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England with reluctance, and would have welcomed him back on almost any terms. The Emperor's brother, the Archduke Ferdinand, paid him the highest court. The Elector of Bavaria made him splendid offers to undertake the Presidency of the University of Ingolstadt. There may be some ostentation in the Epistle of Erasmus, in which he recounts the intimate footing on which he stood with all the Sovereigns of Europe; the letters, the magnificent presents which he had received from princes, from prelates, and from sovereigns: 6
From the Emperor Charles I have many letters, written in a tone of as much affection as esteem (tam honorifice tam amanter), that I prize them even more than his kindness to me, to which nevertheless I owe great part of my fortune. From King Ferdinand I have as many, not less friendly, and never without some honorary gift. How often have I been invited, and on what liberal terms, by the King of France ! The King of England by frequent letters and unsolicited presents is always declaring his favour and singular goodwill. The best of women in this age, his Queen Catherine, vies in this respect with the King her husband. Sigismund, the King of Poland, sent me a letter with a gift of truly royal value. The Duke of Saxony often addresses letters to me, never without a present oúk ödwpos kai autós.
Then follows a list of prelates, including the Archbishops of Canterbury, Mentz, and Toledo, Tunstall of Durham, Sadolet of Carpentras, the Bishops of Breslau and Olmutz. Pope Leo in one way gave him important countenance. Whether it was that the polite Italian retained some covert scorn for the barbarous Transalpine scholar, or that he was immersed in his business, his fine arts, and his luxury, he had failed to realise the sanguine hopes of favour towards Erasmus, whom he had encouraged when Cardinal de' Medici. Nevertheless he accepted the dedication of Erasmus's New Testament, a privilege of inestimable value, as a shield behind which the editor retreated from all the perilous and jealous charges of heterodoxy, which were showered upon him by the Lees, the Stunicas, the Caranzas, the Hoogstratens, the Egmonts, and from more 6 Epist. 1132.
? Queen Catherine was a great reader of Erasmus; he dedicated to her his tract De Matrimonio.
bigoted and dangerous adversaries, who, trembling at the publication of the New Testament itself, would have suppressed its circulation by calling in questiou its accuracy and fidelity. Pope Adrian had been the schoolfellow of Erasmus at Deventer; how far the timid and cold old man would have had the courage to befriend him, was scarcely tried during the few months of his pontificate. Adrian indeed offered him a deanery, which he declined; but the pontiff was supposed not to take in good part a letter, in which Erasmus, most highly to his credit, urged toleration to the followers of Luther, and a wide and spontaneous reformation of the Church. Clement VII. sent him a present of 200 florins, and made him more splendid promises. Paul III. (but this was after his writing against Luther, and after he had been harassed and frightened, and lured into a timid conservatism) had serious thoughts of promoting him to the Cardinalate. He offered him the Provostship of Deventer, worth 600 florins a-year.
Had Erasmus departed from the world at this time, it had been happier perhaps for himself, happier, no doubt, for his fame. The world might have lost some of his valuable publications, but it might have been spared some, which certainly add nothing to his glory. His character, in spite of infirmities, would have been well-nigh blameless. Though not himself, strictly speaking, to have been enrolled in the noble and martyr band of the assertors of religious freedom and evangelical religion, he would have been honoured as the most illustrious of their precursors and prophets, as having done more than any one to break the bonds of scholasticism, superstition, ignorance, and sacerdotal tyranny, to restore the Scriptures to their supremacy, and to advance that great work of Christian civilization, the Reformation.
How then had Erasmus achieved his lofty position ? What were the writings on which Christendom looked with such unbounded admiration? which made princes and kings, and prelates and universities, rivals for the honour of patronising him ? If we can answer this question, we shall ascertain to a great extent the claims of Erasmus to the honour and gratitude of later times. Erasmus may be considered from four different points of view, yet all his transcendent qualities, so seen, may seem to converge and conspire to one common end : I. As the chief promoter of polite studies and of classical learning on this side of the Alps. II. As the declared enemy of the dominant scholasticism and of the superstitions of the Middle Ages, which he exposed to the scorn and ridicule of the world both in his serious and in his satirical writings. III. As the parent of biblical criticism, and of a more rational interpretation of the sacred writings, by his publication of the New Testament, and by his Notes and Paraphrases. IV. As the founder of a more learned and comprehensive theology, by his editions of the early Fathers of the Church. In each of these separate departments, the works of Erasmus might seem alone sufficient to occupy a long and laborious life; and to these must be added the perpetual controversies, which he was compelled to wage; the defensive warfare in which he was involved by almost every important publication ; his letters, which fill a folio volume and a half of his Works, and his treatises on many subjects all bearing some relation to the advancement of letters or of religion.
8 In the same letter Erasmus urges restrictions on the Press, by which, as Jortin justly observes, he would have been the first to suffer ; but he had been sorely pelted by personal and malicious libels.
I. Consider Erasmus as one of those to whom the world is mainly indebted for the revival of classical learning. Here we may almost content ourselves with rapidly recounting his translations and his editions of the great authors of antiquity.' Nor shall we confine ourselves strictly to those which he published before 1520, as it is our object to give a complete view of his literary labours. His Translations from the Greek were made for the avowed purpose of perfecting his knowledge of that language: they comprehend several plays of Euripides, some orations of Libanius, almost the whole of Lucian, most of the moral works of Plutarch. His editions, besides some smaller volumes, were of Seneca the Philosopher, Suetonius, with the Augustan and other minor historians, Q. Curtius, the Offices and Tusculan Disputations of Cicero, the great work of Pliny; at a later period, Livy, Terence with the Commentary of Donatus, the works of Aristotle and of Demosthenes. These editions have indeed given place to the more critical and accurate labours of later scholars, but they are never mentioned by them without respect and thankfulness. If we duly estimate the labour of reading and, even with the best aid, carrying through the press such voluminous works, without the modern appliances of lexicons, indices, commentaries, and annotations, the sturdiest German scholar of our day might quail beneath the burthen. Erasmus composed some valuable elementary and grammatical works, chiefly for Dean Colet's school; but perhaps among his dissertations that one which exhibits the scholar in the most striking and peculiar light, is his Ciceronianus,' a later work. This too prolix dialogue is a bold revolt against the Italian scholars, who proscribed in modern Latin every word which had not the authority of Cicero. There is some good broad fun in the Ciceronian, who for seven years had read no book but Cicero, had only Cicero's bust in his library, sealed his letters with Cicero's head. He had three or four huge volumes, each big enough to overload two porters, in which he had digested every word of Cicero, every variation of every sense of every word, every foot or cadence with which Cicero began or closed a sentence or clause of a sentence. Erasmus not only laughed at but argued with force against this pedantry. The perfection of Latin would be to speak as Cicero would have spoken had he lived in the present day. He dwells on the incompatibility of Ciceronian Latin with Christian ideas and terminology; describes with humour the strange paganization of Christian notions which the Italians had introduced. It nev er occurred to Erasmus that Christianity would outgrow the
9 The list of his writings to a certain period is given in a letter to Botzemius. The bibliography of the works of Erasmus is elaborately wrought out at the end of the article in Ersch and Gruber.
Latin language, and have its own poets, orators, historians, in Christian languages. The close is very curious as bearing on the literary history of the time. It is a long criticism, which of course gave much offence, of all the Latin authors of the day throughout Europe, of their writings, and of their style; and as almost everybody wrote in Latin it is a full survey of the men of letters of his age. Alas! how many sonorous names, terminating in the imposing and all-honoured us,' have perished from the memory of man, a few perhaps undeservedly, most of them utterly and for ever! Longolius was the only Barbarian admitted to the privilege of Ciceronianism. The tract closes with a ludicrous account of the reception of a civis Romanus, by a club or society of Ciceronians at Rome.
But the work which displayed to the utmost the unbounded erudition of Erasmus was his “Adagia.' The clever definition of a proverb, erroneously attributed to a statesman of our day,
the wisdom of many and the wit of one,' does not answer to the “Adagia' of Erasmus. This book is a master-key to all the strange and recondite sayings scattered about in the classic writers, and traces them to their origin. They are arranged under different heads, in alphabetical order, as absurdities, “arrogance,'' avarice. Sometimes he takes one of these sayings for the text of a long dissertation. The “Adagia' is thus a rich and very curious storehouse of his opinions. On · Festina Lentè,' he discusses the whole question of printing and the abuses of the Press; on 'Simulation and Dissimulation, the Church, the wealth and pomp of the clergy; on · Monacho Indoctior,' he brands the ignorance and immorality of the monks; on * Dulce Bellum Inexpertis,’ the folly and wickedness of war. Nothing displays in a more wonderful degree the vast, multifarious, and profound erudition of Erasmus than this work. Even in the present day, with all our subsidiary aids to learning, the copiousness, variety, and extent of his reading move our astonishment. Not the most obscure writer seems to have escaped his curiosity. In the first edition he complained of the want of Greek books, in the later the Greeks of every age