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was reluctantly and irregularly paid, if paid at all. The poor scholar had not wherewithal to pay fees for lectures, or for the purchase of books: but he had lodging, and such lodging !food, but how much and of what quality! Hear his college reminiscences :6_
Thirty years since I lived in a college at Paris, named from vinegar (Montaceto). • I do not wonder,' says the interlocutor, “that it was so sour, with so much theological disputation in it: the very walls, they say, reek with Theology. Er. “You say true; I indeed brought nothirg away from it but a constitution full of unhealthy humours, and plenty of vermin. Over that college presided one John Standin, a man not of a bad disposition, but utterly without judgement. If, having himself passed his youth in extreme poverty, he had shown some regard for the poor, it had been well. If he had so far supplied the wants of the youths as to enable them to pursue their studies in credit, without pampering them with indulgence, it had been praiseworthy. But what with bard beds, scanty food, rigid vigils and labours, in the first year of my experience, I saw many youths of great gifts, of the highest hopes and promise, of whom, some actually died, some were doomed for life to blindness, to madness, to leprosy. Of these I was acquainted with some, and no one was exempt from the danger. Was not that the extreme of cruelty ? ... Nor was this the discipline only of the poorer
scholars : he received not a few sons of opulent parents, whose generous spirit he broke down. To restrain wanton youth by reason and by moderation, is the office of a father; but in the depth of a hard winter to give hungry youths a bit of dry bread, to send them to the well for water, and that fætid and unwholesome or frost-bound! I have myself known many who thus contracted maladies which they did not shake off as long as they lived. The sleeping-rooms were on the ground-floor, with mouldy plaster walls, and close to filthy and pestilential latrinæ.'
He goes on to dwell on the chastisements, to which we presume from his age he was not exposed ; but in truth, even in this respect, monastic discipline was not particular; and here it ruled in all its harshness—a further exemplification of the law of nature, that those who are cruel to themselves are cruel to others; that the proscription of the domestic affections is fatal to tenderness and to humanity.”
• See the Colloquia, Ichthyophagia.
Rabelais' reminiscences of the College Montaigu were not more pleasing, Ponocrates says to Grandgousier, ' Seigneur, ne pense que je l'aye mis au collége
But Erasmus was forcing his way to celebrity. Even at Paris the young scholar's name began to make itself known in that which in those days had a real and separate existence, the republic of letters. This republic had begun to rival, to set itself apart from, the monastic world, and even from the Church. It hailed with generous welcome, and entered into friendly communication with young aspirants after literary distinction. Erasmus, the parentless, without fortune, without connections, without corporate interests, even without country, began to gather around himself a host of friends, which gradually comprehended almost all the more distinguished names in Europe. In Paris he began to supply his failing resources by what in our modern academical phrase is called taking private pupils. Paris was crowded with youth from all countries. At a later period we find Erasmus superintending the education of the son of a rich burgher of Lubeck; but England offered the wealthiest and most generous youth. A member of the almost royal family of Grey, and the Lord Mountjoy, placed themselves under the tuition of Erasmus. So with Mountjoy began a life-long friendship, which had much important influence, and might have had even more, on his career. It opened England to him, in which, had he chosen, he might have obtained an honoured domiciliation and a secure maintenance. Mountjoy's first act was to remove him from the pestilential precincts of the college to purer air, and doubtless more costly diet. Some time after he settled on his master a pension, which Erasmus held for life. He had an offer of a more promising pupil ; he was to cram an unlettered noble youth, the son of James Stanley, Earl of Derby, and so son-in-law to the King's mother, for a bishopric: a bishopric, that of Ely, was ere long obtained. The tutor was to receive 100 crowns for a year's drudgery, the promise of a benefice in a few months, and the loan of 300
de pouillerie qu'on nomme Montaigu; mieux l'eusse voulu mettre entre les guenaulx de St. Innocent, pour l'énorme cruaulté et villevie que j'y ai cognue; car trop mieulx sont traictés les forcéz entre les Maures et Tartares, les meurtriers en la prison criminelle, voyre certes les chiens en vostre maison, que sont ces malautrus au dit Collége.'
crowns till the benefice fell in. But Erasmus, from independence, or thinking that he might employ his time better than in this dull office of teaching perhaps an unteachable youth, declined the flattering proposal.
From Paris Erasmus was more than once driven by the plague to the Low Countries and to Orleans. During one of these excursions he made an acquaintance, through Battus, a man of letters, with Anna Bersala, Marchioness of Vere, who lived in the castle of Tornhoens. The Marchioness, an accomplished woman, settled a pension upon him, and more than once assisted him in his necessities. In his turn Erasmus instructed her son Adolphus de Vere, and wrote for him the treatise De Arte conscribendi Epistolas. The pension was somewhat irregularly paid, and Erasmus remonstrated on being left to starve, while his patroness wasted her bounty on illiterate fellows who wore cowls. The allowance ceased at length, the lady, after having refused the noblest offers, having contracted a low and almost servile marriage. At Orleans he was received in the house of a wealthy canon and treated with generous kindness.
He visited his native Holland too-the air agreed with him; but he could not endure the Epicurean banquets, the sordid and rude people, the stubborn contempt of all polite studies, the total want and the mean jealousy of learning.
The first visit of Erasmus to England was in 1498. He came at the invitation of Mountjoy. Even now the scholar found himself welcomed by some of the highest and most gifted of the land; presents, which became more free and bountiful as he became better known, were showered upon him; he was an object of general respect and esteem. Already
* See Knight, p. 19.
| The short visit, supposed in the older lives to have taken place in 1597, and which rested on erroneous dates in some of the letters, is now given up. Tho letters want a careful editor, such as Luther's have found in De Wette. See Müller's Life, p. 168 ; Ersch and Gruber; and the article in Didot’s new Dictionnaire biographique.
began his life-long friendship with More and with Colet, afterwards Dean of St. Paul's. His first impressions on his arrival and reception in England were flattering, even to the atmosphere and climate of the island. He had just emerged, be it remembered, from the unwholesome air of the French capital, and, till rescued by Mountjoy, from the most wretched quarter, and the most wretched lodging in that most wretched quarter of Paris, under frequent visitations too of what was called the plague. He had but exchanged that dreary domicile, still pursued by the plague, for Orleans, for Louvain, and some of the cities of the Low Countries and of Holland. No wonder that he was delighted with the pure, and not yet smoke-laden air of London and its neighbourhood. “You ask,' he writes to Piscator, an Englishman at Rome, how I am pleased with England. If you will believe me, my dear Robert, nothing ever delighted me so much. I have found the climate most agreeable and most healthful, and so much civility (humanitas, a far wider term), so much learning, and that not trite and trivial, but profound and accurate, so much familiarity with the ancient writers, Latin and Greek, that, except for the sake of seeing it, I hardly care to visit Italy.' "When I hear Colet, I seem to hear Plato.
Who would not admire Grocyn's vast range of knowledge? What can be more subtle, more deep, more fine, than the judgment of Linacer? Did Nature ever frame a disposition more gentle, more sweet, more happy, than that of Thomas More?' Of his host Mountjoy, Erasmus is gratefully eloquent: Whither would I not follow a youth so courteous, so gentle, so amiable ; I say not to England, I would follow him to the infernal regions. In another letter, addressed to the socalled Poet Laureate, Andrelini? of Forlì (he read lectures on
? The Latin poetry of Andrelini is of moderate merit; but, according to Dr. Strauss (in his excellent Life of Hutten, vol. i. p. 102), Andrelini was the author of the famous Julius Exclusus, the most powerful satire of his day, which abounded in such satire. Jortin, we would observe, who knew well Andrelini's writings, thinks him quite incapable of such a work; but More, in his letter to Lee (Jortin, Appendix, ii. p. 686), says positively that it first appeared at Paris, and was attributed by Stephen Poncher, Bishop of Paris, to Faustus Andrelinus. The calm,
Poetry and Rhetoric in Paris), Erasmus takes a lighter tone. He talks of his horsemanship— he had almost become a hunter. He had learned to be a successful courtier, and taken up the manners of the great. How could Andrelini linger in the filth of Paris? If the gout did not hold him by the foot, let him fly to England. Then follows a passage which has given rise to much solemn nonsense. It seems that in the days of Henry VII., our great-great-great-grandmothers, at meeting and at parting, indulged their friends, and even strangers, with an innocent salute. On this usage Erasmus enlarges to his poetic friend in very pretty Latin, and rather pedantically advises him to prefer the company of these beautiful and easy nymphs to his cold and coy muses. Such writers as Bayle and Gibbon, of course, made the most of this ; absurdly enough, but not with half the absurdity of the grave rebuke with which many a ponderous and cloudy wig was shaken among ourselves at this wicked calumny on British matrons.
Yet it should seem that Erasmus, at his first visit to England, was a pupil rather than a teacher. He was already a perfect master of Latin. In Oxford he found that instruction in Greek which, if Paris could furnish (and this may be doubted, for his friend and rival Budæus had not yet begun to teach) Erasmus was too poor to buy. But in the constant intercourse of England with Italy, some of her scholars had studied under the Greeks, who had fled after the taking of Constantinople and taught Italy, and, through Italy, Europe, their peerless language. Among these were W. Grocyn, probably also Linacer and Latimer. Under Grocyn Erasmus made rapid progress, and soon after became sufficient master of Greek to translate parts of Libanius, Lucian, Euripides. Gibbon's pointed sentence that Erasmus learned Greek in Oxford to teach it in Cambridge is undeniably true.
cutting sarcasm and the spirited Latinity of the Julius Exclusus are equally masterly. The satire may be read in the Appendix to Jortin, and in the sixth volume of Munch's edition of Hutten, which contains the Epistolæ Obscurorum Tirorum. It was repeatedly disclaimed by Erasmus.