Drusius, John

, a learned protestant and eminent critic, was born at Oudenard, in Elandcrs, June 28, 1550. He was designed for the study of divinity, and sent very early to Ghent, to learn the languages there, and afterwards to Louvain, to pass through a course of philosophy; but his father having been outlawed for his religion in 1567, and deprived of his estate, retired to England, and Drusius soon followed him, though his mother, who continued a bigoted catholic, endeavoured to prevent him. Masters were provided to superintend his studies; and he had soon an opportunity of learning Hebrew under Anthony Cevellier, or rather Chevalier, who was come over to England, and taught that language publicly in the university of Cambridge. Drusius lodged at his house, and had a great share in his friendship. He did not return to London till 1571; and, while he was preparing to go to France, the news of the massacre of St. Bartholomew made him change his resolution. Soon after this, he was invited to Cambridge by Cartwright, the professor of divinity; and also to Oxford, by Dr. Lawrence Humphrey, whither he went, and became professor of the | oriental languages there at the age of twenty-two. He taught at Oxford four years with great success*; after which, being desirous of returning to his own country, he went to Louvain, where he studied the civil law. The troubles on account of religion obliged him to come back to his father at London; but, upon the pacification of Ghent, in 1576, they both returned to their own country. The son tried his fortune in Holland, and was appointed professor of the oriental tongues there, in 1577. While he continued in this station at Leyden, he married in 1580 a young gentlewoman of Ghent, who was more than half a convert, and became a thorough protestant after her marriage. The stipend allowed to Drusius, in Holland, not being sufficient to support himself and family, he gave intimations that if better terms should be offered him elsewhere, he would accept of them. The prince of Orange wrote to the magistrates of Leyden, to take care not to lose a man of his merit; yet they suffered him to remove to Friesland, whither he had been invited to be professor of Hebrew in the university of Franeker. He was admitted into that professorship in 1585, and discharged the functions of it with great honour till his death, which happened in 1616.

He was the author of several works, which shew him to have been well skilled in Hebrew, and to have gained a considerable knowledge in the Jewish antiquities, and the text of the Old Testament. He was a man of great modesty, and uncommonly free from prejudices; which making him more reserved than many others in condemning and applauding, occasioned him to be decried as a lukewarm protestant, and created him many enemies.

* His progress and liberal reception at Oxford, is thus related by Wood: “Turning his course to Oxon, in the beginning of the year 1572, he was entertained by the society of Mertoncollege, admitted to the degree of B. A. as a member of that house, in July the same year; and in the beginning of August following, had a chamber set apart for him by the society, who then also decreed that he should have forty shillings yearly allowed to him, so long as he read a Hebrew lecture in their common refectory. For four years, at least, he lived in the said house, and constantly read (as he did sometimes to the scholars of Magdalen college, upon the desire of Dr. Lawrence Humphrey, president thereof,) either Hebrew, Chaldee, or Syriac lectures. In 1573, he was, as a member of the said house of Merton, licensed to proceed in arts, and in the year following was recommended by the chancellor of the university to the members of the convocation, that he might publicly read the Syriac language in one of the public schools, and that for his pains he receive a competent stipend. Soon after, upon consideration of the matter, they allowed him twenty marks, to be equally gathered from among them, and ordered that the same respect be given to him, as to any of the lecturers. He left Oxford in 1576.| His works are very numerous, and many of them still held in great esteem. Niceron has given a catalogue of forty, but as the most valuable part of them consist of bihlical criticisms, and have been incorporated in the “Critici Sacri,” it is unnecessary here to specify the titles of them when published separately. Drusius carried on so extensive a correspondence with the literati of Europe, that after his death there were found among his papers 2300 Latin letters, besides many in Hebrew, Greek, French, English, and Dutch.

His wife is supposed to have died in 1599. He had three children by her; a daughter born at Leyden in 1582, and married in 1604 to Abel Curiander, who wrote the life of his father-in-law, from which this account is taken. He had another daughter, born at Franeker in 1587, who died at Ghent, whither she had taken a journey about business. A priest, knowing her to be dangerously ill, went to confess her, and to give her extreme unction; but she immediately sent him away, and her husband (for she was married) threatened to resent his offer. It was with great cxpence and danger that her body was removed into Zealand, for at Ghent it would have been denied burial. He had also a son, John, who, if he had lived longer, would have been a prodigy of learning. He was born at Franeker in 3588, and began at five years old to learn the Latin and Hebrew tongues; at seven he explained the Hebrew psalter with great exactness; at nine he could read the Hebrew without points, and add the points where they were wanting, according to the rules of grammar. He spoke Latin as readily as his mother-tongue; and could make himself understood in English. At twelve he wrote extempore, in verse and prose, after the manner of the Jews. At seventeen he made a speech in Latin to our James I. in the midst of his court, and was admired by all that were present. He had a lively genius, a solid judgment, a strong memory, and an indefatigable ardour for study. He was likewise of an agreeable temper, which made him greatly beloved, and had a singular turn for piety. He died in 1609, of the stone, in England, at the house of Dr. William Thomas, dean of Chichester, who allowed him a very considerable salary. He left several works; a great many letters in Hebrew, verses in the same language, and notes on the Proverbs of Solomon. He had begun to translate into Latin the Itinerary of Benjamin Tudelensisj and the | Chronicle of the second Temple; and digested into an alphabetical order the Nomenclature of Elias Levita; to which he added the Greek words which were not in the first edition. 1


Life by Coriander. —Niceron, vol. XXII. Gen. Dict. Freheri Theatrum. —Foppen Bibl. Bclg. Blount’s Cfinsura. —Saxii Onomast.