Guidi, Alexander

, an Italian poet, was born at Pavia^ in Milan, 1650, and sent to Parma at sixteen years of age. His uncommon talents for poetry recommended him so powerfully at court, that he received great encouragement from the duke. He composed some pieces at that time, which, though they savoured of the bad taste thei> prevailing, yet shewed genius, and a capacity for better things. He had afterwards a desire to see Rome, and, in 1683, going thither by the permission of the duke of Parma, and being already known by his poems y found no difficulty in being introduced to persons of the first | distinctiort. Among others, Christina queen of Sweden wished to see him; and was so pleased with a poem, which he composed at her request, that she had a great desire to retain him at her court. The term allowed him by the duke being expired, he returned to Parma; but the queen having signified her desire to that prince’s resident at Rome, and the duke being acquainted with it, Guidi was sent back to Rome in May 1685.

His abode in this city was highly advantageous to him; for, being received into the academy which was held at the queen of Sweden’s, he became acquainted with several of the learned who were members of it. He began then to read the poems of Dante, Petrarch, and Chiabrara; which reformed the bad taste he had contracted. The reading of these and other good authors entirely changed his manner of writing; and the pieces he wrote afterwards were of quite a different style and taste. Though the queen of Sweden was very kind to him, and obtained a good benefice for him from Innocent XI. yet he did not cease to feel the esteem of his master the duke of Parma, but received from him a pension, which was paid very punctually. The death of his royal patroness happened in 1689, but he did not leave Rome; lor the duke of Parma gave him an apartment in his palace there, and his loss was abundantly recompensed by the liberality of many persons of quality. In July 1691, he was made a member of the academy of Arcadi at Rome, under the name of Erilo Cleoneo, nine months after its foundation, and was one of its chief ornaments. Clement XI. who knew him well, and did him kind offices while he was a cardinal, continued his favours to him after he was raised to the pontificate.

In 1709, he took a journey to his own country, to settle some private affairs. He was there when the emperor made a new regulation for the state of Milan, which was very grievous to it; and having political talents, was employed to represent to prince Eugene of Savoy the inconveniences and burden of this regulation, prince Eugene being then governor of the country, and deputed by the emperor to manage the affair. For this purpose Guidi drew up a memorial, which was thought so just and argumentative, that the new regulation was immediately revoked. The service he did his country, in this respect, procured him a mark of distinction from the council Pavia; who, in 1710, enrolled him in the list of | and decurions of the town. He was now solely intent upon returning to Rome; but made his will first, as if he had foreseen what was shortly to happen to him. Upon his arrival there, he applied himself to a versification of six homilies of the Pope, which he caused to be magnificently printed, and would have presented it to the pontiff, who was then at Castel-Gandolfe. With this view he set out from Rome in June 17 12, and arrived at Frescati, where he was seized with an apoplectic fit, of which he died in a few hours, aged almost sixty-two. His body was carried back to Rome, and interred in the church of St. Onuphrius, near Tasso.

Though nature had been very kind to his inner-man, yet she had not been so to his outer; for he was deformed both before and behind; his head, which was unreasonably large, did not bear a just proportion to his body, which was small; and he was blind of his right eye. In recompense, however, for these bodily defects, he possessed very largely the faculties of the mind. He was not learned, but he had a great deal of wit and judgment. His taste lay for heroic poetry, and he had an aversion to any thing free or satirical. His taste is original, though we may sometimes perceive that Dante, Petrarch, and Chiabrara, were his models.

Though the writers of his life tell us of some prose piece before it, yet the first production we know of is “Poesie Liriche,Parma, 1681; which, with “L’Amalasunta,” an opera, printed there the same year, he afterwards made no account of, they being written during the depravity of his taste. In 1687 he published at Rome, “Accademia per musica;” written by order of Christina of Sweden, for an entertainment, which that princess gave to the earl of Castlemain, whom James II. of England sent ambassador to Innocent XI. to notify his accession to the throne, and to implore his holiness’ s assistance in reconciling his three kingdoms to Popery. “L’Endimione di Erilo Cleoneo, pastor Arcade, con un discorso di Bione Crateo al card male Albano. In Roma, 1692.” The queen of Sweden formed the plan of this species of pastoral, and furnished the author with some sentiments, as well as with some lines, which are marked with commas to distinguish them from the rest. The discourse annexed, to point out the beauties of the piece, was written by John Vincent Gravina. “LeRime,” Roma, 1704. In this he declares, that he rejects all his | works, which had appeared before these poems, except his “L’Endimione.” “Sei Omelie di M. S. Clemente XI. Spiegate in versi,” Roma, 1712, folio, a very magnificent work, and adorned with cuts, but not properly either a version or a paraphrase, the author having only taken occasion, from some passages in these homilies, to compose verses according to his own genius and taste.

In 1726 was published at Verona, in 12mo, “Poesie d’Alessandro Guidi non piu raccolte. Con la sua vita novamente scntta dal signor Canonico Crescimbeni. E con due Ragionamenti di Vincenzo Gravina, non piu divulgati.” This is a collection of his printed poems and Mss. including the pieces which he had recited before the academy of the Arcadi upon various subjects. 1


Niceron, vol. XXVII. Tiraboscbi. —Fabroni Vitae Italorum.