Clinker,' described him in his old age as one who, after having drudged half a century in the literary mill in all the simplicity and abstinence of an Asiatic, subsists upon the charity of a few booksellers, just sufficient to keep him from the parish.' His fame for sanctity reached the ears of Dr. Johnson, who 'sought after' him and 'used to go and sit with him at an alehouse' in Old Street. Johnson said that he never saw 'the close of the life of any one that he wished so much his own to resemble for its purity and devotion.' Johnson never contradicted him. He would, he said, as soon have thought of contradicting a bishop ; and, according to Mrs. Piozzi, he declared that 'Psalmanazar's piety, penitence, and virtue exceeded almost what we read as wonderful in the lives of the saints.' Johnson mentions him in his 'Prayers and Meditations' (p. 102) as a man 'whose life was, I think, uniform.'
Psalmanazar died in Ironmonger Row on 3 May 1763, aged about 84. 'His pious and patient endurance' (wrote Mrs. Piozzi) 'of a tedious illness, ending in an exemplary death, confirms the strong impression his merit had made upon the mind of Mr. Johnson' (Anecdotes, p. 175).
All his property he left, by will dated 23 April 1754, to his friend and housekeeper, Sarah Rewalling. In 1764 there was published, by his direction and for the benefit of his executrix, his 'Memoirs of * * * commonly known by the name of George Psalmanazar.' A portrait is prefixed, together with his will. A second edition appeared in 1765. The story of his imposture and early struggles fills two-thirds of the book. The success of his deceit and the interest it excited seem to justify Horace Walpole's comment that, as a literary impostor, he possessed a greater genius than Chatterton. In the 'Bibliothèque Universelle des Voyages,' by G. Boucher de la Richarderie (Paris, 1808), a full summary of Psalmanazar's history of Formosa is unsuspectingly supplied (v. 289 sq.)
[Psalmanazar's Memoirs, 1764, and Account of Formosa, 1704; Boswell's Life of Johnson, ed. G. B. Hill, iii. 314, 443-9 (an essay by Dr. Hill), iv. 274 ; Disraeli's Curiosities of Literature; Célébrités Anglaises by Jules Lefevre Deumier, 1895 (a very slight sketch).]
PUCCI, FRANCESCO (1540–1593?), theological writer, was born at Florence in 1540 (Gaspari). He was of the same family as the conservative cardinals Lorenzo Pucci (d. 1531), Roberto Pucci (d. 1547), and Antonio Pucci (d. 1544), but his own bent was towards literature and freethought. Following Tuscan custom, he began life in a mercantile house at Lyons. Here he became bitten with a reforming zeal, and having some means of his own, in addition to an allowance from his father, he pursued a career of strange independence. He made his way to London, where he became acquainted with Antonio de Corro [q. v.] In 1572 he repaired to Oxford, apparently expecting to find sympathy with his antagonism to the Calvinistic type of protestantism. On 18 May 1574 he was admitted M.A. He applied for a post of lecturer in theology, but his disputations soon made him obnoxious to the authorities, who expelled him (before June 1575) from the university. John Rainolds, D.D. [q. v.], writes in 1576 to the vice-chancellor, ‘It pleased God to stirr up your haste with the grace of his holy Spirit for the removing of Puccius.’ In 1575–7 he was in London, communicating with the Italian congregation of the ‘strangers' church,’ but unsettled in his views. He corresponded with Francesco Betti, a Roman of noble family, who advised him to come to Basle and lay his difficulties before the future heresiarch, Fausto Paulo Sozzini (Socinus). Pucci reached Basle about May 1577, and held a written disputation with Sozzini on the question of immortality. Pucci regarded all creatures as imperishable; Sozzini denied the natural immortality of man, treating a future life as a conditional privilege. On 4 June Pucci formulated his positions, under ten heads; Sozzini replied on 11 June; Pucci finished a rejoinder on 1 July. The discussion was interrupted by the expulsion of Pucci from Basle. He had publicly maintained an extreme form of Pelagianism, printing theses, ‘De Fide natura hominibus universis insita,’ in which he claimed that all men are by nature in a state of salvation. Soon afterwards an epidemic drove Sozzini from Basle; he completed an answer to Pucci at Zürich on 27 Jan. 1578. This, in the following October, he forwarded to Pucci, who made notes on the margin of the manuscript, but wrote no formal reply. Long afterwards the manuscript was returned to Sozzini through Cornelius Daëms, D.C.L., of Gouda. Sozzini printed the whole discussion with the title ‘De Statu Primi Hominis ante Lapsum,’ Cracow, 1590, 4to (reprinted 1610, 4to; also in Socini Opera, ii. 257 seq.).
From Basle Pucci had returned by way of Nuremberg and Flanders to London, where Sozzini believed him to be still staying in December 1580. His peculiar views exposed him to persecution and imprisonment; on his release he betook himself to Holland, where he made the acquaintance of Justus Lipsius at Leyden. In Holland he attached