Paciaudi, Paul Maria

, antiquary and librarian to the duke of Parma, and historiographer of the order of Malta, was born at Turin, Nov. 13, 1710. After studying in the university of Turin, he took the religious habit in the order of the Theatins, at Venice, and then went to Bologna to study mathematics and natural philosophy under the celebrated Beccari. It appears that he began his subsequent literary career with the last-mentioned pursuit; and that as soon as he had attained the higher orders, he was appointed professor of philosophy in the college of Genoa; and was one of those who first dared, to explode, from the schools of Italy, the old rooted prejudices of fantastic systems, and to substitute for them the eternal truths discovered by Newton. He did not, however, long remain in the professorship of philosophy, at Genoa, but quitted philosophy for divinity, and devoted ten years to preaching and the composition of sermons, by neither of which he acquired much reputation; but within this period he published some orations, his “Treatise on the Antiquities of Hipa Transone,” the ancient Cupra; and three years after, his “Explanation of an ancient engraved Stone.

The precise date of Father Paciaudi’s most meritorious labours may be properly fixed at 1747, the thirty-sixth of kis life; and, from that time to 1760, he was seen almost in a state of continual preregrination at Naples, at Florence, at Venice, and at Rome. In the first of these cities, during the years 1747, 48, and 49, he published a learned “Dissertation on a Statue of Mercury,” in 4to; “ObserTations on some foreign and odd Coins,” likewise in 4to and, “A Series of Medals representing the most remarkable Events of the Government of Malta,” in folio. At Florence appeared in 1750, in 4to, his “Treatise on the ancient Crosses and Holy Monuments which are found at iui” at Venice, in the same year, his unrivalled | work, “De sacris Christianorum Balneis” and at Rome, from 1751 to 1756, no less than eight volumes in 4to, containing as many different works, issued from his pen; the best of which was accounted the treatise “De Athletarum Cubistesi.” His position, in this disquisition, was, that the Greeks, though they placed dancing in the same rank as the military march, considered it as an art tending to regulate, adjust, and beautify the movements of the body, and divided it into four genera according to its various application to religious ceremonies, warlike exercises, theatrical performances, and domestic enjoyments; yet the cubistic art, whose object is to teach jumping and uncommon corporeal exertions, although perfectly known, was never held in great estimation in ancient Greece.

The year 1757 is perhaps the most remarkable in Paciaudi’s literary life; that being the period in which he entered into a correspondence with count Cayius, and began to supply him with numberless heads of valuable information for his “Recueii d‘ Antiquity’s.” Paciaudi may, in fact, be considered if not one of the authors, at least as a contributor to that work. And his letters, which were published in 1802 at Paris, are a proof of the ample share of fame to which he is entitled in this respect. This correspondence was carried on for eight years, from 1757 to 1765. But neither were Paciaudi’s powers confined to it alone, nor was he without further employments during that period It was then (in 1761) that he published his capital work “Monumenta Peloponnesia,” in 2 vols. 4to, containing a complete illustration of those celebrated statues, busts, bas-reliefs, and sepulchral stones, which, from the continent and the islands of Peloponnesus, had been removed to Venice, and which formed a part of the numerous collection of antiquities possessed by the illustrious family of Nani, in that metropolis. Then too it was that he received from the celebrated Parmesan minister Tillot, the invitation to go to Parma to superintend the erection of the library which had been projected by his royal highness the Infant Don Philip.

From a confidential declaration to count Cayius, it appears, that Mr Paciaudi was highly satisfied with his employment. He considered it as an opportunity of rendering useful his extensive erudition, without those inconveniencies which attend the necessary intercourse with the world. He therefore engaged in the business with a zeal | bordering on enthusiasm. Besides the acquisition which he made of the excellent library of count Pertusati at Home, in 1762, he went to Paris in search of other books; and such was his exertion, that, in less than six years, he collected more than sixty thousand volumes of the best xvorks of every kind, and thus erected one of the most copious libraries in Italy. He also compiled such an excellent “Catalogue raisonne*e” of its articles as deserves to be adopted as a model by all who are at the head of large bibliographical establishments.

Whilst he was thus active in the organization of the library, he received additional honours and commissions from the royal court of Parma. In 1763 he was appointed antiquary to his royal highness, and director of the excavations which, under the authority of government, had been undertaken in the ancient town of Velleja, situated in the Parmesan dominions; and in 1767, on the expulsion of the Jesuits, he was declared “president of studies,” with the power of new modelling as he thought proper, the whole system of public instruction throughout the state. In this new organization of studies he displayed the same spirit of order by which he had been already distinguished in the formation of the library. He endeavoured to arrange the different subjects in the minds of his pupils as he had formerly classified the books upon the different shelves.

Notwithstanding so many signal services to the court of Parma, Paciaudi fell a victim to mean intrigues, and lost the favour of his sovereign. He had been intimately connected with the minister who then happened to be disgraced, and was in some measure involved in the same misfortune. He forfeited his places. But, conscious of his own integrity, he did not choose to leave Parma, and patiently waited for the transit of the storm. His innocence being soon ascertained, he was restored to his several functions, and to the good opinion of the prince. He made, however, of this favourable event, the best use that a prudent man could do; he endeavoured to secure himself against a similar misfortune in future, by soliciting permission to retire to his native country; and this “voluntary exile,” says M. Dacier, in the eulogy of Paciaudi, “banished the last remains of suspicion against him. Nothing was now remembered but his merit and his zeal: his loss was severely felt; and the most engaging | solicitations were made to him to resume his functions. In vain did he plead in excuse his advanced age, and the necessity of repose; his excuses were not admitted, and he was finally obliged to return to Parma.

The literary establishments which had been formed by him in that place, did not then require so much of his attention and care, as to prevent him from indulging himself in other pursuits. He therefore conceived the plan of a general biography of the grand masters of the order of Malta. In 1749, when he published, at Naples, the series of medals concerning the government of Malta, he had received from the grand master, Pinto, the place of historiographer of the order; but his uninterrupted labours in other pursuits had prevented him, for nearly thirty years, from directing his attention to that great object, the most interesting, perhaps, in the religious and military history of the middle ages. At last he devoted to it some of his latter years, and, in 1780, published from the unrivalled press of Bodoni, of Parma, his “Memorie de Gran Maestri,” &c. or “Memoirs of the Grand Masters of the Holy Military Order of Jerusalem,” in 3 vols. 4to. This publication contains only the history of the first century of the order, and consequently, not more than the lives of its founder and of the first ten grand masters. It would have been continued, if the author had not, soon after its appearance, fallen into that languor, which generally attends long labours and old age, and which accompanied him till his death, which took place on the 2d of February 1785, in the 75th year of his age.

Mr. Paciaudi was an excellent man: religious, disinterested, and cordial; and although not without personal vanity, and often chargeable with severity of criticism on his antagonists, was always kind and polite, beloved by the great, consulted by the learned, and esteemed by people of every description. He was intimately connected with the greatest literary men of his age, among whom, besides Caylus, it is sufficient to mention the illustrious Winkelmann, and the author of the Travels of Anacharsis, to whom he stood indebted for the academical honours which he received at Paris. 1

1 Essay on his Life preBxed to his Letters, published at Paris in 1802, Bald' win’s Literary Journal, vol. II. —Fabroni Vitas Italorum, vol. XIV.