Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

1

and was himself employed by Leo X. in fornying designs and models for that building. He was unfortunately in Rome when it was sacked by the army of Charles V. in 1527, and was made a prisoner, but obtained his liberty by painting a portrait of the constable de Bourbon. Peruzzi died in 1556, very poor, though he had been always in great employment. They who were indebted to him were not always very ready to pay, and he was too modest to demand his right, by which means he lost a great part of what he had fairly earned.

PESARO. See CANTARINI.

PESSELIER (CHARLES STEPHEN), member of the acadensies of Nancy, of Amiens, of Rouen, and Angers, was born at Paris on the 9th of July, 1712, of a reputable family. In his early youth his progress in his studies was rapid. His assiduous application, his lively genius, and mild demeanour, conciliated the esteem of his master, and gained the friendship of his juvenile companions. His taste for poetry was apparent at a very early period; but the designs of his parents for the advancement of his fortune would not permit bim to resign bimself entirely to his favourite pursuits, and he sacrificed in some degree his propensity to their wishes. He was placed under M. Rolland, an advocate, and constantly attended to the regular discharge of business. His leisure hours were devoted to the Muse; and he gave up that time to poetry, which by many, at his age, is sacrificed to pleasure. in 1738 bis “Ecole du Temps,” a comedy in verse, was represented with applause on the Italian theatre. Encouraged by this success, and with the approbation of M. Rolland, he produced, in the following year, at the French theatre, his “ Esope au Parnasse," a comedy in verse. The reputation of the young poet, and his character for probity, recommended him to M. Lallemand of Bety, a farmer-general, who was at that time forming a system of finance, and who felicitated bimself in procuring such an assistant, and in attaching him to his interest. The occupations incident to this new department were probably the causes which prevented Pesselier from producing any other pieces for the stage. Poetry was, however, still the amusement of the time that could be spared from business. In 1748, he published his fables, and among bis dramatic works appears a comedy, “La

· Pilkington, by Fuseli,

Mascarade du Parnasse,” in verse, and in one act, which was never performed.

His attachment to poetry could not prevent him from dedicating some of the moments that could be spared froin the labours of finance to the elucidation of that science, Accordingly, he published the prospectus of a work upon that subject. This publication, exhibiting in one view a perfect knowledge and extensive prospects for the improvement of that necessary resource, attracted the attention of the ministry, who established an office for promoting the plan, and placed the author at the head of it, with appointments proportioned to his talents and the importance of his labours. The views of Pesselier now extended further than the operations of finance. He undertook a treatise on the customary laws of the kingdom, of which, however, only the preliminary discourse appeared. Soon afterwards he published his “ Letters on Education,” in two volumes 12mo.

Incessant application and a delicate constitution, with an extreme vivacity of spirits, probably shortened his life. His health began to decline; but he ceased not from his diligence. His attention to the business of his office was. almost without remission; till, overcome by fatigue, be fell sick in November 1762, languished under his disorder for six months, and died the 24th of April, 1763.

PETAU (Denis), perhaps better known by his classical appellation of Dionysius Petavius, was born at Orleans Aug. 21, 1583. His father, JEROME Petau, although a merchant, was a man of considerable literature, and rather more attentive to matters of taste than of commerce : the consequence of which was, that he left

property to his children, six sons and two daughters. He gave them all, however, a learned educationthe daughters as well as the sons being taught Latin and Greek, and able to write verses in both languages. But we find, that with all his learning, Jerome was a superstitious bigot to his religion ; which his biographer, father Oudin, as warm a zealot as himself, says was at one time in danger of being shaken by some of his Protestant friends, who were very numerous in Orleans. Nay, he was, according to Oudin, about to renounce Popery altogether, and retire with his family, when an extraordinary accident prevented his design. A part of his house fell down, and so frightened bim, that, while he lay buried under the ruins, he made a vow, that if ever

1 Dict. Hist, in the last edition of which he is ealled Joseph.

[ocr errors]

very little

he escaped, he would break off all acquaintance with the Protestants; and being dug out alive and unhurt, he kept his vow, and endeavoured to give his children the same dislike to the Protestant faith as he had formerly determined to give them to the Roman Catholic.

As he perceived in his second son, Denis, a more than ordinary capacity, as well as eagerness for knowledge, he paid particular attention to the formation of his taste and the direction of his studies; and often told him, that he should lay up such a fund of knowledge, as to be able to cope with “ the giant of the Allophylæ," as he called Scaliger, whose learning and works were of such importance to the Protestants. This advice was not thrown away on Denis, who studied, with the greatest diligence, both at Orleans and Paris; and when he came to take his degree of master of arts, supported a thesis in Greek; a language which he knew as intimately as Latin, and both more so than he knew French. For two years he heard the lectures of the most eminent doctors of the Sorbonne, in his time; and was so assiduous, that he never left his study, unless for the king's library, where he was permitted to consult the valuable Greek and Latin manuscripts. About this time he became acquainted with the learned Isaac Casaubon, whom Henry IV. had invited to Paris in 1600, and their friendship continued until Casaubon's departure for England, and, what hurt Petau most, his departure from Popery, after which he treated him with as much asperity as any other of his opponents. In the mean time, it was in consequence of Casaubon's advice, that, young as he was, he undertook to prepare for the press an edition of the whole works of Synesius ; that is, to collate manuscript copies, to translate what was in Greek, and to add explanátory notes. He had no sooner undertaken this work, thay he was promoted to the professorship of philosophy in the university of Bourges, when only in his nineteenth year. The course which this office enjoined him to teach lasted two years, during which he also read the ancient philosophers and mathematicians.

In the second year of his being at Bourges, Frederick Morel, Greek professor at Paris, brought out a complete edition of the works of Dio Chrysostom, and inserted a discourse of Synesius, translated by Petau, who was not sorry to have this opportunity of sounding the taste of the public on the merits of bis translation. In the title are the

words : Interprete Dionysio Pæto, the name he assumed some time before this. Hitherto his intention had been to enter the church; and he was already subdeacon, and had been preferred to a canonry in the cathedral of Orleans. He had never yet seen the Jesuits; but having become acquainted with the nature of their order, when at Bourges, partly from inclination, and partly from the persuasions of the learned Fronto Ducæus, he entered as a noviciate among them at Nancy, in June 1605.

After two years

of probation, he studied for two years longer at the college of Pont-a-Mousson, then very flourishing. Thence he was sent to Rheims, where, for three years, he taught rhetoric. In 1610, he did the honours of the college at the consecration of Louis XIII.

Notwithstanding these employments, and the production of some occasional pieces in prose and verse, which they required, he was enabled to publish his edition of Synesius in 1612; but, as he was absent from the press, it suffered much by the carelessness and ignorance of the printers; and even the second edition, of 1631, retains a great many of the errors of the first. It gave

the learned, however, an opportunity of knowing what was to be expected from the talents, diligence, and learning, of father Petau; and they entertained hopes which were not disappointed. During the years 1613, 1614, and 1615, he taught rhetoric in the college of La Flêche, in Anjou ; and, in the first of these years, he published some works of the emperor Julian, which had hitherto remained in MS. and announced his intention of publishing an edition of Themistius, the Greek orator and sophist. In 1614, when the college of La Flêche was visited by Louis XIII. with the queen mother and the whole court, be contributed many of the complimentary verses on the occasion ; which, as we shall notice, were afterwards published. In the mean time, he undertook an edition of Nicephorus's historical abridgment, which had never been printed either in Greek or Latin. In this he was assisted with the copy of a valuable manuscript, which father Sirmond sent to him from Rome. In 1617, the Biblical professor of La Flêche being removed to another charge, Petau supplied his place, until called to Paris by order of his superiors, to be professor of rhetoric. It was about this time that he was attacked by that violent fever, which he has so well described in his poem entitled “ Soteria ;” a circumstance scarcely worth mentioning, if it had not been connected with an instance of superstition, which shews that his father's prejudices had acquired possession of his mind. During this fever, and when in apparent danger, his biographer tells us, he made a vow to St. Genevieve, and the fever left him. The object of his vow was a tribute of, poetical thanks to his patroness and deliverer. In order to perform this as it ought to be performed, he waited until his mind had recovered its tone ; but he waited too long, and the fever seized him again, as a remembrance of his neglect. Again, however, St. Genevieve restored him; and, that he might not hazard her displeasure any more, he published his "Soteria,” in 1619, which the connoisseurs of that time thought his chef d'æuvre in poetry; and his biographer adds, that “it is in Virgil only we can find lines so completely Virgilian.”

The remainder of his life was spent in performing the several offices of his order, or in those publications, a list of which will prove the magnitude of his labours. He died at Paris, December 11, 1652, in the sixtyninth year of his age. He seems, by the general consent, not only of the learned men of bis communion, but of many Protestants, to have been one of the greatest scholars the Jesuits can boast : and would have appeared in the eyes of posterity as deserving of the highest character, had not his turn for angry controversy disgraced his style, and shown, that with all his learning and acuteness, he did not rise superior to the bigotry of his time. We have a striking instance of this, in his connection with Grotius. He had, at first, such a good opinion of that illustrious writer, as to think him a Roman Catholic in heart; and on his death, said a mass for his soul; but some time after, writing to cardinal Barberini, he uses these remarkable words: “I had some connection with Hugo Grotius, and I wish I could say he is now happy !"

The catalogue of the works of Petau affords an uncommon proof of diligence; for we are assured, that besides the labour of composing, compiling, &c. he transcribed every thing with his own band for the press, and employed no amanuensis or reader to assist him.

Among his works are: 1. “Synesii Dio, vel de ipsius vitæ instituto," mentioned already as published in Morel's edition of St. Chrysostom. 2. “ Panegyricus Ludovico XIII. Franciæ et Navarræ regi, &c. in natalem diem,” &c. 1610, 12mo. 3. “ De laudibus Henrici magni carmen," &c. 1610, 4to.

« ZurückWeiter »