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daughter-in-law, his three daughters and their husbands, and eleven grandchildren, he was at once so wise and so playful, so affectionate and devout, that it seemed "the academy of Plato and the school of Christ united.” And although we well may wonder how a man like Sir Thomas could unite to such free intellectual speculation so much superstition and bigotry, and how a man so kind to all others could be so cruel to heretics, yet we can feel no surprise at the hearty companionship which sprang up betwixt him and Erasmus. Each fond of books, and with tastes alike classical, it would be hard to say which was the wittiest ; and although More had no mercy for an Englishman who denied Transubstantiation or doubted the Pope, he allowed every freedom of speech to the learned Hollander. If all tales be true, they were not the opinions alone of Sir Thomas with which his guest made free. After one of these debates as to the real presence in the Mass, Erasmus set out on his return to the Continent. Sir Thomas had lent him a horse to carry bim as far as the seaside, but the paces of the palfrey were so pleasant that he could not find in his heart to part with it, and in due time sent the owner this epigram instead :
“ Remember told
Believe and you'll see ;
And a body 'twill be.
This hot summer-tide,
And straightway you'll ride."*
*" Quod mihi dixisti
De corpore Christi,
Crede quod edas, et edis :
Crede quod habeas, et habes."
Still more influential on Erasmus was the friendship of Dr. John Colet, soon afterwards Dean of St. Paul's. Opulent, well educated, with a vigorous understanding, and an intense love of truth, this handsome, open-visaged Englishman was that manner of inan to whom cant is an abhorrence, and who can be anything that is genuine preacher, trader, soldier-anything but a mummer make-believe. Too much the Briton to be a Roman vassal, and too much the gentleman to be a Popish priest; too rich to care for preferment, and too public-spirited to spend his riches on himself, the founder of St. Paul's School stands out one of the noblest characters of the time, and makes us wish that he had lived a little longer so as to be reckoned among the fathers of the English Reformation. As it was, his tremendous sense and grand sincerity made great impression on Erasmus. The two were of equal age, and alike devoted to Greek; but Colet had a great advantage in the firm foot-hold which he had found for his intrepid truth-loving understanding. college, and amongst most of his contemporaries, the question was not, What saith the Scriptures ? but, What say the schoolmen ? What says Occam ?
What says Duns Scotus ? What says Aquinas ? What says the Master of Sentences ? And instead of a text from the Bible, it was usual for theological aspirants to take a saying of one of these subtle doctors, and then they defined and explained, and distinguished, and wrangled, till in the dusty pother the original particle of sense was hopelessly lost, and to the hearers nothing remained but a war of words and a general sense of confusion worse confounded. To the mind of Colet, at once masculine and devout, all this seemed an idle waste of time, an impertinent foolery. To him the Bible was the Word of God -the one window through which, on our dark world, streamed in the light from heaven; the Bible was the window, and scholastic glosses were the cobwebs which monkish spiders had been spinning through all these dim and drowsy years. Clear the windows! cried Colet. Down with the spider-webs, and the dust, and the desiccated blue-bottles, and through the cleansed limpid casement let the light come in-God's own light, for it is pleasant. Let us get at the very Word of God, if possible in its own original tongues; and, when we get at it, let us give it forth as clearly and exactly as we can.
On a subsequent occasion Colet and Erasmus paid a visit to the two great centres of religious resort in the England of that day-St. Mary's Abbey, at Walsingham, and the shrine of St. Thomas at Canterbury; and with the bluff outspoken humour of his companion, the more waggish of the pilgrims must have excessively enjoyed this holy tour. Standing before Becket's tomb, all ablaze with gold and jewels, says Colet to the attendant priest, “Is it true what I hear, that whilst alive Thomas was remarkably kind to the poor?” “Nothing can be truer," exclaimed the guide, and mentioned some of his extraordinary acts of beneficence.
Well,” resumed the visitor, “I have no doubt that his disposition is still unchanged; and as he was so charitable to the poor whilst poor himself, now that he has all this wealth and is in need of nothing, suppose a poor woman with a sick husband and starving children were to ask the saint's leave and help herself to some portion of this enormous treasure, do you think he would take it amiss ?” At this the priest looked as if he could eat them up; and
; had they not been friends of the archbishop, he would have bundled them out of the church. They were then conducted to the sacristy, as the crowning act of the performance. There a black box was produced, and with much reverence was placed on the table. As soon as it was opened all fell
on their knees and gazed at its contents awe-stricken. Nothing, however, was perceptible except some dingy rags of old linen; but these they were told were very sacred, for they were the actual remains of the saint's pockethandkerchief, which had dried so many tears from the eyes
of St. Thomas, and with which he had doubtless often blown his blessed nose. Here, however, the Dean of St. Paul's once more forfeited his credit; for by that time the prior had come in, and knowing his visitor to be a man of no small consequence,
he graciously offered him one of these rags as a present. The pilgrim, however, not sufficiently grateful, only took it between his finger and thumb, not without signs of disgust, and threw it back into the box with a contemptuous whistle..“At this,” says Erasmus, “my
heart failed me, and I was agitated with shame and fear;" but the prior was a sensible man, and, pretending not to notice it, he invited them to take a cup of wine, and dismissed them with due courtesy.
Much as he quizzed the monks, and merry as he made with their miracles, Erasmus would hardly have shown his contempt so openly as the blunt and courageous Englishman. On the other hand, Colet's contempt of monkery was only an accidental result of his general sincerity, and to his more sportive companion it was a great advantage to be in contact with a mind so profound in its convictions, and so serious in its search after truth. By his manliness, his piety, his large understanding, and his love of letters, Colet had from the first possessed the respect of Erasmus, neither purchased nor impaired by a handsome pension, which, during the rest of his life, the divine continued to pay to the scholar; and whilst the gentlemanly hospitalities of Colet, like the home-life of More, and the hereditary splendour of Mountjoy, all helped to enlarge the tastes and open the heart of one who commenced existence so joylessly, probably the bappiest and most important influence of all was the earnestness and elevation of the high-souled Christian minister. It was hardly possible to be in that good man's company without feeling that the pearl of great price is the knowledge which saves and renovates; and whilst he shared the joy of his guest at the revival of Greek, it was not so much because fountains of old philosophy were allowed to flow again, as because from the well's mouth of revelation the stone was rolled away; and whilst he could perfectly enjoy the wit which girded at cross and surly superstitions, his own anxiety was to set forth God's great message in the words which would be best understood by the plainest of the people.
We have spoken of Greek. Unfortunately the learning of a language is usually associated with tasks and drudgery; but if, as in the instances of the younger Beattie and Mrs. Barrett Browning, Greek has been acquired so easily or so agreeably as to be a pure joy to its possessor, happy he who attains this sixth sense betimes, and who on his existence, intellectual or æsthetic, enters through this golden gateway! True, the Latin moon gives back some rays of the Grecian sun; but the Eneid is not the Iliad, Horace is not Pindar; and the appeal must be made to one who has read with something of enjoyment the bards and sages of old Hellas : and if he remembers how the romance of Xenophon "struck a bliss into life's opening day"
- A bliss that would not go away,
A sweet forewarning :” if he remembers how pleasantly he was beguiled by that archest of simpletons and most straightforward of storytellers, Herodotus : if his sides ache once more with the tickling pokes of Aristophanes, and as the fun grows fast and furious in the “ Clouds” or “Frogs," if he remembers how he had to lay down the book till he should die, or be able