Bruto, John Michael

, a very learned Venetian, was born about 1518, and studied at Padua. It appears from his letters, that he was obliged to leave his country as an exile; but he does not say upon what account, only that it was without any blemish to his honour. He travelled much, passing part of his life in Spain, England, France, Germany, Transylvania, and Poland. Notwithstanding this itinerant kind of life, he acquired great learning, as appears from his notes on Horace, Caesar, Cicero, &c. He was in Transylvania in 1574, having been invited thither by prince Stephen, in order to compose a history of that country. One of his letters, dated from Cracow, Nov. 23, 1577, informs us, that he had followed that prince, then king of Poland, in the expedition into Prussia. He had a convenient apartment assigned him in the castle of Cracow, that he might apply himself the better to his function of historiographer. He left Poland after the death of that monarch, and lived with William of St. Clement, ambassador from the king of Spain to the imperial court, where he was honoured with the title of his imperial majesty’s historiographer. He died afterwards in Transylvania, in 1594, in his seventy-sixth year.

His writings, become very scarce, were so earnestly sought after by the best judges, that there was great joy in the republic of letters, on hearing that Mr. Cromer had undertaken to publish a new edition of them. The first part of that design was accomplished in 1698, Berlin, 8vo. The Cracow edition was in 1582. Bruto promises in one of his letters, to add another to them, wherein he designed to treat of the custom of giving the same lofty titles to persons whom we write to in Latin, as are given in common languages. There are but few countries in which | they are more nice in this point than in Poland; and yet Bruto would not conform to the new style, not even in writing to some Polish lords, but dispensed with all ceremonies that might make him deviate from the purity of the ancient language of Rome. In a letter he wrote to John Poniatowski, he says: “This is my first letter to you, which I write in the Roman manner, as I used to do even to the king. I can bring myself to every thing else, can love you, obey you, and always regard you, which I shall do very willingly, as you highly deserve. But when I have any thing to write to you in Latin, suffer me, without offence, to write according to the use of the Latin tongue, for I cannot understand that I am writing to your greatnesses, your magnificences, &c. which exist no where on this side of the moon: I am writing to you.” Bruto, though whimsical in this respect, was at least classical, as it is certain that ancient Rome had no such usage in the time of its greatest glory, and of its most accomplished politeness.

It is said, that the history of Florence, composed by our Bruto, and printed at Lyons in 1562, under the title 46 Florentine Historian, Libri octo priores,“is not favourable to the house of Medicis; and that it greatly displeased the duke of Florence, on which it was so far suppressed, that few copies are now to be met with. He published also” De Origine Venetiarum,“Leyden, 1560, 8vo, and” Epistolse," Berlin, 1690, 8vo.1


Gen. Dict.—Moreri.—Saxii Onomast.