Gelli, John Baptist

, an eminent Italian writer, and a man of extraordinary qualities, was born of mean parents at Florence in 1498, and was brought up a taylor. Such, however, was his industry and capacity, that he acquired a knowledge of languages, and made uncommon progress in the belles lettres. Thuanus says, that he did not understand Latin, but this must be a mistake, as he translated, from Latin into Italian, “The Life of Alphonsus duke of Ferrara,” by Paul Jovius, and a treatise of iion Porzio, “De<OolQribus Oculorum,” at the request of those writers. His knowledge of Greek, however, was probably limited, as he translated the “Hecuba” of Euripides into Italian, from the Latin version. His principal excellence was in his native tongue, and he acquired the highest reputation, by the works he published in it. He was acquainted with all the wits and learned men of Florence; and his merit was universally known. He was chosen a member of the academy there,; and the city made him one of their burgesses. Yet he continued the exercise of his trade as a taylor, to the end of his life; and he tells us, in a letter lo F. Melchior, March 3, 1558, that he devoted workingdays to the careof his body, and Sundays and festivals to -jthe culture of his understanding. The same letter shews his modesty, as hereproaches his friend for giving him honourable titles, which did not agree with the lowness of his condition. He died in 1563.

In 1546, he published at Florence, “Dialoghi,” in 4to, to which, in the fifth edition, which was printed in 1551, 8vo, and is the best, there are three more added, making in all ten, but he afterwards changed the title from “ | Dialoghi,” to “i Capricci del Bottaio.” He published also, “La Circe,1549 and 1550, 8vo. This work consists of ten dialogues, and treats of human nature Ulysses and some other Greeks, who were transformed by Circe into various beasts, dispute here about the excellence and misery of man and other animals. It has been translated into Latin, French, and English, the last by Barker, Lond. 1599, 12mo. These dialogues, like the rest of Gelli’s, are written in the manner of Lucian, and are not without some indelicacies. We have too by him, “Le Lettioni iiell' Academia Fiorentina,1551, 8vo. These dissertations are employed upon the poems of Dante and Petrarch. Lastly, he published several letters upon Dante’s Inferno, entitled “Ragionamento sopra le Difficulta del mettere in, Jr-egole la nostra lingua,” without date. He was the author also of two comedies, “La Sporta,” and “Lo Errore” and of some translations, as already observed. 1

1

Niceron, vol. Xviiu Tiraboscki. —Moreri, Freheri Theatruna.