Casaubon, Isaac

, a very learned critic, was born at Geneva, February 18, 1559, being the son of Arnold Casaubon, a minister of the reformed church, who had taken refuge in Geneva, by his wife Jane Rosseau. He was educated at first by his father, and made so quick a progress in his studies, that at the age of nine he could speak and write Latin with great ease and correctness. But his father being obliged, for three years together, to be absent from home, on account of business, his education was neglected, and at twelve years of age he was forced to begin his studies again by himself, but as he could not by this method make any considerable progress, he was sent | in 1578 to Geneva, to complete his studies under the professors there, and by indefatigable application, quickly recovered the time he had lost. He learned the Greek tongue of Francis Portus, the Cretan, and soon became so great a master of that language, that this famous man thought him worthy to be his successor in the professor’s chair in 1582, when he was but three and twenty years of age. In 1586, Feb. 1, he had the misfortune to lose his father, who died at Dil, aged sixty- three. The 28th of April following he married Florence, daughter of Henry Stephens the celebrated printer, by whom he had twenty children. For fourteen years he continued professor of the Greek tongue at Geneva; and in that time studied philosophy and the civil law under Julius Pacius. He also learned Hebrew, and some other of the Oriental languages, but not enough to be able to make use of them afterwards. In the mean time he began to be weary of Geneva; either because he could not agree with his father-in-law, Henry Stephens, who is said to have been morose and peevish; or that his salary was not sufficient for his maintenance; or because he was of a rambling and unsettled disposition. He resolved therefore, after a great deal of uncertainty, to accept the place of professor of the Greek tongue and polite literature, which was offered him at Montpelier, with a more considerable salary than he had at Geneva. To Montpelier he removed about the end of 1596, and began, his lectures in the February following. About the same time, the city of Nismes invited him to come and restore their university, but he excused himself, and some say he had an invitation from the university of Franeker. At his first coming to Montpelier, he was much esteemed and followed, and seemed to be pleased with his station. But this pleasure did not last long; for what had been promised him was not performed; abatements were made in his salary, which also was not regularly paid, and upon the whole, he met there with so much uneasiness that he was upon the point of returning to Geneva, when a journey he took to Lyons in 1598, gave him an opportunity of taking another, that proved extremely advantageous to him. Having been recommended by some gentlemen of Montpelier to M. de Vicq, a considerable man at Lyons, this gentleman took him into his house, and carried him along with him to Paris, where he caused him to be introduced to the first- president de Harlay, the president de Thou, Mr. | Gillot, and Nicolas le Fevre, by whom he was very civilly received *. He was also presented to king Henry IV. who being informed of his merit, requested him to leave Montpelier for a professor’s place at Paris. Casaubon having remained for some time in suspense which course to take, went back to Montpelier, and resumed his lectures. Not long after, he received a letter from the king, dated January 3, 1599, by which he was invited to Paris in order to be professor of polite literature, and he set out the 26th of February following. When he came to Lyons, M. de Vicq advised him to stay there till the king’s coming, who was expected in that place. In the mean while, some domestic affairs obliged him to go to Geneva, where he complains that justice was not done him with regard to the estate of his father-in-law. Upon his return to Lyons, having waited a long while in vain for the king’s arrival, he took a second journey to Geneva, and then went to Paris; though he foresaw, as M. de Vicq and Scaliger had told him, he should not meet there with all the satisfaction he at first imagined. The king gave him, indeed, a gracious reception; but the jealousy of some of the other professors, and his being a protestant, procured him a great deal of trouble and vexation, and were the cause of his losing the professorship, of which he had the promise. Some time after, he was appointed one of the judges on the protestants’ side, at the conference between James Davy du Perron, bishop of Evreux, afterwards cardinal, and Philip du Plessis-Mornay f. As Casaubon was not favourable to the latter, who, some think, did not acquit himself well in that conference, it was reported that he would soon change his religion; but the event showed that this


When he was first shewn the Sorbonne, one of the doctors told him, that it was above four hundred years since disputings were held in that place; “and pray,” asked Casaubon, “what has been cleared up?” Being invited to a thesis in that college, the disputants argued in such barbarous language, that he said he had never in his life heard so much Latin without understanding it. of its lasting but one. The other judge on the protestants’ side, was Mr. Canaye, who, convinced, as he pretended, by the arguments that were then used, became a convert to popery. He used his utmost endeavours to persuade Casaubon to follow his example; but, not being able to prevail, he grew very cool towards him, and ceased to have the same regard and friendship for him, as he had, till then, expressed.

This conference was held at Fontainebleau, May 4, 1600. It was at first designed that it should continue several days, but the indisposition of Mr, du Plessis-Mornay was the cause for Casaubon, he clears himself, in several of his letters, of the itnputatations thrown upon him, of his favouring popery.

| report was groundless. When Casaubon came back to Paris, he found it very difficult to get his pension paid, and the charges of removing from Lyons to Paris, because M. de Rosny was not his friend; and it was only by an express order from the king that he obtained the payment even of three hundred crowns. The 30th of May 1600, he returned to Lyons, to hasten the impression of his “Athenseus,” which was printing there; but he had the misfortune of incurring the displeasure of his great friend M. de Vicq, who had all along entertained him and his whole family in his own house when they were in that city, because he refused to accompany him into Switzerland. The reason of this refusal was, his being afraid of losing in the mean time the place of library-keeper to the king, of which he had a promise, and that was likely soon to become vacant, on account of the librarian’s illness. He returned to Paris with his wife and family the September following, and was well received by the king, and by many persons of distinction. There he read private lectures, published several works of the ancients, and learned Arabic; in which he made so great a progress, that he undertook to compile a dictionary, and translated some books of that language into Latin. In 1601 he was obliged, as he tells us himself, to write against his will to James VI. king of Scotland, afterwards king of England, but does not mention the occasion of it. That prince answered him with great civility, which obliged our author to write to him a second time. In the mean time, the many affronts and uneasinesses he received from time to time at Paris, made him think of leaving that city, and retiring to some quieter place, but king Henry IV. in order to fix him, made an augmentation of two hundred crowns to his pension: and granted him the reversion of the place of his library-keeper. He took a journey to Dauphine in May 1603, and from thence to Geneva about his private affairs; returning to Paris on the 12th of July. Towards the end of the same year he came into possession of the place of king’s library-keeper, vacant by the death of Gosselin. His friends of the Roman catholic persuasion made now frequent attempts to induce him to forsake the protestant religion. Cardinal du Perron, in particular, had several disputes with him, after one of which a report was spread that he had then promised the cardinal he would turn Roman catholic: so that, in order to stifle that rumour, the | ministers of Charenton, who were alarmed at it, obliged him to write a letter to the cardinal to contradict what was so confidently reported, and took care to have it printed. About this time the magistrates of Nismes gave him a second invitation to their city, offering him a house, and a salary of six hundred crowns of gold a year, but he durst not accept of it for fear of offending the king. In 1609 he had, by that prince’s order, who was desirous of gaining him over to the catholic religion, a conference with cardinal du Perron, but it had no effect upon him.

Casaubon is to be ranked amongst those learned men who, in the beginning of the last century, were very solicitous to have an union formed between the popish and protestant religions. This is expressly asserted by Burigny, in his life of Grotius. According to that biographer, Casaubon, who wished to see all Christians united in one faith, ardently desired a re-union of the protestants with the Roman catholics, and would have set about it, had he lived longer in France. He greatly respected the opinions of the ancient church, and was persuaded that its sentiments were more sound than those of the ministers of, Charentou. Grotius and he had imparted their sentiments to each other before the voyage to England, which we are to mention, and Arminius had a project of the same kind, which he communicated to Casaubon, by whom it was approved. In the year 1610 two things happened that afflicted Casaubou extremely; one was the murder of king Henry IV. which deprived him of all hopes of keeping his place; the other, his eldest son’s embracing popery. This made him resolve to come over into England, where he had often been invited by king James I.; and having obtained leave of absence from the queen-regent of France, he arrived in England October 1610,along with sir Henry Wotton, ambassador-extraordinary from king James I. and was received with the utmost civility, by most persons of learning and distinction, although he complains of being ill used by the rabble in the streets. He waited upon the king, who took great pleasure in discoursing with him, and even did him the honour of admitting him several times to eat at his own table. His majesty likewise made him a present of a hundred and fifty pounds, to enable him to visit the universities of Oxford and Cambridge. On the Christmas day after he arrived in England, he received the communion in the king’s chapel, though he did not | understand the language. In his diary he says, that he had carefully considered the office for the sacrament the day before, and preferred it and the manner of receiving to that of other churches. The 3d ofJanuary, 1611, he was naturalized, and the 19th of the same month, the king granted him a pension of three hundred pounds; as also two prebends, one at Canterbury, and the other at Westminster. He likewise wrote to the queen regent of Franc*-, to desire Casaubon might stay longer in England than she had at first allowed him. But Casaubon did not long enjoy these great advantages, as a painful distemper in the bladder proved fatal July 1, 1614, in the 55th year of his age. He was buried in Westminster-abbey, where a monument was erected to his memory, with a Latin epitaph in a high style of panegyric. Of his twenty children, John, the eldest, turned Roman catholic, as has been mentioned above. Another, named Augustin, became a capuchin, at Calais, where he was poisoned, with eleven oihers of the same order. Mr. Dupin relates, upon the authority of Mr. Cotelier, that before he took the vow of capuchiu, /he went to ask his father’s blessing, which the father readily granted him; adding, “My son, I do not condemn thee; nor do thou condemn me; we shall both appear before the tribunal of Jesus Christ.” What became of the rest of his children (except Meric, mentioned in the next article), is not known. In 1612, he had a son born in England, to which the king and the archbishop of Canterbury were godfathers, and sir George Gary’s lady, godmother. This great man received the highest encomiums from persons of learning in his time, which he amply deserved by his extensive knowledge, modesty, sincerity, and probity.

His writings are 1 “In Diogenem Laertium Notae Isaaci Hortiboni,” Morgiis, 1583, 8vo. He was but twenty-five years old when he made these notes, and intended to have enlarged them afterwards, but was hindered. He dedicated them to his father, who commended him, but told him at the same time, “He should like better one note of his upon the holy Scriptures, than all the pains he could bestow upon profane authors.” These potes of Casaubon were inserted in the editions of Diogenes Laertius, printed by H. Stephens in 15l>4 and 1598, in 8vo, and in all the editions published since. The name of Hortibonus, which Casaubon took, is of the same import as Casaubon, i. e. a good garden; Casait, in the language | of Dauphiné, signifying a garden, and bon, good. 2. “Lectiones Theocriticæ,” in Crispinus’s edition of Theocritus, Genev. 1S84, 12mo, reprinted several times since. 3. “Strabonis Geographiae Libri XVII. Grsece & Latine, ex Guil. Xylandri Interpretatione,” Genevae, 1587, fol. Casaubon’s notes were reprinted, with additions, in the Paris edition of Strabo in 1620, and have been inserted in all other editions since. 4. “Novurn Testamentum. Grace urn,Geneva;, 1587, 16 to, with notes which were reprinted afterwards, at the end of Whitaker’s edition of the New Testament, Lond. and inserted in the “Critici Sacri.V. “Animadversiones in Dionysium Halicarnassensem,” in the edition of Dionysius Halicarnassensis, published by our author with Æmilius Portus’s Latin version, Genev. 1588, fol. These were written in haste, and are of no great value. 6. “Polyseni Stratagematum,” Libri VIII.“Lugduni, 1589, 16to. Casaubon was the first who published the Greek text of this author. The Latin version, joined to it, was done by Justus Vulteius, and first published in 1550. 7.” Dicsearchi Geographica quaedam, sive de Statu Grascise; ejusdem descriptio Grrcciae versibus Greeds jambicis, ad Theophrastum; cum Isaaci Casauboni & Henrici Stephani nods,“Genevac, 1589, 8vo. 8.” Aristotelis Opera Grasce, cum variorum Interpretatione Latina, & variis Lectionibus & Castigationibus Isaaci Casauboni,“Lugduni, 1590, fol.; Genevae, 1605, fol. These notes are only marginal, and were composed at leisure hours. 9.C. Plinii Caec. Sec. Epist. Lib. IX. Ejusdem & Trajani imp. Epist. amcebaea?. Ejus­* clem Pi. & Pacati, Mamertini, Nazarii Panegyrici. Item Claudiani Panegyrici. Adjunctae sunt Isaaci Casauboni Notae in Epist.“Geneva, 1591, 12mo; ibid. 1599, 1605, 1610, and 1611, 12mo. These notes are but very short. 10.” Theophrasti Characteres Ethici Grasce & Latine,“Lugduni, 1592, 12mo, and 1612, 12mo. This latter edition is the most exact of the two, being revised by the author. Casaubon’s edition of Theophrastus is still highly esteemed, and was one of those works which procured him most reputation. Joseph Scaliger highly extols it. 11.L. Apuleii Apologia,“Typis Commeiini 1593, 4to. In this edition he shewed himself as able a critic in the Latin, as he had done before in the Greek tongue. It is dedicated to Joseph Scaliger. 12.C. Suetonii Tranquilli Opera,“Genevas, 1595, 4to, and Paris, 1610, an | enlarged edition. 13.” Publii Syri Mimi, sive sententiae selectae, Latine, Graece versas, & Notis illustrate per Jos. Scaligerum; cum prefatione Isaaci Casaubon i,“Lugd. Batav. 1598, 8vo. 14.” Athenaei Deipnosophistarmn, LibriXV. Graece Latine, Interprete JacoboDalechampio, cum Isaaci Casauboni Animadversion um Libris XV.“Geneva, 1597, 2 vols. fol.; ibid. 1612, 2 vols. fol Casaubon’s notes take up the second volume, and are copious and learned, and constitute the most valuable part of this edition. 15.” Historiae Augustae Scriptures, “Paris, 1603, 4to, reprinted at Paris in 1620, with Saiivmsius’s Commentaries on the same autnors, fol. and at Leyden, in 1670, 2 vols. 8vo. 16.” Diatnba ad Dionis Chrysostomi Orationes,“published in the edition of that author by Frederick Morel, at Paris, 1604, fol. 17.” Persii Satyrae ex recensione &- cum Commentar.“Pans, 1605, 8vo; Lond. 1647, 8vo. These notes upon Persius ar Lectures he had formerly read at Geneva. They were enlarged in the edition of 1647. Scaliger used to say of them,” That the sauce was better than the fish.“18.” De Satyrica Graecorum Poesi, & llomanorum Satyra Libri duo,“Paris, 1605, 8vo. In this work Casaubon affirms, that the satire of the Latins was very different from that of the Greeks, which Daniel Heinsius contradicts in his two books,” De Satyra Horatiana,“Lugd. Batava. 1629, 12mo. But the learned Ezekiel Spanheim, after having examined the arguments of these two learned men, declares for Casaubon. Crenius has inserted this tract of Casaubon, in his” Musceum Philologicum & Historicom,“Ludg. Batav. 1699, 8vo; and also the following” piece, which was published by our author at the end of his two books, “De Satyrica Poesi,” &c. 19. “Cyclops Euripidis Latinitate donata a Q. Septimio Florente.” 20. “Gregorii Nysseni Epistola ad Eustathiam, Ambrosiam, & Basilissam, Gr. & Lat.Paris, 1601, 8vo Hanoviac, 1607, 8vo. This letter was first published by Casaubon. 21. “De Libertate Ecclesiastica Liber,1607, 8vo; composed by the author during the disputes between pope Paul V. and the republic of Venice; and contained a vindication of the rights of sovereigns against the incroachmentsof the court of Rome. As those differences were adjusted while the book was printing, king Henry IV. caused it to be suppressed; but Casaubon having se4it the sheets, as they came out of the press, to some of his friends, some copies were preserved. | Melchior Goldast inserted that fragment in his “Collectanea de Monarchia S. Imperil,” torn. I. p. 674, and Almeioveen reprinted it in his edition of our author’s letters. It was also published by Dr. Hickes in 1711. 22. “Inscriptio vetus dedicationem fundi continens, ab Herode rege facta, cum notis.” This small piece, published in 1607, has been inserted by T. Crenius in his “Musoeum. Phiiologicum.” Casaubon’s notes are short, but learned; however, he appears to have been mistaken in ascribing the inscription on which they were made to Herod king of Judaea, instead of Herodes the Athenian. 23. “Polybii Opera Gr. & Lat. Accedit Æneas Tracticus detoleranda obsidione, Gr. & Lat.Paris, 1609, fol. & HanoviiE, 1609, fol. The Latin version of these two authors was done by Casaubon, who intended to write a commentary upon them, but went no farther than the first book of Polybius, being hindered by death. Thuanus, and Fronto Ducaeus the Jesuit, were so pleased with that Latin version, that they believed it was not easy to determine whether Casaubon had translated Polybius, or Polybius Casaubon. At the head of this edition there is a dedication to king Henry IV. a species of writing in which, as well as in prefaces, he is allowed to excel. In the former, he praises without low servility, and in a manner remote from flattery; in the latter, he lays open the design and excellences of the books he publishes, without ostentation, and with an air of modesty. 24. “Josephi Scaligeri Opusculavaria,Paris, 1610, 4to; and Francofurti, 1612, 8vo, with a preface of his own. 25. “Ad Frontonem Ducseum Epistola, de Apologia, Jesuitarum nomine, Parisiis edita,” Londini, 1611, 4to. Casaubon, after his coming to England, being obliged to write against the papists, in order to please his patron king James I. began with this letter, dated July 2, 1611, which is the 730th in Almeloveen’s collection, and for which king James made him a considerable present. It is a confutation of “la Reponse Apologetique a I’Anti-coton, par Francois Bonald.” Au Pont, 1611, 8vo. 26. “Epistola ad Georgium Michaelem Lingelshemium de quodam libello Sciopii,1612, 4to. This letter is dated Aug. 9, 1612, and is the 828th of Almeloveen’s collection. 27. “Epistola ad Cardinalem Perronium,” Londini, 1612, 4to. This letter, which is the 838th in Almeloveen’s collection, and is written with moderation, is not so much Casaubon’s own composition, as | an exact account of the sentiments of king James I. whose and the church of England’s secretary he was, as he tells us, with regard to some points of religion. Accordingly, it was inserted in the edition of that king’s works, published in 1619, by Dr. Montague, bishop of Winchester. Cardinal du Perron undertook to give an answer to it, which was left unfinished at his death. It has been likewise animadverted upon by Valentine Smalcius, the Socinian, in his “Ad Isaacum Casaubonum Paraenesis,” Racoviae, 1614, 4to, published under the name of Anton. Ileuchlin. 28. “De Rebus sacris & Ecclesiasticis Exercitationes xvi. Ad Cardinalis Baronii Prolegomena in Annales, & primam eorum partem, de Domini nostri Jesu Christi Nativitate, Vita, Passione, Assumtione,” Londini, 1614, fol. Francofurti, 1615, 4to; Genevx, 1655, & 1663, 4to. Soon after Casaubon' s arrival in England, Peter du Moulin wrote to Dr. James Montagu, then bishop of Bath and Wells, to inform him that Casaubon had a great inclination to popery; that there were only a few articles, which kept him among the protestants; and that if he returned to France, he would change his religion, as he had promised. Therefore, he desired him to endeavour to keep him in England, and to engage him in writing against the Annals of Baronius, since he knew “that he had materials ready for that purpose.” Accordingly, king James employed him in that work, which was finished in eighteen months’ time. Niceron thinks that Casaubon was not equal to this work, because he had not sufficiently studied divinity, chronology, and history, and was not conversant enough in the fathers, and is charged with having committed more errors than Baronius in a less compass. Besides, as he comes no lower than the year 34 after Christ, he is said to have pulled down only the pinnacles of Baronius’ s great building. It appears from letter 1059th of our author, that Dr. Richard Montague, afterwards bishop of Norwich, had undertaken to write against Baronius at the same time with himself; and he threatens to complain of him to the king, who had engaged him in that work. 29. “Ad Polybii Historiarum Libruni primum Commentarius,Paris, 1617, 8vo, See above, No. 23. 30. “Isaaci Casauboni Epistohp,” Hagie Comin. 1638, 4to, published by John Frederick Gronovius. A second edition, enlarged and arranged in chronological order, was published afterwards by John George Gramus at Magdeburgb, | and Helmstadt, 1656, 4to; but the best, which includes his life, is entitled “Is. Casauboni Epistolae,” &c. Curante Theodore Janson ab Almeloveen,“Roterodami, 1709, foL The letters in this volume are 1059 in number, placed according to the order of the time in which they were written; and 5 1 without dates. Niceron finds in them neither elegant style, nor fine thoughts; and censures, as very disagreeable, the mixture of Greek words and expressions that are dispersed throughout; affirming besides, that they contain no particulars tending to the advancement of learning, or that are of any great importance. In the” Sorberiana“it is said that there is in them the history of a man of probity and learning; but nothing otherwise very remarkable, excepting the purity of the language, and the marks of a frank and sincere mind. Argonne, however, in his” Melanges d’Histoire,“assures us that they are all perfectly beautiful; and makes no scruple to compare them to those of Grotius and Scaligerwith regard to learning; and to assert that they exceed them for the easiness and purity of the style, which is entirely epistolary, and not at all affected. 31.” Casauboniana," Hamburg!, 1710, 8vo. There is nothing very material in this collection. 1

1 Biog. Brit*-Gen. Dict. —Saxii Onomast. Blount’s Censuva.