Menzini, Benedict

, an Italian poet, was born at Florence in 1646, of poor and humble parents. Notwithstanding the disadvantage of his circumstances, he began his studies under Miglioraccio, and pursued them with ardour; till, being noticed for his talents by Vincentio SaU viati, he, was removed from the difficulties of poverty, received into the house of that patron, and encouraged to indulge his genius in writing. In 1674, he inscribed a volume of poems to Cosmo III. of Medicis, but obtained Do great approbation from that depraved man. In 1679, he published a book, entitled “Construzione irregolare della linga Toscana;” on the irregular construction of the Tuscan language; and, in the following year, a volume of lyric poems, by way of illustrating his own precepts. His first patron seems now to have deserted him, or not to have afforded him sufficient support, for we find hirn at this period, after several disappointments, and particularly that of not obtaining a professorship at Pisa, venting his discontent in twelve satires. These, however, were not published in his life, but given to a friend, Paulo Falconeri. When they did appear, they went through several editions. In 1685, Menzini obtained the notice and patronage of Christina queen of Sweden, whom he celebrated in Latin as well as in Italian. Under her protection he lived at Rome, and enjoyed the best period of his life. It was at this period, in 1688, that he published his “Arte Poetiea,” which he dedicated to cardinal Azzolini. Being always more or less in want, owing to mismanagement, he contrived by these dedications to lay some of the chief nobility of his country under contribution: but he did not so succeed with cardinal Atestini, who received his dedication of “II Paradiso terrestre,” without granting him any remuneration. As he had a wonderful vein of ready eloquence, one of his resources was that of composing sermons for preachers who were not equally able to supply themselves. To this there is an allusion in one of the satires of his con<­temporary Sectanus.

"Parte alia Euganius, pulchro cui pectus honesto

Fervet, et Ascrseas libavit cominus undas,

XJt satur ad vigilem posuit remeare lucernam,

Cogitur indoctis componere verba cucullis."

We are told, by his biographer Fabroni, that being not a little in awe of the satirical talents of that writer, he had cultivated his kindness with no little anxiety; and thus, it | may be supposed, obtained this compliment. He was now appointed by the pope, canon of St. Angelo in Piscina; and continued to publish several works, in Latin as well as in Italian as, “Orationes de morum, philosophise, humanarumque literarum studiis, et de Leonis X. P. M. laudtbus.” But his Latin compositions did not so well satisfy the learned as those he produced in his own language; and their criticisms led him to write and publish a tract, “De poesis innocentia, et de literatorum hominum invidia.” This, however, was prior to the present period, as it bears date in 1675. He published now a poetical version of the Lamentations of Jeremiah, in Italian, which was so much approved by pope Clement XI. that he ordered it to be distributed to the cardinals in passion-week. Menzini was admitted a member *of the society of Arcadi, under the name of Euganius, under which we have seen him mentioned by the satirist: and being also admitted of the academy Delia Crusca, he was very anxious to have his verses cited in their dictionary, as authority. In this he could not prevail, except after a time for his satires, in which he had revived some classical Italian expressions then growing obsolete. In 1731, however, long after his death, and in the fourth edition of that vocabulary, all his Italian works were admitted, as affording classical citations. Towards the end of life he became dropsical, and died at the age of fifty-eight, in 1704. He left the fortune of a poet, his works only, which he bequeathed to a friend and they were in 1730 1734, published collectively, in 4 vols. 8vo, the contents of which are recited by Fabroni. An edition of his “Art of Poetry” has lately been published by Mr. Mathias, perhaps the most accomplished Italian scholar and critic in this kingdom. His satires were published with Salvini’s notes, in 1759, 8vo, and with those of Rinaldo Maria Bracci, at Naples in 1763, 4to. 1


Fabroni Vitae Italorum, vol. VII.