Canterus, Willum

, an eminent linguist and philologer, was born at Utrecht of an ancient and reputable family in 1542; and educated in the belles lettres under the inspection of his parents, till he was 12 years of age. He was then sent to Cornelius Valerius at Lou vain, with whom he continued four years; and gave surprising proofs of his progress in Greek and Latin literature, by writing letters in those languages, by translations, and by drawing up some dramatic pieces. Having an uncommon taste for the Greek, he removed in 1559 from Lou vain to Paris, for the sake of learning that language more perfectly from John Auratus, under whom he studied till 1562, and then was obliged to leave France on account of the civil wars. He travelled next into Germany and Italy, and visited the several universities of those countries; Bononia particularly, where he became known to the famous Carolus Sigonius, to whom he afterwards dedicated his eight books “Novarum Lectionum.Venice he had a great desire to see, not only for the beauty and magnificence of the place, but for the opportunity he should have of purchasing manuscripts; which the Greeks brought in great abundance from their own country, and there exposed to sale: and from Venice he purposed to go to Rome. But, not being able to bear the heat of those regions, he dropped the pursuit of his journey, and returned through Germany to l^ouvain, where in about eight years’ time excessive study brought on a lingering consumption, of which he died in 1*75, when he was only in his 33d year. Thuanus says, that he deserved to be reckoned among the most learned men of his age; and that he would certainly have done great things, if he had not died so very immaturely. He understood six languages, besides that of his native country, viz. the Latin, Greek, Hebrew, French, Italian, and German.

It may justly seem a matter of wonder, how in so short a life a man could go through so many laborious tasks; and no less matter of curiosity to know how he contrived to do it. Melchior Adam has given us some account of this and according to him, Caaterus was, in the first | place, very temperate and abstemious in point of diet He always began his studies at seven in the morning, and not sooner, because early rising did not agree with him; and pursued them very intensely till half past eleven. Then he walked out for an hour before dinner; and, after he had dined, walked for another hour. Then, retiring to his study, he slept an hour upon a couch, and after that resumed his studies, which he continued till almost sun-set in winter, and seven in summer. Then he took another hour’s walk; and, after returning again to his studies, continued them till midnight without interruption. These last hours of the day were not however devoted by him to severe study, but to writing letters to his friends, or any other business that required less labour and attention. In. these habits, Canterus was both assiduous and constant; and his studies were conducted with as much form and method, as if he himself had been a machine. He had not only his particular hours for studying, but he divided those by an hour-glass, some of which he set apart for reading, others for writing; and as he tells us himself in a preface to his Latin translation of Stobceus, he never varied from, his established method on any account whatever. During his short life, he collected a most excellent and curious library; not only full of the best authors in all the languages he understood, but abounding with Greek manuscripts, which he had purchased in his travels, and which, if death had spared him, he intended to have published with Latin versions and notes. He could have said with Antoninus, that “nothing was dearer to him than his books:” his inordinate love of which exposed him to a most severe trial, when a sudden inundation at Louvain greatly damaged, and had like to have destroyed his whole library. This happened in the winter of 1573, and was such an affliction to him, that, as Melchior Adam says, it would certainly have killed him, if his friends had not plied him with proper topics of consolation, and assisted him in drying and restoring his books and manuscripts.

His writings are purely philological and critical, as, 1. “Novarum lectionum libri octo,Basil, 1564, and an improved edition 1571, 8vo. 2. “Syntagma de ratione emendandi Graecos autores,” printed in the last mentioned edition of the former. 3. Notse, scholia, emendationes, & explicationes in Euripidem, Sophoclein, Æschylum, Ci­^eronern, Propertium, Ausonium, Arnobium, &c. besides | a book of various readings in several Mss. of the Septuagint, and a great many translations of Greek authors.

His brother Theodore was also a classical Scholar, and editor of many annotations and criticisms, some of which are in Gruter’s Thesaurus. Burman has given a very ample catalogue of the writings of both these learned brothers. 1


Moreri. —Foppen Bibl. Belg. Burmanni Trajectum eruditum, Blount’s Censura, —Saxii Onomast.