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as much of it as he possibly could, and write it down for him, against his next Visit. Magliabechl assured him he would, and on setting about it, wrote down the whole Manuscript [g]t without miffing a Word, or even varying any where from the Spelling.
By treasuring • up every thing he read in so strange a Manner, or at least the Subject, and all the principal Parts of all the Books he ran over; 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 said any thing of that Saint, and in what Part of their Works, and that sometimes, to the Number of above a hundred Authors.
Or] There is, I believe, at least as moth Difference in the English and Florentine ways of speaking, when we praise or extol any thing, as there may be between the Florentine and the Oriental. A Florentine will call a good tolerable House, for Instance, a Palacej and a little snug Flower Garden a Paradise. This, and all the other Anecdotes in this Account are from Florentinti, as 1 have said before, and certainly in most of them, some Allowance should be made for the Florentine way of speaking; I having generally expressed what J had from them in their Language, laterally in our own.
Y 4 He He would tell them not only who had treated of their Subject designedly, but of such also as had touched upon it only accidentally, 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 [/], 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 said, inconceivable Knowledge of Books, that induced the Great Ouke, 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 conversant with the Books in the Lorenzo Library [ij } and had
[A] S*Mni e*presses this yet more strongly: " Et non che il libro; "irja la pagina, la colonna, il verso, neadditava." Or. Fun. p. 15.
(7J " II MagliabechiSa tanto rinoraato per la soa Bibiioteca, e per
il valto suo sapere, che fembiava quasi un oracolo, per le pronte "■ e saggie sue risposte, in qualunque facolta fofl'e ricercato." Mancurt:, in hii Life of Crefcembtm. See the Latter't Histery of Italian Ptetry, T. vi. p. ij 3.
j>] Salrini, Or. Fan. p, 10, and ut
the the keeping of those of Leopoldo, and Franceses Maria, the two Cardinals of Tuscany.
And yet even all this did not satisfy his extensive Appetite; for one who knew him well told me, " One "may say, that he had read almost all Books:" By which as he explained himself, he meaned the greatest Part of those printed before his Time [/J, 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 I 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 tvere any j 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.
[/] Sahim goes farther, for he fays, " Non vl era minime libretto, *• chi' egli non conoscesse." Or. Fun. p. 15, And Cfefcemisni, "speaking of a Dispute whether a certain Poem had ever been printed or not, concludes it had not, " Because Mugliattchi had never seen «» it." lstoria Mitt Volg. Foes. T. vi. p. 33.
It was after he had 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 j that a Priest who had composed a Panegyric on one of his favorite Saints, brought it to Magliabechi, 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, *' For his excellent Treatise." The Author, in some Pain, asked him, " whether that was all that *' he intended to read of his Book?" 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 said 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.
Magliabechi had a local Memory too of the Places where every Book stood ; as in his Master's Shop at first, and in the Pitti, and several other Libraries afterwards: And seems to have carried this farther, than only in Relation to the Collections of Bopks with which he was personally
acquainted. acquainted. One Day the Great Duke sent for him after he was his Librarian, to ask him whether he could get him a Book that was particularly scarce. «' No, Sir," answered Magliabechi, " it is impos"sible; for there is but one in the world; that is *"* in the Grand Signior's Library at Conjlantinoplei '« and is the seventh Book on the second Shelf on "the right Hand as you go in."
Though Magliabechi must have lived so sedentary a Life, with such an intense and almost perpetual Application to Books, yet he arrived to a good old Age. He died in his eighty-first Year, on July 14, I7i4[m]. By his Will he left a very fine Library of his own Collection, for the use of the Public, with a Fund to maintain it; and whatever should remain over, to the Poor.
He was not an Ecclesiastic, but chose never to marry; and was quite negligent, or rather quite slovenly in his Dress. His Appearance was such, as must have been far from engaging the Affection of a Lady, had he addrefled himself to any; and his Face in particular, as appears by the several Representations of him, whether in his Busts, Medals, Pictures, or Prints, would rather have prejudiced his Sute, than advanced it: He received his Friends, and those who came to consult him in any Points of Litterature, in a civil and obliging Manner; though in general
[m\ Lavuat; in his DiSlonaire Hijiorique Portatls, Art. Magliattdii Probably, from Salvim's Or. Fun. f, 29.