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In the Manner of Plutarch:
Between a most celebrated
Man os FLORENCE*
And ONE, scarce ever heard of, in
By the Reverend Mr. SPENGE.
Firft Printed in the Year 1757.
AMONG the Number of eminent Men, which the City of Florence has produced since the Revival of Literature, one of the most extraordinary, and of the most celebrated in his Time, was Antonio Magliabechi, And indeed there are such uncommon Things aflerted of him, and so far exceeding the Bounds of Probability, as may seem to require some Apology even for repeating them; it may therefore not be improper to premise, that the chief Authorities on which the following Account bfhim is founded, are Florentines; that the Italians in general, and the Florentines in particular, delight in a higher and larger way of Speaking than is usual among us; that they deal much in Superlatives; and that their Superlative, like that in the Latin Language from whence it is derived, signifies, very much; as« Y 2 well
well as the Most: That whatever I have quoted -from Books, is, in general, very punctually referred to in the Notes, and often, the very Words of the Authors inserted; and that whatever is not so authorized, is what I have learned, in Converfation with Gentlemen of the City of Florence, who were personally acquainted with Magliabechi, Men of Learning and Reputation, and of very good Credit, both for Knowledge and Veracity. Thus assisted, I have undertaken to give some Account of this extraordinary, and so much admired Man.
Magliabechl was born at Florence, on the 29th of Oclober fa], in the Year 1633. His Parents were of so low and mean a Rank, that they were very well fatisfied when they had got him into the Service of a Man who sold Herbs and Fruit, He had never learned to read; and yet he was perpetually poring over the Leaves of old Books, that were used as .waste Paper in his Master's Shop. A Bookseller, who lived in the Neighbourhood, and who had often ohscrved this, and knew the Boy could not read, asked him one Day, "What he meaned *.* by staring so much on printed Paper?" He faid, "That he did not know how it was, but that he V loved it of all Things; that he was very uneasy "in the Business he was in, and should be the «' happiest Creature in the World, if he could live "with him, who had always so many Books about
[a] From this Article in Morer'is Dictionary. Viceron, in his Memoirc» fmr struir i s Hijisiri 4a Hmmei Uhif.ns, fays, it was oa ifaeaStb.
« him." « him." The Bookseller Was astoniftifc^ 3rtd yet pleased with his Answer; and at last fold "hi% th&fe he should not be disinclined to take him into his Shop, if his Master would be willing to part with him. Young MagHabechi thanked him With Tears of Joy in his Eyes \ and his Happiness Was highly encreased, when his Master, on the Bookseller's Desire, gave him Leave to go where he pleased. He went therefore directly to his new arid rn'uch-desired Business [b]; arid had not been lorrg in It, before he could find out any Book that was asked for, as ready as the Bookseller could himself. Some time after this, he learned to read, and as soon as he had, he Was always [V] reading when he could.
He seems never to haw applied himself to any particular Study. A Passion for Reading Was his ruling Passion; and prodigious Memory his great Talent. He read every Book almost indifferently, as they happened to come into his Hands. He read them with a surprizing Quickness^ and yet retained not only the Sense of what he read, but
[i] This Account I had from a Gentleman of Florence, who was very well acquainted with Magliatecbi and hi* Family. There are other Accounts very different from this. Sdhini fays, that he was at .first in an honourable, but not literary Employ. And father Nicertm, that he was Apprentice to a Goldsmith. I do not pretend to determine, which of the three Accounts are the truest.
[r] "Ne' Libri, chie esser dove'naiio dl tii'tto il fuo Vivere cbmpjfgt)! * inscparibili; he' Libri, uhiche delizie, unici suoi amori, s* intraf"teneva." Sahini, Orat. Fum. p. 7. And he speaks of his "Virtuosa Bramasa di sempre legert," just after; and confirm* these Passages in several other Places. See Pagtt 9, 11, »», anil
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