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during this visit about four years—from the beginning of 1510 to 1514. Either disappointment, or restlessness, or ambition, the invitations of Charles of Austria, afterwards the Emperor, now holding his court at Brussels, or sanguine hopes, on account of the elevation of Cardinal de' Medici, who had shown him so much favour at Rome, to the Papal throne as Leo X., drew him forth again into the world. From Charles he received the appointment of honorary counsellor, to which was attached a pension of 200 florins. A bishopric in Sicily was held out as a provision for the northern scholar; but the bishopric turned out not to be in the gift of Charles, but of the Pope. His old convent of Stein began to covet the fame of the great scholar whom they had permitted to leave their walls. His friend Servatius had become prior, and endeavoured to induce Erasmus to join again the brotherhood from which he had departed. The answer of Erasmus is among the most remarkable of his letters; free, full, fearless on the degeneracy of the monastic life, of which he acknowledges the use and excellence in former times, but of which he exposes in the most uncompromising language the almost universal abuses. What is more corrupt and more wicked than these relaxed religions ? Consider even those which are in the best esteem, and you shall find in them nothing that resembles Christianity, but only I know not what cold and Judaical observances. Upon this the religious Orders value themselves, and by this they judge and despise others. Would it not be better, according to the doctrines of our Saviour, to look upon Christendom as one house, one family, one monastery, and all Christians as one brotherhood ? Would it not be better to account the Sacrament of Baptism the most sacred of all vows and engagements, and never trouble ourselves where we live so we live well ??? For the six or seven following busy years Erasmus himself might seem to care little where he lived; and, if indefatigable industry, if to devote transcendent abilities to letters, and above all to religious letters, be to live well, he might look back to those years of his life as the best spent, and, notwithstanding some drawbacks, some difficulties from the precariousness of his income, much suffering from a distressing malady, which enforced a peculiar diet and great care, as the happiest.
2 Jortin's Translation, p. 61.
But no doubt the frequent change of residence during this period of the life of Erasmus arose out of his vocation. Books and manuscripts were scattered in many places : if he would consult them, far more if he would commit the works of ancient authors to the press, he must search into the treasures of various libraries, most of them in disorder, and very few with catalogues. The printers, too, who would undertake, and to whom could be entrusted, the care of printing and correcting voluminous works in the ancient languages, were rare to be found. The long residence of Erasmus at Basil was because he there enjoyed not only the courtesy of the bishop and clergy and many learned men, but because the intelligent and friendly printer Frobenius was boldly engaged in the most comprehensive literary enterprises. He had, of course, no domestic ties; in fact, no country. His birth precluded any claim of kindred; his brother, if he had a brother, was dead; his family had from the first repudiated him. After his death Rotterdam might take pride in her illustrious son, and adorn her market-place with his statue; but it never had been and never was his dwelling-place. Once free, and now released by Papal authority from his vows of seclusion in the monastery of his Order, he would not submit to the irksome imprisonment of a cloister. He had refused all preferment which bound him to residence; his home was wherever there were books, literary friends, and printers. He was, in truth, a citizen of the world; and the world welcomed him wherever he chose for a time to establish himself, in any realm or in any city. It was the pride of the richest or most famous capital in Europe to be chosen even as the temporary residence of Erasmus.
* This was the motive which led him so often to meditate a retreat to Rome. Decretum erat hyemare Romæ, cum aliis de causis, tum ut locis nonnullis Pontificiæ bibliothecæ præsidiis uterer. Apud nos Sacrorum Voluminum Græcorum · magna penuria. Nam Aldina officina nobis præter profanos auctores adhuc non
ita multum dedit. Romæ, ubi bonis studiis non solum tranquillitas rerum etiam honos.'—Epist. DXLVII.
In other letters he expresses his determination to live and die in England.
Up to the year 1520 (the fifty-fourth of his life) Erasmus thus stood before the world, acknowledged and honoured as the greatest scholar, in a certain sense as the greatest theologian, not only on this side of the Alps, but fairly competing with or surpassing the greatest in Italy. Reuchlin, now famous for his victory, extorted even in Rome herself from his stupid and bigoted persecutors, was chiefly strong in Hebrew and Oriental learning—knowledge more wondered at than admired; and to which Erasmus, as we have said, made no pretension. Budæus alone (in Paris) was his superior in Greek, and in his own province of more profound erudition, but that province was narrow and limited. Some of the Italian scholars, Sadolet and Bembo and Longolius, might surpass him in the elegance and purity of their Latinity; but he was hereafter to give a severe shock to these purists in his • Ciceronianus, and had already shown himself at least their equal, if not their master, in his full command of a vigorous, idiomatic, if less accurate style. In his wit and pungent satire he stood almost alone; he was rivalled only by the inimitable • Epistolæ Obscurorum Virorum' and the Julius Exclusus,' which in its lofty and biting sarcasm, its majestic rebuke and terrible invective, soars above anything in the more playful and genial “Colloquies. Of the authorship of both of these, indeed, Erasmus, notwithstanding his reiterated protestations, could hardly escape the honours and the perils. But the • Praise of Folly,' and the Colloquies,'5 in which the surprised and staggered Monks hardly had discovered, what they afterwards denounced as the impiety, even the atheism, ran like wildfire through Europe. They were in every house, every academy, every school, we suspect in almost every cloister. The first indignant remonstrances of the Ecclesiastical censure only acted, as in our days, as an advertisement. On the intelligence of their proscription, a bold printer in Paris is said to have struck off above 20,000 copies of the Colloquies,' thus implying a demand for which the publishers of Scott, and almost of Macaulay, might hesitate to provide, in our days of universal reading. It is difficult, indeed, for us to comprehend the fame, the influence, the power, which in those times gathered around the name of a scholar, a writer in Latin. Thus far he had ridden triumphant through all his difficulties, and surmounted all obstacles. He was the object, no doubt, of much suspicion, much jealousy, but still more of fear. There had been many attacks upon him, especially on his Theological works, but they had not commanded the public ear; he had rejoined with dauntless and untiring energy, and in general carried the learned with him. Through him Scholasticism was fast waning and giving place to polite letters, to humanities as they were called: the cloisters, and more orthodox Universities, might seem almost paralyzed; it might appear as if the world—we might certainly say it of England—was ERASMIAN.
4 Erasmus is accused of doing scanty honour to Reuchlin, of haring timidly stood aloof from the contest with Pfefferkorn and the Cologne Divines. One of the Letters (Obscurorum Virorum) rather taunts him with this, ' Erasmus est homo pro se. But Erasmus could not, from his acknowledged ignorance of Hebrew, mingle in the strife with any authority. “He was not only ignorant,' he writes himself, “but he had no interest in the dispute. •Cabala et Talmud quicquid hoc est, mihi nunquam arrisit.' - Epist. Albert. Mogunt. But he made ample compensation after Reuchlin's death by his Apothevsis. Reuchlin is received into heaven, placed by the side of St. Jerome, and duly installed as the patron Saint of Philologists– O sancta anima ! sis felix linguarum cultoribus, faveto linguis sanctis, perdito malas linguas, infectas reneno Gehennæ.'
There was one other name, indeed, destined shortly to transcend, in some degree to obscure, that of Erasmus. But as yet men had only begun to wonder and stand appalled at the name of Luther. It had not yet concentered on itself the passionate indelible attachment of his countless followers, nor the professed implacable animosity of his more countless foes. Luther had denounced Tetzel and his Indulgences; he had affixed to the walls his famous Theses; he had held his disputations with Eck at Leipsic: but it was not till this year that the declaration of war startled Christendom—the issuing of the Papal Bull against Luther, the burning the Bull in the streets of Wittenberg.
o The Colloguies were first printed by Erasmus in 1522, but there had been two imperfect and surreptitious editions in 1518, 1519, which compelled Erasmus to publish a more accurate and complete copy.
Nothing can show more fully the position held up to this time in Europe by Erasmus, than that all the great Potentates of the Christian world had vied, or might seem to be vying, for the honour of his residence in their dominions. Even in their strife for the empire, Charles V. and Francis might appear to find time for this competition. Men of letters are often reproached with adulation to men of high rank and station; it is more often that men of letters are objects of flattery by great men. Erasmus has been charged, perhaps not altogether without justice, with this kind of adulation; but we ought in fairness to take into consideration bis poverty, his dependence for subsistence and for the means of promoting his studies, the usages of the time, and the language with which it was almost the law to address princes, prelates, and sovereigns, as may be seen even in Luther's language to the Elector of Saxony, to the Archbishop of Mentz, to the Emperor and the Pope. If Erasmus flattered, he received ample returns in the same coin : he was called the light of the world, the glory of Christendom, and other such titles. We have seen that he was tempted from England to the Court of Brussels by encouragement from Charles when Archduke of Austria. As Emperor, Charles by no means cast off the illustrious scholar whom he had favoured as Archduke. Erasmus ventured after the battle to Pavia, to urge the Emperor, flushed as he was with his victory, to generous and magnanimous treatment of his captive. Before this Francis I., through Budæus, and with the sanction of Stephen Poncher, Bishop of Paris, had endeavoured to secure him for his rising University of Paris. From time to time these invitations were renewed : Paris, notwithstanding the hostility of the Sorbonne, was jealous of his preference of Germany. Henry VIII. had allowed him to depart from