|LIFE OF CARDINAL MEZZOFANTI|
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As to Theology, his reputation in Rome was not high. Yet his attainments, especially in moral theology, were considered respectable. The readers of Sir W. Hamilton will not look on the charge of " scholasticism " as any very grave disparagement; but I must add that neither did Mezzofanti neglect the modern divines, even those outside of Italy. With Guido Gorres he spoke of Mohler's well-known Symbolik, although it was at that period but little known beyond the limits of Germany.
As a preacher, Mezzofanti, though earnest and impressive, never was in any way remarkable. He confined himself chiefly to the duty of catechetical instruction; and in Rome his only efforts as a preacher, were the short and simple exhortations addressed to children at the time of admitting them to their first Communion—a duty of the ministry which was especially dear to him.
The truth is, that all these criticisms of Mezzofanti, and the impressions as to the superficial character of his acquirements which they embody, have emanated for the most part from casual visitors, who saw him but for a brief space, and whose opportunity of testing his knowledge was probably limited to a few questions and answers, in a language not his own ; the main object of the visit being, not to sound the depth or accuracy of his knowledge in itself, but.
merely the fluency and correctness of his manner of speaking the language in which the visitor desired to try him. Whereas, on the contrary, those who bear witness to the solidity of his information and the vast range of his knowledge, are those who knew him long and intimately; who met him as a friend and companion, not as an object of curiosity, and of wonder ; and whose estimate of him was founded upon the impressions of familiar and every-day intercourse — the only safe test of character or of acquirements.
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