· Biography
     · 1774 to 1798
     · 1798 to 1802
     · 1803 to 1806
     · 1807 to 1814
     · 1814 to 1817
     · 1817 to 1820
     · 1820 to 1823
     · 1823 to 1830
     · 1831
     · 1831 to 1833
     · 1834
     · 1834 to 1836
     · 1836 to 1838
     · 1838 to 1841
     · 1841 to 1843
     · 1843-1849
     · Recapitulation
      · Introduction
      · Definition
      · Stages
      · Table
      · Languages
      · Analysis
      · Reader's
      · recollection
      · System to study
      · Natural gift
      · Mental process
      · Literary
      · circles
      · Regrets
      · Criticisims
      * Writers
      · Conclusion
     · About the book
   · FAQ
   · Characters
   · Places
   · Highlights
   · Language table

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Home > Mezzofanti > Biography > Recapitulation > Writers

There is more truth in the strictures upon Mezzofanti as a writer. In this respect, indeed, he is known very little; for his only published composition, the Panegyric of Father Aponte, and the fugitive poetical exercises in the appendix of this Memoir, can hardly be said to place him in the category of authors. Unhappily, indeed, the spirit of authorship is, with many, a question rather of temperament than of ability. In some it is the very breath of their life—an actual necessity of existence. To others it is a barren and ungrateful labour—undertaken with reluctance, and pursued without satisfaction. Southey used to say, that he never felt fully master of himself and of all his unclouded faculties, till he found himself seated at his desk. The current of his thoughts never flowed freely except through his pen. On the contrary, Magliabecchi—the living library—the helluo librorum—never could prevail on himself to publish a single line ! Unfortunately for science, Mezzofanti was of the latter class. Partly from constitutional delicacy, and especially from weakness of the chest, the effort of writing was to him irksome and even injurious. Partly too, no doubt, the same constitutional tendency of mind which rendered speaking easy and attractive, indisposed him for the more toilsome— to him positively distressing—mode of communicating his thoughts by writing. Except for the purposes of private study, therefore, he seldom wrote more than some fugitive piece; and, even when he was prevailed on to write at greater length, he was seldom sufficiently satisfied with his own performances to permit them to be made public. Several, even of these essays which were read by him in the learned societies of Bologna and Rome, are known to have been destroyed by himself before his death j including some which, from their title and subject, might naturally have been expected to afford some insight into the character of his mind, and his capacity for dealing with the philosophy of language.

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