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has been charged, perhaps not altogether the King of Poland, sent me a letter with a gift without justice, with this kind of adulation; of truly Royal value. The Duke of Saxony often but we ought in fairness to take into con addresses letters to me, never without a present sideration his poverty, his dependence for oùx adwpos xai avtos.' subsistence and for the means of promoting his studies, the usages of the time, and the the Archbishops of Canterbury, Mentz, and
Then follows a list of prelates, including it
Toledo, Tunstall of Durham, Sadolet of to address princes, prelates, and the sove. reigns, as may be seen even in Luther's Carpentras, the Bishops of Breslau and 01language to the Elector of Saxony, to the mutz... Pope Leo in one way gave him imArchbishop of Mentz, to the Emperor and portant countenance. Whether it was that the Pope. If Erasmus flattered, he receiv- the polite Italian retained some covert scorn
for the barbarous Transalpine scholar, or ed ample returns in the same coin : he was called the light of the world, the glory of fine arts and his luxury, he had failed to
that he was immersed in his business, his Christendom, and other such titles. We realize the sanguine hopes of favour tohave seen that he was tempted from Eng- wards Erasmus, whom he had encouraged land to the Court of Brussels by encourage- when Cardinal ment from Charles when Archduke of Aus
Medici. Nevertheless he tria. As Emperor, Charles by no means
accepted the dedication of Erasmus's New cast off the illustrious scholar whom he had Testament, a privilege of inestimable value,
as a shield behind which the editor retreatfavoured as Archduke. Erasmus ventured after the battle to Pavia, to urge the Em- ed from all the perilous and jealous charges peror, flushed as he was with his victory: bim by the Lees, the Stunicas, the Caran
of heterodoxy, which were showered upon to generous and magnanimous treatment of Budæus, and with the sanction of Stephen ries, who, trembling at the publication of his captive. Before this Francis I., through zas, the Hoogstratens, the Egmonts, and
from more bigoted and dangerous adversaPoncher, Bishop of Paris, had endeavoured the New Testament itself, would have supto secure him for his rising University of Paris. From time to time these invitations pressed its circulation by calling in question were renewed: Paris, notwithstanding the its accuracy and fidelity Pope Adrian had
been the schoolfellow of Erasinus at De. hostility of the Sorbonne, was jealous of his preference of Germany. Henry VIII. venter; how far the timid and cold old man had allowed him to depart from England would have had the courage to befriend with reluctance, and would have welcomed him, was scarcely tried during the few him back on almost any terms. The Em.
months of bis pontificate. Adrian indeed peror's brother, the Archduke Ferdinand, but the pontiff was supposed not to take in
offered him a deanery, which he declined ; paid him the highest court. of Bavaria made him splendid offers to un- good part a letter,* in which Erasmus, dertake the Presidency of the University the followers of Luther, and a wide and
most highly to his credit, urged toleration to of Ingolstadt. There may be some ostentation in the Epistle of Erasmus, in which spontaneous reformation of the Church. he recounts the intimate footing on which Clement VII. sent him a present of 200 he stood with all the Sovereigns of Europe ; mises.' Paul III. (but this was after bis
florins, and made him more splendid prothe letters, the magnificent presents which he had received from princes, from prelates, writing against Luther, and after he had and from sovereigns:*
been harassed and frightened, and lured
into a timid conservatism) had serious "From the Emperor Charles I have many let- thoughts of promoting him to the Cardinaters, written in a tone of as much affection as late. He offered him the Provostship of esteem (tam honorifice tam amanter); that I Deventer, worth 600 florins a year. prize them even more than his kindness to me, Had Erasmus departed from the world to which nevertheless I owe great part of my at this time, it had been happier perhaps fortune. Froin King Ferdinand I have as inany, for himself, happier, no doubt, for his fame. not less friendly, and never without some honor; The world might have lost some of his vaary gift. How often have I been invited, and on what liberal terms, by the King of France! Inable publications, but it might have been The king of England by frequent letters and un- spared some, which certainly add nothing solicited presents is always declaring his favour and singular goodwill. The best of women in
inus; he dedicated to her his tract ‘De Matri. this age, his Queen Catherine, vies in this re
monio.' spect with the King her husband.t Sigismund, * In the same letter Erasmus urges restrictions
on the Press, by which, as Jortin justly observes, Epist. 1132.
he would have been the first to sutier; but he had + Queen Catherine was a great reader of Eras- | been sorely pelted by personal, and malicious libels.
to his glory. His character, in spite of in- shall we confine ourselves strictly to those firmities, would have been well-nigh blame. which he published before 1520, as it is less. Though not himself, strictly speak- our object to give a complete view of his ing, to have been enrolled in the noble and literary labours. His Translations from the martyr band of the assertors of religious Greek were made for the avowed purpose freedom and evangelical religion, he would of perfecting his knowledge of that lanhave been honoured as the most illustrious guage : they comprehend several plays of of their precursors and prophets, as having Euripides, some orations of Libanius, aldone more than any one to break the most the whole of Lucian, most of the mo. bonds of scholasticism, superstition, igno- ral works of Plutarch. His editions, berance, and sacerdotal tyranny, to restore sides some smaller volumes, were of Senethe Scriptures to their supremacy, and to ca the Philosopher, Suetonins, with the advance that great work of Christian civili- Augustan and other minor historians, Q. sation, the Reformation.
Curtius, the Offices and Tusculan DisputaHow then had Erasmus achieved his tions of Cicero, the great work of Pliny ; lofty position? What were the writings at a later period, Livy, Terence with the on which Christendom looked with such Commentary of Donatus, the works of Arisunbounded admiration ? which made totle and of Demosthenes. These editions princes and kings, and prelates and uni- have indeed given place to the more critiversities, rivals for the honour of patronis- cal and accurate labours of later scholars, ing him? If we can answer this question, but they are never mentioned by them we shall ascertain to a great extent the without respect and thankfulness. If we claims of Erasmus to the honour and grati- duly estimate the labour of reading and, tude of later times. Erasmus may be con...aten with the best aid, carrying through sidered from four different points of view, the press such volumiuous works, without yet all bis transcendent qualities, so seen, the modern appliances of lexicons, indices, may seem to converge and conspire to one commentaries, and annotations, the sturcommon end : I. As the chief proinoter of diest German scholar of our day might polite studies and of classical learning on quail beneath the burthen. Erasmus comthis side of the Alps. II. As the declared posed some valuable elementary and gramenemy of the dominant scholasticism and matical works, chiefly for Dean Colet's of the superstitions of the Middle Ages, school; but perhaps among bis dissertawhich he exposed to the scorn and ridicule tions that one which exhibits the scholar of the world both in his serious and in his in the most striking and peculiar light, is satirical writings. III. As the parent of his • Ciceronianus,' a later work. This too biblical criticism, and of a more rational in- prolix dialogue is a bold revolt against the terpretation of the sacred writings, by his Italian scholars, who proscribed in modern publication of the New Testament, and by Latin every word which had not the auhis Notes and Paraphrases. IV. As the thority of Cicero. There is some good founder of a more learned and comprehen- broad fun in the Ciceronian, who for seven sive theology, by his editions of the early years had read no book but Cicero, bad Fathers of the Church. In each of these only Cicero's bust in his library, sealed his separate departments, the works of Eras- | letters with Cicero's head. He had three mus might seem alone sufficient to occupy or four huge volumes, each big enough to a long and laborious life ; and to these overload two porters, in which he had dimust be added the perpetual controversies, gested every word of Cicero, every variawhich she was compelled to wage; the de. tion of every sense of every word, every fensive warfare in wbich he was involved foot or cadence with which Cicero began or by almost every important publication ; his closed a sentence or clause of a sentence. letters, which fill a folio volume and a half Erasmus not only laughed at but argued of his Works, and his treatises on many with force against this pedantry. The
persubjects, all bearing some relation to the fection of Latin would be to speak as Ciadvancement of letters or of religion. cero would have spoken had be lived in
I. Consider Erasmus as one of those to the present day. He dwells on the incom. whom the world is mainly indebted for the patibility of Ciceronian Latin with Chrisrevival of classical learning. Here we tian ideas and terminology ; describes with may almost content ourselves with rapidly humour the strange paganisation of Chrisrecounting his translations and his editions tian notions which the Italians had introof the great authors of antiquity.* Nor duced. It never occurred to Erasmus that
The list of his writings to a certain period is of the works of Erasmus is elaborately wrought out givea in a letter to Botzemius. The bibliography at the end of the article in Ersch and Gruber. vOL. CL.
Christianity would outgrow the Latin lan- | the homage paid in all quarters to its auguage, and have its own poets, orators, his. thor. The first edition, avowedly impertorians, in Christian languages. The close fect, was printed at Paris in 1500. It was is very curious as bearing on the literary followed by two at Strasburg; it was rehistory of the time. It is a long criticism, printed by Erasmus himself, in a more full which of course gave much offence, of all and complete form at Venice, in 1508. This the Latin authors of the day throughout edition was imitated without the knowledge Europe, of their writings, and of their of Erasmus, by Frobenius, afterwards his style; and as almost every body wrote in dear friend, at Basil. Seven editions folLatin, it is a full survey of the men of let- lowed with great rapidity, bearing the fame ters of his age.
Alas! how many sono- of the author to every part of Christendom, rous names, terminating in the imposing which was now eager for the cultivation of and all-honoured • us,' have perished from classical learning. the memory of man, a few perhaps unde- II. Erasmus was no less the declared servedly, most of them utterly and for ever! opponent, and took great part in the disLongolius was the only Barbarian admit-comfiture of scholasticism, and of the superted to the privilege of Ciceronianism. The stitions of the middle ages. tract closes with a ludicrous account of the reception of a civis Romanus, by a club or At length Erasmus, that great injured name society of Ciceronians at Rome.
(The glory of the priesthood and the shame), But the work which displayed to the ut- Stemmed the wild torrent of a barbarous age, most the unbounded erudition of Erasmus And drove those holy Vandals off the stage.' was his · Adagia.' The clever definition of a proverb, erroneously attributed to the Pope's "wild torrent' is not a very hapstatesman of our day, “the wisdom of many py illustration of the scholasticism which and the wit of one,' does not answer to the had so long oppressed the teaching of Eu· Adagia' of Erasmus. This book is a mas- rope-'a stagnant morass' or an .impeneter-key to all the strange and recondite trable jungle' had been a more apt simili. sayings scattered about in the classic writ- tude. Few, however did more to emanci. ers, and traces them to their origin. They pate the human mind froin the Thomism are arranged under different heads, in al- and the Scotism, the pseudo-Aristotelism, phabetical order, as absurdities,' arro- which ruled and wrangled in all the schools gance,' avarice.' Sometimes he takes one of Europe. Erasmus fell in, in this respect, of these sayings for the text of a long dis- with the impatience and the ardent aspirasertation. The · Adagia' is thus a rich tions of all who yearned for better days. and very curious storehouse of his opinions. In Italy the yoke was already broken : the On • Festina Lente,' he discusses the whole monks, especially on this side of the Alps, question of printing and the abuses of the fought hard in their cloistral schools and in Press; on · Simulation and Dissimulation,' the universities, in which they had still the the Church, the wealth and pomp of the supremacy. But the new universities, the clergy; on . Monacho Indoctior,' he brands schools founded especially in England out the ignorance and immorality of the monks; of the monasteries suppressed by Wolsey, on Dulce Bellum Inexpertis,' the folly or out of ecclesiastical wealth, as by Bishop and wickedness of war. Nothing displays Fox, or by Colet, who hated scholasticism in a more wonderful degree the vast, mul. as bitterly as Erasmus, were open to the tifarious, and profound erudition of Eras- full light of the new teaching. Erasmus mus than this work. Even in the present served the good cause in two ways; by exday, with all our subsidiary aids to learn- posing its barrenness and uselessness in his ing, the copiousness, variety, and extent of serious as well as in his satirical writings, his reading move our astonishment. Not and by supplying the want of more simthe most obscure writer seems to have es- ple, intelligible, and profitable manuals of caped his curiosity. In the first edition he education. Against the superstitions of complained of the want of Greek books, in the age, the earlier writings of Erasmus are the later the Greeks of every age are fami- a constant grave or comic protest, though liarly cited; the Latin are entirely at his he was not himself always superior to such command. Some proverbs were added by weaknesses. In his younger days he had later writers; some of his conjectural in attributed his recovery from a dangerous terpretations of abstruse sayings have been illness to the intercession of St. Genoveva, corrected, but with all its defects it remains to whom he addressed an ode. The saint, a monument of very marvellous industry. it is true, was aided by William Cope, the The reception of this work displays no less most skilful physician in Paris. When at the passion for that kind of learning, and Cambridge he made a pilgrimage—it may
have been from curiosity rather than faith their vices with the thrice-knotted scourge, --to our Lady at Walsingham. But his drawing blood at every stroke, and, as it later and more mature opinions he either were, mocking at its prostrate victims. And cared not, or was unable to disguise. The yet of this work twenty-seven editions monks, the authors and supporters of these were published during the lifetime of the frauds, are not the objects of his wit alone, author, and it was translated into many of but of his solemn, deliberate invective. Se the languages of Europe. The Colloquies' vere argument, however, and bitter, serious were neither less bold nor less popular ; satire had been heard before, and fallen on they were in every library, almost in every comparatively unheeding ears ; it was the school. We have alluded to the edition lighter and more playful wit of Erasmus of above 20,000 copies said to have been which threw even the most jealous off their struck off by one adventurous printer; and guard, and enabled him to say things with yet in these Colloquies' there was scarceimpunity which in graver form had awak- I ly a superstition which was not mocked at, ened fierce indignation. Even the sternest we say not with covert, but with open bigots, if they scented the danger, did not scorn ; and this with a freedom which in venture to proscribe the works which all more serious men, men of lower position in Christendom, as yet un frightened, received the world of letters, would have raised an with unchecked and unsuspecting mirth. instant alarm of deadly heresy, and might Let the solemn protest as they will, there have led the hapless author to the stake. are truths of which ridicule is the Lydian In the ‘Shipwreck,' while most of the passtone. The laughter of fools may be folly, sengers are raising wild cries, some to one but the laughter of wise men is often the saint, some to another, there is a single calm highest wisdom. Perhaps no satire was person, evidently shown as the one true ever received with more universal applause Christian, who addresses his prayers to God in its day, than the · Praise of Folly. Let himself, as the only deliverer. In the Icthyus remember that it was finished in the ophagia,' the eating of fish, there is a scruhouse of More, and dedicated to one who pulous penitent, whom nothing, not even the was hereafter to lay down his life for the advice of his physician, will induce to break Roman faith. To us, habituated to rich his vow, and eat meat or eggs, but who has English humour and fine French wit, it not the least difficulty in staving off the may be difficult to do justice to the Mo- payment of a debt by perjury. In the riæ Encomium;' but we must bear in mind Inquisition concerning Faith' there is a that much of the classical allusion, which distinct assertion, that belief in the Aposto us is trite and pedantic, was then fresh tles' Creed (which many at Rome do not and original. The inartificialness and, in-believe) is all-sufficient; that against such deed, the inconsistency of the structure of a man even the Papal anathema is an idle the satire might almost pass for consum- thunder, even should he eat more than fish mate art. Folly, who at first seems indulg- on a Friday. The Funeral contrasts the ing in playful and inoffensive pleasantry, deathbed and the obsequies of two men. while she attributes to her followers all the One is a soldier, who has acquired great enjoyments of life, unknown to the moroser wealth by lawless means. He summons wise, might even, without exciting suspi- all the five Orders of mendicants, as well cion, laugh at the more excessive and ma- as the parish priest, to his dying bed. nifest superstitions—the worship_of St. There is a regular battle for him : the pa. Christopher and St. George, St. Erasmus rish priest retires with a small share of the and St. Hyppolytus ; at indulgences; at spoil
, as also do three of the mendicant those who calculated nicely the number of Orders. Two remain behind: the man years, months, hours of purgatory ; those dies, and is magnificently buried in the who would wipe off a whole life of sin by church in the weeds of a Franciscan ; bav. a small coin, or who attributed magic pow- ing forced his wife and children to take reers to the recitation of a few verses of the ligious vows, and bequeathing the whole Psalms. But that which so far is light, it of his vast wealth to the Order. The other somewhat biting, wit, becomes on a sudden dies simply, calmly, in humble reliance on a fierce and bitter irony, sometimes antici- his Redeemer: makes liberal gifts to the pating the savage misanthropy of Swift, poor, but bequeaths them nothing ; leaves but reserving its most merciless and incisive not a farthing to any one of the Orders ; lashes for kings, for the clergy, for the car- receives extreme unction and the Euchadinals, and the popes. Folly, from a plea- rist without confession, having nothing on sant, comic merry-andrew, raising a laugh his conscience, and is buried without the at the absurdities of the age, is become a least ostentation. Which model Erasmus serious, solemn, Juvenalian satirist, lashing I would hold up as that of the true Chris
tian, cannot be doubted. In The Pilgrim- cion, jealousy. Some with learning, some, age,' not only is pilgrimage itself held up like Lee, with pretensions to learning, felí to ridicule, but reliques also ; and even the upon it with rabid violence ; but Erasmus worship of the Virgin. In the letter, which, had been so wise, or so fortunate, as to be by a fiction not without frequent precedent, able to place the name of the Pope, and he ascribes to the blessed · Deipara,' there that Pope Leo X., on the front of his is a strange sentence, in which the opinion work ; and under that protecting ægis of Luther, denying all worship of the saints, fought manfully, and with no want of conis slily approved of, as relieving her from troversial bitterness on his side, against a great many importunities and trouble- bis bigoted antagonists. The names of some supplications. The . Franciscan Ob- these adversaries have sunk into obscusequies' is perhaps the finest and most rity, though Lee became Archbishop of subtle in its satire, which, while it York, and was, according to his epitaphopenly dwells only on those who, to be we fear his sole testimony,-a good and sure of Paradise,
But to the latest times
theological learning acknowledges the • Dying, put on the weeds of Dominic, inestimable debt of gratitude which it owes Or in Franciscan think to pass disguised,' to Erasmus.
But it was not only as editor, it was as in its covert sarcasm, was an exposure of interpreter also, of the New Testament the whole history of the Order, and, with that Erasmus was a benefactor to the somewhat contemptuous repect for the world. In his Notes, and, in his invaluaboly founder, scoffs even at the Stigmata, ble Paraphrases, he opened the sense, as and lashes the avarice and wealth of this well as the letter, of the long-secluded, if most beggarly of the begging fraternities. not long-sealed, volume of the New TesHe thus galled to the quick this powerful tament. He was the parent also of the brotherhood, who had provoked him by sound and simple, and historical exposition their obstinate ignorance, and became still of the sacred writings. He struck boldly more and more his inveterate and implacable down through the layers of mystic, allegofoe. We could fill pages from his various ric, scholastic, traditional lore, which had writings of denunications against these been accumulating for ages over the holy same enemies of sound learning and true volume, and laid open the vein of pure religion.
gold-the plain, obvious, literal meaning III. Erasmus was the parent of biblical of the Apostolic writings. Suffice it for us criticism. His edition of the New Testa- to say, that Erasmus is, in a certain sense, ment first opened to the West the Gospels or rather was in his day, to the Church of and the Epistles of St. Paul in the origi. England the recognised and authenticated nal Greek. Preparation had been made for expositor of the New Testament. The the famous Complutensian Edition, but it translation of the Paraphrases, it is well had not yet appeared to the world. For known, was ordered to be placed in all our its age, in critical sagacity, in accuracy, in churches with the vernacular Scriptures. fidelity, in the labour of comparing scattered Nor was there anything of the jealousy or and yet unexplored manuscripts, the New exclusiveness of the proud scholar in ErasTestament of Erasmus was a wonderful mus. His biblical studies and labours were work: the best and latest of our biblical directed to the general diffusion, and to scholars— Tischendorf, Lachmann, Tregel- the universal acceptance of the Scriptures les—do justice to the bold and industrious as the rule of Faith. Neither Luther nor pioneer who first opened the invaluable the English Reformers expressed themmines of biblical wealth.
selves more strongly or emphatically on It was no common courage or honesty this subject than Erasmus— the sun itself which would presume to call in question should not be more common than Christ's the impeccable integrity, the infallible au- doctrines.' thority of the Vulgate, which had ruled with uncontested sway the Western mind * Compare More's letter to Lee upon his attack for centuries, to appeal to a more ancient Lee himself in his youth; but he scrupled not to
on Erasmus. More had known Lee's family, and and more venerable, as well as more trust- castigate the presumption of Lee in measuring worthy, canon of faith. To dare in those himself against the great Scholar. In the last letdays to throw doubt on the authenticity of ter, after alluding to Pope Leo's approbation of the such a text as that of the • Three Heavenly New Testament, he adds, Quod ex arce religionis Witnesses,' implied fearless candour, as
summus ille Christiani orbis princeps suo testimo
nio cohonestat, id tu Monachulus et indoctus et rare as admirable. Such a publication was obscurus ex antro cellule tuæ putulentâ lingua looked upon, of course, with awe, suspi- | conspurcas.—Jortin, Appendix, ii. p. 689.