Campanella, Thomas

, a celebrated Italian philosopher, was born at Stilo, a small village in Calabria, Sept. 5, 1568. At thirteen he understood the ancient orators and poets, and wrote discourses and verses on various subjects; and the year after, his father purposed to send him to Naples to study law: but young Campanella, having other views, entered himself into the order of the Dominicans. Whilst he was studying philosophy at San Giorgio, | his professor was invited to dispute upon some theses which were to be maintained by the Franciscans; but finding himself indisposed, he sent Campanella in his room, who argued with so much subtilty and force, as to charm his auditory. When his course of philosophy was finished, he was sent to Cosenza to study divinity: but his inclination led him to philosophy. Having conceived a notion that the truth was not to be found in the peripatetic philosophy, he anxiously examined all the Greek, Latin, and Arabian commentators upon Aristotle, and began to hesitate more and more with regard to the doctrines of that sect. His doubts still remaining, he determined to peruse the writings of Plato, Pliny, Galen, the Stoics, the followers of Democritus, and especially those of Telesius; and he found the doctrine of his masters to be false in so many points, that he began to doubt even of uncontroverted matters of fact. At the age of twenty- two he began to commit his new system to writing, and in 1500 he went to Naples to get it printed. Some time after he was present at a disputation in divinity, and took occasion to commend what was spoken by an ancient professor of his order, as very judicious;but the old man, jealous, perhaps, of the glory which Campanella had gained, bade him, in a very contemptuous manner, be silent, since it did not belong to a young man, as he was, to interpose in questions of divinity. Campanella ‘fired at this, and said, that, young as he was, he was able to teach him; and immediately confuted what the professor had advanced, tothe satisfaction of the audience. The professor conceived a mortal hatred to him on this account, and accused him to the inquisition, as if he had gained by magic that vast extent of learning which he had acquired without a master. His writings now made a great noise in the world, and the novelty of his opinions stirring up many enemies agaiast him at Naples, he removed to Rome; but not meeting with a better reception in that city, he proceeded to Florence, and presented some of his works to the grand duke, Ferdinand I. the patron of learned men. After a short stay there, as he was passing through Bologna, in his way to Padua, his writings were seized, and carried to the inquisition at Rome, which, however, gave him little disturbance, and he continued his journey. At Padua, he was employed in instructing some young Venetians in his doctrines, and composing some pieces. Returning afterwards | to Rome, he met with a hetter reception than before, and was honoured with the friendship of several cardinals. In 1598 he went to Naples, where he staid but a short time, then visited his own country. Some expressions which he dropped, with regard to the government of the Spaniards, and the project of an insurrection, being reported to the Spaniards, he was seized and carried to Naples in 1599, as a criminal against the state, and put seven times to the rack, and afterwards condemned to perpetual imprisonment. At first he was not permitted to see any person, and denied the use of pen, ink, and paper; but, being afterwards indulged with these implements, he wrote several of his pieces in prison; some of which Tobias Adamus of Saxony procured from him, and published in Germany. Pope Urban VIII. who knew him from his writings, having obtained his liberty from Philip IV. of Spain in May 1626, Campanella went immediately to Rome, where he continued some years in the prisons of the inquisition, but was a prisoner only in name. In 1629 he was discharged, but the resentment of the Spaniards was not abated. The friendship shewn him by the pope, who settled a considerable pension, and conferred many other favours on him, excited their jealousy; and his correspondence with some of the French nation, gave them new suspicions of him. Being informed of their designs against him, he went out of Rome, disguised like a minim, in the French ambassador’s coach, and, embarking for France, landed at Marseilles in 1634. Mr. Peiresc, being informed of his arrival, sent a letter to bring him to Aix, where he entertained him some months. The year following he went to Paris, and was graciously received by Lewis XIII. and cardinal Richelieu; the latter procured him a pension of 2000 livres, and often consulted him on the affairs of Italy. He passed the remainder of his days in a monastery of the Dominicans at Paris, and died March 21, 1639.

Campanella, says Brucker, was confessedly a man of genius, but his imagination predominated over his judgment. Innumerable proofs of this may be found in his astrological writings, in“his book” De sensu rerum,“and in many other parts of his works. There seems indeed much reason to think that his mind was not sound, although he had his lucid intervals, in which he could reason soberly. He is chiefly worthy of praise for the freedom with which he exposed the futility of the Aristotelian philosophy, and for the | pains which he took to deduce natural science from observation and experience. Of the numerous writings which his fertile imagination produced, the most celebrated are, 1.” Prodornus Philosophise Instaurandae,“Francfort, 1617, 4to. 2.” Atheismus triumphatus.“3.” De Gentilismo non retinendo,“Paris, 1636, 4to. 4.” Astrologica,“Leyden, 1629, 4to. 5.” Philosophia rationalist 6. “Civitas solis,Utrecht, 1643, 12mo. 7. “Universalis Philosophia.” 8. “De libris propriis,” et “De recta ratione studendi,Paris, 1642, 8vo. 9. “Apologia pro Galileo,Franc. 1622, 4to. 10. “De sensu rerum et magia,” ibid. 1620, 4to. 11. “De reformatione scientiarum,Venice, 1633, 4to. 12. “De Monarchia Hispanica,” Harderv. translated into English, Lond. 1654, 4to. 13. “Poetica idea Keipublicaj Philosophies,Utrecht, 1643, 12mo. Brucker has given, we doubt not, a very accurate, but not perhaps, in our times, a very interesting sketch of Campanella’s opinions; and concludes with remarking that as far as any idea can be formed from the confused mass of opinions, so diffusely, but obscurely expressed in his voluminous writings, we must conclude that notwithstanding the censures which have often been passed upon him for impiety, he is rather to be ranked among enthusiasts than atheists and that, as in his other undertakings, so also in his attempts to reform philosophy, he was unsuccessful. 1


Gen. Dict.—Moreri. Brucker. Life by Era, Sal. Cyprian, Amst. 172*, Bibl. Anc. et Moderne, vol. XVIII. Erythraei Piaacotheca, Blount’s Censura. Baillet Jugemens. —Saxii Onomast.