Mantuan, Baptist

, an Italian poet of great temporary fame, was born at Mantua, whence he took his name, in 1448, and not in 1444, as Cardan and others have said; for Mantuan himself relates, in a short account of his own life, that he was born under the pontificate of Nicholas V. and Nicholas was only made pope in March 1447. He was of the illustrious family of the Spagnoli, being a natural son of Peter Spagnolo, as we learn from Paul Jovius, who was his countryman, and thirty-three years old when Mantuan died, and therefore must have known the fact. Mantuan too speaks frequently and highly, in his works, of his father Peter Spagnolo, to whom he ascribes the care of his education. In his youth, he applied himself ardently to books, and began early with Latin poetry, which he cultivated all his life; for it does not appear that he wrote any thing in Italian. He entered himself, we do not know exactly when, among the Carmelites, and came at length to be general of his order; which dignity, upon some disgust or other, he quitted in 1515, and devoted himself entirely to the pursuit of the belles-lettres. He did not enjoy his retirement long, for he died in March 1516, upwards of eighty years of age. The duke of Mantua, some years after, erected to his memory a marble statue crowned with laurel, and placed it next to that of Virgil; and even Erasmus went so far as to say that a time would come, when Baptist Mantuan would not be placed much below his illustrious countryman. In this opinion few critics will now join. If he had possessed the talents of Virgil, he had not his taste, and knew not how to regulate them. Yet allowance is to be made, when we consider that, in the age in which he lived, good taste had not yet emerged. Liiius Gyraldiis, in his “Dialogues upon the poets of his own times,” says, “that the verses which Mantuan wrote in his youth are very well; but that, his imagination afterwards growing colder, his latter productions have not the force or vigour of his earlier.” We may add, that Mantuan was more solicitous about the number than the goodness of his poems; yet, considering that he lived when letters were but just reviving, it must be owned, that he was a very extraordinary person. | His poetical works were first printed, in a folio volume without a date, consisting of his eclogues, written chiefly in his youth seven pieces in honour of the virgins inscribed on the kalendar, beginning with the virgin Mary these he calls “Parthenissal.” “Parthenissa II.” &c. four books of Silvge, or poems on different subjects; elegies, epistles, and, in short, poems of every description. This was followed by an edition at Bologna, 1502, folio, and by another at Paris in 1513, with the commentaries of Murrho, Brant, and Ascensius, 3 vols. fol. but usually bound in ne. A more complete, but now more rare, edition of them was published at Antwerp, 1576, in four vols. 8vo, under this title, “J. Baptistae Mantuani, Carmelitae, theologi, philosophi, ppetae, & oratoris clarissimi, opera omnia, pluribus libris aucta & restituta.” The Commentaries of the Paris edition are omitted in this; but the editors have added, it does not appear on what account, the name of John, to Baptist Mantuan. 1

1 Niceron. vol. XXVII. Gingnene Hist. LiU D’Halie. Roscoe’s Leg.