent's Translation was published in 1771, 2 vols. &vo. by T. Davies. This article, which was first inserted in Dr. Johile son's works by Sir John Hawkins, I ain unwilling to disturb, although it has very little of the Doctor's manner, It is not noticed by Mr. Boswell in his " Chronological Catalogue," of Dr. Johnson's Prose Works,