Bandello, Matthew

, a celebrated Italian novelist, was born at Castelnuovo in the district of Tortona, where he remained for some years, under the patronage of his uncle Vincenzio Bandello, general of the order, of Do^ minicans, with whom he also travelled through various parts of Italy, France, Spain, and Germany, where it was the 4uty of the general to inspect the convents of his order. After the death of his uncle, at the convent of Altomonte in Calabria, in 1506, Bandello passed a considerable part of his time at the court of Milan, where he had the honour of instructing the celebrated Lucretia Gonzaga, in whose praise he wrote an Italian, poem, which still remains, and where he formed an intimacy with many eminent persons of the age, as appears from the dedicatory epistles prefixed to his novels. Having early enrolled himself in the order of Dominicans, in a fraternity at Milan, he entered deeply into the ecclesiastical and political affairs of the times, and | after various vicissitudes of fortune, obtained at length, in 1550, the bishopric of Agen in France, conferred on him by Henry II. but being fond of the poets, ancient and modern, addicted himself much more to the belles lettres than to the government of his diocese. He filled the episcopal chair of Agen for several years, and died about 1561, at the chateau de Bazens, the country seat of the bishops of Agen. His monument was erected in the church of the Jacobins du port St. Marie. He had resigned the bishopric of Agen in 1555, when his successor, Janus Fregosa, son of the unhappy Cæsar, assassinated by the marquis de Guast, had attained his twenty-seventh year. Henry II. who had a regard for the Fregosas, Jiad agreed with the pope, on the death of the cardinal de Lorraine, bishop of Agen, to give, by interim, this bishopric to Bandello, till Janus should arrive at the age required. Bandello consented to this arrangement, and gave up the see according to promise. The best edition of his novels is that of Lucca, 1554, 3 vols. 4to, to which belongs a fourth volume, printed at Lyons in 1573, 8vo. This edition is scarce and dear. Those of Milan, 1560, 3 vols. 8vo, and of Venice, 1566, 3 vols. 4to, are curtailed and little esteemed but that of London, 1740, 4 vols. 4to, is conformable to the first. Boaisteau and Belleforest translated a part of them into French, Lyons, 1616, et seq. 7 vols. 16mo. It is entirely without reason that some have pretended that these novels are not by him, but were composed by a certain John Bandello, a Lucchese, since the author declares himself to be of Lombardy, and even marks Castelnuovo as the place of his nativity. On the other hand, Joseph Scaliger, his contemporary and his friend, who calls him Bandellus Insuber,. positively asserts that he composed his novels at Agen. Fontanini is likewise mistaken in making him the author of a Latin translation of the history of Hegesippus, which he confounds with the novel of Boccace entitled Sito e Gisippo, which Bandello did really translate into Latin. We have by him likewise the collection of poems beforementioned, entitled “Canti xi. composti del Bandello, ilelle lodi della signora Lucrezia Gonzaga,” &c. printed at Agen in 1545, 8vo, which is excessively scarce, and sought after by the curious.

Whilst he was engaged,” says Mr. Roscoe, “in frequent journeys and public transactions, he omitted no op. portunity of collecting historical anecdotes and narratives of | extraordinary events, as materials for his novels, which were composed at different periods of his life, as occasion and inclination concurred. These tales bear the peculiar character which in general distinguishes the literary productions of the ecclesiastics of that age from those of the laity, and are. no less remarkable for the indecency of the incidents than for the natural simplicity with which they are related. In point of composition, these novels, although much inferior to those of Boccaccio, are written with a degree of vivacity and nature, which seldom fails to interest the reader, and which, combined with the singularity of the incidents, will probably secure a durable, although not a very honourable reputation, to the author.” It may be added, that Shakspeare took his Romeo and Juliet from one of his novels, which was acpordingly translated in the “Shakspeare illustrated.1


Roscoe’s Leo. Gen. Dict. —Moreri.