Leti, Gregory

, a voluminous writer of history, was born at Milan, May 29, 1630, of a family once of considerable distinction at Bologna. He was intended for the church, but was induced to make open profession of the protestant religion at Lausanne in 1657. This so pleased Guerin, an eminent physician, with whom he lodged, that he gave him his daughter for a wife; and Leti, settling at Geneva in 1660, passed nearly twenty years in that city employed on many of his publications. In 1674, the freedom of the city was presented to him, which had never before been granted to any stranger. Five years after he went to France, and in 1680, to England, where he was very graciously received by Charles II.; received a large present in money, and was promised the place of historiographer. On this he wrote his “Teatro Britannico,” a history of England; but, this work displeasing the court, he was ordered to quit the kingdom. Leti then went to Amsterdam, had the office of historiographer in that city, and died suddenly June 9, 1701, aged seventy-one. He was an indefatigable writer, and tells us in his “Belgic Theatre,” that three days in the week he spent twelve hours in writing, and six hours the other three days; whence the number of his works is prodigious. The greatest part are written in Italian; among which are, “The Nepotism of Rome,” 2 vols. 12mo; “The Universal Monarchy of Louis XIV.” 2 vols. 12mo; “The Life of Pope Sixtus V.” in Italian, Amsterdam, 1721, 3 vols. 12mo, plates; in French, 4to, or 2 vols. 12mo and in English by Farneworth. “The Life of Philip 11. king of Spain,” 6 vols. 12mo; “Of Charles V.”. Amsterdam, 1730, 4 vols. 12mo; “Of Queen Elizabeth,Amsterdam, 1741, 2 vols. 12mo, plates; “History of Cromwell,1703, 2 vols. 12mo, plates; “Life of Giron, duke d’Ossone,” 3 vols. 12mo; “The French Theatre,*’ 7 vols. 4to, a bad work;” The Belgic Theatre,“2 vols. 4to, equally bad;” The British Theatre, or History of | England, 11 Amsterdam, 1684, 5 vols. 12mo; in which there is a capital portrait of queen Elizabeth. It was for this work that he was sent out of England. “L’ltalia regnante,” 4 vols. 12mo; “History of the Roman Empire in Germany,” 4 vols. 4to; “The Cardinalism of the Holy Church,” 3 vols. 12mo, a violent satire; “History of Geneva,” 5 vols. 12mo; “The just balance in which are weighed all the maxims of Rome, and the actions of the living cardinals,” 4 vols. 12mo; “The Historical Ceremonial,” 6 vols. 12mo; “Political Dialogues on the means used by the Italian Republics for their preservation,” 2 vols. 12mo “An Abridgment of Patriotic virtues,” 2 vols. 8vo “Fame jealous of Fortune a panegyric on Louis XIV,” 4to “A Poem on the enterprize of the Prince of Orange in England,1695, folio; “An Eulogy on Hunting,” 12mo; “Letters,” 1 vol. 12mo; “The Itinerary of the Court of Rome,” 3 vols. 8vo “History of the House of Saxony,” 4 vols. 4to “History of the House of Brandenburg,” 4 vols. 4to “The slaughter of the Innocent reformed,” 4to “The Ruins of the Apostolical See,1672, 12mo, &c. Although M. le Clerc, his son-in-law, has mentioned him with high encomiums, we know few writers of history who are less to be depended on, having debased all his productions with fable. It is impossible to give credit to him unless his facts can be supported by other authority. He, on some occasions, assumes all the dignity of conceited ignorance, and relates his fictions with all the confidence of a vain man, who thinks he cannot be contradicted. His aim indeed was to please rather than instruct, and he has, with his anecdotes, frequently amused and misled his readers. We know few more amusing works than his “Life of pope Sixtus V.” Granger, whose character of him we have partly adopted, relates that Leti being one day at Charles II.'s levee, the king said to him, “Leti, I hear you are writing the history of the court of England.” “Sir,” said he, “I have been for some time preparing materials for such a history.” “Take care,” said the king, “that your work give no offence.” “Sir,” replied Leti, “I will do what 1 can but if a man were as wise as Solomon, he would scarce be able to avoid giving some offence.” “Why then,” rejoined the king, “be as wise as Solomon, write proverbs, not tories.1


Moreri. —Niceron, rob. II. and X. Gen. Dict. Granger, vol. IV.