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often all the Words, and the very Manner of spelling them, if there was any thing peculiar of that kind in any Author.
His extraordinary Application, and Talents, soon recommended him to Ermini [d], and Mariml [e], the Great Duke's Librarian. He was by them inr troduced into the Converfations of the learned, and made known at Court: And began to be looked upon every where as a Prodigy [/], particularly for his vast and unbounded Memory.
It is faid, that there was a Trial made of the Force of his Memory, which if true, is very mazing. A Gentleman at Florence, who had written a Piece which was to be printed, lent the Manuscript to Magliabechi; and, some Time after it had been returned with Thanks, came to him again with a melancholy Face, and told him of some invented Accident, by which, he faid, he had lost his Manuscript: The Author seemed almost inconsolable for the Loss of his Work, and intreated Magliabechi, whose Character for remembring what he lead was already very great, to try to recollect
£/] Librarian to the Cardinal of Medicis.
[r] Father Niceron names these two as his great Friends; and it may probably be of the latter that Sal-vint fays, " Un nobile, let
terato, e generofo fpirito della citta nostro dal fuo impiego il levo; «'e nelle letterarie conversazioni, lo introdusse: e ella Real Corte di» f< Toscana il fe conoscere." Or. Tun. p. %.
[f~\ "Fu egli amirato fin da principle, come un prodigio, di quella *' parte principalm.eq.te dell' Anima chc Memoria 5' appella," Ik. as much of it as he possibly could, and write it down for him, against his next Visit. Magliabechi assured him he would, and, on setting about it, wrote down the whole Manuscript [g], without miffing a Word; or even varying any where from the Spelling.
By treasuring up every thing he read in fo strange a Manner, or at least the Subject, and all the principal Parts of all the Books he ran over 5 his Head became at last, as one of his Acquaintance expressed it to me, "An universal Index both of «« Titles and Matter."
By this Time Magliabechi was grown so famous for the vast Extent of his Reading and his amazing Retention of what he had read, that it began to grow common amongst the Learned to consult him, when they were writing on any Subject. Thus, for Instance, if a Priest was going to compose a Panegyric on such a Saint, and came to communicate his Design to Magliabechi, he would immediately tell him, who had faid any thing of that Saint, and in what Part of their Works, and that sometimes, to the Number of above a hundred Authors.
lg] There is, I believe, at least as much Difference in the Engtifo and Florentine ways of speaking, when we praise or extol any thing, as there may be between the Florentine and tht Oriental. A Florentine will call a good tolerable House, for Instance, a Palace; and a little snug Flower Garden a Paradise. This, and all the other Anecdotes in this Account are from Florentines, as I have said before, aud certainly, in most of them, some Allowance should be made for the Florentine Way of Speaking ; I having generally expressed what I bad from them in their Language, laterally in our own.
He would tell them not only who had treated of their Subject designedly, but os such also as had touched upon it only accidently, in writing on other Subjects; both which he did with the greatest Exactness, naming the Author, the Book, the Words, and often the very Number of the Page [A] in which they were inserted. He did this so often, so readily and so exactly, that he came at last to be looked upon almost as an Oracle [/J, for the ready and full Answers that he gave to all Questions, that were proposed to him in any Faculty or Science whatever.
It was his great Eminence this way, and his vast, I had almost faid, inconceivable Knowledge of Books, that induced the Great Duke, Cosmo the Third, to do him the Honour of making him his Librarian ; and what a Happiness must it have been to Magliabechi, who delighted in nothing so much as in Reading, to have the supreme Command and Use of such a Collection of Books as that in the Great Duke's Palace! He was also very converfant with the Books in the Lorenzo Library [*] ; and had
[i] Salvim expresses this yet more strongly: "Et nonche U libro; * ma la pagina, la colonna, il verso, ne additava." Or. Fun.p. 15.
[i] "II Magliabechi fu tanto rinomato per la fua Biblioteca, ejer "U vasto fuo sapere, che sembiava quasi un oracolo, per le pronto «* e saggie sue risposte, in qualunque facolta fosse ricercato." Maneurti, in his Life of Crefcmieni. See the Latter's History of Italian Poetry, T. vi. p. 133.
[*] Salvini, Or. Fun, p. 10. and 11,
the the keeping of those of Leopoldo, and Francesca Maria, the two Cardinals of Tuscany,
And yet even all this did not fatisfy his extensive Appetite; for one who knew him well told me, ** On* u may fay, that he had read almost all Books:" By which, as he explained himself, he meaned the greatest Part of those printed before his Time [/}, and all in it: For it was latterly a general Custom, not only among the Authors, but the Printers too of those Times, to make him a Present of a Copy of whatever they published; which, by the way, must have been a considerable Help towards the very large Collection of Books, which he himself made.
To read such vast Numbers as he did, he latterly made use of a Method as extraordinary, as any Thing 1 have hitherto mentioned of him. When a Book first came into his Hands, he would look the Title Page all over, then dip here and there in the Preface, Dedication, and Advertisements; if there were any; and then cast his Eyes, on each of the Divisions, the different Sections, or Chapters, and then he would be able for ever to know what that Book contained : For he remembered as steadily, as he conceived rapidly.
[s] Salvini goes farther, for he fays, "Non v! era minimo libreti* «' chi' egli non conoscesse." Or. Fun. p. 15. And Crefcemiem, speaking of a Dispute whether a certain Poem had ever been printed or nst, concludes it not, "Because Magliattcbi had never seen «it." ' JsiortadcUnVelg. Pus. T. yi. p. Ij. ^_ | It was after hehad taken to this way of fore-shortening his reading, if I may be allowed so odd an Expression; and I think, I rather may, because he conceived the Matter almost as compleatly in this short way, as if he had read it at full Length ; that a Priest, who had composed a Panegyric on one of his favorite Saints, brought it to MagUabechi, as a Present. He read it over the very Way above mentioned; only the Title Page, and the Heads of the Chapters; and then thanked him very kindly, u For his excellent Treatise." The Author, in some Pain, asked him, "Whether that was all that ." he intended to read of his Book I" Magliabechi cooly answered, "Yes ; for I know very well every "thing that is in it." My Author for this Anecdote endeavoured to account for it in the following Manner: Magliabechi, fays he, knew all that the Writers before had faid of this Saint; he knew | this particular Father's Turn and Character; and from thence judged, what he would chuse out of them, and what he would omit. If this way of accounting for so extraordinary a Thing may not seem satisfactory to some, it must .at least be allowed to be ingenious by all,