* De Rossi
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The Oriental Professorship in the neighbouring University of Parma, was at this time held by the celebrated John Bernard de Rossi. Mezzofanti had long desired to form the acquaintance of this distinguished Orientalist; and more than once projected a visit to Parma, for the purpose of placing himself in communication with him on the subject of his favourite study. His duties as assistant Librarian at length afforded the desired opportunity. Having occasion to order some of De Rossi's works from Parma, he addressed to De Rossi himself a letter which soon led to a warm and intimate friendship, and was the commencement of an interesting, although not very frequent, correspondence, which continued, at irregular intervals, up to the time of De Rossi's death. Some of Mezzofanti's letters to De Rossi, which are preserved in the Library of Parma, have been kindly placed at my disposal. They are chiefly interesting as throwing some light on the progress of his studies.
De Rossi replied by an exceedingly courteous letter, accompanied by a present of several books connected with Oriental literature, and manifesting so friendly an interest in the studies of his young correspondent, that Mezzofanti never afterwards hesitated to consult him when occasion arose. Their letters, in accordance with the ceremonious etiquette which characterizes all the correspondence of that period, are somewhat stiff and formal; but their intercourse was marked throughout by an active and almost tender interest upon the one side, and a respectful but yet affectionate admiration upon the other.
Meanwhile, however, Mezzofanti's own increasing reputation led to his being frequently consulted upon difficulties of the same kind. On one of these—a book in some unknown character which had been sent for his examination, by Monsignor Bevilacqua, a learned prelate at Ferrara—he, in his turn, consults De Rossi. His letter is chiefly curious as showing (what will appear strange to our modern philologers) that up to this date Mezzofanti was entirely unacquainted with Sanscrit. The importance of that language and the wide range of its relations, which Frederic Schlegel was almost the first to estimate right, were not at this time fully appreciated.
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