THIS is an attempt to break into a patch of silence and a zone of half-light in the later years of Sir Anthony Panizzi. The silence and obscurity are the result of a historical accident. The bulk of Panizzi's papers and correspondence has been preserved - it is available now to students, either in the Department of Manuscripts in the British Library or in other collections - but there was an illuminating exchange of letters, between Panizzi and the French writer Prosper Merimee, Panizzi's part in which has entirely disappeared. Only one of Panizzi's letters to Merimee has survived, in a copy retained by him. It is printed in Louis Fagan's biography The Life of Sir Anthony Panizzi (1880, vol, ii, pp. 218-20). All others must be presumed lost in the fire which destroyed Merimee's house in Paris in May 1871, during the street battles of the last days of the Paris Commune.
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