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EXTENDED and distinct lives have appeared in the English language of the following pontiffsof Alexander VI., by Alexander Gordon, M.A.; of Sixtus V., by Ellis Farneworth, M. A., a translation of Gregorio Leti; of Leo X., by William Roscoe, Esq.; of Pius VI., translated from the French of Chevalier Azara, as internal evidence suggests, the Memoirs being anonymous; and of Gregory VII., in the present year, by Sir Roger Greisley, Bart. * The life of Pius V. has not hitherto enjoyed this distinction; and yet there is no individual in the whole pontifical line more entitled to the attention of Englishmen; and none, of whom the biographical materials are more abundant and satisfactory.
* It is to be regretted, that Archibald Bower, discouraged and disgusted with the treatment which he received, whether just or unjust, and in whatever degree, has executed the latter part of his History of the Popes so precipitately and superficially. He has, however, by this means, left open an extended and important field, -the whole modern history of the Papacy, from the time of Leo X. to the present,-in which the industry of an able historian may employ itself with considerable detail, and with as much advantage to the cause of literature. Such a work is in fact a desideratum. The materials are ample, although irregular. The general historians, in the Papal communion, ending with Ciaconio and his Continuators, have so smothered the popes with the cardinals, who consider the former as only primi inter pares, that less assistance is to be obtained from them than from incidental writers and biographers. To the last three centuries of Bower's History, containing about thirty pontificates, one hundred pages only are devoted : that is, three on an average to each !
The original biographers of the fifth Pius are three; and they wrote in the three different languages, Italian, or the vernacular, Spanish, and Latin.
The first, and far the most authentic and satisfactory, is Girolamo Catena. His work bears this title :-Vita del Gloriosissimo Papa Pio V., Descritta da Girolamo Catena; Con una raccolta di Lettere del medesimo Pontefice a diversi Principi, e le risposte loro. Aggiuntovi i Nomi delle Galee, &c. The first edition was printed at Rome in 1586, 4to.; the second at the same place in 1587, 8vo. Both of these are in the Bodleian Library, Oxford. The third edition was printed in Mantua, the same year, in 4to.; and a copy is in the British Museum, London. A fourth edition proceeded from Rome in 1647, 4to., to which the copy in my possession belongs.
In a modern life of Pius, which will be more distinctly noticed, by P. A. Maffei, and in his preface, page xxii., it appears from a testimony which satisfied the compilers of the Acta Sanctorum, for May 5, volume i. page 616, and from the appendix to the last volume of Bzovius's Ecclesiastical Annals, that Catena was a man of eminent authority; much celebrated in the court of Rome; and secretary to cardinal Alessandrino, nephew of Pius V., to the congregation of bishops and to the Sacred Consulta. He drew his materials from the most unexceptionable sources, or from his own inspection, having well known Pius · when living. His volume likewise was not only read and approved by Sixtus V., but printed by his authority and command, as well as sanctioned by a decree of the Senate of the Roman people. In his Dedication to Sixtus, the author writes, concerning his work, I have derived all that ' is written in these pages, partly from the originals of Letters written by nuncios and princes themselves, and from instructions and writings, which have come into my possession, of 'the Pope himself, partly from the manuscript relations of those who conducted the affairs : others I have myself inspected, and have had communicated to me by mouth from the pontiff,' &c. Whatever was dubious, or to me uncertain, 'or not to my purpose, (however valuable,) I ' have altogether declined.' These certainly are good qualifications.
It is rather remarkable, that the editor of the work in 1647 should affirm, that the work had hitherto been buried in obscurity, that is, for more than half a century. If this be the fact, it ought to produce some surprise. The Epistles translated into Italian, and appended to the life, are an interesting and important portion of the volume ; and the use which has been made of them will appear. Tiraboschi, in his great work, informs us, that Catena published a Collection of Letters at Pavia, in 1577 *.
Our next biographer is the Spaniard, Antonio de Fuenmayor. He was well descended and well educated. At the age of thirty he was made canon of Palencia, and died soon after. His work is thus entitled :- -Vida
Hechos de Pio V. Pontifice Romano, dividida en seis libros ; Con algunos notables successos de la Christianidad del tiempo de su Pontificado, Por Don Antonio de Fuenmayor. Con Privilegio. En Madrid, Por Luis Sanchez. Año. M.D.xcv., 4to. There were repeated editions of the work t: mine is the first. Fuenmayor vindicates himself in the present attempt, although never having set foot out of Spain, by the example of eminent writers in the same predicament; and relies upon
* Storia della Lett. Ital. tomo vii. p. 399, Firenze, 1809.
† Antonii Bib. Hisp. Nov. tom. iii. p. 119.