Bruni, Leonard

, a very eminent scholar and historian, derived his name of Aretine, or Aretino, from Arezzo, in which city he was born in the year 1370, of parents sufficiently wealthy to bestow on him a good education. In his early youth he was incited to a love of letters by an extraordinary accident. A body of French troops, who were marching to Naples to assist Louis of Anjou in maintaining his claim to trie sovereignty of that kingdom, at the solicitation of the partizans of a faction which had been banished from Arezzo, made an unexpected attack upon that city; and, after committing a great slaughter, carried away many of the inhabitants into captivity; and, among the rest, the family of Bruni. Leonardo being confined in a chamber in which hung a portrait of Petrarch, by daily contemplating the lineaments of that illustrious scholar, conceived so strong a desire to signalize himself by literary acquirements, that immediately upon his enlargement he repaired to Florence, where he prosecuted his studies with unremitting diligence, under the direction of John of Ravenna, and Manuel Chrysoloras. During his residence at Florence, he contracted a strict intimacy with the celebrated Poggio Bracciolini, and the latter being afterwards informed by Leonardo that he wished to procure a presentation to some place of honour | or emolument in the Roman chancery, took every opportunity of recommending him. In consequence of this, pope Innocent VII. invited him to Rome, where he arrived March 24, 1405, but was at first disappointed in his hopes, the place at which he aspired being intended for another candidate, Jacopo d’Angelo. Fortunately, however, the pope having received certain letters from the duke of Berry, determined to assign to each of the competitors the task of drawing up an answer to them, and the compositions being compared, the prize was unanimously adjudged to Leonardo, who was instantly advanced to the dignity of apostolic secretary, and by this victory considerably increased his reputation, as his competitor was a man of very considerable talents. (See Angelo, James.) In 1410 Leonardo was elected chancellor of the city of Florence, but finding it attended with more labour than profit, resigned it in 1411, and entered into the service of pope John XXII. and soon after went to Arezzo, where he married a young lady of considerable distinction in that city. He was thought by his contemporaries rather too attentive to the minutiae of economy, and having married a lady who loved dress and ornaments, was somewhat disappointed. In a letter to his friend Poggio, after giving an account of his marriage expences, he adds, “In short, I have in one night consummated my marriage, and consumed my patrimony.” In 1415 he accompanied pope John XXIII. to the council of Constance, and this pope having been there deposed, Leonardo returned to Florence, where he was chosen secretary to the republic, and was employed in several political affairs of importance. He died in thebeginning of 1444, and was interred with the most solemn magnificence in the church of Santa Croce, with the following inscription, which is still legible, but not worthy of the object:

Postquam Leonardus e vitâ migravit,

Historia luget, Eloquentia niuta est.

Ferturque Musas turn Græcas tum Latinas

Lacrimas tenere non potuisse.

Leonardo Bruni was not only one of the most learned men of his age, but one of the most amiable in character and manners, nor was his fame confined to Italy. The learned of France and Spain travelled to Florence to have the honour of seeing him, and it is said that a Spaniard who was ordered by the king to pay him a visit, knelt down in his presence, and could with difficulty be | persuaded to quit that humble and admiring posture. These honours, however, excited no pride in Leonardo, The only failing of which he has been accused is that of avarice; but, as one of his biographers remarks, that name is sometimes given to prudence and economy. His friendships were lasting and sincere, and he was never known to resent ill-usage with much asperity, unless in the case of Niccolo Niccoli, who appears to have given him sufficient provocation. The case, indeed, on the part of Niccoli appears abundantly ridiculous; a termagant mistress whom he kept had been publicly disgraced; and Niccoli expected that his friends should condole with him on the occasion. Leonardo staid away, for which Niccoli reproached him, and when Leonardo offered him such advice as morality as well as friendship dictated, irritated Leonardo by his reiterated reproaches and insultinrg language. The consequence was a satire Leonardo wrote, a manuscript copy of which is in the catalogue, although not now in the library, of New college, Oxford. The title of it was “Leonardi Florentini oratio in nebulonem maledicum.” It appears by Menus’ s catalogue of his works to be in the Laurentian library. Poggio, however, at last succeeded in reconciling the parties.

If, according to some, Leonardo was occasionally impatient in his temper, and too apt to take offence, his late biographer has given an anecdote which shews that he had the good sense to be soon convinced of his error, and the ingenuousness of spirit to confess it. Having engaged in a literary discussion with Gianozzo Manetti, he was so exasperated by observing that the bye-standers thought him worsted in argument, that he vented his spleen in outrageous expressions against Jiis antagonist. On the x following morning, however, by break of day, he went to the house of Gianozzo, who expressed his surprize that a person of Leonardo’s dignity should condescend to honour him so far as to pay him an unsolicited visit. On this, Leonardo requested that Gianozzo would favour him with a private conference, and thus apologized for the wajrmth of his temper: “Yesterday I did you great injustice ~; but I soon began to suffer punishment for my offence, for I have not closed my eyes during the whole night, and I could not rest till I had made to you a confession of my fault.” Mr. Shepherd justly observes, that the man who by the voluntary acknowledgment of an error could thus | frankly throw himself upon the generosity of one whom he had offended, must have possessed in his own mind a fund of probity and honour. The failings of Leonardo were indeed amply counterbalanced by his strict integrity, his guarded temperance, his faithful discharge of his public duties, and his zeal in the cause of literature.

His works are, 1. “Historiarum Florentini populi, lib. duodecim,” Strasburgh, 1610, fol. The Italian translation by Acciajolo was printed at Venice, 1473, 1560, and 1561, and at Florence, 1492. 2. “Leonard! Aretini de Temporibus suis Libri duo,” fol. Venice, 1475 and 1485, &c. 3. “De Bello Italico ad versus Gothos gesto Libri quatuor,” founded upon the Greek history of Procopius, Foligno, 1470, and often reprinted. 4. “De Bello Punico Libri tres,” Brix, 1498, &c. 5. “Commentarium Rerum Graecarum,Leyden, 1539, &c, 6. “Isagogicon moralis discipline ad Galeotum Ricasolanum.” This work also bears the title of “Dialogus de moribus, &c.” and under the title of “Aristoteles de moribus ad Eudemum Latine Leon. Aretino interprete,” was printed at Louvain, 1475, &c. 7. “Ad Petrum Histrium dialogoruni Libri,Basil, 1536, and Paris, 1642. 8. “De Studiis et Literis ad illustrem Dominum Baptistam de Malatestis,” Strasburgh, 1521, &c. 9. “Laudatio Joan. Strozzse,” in Baluzzi’s Miscellanies. 10. “Imperatoris Heliogabali oratio protreptica,” published by Aldus Manutius in his “Hist. Augustae Scriptores Minores.” 11. “Oratio in Hypocritas,” printed in the Fasciculus of Ortuinus Gratius, Cologn, 1535, Leyden, 1679, and London, 1691. 12. “La vita di Dante e i costumi e studj di Petrarca.” The life of Petrarch was edited by Phil. Tomasinus in his “Petrarca Redivivus,Padua, 1650, and was reprinted with the life of Dante, 1671. 13. “Magni Basilii Liber in Latinum translatus,” Brix. 1485, &c. 14. Seven of Plutarch’s Lives translated from the Greek, Basil, 1542. 15. “Apologia Socratis,” Bonon, 1502. 15. “Aristotelis Ethicorum Libri decem,Paris, 1504 and 1510, &c. 16. <c Aristotelis Politicorum, libri octo.“Venice, 1504, &c. 17.” Oeconomicorum Aristotelis Libri duo,“Basil, 1538. 18.” Oratio Æschinis in Ctesiphontem,“Basil, 1528, 1540. 19.” Oratio Demosthenis contra Æschinem,“ibid. 1528. 20.” De crudeli anioris exitu Guisguardi, &c.“a translation of one of Boccaccio’s tales, Turon. 1467, printed also in the works of Pius II. 21. Epistolarum Libri VIII.” 1472, fol. often | reprinted. 22. “Canzone morale di Messer Lionardo,” printed in the third volume of Crescembini’s Italian poetry. The numerous editions through which many of his works passed afford a sufficient indication of the esteem in which they were held by the learned of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. 1


Shepherd’s Life of Poggio Bracciolini, p. 29, 45, 132, 388. Ginguene Hi*t. Lit. d’ltalie, vol. III. p. 294. Gen. DietFabric. Bibt. Lat. Med. —Saxii Onomast.