Budeus

, or Bude‘ (William), an eminent scholar and critic, the descendant of an ancient and illustrious family in France, lord of Marli-la-ville, king’s counsellor, and master of requests, was born at Paris in 1467. He was the second son of John Budé, lord of Yere and Villiers, secretary to the king, and one of the grand officers of the French chancery. In his infancy he was provided with masters; but such was the low state of Parisian education at that time, that when sent to the university of Orleans to study law, he remained there for three years, without making any progress, for want of a proper knowledge of the Latin language. Accordingly, on his return home, his parents had the mortification to discover that he was as ignorant as when he went, disgusted with study of any kind, and obstinately bent to pass his time amidst the gaieties and pleasures of youth, a coarse which his fortune enabled him to pursue. But after he had indulged this humour for some time, an ardent passion for study seized him, and became irresistible. He immediately disposed of his horses, dogs, &c. with which he followed the chace, applied himself to study, and in a short time made very considerable progress, although he had no masters, nor either instruction or example in his new pursuit. He became, in particular, an excellent Latin scholar, and although his style is not so pure or polished as that of those who formed themselves in early life on the best models, it is far from being deficient in fluency or elegance. His knowledge of the Greek was so great that John de Lascaris, the most learned Grecian of his time, declared that Budé might be compared with the first orators of ancient Athens. This language is perhaps complimentary, but it cannot be denied that his knowledge of Greek was very extraordinary, considering how little help he derived from instructions. He, indeed, employed at a large salary, one Hermonymus, | but soon found that he was very superficial, and had acquired the reputation of a Greek scholar merely from knowing a little more than the French literati, who at that time knew nothing. Hence Budé used to call himself ανἶομαθης & οψιμαϑης i. e. self-taught and late taught. The work by which he gained most reputation, and published under the title “De Asse,” was one of the tirst efforts to clear up the difficulties relating to the coins and measures of the ancients; and although an Italian, Leonardus Portius, pretended to claim some of his discoveries, Budé vindicated his right to them with spirit and success. Previously to this he had printed a translation of some pieces of Plutarch, and “Notes upon the Pandects.” His fame having reached the court, he was invited to it, but was at first rather reluctant. He appears to have been one of those who foresaw the advantages of a diffusion of learning, and at the same time perceived an unwillingness in the court to entertain it, lest it should administer to the introduction of what was called heresy. Charles VIII. was the first who invited him to court, but died soon after: his successor Louis XII. employed him twice on embassies to Italy, and made him his secretary. This favour continued in the reign of Francis I. who sent for Budé to court when it was held at Arches at the interview of that monarch with Henry VIII. the king of England. From this time Francis paid him much attention, appointed him his librarian, and master of the requests, while the Parisians elected him provost of the merchants. This political influence he employed in promoting the interests of literature, and suggested to Francis I. the design of establishing professorships for languages and the sciences at Paris. The excessive heats of the year 1540 obliging the king to take a journey to the coast of Normandy, Budé accompanied his majesty, but unfortunately was seized with a fever, which carried him off Aug. 23/1540, at Paris. His funeral was private, and at night, by his own desire. This circumstance created a suspicion that he died in the reformed religion; but of this there is ho direct proof, and although he occasionally made free with the court of Rome and the corruptions of the clergy in his works, yet in them likewise he wrote with equal asperity of the reformers. Erasmus called him porttntum Gallic, the prodigy of France. There was a close connection between these two great men. “Their letters/’ says the late Dr. Jortin,” though | full of compliments and civilities, are also full of little bickerings and contests: which shew that their friendship was not entirely free from some small degree of jealousy and envy; especially on the side of Budé, who yet in other respects was an excellent person." It is not easy to determine on which side the jealousy lay; perhaps it was on both. Budé might envy Erasmus for his superior taste and wit, as well as his more extensive learning; and perhaps Erasmus might envy Budé for a superior knowledge of the Greek tongue, which was generally ascribed to him.

Budé was a student of incessant application, and when we consider him as beginning his studies late, and being afterwards involTed in public business, and the cares of a numerous family, it becomes astonishing that he found leisure for the works he gave to the public. He appears in general to have been taken with the utmost reluctance from his studies. He even complains in the preface to his book “De Asse,” that he had not more than six hours study on his wedding-day. He married, however, a lady who assisted him in his library, reaching him what books he requested, and looking out particular passages which he might want. In one of his letters he represents himself as married to two wives, by one of whom he had sons and daughters; and by the othsr named Philologia, he had books, which contributed to the maintenance of his natural issue. In another he remarks, that, for the first twelve years of his marriage, he had produced more children than books, but hopes soon to bring his publications on a par with his children. It is of him a story is told, which, if we mistake not, has been applied to another: One day a servant entered his study, in a great fright, and exclaimed that the house was on fire. Budé said calmly, “Why don’t you inform your mistress? you know I never concern myself about the house!”—What affords some probability that Budé had imbibed the sentiments of the reformers in his latter days, is the circumstance of his widow retiring to Geneva, with some of her family, and making an open profession of the protestant religion. It appears by the collections in Baillet, Blount, and Jortin in his “Life of Erasmus,” that the eulogies which Budé received from the learned men of his time are exceedingly numerous. His works were printed at Basil in 1557, 4 vols. folio. The most important of them is his “Commentarii Greece | Liuguse,” which is still highly valued by Greek scholars. The best edition is that of Basil, 1356, fol. 1

1

Gen. Dict. —Moreri. Vita per Lud. Regium Constantinum, Paris, 1542, 4to, and in Batesii Vitie. Jortin’s Erasmus. Baillet Jugemens de Savans. -> —Saxii Onomast.