Mussato, Albertin

, an Italian historian and poet, was born at Padua in 1261. When young he lost his father, and was left with a numerous family of brothers and sisters, whom he at first endeavoured to maintain by copying books for the scholars of the university. He was also permitted to attend the lectures there, and made very | considerable progress in belles lettres and the law. Theiatterhe chose as the profession most likely to enable him to maintain his family, nor was he disappointed; and the very great ability he displayed at other times occasioned his being employed in political affairs. His talents in this respect were first called forth when Henry VII. made a descent on Italy; on which event he was five times se nt by the Paduans to that prince, who conceived a very high opinion of him. In his history we find the speeches he ma ie to Henry, and those he addressed to the senate of Padua. He also distinguished himself in the war which the Paduans carried on against Can Grande de la Scala, and when wounded and taken prisoner in 1314, Can Grande paid him the attention due to his merit, and restored him to liberty. The war raging more furiously, Mussato went first to Tuscany to negociate an alliance with the Tuscans and Paduans against Can Grande, but not succeeding, went next to Austria and Carint*hia, where he partially achieved his purpose, and at last, in 1324, had the honour of concluding a peace between Can Grande and his country.

The services, however, which he performed to Padua, were not always sufficient to protect him against the intrigues of his countrymen, who, living under a popular government, were always exposed to commotions excited by the artful and ambitious; and in 1314, particularly, the mob rushed to his house, intending to murder him. He had the good fortune to escape, and when the commotion was ended and the ringleaders put to death, the senate and people recalled him, and, ashamed of the treatment he had received, bestowed many honours upon him. He was again, however, exposed to danger by the ingratitude of his fellow citizens, and banished to Chiozzo in 1325. Here he passed the rest of his life, in hopes of better fortune, which it was not his lot to experience. He died May 29, 1330.

During his exile he employed his time in writing his history, which was printed at Venice, 1636, fol. under the title “Historia Augusta Henrici VII. Imp. et alia quse extant opera, cum notis Laur. Pignorii, &c. additis aliis rerum Tarvisianarum et Patavinarum scriptoribus.” This history is written in Latin, and with much judgment and regard to truth. Had his style been equal, he would have deserved the appellation which some bestowed upon him, that of being the second Livy of Padua. Of this | history there are three books written in heroic verse, on the subject of the siege of Padua. His prose style, although, as we have just hinted, not unexceptionable on. the score of purity, was yet the best that had appeared since the decline of letters; and Scipio Maffei goes so far as to say that the restoration of the purity of the Latin language was not so much owing to Petrarch, which is the general opinion, as to Mussato, who died thirty-five years before Petrarch. Mussato’s poetical works consist of eclogues, elegies, epistles in verse, and an Ovidian Cento. He also wrote two tragedies in Latin, the first that had appeared in Italy, the one entitled “Eccerinis,” the other “Achilles.” Jn these he imitates the manner of Seneca, and with success, but some critics object to the model. They are, with his other works, reprinted in the “Thesaurus Histor. Ital.” vol. VI. part II. Muratori, in his “Script. Rer. Ital.” vol. X. has given only his historical writings, and the tragedy of “Eccerinis.” Scardonius, in his “Antiquities of Padua,” p. 130, relates that Mussato was so highly honoured, that the bishop of Padua gave him a laurel crown, and issued an edict, that on every Christmas Day, the doctors, regents, and professors of the two colleges in that city, should go to his house in solemn procession with wax tapers in their hands, and offer him a triple crown honours which he appears to have well merited, both as a scholar and patriot. 1

1 Tiraboschi. Ginguen& Hist. Lit. d' Italic. Warton’s Essay on Pope, vol. I. p. 184. —Moreri. —Saxii Onomast.