Lipsius, Justus

, a very learned critic, was born at Isch, a country-seat of his father, between Brussels and Louvain, Oct. 18, 1547. He was descended from ancestors who had been ranked among the principal inhabitants of Brussels. At six years of age he was sent to the public school at Brussels, and soon gave proofs of uncommon parts. He tells as himself in one of his letters, that he acquired the French language, without the assistance of a master, so perfectly as to be able to write it before he was eight years old. From Brussels he was sent, at ten years old, to Aeth; and, two years after, to Cologne, where at the Jesuits’ college he prosecuted his literary and philosophical studies. Among the ancients, he learned the precepts of morality from Epictetus and Seneca, and the maxims of civil prudence from Tacitus. At sixteen, he | was sent to the university of Louvain; and having now acquired a knowledge of the learned languages, applied himself to the civil law; but his principal delight was in belles lettres and ancient literature; and, therefore, losing his parents, and becoming his own master before he was eighteen, he projected a journey to Italy, for the sake of cultivating them. Before, however, he set out, he published three books of various readings, “Variarum Lectionum Libri tres,” which laid the foundation of his literary fame; and his dedication of them to cardinal Perenettus, a great patron of learned men, served to introduce him to the cardinal, on his arrival in 1567, at Rome, where he lived two years with him, was nominated his secretary, and treated with the utmost kindness and generosity. His time he used to employ in the Vatican, the Farnesian, the Sfortian, and other principal libraries, which were open to him, and where he carefully collated the manuscripts of ancient authors, of Seneca, Tacitus, Plautus, Propertius, &c. His leisure hours he spent in inspecting the most remarkable antiquities, or in cultivating the acquaintance of the literati then residing at Rome, Antonius Muretus, Paulus Manutius, Fulvius Ursinus, Hieronymus Mercurialis, Carolus Sigonius, Petrus Victorius, and others, from whose conversation he could not fail to reap advantage and encouragement in his studies.

In 1569 he returned to Louvain, and spent one year in habits of dissipation, very unsuitable to his character, and defensible only as he says by pleading the heat of youth. Sensible of his folly, he resolved upon a journey to Vienna; but stopping at Dole, an university in the Franche Comt6, he relapsed into an excess which produced a fit of illness. On his recovery he pursued his journey to Vienna, and there fell into the acquaintance of Busbequius, and other learned men, who used many arguments to induce him to settle there; but the love of his own native soil prevailed, and he directed his course through Bohemia, Misnia, and Thuringia, in order to arrive at it. But being informed of the dangerous state of the Low Countries from the war, and that his own patrimony was laid waste by soldiers, he stopped at the university of Jena, where he was invested with the professorship of eloquence, and became a disciple of Luther. This latter circumstance obliging him to leave Jena, he arrived at Cologne, where he married a widow in 1574, by whom he had no children. During his stay at | Cologne, he wrote his “Antiquae Lectiones,” which chiefly consist of emendations of Plautus; he also began there hf notes upon Cornelius Tacitus, which were afterwards souniversally applauded by the learned.

He then retired to his own native seat at Isch, intending to devote himself entirely to letters; but the war, which was still raging, disturbed his plans, and he was obliged to go to Louvain, where he resumed the study of the civil law, though with no intent to practise. At Louvain he published his “Epistolicae Quaestiones,*‘ and some other things; but, being again obliged to quit his residence, went to Holland, and spent thirteen years at Leyden, during which time he composed and published, what he calls, his best works. These are,” Electorum Libri duo;“” Satyra Menippaea;“” SaturnalSum Libri duo;“” Commentarii pleni in Cornelium Taciturn;“” De Constanti& Libri duo;“” De Amphitheatre Libri duo;“”Ad Valerium Maximum Notae“” Epistolarum Centuriae duae“” Epistolica Institutio“” De recta Pronunciatione Linguae Latinas“” Animadversiones in Senecos Tragoedias“” Animadversiones in Velleium Paterculum“”Politicorum Libri sex“” De una Religione Liber.“These he call his best works, because they were written, he says, in the very vigour of his age, and when he was quite at leisure;” in flore aevi, & ingenii in alto otio;“and he adds too, that his health continued good till the latter part of his life;” nee valetudo, nisi sub extremos annos, titubavit.“The intolerant principles, however, which he divulged here, raised so much indignation against him that he was obliged to retire suddenly and privately from Leyden, in 1590; and, after some stay at Spa, went and settled at Louvain, where he taught polite literature, as he had done at Leyden, with the greatest credit and reputation. He spent the remainder of his life at Louvain, though he had received powerful solicitations, and the offers of vast advantages, if he would have removed elsewhere. Pope Clement V11I. Henry IV. of France, and Philip IL of Spain, applied to him by advantageous proposals. Several cardinals would gladly have taken him under their protection and patronage; and all the learned in foreign countries honoured him in the highest degree. The very learned Spaniard, Arias Montanus, who, at the command of Philip II. superintended the reprinting the Complutensian edition of the Bible at Plantin’s press. | had such a regard for him, that he treated him as a son rather than a friend, and not only admitted him into all his concerns, but even offered to leave him all he had. Lipsius, nevertheless, continued at Louvain, and, among others, wrote the following works” De Cruce Libri tres;“”De Militia Romana Libri quinque“” Poliorceticon Libri quinque“” De Magnitudine llomana Libri quatuor“” Dissertatiuncula & Commentarius in Plinii Panegyricum;“” Manuductio ad Stoicam Philosophiam," &c. All his works have been collected and printed together, in folio, more than once. The best edition is that of Vesel, 1675, 4 vols. fol. usually bound in eight. His critical notes upon ancient authors are to be found in the best editions of each respective author; and several of his other pieces have, for their peculiar utility, been reprinted separately.

Lipsius died at Louvain, March 23, 1606, in his 59th year, and left, says Joseph Scaliger, the learned world and his friends to lament the loss of him. Lipsius is said to have been so mean in his countenance, his dress, and his conversation, that those who had accustomed themselves to judge of great men by their outward appearance, asked, after having seen Lipsius, whether that was really he. But the greatest blot in his character was his inconstancy with regard to religion. He was educated a Roman Catholic, but professed the Lutheran religion while he was professor at Jena. Afterwards returning to Brabant, he appeared again a Roman Catholic; but when he accepted a professor’s chair in the university of Leyden, he published what was called Calvinism. At last, he removed from Leyden, and went again into the Low Countries, where he adopted the extreme bigotry of the Roman communion. This is obvious from his credulous and absurd accounts of the holy virgins, in his “Diva Virgo H aliensis,” &c. and “Diva Schemiensis,” &c. in both which he admits the most trifling stories, and the most uncertain traditions. Some of his friends endeavoured to represent how greatly all this would diminish the reputation he had acquired; but he was deaf to their expostulations. He even went so far as to dedicate a silver pen to the Holy Virgin of Hall; and on this occasion wrote some verses which are very remarkable, both on account of the elogies he bestows on himself, and of the extravagant worship he pays to the Virgin. By his last will, he left his gown, lined with fur, to the image of the same | lady. With these superstitions he joined an inconsistency of a more serious nature; for when, as we have already noticed, he lived at Leyden in an outward profession of the reformed religion, he gave his public approbation of the persecuting principles which were exerted, throughout all Europe, against the professors of it, maintaining that no state ought to suffer a plurality of religions, nor shew any mercy towards those who disturbed the established worship, but pursue them with fire and sword, it being better that one member should perish rather than the whole body “dementias non hie locus ure, seca, ut membrorum potius aliquod quam totum corpus corrumpatur.” When attacked for these principles and expressions, he endeavoured to explain them in a very evasive manner, pretending that the words ure and seca were only terms borrowed from chirurgery, not literally, to signify fire and sword, but only some effectual remedy. All these evasions are to be met with in his treatise * f De una Religione," the worst of his writings. His works in general turn upon subjects of antiquity and criticism. In his early pieces he imitated, with tolerable success, the style of Cicero; but afterwards chose rather to adopt the concise and pointed manner of Seneca and Tacitus. For this corruption of taste he was severely censured by Scioppius and Henry Stephens; but his example was followed by several contemporary writers. On this innovation Huet justly remarks, that although the abrupt and antithetical style may obtain the applauses of unskilful youth, or an illiterate multude, it cannot be pleasing to ears which have been long inured to genuine Ciceronian eloquence.

Captivated, says Brucker, with the appearance of superior wisdom and virtue which he observed in the ancient school of Zeno, Lipsius sought for consolation from the precepts of the Stoic philosophy, and attempted to reconcile its doctrines with those of Christianity. But he was imposed upon by the vaunting language of this school concerning fate and providence; and explains its tenets in a manner which cannot be reconciled with the history and general system of Stoicism. In order to revive an attention to the doctrines of this ancient sect, he wrote two treatises, “Manuductio ad Philosophiam Stoicam,” An Introduction to the Stoic Philosophy; and “Dissertationes de Physiologia Stoica,” Dissertations on Stoic Physiology; to which he intended to have added a treatise on | the moral doctrine of the stoics, but was prevented by death. His edition of Seneca is enriched with many valuable notes, but he was too much biassed by his partiality for stoicism to perceive the feeble and unsound parts of the system, and gave too easy credit to the arrogant claims of this school, to be a judicious and useful interpreter of its doctrine. 1


Lipsii Vita a Mirao, Antw. 1608. —Melchior Adam. Gen. Dict. —Moreri