Joseph Cassar Pullicino :
Gio Pietro Francesco Agius de Soldanis










[p.4] Published by

The Malta Historical Society

Edited and Produced

by Carmel G. Bonavia

Phototypesetting & Printing - Veritas Press, Zabbar – 1996

© The Malta Historical Society / J. Cassar Pullicino - 1996

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Agius De Soldanis - Approaches to a biography,  
Commemorative Lecture by J. Cassar Pullicino 7
by J. Cassar Pullicino and C. G. Bonavia  
Published Works 31
Works Left Unpublished 37
Works Presumed Lost 43
Related Material 45
University Theses 45
Articles etc. on Agius De Soldanis 46


Monument to De Soldanis in Villa Rundle at Victoria, Gozo
(photo D.O.I., Gozo)


Approaches to a Biography

(Commemorative Lecture delivered by J. Cassar Pullicino before the Malta Historical Society at the National Library, Valletta, on Thursday, May 9, 1996)

The subject of my lecture today is a Gozitan ecclesiastic whose multi-faceted activity as historian, grammarian, lexicographer, controversialist and librarian marks him out as an outstanding 18th Century man of letters.

Many of you here this evening will be familiar with the basic facts concerning Gio. Pietro Francesco Agius de Soldanis, which one can briefly summarise here. Born at Rabat, in Gozo, on October 31, 1712, he studied Latin and other languages in Malta, [1] and was appointed Canon of the Collegiate Church of Gozo at the early age of seventeen, when he was not yet ordained priest. He studied Philosophy and Theology at the Jesuits' College in Valletta. Agius also studied Law, graduating from the University of Padua, in Italy. His publications include a grammar of the Maltese language, which he considered as a direct survivor from the original Punic language. As a member of at least four Italian academies he was held in high esteem and kept up a steady correspondence with some of their prominent members. In 1763 he was appointed first Librarian of what is now known as the National Library. He died on January 30, 1770.

These data about Agius have been known for at least 216 years, ever since his friend and colleague Count G.A. Ciantar included a brief biographical sketch of the Gozitan Canon in his Malta Illustrata in 1780. [2] Interesting comments by [p.8] G.A. Vassallo appeared in L'Arte in 1865. In 1928 and subsequent years an intelligent interest in De Soldanis's pioneering work set in with the publication of a study by Dr. Giovanni Curmi, who not only reproduced Agius's first-ever full description of the old marriage customs of the Maltese but also his modest collection of 387 proverbs. [3] To this period also belongs Mgr. G. Farrugia's Maltese translation of De Soldanis's history of Gozo, which was later published by Government in two volumes (Vol. 1, 1936; Vol. 2, 1953).

For many years after the Second World War there was a sustained scholarly interest in academic circles, encourages by the Chair of Maltese at the University, at that time held by Prof. J. Aquilina. This interest resulted, inter alia, in the publication of De Soldanis's Djalogi, edited by the present lecturer in 1947 and later translated into English by David Marshall in 1971. [4] Three theses for the degree of Master of Arts were also presented - one on the Romance element in his Dictionary by Miss Mary Rose Gatt (1974); another, by Eric Gatt, on the Semitic element (1984), while J. Zammit Ciantar utilized the toponymic terms registered by De Soldanis for his thesis "A Linguistic Study of Gozitan Toponymy" presented for M.A. in 1978. [5] Short articles of a general nature appear from time to time.

However, this is just a beginning. We are in no way claiming that we know enough about De Soldanis and his work; on the contrary, we stress that a definite biography has become an urgent desideratum. In the short time at my disposal I shall suggest a few approaches to such an undertaking by indicating some fresh biographical details gleaned over a number of years from available manuscript and printed sources. I hope that my sympathy with my subject will not serve as an opportunity for panegyric but rather to clear existing doubts and to present De Soldanis primarily as a human being conscious of the principal currents of contemporary European, mainly Italian culture. In particular I shall stress the importance of utilising surviving correspondence of a familiar kind, diaries and letters to intimate friends not written with a view to publication, in order to illustrate as much as possible the full personality of our subject.

[p.9] One could usefully mention here that Gianpier Francesco was not an only son. There were at least three other brothers in the Agius family, all of them possessed of some measure of learning and in the employ of the Order. Fra Melchior Agius held the post of sacristan at the Conventual Church of St. John. He was the author of Il Tesoro delle Sacre Reliquie conservate in Malta nella maggior Chiesa Conventuale di San Giovanni Battista dell'Ordine Gerosolimitano pubblicato dal Sacerdote F. Melchior Agius Religioso del dett'Ordine e consagrato all'Ecc. F. Giacomo Francesco de Chambray Balì dello stess'Ordine. This 14-page booklet was published in Rome in 1750 by the same Generoso Salomoni who issued Agius's Maltese Grammar during the same year. On June 12, 1773 Melchior bequeathed the fifth part of his removable property to Fr. Francesco Xuereb, nephew to the Agius brothers. [6] Fra Salvatore Agius had served as Hospital Chaplain for some years and was Fra Cappellano d'Obbedienza Magistrale when he died on May 28,1762 at the age of about 45 years. [7] Fra Giuseppe Agius, who had some literary pretensions, was the author of a diary recording useful details of life and events in 18th Century Malta. For many years he was Chaplain at the Camerata, and later Maestro dei Diaconi at the Conventual Church of St. John. When Jacques de Chambray died on April 8, 1756 he wrote a sonnet extolling the virtues and merits of the distinguished Knight. [8]

For most of his life, and I may say to this very day, Agius was known by the title of Canon. We have already seen that he was appointed Canon of the Collegiate Church of Gozo at the early age of seventeen. Bishop Alpheran de Bussan (1728-1757) must have seen unequivocal signs of rare intellectual powers in this preco­cious Gozitan youth that made him extend to Agius protection and preferment in his ecclesiastical career. In 1750, at the age of 38, Agius had tried, unsuccessfully, to improve his status within the ecclesiastical hierarchy. His close friend and contemporary diarist Ignazio Saverio Mifsud throws light on Agius's efforts to improve his priestly career.

Besides the backing of the local Bishop, in seeking ecclesiastical preferment Agius also sought, not necessarily successfully, the patronage of high-ranking Princes of the Church in Rome. In 1750 he had set his eyes on a vacant seat of Canon at the Malta Cathedral. But Cardinal Portocarrero, whom he already knew, wrote from Rome on October 6, 1750 to inform him that the seat was intended for someone else. There was nothing more that he, Portocarrero, could do except to wait for a more propitious occasion to intervene on Agius's behalf. [9]

[p.10] On June 26,1753 Mifsud recorded in his diary that the vacant canonry in Gozo created earlier that year by the death of Canon Dalli had been conferred by Bishop Alpheran on Canon D. Francesco Agius "personaggio molto insigne per aver dato alle stampe ...", while Don Giuseppe Abela, hitherto Master of Ceremonies, was appointed to take Agius's place. However, although Agius had only obtained his new seat as Canon in June of that year, he was to retain his own place and seniority in terms of the authority communicated to him by Mifsud and duly approved by the Bishop. [10] Naturally the other Gozitan canons strongly resented this and they vigorously appealed from the decision. Agius lost his case as he did not contest this point at law and he had to take his place in the usual way.

Six years later, when Archpriest Don Adeodato Formosa, who was also Provicario of Gozo, died on September 4, 1759, several candidates competed to fill this important post. Among them was Agius de Soldanis. However, on Sep­tember 10 Canon Cauchi, who had the reputation of being an exemplary though rather strict ecclesiastic, was appointed Provicario. [11] On December 10, 1754 Portocarrero informed Agius that, notwithstanding his good offices and recom­mendations in the proper quarters, the vacant Prepositura at Birkirkara had been conferred on another candidate. Cardinal Domenico Passionei (1682-1761) had previously bluntly stated in a letter addressed to Agius on September 20, 1754 that, having never dared to bother the Pope, not even on behalf of his own nephews, he would certainly not be in a position to do so on behalf of others. The best he could do was to recommend his case to another Cardinal. [12]

Mifsud gave more details about this vacancy in his diary. On July 28, 1754 he recorded that Agius was one of the candidates for the post of Preposito and on August 3, 1754 he noted that there were six examiners and six candidates for the post. The examination lasted from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. - "cosa che fece stordire a tutti". People were saying that Agius had come out very well in all the cases set by the examiners. Some of the cases related to matrimonial matters, others to usury or to the Birkirkara Archpriest's duties regarding the celebration of Mass. Furthermore, each candidate had to improvise an oration on the theme set down by the Bishop Videns Hyerusalem flevit super illam. The choice eventually fell on Don Giacomo Bertis, Parish Priest of Qrendi, who served as Provost of Birkirkara from 1755 to 1769. [13]

[p.11] Alberico Archinto (1698-1758), who held the important post of Cardinal Secretary of State, was another Prince of the Church who wrote out a testimonial in favour of Agius. He had come to know De Soldanis during his brief stay in Rome in 1758, and had formed a good opinion of him based on the praise-worthy qualities which he possessed not less than on his vast learning. On March 21, 1758 he strongly recommended Agius to Bishop Bartolomeo Rull (1757-1769) for special help and favour in his needs. [14] Rull's reaction is not known. However, it is significant that Agius dedicated his Nuova Scuola dell'antica lingua Punica, which remained unpublished, to Bishop Rull. Cardinal Archinto died shortly after writing this testimonial, aged 60, after holding the high post of Cardinal Secretary of State for only 30 months. [15]

De Soldanis is well known as the historian of his native Gozo. In writing his Il Gozo Antico Moderno he set out to do for Gozo what G.F. Abela had done for Malta in 1647. The idea had been maturing in his mind since 1738. In his Foreword Ai Leggitori he explained that in 1647 Commendatore Abela had used his learned pen (dotta penna) to describe Malta but giving only a brief and succinct account of Gozo. Those who wrote after him did exactly the same thing. Then in 1738 the Balì Siniscalco Fra Ferdinando Ernesto de Stadl, who was interested in the annals of these islands, asked De Soldanis to supply further information about Gozo which was not included in Abela's work. At that time Agius hastily put together a brief description. Little by little, carried away by his love of country, he later succeeded in writing a full description. [16]

There is an early reference to Il Gozo Antico Moderno in the draft of a reply sent to Padre Bonaventura Attardi, who had informed Agius on July 26, 1741 that, at the request of the Accademia del Buon Gusto, of Palermo, of which Agius was also a member, he had started work on the history of his native city of S. Filippo. Agius regretted that he could not do the same thing with regard to his Gozo Antico Moderno because the Grand Master wanted him to preach the Lenten sermons in the Collegiate Church in Gozo. This left him no time to write on other topics. [17]

By the middle of 1742 Agius was still at work on his history of Gozo and he was casting about for a fit person to whom he could dedicate his work. Balì Fra Sestio Dericard, a close friend to whom he later dedicated his Delia Lingua Punica [p.12] presentemente usata dai Maltesi (1750), was kept informed of progress reached in the matter. On July 30 he wrote from Paris stating that it was his considered view that the history of Gozo should be addressed as of right to the Grand Master. He himself would decline such an offer, which more befittingly should be made to his superior, the Grand Master. [18] De Soldanis, however, thought otherwise and on June 10, 1746, as we know, he addressed his work to his life-long benefactor Bishop Alpheran de Bussan.

It also emerges from Dericard's letter of July 30, 1742 that Agius had been urged to undertake this work by both the Balì Stadi and Count G.A. Ciantar. Agius appears to have gone out of his way to sing Ciantar's praise in this work. The occasion presented itself when Agius mentioned that he had asked Ciantar's opinion about some coins or medals discovered in Gozo. The mutual respect existing between them comes out very clearly from the text in the manuscript (p. 100), which is here reproduced:

"... onde conoscendo in Malta il sovraccennato Signor Conte Ciantar, Gentiluomo nostro eruditissimo, in quest'anno (1746) stesso per la sua rara virtù da S.M. Cristianissima aggregate Socio dell'Accademia Reale delle Iscrizioni e Belle Lettere di Parigi, le ho trasmesso alcune di queste monete, il quale con la solita sua bontà dopo qualche tempo si e compiaciuto onorarmi colla risposta, il primo marzo 1746, la quale per essere piena di erudizione a gloria delle due nostre isole, degna delta sua penna ho creduto far piacere a li antiquari, ed a Letterati riportarla intera colla moneta seguente gozitana ..."

Ciantar's reply to Agius reads as follows:

"Per appagare in qualche parte il vostro genio erudito, mio reverentissimo Signor Canonico, io ben volentieri vi comunico in queste poche linee le osservazioni sopra l'antica medaglia, ultimamente scoperta in codesta isola, vostra Patria. Ma non aspettate da me una lunga e studiata Dissertazione. I miei affari domestici, le varie mie occupazioni letterarie non mi permettono tanto. Mi bisogna dividere me stesso alle mie cure, ed il tempo alle applicazioni. Né m'é d'uopo di diffondermi in siffatte scuse ...

Due mention must be made here of another Maltese who in various ways helped Agius in establishing contact with prominent men of culture associated with learned academies in Florence and other Italian cities. This was Michel Angelo Grima (1713-1799), well known as a famous surgeon but still in the early years of his career at the time we are speaking of. Since May 10, 1750 he had been in Florence gaining experience at the hospital of Santa Maria Nuova. De Soldanis had been in correspondence with him from June 12, 1752. Both of them were [p.13] members of one or more learned academies. De Soldanis belonged to the Accademia del Buon Gusto of Palermo and to the Accademia degli Erranti, of Fermo. Grima was a member of the Accademia dei Giorgoflli ed Etruschi, of Florence. Both of them were members of the Accademia degli Apatisti, of Florence, as well as of the Accademia Botanica e di Storia Naturale, of Cortona. It was through Grima's good offices with Ludovico Coltellini, Secretary of the Cortona Academy, that De Soldanis had been admitted to that Academy.

At Grima's request Agius wrote a dissertation on the glossopietre which he showed to Giovanni Lami (1697-1770), Professor of Ecclesiastical History at Florence and famous antiquary and man of letters, and for which he (Grima) tried to find a printer. At Grima's suggestion De Soldanis refuted the arguments adduced in 1752 by M. Ladvocat, Librarian of the Sorbonne, and vindicated the Maltese tradition regarding St. Paul's Shipwreck on Malta. In 1757 his dissertation on the subject appeared in French in Avignon, followed by the publication in Venice of an Italian translation in 1758. Grima also promoted the sale of De Soldanis's grammar (1750) directly or by presenting complimentary copies to influential scholars and personalities. As a result of Grima's interest in Agius's work, the latter wrote a sonnet in Maltese in 1758 - an acrostic in praise of Coltellini, whom we have already mentioned. Grima also drafted the wording for the dedication to Dr. Giovanni Lami of a book by Agius, most probably his Annone Cartaginese (1757) , [19]

Time and again in his correspondence Agius shows his readiness to help foreign visitors engaged in scholarly work. To illustrate this trait in his character one could quote his letter of October 18,1756, addressed to M. Savalete de Bucheloi for onward transmission to the Academy of Sciences in Paris. M. Jacques Lacombe had been sent to Malta by this Academy to study the various aspects of local Natural History, especially those relating to the sea, like marine plants. In strict compliance with the Academy's instructions, before returning to Sicily he wished to spend a few days in Gozo to complete his assignment. Agius gladly welcomed M. Lacombe and his companion, the Parisian painter Antoine Favray, at his home in the Citadel. In his letter he explained that he had done so as a gesture of good will, on the recommen­dation of the Knight Turgot, a naturalist whom he knew in Malta, and out of respect for the members of the learned Academy. [20] Our National Library holds two works by Lacombe, namely Dictionnaire portative des Beaux-Arts, ou abregé: (Paris, 1753) and Dizionario portatile delle Belle Arti, ovvero restretto ... (Venice, 1758).


1763: De Soldanis was compiling the index of the books in the Public Library (Ms Lib. 14).

[p.15] There were quite a few diarists noting down events and gossip in 18th C. Malta. The names of Fra Gaetano Reboul, De Soldani's brother Giuseppe and Ignazio Saverio Mifsud immediately come to mind. De Soldanis himself had, early in his career, recorded the ecclesiastical events and the popular customs observed during the year 1733. [21]

By far the most important of these diaries is that kept by I. S. Mifsud, covering the periods (i) from January 1, 1740 to June 13, 1741, (NLV Ms IX), (ii) from January 1, 1753 to December 31, 1755 (Ms XI), and (iii) from January 1, 1756 to December 25, 1765, (Mss XII, XIII and XIV). Agius's name keeps cropping up in Mifsud's diary and there is no doubt that Agius was Mifsud's "intimo amico e corrispondente".

It is to Mifsud that we owe certain details concerning the office of librarian assigned to Agius de Soldanis by the Balì Tencin, founder of what is now known as the National Library. On the 20th June, 1763 he noted in his diary: "In detto tempo il Balì Tansè faceva mettere in ordine la pubblica libreria, e chiamo a se per aiutarlo il Canonico Dr. D. Francesco Agius del Gozo, il quale essendogli riuscito di fare un Coadiutore, passo nella Valletta, e nel Forfantone, luogo adatto per la libreria, gli fu dato dal Balì un'appartamento con l'assegnamento, come si dice, di dieci scudi per mese"

On Thursday, 11th August, 1763 Mifsud called at the Library and spent the whole morning watching De Soldanis at work indexing the books belonging to the two collections combined - Tencin's and Portocarrero's: "Il Canonico Agius Bibliotecario stava applicato in far l'indice faticosissimo alfabetico, si del nomi e cognomi delli autori, che delle materie."

During his visit Mifsud took occasion to buy from Agius a number of duplicate publications, which Agius was ready to dispose of, for the price of 40 scudi: "Con detta occasione compro esso scrittore dal medesimo Canonico Agius la gran raccolta delli opuscoli scientifici e filologici del P. abbate Calogero, che sono 51 tometti ed altri libri, che il Canonico aveva, e si disfece per averli trovato nella pubblica libreria, e sono i seguenti, per il prezzo che si nota a futura memoria ..." These books included Bosio's Istoria delta Sacra Religione Gerosolimitana, and his Vita dei Santi della Religione Gerosolimitana, besides Calogero's collection of 51 booklets, priced at 25 scudi".[22]

[p.16] Between June, 1757 and April, 1758 De Soldanis was in Italy. It was his third visit to Rome. Accompanying him were Canon Giuseppe Gauci and his brother Abbate Francesco Gauci, who had been recommended to De Soldanis's care by their father Dr. Gauci. They had crossed over to Malta on May 25, 1757 to make preparations for their voyage. Leaving Malta on June 9, 1757 they reached Rome on July 19, 1757. [23]

It is not generally known that De Soldanis kept a detailed diary of this visit to Italy, during which inter alia, he had graduated in Law in Venice. In June, 1758 Agius obtained from Grand Master Pinto the warrant to practise as a lawyer in all the Courts under the jurisdiction of the Grand Master. [24]

Unfortunately this diary, in 568 pages folio size, is not available and may be presumed lost. Ciantar lists the Itinerario Italico among the Mss. left by Agius, adding that its author had left it to Rev. S. Ab. Gianantonio C. Beretta. [25]

Mifsud actually handled and read it during his stay in Gozo in October, 1759. The entry in his diary under the date October 5, 1759 reads as follows: "Avendo lo scrittore (i.e. Mifsud), in tutti detti giorni di dimora fatta nel Gozo, letto l'Itinerario ben lungo del Signor Canonico Agius del viaggio da lui fatto per l'Italia nel 1757 e 1758, compreso in un libra Mss in foglio, di carte scritte 568 col titolo Itinerario Italico del 1757 e 1758, descritto dal Dr. Canonico R. Gio Pietro Francesco Agius, lo scrittore osservò e stimò di qui notare le infrascritte cose," [26]

For most of his life until his appointment as Librarian De Soldanis lived in Gozo. There he felt isolated intellectually, in the midst of the predominantly rustic society of his native Gozo. He lived within the Citadel, indulging in his literary pursuits and drawing invaluable support from his private library made up of belletristic publications, as well as from a small museum containing rare items of antiquarian interest. [27] The appearance of some Maltese friend or foreign personality in Gozo was most welcome. Such a visit was that of Ignazio Saverio Mifsud on the afternoon of October 6, 1759. It seems that Mifsud was paying an official visit to Gozo in his capacity as Consultore del Sant'Uffizio (Inquisition) and Agius paid him due deference, introducing him to his fellow-canons of the Collegiate [p.17] Church as well as to the Pro vicario of Gozo and entertaining him to coffee or lunch at his home with members of the Gozitan Clergy. The following extracts illustrate this aspect of De Soldanis's personality:

A dì 8 Ottobre 1759: Fu lo scrittore a pranzo dal Signor Canonico Agius, assieme col Canonico Mangion, col Signor Canonico Vassallo, Canonico Borg ... i quali tutti furono trattati con tutta proprietà".

A di 10 Ottobre 1759: Di mattino lo scrittore celebrò nella Matrice nell'altare di S. Francesco di Paola; indi passo in casa e beve il caffè col Signor Canonico Agius ... [28]

Ad ora di pranzo ebbe lo scrittore a pranzo i seguenti invitati: il Provicario del Gozo Canonico Cauchi, il Canonico Francesco Agius ... Riuscì... il pranzo molto fastoso, e di gusto " [29]

This was not the first time that Agius had hosted Mifsud in Gozo. On July 4, 1756, at the end of a previous visit to Gozo, Mifsud celebrated Mass at the Capuchin friary in Gozo and took leave of the friars. He then called on Agius at his home and stayed with him for lunch before setting out for Imgarr to return to Malta ... [30] Mifsud resided in Valletta in the area known as Arcipelago; he also had a garden in Birkirkara, where he spent his holidays. [31]

In July 1749 Agius was informed by the Knight De Guast Jr., Luogotenente Generale in Gozo, that the Portuguese Knight Fra Don Giuseppe Almeida, Falconiere of the Grand Master, had expressed the desire to see a Maltese Grammar published. In February, 1750 he had passed on to Almeida the draft of his Mss grammar but soon after he took it back as he was leaving for Naples with the learned English Milord Charlemont. Almeida possessed many languages, including Maltese which he could speak fluently like a native. He corresponded with the foremost European men of letters and over the years he built up a select library, including Mss relating to the affairs of the Order. Agius had first met Almeida in the apartment of Padre Paolo Maria Paciaudi. [32]

1750 happened to be Jubilee Year and Agius had gone to Rome where he stayed on for some months, admiring the magnificent buildings - above all the libraries, especially that of the Collegia Romano, where he met the learned Padre Pietro Lazzari, Librarian and Lecturer (Lettore) in Ecclesiastical History. During his [p.18] sojourn in Rome he wrote his work Delia Lingua Punica addressed to Fra Sestio Angelo Dericard, a Bali of the Order who, while in Malta, enjoyed writing and speaking in this language. Agius and Dericard were old friends - for almost 20 years Agius had been his Procuratore Generale in Malta and he continued to correspond with Dericard for many more years after leaving Malta. By letter dated September 5, 1756 from Paris, Chevalier Turgot, a naturalist, informed De Soldanis of Dericard's death, adding that, should Agius ever decide to go to Paris, he (Turgot) would show him how high he esteemed his friendship and if he could be of help to him instead of Dericard he would do it most willingly ("... onde se al luogo del Balì Ricard vi posso in qualche cosa servire lo farò molto volentieri"). [33]

In his old age, on July 26,1756, Dericard communicated to Agius the opinion of M. Bonamy, "Historiographe ancien pensionnaire de l’Académie des Belles Lettres" as well as member of the "Académie Royale des Inscriptions" on his grammar. On September 16, 1756 M. Mandoux, Prêtre habitué de la Paroisse St. Paul, in Paris, informed Agius that M. Bonamy had read his grammar with great satisfaction and that he desired to have him received as Académicien des Belles Lettres.[34]

It is not generally known that Agius's literary and artistic connections included a few British personalities. In the Preface to his Maltese grammar (1750, p. 67) he stated that in February of that year he left Malta for Naples with the learned English traveller Milord Charlemont (collo studioso viaggiatore Inglese Milord Charlemont). He referred again to Charlemont when, in 1751, he wrote an Apologia ... contro Michele Acciard who had plagiarized his account of the Conspiracy of the Slaves masterminded by Mustapha, Pasha of Rhodes in 1749. We read that the figure of Mustapha shown on the copper engraving in the publication Mustafà Bassà di Rodi... o sia la di lui Congiura (1751) had been drawn by the painter Favray and that at the beginning of 1750 it was copied by the English painter D'Alton "who had made the tour of the Levant with Milord Charlemont and others with whom I had the good fortune to travel to Naples on their ship" (my translation). [35]

A brief note on these two will not be amiss here. James Caulfield, first Earl of Charlemont (1728-1799) was an Irish statesman who, according to the Dictionary of National Biography "in 1746 went to the Continent, residing for a year in Turin, and afterwards visiting Rome, the Greek islands, Constantinople, the Levant and Egypt". [36]

The "signor D'Alton" mentioned in Agius's Apologia was Richard Dalton (17157-1791) "draughtsman, engraver and librarian to the King". He was trained as an artist and went to Rome to pursue his studies. The relative entry under his [p.19] name in the Dictionary of National Biography, states that "in 1749 [he] travelled with Roger Kynaston and John Frederick to Naples, South Italy and Sicily, where they joined a party consisting of James Caulfield, Earl of Charlemont, Francis Pierpoint Burton and others. From thence Dalton accompanied Lord Charlemont on his tour of Constantinople, Greece and Egypt. He was the first Englishman to make drawings of the monuments of ancient art in these countries ... Some of these he etched and engraved himself ... but his drawings and engravings are of little value from either an artistic or an antiquarian point of view." [37]

In 1750 Agius mentioned that he had first met the Portuguese Knight Fra Don Giuseppe Almeida at the apartment of Padre Paciaudi. [38] Paolo Maria Paciaudi (1710-1785), corresponding member of the Accademia Francese delle Iscrizioni e Belle Arti, in 1761 accepted the post of Antiquary and Librarian offered to him by the Duke Philip of Parma. His Memorie de'Gran Maestri del Sovrano Ordine Gerosolimitano, published in Parma in three volumes in 1780, is well known among collectors of Melitensia. He also wrote some archaeological works, including Alcune Singolari e Strane Medaglie (Napoli, 1748). [39] Agius was also interested in medals and inscriptions and he sent him a Greek inscription found in Malta for his views. On September 28, 1748 Paciaudi wrote to Agius from Naples informing him that Mr. Askew, whom he already knew, was with him in that city and that he had shown him the inscription but both he and Askew agreed that it was just an impressive imitation (copy) which should be ignored (... ma egli ed io conveniamo che e un sollennissimo pasticcio da non farne caso). [40]

Anthony Askew (1722-1772) was a doctor who, in the words of the Dictionary of National Biography "is far better known as a classical scholar than as physician" although "he had a good practice and was physician to St. Bartholomew's and to Christ's Hospitals ... He helped to develop the taste for curious manuscripts, scarce editions, and fine copies". Before taking the degree of M.D. and establishing himself in London he studied for one year in Leyden and he then visited Hungary, Athens, Constantinople, Italy and other countries. He is the author of a manuscript volume of Greek inscriptions, now preserved in the British Museum". [41]

Askew's name also figures in a letter to De Soldanis, written in Italian by an Englishman, Thomas Blackburae, in July, 1749. He wrote from Messina to thank De Soldanis for the hospitality extended to him during his stay in Gozo and went [p.20] on to say that at the beginning of June Mr. Askew was still in Holland and it was doubtful whether he had returned home. As for him (Blackburne) he had enjoyed his tour of Sicily where he had come across a history of the antiquities of Rome which he had sent to him, knowing that he was keen on antiquities. [42] I have not been able so far to trace any information about Blackburne in the standard reference works consulted.

Like other 18th C. Maltese men of letters, Agius had a good knowledge of Italian. All along, however, he was conscious that Italian was not his mother tongue and he modestly showed his readiness to have his Italian text improved when still in manuscript. As early as 1746 he stressed in his preface to Il Gozo Antico-Moderno that after 12 years of literary isolation in Gozo he found that his style needed polish and improvement. There is a genuine note of modesty in his words: "Finalmente se in tutta non scorgerete quel dolce e studialo stile ch'usano oggidì i Letterati, e ch'ancora viene imposto dal buon gusto, deggio essere in qualche modo da Voi compatito, mentre in 12 anni che vi sono, dopo la mia partenza, alia residenza, altro non ho sentito discorrere che sopra le mete de'grani, delle culture dei giardini, dello stato de'seminati per indi pronosticare se l'annata diviene o buona o cattiva, com'ancora sopra il giuoco, caccia e cose simili e non sopra erudizioni letterarie come a molti del Paese converrebbe, così non ho potuto acquistare miglior stile dagli uomini morti che parlano ne'miei pochi libri". [43]

On June 29, 1753 Stefano Borgia, (1731-1804), who was later raised to the dignity of Cardinal, informed Agius that, on receipt of the ms. which he was due to receive through M. A. Grima, he would retouch the text so as to bring it in line with the style currently followed at that time: "Quando la riceverò ... sopratutto vi accomoderò lo stile secondo il gusto del secolo per quanta il mio corto intendimento il comporterà", [44]

With the benefit of hindsight, we may say that it was partly this concern to polish the style of his Italian text that landed Agius into serious trouble in 1750 in respect of his account of Mustafà Baxà's Turkish Conspiracy. Many of us will recall, from our school days, the 1749 episode in Maltese history known as "The Conspiracy of the Slaves" encouraged by the presence here, more as a guest than as a slave, of Mustafà, Baxà of Rhodes. What is not generally known is that the discovery of this plot aroused considerable interest and concern abroad and gave rise to several publications recording the event. In particular it seems that the Portuguese Knights were seriously worried about this attempt on the life of the Portuguese Grand Master Emmanuele Pinto. But it was not only that: in a special sense Malta was still considered as the bulwark of the Christian Faith, and therefore [p.21] any attempt on the life of the Grand Master or against the Order and Malta was tantamount to an attack on Catholicism. [45] I list hereunder, in chronological order six accounts that appeared within a short time of the events:

Relazione Istorica delta Congiura de'Schiavi Turchi di Malta scoperta lì 6 Giugno dell'anno 1749, e tutti ti fatti posteriormente seguiti fino al giorno 25 Luglio. In Roma MDCCXLIX.

Relazione Istorica delta Congiura de'Schiavi Turchi di Malta scoperta lì 6 Giugno dell'Anno corrente 1749, e di tutti li fatti posteriormente seguiti fino al presente giorno 25 Luglio. In Napoli MDCCXLIX.

Relation de la conspiration tramée par le Bacha de Rhodes contre l'isle de Malthe, Paris, de l’Imprimerie de Joseph Bullet, rue S. Etienne d'Egrès, 1749.

Ragguaglio delta Congiura tramata in Malta dal Mustafà Bassà di Rodi, ed altri schiavi Turchi. Si narra come avessero ordita, come si fusse scoperta, e come si fusse riparata. Consacrato a Sua Altezza Eminentissima Fr. D. Emmanuele Pinto Gran Maestro della Sacra Religione Gerosolimitana. Principe di Malta, Gozo, ecc. In Catania MDCCXLIX.

Relacao Exacta, e Verdadeira da Conjuraçaō, que Mostafà Baxà de Rhodes intentou fazer na Ilha de Malta, com os escravos Mahometanos, parase fazerem senhores della, em 29 de Junho de 1749 e das circunstancias com que foy descuberta, e castigos, que tiverdaō os complices della. Escrita por hum Cavalleiro Maltez, Residente naquella Ilha, e remetida a esta Corte ao Excellentissimo, e Reverendissimo Senhor Principal Almeida Portugal. Lisboa, MDCCL.

Mustafà Bassà di Rodi Schiavo in Malta, o sia La Di Lui Congiura all'Occupazione di Malta descritta da Michele Acciard. In Napoli MDCCLI.

In addition the following items figure among the unpublished Mss preserved at the National Library:

Ms. 1 -

Sonetti di vari dopo la scoperta della Congiura degli Schiavi. (pp. 579-592)

Ms. 18 -

Ragguaglio della Congiura tramata in Malta dal Mustafà Bassà di Rodi ed altri schiavi Turchi. Si narra come l'avessero ordita, come si fusse scoperta, e come si fusse riparata (pp. 309-354).

Persone tormentate, e poi condannate per causa delta ribellione che far doveano i schiavi in questa Città nel di 29 giugno 1749 (pp. 355-368).



[p.23] Lettera [in data 17 maggio 1751] scritta da Salvatore Borgio Accademico Cortonense al Dotto Signer Canonico Francesco Agius in Malta (pp. 469-476).

Ms 142, Vol. 5 -

Relazione, mancante in alcune parti, della Congiura ordita dal Bassà di Rodi (pp. 495-501)

Discorso morale sopra la cospirazione di Mustafà già Bassà di Rodi ed altri Turchi schiavi in Malta, scoperta li 6 Giugno 1749, detto [dal Canonico Agius ... in favella nostra maltese ...] nell'Insigne Chiesa Collegiata dell'Isola del Gozo li 21 Settembre dell'anno 1749 (pp. 505-513).

Ms 142, Vol. 6 -

Nove Sonetti sopra Mustafà Bassà creduto autore della congiura degli schiavi (pp. 611-621).

Relazione dei castighi pubblici in Malta dei ribelli Turchi (pp. 623-641).

Soon after the publication of Acciard's book De Soldanis wrote an Apologia contra Michele Acciardia which he claimed that he was the real author of the book. Acciard, with whom in 1750 he had left the manuscript of the book when he met him in Naples on his way to Rome, had offered to revise the text and to have it published. Instead, he had plagiarized the work. Acciard denied this, stating that he had based his account on information supplied to him by Sac. Don Michele Casatta, Prince of Colubrano, who had been an eyewitness of the events that had taken place in Malta.

Agius stressed that Acciard had simply added the first two chapters and a few other revisions in the text. From the documents available one can say that De Soldanis was justified in complaining that "i soli primi due (capitoli) indi disfigurò, con aggiungere cose e fatti niente appartenenti all'opera, e lontani dalla mia idea, mutilando al contrario a proprio capriccio quanta faceva al proposito il mio argomento. E questi sono quei due capi inter(a)mente disfigurati e con diverso carattere e stile dall'altro che leggesi negli altri sette".

As if this was not enough, Acciard's book created a most unpleasant situation for De Soldanis. Certain comments in the publication presented the Order in bad light. Agius himself had pointed out the anti-Order tone of certain statements in the book: "... qui comincia far dimostrare un veleno inorpellato il Signor M. A. contro la Religione Gerosolimitana, riporta alcune parole del privilegio che forse giammai avrà mai veduto ne letto".[46]

[p.24] To make matters worse, the book that appeared in Acciard's name was attributed to Agius in Malta, where it was well known that he was writing a book about the conspiracy that failed. And the Order, officially or unofficially, must have expressed its displeasure to the Ecclesiastical Authorities that a member of the Maltese Clergy should dare to write about the Order in such hostile terms. The matter also reached the Vatican's ear and Pope Benedict XIV himself summoned Agius to explain his conduct. Agius, however, succeeded in proving his innocence to the Pope. We owe this information to De Soldanis's brother Giuseppe Agius who entered the following item in his Giornale under the year 1751: "Mio fratello il Canonico dell'isola del Gozo Francesco Agius ebbe una chiamata dal Ssmo Papa Benedetto 14 e dopo aver andato uscì per innocente. Fu imputato che aveva fatto stampare un libro sopra la congiura di Malta, ed in esso toccava la giurisdizione del Gran Maestro che se i Maltesi si ribellassero, essendo mal trattati dal Governo, non chiamansi ribelli". [47]

As a tailpiece one may mention that in 1887 Acciard's account was published in Malta in the original Italian by Messrs Giovanni Muscat, and six years later, in 1893, a Maltese version by Giovanni Faure appeared under the title Il-Konġura l'Kbira ta' l-Irsiera Torok f’Malta imwebbla minn Mustafà Baxà ta' Rodi fiż-żmien li kien irsier - Ġrajja ta' Pajjiżna miktuba bil-Malti minn Giovanni Faurè. Twenty two years ago a fresh translation (1974) by our friend Michael Galea appeared in the series "Rumanzi Il-Ħajja - Nru 20": under the title Mustafà Baxà ta' Rodi ilsir f'Malta jew Il-Konġura l-Kbira - Rakkont ta' Michele Acciard maqlub għall-Malti minn Michael Galea.

Agius de Soldanis's name is inextricably linked to the Maltese language. His first publication on the subject, Della Lingua Punica presentemente usata da'Maltesi (1750) had for its sub-title ovvero Nuovi Documenti li quali possono servire di lume all'antica lingua etrusca. As a point of peculiar bibliographical interest one may mention here that there exist copies of this book with a slightly different imprint. One version gives the name of the printer "Per Generoso Salomoni alia Piazza di S. Ignazio. Con licenza de'Superiori" with the addition of the words Si vendono in Malta, while the other version does not give the name of the printer but shows that it was on sale "Appresso Gregorio Roisecco Mercante Libraro in Piazza Navona". In this latter version, which I have seen by courtesy of our Society's President Dr. Albert Ganado, the name of Generoso Salomoni appears at page 65 on the title page of the second part of the book.i .e. Nuova Scuola di Grammatica per agevolmente apprendere la lingua Punica-Maltese.

De Soldanis's work on the Maltese language echoes these two pet ideas - (i) that Maltese derives directly from the original Punic Language, and (ii) that it may [p.25] be of help to the study of the Etruscan language. Agius's theories, quite untenable in our time, have earned severe strictures from various scholars. The late Prof. P. P. Saydon, for example, described De Soldanis's grammar as an "unsuccessful attempt at reducing the Maltese language to grammatical rules". [48] His statement that "the words punico-maltese reflect the opinion of the author's times, an opinion to which none of the Maltese scholars of today gives his support" may equally apply to the other notion that Maltese may bear some relation to the Etruscan language.

This notwithstanding, one cannot ignore the positive results of this work in which he proposed and actually used Latin characters for writing Maltese. In Lesson XX (para V) of his unpublished revised grammar he stated: "Un alfabeto delta lingua con lettere latine, per poterla e scrivere e leggere venne da me formato al 1750, col parere de'periti Lettori della Sapienza di Roma nelle lingue orientali ". [49] These included "il Signer Abbate Eva, Lettore della lingua araba nella Sapienza, e Benefiziato in S. Giovanni Laterano, ed il Signer Abbate Assemani Lettore della Siriaca". [50]

Agius underlined the beneficial effect of the new alphabet on the adoption of a uniform method for teaching Christian doctrine in these islands. "Anche il fu nostro zelantissimo Pastore (Mons. Fr. Paolo Alpheran de Bussan) tutto intento a pascere la gregge da Dio a lui commessa, come da più anni nutriva nel suo generoso petto il desiderio di uniformare nel metodo tutta la sua Diocesi per l'istruzione della Dottrina Cristiana, subito che ha scoperto il metodo da me pubblicato, e che con un alfabeto tutto formato con lettere latine, e con cui si e aperta la strada di scrivere con esso il nostro parlare, cioè le nostre voci e termini, fece pubblicare in Roma la Dottrina Cristiana al 1752 colla traduzione maltese, a proprie spese, e questa così tradotta presentemente da tutti li Curati viene insegnata al loro commesso popolo, la quale porta il seguente titolo Tagħlim Nisrani miġjub fil Għarbi ecc. u miġjub issa fil-Malti mir-Reverendu qassis Don Franciscu Wizzinu, bl-ordni ta' 1-Illustrissimu u Reverendissimu Mons. F. Pawlu Alpheran de Bussan Arciveskuvu ta' Diamata, u Isqof ta' Malta. F'Ruma 1752. Għand Generosu Salomoni. Fis-suq ta' Sant'Injazju. Bis-sensja tas-Superiuri." [51]

De Soldanis had a clear concept of the need of cultivating the Maltese language: "Io non so se in tutto il mondo, se bene poniamo mente, v'abbia nazione coltivata, [p.26] la quale restà senza chi abbia faticato a conservare nel suo candore la propria favella! Ogni nazionale con grammatiche e con vocabolari procure illustrarla, ornarla, crescerla, e pubblicarla con mille note ed interpretazjoni... La sola Malta può gloriarsi di essere nel possesso della illustre ed antica lingua orientale, che conosciamo al mondo, ed insieme dolersi della disavventura di esser mancata, e rimasta senza Grammatica e senza proprio Vocabolario, ma tanto quella che in modello apparve al 1750, oggi ampliata e corretta, quanta questo tutto nuovo si consegna al pubblico, e con cui in avvenire ogni nazionale potrà pregiarsi ed ogni estero valersi per esaminare ed approfittarsene delta pregevole antichità, e fecondità della Lingua Punico-Maltese"[52]

De Soldanis went on to say that his Maltese alphabet had not only been accepted locally but also commended by foreign men of letters. We quote here from a few letters addressed to him. L'Abate Stefano Borgia, Secretary of the Accademia and later raised to the dignity of Cardinal, became a close friend in 1752. [53] He was full of admiration for Agius's works and augured him a lasting fame with other established literary personalities of that time. This is what he wrote on him: "Seguito la lettura delle vostre opere, benché con qualche lentezza, e vi assicuro che se seguiterete la via intrapresa farete gran giovamento alla Repubblica Letteraria, e v'immortalarete come Gori, Passeri, Maffei, Olivieri, ed altri celeberrimi Letterati, poiché restituire al Mondo una Lingua, che apportavagli grandissimi vantaggi, quale si e la Punica, come a fatto l'Etrusca per mezzo de'sopradetti valentissimi"?[54]

In the previous year Borgia had sympathised with Agius when Michele Acciard, of Pisa, plagiarized his account of the Conspiracy of the Slaves which took place in 1749. Borgia was quite aware that Agius was working on his dictionary and on a revision of his grammar. On June 29, 1753 he wrote to him from Fermo: "... Torno di bel nuovo ad esortarvi a compiere il vostro dizionario che sarà di lume alla Repubblica, ma avvertite che chi fa lume da negli occhi, onde procurate di [p.27] darlo fuori colla maggior castigatezza possibile. A voi non vi manca il modo, avendovi Messer Domenedio provisto di buoni talenti." [55]

Another encouraging letter was forthcoming from Count Cesare Gaetani, to whom he had sent a copy of his grammar, probably in 1751. Gaetani wrote to him from Syracuse: "... Le auguro dal Cielo anni lunghi e felici per poterli sempre impiegare a gloria non meno sua che di cotesta sua meritevolissima Patria, e a beneficio del Mondo Letterario..." [56] On December 1,1759 Gaetani wrote: "Godo che abbiate dato fine al vostro Dizionario. Quando il vedremo?"[57]

Fra Bonaventura Attardi, who had already been in correspondence with Agius in 1741, [58] wrote to Agius on June 3,1752, acknowledging receipt of his Grammar. He added: "...e l'assicuro ch'Ella a tentato una strada mai pratticata da nessuno finora, ed io voglio credere che con questa sua nuova fatica s'aprirà la strada ad apprendere con più agevolezza l'idioma Punico-Maltese ito ormai in dimenticanza ". As regards the "Vocabolario" appended to the work he commented as follows: "Al dizionario pero bisognerebbe che fosse più copioso per aggevolare i curiosi di detto idioma".[59]

Rather surprisingly, Agius states in a letter dated April 22, 1753 that he was all the more encouraged to revise and enlarge his two dissertations published in Rome in 1750 because he had been informed from Florence that they were being translated into English with a view to publication in that language. This information is contained in a manuscript letter belonging to Prof. Alan Blondy, of Sorbonne, who very kindly copied it to Canon John Azzopardi, of the Cathedral Museum, Imdina, for eventual use by researchers. The relevant extract from the letter, addressed to a correspondent who has not been identified so far, reads as follows: "... Vo proseguendo per ora la fatica de'due lessici promessi, ed ho di molto accresciuto quelle due dissertazioni pubblicati in Roma l'anno 1750 sulla nostra lingua, incoragito a questa intrapresa, perché sento da Firenze che si va traducendo in Inglese per imprimere in quell'idioma quel mio picciol trattatello".

Dissenting voices, however, were not lacking. To give one example. Bartolomeo Mifsud (1708-1781), better known as the Capuchin Padre Pelagio, of Zebbug, was a learned scholar who pointed out certain shortcomings in Agius's grammar and criticised him for not consulting his friends before he formed his alphabet. He himself devised a Punico-Maltese alphabet, now preserved at the Cathedral Museum, Imdina (ACM Ms. 65, pp. 65-78), which bears a lengthy title Alfabeto Punico-Maltese con che facilissimaniente da chichesia s'apprende il vero e proprio [p.28] metodo di parlare, di scrivere e di leggere nell'idioma Maltese, servendosi delle lettere dell'alfabeto latino a cagione non vi sia il Carattere proprio Punico. Opera nuova mai più comparsa alla luce ...

In his revised edition of the Nuova Scuola Agius expounded on certain aspects of Maltese that are worth recalling today. In Lesson XIII (para XI) he referred to the numerous loan-words from Italian that had crept into the language, to the extent that "non si può oggi far un discorso intero dal volgo (sic) senza introdurvi l'uso di alcune Italiane parole, ed italiane sicilianizzate, e siciliane italianizzate:" [60]

In this context he severely criticised the inhabitants of Valletta, especially the women, for wilfully corrupting the Maltese language: "Parlando della Lingua Maltese, non intendo di far menzione di quella usata da certi uomini, e da certe donne Vallettane, poiché questi, avvezzi ad ascoltare il parlare Italiano, e Siciliano, ed altro idioma dalli forestieri, che come sono coabitatori fissati in Malta, e che sempre in gran numero si ritrovano in detta Città, hanno fatto perdere la vera e materna lingua, e la naturale e dilettevole sua pronunzia. Corre gran pericolo che in avvenire andrà alla peggio in loro bocca, perché si gloriano, particolarmente le moderne femmine, per non dire ancora gli uomini effeminati, di italianizzare il parlar Maltese; così lo impastardiscono, lo corrompono e finalmente non sapranno mai ben parlare nella materna, ch'é la volgare, nemmeno nell'Italiano, ch'e la commune. Non parlano dunque di questa volontariamente corrotta favella, ch'e da deridersi piuttosto che lodarsi, ma di quella vera materna frequentata da 'spassionati Maltesi nella Valletta, francamente, e senza corruttela, usata in tutti gli altri luoghi, e villaggi di Malta e Gozo. " [61]

As regards foreigners residing in Malta, including members of the Order, Agius pointed out that these stood to benefit from a knowledge of the language in general use. It was in their interest to be able to understand Maltese rather than run the risk of being deceived by the lower classes. Speaking through an interpreter was neither satisfactory nor convenient. And as for foreigners married to a Maltese, it was ridiculous to find children speaking their mother tongue which the husband, being a foreigner, could not understand. [62]

There were Knights holding high office who had, in fact, mastered the Maltese language and could speak it like a native. They considered themselves lucky that they could understand and speak Maltese because they could thus carry out their duties better and derive greater satisfaction from their work. Among these he mentioned the following: Balì Fra Antonio Escudero Gran Prior di Navarra, Balì Fra D. Francesco de Sousa, Balì Fra Giacomo Francesco di Chambray, [p.29] Commendatore Fra Bernardino de Marbeuf, Luogotenente del Gran Tesoriere e Capitano delta Valletta, the Knight Fra Paolo Antonio di Viguier Capitano Comandante delle Guardie di S. A. Ema., Fra Luigi Liberale Geoufre, Priore del Sacro Spedale di Malta, Monsignor Fra Melchior Alpheran Priore delta Maggior Chiesa Conventuale di San Giovanni, il Cavalier Remiking, the Knight Fra Allessandro le Matayer de la Maye Capitano di una nave della Religione, Fra D. Pietro Zarzana, the Knight Fra Francesco di Croze Lincel Comandante de'Sciabecchi, Commendatore Fra Lorenzo Ildaris, the Knight Fra D. Saverio Doz Prodomo della Prigione o sia Bagno de'Schiavi, the Knight Milianchi, Sanese, the Knight Bonelli, Napoletano, the Knight Fra D. Luigi Portoghese, the Knight De Almeida, the Knight D. Ferdinando Melo, and several others. [63]

The Gozitan canon was particularly forceful in stressing the importance of Maltese for those aspiring to the priesthood, as well as for those already ordained. Here he exposed a serious shortcoming in the educational system of that time. Boys with a vocation for the priesthood went to a grammar school to learn Latin. However, both teachers and pupils found themselves in the unpleasant situation of having to teach, or learn at the same time Italian and Latin - both of them new subjects - through the medium of Maltese, their mother tongue. As a result they studied Latin up to the required standard, while they learned Italian parrotlike, as it was never used outside the school and never heard at home. When they became priests they would have a mediocre, not to say an inadequate knowledge of Latin, or of Italian, which they did not use. After having thus spent the best years of their youth, some of them might have to explain parts of the Breviary, or of the Catechism, in the mother tongue, or in Italian, which they did not understand. They would be incapable of explaining unseen passages from Latin or Italian, or even of writing a letter in Italian, which was neither understood nor spoken.

As a solution De Soldanis argued that teachers should follow his method of reading and writing Maltese in Latin characters and teach it to their pupils who, with the help of his dictionaries, would find the Maltese explained in Italian and Latin, and the Italian explained in Maltese and Latin.

This method would also be of great help to those priests who preached in Maltese and who wrote their sermons in that language, using their own system of writing, which nobody else could make out or understand. There were others who delivered their sermons in Maltese but wrote them in Italian, thus having to translate and preach at the same time, with the result that, unable to find immediately the right Maltese word, they generally used an Italian one, in the process [p.30] contributing to the further corruption of the Maltese language. For these the above mentioned dictionaries would also be of great help.

Agius finally strongly recommended the use of the alphabet devised by him so that everybody would zealously strive to preserve the language in its pristine purity and perfection. Otherwise it would run the risk of completely perishing and drowning in the sea of oblivion. [64]

Ladies and gentlemen, we have ranged over a vast spectrum of information about an outstanding 18th Century Gozitan personality. Ours has been an excursion into the material available at the National Library which other researchers may explore more fully than I have been able to do. I have shown elsewhere De Soldanis's contribution to the study of Maltese folklore, suggesting that his activity in this field reflects the influence of G. B. Vico (1668-1744), L. A. Muratori (1672-1750) and other pioneers of folklore studies in Italy. There are other topics that call for study. And the possibility of finding relevant material on Agius in some Gozitan library or friary, or in a private collection should be kept in mind. I speak from personal experience here. While giving the finishing touches to the text of this talk I was able to see, through Dr. Ganado's usual readiness to help, a copy of a manuscript entitled Arme Gentilizie delle Famiglie Maltesi e Gozitane e alcune altre, raccolti dal Dottor Canonico Don Gio. Pietro Francesco Agius de Soldanis. It is not a complete work, covering only family names starting with letters A to C. However, it shows that De Soldanis was also interested in local heraldry.

Much of the material we have been talking about is being made public for the first time. To achieve this purpose we have utilised, besides published works, manuscript sources which Agius himself bequeathed to the National Library, of which he was the first Librarian, more than 226 years ago. The approach to our subject was facilitated by the light thrown on the cultural scene of those times by his correspondence with Italian and French men of letters - correspondence that projects his own intellectual biography. We have also shown to what extent his linguistic theories, however untenable by modern standards, were accepted as a valid contribution to learning in his time. Our aim will have been fulfilled if the present work will add a human dimension to the growing image of De Soldanis as an aspiring ecclesiastic, a dedicated scholar, a staunch upholder of Malta's Pauline tradition, a stout promoter of our national language and a proud historian of his native Gozo.



1750 -

Della Lingua Punica presentemente usata da Maltesi, ovvero Nuovi Documenti li quali possono servire di lume all'antica Lingua Etrusca, stesi in due dissertazioni ... Roma, 199p.

Contains also: Nuova Scuola di Grammatica per agevolmente apprendere la lingua Punica-Maltese ... pp. 65-117; and Idea d'un Dizionario della lingua Punica-Maltese ... pp. 118-199.

Revue de 1'ouvrage Della Lingua Punica dans le "Journal Etranger", Paris, 1754 (Juin-Juillet) Vol. II, pp. 234 et seq. - incomplete copy in National Library Ms. 142, Vol. 3, f. 32r.

1751 -

Mustafà Bassà di Rodi schiavo in Malta osia la di lui Congiura all'occupazione di Malta, descritta da Michele Acciard, Napoli. Col ritratto del Bassà.

C. Vassallo (Catalogo dei libri esistenti nella Pubblica Biblioteca di Malta compiuto per ordine di Materie - Storia, 1844, p. 75) writes: "Molto acremente si lagna il nostro Agius, in una sua memoria mss. del furto commessogli dall'Acciardi del mss. portante lo stesso titolo. A quel che sembra l'Acciardi ha valuta far il bello colla roba di altri, dandole soltanto una ripulitura".

Library Ms. 341 contains the text of this work. G. A. Ciantar Malta Illustrata, Lib. IV, Not. IV, Malta, 1780 (p. 591) lists this work with Agius's publications saying: "la quale operetta per la maggior parte fu composta dal nostro Canonico, e poi ripolita, accresciuta, e pubblicata da Michele Acciardo Pisano; le cose dal quale aggiunte recarono qualche persecuzione al nostro Canonico credutone l'autore".

Library Ms. 18. contains "Lettera scritta [in data 17 maggio 1751] da Salvatore Borgia, Accademico Cortoniese, al dotto Signor Canonico Francesco Agius in rapporto al furto letterario fattogli dall'Acciard" (pp. 469-476).


Risposta del Canonico Giopietro Francesco Agius de Soldanis al giornalista di Parigi che può servire d'avviso a chi legge il Giornale Straniero del mese di Luglio 1754, pubblicato dal medesimo giornalista in lingua Francese nella sopradetta città, s.d., 12p.



[p.33] C. Vassallo, (Indies delle Miscellanee che si conservano nella Pubblica Biblioteca di Malta, 1857) lists two copies of this publication, one in Misc. 212 and another in Misc. 243.

1756 -

"Suite de la dissertation de M. l' Abbe Agius De Soldanis, sur l'origine de la langue Punique - Maltaise", Suite de la clef ou Journal Historique sur les Matières du Temps contenant quelques nouvelles de Littérature et autres remarques curieuses - Septembre 1756, Tome LXXX, (Misc. 276(11)).

Avis au Lecteur du Journal Etranger de Paris du Mois de Juillet 1754, in Journal Historique sur les Matières du Temps, Septembre 1756, entitled "Dissertation ou l'on prouve que la langue que les havitans originaires de l'isle de Malte parlent aujourd'hui, est l'ancienne Langue Punique".

[Letters da Malta in data 30 Novembre 1755], Memorie per servire alla storia letteraria di Sicilia, Tomo Primo, Parte 1. Per il mese di gennaio 1756. Palermo, nella Stamperia de'Santi Apostoli. Per Pietro Bentivenga. Con licenza de'Superiori.

[Lettera da Malta in data 6 Marzo 1756], Memorie per servire alla storia letteraria di Sicilia, Tomo Primo, Parte IV. Per il mese di Aprile 1756. Palermo, nella stamperia de'Santi Apostoli ...

1757 -

Discours apologétique du Chanoine François Agius De Soldanis contre la Dissertation historique et Critique sur le Naufrage de St. Paul dans la Mer Adriatique, public par M. L'Abbe L’advocat, Bibliothécaire de Sorbonne ... Avignon, 112p.

C. Vassallo (Catalogo ...,p. 50) writes: "poi tradotto in Italiano e pubblicato in Venezia nel 1758.

Library Ms. 146, Vol. 3, ff. 147r-210r is a copy of this work.

Annone Cartaginese: cioe la vera spiegazione della Prima Scena dell'Atto V della Commedia di M.A. Plauto in Poenulo, portata colla lingua moderna Maltese osia l'Antica Cartaginese, e consacrata all'Illmo. Signor Dottor Giovanni Lami Professore ... dal Canonico Gio Pietro Francesco Agius de Soldanis Gozitano, Accademico Errante, Rinnovato, di Aretusa, del Buon Gusto, etc. Roma, pp. 132. Library Ms. 142, Vol. 3, ff. 213r-302r is a copy of this publication. For comments on this work see "Avvertimenti dell'Abate Triesti sull'Annone Cataginese" del Canonico Agius (Library Ms. 142, vol. 5, pp. 449-451) and



[p.35] "Giudizio date dal Dr. Ignazio Saverio Mifsud sopra l'opera Annone Cartaginese dell'Agius. (Ms. 142, Vol. 3, ff. 46r-57r).

1758 -

Discorso Apologetico contro la dissertazione storica e critica in lingua Francese descritta dal Signor Abbate Ladvocat, Bibliotecario di Sorbona ecc., intorno al Naufragio di S. Paolo Apostolo seguito nel mare Adriatico, inserita nell'Opera Recueil B. pubblic. al 1753. Del Canonico Gio Pietro Francesco Agius de Soldanis. Con una lettera in fine parimente apologetica dall'Autore formata contro le opere intitolate Il Naufragio di S. Paolo ristabilito nella Melita Illirica & Exercitationes Geographicae, Hydrographicae & Anemographicae de Naufragio Divi Paoli Apostoli, ejusque Adventu in Insulam Melitam Illyricam ecc. Ambedue composte dal Signor Abbate Stefano Sciugliaga. J. G. e stampate in Venezia al 1757. In Venezia appresso Benedetto Milocco. In Merceria all'Insegna di S. Tommaso d'Aquino ; MDCCLVID. viii + 83 + XXp.

Lettera scritta da Venezia per Malta il 3 Novembre, 1757 dal Canonico Giopietro Francesco Agius de Soldanis del Gozo di Malta all’Illmo. Signor Dottor Gio Nicolo Gauci Apap, Patrizio Gozitano, la quale e opposta alle due operette pubblicate in dett'anno dal Signor Stefano Sciugliaga J. B. (Abbate) intorno il Naufragio del glorioso San Paolo Apostolo seguito nel mare Adriatico di San Luca Evangelista, Venezia, appresso Benedetto Milocco, 1758, 19p.


Lettera intorno al Convento ed alla Chiesa di S. Agostino del Gozo.

Ciantar (Malta Illustrata, p. 591) lists this Letter with Agius's publications, adding that it was "inserita nel Monachismo del P. M. F. Bonaventura Attardi".

1759 -

Lettera sopra la fondazione ed esistenza della Chiesa e Convento de'RR. Padri Cappuccini del Gozo di Malta, scritta dal Canonico Agius de Soldanis, diretta al Sacerdote D. Ignazio Saverio Mifsud. Malta, 1759, 28p. (Misc. 243(10)).

The manuscript of this Letter, dated December 20,1752, is included in Library Ms. 20, pp. 164-193. The same text appears in Ms. 155, ff. 102r - 105r.

1764 -

"Lettera Responsiva [scritta dal Gozo lì 6 gennaio 1759] dell’Erudito Signor Canonico Gian Francesco Agius al Signor Fra Cappellano Reboul sopra i Bordoni", in Biblioteca Maltese dell'Avvocato Mifsud Parte Prima ... Malta, 1764, pp. 386-393.

Original in Library Ms. 5, pp. 466-482. Another copy in Library Ms. 155, ff. 136r-140r.

[p.36] "Altre notizie riguardanti alcune fatiche letterarie del Canonico Domenico Magri, avanzate all'Avvocato Mifsud dal Signor Canonico D. Francesco Agius de Soldanis [dalla Biblioteca Pubblica Tenceniana lì 20 Marzo 1766], in Biblioteca Maltese dell'Avvocato Mifsud, Malta, 1764, pp. 319-323.

Included in the Appendice alla Biblioteca Maltese with other material "comunicato all'Avvocato Mifsud in decorso della Stampa" - hence different year (1766) shown in the Appendix.


Ms. 1

Lettera scritta [dal Gozo in data 25 Febbraio 1755] dal Dr. Gio Francesco Agius de Soldanis Canonico nel Gozo al Dr. D. Ignazio Mifsud Avvocato in Malta e Consultore del S. Ufficio sopra diverse notizie di erudizione e belle lettere (ff. 328-336).

Ms. 77

Pensieri Mariali... dedicati e composti dal Chierico Francesco Agius Gozitano. Malta 1730. [xiii] + 96p.

The author calls these Marian Thoughts "i primi parti della rozzezza del mio tenue ingegno" and explains to the readers that "in questo libricciolo non incontrerete discorsi la di cui lettura richiegga molt'applicatione, ma sono semplici pensieri, quali possonsi esser letti in un men di nulla"

Ms. 105

Notizie storiche delle Virtù, Vita e Morte dell' e Fra Don Melchior Alpheran de Bussan della Maggior Chiesa Conventualc di tutto l'Ordine e della Milizia di S. Giovanni Gerosolimitano Generale Priore. XXI, 143 + Index 27p. Con ritratti dett'illustre prelato.

Ms. 10 also contains a Vita di Monsignor Fr. Melchior Alpheran de Bussan.

Ms. 142 Vol. l

Apoftegmi e Proverbi Maltesi, raccolti e spiegati in lingua Italiana dal Canonico Agius (pp. 1-99).

C. Vassallo (p. 48) writes: "Sono disposti per ordine alfabetico: peccato che ne manchi tutta la lettera A.

[p.38] This modest collection of 387 proverbs was edited by Giovanni Curmi and appeared in Malta Letteraria, Nos V-XII, Maggio-Dicembre 1928.


Simolacro d'Ercole, dagli antico-Fenici-Maltesi adorato nel suo Tempio di Marsascirocco in Malta - lllustrato dal Canonico Francesco Agius De Soldanis Bibliotecario 1769 (ff. 1-10).

On back of title page one reads: "Dissertazione sopra la statua d'Ercole che si ritrova nel Museo della Biblioteca di Malta fatta dal Canonico Agius e recitata da G.A. Navarro nella Conferenza letteraria di Malta lì 13 del ... (sic) 1769".

C. Vassallo (Catalogo, p. 49) comments that "questa bella statua o Greca o Romana che si voglia, e che erroneamente l'Agius pretende Fenicia, trovasi nel Museo di questa Biblioteca".

Appendix copiosissimus ad Hierolexicon clarissimi Magri (pp. 180-277).

Aliae additiones in Hierolexicon ejusdem Magri opera Can. Agius (pp. 363-516).

Vol. 3

Avis au Lecteur du Journal Etranger de Paris (1754) donne par le chanoine François Agius de Soldanis (ff. 34r-46r).

Vol. 4

Memoria del Canonico Agius contro Michele Acciard sulle notizie storiche della Congiura ordita da Mustafà Bassà di Rodi. Segue una Risposta Apologetica dell'Acciard alia memoria dell'Agius, ed una Lettera di Stefano Borgia sullo stesso argomento (pp. 337-3%).

Vol. 5

Se San Corrado Siciliano fosse mai passato in Malta? (pp. 39-40)

Reproduced in part, with comments, in G. Cassar Pullicino, Studi di Tradizioni Popolari Maltese, 1989, p. 13.

Se Sant'Agata fosse mai in Malta? (pp. 41-42).

Reproduced in part, with comments, in G. Cassar Pullicino, op. cit., p. 12.

Statuti et Ordinazioni della Sodalità della Buona Morte sott'il titolo del Ssmo. Crocefisso per il suo buon governo, eretta nell'altare del glorioso S. Giuseppe della S. Parrocchiale Chiesa di casal Sannat del Gozo li 7 giugno 1760 (pp. 113-117).

[p.39] Spiegazione della iscrizione del tempio di Apolline scoperta nel 1747 circa nella Medina, (pp. 244-265).

See also Osservazioni sopra l’iscrizione scoperta nel 1747 (Vol. 6, pp. 531-570) C. Vassallo (Catalogo, p. 51) writes: "Questa dissertazione e del Canonico Agius-un'altra ne aveva fatto il nostro Ciantar pubblicata in Napoli nel 1749, col titolo "De antiqua inscriptione nuper effossa".

Ms. 155 also contains "Alcuni cenni di spiegazione sulla inscrizione ad Apolline, scritta da Stefano Borgia.

Lettera [in data 2 agosto 1752] del Canonico Agius al Dr Michelangelo Grima sulle glossopietre (pp. 274-284).

C. Vassallo (Calalogo p. 51) advises us to turn to the copy in more readable form, in Vol. 6, pp. 1-18.

Nottzie ecclesistiche per l'anno 1734 (pp. 288-305).

A few extracts were published by G. Cassar Pullicino in Studi di Tradizioni Popolari Maltesi, 1989, pp. 6-8.

Progetto di un conservatorio di ragazze nel Gozo (pp. 360-363).

Spiegazione [del Canonico Agius] di alcuni nomi Arabi dati ad alcune città e luoghi rimasti ancora in Sicilia (pp. 455-486).

Notizic dell’ilustrissimi Venerandi Balì Dericard e Chambray (pp. 487-493; 529-566).

Vol. 6

Giornale di ciò che accadde in Malta e Gozo dal 7 gennaio al 29 dicembre 1733 (pp. 281-321).

Osservazioni sopra l’iscrizione scoperta nel 1747 (pp. 531-570).

Ms. 143

Damma tal Kliem Kartaginis mscerred fel fom tal Maltin u Ghaucin, maghmula mel Kanoniku Gianfrangesku Agius Sultana Ghauci. 4 vols.

C. Vassallo (Catalogo, p. 53) writes "Da questo lavoro dell’operosissimo Agius poterono trarre molto vantaggio tutti i filologi Maltesi che gli vennero appresso. Desso é diviso in quattro volumi: il primo é il Dizionario Maltese-Italiano-Latino: il secondo ed il terzo il Dizionario Italiano-Latino-Maltese: ed il quarto il Dizionario Latino-Italiano-Maltese.

The Damma has formed the basis for three theses for the degree of M.A. of the University of Malta, i.e. M. R. Gatt, A Comparative Lexical Study of the Romance Element in Agius De Soldanis's 'Damma' ... (1974) and E. Gatt, The Semitic Element in the 'Damma' of Agius de Soldanis (1984). The toponymic terms registered by De [p.40]

De Soldanis records how, following the publication of his Grammar and Alphabet in 1750, Bishop Alpheran de Bussan took steps to publish in Rome in 1752 at his own expense the standard text of the Christian Catechism in Maltese for the use in all parishes (Ms Libr 155)

[p.41] Soldanis have been utilized by J. Zammit Ciantar for his M. A. thesis "A Linguistic study of Gozitan Toponymy" (1978).

Ms. 144

Nuova Scuola dell’antica lingua punica scoperta nel moderno parlare Maltese e Gozitano.

C. Vassallo (Catalogo,p. 53) adds the following information: "Non e da confondersi colla sua Nuova Scuola della lingua Punica pubblicata in Roma dalla Tipografia Salomoni nel 1750, la quale é divisa in due dissertazioni, in una Grammatica ed in un dizionario Punico-Maltese. Questo manoscritto ne é affatto diverse: 6 diviso in 44 Lezioni, ed ha in fine delle frasi familiari, dei dialoghi, ed un breve catechismo con alcune preci in Maltese ed Italiano".

The "Dialoghi" mentioned by Vassallo were published, with an introductory study, by G. Cassar Pullicino in Il-Malti (Sett. 1947, pp. 99-125) and translated into English by David Marshall in Journal of Maltese Studies, No. 6, 1971, pp. 1-33).

Ms. 145

Il Gozo antico-moderno e sacro-profano, Isola Mediterranea adiacente a Malta Africana, consagrato all'eroiche virtù dell'Illustrissimo e Reverendissimo Monsignore Fra Don Paolo Alpheran de Bussan Vescovo di Malta e Gozo ... dal Sacerdote Gio: Pietro Francesco Agius Canonico dell'Insigne Chiesa Collegiata e Matrice del Gozo, 1746.

C. Vassallo (Catalogo, p. 54) notes: "Questa interessante ed unica storia dell'isola sorella fu dall'Agius dedicata al benemerito Alpheran Vescovo di Malta nel 1746, ma non fu mai pubblicata".

A Maltese translation by Dun Ġużepp Farrugia, Għawdex bil-Ġrajja Tiegħu was published by the Government Printing Office in two volumes (Vol. 1, 1936 and Vol. 2, 1953).

Ms. 155

Breve cenni della vita di Mons. Alpheran Vescovo di Malta (ff. 191r-204r).

Ms. 259

Collectanea ordine alfabetico digesta a Can. D. Francesco Agius.


Entry in I. S. Mifsud’s Giornale Maltese mentioning De Soldani’s Itinerario Italico (Ms Lib 13)


Deliberationes Capitulares Insignis Ecclesiae Collegiatae insulae Gaulos ab anno 1673 usque ad annum ... (sic) quibus variae observations, et quaedam anecdota exhibentur, ad ipsammet spectantia.

Listed with Mss left by Agius in G.A. Ciantar, Malta Illustrata, Libro IV, Not. IV, 1780, p. 591.

Itinerario Italico del 1757 e 1758, descritto dal Canonico Gio Pietro Francesco Agius.

There can be no doubt about the existence of this manuscript. Agius refers to it in his "Lettera Responsiva ... sopra i Bordoni" included in I. S. Mifsud's Biblioteca Maltese (1764, p. 386), saying: "Nel mio Itinerario Italico del 1757 e 1758, mss. fog. 172, passando per Bologna ai 23 Ottobre 1756 ho scritto quello che ho veduto nella Chiesa Cattedrale ai SS. Apostoli Pier Paolo dedicata ...".

I. S. Mifsud noted in his diary (Ms. 13, f. 170) under the date October 5, 1759: "Avendo lo scrittore in tutti detti giorni di dimora fatta nel Gozo, letto l'Itinerario ben lungo del Signor Canonico Agius del viaggio da lui fatto per l’Italia nel 1757 e 1758, compreso in un libro Mss in foglio, di carte scritte 568 col titolo Itinerario Italico del 1757 e 1758...".

G. A. Ciantar (Malta Illustrata. Libro IV, Not. IV, 1780, p. 591) lists the Itinerario among the Mss left by Agius, adding that its author had left it to Rev. S. Ab. Gianant. C. Beretta.

This prelate could have been the Mons. Barretta "raccomandato dal Balì Caraviglia per vedere Malta" who came to Malta from Naples on June 21, 1763 ... e fa subito coltivato dal detto Canonico Agius che l'aveva conosciuto in Roma (Ms. 14, p. 100).


Acrostic sonnet written in 1758 by De Soldanis in praise of Lodovico Coltellini (Ms Libr 155)


Ms. 146 - Tre volumi di lettere scritte al Canonico Agius parte di natura privata, e parte che han riferenza alle opere sue letterarie.

C. Vassallo (Catalogo, p. 54) states that "il terzo tomo comprende le lettere del Cav. Turgot, di De Galibert, del Balì Dericard e dell'Abate Mandoux, scritte in lingua Francese".

Ms. 155 - Molte lettere dirette da ragguardevoli personaggi al Canonico Agius.

Misc. 243(7) - De Epigraphe Templi Proserpinae a Cl. Jo: Francisco Abela prolata adnotationes. Ad eruditissinium Virum Joann. Petruni Franc. Agius de Soldanis ... Josepho Jacobo Testaferrata ... auctore. Melitae in Palatio, MDCCLIX.

Ms. 259 - Collectanea ordine alphabetico digesta a Can. D. Francesco Agius.

Ms. 358 - Biografia del Canonico Don Francesco Agius de Soldanis.

A note dated March 6, 1891 at the end of this biographical sketch states that it was copied from a manuscript existing in the Gozo Public Library.



M.R. Gatt, A Comparative Lexical Study of the Romance Element in Agius De Soldanis's 'Damma’ tal Kliem Kartaginis mscerred fel fom tal Maltin u Ghaucin ... 2 vols.


J. Zammit Ciantar, A Linguistic Study of Gozitan Toponymy

Toponymic terms registered by De Soldanis have been utilized for this thesis.


E. Gatt, The Semitic Element in the Damma of Agius De Soldanis ... 3 vols.

(in chronological order)

1752 -

Novelle Letterarie No. 17 [in cui si fa parola dell'opera del Canonico Agius sulla Lingua Punica] Firenze, 28 aprile 1752 (National Library Misc. 250 (ii)).

1780 -

G.A. CIANTAR, "Giampietro Francesco Agius" Malta Illustrata ... Libra Terzo e Quarto. Malta - Lib. IV, Not. IV, pp. 590-592.

1810 -

D.W. GESENIUS, Versuch über die Maltesische Sprache zur Beurtheilung der neulich wiederholten Behauptung, dass sie ein Ueberrest der altpunischen sey, und als Beytrag zur arabischen Dialektologie, Leipzig, 1810.

1865 -

G.A. VASSALLO, Giampier Francesco Agius de Soldanis, "L'Arte -Periodico Patrio Bimensile", Anno III, No. 71, 22 Ottobre 1865, pp. 4-7 (con ritratto).

1928 -

G. CURMI, Giampier Francesco Agius de Soldanis, "Malta Letteraria", Nuova Serie, Anno III, Maggio 1928, pp. 129-133.

G. CURMI (ed), Apoftegmi e proverbi maltesi, raccolti e spiegati in lingua llaliana dal Canonico Agius. Original in NLV, Library Ms. 142, Vol. 1, pp. 1-99. Edited and published by Dr. Giovanni Curmi, "Malta Letteraria", N.S., Anno III, Nos. V-XII, Maggio-Dicembre 1928.

Usi e costumi religiosi e civili degli antichi Maltesi. Original in Library Ms. 142, Vol. 5, pp. 215-221. Edited and published partly by G. Curmi, Antich costumi nuziali maltesi, "Malta Letteraria", N.S., Anno III, No. 1, Gennaio 1928, pp. 21-24; and partly by G. Cassar Pullicino, Abiti, coslumi efnerali degli antichi Mallesi, "Malta Letteraria", N.S., Anno II, No. 1, gennaio-aprile 1953, pp. 52-57. The whole text is reproduced in G. Cassar Pullicino "Studi di tradizioni popolari maltesi", Malta, 1989, Appendix A, pp. 15-20 under Degli Abiti Costumi, Sponsali, Matrimoni, e Funerali Degli Antichi Maltese.


1931 -

G. CURMI (ed), Relazione della valorosa impresa effettuata dalli Cristiani schiavi su la galera 'Lupa', Capitana di Rodi, e della di lei felice venuta a Malta li 2 febbraio 1748. Original in Library Ms. 142, Vol 4 pp. 233-239. Published by G. Curmi in "Malta Letteraria", N.S., VOL. 6, 1931, PP. 262-269.

1937 -

G. GATT Il-Kanonku Agius de Soldanis "Il-Berqa" (18-20 Ottubru, 1937).

1945 -

 [Vassalli and De Soldanis] - Controversy re appellation 'Father of Maltese Literature' between J. Cassar Pullicino, Jos. Galea, Erin Serracino Inglott and Agostino Levanzin, "Times of Malta", (8.10. 1945-1.8.1946 passim).

1947 -

G. CASSAR PULLICINO (ed), Id-'Djalogi' ta' De Soldanis. Offprint from "Il-Malti", September 1947, pp. 99-125. Introductory study reproduced in G. Cassar Pullicino, "Kitba u Kittieba tal-Malti, L-Ewwel Ktieb - sas-Seklu Tmintax", Universita ta' Malta, 1962, pp. 60-74.

1958 -

G. N. CASSAR, Canon Agius De Soldanis - a Gozitan Scholar, "Malta Year Book", 1958, pp. 278-283.

1962 -

G. CASSAR PULLICINO, M. A. Grima u De Soldanis, "Kitba u Kittieba tal-Malti, L-Ewwel Ktieb - sas-Seklu Tmintax", Universita ta' Malta, 1962, pp. 75-81.

Id-Dizzjunarju ta' De Soldanis, op. cit., pp. 82-90.

1964 -

G. CASSAR PULLICINO, Agius de Soldanis, "Il-Bennejja tal-Folklor Malti", Universita ta' Malta, 1964, pp. 8-14.

1970 -

A. CREMONA, Gian Pietru Franġisk Agius de Soldanis, "Antoloġija ta' Proża Maltija", Malta University Press, 1970, pp. 97-102.

O. FRIGGIERI, Agius De Soldanis 1710-1770, "Il-Qawmien", 18 ta' Jannar, 1970.

ANON, Agius de Soldanis imfakkar f'Għawdex, "Ir-Review", 14 ta' Frar, 1970.

1971 -

D .R. MARSHALL, A Social and Historical Commentary on 'The Dialogues of De Soldanis', "Journal of Maltese Studies", No. 6, 1971, pp. 1-33.

1977 -

J. AQUILINA, Distinguished Maltese - Gianpier Francesco Agius de Soldanis (1712-1770), "The Times" June 28, 1977.

1980 -

G. CASSAR PULLICINO, Traduzzjoni tal- 'Miserere' minn De Soldanis, [p.48] "Il-Malti", Jannar-Diċembru 1980, pp. 3-8. Reproduced and translated under the title De Soldanis's Maltese Translation of the 'Miserere' (PS 51), "Bible Translation and Language - Essays into the History of Bible Translation in Maltese" (ed. Carmel Sant) ("Melita Theologica Supplementary Series", No. 2) Malta, 1992, pp. 335-340.

1980 -

L. SCHIAVONE, Il-Kunvent tal-Kapuċċini fir-Rabat t'Għawdex, "Gozo Primary Schools Magazine, No. 9, May 1980, pp. 25-28.

1982 -

E. SERRACINO INGLOTT, Intervista ma' Alfred Massa dwar M. A. Vassalli, "Il-Ħajja", 5 ta' Marzu, 1982. (References to De Soldanis in interview).

A. BUTTIGIEG, Gian Piet Agius de Soldanis, "Heritage", No. 73, Midsea s.d., pp. 1455-1456.

1983 -

F. AZZOPARDI, Padre Luigi Bartolo, O.F.M. Cap, Designer and Historian, "Proceedings of History Week 1982", edited by Mario Buhagiar, Malta, The Historical Society, 1983, pp. 44-52. Contains useful information and comments on two pen-drawings found in Agius de Soldanis's Il Gozo Antico - Moderno ... i.e. Carta o Veduta dell’Isola del Gozo e Comino and Prospettiva del Gran Castello del Gozo come si vede dalla parte del Mezzogiorno.

1988 -

F. MIFSUD, Il-Kapuċċin Pelaġju Mifsud (1708-1781) - Żewġ Mss tas-Seklu 18 fuq il-Lingwa Maltija, "Ilsienna: Rivista tal-Għaqda Letterarja Maltija", Nru. 1, Dicembru 1988, pp. 10-13.

1989 -

G. CASSAR PULLICINO, Gian Pier Francesco Agius De Soldanis precursore degli studi delle tradizioni popolari maltesi, "Studi di tradizioni popolari maltesi" University of Malta, 1989, pp. 1-24.

1992 -

L. CACHIA, De Soldanis u l-Katekiżmu, "Leħen is-Sewwa" 24 ta' Ottubru, 1992.

1994 -

L. CACHIA, L-akbar żball ta' De Soldanis, "L-Ilsien Malti - Il-Bieraħ u l-Lum", Malta, 1994, pp. 13, 94-97.

1995 -

J. ZAMMIT CIANTAR, The Storm Petrel at Ta' Ċenċ, "The Times", (Dec. 6, 1995).

1996 -

A. CASSOLA, Il Mezzo Vocabolario Maltese-Italiano del'700, Said International, 1996.

[1] In a 'Lettera Responsiva ... sopra i Bordoni' included in l. S. Mifsud's Biblioteca Maltese (Malta, 1764, p. 386) Agius refers to his early youth when he lived in Malta (allorché facevo io dimora in Malta nella mia tenera età). See also National Library, Valletta: Ms. 358 - Biografia del Canonico Don Francesco Agius de Soldanis. A note dated March 6, 1891 at the end of this sketch states that it was copied from a manuscript existing in the Gozo Public Library.

[2] Malta Illustrata, ovvero Descrizione di Malta ... del Commendatore F. Giovan Francesco Abela ... corretta, accresciuta e continovata dal Conte Giovannantonio Ciantar, Libro IV Not. IV, Malta, Stamperia del Palazzo, 1780, pp. 590-592.

[3] G. Curmi, "Gianpier Francesco Agius de Soldanis", Malta Letteraria, Nuova Scrie, Anno III, No. 1, Maggio 1928, pp. 129-133; "Apoftegmi e proverbi maltesi raccolti e spiegati dal Canonio Agius" [a cura di G. Curmi], op. cit., Nos. V-XII, Maggio-Dicembre 1928; "Antichi costumi nuziali maltesi" [a cura di G. Curmi] op. cit., Gennaio 1928, pp. 21-24.

[4] G. Cassar Pullicino, "Id-Djalogi ta' De Soldanis", bi studju qabel, Il-Malti, Sett. 1947, pp. 99-125; D. Marshall, "A social and historical commentary on the Dialogues of De Soldanis", Journal of Maltese Studies, No. 6, 1971, pp. 1-33.

[5] M. R. Gatt, A comparative Lexical Study of the Romance Element in Agius de Soldanis's 'Damma tal Kliem Kartaginis mscerred fel fom tal Maltin u Ghaucin (M j\, Thesis, 1974); E. Gatt, The Semitic Element in the 'Damma' of Agius de Soldanis (M.A. Thesis, 1984); J. Zammit Ciantar, A Linguistic Study of Gozitan Toponymy (M.A. Thesis, 1978).

[6] National Library, Valletta (NLV): Ms. 1146, Vol. II, p. 241.

[7] NLV: Ms 13, p. 826.

[8] NLV: Ms. 13, pp. 91, 109; Ms. 1146, Vol. II, pp. 195, 279, 281.

[9] NLV: Ms. 155, f. 2l7v.

[10] NLV: Ms. 11, p. 253; Ms. 19, ff. 265v, 269r.

[11] NLV: Ms. 13, pp. 151-153.

[12] NLV: Ms. 155, p. 209. For information on Cardinal Domenico Passionei see Dizionario di erudizione storico-ecclesiastico ... compilato dal Cavaliere Gaetano Moroni Romano ... Vol. LI, Venezia, 1851, pp. 271-272.

[13] NLV Ms. 11, pp. 383,386,424,489,501,570,599,607. See also E.B. Vella, Storja ta' Birkirkara bil-Kolleġġjata tagħha, 1934, p. 503.

[14] NLV: Ms. 2, p. 390.

[15] Dizionario di erudizione storico-ecclesiastico ... compilato dal Cav. Gaetano Moroni Romano, Venezia, 1840, Vol. II, p. 277. See also Enciclopedia italiana (Treccani), Vol. IV. 1929, p. 52.

[16] NLV: Ms 145, ff. 8-9. The title of this revised and corrected version of Ms. 145A reads as follows: Il Gozo antico-moderno e sacro-profano, Isola Mediterranea, adiacente a Malta Africana - consacrato all'eroiche virtù dell’Illmo. e Revmo. Monsignore Fra Don Paolo Alpheran de Bussan Vescovo di Malta e Gozo ... dal Sacerdote Gio Pietro Francesco Agius Canonico dell'lnsigne Chiesa Collegiata e Matrice del Gozo.

[17] NLV: Ms. 155, f. 32v.

[18] NLV: 146, Vol. Ill, f. 198v.

[19] G. Cassar Pullicino, "M. A.. Grima u De Soldanis", Kitba u Kittieba tal-Malti - L-ewwel Ktieb: Sas-Seklu Tmintax, University of Malta, 1962, pp. 75-81. For information on Giovanni Lami "celebre letterato ed antiquario italiano" see Dizionario di erudizione storico-ecclesiastico ... quoted above, Vol. XXXVII, Venezia. 1846. pp. 73-74.

[20] NLV: Ms. 155, p. 96r.

[21] NLV: Ms. 142, Vol. V, pp. 288-315; Vol. VI, pp. 281-321.

[22] NLV: Ms. 14, pp. 99,156-157. Similar but more specific information is given in Ms. 358, already quoted, viz. "... avendo costituito suo Coadiutore il Rev. D. Giuseppe Calleja, recassi alla Valletta dove con somma diligenza attese a disporre negli scaffali i libri ed a formare un copioso Indice delle opere quali in quell'epoca trascendevano il numero di dieci mila, comprese in volumi presso a ventimila".

[23] NLV: Ms. 12. pp. 206, 232. The party returned to Malta on Friday, April 21, 1758 (Ms. 12, p. 446)

[24] NLV: Ms. 12, p. 480.

[25] G.A. Ciantar, Malta Illustrata ... Libro IV, Not. IV, p. 591. See also NLV: Ms. 14, pp. 100, 118 under dates June 21 and July 8, 1763.

[26] NLV: Ms. 13, f. 170.

[27] NLV: ibid., p. 166.

[28] NLV: ibid., p. 169.

[29] NLV: ibid., p. 172.

[30] NLV: Ms. 12, pp. 61-62.

[31] NLV: ibid., pp. 267,320.

[32] G. P. F. Agius De Soldanis, Nuova Scuola di Grammatica per agevolmente apprendere la lingua Punica-Maltese ... consacrata all'Illmo. Signor Fra Don Giuseppe Almeida de Portugal, Roma, 1750, pp. 67-70.

[33] NLV: Ms. 146, Vol. Ill, f. 214v.

[34] NLV: ibid., f. 213r.

[35] NLV: Ms. 146, Vol. II, f. 350.

[36] Dictionary of National Biography. Vol. IX, London, 1887, p. 326.

[37] Op. cit.. Supplement Vol. II. London, 1901. p. 108.

[38] G. P. F. Agius De Soldanis, Nuova Scuola di Grammatica ... Roma, 1750, p. 70.

[39] Enciclopedia Cattolica, Vol. IX, Città del Vaticano, 1952, p. 506.

[40] NLV: Ms. 146, Vol. II, f. 241.

[41] Dictionary of National Biography. Vol. II, London. 1885, pp. 192-193. See also E. Beneril, Dictionnaire critique el documentaire des Peintres, Sculpteurs, Dessinateurs & graveurs de tous le temps et de tous les pays ... Tome Second. Paris, 1924. p. 8.

[42] NLV: Ms. 146, Vol. II, ff. 243r-244r.

[43] NLV: Ms. 145, p. 9v.

[44] NLV: Ms. 146. Vol. II, f. 70r.

[45] G. Curmi, "La valorosa impresa effettuata dai Cristiani schiavi sulla galera 'Lupa' nel 1748 e la congiura dei Turchi in Malta nel 1749", Malta Letteraria. vol. VI, 1931, pp. 15-17.

[46] NLV: Ms. 142, Vol. IV, p. 340.

[47] NLV: Ms. 1146, Vol. l,p. 821.

[48] P.P. Saydon, "Bibliograpical Aids to the Study of Maltese", Journal of Near Eastern Studies", Vol. 12, 1953, p. 26.

[49] NLV: Ms. 144 - Nuova Scuola dell'antica lingua Punica scoperta nel moderno parlare Maltese e Gozitano aperta agli studenti Maltesi e Forestieri del Canonico Gianfrancesco Agius ... seconda edizione accresciuta, e corretta dall'autore, f. 113v.

[50] G.P.P. Agius De Soldanis, Delia Lingua Punica ... Roma, 1750, p. 19.

[51] NLV: Ms. 144, Lezione XX, para VII, ff. 113v-114r.

[52] NLV: Ms. 144, Lezione XVIII, paras VI and VII, f. 106v.

[53] NLV: Ms. 146, Vol. 1, p. 139v.

[54] Borgia was referring to distinguished personalities in the world of Letters. Scipione Maffei (1675-1755) was the author of the highly esteemed tragedy Merope (1714) and of various archaeological studies (Gratuie Dizionario Enciclopedico. Vol. VII, Torino, 1936, p. 76). Fabio Olivieri reached the high dignity of Cardinal (Dizionario di erudizione storico-ecclesiastico ... Vol.XLVIII, 1848, p. 303). AntonioFrancesco Gori (1691-1757), was well known for his erudite archaeological works, e.g. Museum Etruscum, in 3 vols. published between 1736 and 1743. (Grande Dizionario Enciclopedico, Vol. V, 1935,p. 892). Giovanni Battista Passeri (1694-1780) was an archaeologist, described by L.A. Muratori as antiquario maestro del mondo, who upheld the superiority of the Etruscans over the peoples of antiquity. His publications include Picturae etruscorum in vasculis (1767-1770) in 3 vols. He also completed some of Gori's unfinished works on etruscology. (op. cit.. Vol. VIII, 1937, p. 607).

[55] NLV: Ms. 146, Vol. 2, ft. 70 r and v.

[56] NLV: Ms. 155, f. 76r.

[57] NLV: Ms. 146, Vol. II, f. 40r.

[58] NLV: Ms. 155, ff. 32, 34.

[59] NLV: Ms. 146, Vol. II, f. 106r.

[60] NLV: Ms. 144, f. 80r.

[61] NLV: Ms. [44, Lezione XIX, para 2, f. 109r.

[62] NLV: Ms, 144, Lezione XVII, para VII, ff. 102v-105r.

[63] G.P.F. Agius De Soldanis, Della Lingua Punica ... Roma, 1750, pp. 62-63; also NLV: Ms. 144, ff, 102v-105r.

[64] NLV: Ms. 144, ff. 112r-l 14v. For an account of the educational facilities that existed before the arrival of the Society of Jesus in Malta, as well as those that were available contemporaneously with their institution see V. Borg, "Developments in Education outside the Jesuit "Collegium Melitense". Melita Historica. Vol. VI, No. 3 (1974), pp. 215-254.