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Home > Mezzofanti > Biography > 1831 > Removal to Rome

The deputation returned to Bologna in the end of June. Mezzofanti accompanied it, but only for the purpose of making arrangements for his permanent change of residence.

He had accepted the commission with exceeding reluctance, and it is painful to have to record that on this, the only occasion on which he consented to leave his habitual retirement, he was not suffered to escape his share of the rude shocks and buffets which seem to be inseparable from public life.

All who were most familiar with Mezzofanti, to "whatever party in Italian politics they belonged, have borne testimony to the sincerity of his convictions and the entire disinterestedness of his views—a disinterestedness which had marked the entire tenor of his life, and had been attested by long and painful sacrifices. Nevertheless, on the return of the Bolognese deputation from Rome, he had the mortification to find his conduct misrepresented and his motives maligned. The marked attention which he had experienced at the hands of the Pope, was made a crime. His simple and long-tried loyalty — the spontaneous homage which a mind such as his renders almost by instinct—was denounced as the interested subserviency of a courtier ; and the favours which had been bestowed on him in Rome, were represented as the price of his treason to Bologna.

Mezzofanti felt deeply these ungenerous and unfounded criticisms. His health was seriously affected by the chagrin which they occasioned ; and these memories of his last days in Bologna often clouded in after years the happier reminiscences of his native city on which his mind delighted to dwell.

Owing to the unsettled condition of Italy during this year, but few Englishmen visited Bologna. Among these were Dr. Christopher Wordsworth, Canon of Westminster (who also saw Mezzofanti in the following year in Rome,) and Mr. Milnes, of Frystone Hall, Yorkshire, father of the poet, Mr. Richard Monckton Milnes. The latter was much amused by Mezzofanti's proposing, when he heard he was a Yorkshire man, to speak Welsh with him, " as Yorkshire lay so near Wales!"

It would hardly be worth while to note this amusing blunder in English topography, (a blunder more remarkable in Mezzofanti, as in all geographical details he was ordinarily extremely accurate,) were it not that it is another testimony on the disputed question of his acquaintance with the Welsh language.

He left Bologna finally for Rome in October, 1831. The Pope afterwards used jokingly to say, that " the acquisition of Mezzofanti for Rome was the only good that came of the Revolution of Bologna in 1831." By the kind care of the Pope, he was provided with apartments in the Quirinal Palace, nearly opposite the Church of Saint Andrew—the same apartments at the window of which the lamented Monsignor Palma was shot during the late Revolution.

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