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Home > Mezzofanti > Biography > 1834 > Lavradio

Sample of Mezzofanti's handwriting in Portuguese : Click to enlarge picture
Sample of Mezzofanti's handwriting in Portuguese
Before closing this chapter, I shall add a short note of the Count de Lavradio, Portuguese ambassador in London, and brother of the Marquis de Lavradio, who for many years held the same office in Rome. It regards Mezzofanti's acquaintance with Portuguese, another language which very few foreigners take the trouble to acquire.

" I have always heard," writes his excellency, " both from my brother and from other learned Portuguese who knew Cardinal Mezzofanti, that he was perfectly conversant with the Portuguese language, and that he spoke it with facility and with elegance. I myself have read letters written by him in excellent Portuguese ; particularly one very remarkable one, addressed by him to the learned M. de Souza, for the purpose of conveying his thanks for the offer which M. de Souza had made to him, of a copy of the magnificent edition of Camoens, which he had published in 1817."

The Marquis de Lavradio here referred to, while ambassador at Rome, expressed the same opinion to Cardinal Wiseman. The Marquis, in Mezzofanti's Portuguese, was particularly struck by the precision of his language and the completeness of his mastery over even the delicate forms of conversational phraseology. He instanced in particular one of his letters. It was perfect, he said, not only in vocabulary but in form, even down to the minutest phrases of conventional compliment and formal courtesy.

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