Turnebus, Adrian

, an eminent critic and translator, was born at Andeli, a small village near Rouen in Normandy, in 1512. Two nations have contended for the honour of his hirth; the trench, who say he was descended of a noble but decayed family in Normandy; and the Scotch, who have discovered (Dempster, and after him Mackenzie) that his French name Tourncbceuf is no other than Turnbully and that he was the son of a Scotch gentleman of that name who married in Normandy. Whatever may be in this, Turnebus, for that is the name he took in his writings and correspondence, came to Paris at the age of eleven, and soon made such progress in classical and polite literature as to surpass all his fellow-students, and even, we are told, his masters. He had every qualification indeed to form an accomplished scholar, great memory, indefatigable application, and both taste and judgment far beyond his years. Before these all difficulties vanished, and his avidity and knowledge knew no intermi-sion in his after-life. Even on the day of his marriage, it is said, he devoted some hours to study.

The progress of his pursuits are not particularly detailed, but he is reported to have taught the classics at Toulouse, and afterwards, in 1547, was appointed Greek professor at Paris, where he had for his colleagues Buchanan and Muretus, whose joint reputation brought scholars from all parU of Europe. In 1552, Turnebus was appointed super* intendant of the royal printing-house for Greek books, and had William Morel for his associate, whom he left in sole possession of this office about four years after; on being appointed one of the royal professors. Such was his fame, that he had invitations and large offers from Italy, Spain, Portugal, Germany, and England, on condition of settling in. either of those countries; but he preferred the moderate circumstances enjoyed in his own country to the most tempting offers of riches elsewhere. He died June 12, 1565, in the fifty-third year of his age, and was buried on | the evening of the same day, agreeably to his desire, in a very private manner, in the burial-place belonging to the college of Montaign, being followed to his grave by only a few friends. He was supposed to have embraced the doctrines of the Reformation; but this was not generally known; and so much was he admired, that both papists and protestants endeavoured to claim him as their own. It was his singular fate, that all who knew him, and all who read his works, loved him. This gave rise to some ingenious lines by Henry Stephens, in which, after putting the question, “Why does Turnebus please every body?” in various ways, he answers, that “he pleaded every body, because he did not please himself,” alluding to his extreme diffidence and modesty, and his very amiable manners. Such was the esteem in which he was held, that some of the German professors, when in their lectures they quoted the authority of Turnebus (or Cujacius, to whom the same compliment was paid) they used to move their right hand to their cap, as a token of veneration. He directed his studies chiefly to philological researches, and to translating the Greek authors. His translations have always been approved, and his criticisms were not less admired in his own and the succeeding age. It has been, indeed, sometimes objected, that he was too fond of conjectural emendations, and that, notwithstanding the constitutional gentleness of his temper, he displayed more than necessary warmth in his controversies with Ramus, and with Bodin but in general his style, as well us his sentiments, were liberal and he is said to have discovered nothing of the pedant but in his dress. His works were collected and published in three volumes, folio, which generally make but one, at Strasburg, 1600, and consist of his commentaries on various parts of Cicero, Varro, Horace, Pliny, &c.; his translations of Aristotle, Theophrastus, Plutarch, &c. and his miscellaneous pieces, letters, and poems. His “Adversaria” went through man)' editions, first in quarto, from 1564 to 1599, when the last was printed in folio. Niceron enumerates a few other separate publications, and comments contributed by him to some of the classics. Of his translations, Huetius says, that “he had every quality which is necessary for a perfect translator; for ho understood Greek thoroughly, and turned it into elegant Latin, closely and without | departing in the least from his author, yet in a clear and pleasant style.1


Niceron, vol. XXXIX. Mackenzie’s Scotch Writers. Irvine’s Life of Buchanan. —Saxii Onomast