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* Invitation to
|LIFE OF CARDINAL MEZZOFANTI|
Home > Mezzofanti > Biography > 1803 to 1806 > Invitation to Paris
Mezzofanti is invited to Paris at the court of Napoleon, where his fellow country men Volta and Galvani where already living. He turns down the invitation and stays in Italy.
In the midst of these cares and occupations, Mezzofanti was surprised by a flattering invitation to transfer his residence to Paris, with a promise of patronage and distinction from the Emperor Napoleon, who was at this time eagerly engaged in plans for the development of the literary and artistic glories of his capital. More than one of Mezzofanti's countrymen, were already in the enjoyment of high honours at Paris. First among them may be named Volta, for many years Professor of Natural Philosophy in the University of Pavia. More pliant than his great fellow-discoverer, Galvani, or perhaps more favourably circumstanced as not being, like him, a member of a Papal University, he had escaped the proscription which brought Galvani to his grave— one of those victims of loyalty whom Petrarch declares
Volta was called from Pavia to Paris, where he was rewarded with distinctions, emoluments, titles, and, more flattering than all, with the personal notice and patronage of the great conqueror himself, who was often present at his experiments, and displayed a warm interest in the results to which they led. Note 1
Such were at this period the tempting rewards of scientific or literary eminence in France. Moreover, Count Marescalchi, in whose family Mezzofanti had acted as tutor and librarian during the years of his deprivation, was now Resident Minister of the Kingdom of Italy at Paris. The Count's intercourse with Mezzofanti was but little interrupted by their separation; and, even during his residence in Paris, the latter continued to correspond with him ; chiefly on matters connected with the education of his children, or with the completion or extension of his noble library. The extent of their intimacy indeed may be inferred from one of Mezzofanti's letters to the Count dated September 16, 1806, in which we find him freely employing the services of the minister in procuring books at Paris, not only for himself but for his literary friends in Bologna. Note 2
It was through this Count Marescalchi that the invitation to Paris was conveyed to Mezzofanti, and it cannot be doubted that it was accompanied by a warm recommendation from the Count himself. No trace of this formal correspondence is now discoverable ', but probably far more interesting, as it is certainly far more characteristic, than the official letter or reply, is the following playful letter to one of Count Marescalchi's sons, Carlino (Charlie), Mezzofanti's former pupil—now the representative of the house—who had written a special letter, to add the expression of his own wishes to those of his father, that his old instructor should join them once again at Paris.
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