Boccalini, Trajan

, a satirical wit, was born at Loretto in 1556, the son of an architect of a Roman family, about the beginning of the seventeenth century. The | method he took to indulge his turn for satire, or rather plot of his publications, was the idea that Apollo, holding his courts Oh Parnassus, heard the complaints of the wholeworld, and gave judgment as the case required. He was received into the academies of Italy, where he gained great applause by his political discourses, and his elegant criticisms. The cardinals Borghese and Cajetan having declared themselves his patrons, he published his “News from Parnassus/‘ andApollo’s Secretary,“a continuation which being well received, he proceeded further, and printed his” Pietra di Paragone“wherein he attacks the court of Spain, setting forth their designs against the liberty of Italy, and inveighing particularly against themfor the tyranny they exercised in the kingdom of Naples. The Spaniards complained of him in form, and were determined at any rate to be revenged. Boccalini was frightened, and retired to Venice. Some time after he was murdered in a surprising manner. He lodged with one of his friends, who having got up early one morning, left Boccalini in bed; when a minute after four armed men entered his chamber, and gave him so many blows with bags full of sand that they left him for dead so that his friend, upon his return, found him unable to utter one word. Great search was made at Venice for the authors of this murder and though they were never discovered, yet it was universally believed that they were set to work. by the court of Spain. This story, however, has been called in question by Mazzuchelli, and seems indeed highly improbable at least it can by no means stand upon its present foundation. His attacking the court of Spain in his” Pietra di Paragone,“is said to have been the cause of his murder but another cause, if he really was murdered, must be sought, for he died, by whatever means, Nov. 10, 1613, and the” Pietra“was not published until two years after that event. It appears likewise from one of his letters, that he had kept the manuscript a profound secret, communicating it only to one confidential frienc!, to whom the above letter was written. Besides, the register of the parish in which he died, mentions that on Nov. 10, 1613, the signor Trajan Boccalini died at the age of fiftyseven, of a cholic accompanied with a fever. Apostolo Zeno, vrho mentions this circumstance in his notes on Fontanini’s” Italian Library,“adds, that in a speech publicly delivered at Venice in 1<320, in defence of Trissino, whom. | Boccalini had attacked, ample mention rs made of him, who had then been dead seven years, and in terms of severe censure; but not a word was said of his assassination, which could not have then been a secret, nor could there be any reason for concealing it. If indeed he suffered in the manner reported, it formed an exact counterpart of what he records to have happened to Euclid the mathematician. Euclid had demonstrated, as a mathematical problem, that all the lines both of princes’” and private men’s thoughts meet in one centre namely, to pick money out of other men’s pockets and put it into their own and for this he was attacked by some of his hearers who beat him with sand-bags and perhaps, as a foundation for the story, some of Boccalini’s readers may have said that he ought to have been punished in the same manner. Boccal’mi’s works are: 1. “Itagguagli di Parnaso, centuria prima,Venice, 1612, 4to. “Centuria secxinda,” ibid. 1613, 4to, neither published long enough before his death to have excited much general odium. These two parts were afterwards frequently reprinted in one volume. There is unquestionably in this work, much to make it popular, and mnch to excite hostility. His notions on government, liberty, &c. were too free for his age and country and his treatment of literary characters is frequently captious and unjust, yet the work upon the whole is amusing, and original in its plan. A third part was published by Jerome Briani, of Modena, at Venice, 165O, 8vo, and die whole was translated and published in English, tinder the inspection of Hughes the poet, 1705, lol. 2. “Pietra del Paragone politico,” Cosmopoli (Amsterdam), 1615, 4to, and often, reprinted in various sizes; that of Amsterdam, 1653, 24mo, is reckoned the best. It has been translated into Latin, French, and English, first in 1626, 4to, and afterwards in Hughes’s edition and into German. This “political touchstone” bears hard on the Spanish monarchy, and may be considered as a supplement to his “News from Parnassus.” 3. “Commentari sopra Cornelio Tacito,Geneva, 1669, 4to, Cosmopoli (Amsterdam), 1677, 4to, and afterwards in a collection published under the title “La Bilancia politica di tutte le opere di Trajano Boccalini,” &c. with notes and observations by the chevalier Louis du May, at Castellana, 167S, 3 vols. 4to. The first two volumes of this scarce work contain the Tacitus, on which the annotator, not content with being very free in his religious opinions, | takes some extraordinary liberties with the text, and therefore they were soon inserted in the Index Expurgatorius. They contain, however, many curious facts which tend to illustrate the political affairs of the time. The third volume is filled with political and historical letters, collected hy Gregorio Leti but although these are signed with Boccalini’s name, they are supposed to have been written by his son, and by the editor Leti, a man not very scrupulous in impositions of this kind. 6. “La Segretaria d’Apollo,” Amst. 1653, 24mo, a sort of continuation of the “Ragguagli,” very much in Boccalini’s manner, but most probably we owe it to the success of his acknowledged works. 1


Biog. Univ.—Erythræi Pinacotheca.—Gen. Dict.—Biog. Brit. art. Hughes. —Blount’s Censura.—Baillet Jugemens.—Saxii Onomast.