Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 58.djvu/258

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Vergil
Vergil
250

drew's, Holborn. He left a son, Cornelius Verelst, a painter, born in Holland in 1667, died in London in 1734, and a daughter, Maria Verelst, born at Vienna in 1680, who studied painting under her father, and eventually came to London, where she worked with and in the manner of her uncle Simon, in whose house she resided. She had considerable success as a painter, and died in London in 1744.

Willem Verelst (fl. 1740) was son of Cornelius, and born in London, where he practised as a portrait-painter. About 1740 he painted for the East India Company two portraits of John Dean, a sailor, who saved one of the company's ships. One of these portraits is in the National Portrait Gallery. He painted a portrait of Tobias George Smollett [q. v.], the novelist, in 1756. A portrait group by him is at St. Giles's, Dorset, the seat of the Earl of Shaftesbury. Harry Verelst [q. v.] was Willem Verelst's nephew.

[Walpole's Anecdotes of Painting, ed. Wornum; information from Dr. A. Bredius and Dr. C. Hofstede de Groot.]

L. C.

VERGIL, POLYDORE (1470?–1555?), historian, born at Urbino in Italy about 1470, was son of George Vergil. His great-grandfather, Antony Vergil, had been doctor of physic and philosophy and reader in the university of Paris; one of his brothers, John Matthew Vergil, professor of philosophy at Pavia, died young; another, Jerome Vergil, was a merchant who lived for some time in London. From an account of himself which he gave in 1509 to James IV of Scotland, it appears that he studied at Padua, but before that he seems to have been at Bologna. At some uncertain time he became secretary to the Duke of Urbino, his patron in literature. He certainly remained for some time at Padua, and there his earliest known work, an epistle prefixed to the Venetian edition of the ‘Cornucopie’ of Nicolaus Perottus, published in 1496, was composed. This work he is said to have collated with a manuscript in the ducal library at Urbino. It was at Padua, too, according to his own statement, that he wrote the two books by which he became widely known, the ‘Proverbiorum Libellus’ or ‘Adagia,’ and the ‘De Inventoribus Rerum.’ The ‘Proverbiorum Libellus’ was printed at Venice in 1498 (cf. Duplessis, Bibl. Parémiologique, p. 80), and dedicated to the Duke of Urbino; it was the first collection of the kind (Ferguson), and its popularity may be gauged by the rapid succession of the editions which appeared (Venice 1500, Strasburg 1511, Basel 1521, 1525, 1550). Its publication led to a slight dispute with Erasmus, who claimed that his ‘Adagia’ appeared first. Polydore Vergil pointed out the true state of the case in the preface to the ‘De Inventoribus Rerum’ in 1499, and then Erasmus explained that he had not heard of Polydore Vergil's work when he published his own. On this Polydore Vergil was mollified, and the relations between the two, though occasionally strained, were thenceforth friendly. Still Polydore Vergil thought it well to discuss the question of priority in the epistle to Richard Pace which is found in the 1521 edition of the ‘Adagia’ (Ferguson).

But the ‘De Inventoribus Rerum’ was far more popular. It was written at the request of the Duke of Urbino, and, according to Vergil's own account, was composed in nine months. It was published at Venice from the press of De Pensis in 1499, and in all somewhere about a hundred and ten editions have appeared. About thirty of these consist of translations or abridgments into Italian, Spanish, French, German, and English. At first the work consisted of three books. Five more were added, probably first in the Basel edition of 1521 (Ferguson, who doubts the existence of the supposed 1517 edition). The Latin text took final shape not later than 1544, possibly earlier; the first English abridgment appeared in 1546 (see Ferguson for much curious information as to the English editions). Polydore Vergil in many parts of his writings shows a tendency to rationalism, and various statements in the ‘De Inventoribus Rerum’ offended the clergy. It was, therefore, put on the ‘Index,’ and later, in 1576, an expurgated edition was printed at Rome and others forbidden.

Polydore Vergil became chamberlain to Alexander VI, whose papacy lasted from 1492 to 1503. His relative, Adrian de Castello [q. v.], had been made collector of Peter's pence in England about 1489, but had been resident at Rome as Henry VII's representative since 1492. Probably by his influence Polydore Vergil was appointed sub-collector, and came to England in 1501 or possibly (cf. Busch, p. 396) in the early part of 1502. His first clerical preferment in this country was the rectory of Church Langton, Leicestershire, to which he was presented by Sir Nicholas Griffin on 6 Nov. 1503. That he was intimate with Henry VII his history affords abundant evidence, and it was Henry himself who in 1505 asked him to write a history of England. From this time accordingly much of his leisure was occupied by that work. Adrian de Castello, though not in England, had been made