Fabroni, Angelo

, an eminent Italian scholar and biographer, was born Sept. 25, 1732, at Marradi in Tuscany, of a family once so opulent as to be able to assist the falling fortunes of the Medici. He was the youngest of the eleven children of Alexander and Hyacinth Fabroni. He was educated first at home under able masters, and afterwards went to Rome, in 1750, to the college founded by Bandinelli for the youth of Tuscany, who were also required to attend the public schools of the Jesuits. Here he studied rhetoric, logic, geometry, physics, and metaphysics. After he had been here three years, Peter Francis Foggini, who had acted as a second father to him (for his own died in 1750), introduced him to Bottari, as his assistant in the duties of a canonicate which he held in the church of St. Mary; and as Bottari was a great favourer of the Jansenists, Fabroni thought to please him by translating from the French of Quesnel, and publishing “La preparazione alia morte;” and “Principi e regale della vita Cristiana.” About the same time he published “Ler Massime della Marchesa di Sable,” also translated from the French, with notes. This, he informs us, was a work of little consequence, yet served to show that he was at this time tolerably versed in the reading of ancient authors.

From his earliest youth he cultivated a pure and ready Latin style, and as a specimen, he now, encouraged by Foggini, published the life of Clement XII. in that language. This however, he allows, was a severe task, and although he re-wrote it twice or thrice, and had the advice of his friend, he did not think it worthy of the illustrious subject. Cardinal Corsini, however, had a higher opinion | of its merit, and not only defrayed the expence of printing, but made the author a handsome present.‘ Such liberality produced a suitable impression on Fabroni’ s mind, who became in gratitude attached to this patron, and when a female of the Corsini family married about this time, he, with learned gallantry, invited the most celebrated Italian poets to celebrate the joyous occasion. About this time having presented an oration, which he had delivered in. the pope’s chapel, on the ascension, to Benedict XIV. his holiness received him very graciously, and exhorted him to continue the studies he had begun so well. Among these we find that he had for some time made considerable progress in canon law, and had even defended some causes, but afterwards resigned all this for the more agreeable study of the belles lettres and classics. At the funeral of James III. of England, as he was styled, Fabroni was ordered by his college to compose an oration in praise of that prince, which he accordingly delivered in the presence of the cardinal duke of York, who expressed his sense of its merit not only by tears and kind words, but by a liberal present.

After this Fabroni appears to have employed himself in preparing his valuable lives of the eminent Italian literati of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the first volume of which he published at Rome in 1766, 8vo, and, as he informs us, soon had to encounter an host of Aristarchus’s. In 1767, a vacancy occurring of the office of prior of the church of St. Lorenzo at Florence, he was appointed to that preferment by the duke Peter Leopold, and here he remained for two years, during which he went on with his great work. At the end of this period, he obtained leave to return to Rome, and as he had considerable expectations from pope Ganganelli (Clement XIV.) would have probably attached himself to him, had he not thought that it would appear ungrateful to his patron the duke Peter Leopold, if he served any other master; but gratitude does not seem to have been his only motive, and he hints that implicit reliance‘ was not always to be placed in Ganganelli’s promises.

At Pisa, in 1771, he began a literary journal which extended to 102 parts or volumes; in this he had the occasional assistance of other writers, but often entire volumes were from his pen. At length the grand duke, who always had a high regard for Fabroni, furnished him liberally with the means of visiting the principal cities of Europe. | ing this tour he informs us that he was introduced to, and lived familiarly with the most eminent characters in France, with D’Alembert, Conclorcet, La Lande, La Harpe, Mirabeau, Condilliac, Rousseau, Diderot, &c. and laments that he found them the great leaders of impiety. He then came to England, where he resided about four months, and became acquainted with Waring, Maskelyne, Priestley, and Dr. Franklin, who once invited him to go to America, which, he informs us, he foolishly refused. With what he found in England he appears to be little pleased, and could not be brought to think the universities of Oxford and Cambridge equal, for the instruction of youth, to those of Italy. In short he professes to relish neither English diet, manners, or climate; but perhaps our readers may dispute his taste, when at the same time he gives the preference to the manners, &c. of France. In 1773 he returned to Tuscany, and was desired by the grand duke to draw up a scheme of instruction for his sons, with which he insinuates that the duke was less pleased at last than at first, and adds that this change of opinion might arise from the malevolent whispers of literary rivals. He now went on to prosecute various literary undertakings, particularly his “Vitas Italorum,” and the life of pope Leo, &c. The greater part were completed before 1800, when the memoirs of his life written by himself end, and when his health began to be much affected by attacks of the gout. In 1801 he? desisted from his accustomed literary employments, and retired to a Carthusian monastery near Pisa, where he passed his time in meditation. Among other subjects, he reflected with regret on any expressions used in his works which might have given offence, and seemed to set more value on two small works he wrote of the pious kind at this time, than on all his past labours. When the incursions of the French army had put an end to the studies of the youth at Pisa, Fabroni removed to St. Cerbo, a solitary spot near Lucca, and resided for a short time with some Franciscans, but returned to Pisa, where an asthmatic disorder put an end to his life Sept. 22, 1803. He left the bulk of his property, amounting to about 1500 scudi, to the poor, or to public charitable institutions; and all the classics in his library, consisting of the best editions, to his nephew, Raphael Fabroni.

Of his principal work, the “Vitoe Italorum doctrina excelleutium, qua sceculis XVII. eV^Vui. floruerunt,| eighteen volumes were published in his life-time; and two more were afterwards added: the last contains some memoirs of his life written by himself, with illustrative notes, a short continuation, and a collection of letters addressed to him by various illustrious and learned characters. His lives are written with great accuracy and precision, and many of them are much fuller and more minute than was attempted by any preceding biographer; but his Latin, style, which he fancied to be pure, is deformed by many words and phrases of modern Latinity, and he has rendered many circumstances obscure by Latinizing the names of eminent persons of all nations.

His other works, not already mentioned, are, 1. f< Dialochi di Focione del Mably, trad, del Francese.“2.” Lettere del Magolotti,“Florence, 1769. 3.” Lettered’Uomini dotti a Leopoldo Medici.“4.” Istoria dell’ arte del disegno.“5.” Dissertazione sulla fabola di Niobe.“5.” Prefazioni al I. e II. tomo degli Uomini Illustri Pisani.“6.” Vita Laurentii Medicei,“4to. 7.” Historia Lycaei Pisani,“3 vols. 4to. He was at one time rector of the university of Pisa, but his employment ceased with the incursions of the French army. 8.” Viaggi d’Anacarsi.“9.” Vita Leonis X.“4to. 10.” Vita Cosnii Medicei,“4to. 11.” Epistolae Francisci Petrarchae,“4to. 12.” Vita F. Petrarchae,“4to. 13.” Vita Pallantis Stroctii,“4to. 14.” Elogi d’illustri Italiani, cioe di Michelangelo Giacomelli, Eust. Zanotti, Tomaso Perelli, Paolo Frisi, Innocenzo Frugeni, e Pietro Metastasio.“15.” Elogi di Dante Alighieri, di Angelo Poliziano, di Ludovico Ariosto, e di Torquato Tasso,“Parma, 1800. 16.” Oratio ad S. R. E. Cardinales cum subrogandi Pontificis causa conclave Venetiis ingressuri essent,“Pisa, 1800. 17.” Oratio in funere Franc. Leopoldi Austriaci,“Pisa, 1800. 18.” Devoti AfFetti in prepa.;zione alle Feste del S. natale,“&c. ibid. 1801. 19.” Novena in onore di Maria S. S. Ausiliatrice, colP aggiunta di dodici Meditazioni," isa, 1803. 1


Fabroni Vitæ, vol. XX.