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LIFE OF CARDINAL MEZZOFANTI
Home > Mezzofanti > Biography > 1814 to 1817 > Angelelli

By degrees, too, he was beginning, in the natural advance of years, to enjoy the best fruit of the labour of instruction, in the success, and even distinction, attained by his quondam pupils. One of these to whom he was especially attached, the young Marchese Angelelli, had passed through the University with much honour; and, in the beginning of 1815, published anonymously a metrical translation of the Electra of Sophocles, which met with very marked favour. Mezzofanti who was much gratified by the success of this first essay, communicated to his friend Pezzana the secret of the authorship. " I send you," he writes, May 8, 1815, " a first essay in translation from the Greek, published by an able pupil of mine, whose modesty has not permitted him to put his name to his work. From you, however, I make no secret of it. The author is one of our young nobles, the Marchese Maximilian Francis Angelelli, an indefatigable cultivator of every liberal study. I may add, as there is no danger of its reaching the ears of the modest translator, that this first effort is only the beginning of greater things. You will accept a copy for yourself, and place the other in jour library, which I am happy to know grows daily, both in extent and reputation, through the care of its librarian, no less than by his distinguished name.''

This first essay of the young poet was followed in the next year by a further publication, containing the Electra, the Antigone, and the Trachinise; and, a few years later, his master had the gratification of witness¨ing the successful completion of his favourite pupil's task, by the publication of the entire seven tragedies of Sophocles, in 1823-4. One effect of Mezzofanti's appointment as librarian was to separate him somewhat from his sister and her family. He occupied thenceforward the apartments of the librarian in the Palace of the University. But he still continued towards them the same affectionate protection and support. Hitherto he had himself in part Note 1

By degrees, too, he was beginning, in the natural advance of years, to enjoy the best fruit of the labour of instruction, in the success, and even distinction, attained by his quondam pupils. One of these to whom he was especially attached, the young Marchese Angelelli, had passed through the University with much honour; and, in the beginning of 1815, published anonymously a metrical translation of the Electra of Sophocles, which met with very marked favour. Mezzofanti who was much gratified by the success of this first essay, communicated to his friend Pezzana the secret of the authorship. " I send you," he writes, May 8, 1815, " a first essay in translation from the Greek, published by an able pupil of mine, whose modesty has not permitted him to put his name to his work. From you, however, I make no secret of it. The author is one of our young nobles, the Marchese Maximilian Francis Angelelli, an indefatigable cultivator of every liberal study. I may add, as there is no danger of its reaching the ears of the modest translator, that this first effort is only the beginning of greater things. You will accept a copy for yourself, and place the other in jour library, which I am happy to know grows daily, both in extent and reputation, through the care of its librarian, no less than by his distinguished name.''

This first essay of the young poet was followed in the next year by a further publication, containing the Electra, the Antigone, and the Trachinise; and, a few years later, his master had the gratification of witnessing the successful completion of his favourite pupil's task, by the publication of the entire seven tragedies of Sophocles, in 1823-4.One effect of Mezzofanti's appointment as librarian was to separate him somewhat from his sister and her family. He occupied thenceforward the apartments

His first public appearance at the Academy after he entered upon his new office, was for the purpose of reading, (July 11th, 1815,) a paper "On the Wallachian Language and its Analogies with Latin ;"a subject which has engaged the attention of philologers and historians from the days of Chalcocondylas, and which involves many interesting ethnological, as well as philological considerations. Note 2As we shall find him, a few years later, astonishing a German visitor by his familiarity with this out-of-the-way language, it is worth while to note this essay, as an evidence that here, too, his knowledge was the result of careful study, and not of casual opportunity, or of sudden inspiration.

For a considerable time after he took charge of the Library, he seems to have been much occupied by his duties in connexion with it. The only letter which I have been able to obtain about this period, one addressed to Pezzana, March 5th, 1816, is entirely occupied with details regarding the library; and M. Manavit mentions that he not only obtained from the authorities a considerable addition to the funds appropriated to the purchase of books but, moreover, devoted no trifling share of his own humble resources to the same purpose. Note 3In the course of a few months, too, he was quite at ease in his new pursuit ; and the familiarity with the contents of the library, and even of the position of particular books Upon its shelves which he soon possessed, would, in a person of less prodigious memory, have been a subject of wonder. His nephew, Cavaliere Minarelli of Bologna, was present on one occasion when Professor Ranzani, while passing an evening in the librarian's apartments, happened to require some rare volume from the library ; and, though it was dark at the time, Mezzofanti left the room without alight, proceeded to the library, and in a few moments returned with the Volume required.

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Notes

Note 1
"Tragedie di Sofocle, recate in Versi Italiani da Massimo Angee lelli." 2 vols., 4to. Bologna, 1823-4. This translation is highly commended by Federici, in his " Notizie degli Scrittori Greci e delle Versioni Italiane delle loro Opere," p. 95.

Note 2
See Adelung's " Mithridates," II., 723ó30. I refer to this passage particularly, as explaining the peculiar difficulty which Wallachian, as a spoken language, presents to a foreigner, from its close resemblance to other languages.

Note 3
Manavit, p. 37.




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