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to your

inviolable attachment as well to the

common interefts of christianity, as of that church in which you fo worthily prefide, were beyond my prefent purpose. I will not venture on a fubject to which I feel myfelf unequal; nor prefumptuously attempt a difplay of what is much better illustrated

in your Lordship's conduct,

I am,

My Lord,

your Lordship's

moft obedient

and most dutiful fervant,



Nov. 30, 1792.






T has often been remarked, that the lives of



men of letters are fo remote from public fcenes, and fo little diverfified by incident and adventure, as to furnifh lefs fcope than ufual for biographical information. The remark is in moft instances too juft to be difputed; but however little can be known of those who have fo largely contributed to our inftruction and entertainment, we naturally wish to be informed even of that little; and an innocent and not unprofitable pleafure is frequently to be derived from it.

Among those heroes of literature, who flourished in the fifteenth and fixteenth centuries, and whofe learned labours had the moft decifive influence on it's revival, was Marcus Hieronymus Vida, fon of Gelelmo Vida and Leona Ofcafala, who was born at Cremona, in Italy, in 1470. His


parents were of a refpectable family in the neighbourhood of St Leonard. An ancestor of our author, Bonvefino Vida, was Conful of Cremona, in 1166. It appears, that at the birth of Vida, the ancient opulence of the family was confiderably diminished; though not fo abfolutely loft as to render them incapable of educating their son in a manner worthy themselves and him. He received the firft rudiments of languages and philofophy at Cremona and Mantua, under the celebrated Nicolas Lafcaris. Thence he removed to Padua and Bologna, where he profecuted his ftudies in divinity and polite literature, and laid the foundation of his future greatnefs. How long he remained in these feminaries, or at what time he returned to Cremona, is uncertain. It was in this place of his nativity that he tried his firft efforts in poetry, and celebrated his beloved Serius in ftrains worthy of the fubject, and congenial with it's placid and untroubled waters. A paffage in the conclufion of the Scacchia informs us, that he began to compose at a very early period.

In a little time he became a member of the congregation of regular canons of St Mark's at Mantua; and foon after, bidding a laft adieu to

his parents, he was admitted to the fame office in the church of St John of Lateran. The pontifical chair was then filled by the celebrated Leo X. a name dear to the learned, and distinguished by a genuine love of letters, and a native elegance and urbanity not always to be found among the fucceffors of St Peter. This pope, who while yet a youth was appointed legate of the Holy See, and by a fingular accident, elected to the triple crown before his thirtieth year, was foon informed of the merit of our author; and introducing himself to his acquaintance, honoured him with repeated inftances of his liberality.

It was not long after this introduction, that Leo, having conceived a defign of procuring fuch a poem on the author of our religion, as should become the dignity of the fubject, made choice of Vida as the most proper person to carry it into execution. Merit is generally modeft; and our poet, though well aware of the difficulties he would have to encounter, did not oppofe the wishes of his patron. We are informed that the pontiff had conceived the greatest opinion of his abilities, from the fictitious battle in the Scacchia.

He had been fome time engaged in the Chriftiad, when Leo presented him, at the inftance of his friend Gilbertus, to the priory of St Sylvefter at Tivoli. His gratitude to these illuftrious patrons is confpicuous in the ode to Leo, in two odes and an epistle to Gilbertus, and in feveral parts of the Poetics; which prove, that he celebrated their virtues not only while yet alive, but that with all the ardour of friendship, he shed a grateful tear upon their ashes, when his hopes from that quarter were withdrawn for ever.

The retreat of our author at Tivoli was perfectly fuited to his temper. Like the great bard he copied, he was more difpofed to contemplative than to active life: and as poets frequently draw their fources from within, it is not improbable, that the sweet retirement fo elegantly described in the first book of the Poetics, and so earnestly recommended to thofe who would engage in works of genius, was as much suggested by his feelings as by his judgment. Here he went forward with his Chriftiad; and receiving frequent vifits from the literati, to whom his houfe was always open, he united labour with recreation,

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