Erasmus, Desiderius

, one of the most illustrious of the revivers of learning, was born at Rotterdam, October 28, 1467. His father Gerard, who was of Tergou, in that neighbourhood, fell in love with Margaret, the daughter of one Peter, a physician of Sevenbergen; and after promises of marriage, as Erasmus himself suggests, connected himself with her, though the nuptial ceremonies were not performed. From this intercourse Gerard had a son, whom Erasmus calls Anthony, in a letter to Lambert Grunnius, secretary to pope Julius II. and whose death, in another letter he tells us, he bore better than he did the death of his friend Frobenius. About two years after, Margaret proved with child again; and then Gerard’s father and brethren (for he was the youngest of ten children) beginning to be uneasy at this attachment, resolved to make him an ecclesiastic. Gerard, aware of this, secretly withdrew into Italy, and went to Rome; he left, however, a letter behind him, in which he bade his relations a final farewell; and assured them that they should never see his face more while they continued in those resolutions. At Rome he maintained himself decently by transcribing ancient authors, which, printing being not yet commonly used, was no unprofitable employment. In the mean time, Margaret, far advanced in her pregnancy, was conveyed to Rotterdam to lie in, privately; and was there delivered of Erasmus. He took his name from this city, and always called himself Roterodamus, though, as Dr. Jortin, the writer of his life, intimates, he should rather have said Roterodamius, or Roterodamensis. The city, however, was not in the least offended at the inaccuracy, but made proper returns of gratitude to a name by which she was so much ennobled; and perpetuated her acknowledgments by inscriptions, and medals, and by a statue erected and placed at first near the principal church, but afterwards removed to a Station on one of the bridges. | Gerard’s relations, long ignorant what was become of him, at last discovered that he was at Rome and now resolved to attempt by stratagem what they could not effect by solicitation and importunity. They sent him word, therefore, that his beloved Margaret was dead; and he lamented the supposed misfortune with such extremity of grief, as to determine to leave the world, and become a priest. And even when upon his return to Tergou, which happened soon after, he found Margaret alive, he adhered to his ecclesiastical engagements; and though he always retained the tenderest affection for her, never more lived with her in any other manner than what was allowable by the laws of his profession. She also observed on her part the strictest celibacy ever after. During the absence of his father, Erasmus was under the care and management of his grandmother, Gerard’s mother, Catharine. He was called Gerard, after his father, and afterwards took the name of Desiderius, which in Latin, and the surname of Erasmus, which in Greek, signify much the same as Gerard among the Hollanders, that is, “amabilis,” or amiable. Afterwards he was sensible that he should in grammatical propriety have called himself Erasmius, and in fact, he gave this name to his godson, Joannes Erasmius Frobenius. As soon as Gerard was settled in his own country again, he applied himself with all imaginable care to the education of Erasmus, whom he was determined to bring up to letters, though in low repute at that time, because he discovered in him early a very uncommon capacity. There prevails indeed a notion in Holland, that Erasmus was at first of so heavy and sl9w an understanding, that it was many years before they could make him learn any thing; and this, they think, appears from a passage in the life written by himself, where he says, that “in his first years he made but little progress in those unpleasant studies, for which he was not born; in literis ill is inamoenis, quibus non natus erat.” When he was nine years old, he was sent to Dav enter, in Guelderland, at that time one of the best schools in the Netherlands, and the most free from the barbarism of the age; and here his parts very soon shone ‘out. He apprehended in an instant whatever was taught him, and retained it so perfectly, that he infinitely surpassed all his companions. Rhenanus tells us that Zinthius, one of the best masters in the college of Daventer, was so well satisfied with Erasmus’s progress, and so | thoroughly convinced of his great abilities, as to have foretold what afterwards came to pa>s, that “he would some time prove the envy and wonder of all Germany.” His memory is said to have b~?en so prodigious, that he was able to repeat all Terence and Horace by heart. We must nojt forget to observe, that pope Adrian VI. was his schoolfellow, and ever after his friend, and the encourager of his studies.

When Erasmus was sent to Daventer, his mother went to live there; for she was very tender of him, and wished to be near him, that she might see and take care of him. She died of the plague there about four years after; and Gerard was so afflicted with the loss of her, that he survived her but a short time. It does not appear that either of them much exceeded the fortieth year of their age; and they both left behind them very good characters. Gerard is said to have possessed a great share of that gaietjr, wit, and humour, which afterwards shone forth with so much lustre in Erasmus; and Margaret might, as Bayle observes, have said with Dido, in Virgil,

Huic uni forsan potui succumbere culpse.

From Daventer, Erasmus was immediately removed to Tergou, the plague being in the house where he lodged; and now, about fourteen years o/ age, was left entirely to the care of guardians, who used him very ill; and although he was of an age to be sent to a university, they determined to force him into a monastery, that they might possess his patrimony; amd they feared that an university might create in him a disgust to that way of life. The chief in this plot was one Peter Winkell, a schoolmaster of Tergou, to whom there is a very ingenious epistle of Erasmus extant, in which he expostulates with him for his ill management and behaviour. They sent him first to a convent of friars at Bois-le-duc, in Brabant, where he lived, or rather, as he expresses it, lost three years of his life, having an utter aversion to the monastic state. Then he was sent to another religious house at Sion, near Delft; and afterwards, no effect towards changing his resolutions having been wrought upon him at Sion, to a third, namely, Stein, near Tergou. Here, unable to sustain the conflict any longer with his guardians and their agents, he entered among the regular canons there, in 1486. Though great civilities were shewn to him upon his entrance into this convent, and in compliance with his humour some laws and | ceremonies were dispensed with, yet he had a design of leaving it before he made his profession; but the restless contrivances jof his guardians, and particularly the ill state of his affairs, got the better of his inclinations, and he was at length induced to make it. A monastery, as monasteries then were, and such as Erasmus afterwards described them, devoid of all good learning and sound religion, must needs be an irksome place to one of his turn: at Stein, however, it was no small comfort to him to lind a young man of parts, who had the same taste for letters with himself, and who afterwards distinguished himself by a collection of elegant poems, which he published under the title of “Dearum Sylva.” This was William Hermann, of Tergou, with whom he contracted a very intimate friendship, which continued after his departure from Stein; and accordingly, we find among his letters some that were written to Hermann. The two earliest letters now extant, of Erasmus, were written from this monastery of Stein to Cornelius Aurotinus, a priest of Tergou; in which he defends with great zeal the celebrated Laurentius Valla against the contemptuous treatment of Aurotinus.

Erasmus’s enemies, and among the rest Julius Scaliger, have pretended that he led a very loose life during his stay in this convent, a charge which his friends have endeavoured to repell by going into the other extreme, and attributing to him a more virtuous course than he pursued, since it is evident from several acknowledgments of his own, that he did not spend his younger days with the utmost regularity. In a letter to father Servatius, he owns that “in his youth he had a propensity to very great vices; that, however, the love of money, or even of fame, had never possessed him; that, if he had not kept himself unspotted from sensual pleasures, he had not been a slave to them; and that, as for gluttony and drunkenness, he had always held them in abhorrence.” He also appears to have been of a playful turn, of which Le Clerc gives an instance, although without producing his authority. There was, it seems, a pear-tree in the garden of the convent at Stein, of whose fruit the superior was extremely fond, and reserved entirely to himself. Erasmus had tasted these pears, and liked them so well as to be tempted to steal them, which he used to do early in the morning. The superior, missing his pears, resolved to watch the tree, and at last saw a monk climbing up into it; but, as it was | yet hardly light, waited a little till he could; discern him more clearly. Meanwhile Erasmus had perceived that he was seen; and was musing with himself how he should get off undiscovered. At length he bethought himself, that they had a monk in the convent who was lame, and therefore, sliding gently down, imitated as he went the limp of this unhappy monk. The superior, now sure of the thief, as having discovered him by signs not equivocal, took an opportunity at the next meeting of saying abundance of good things upon the subject of obedience; after which, turning to the supposed delinquent, he charged him with a most flagrant breach of it, in stealing his pears. The poor monk protested his innocence, but in vain. All he could say, only inflamed his superior the more; who, in spite of his protestations, inflicted upon him a very severe penance.

Erasmus, however, had no disposition for this way of life. “Convents,” he says, “were places of impiety rather than of religion, where every thing was done to which a depraved inclination could lead, under the sanction and mask of piety; and where it was hardly possible for any one to keep himself pure and unspotted.” This account he gives of them in a piece “De contemptu inundi,” which he drew up at Stein, when he was about twenty years of age; and which was the first thing he ever wrote. At length, the happy moment arrived when he was to quit the monastery of Stein. Henry a Bergis, bishop of Cambray, who was preparing at that time for Rome, with a view of obtaining a cardinal’s hat, wanted some person to accompany him who could speak and write Latin with accuracy and ease. Erasmus’s fame not being confined to the cloister, he applied to the bishop of Utrecht, as well as the prior of the convent, and they having given their consent, Erasmus went to Cambray, but soon found to his mortification that for certain reasons the bishop dropped his design. Still, as he was now loose from the convent, he went, with the leave and under the protection of the bishop, to study at the university of Paris. He was in orders when Jie went to Cambray; but was not made a prie; till 1492, when he was ordained upon the 25th of February, by the bisijop of Utrecht.

How he spent his time with the bishop of Cambray, with whom he continued some years, we have no account. bishop, however, was, now his patron, and apparently | very fond of him; and he promised him a pension to maintain him at Paris. But the pension, as Erasmus himself relates, was never paid him; so that he was obliged to have recourse to taking pupils, though a thing highly disagreeable to him, purely for support. Many noble English became his pupils, and, among the rest, William Blunt, lord Montjoy, who was afterwards his very good friend and patron. Erasmus tells us, that he lived rather than studied, “vixit verius qnam studuit,” at Paris; for, his patron forgetting the promised pension, he had not only no books to carry on his studies, but even wanted the necessary comforts and conveniences of life. He was forced to take up with bad lodgings and bad diet, which brought on him a fit of illness, and changed his constitution so much for the worse, that, from a very strong one, it continued ever after weak and tender. The plague too was in that city, anl had been for many years; so that he was obliged, after a short stay, to leave it, almost without any of that benefit he might naturally have expected, as the university at that time was famous for theology. Leaving Paris, therefore, in the beginning of 1497 he returned to Cambray, where he was received kindly by the bishop. He spent some days at Bergis with his friend James Battus, by whom he was introduced to the knowledge of Anne Borsala, marchioness of Vere. This noble lady proved a great benefactress to him; and he afterwards, in gratitude, wrote her panegyric. This year he went over to England for the first time, to fulfill a promise which he had made to his noble disciple Montjoy. This noble lord, a man of learning, and patron of learned men, was never easy, it is said, while Erasmus was in England, but when he was in his company. Even after he was married, as Knight relates, he left his family, and went to Oxford, purely to proceed in his studies under the direction of Erasmus. He also gave him the liberty of his house in London, when he was absent; but a surly steward, whom Erasmus, in a letter to Colet, calls Cerberus, prevented his using that privilege often. Making but a short stay in London, he went to Oxford; where he studied in St. Mary’s college, which stood nearly opposite New-Inn hall, and of which there are some few remains still visible. Here he became very intimate with all who had any name for literature: with Colet, Grocyn, Linacer, William Latimer, sir Thomas More, and many others. Under the guidance of these he | made a considerable progress in his studies; Colet engaging him in the study of divinity, and Grocyn, Linacer, and Latimer teaching him Greek. Greek literature was then reviving at Oxford; although much opposed by a set of the students, who called themselves Trojans, and, like the elder Cato at Rome, opposed it as a dangerous novelty.

Upon his coming to Oxford, he wrote a Latin ode (for he was not altogether without a poetical genius) by way of compliment to the college in which he was placed; and this made John Sixtine, a Phrysian, who was one of his first acquaintance there, observe, “what before he thought incredible, that the German wits were not at all inferior to those of Italy.” Erasmus was highly pleased with England, and with the friends he had acquired there, as appears by a letter dated from London, Dec. 5, 1497, and written to a friend in Italy; “in which country,” he tells him, “he himself would have been long ago, if his friend and patron lord Montjoy had not carried him with him to England. But what is it, you will say, which captivates you so much in -England If, my friend, I have any credit at all with you, I beg you to believe me, when I assure you, that nothing yet ever pleased me so much. Here I have found a pleasant and salubrious air I have met with humanity, politeness, learning learning not trite and superficial, but deep, accurate, true old Greek and Latin learning and withal so much of it, that, but for mere curiosity, I have no occasion to visit Italy. When Colet discourses, I seem to hear Plato himself. In Grocyn I admire an universal compass of learning. Linacer’s acuteness, depth, and accuracy, are not to be exceeded: nor did nature ever form any thing more elegant, exquisite, and better accomplished, than More. It would be endless to enumerate all; but it is surprising to -think, how learning flourishes in this happy country.

He left England the latter end of 1497, and went to Paris; whence, on account of the plague, he immediately passed on to Orleans, where he spent three months. He was very ill, while there, of a fever, which he had had every Lent for five years together; but he tells us, that St. Genevieve interceded for his recovery, and obtained it, though not without the assistance of a good physician. About April 1498 he had finished his “Adagia.” He applied himself all the while intensely to the study of the | Greek tongue; and he says that, as soon as he could get any money, he would first buy Greek books, and then clothes: “Statimque ut pecuniam accepero, Graecos primum auctores, delude vestes, emam.” At this time he began to experience some of the vicissitudes of patronage, and both the marchioness of Vere and the bishop of Cambray seem to have relaxed from their liberality. The marchioness, though she entertained him very politely, yet gave him little more than civil words, and squandered her money upon the monks: and the bishop soon after quarrelled with him, upon pretence that he had spoken slightly of his kindnesses.

In 1499 he took a second journey to England, as we collect from a letter of his to sir Thomas More, dated from Oxford, October the 28th of that year: but he does not appear to have made any considerable stay. In his return, at Dover, he was stripped of all his money, to the amount of about six angels, by a custom-house officer, before he embarked; and upon application for redress, he was told, that the seizure was according to ];iw, and there was no redress to be had. He had too much sense, however, to impute this, as some travellers would have done, to the country at large; on the contrary, in June 1500, when he published his “.Adagia” at Paris, he added to it a panegyric upon England, and dedicated the whole to his friend the lord Montjoy; who, in the mean time, had really been the occasion of his losing his money, from not instructing him in the laws and usages of the kingdom. About the middle of this year he made a journey into Holland; “where, though the air,” he says, “agreed with him, yet the horrid manners of the people, their brutality and gluttony, and their contempt of learning, and every thing that tended to civilise mankind, offended him highly.Holland had not then made the figure she did afterwards as the asylum of letters. This year also he published his piece “De copia vevborum,” and joined it to another piece, “De conscribendis epistolis,” which he had written some time before at the request of Montjoy.

He had now given many public proofs of his uncommon abilities and learning, and his fame was spread in all probability over a great part of Europe; yet we find by many of his letters, that he still continued extremely poor. His time was divided between pursuing his studies, and looking after his patrons; the principal of whom was Autonius | & Bergis, the abbot of St. Berlin, to whom he had been lately recommended, and who had received him very graciously. This abbot was very fond of him, and gave him a letter of recommendation to cardinal John de Medicis, afterwards pope Leo X.; for Erasmus had professed his intention to go into Italy, with a view of studying divinity some months at Bononia, and of taking there a doctor’s degree; also to visit Rome in the following year of the jubilee; and then to return home, and lead a retired life. But, although disappointed for want of the necessary means, he spent a good part of 1501 with the abbot of St. Berlin; and, the year after, we find him at Louvain, where he studied divinity under Dr. Adrian Florent, afterwards pope Adrian VI. This we learn from his dedication of Arnobius to this pope in 1522; and also from a letter of that pope to him, where he speaks of the agreeable conversations they were wont to have in those hours of studious leisure. In 1503 he published several little pieces, and amongst the rest his “Enchiridion militis Christian i:” which he wrote, he tells us, “not for the sake of shewing his eloquence, but to correct a vulgar error of those, who madereligion to consist in rites and ceremonies, to the neglect of virtue and true piety.” Long, indeed, before Luther appeared, Erasmus had discovered the corruptions and superstitions of the church of Rome, and had made some attempts to reform them. The “Enchiridion,” however, though it is very elegantly written, did not sell upon its first publication; but in 1518 Erasmus having prefixed a preface which highly offended the Dominicans, their clamours against it made its merit more known.

He had now spent three years in close application to the Greek tongue, which -he looked upon as so necessary, that he could not fancy himself a tolerable divine without it. Having rather neglected it when he was young, he after wards studied it at Oxford, under Grocyn and Linacer, but did not stay long enough there to reap any considerable benefit from their assistance; so that, though he attained a perfect knowledge of it, it was in a great measure owing to his own application; and he might truly be called, in respect to Greek, what indeed he calls himself, “prorsus autodidactus;” altogether self-taught. His way of acquiring this language was by translating; and hence it is that we come to have in his works such a number of pieces translated from Lucian, Plutarch, and others. These | translations likewise furnished him with opportunities of writing dedications to his patrons. Thus he dedicated to our king Henry VIII. a piece of Plutarch, entitled “How to distinguish a friend from a flatterer;” a dialogue of Lucian, called “Somnium, sive Gallus,” to Dr. Christopher Ursewick, an eminent scholar and statesman; the Hecuba of Euripides, to Warham, archhishop of Canterbury, which he presented to him at Lambeth, after he had been introduced by his friend Grocyn; another dialogue of Lucian, called “Toxaris, sive de arnicitia,” to Dr. Richard Fox, bishop of Winchester; and a great number of other pieces from different authors to as many different patrons, both in England and upon the continent. The example which Erasmus had set in studying the Greek tongue was eagerly and successfully followed; and he had the pleasure of seeing in a very short time Grecian learning cultivated by the greater part of Europe.

As Erasmus had no where more friends and patrons than in England, be made frequent visits to this island. Of these the principal were, Warham, archbishop of Canterbury; Tonstall, bishop of Durham; Fox, bishop of Winchester; Colet, dean of St. Paul’s; lord Montjoy, sir Thomas More, Grocyn, andLinacer; and he often speaks of the favours he had received from them with ‘pleasure and gratitude. They were very pressing with him to settle in England; and “it was with the greatest uneasiness that he left it, since,” as he tells Culet, in a letter dated Paris, June 19th, 1506, “there was no country which had furnished him with so many learned and generous benefactors as even the single city of London.” He had left it just before, and was then at Paris in his road to Italy, where he made but a short stay, lest he should be disappointed, as had been the case more than once already. He took a doctor of divinity’s degree at Turin; from whence he pro-, ceeded to Bologna, where he arrived at the very time it was besieged by Julius II. He passed on for the present to Florence, but returned to Bologna upon the surrender of the town, and was time enough to be witness to the triumphant entry of that pope. This entry was made Nov. 10, 1506, and was so very pompous and magnificent, that Erasmus, viewing Julius under his assumed title of Christ’s vicegerent, and comparing his entry into Bologna with Christ’s entry into Jerusalem, could not behold it without the utmost indignation. An adventure, however, befel | him in this city which had nearly proved fatal. The town not being quite clear of the plague, the surgeons, who had the care of it, wore something like the scapulars of friars, that people fearful of the infection might know and avoid them. Erasmus, wearing the habit of his order, went out one morning; and, being met by some wild young fellows with his white scapular on, was mistaken for one of the surgeons. They made signs to him to get out of the way; but he, knowing nothing of the custom, and making no haste to obey their signal, would have been stoned, if some citizens, perceiving his ignorance, had not immediately run up to him, and pulled off his scapular. To prevent such an accident for the future, he got a dispensation from. Julius II. which vvas afterwards confirmed by Leo X. to change his regular habit of friar into that of a secular priest. Erasmus now prosecuted his studies at Bologna, and contracted an acquaintance with the learned of the place;, with Paul Bombasius particularly, a celebrated> fessor, with whom he long held a correspondence by letters. He was strongly invited at Bologna to read lectures; but, considering that the Italian pronunciation of Latin was different from the German, he declined it lest his mode of speaking might appear ridiculous. He drew up, however, some new works here, and revised some old ones. He augmented his “Adagia” considerably; and, desirous of having it printed by the celebrated Aldus Manutius at Venice, proposed it to him. Aldus accepted the offer with pleasure; and Erasmus went immediately to Venice, after having staid at Bologna little more than a year. Besides his “Adagia,” Aldus printed a new edition of his translation of the Hecuba and Iphigenia of Euripides; and also of Terence and Plautus, after Erasmus had revised and corrected them. At Venice he became acquainted with several learned men; among the rest, with Jerome Aleander, who for his skill in the tongues was afterwards promoted to the dignity of a cardinal. He was furnished with all necessary accommodations by Aldus, and also with several Greek manuscripts, which he read over and corrected at his better leisure at Padua, whither he was obliged to hasten, to superintend and direct the studies of Alexander, natural son of James IV. king of Scotland, although Alexander was at that time nominated to the archbishopric of St. Andrew’s. Erasmus studied Pausanias, Eustathius, Theocritus, and other Greek authors, undor the inspection | and with the assistance of Musurus, who was one of those Greeks that had brought learning into the West, and was professor of that science at Padua.

Not enjoying a very good state of health at Padua, he went to Sienna, where he drew up some pieces of eloquence for the use of his royal pupil; and soon after to Rome, leaving Alexander at Sienna. He was received at Rome, as Rhenanus tells us, with the greatest joy and welcome by all the learned, and presently sought by persons of the first rank and quality. Thus we find that the cardinal John de Medicis, afterwards Leo X. the cardinal Raphael of St. George, the cardinal Gritnani, and Giles of Viterbo, general of the Augustines, and afterwards a cardinal, had a generous contention among themselves who should be foremost in civility to Erasmus, and have the most of his company. There is something interesting in the manner he was introduced to cardinal Gritnani, as related by himself in one of his letters, dated March 17, 1531: “When I was at Rome,” says he, “Peter Bembus often brought me invitations from Grimani, that I would come and see him. I never was fond of such company; but at last, that I might not seem to slight what is usually deemed a very great honour, 1 went. On arriving at his palace, not a soul could I perceive, either in or about it. It was after dinner; so, leaving the horse with my servant, I boldly ventured by myself into the house. I found all the doors open; but nobody was to be seen, though I had passed through three or four rooms. At last I happened upon a Greek, as I supposed, and asked him whether the cardinal was engaged He replied, that he bad company but asking what was my business Nothing, said I, but to pay iny compliments, which I can do as well at any other time. I was going; but halting a moment at one of the windows to observe the situation and prospect, the Greek ran up to me, and asked my name; and without my knowledge carried it to the cardinal, who ordered me to be introduced immediately. He received me with the utmost courtesy, as if I had been a cardinal conversed with me for two hours upon literary subjects and would not suffer me all the time to uncover my head ^ and upon my offering to rise, when his nephew, an archbishop, came in to us, he ordered me to keep my seat, saying, it was but decent that the scholar should stand before the master. In the course of our conversation, he earnestly entreated me not to think of leaving | Rome, and offered to make me partaker of his house and fortunes. At length he shewed me his library, which was full of books in all languages, and was esteemed the best iti Italy, except the Vatican. If I had known Grimani sooner, I certainly should never have left Rome; but I was then under such engagements to return to England, as it was not in my power to break. The cardinal said no more upon this point, when I told him that I had been invited by the king of England himself; but begged me to believe him very sincere, and not like the common tribe of courtiers, who have no meaning in what they say. It was not without some difficulty that I got away from him; nor before I promised him, that I would certainly wait on him again before I left Rome. I did not perform my promise; for I was afraid the cardinal by his eloquence would tempt me to break my engagements with my English friends. I never was more wrong in my life but what can a man do, >vhen fate drives him on

Erasmus was at Rome when Julius II. made his entry into that city from the conquest of Bologna; and this entry offended him as much as that at Bologna had done. For he could not conceive that the triumphs of the church, as they were called, were to consist in vain pomp and worldly magnificence, but rather in subduing all mankind to the faitti and practice of the Christian religion. While he was at Rome he was taken under the protection of the cardinal Raphael of St. George; and at his persuasion, employed on the ungrateful task of declaiming backwards and forwards upon the same argument. He was first to dissuade from undertaking a war against the Venetians; and then to exhort and incite to the war, upon every‘ variation of the pontiffV mind. When he was preparing to leave Rome, many temptations and arguments were ’used to detain him; and the pope offered him a place among his penitentiaries, which is reckoned very honourable, and a step to the highest preferments in that court. But his engagements in England prevented his staying at Rome; though, as we have already seen, he afterwards repented that he did not. He set out from Rome to Sienna, where he had left the archbishop of St. Andrew’s, his pupil; who, not willing to quit Italy without seeing Jlome, brought him back thither again. After a short stay they went to Cumae, to see the Sibyl’s cave; and there his pupil parted from him, being recalled to Scotland, where he was, killed

Vol. XIII. S | in a battle fought against the English at Flodden-field in 1513. Erasmus has left a grand eulogium on this young nobleman in his “Adagia.

He left Italy soon after his pupil, without understanding the language of that country, which made his journey less advantageous as well as pleasant to him. It is said that when he was at Venice, he met Bernard Ocricularius of Florence, who had written Latin history in the manner of Sallust Erasmus desired a conversation with him, and addressed him in Latin: but the Florentine obstinately refused to speak any thingexcept Italian; which Erasmus not understanding, they separated without edification on either part. Why Erasmus should not understand Italian, it is. not difficult to conceive; but it is somewhat singular that he should be ignorant of French, which was in a great measure the case, though he had spent so much time in that country. In his way from Italy to England, he passed first to Curia, then to Constance, and so through the Martian forest by Brisgau to Strasburgh, and from thence by the Rhine to Holland; whence, after making some little stay at Antwerp and Louvain, he took shipping for England. Some of his friends and patrons, whom he visited as he came along, made him great offers, and wished him to settle among them; but his heart was at this time entirely fixed upon spending the remainder of his days in England, not only upon account of his former connections and friendships, which were very dear to him, bxit the great hopes that had lately been held out to him, of ample preferment, provided he would settle there. Henry VII. died in April 1509; and Henry VIII. his son and successor, was Erasmus’s professed friend and patron, and had for some time held a correspondence with him by letters. That prince was no sooner upon the throne, than Montjoy wrote to Erasmus to hasten him into England, promising him great things on the part of the king, and of Warham archbishop of Canterbury, though indeed he had no particular commission to that end from either the one or the other. More, and some other friends, wrote him also letters to the same purpose. But he had no sooner arrived in the beginning of 1510, than he perceived that liis expectations had been raised too high, and began secretly to wish that he had not quitted Rome. However, he took no notice of the disappointment, but pursued his studies with his usual assiduity. | At his ’arrival in England he lodged with More; and while he was there, to divert himself and his friend, he wrote, within the compass of a week, “-Encomium Moriae,” or “The praise of Folly,” a copy of which was sent to France, and printed there, but with abundance of faults; yet it became so popular, that in a few months it went through seven editions. The general design of this ludicrous piece is to shew, that there are fools in all stations, and more particularly to expose the errors and follies of the court of Rome, not sparing the pope himself; so that he was never after regarded as a true son of that church. It was highly acceptable to persons of quality, but as highly offensive to dissolute monks, who disapproved especially of the Commentary which Lystrius wrote upon it, and which is printed with it, because it unveiled several things from whose obscurity they drew much profit. Soon after he came to England he published a translation of the Hecuba of Euripides into Latin verse; and, adding some poems to it, dedicated it to archbishop Warham. The prelate received the dedication courteously, yet made the poet only a small present. As he was returning from Lambeth, his friend Grocyn, who had accompanied him, asked, “what present he had received” Erasmus replied, laughing, “A very considerable sum” which Grocyn would not believe. Having told him what it was, Grocyn observed, that the prelate was rich and generous enough to have made him a much handsomer present; but certainly suspected that he had presented to him a book already dedicated elsewhere. Erasmus asked, “how such a suspicion could enter his head” “Because,” said Grocyn, “such hungry scholars as you, who stroll about the world, and dedicate books to noblemen, are apt to be guilty of such tricks.

He was invited down to Cambridge by Fisher, bishop of Rochester, chancellor of the university, and head of Queen’s college, accommodated by him in his own lodge, and promoted by his means to the lady Margaret’s professorship in divinity, and afterwards to the Greek professor’s chair but how long he held these places we know not and his necessities were still very scantily supplied. In a letter to Colet, dean of St. Paul’s, he earnestly importunes him for fifteen angels, which he had promised him long ago, on condition that he would dedicate to him his book “De copia verborum;” which, however, was not published till | the following year, 1512. It has indeed been alleged, irf" excuse for this apparent neglect of a man of so much merit, that Erasmus was of a very rambling disposition, and hardly staid long enough in a place to rise regularly to preferment; and that though he received frequent and considerable presents from his friends and patrons, yet he was forced to live expensively because of his bad health. Thus he had a horse to maintain, and probably a servant to take care of him: he was obliged to drink wine because malt liquor gave him fits of the gravel. Add to this, that, though a very able and learned man, yet, like many others of his order, he was by no means versed in ceconomics.

In 1513, he wrote from London a. very elegant letter to the abbot of St. Berlin, against the rage of going to war, which then possessed the English and the French. He has often treated this subject, and always with that vivacity, eloquence, and strength of reason, with which he treated every subject as in his Adagia, under the proverb “Dulce Bellum inexpertis” in his book entitled “Querela Pads,” and in his “Instruction of a Christian Prince.” But his remonstrances had small effect, and the emperor Charles V. to whom the last-mentioned treatise was dedicated, persisted in his belligerent plans. Erasmus was so singular in his opinions on this subject, that bethought it hardly lawful for a Christian to go to war; and in this respect, as Jortin observes, was almost a quaker.

In the beginning of 1514 Erasmus was in Flanders. His friend Montjoy was then governor of Ham, in Picardy, where he passed some days, and then went to Germany. While he was here, he seems to have written “The Abridgment of his Life,” in which he says, that he would have spent the rest of his days in England if the promises made to him had been performed; but, being invited to come to Brabant, to the tourt of Charles archduke of Austria, he accepted the offer, and was made counsellor to that prince. Afterwards he went to Basil, where he carried his New Testament, his Epistles of St. Jerome, with notes, and some other works, to print them in that city. At this time he contracted an acquaintance with several learned men, as Beatus Rhenanus, Gerbelius, CEcolampadius, Amberbach, and also with the celebrated printer John Frobenius, for whom he ever after professed the utmost esteem. He returned to the Low Countries, and there was nominated by Charles of Austria to a vacant | bishopric- in Sicily; but the right of patronage happened to belong to the pope. Erasmus laughed when he heard of this preferment, and certainly was very unfit for such a station; though the Sicilians, being, as he says, merry fellows, might possibly have liked such a bishop. He would not settle at Louvain for many reasons,‘ particularly because of the divines there, for whom he had much contempt.

In 1515 he was at Basil; and this year Martin Dorpius, a divine of Louvain, instigated by the enemies of Erasmus, wrote against his “Praise of Folly;” to whom Erasmus replied with much mildness, as knowing that Dorpius, who was young and ductile, had been put upon it by others. He was the first adversary who attacked him openly, but Erasmus forgave him, and took him into his friendship (see Dorpius), which he would not easily have done, if he had not been good-natured, and, as he says of himself, “irasci facilis, tamen ut placabilis esset.” He wrote this year a very handsome letter to pope Leo X. in which he speaks of his edition of St. Jerome, which he had a mind to dedicate to him. Leo returned him a very obliging answer, and seems not to refuse the offer of Erasmus, which, however, did not take effect; for the work was dedicated to the archbishop of Canterbury. Not content with writing to him, Leo wrote also to Henry VIII. of England, and recommended Erasmus to him. The cardinal of St. George also pressed him much to come to Rome, and approved his design of dedicating St. Jerome to the pope: but he always declined going to Rome, as he himself declared many years after, or even to the imperial court, lest the pope or the emperor should command him to write against Luther and the new heresies. And therefore, when the pope’s nuncio to the English court had instructions to persuade Erasmus to throw himself at the pope’s feet, he did not think it safe to trust him; having reason to fear that the court of Rome would never forgive the freedoms he had already taken.

He soon returned to the Low Countries, where we find him in 1516. He received letters from the celebrated Budeus, to inform him that Francis I. was desirous of inviting learned men to France, and had approved of Erasmus among others, offering him a benefice of a thousand livres. Stephanus Poncherius, or Etienne de Ponchery, bishop of Paris, and the king’s ambassador at Brussels, was the | person who made these offers, but Erasmus excused himself, alleging that the catholic king detained him in the Low Countries, having made him his counsellor, and given him a prebend, though as yet he had received none of the revenues of it. Here, probably, commenced the correspondence and ‘friendship between Erasmus and Budeus, which, however, does not seem to have been very sincere. Their letters are indeed not deficient in compliments, but they likewise abound in petty contests, which shew that some portion of jealousy existed between them, especially on the side of Budeus, who yet in other respects was an excellent man; (See Budeus). This year was printed at Basil, Erasmus’s edition of the New Testament, a work of infinite labour, and which helped, as he tells us, to destroy his health and spoil his constitution. It drew upon him the censures of some ignorant and envious divines; who, not being capable themselves of performing such a task, were vexed, as it commonly happens, to see it undertaken and accomplished by another. We collect from his letters, that there was one college in Cambridge which would not suffer this work to enter within its walls; however, his friends congratulated him upon it, and the call for it was so great, that it was thrice reprinted in less than a dozen years, namely, in 1519, 1522, and 1527. This was the first time the New Testament was printed in Greek. The works of St. Jerome began now to be published by Erasmus, and were printed in 6 vols. folio, at Basil, from 1516 to 1526. He mentions the great labour it had cost him to put this father into good condition, which yet he thought very well bestowed, for he was excessively fond of him, and upon all occasions his panegyrist. Luther blamed Erasmus for leaning so much to Jerome, and for thinking, as he supposed, too meanly of Augustine. “As much,” says he, “as Erasmus prefers Jerome to Augustine, so much do I prefer Augustine to Jerome.” But in this respect, Jortin is of opinion that Luther’s taste was extremely bad.

Thus letters began to revive apace, and no one contributed more to their restoration than Erasmus. Among other things, the “Epistolae obscurorum virorum” were published; and ignorance, pedantry, bigotry, and persecution, met with warm opponents, who attacked them with great vigour, and allowed them no quarter. More informs Erasmus, that the “Epistolze” were generally | approved, even by those who were ridiculed in them, and who had not the sense to feel it. This anonymous offspring of wit was fathered upon Erasmus, among many others, but undoubtedly without reason. If he had been the au-> thor, it would not have had that surprising effect on him which it is said to have had when first he began to read it. The effect was this: it threw him into such a fit of laughter, that it burst an abscess he then had in his face, which the physicians had ordered to be opened.

The rise of the reformation was a very interesting period to Erasmus. Luther had preached against indulgences in 1517, and the contest between the Romanists and the reformed was begun and agitated with great warmth on both sides. Erasmus, who was of a pacific temper, and abhorred, of all things, dissensions and tumults, was much alarmed and afflicted at this state of affairs; and he often complained afterwards, that his endeavours to compose and reconcile the two parties only drew upon him the resentment and indignation of both. From this time he was exposed to a persecution so painful, that he had much difficulty to support it with equanimity; and invectives were aimed at him by the rancorous churchmen, who loudly complained that his bold and free censures of the monks, and of their pious grimaces and superstitions, had paved the way for Luther. “Erasmus,” they used to say, “laid the egg, and Luther hatched it.” Erasmus seems afterwards to have been considered as really a coadjutor in the business of the reformation; for in the reign of Mary queen of England, when a proclamation was issued against importing, printing, reading, selling, or keeping heretical books, his works are comprehended amongst them.

Erasmus received this year, 1518, a considerable present from Henry VIII. as also an offer of a handsome maintenance in England for the rest of his life; he thanked the king, but without either accepting or refusing the favour. A little time after, he wrote to cardinal Wolsey, for whom, however, he had no great affection; and after some compliments, heavily complained of the malice of certain calumniators and enemies of literature, who thwarted his designs of employing human learning to sacred purposes. “These wretches,” says he, “ascribe to Erasmus every thing that is odious; and confound the cause of literature with that of Luther and religion, though thejt have no connection with each other. As to Luther, he is perfectly | a stranger to me, and I have read nothing of his, except two or three pages not that I despise him, but because my own pursuits will not give me leisure and yet, as I am informed, there are some who scruple not to affirm, that I have actually been his helper. If he has written well, the praise belongs npt to me nor the blame, if he has written, ill since in all his works there is not a line that came from me. His life and conversation are universally commended and it is no small prejudice in his favour, that his morals are unblameable, and that calumny itself can fasten no reproach on his life. If I had really had time to peruse his writings, I am not so conceited of my own abilities, as to pass a judgment upon the performances of so eminent a divine. I was once against Luther, purely for fear he should bring an odium upon literature, which is too much suspected of evil already,” &c. Thus he goes on to defend himself here, as he does in many other places of his writings; where we may always observe his reserve and caution not to condemn Luther, while he condemned openly enough the conduct and sentiments of Luther’s enemies. Though Erasmus addressed himself upon this occasion to Wolsey, yet it was impossible for the cardinal to be a sincere friend to him, because he was patronized by Warham, between whom and Wolsey there was no good understanding; and because the great praises which Erasmus frequently bestowed upon the archbishop would naturally be interpreted by the cardinal as so many slights upon himself. In his preface to Jerome, after observing of Warham, that he used to wear plain apparel, he relates, that once, when Henry VIII. and Charles V. had an interview, Wolsey took upon him to set forth an order that the clergy should appear splendidly dressed in silk and damask; and that Warham alone, despising the cardinal’s authority, appeared in his usual habit.

In 1519, Luther sent a very courteous letter to Erasmus, whom he fancied to be on his side; because he had declared himself against the superstitions of the monks, and because these men hated them both almost equally. He thought, too, that he could discern this from his new preface to the “Enchiridion militis Christiani,” which was republished about this time. Erasmus replied, calling Luther “his dearest brother in Christ;” and informed him, “what a noise had been made against his works at Louvain. As to himself, he had declared,” he says, “to the divines | of that university, that be had not read those works, and, therefore, could neither approve nor disapprove them; but that it would be better for them to publish answers made up of solid argument, than to rail at them before the people, especially as the moral character of their author was blameless. He owns, however, that he had perused part of his Commentaries upon the Psalms; that he liked them much, and hoped they might be st-rviceable. He tells him, that many persons, both in England and the Low Countries, commended his writings. There is,” says he, “a prior of a monastery at Antwerp, a true Christian, who loves- you extremely, and was, as he relates, formerly a disciple of yours. He is almost the only one who preaches Jesus Christ, while others preach human fables, and seek after lucre. The Lord Jesus grant you from day to” day an increase of his spirit, for his glory and the public good.“From these and other passages, Erasmus appears to have entertained hopes, that Luther’s attempts, and the great notice which had been taken of them, might be serviceable to genuine Christianity yet he did not approve his conduct, nor had any thoughts of joining him on the contrary, he grew every day more shy and cautious of engaging himself in his affairs. He was earnestly solicitous to have the cause of literature, which the monks opposed so violently, separated from the cause of Lutheranism; and therefore he often observes, that they had no kind of connection. But, as Dr. Jortin remarks, with great truth,” the study of the belles lettres is a poor occupation, if they are to be confined to a knowledge of language and antiquities, and not employed to the service of religion and of other sciences. To what purpose doth a man fill his head with Latin and Greek words, with prose and verse, with histories, opinions, and customs, if it doth not contribute to make him more rational, more prudent, more civil, more virtuous and religious Such occupations are to be considered as introductory, and ornamental, and serviceable to studies of higher importance, such as philosophy, law, ethics, politics, and divinity. To abandon these sciences, in order to support philology, is like burning a city to save the gates."

About 1520, a clamour was raised against Erasmus in England, although he had many friends there; and, among them, even persons of the first quality, and the king himself. He gives a remarkable instance of this in the | behaviour of one Standish, who had been a monk, and was bishop of St. Asaph; and whom Erasmus sometimes calls, by way of derision, “Episcopum a sancto asino.” Standish had censured Erasmus, in a sermon preached at St. Paul’s, for translating the beginning of St. John’s gospel, “In principle erat sermo,” and not “verbum.” He also accused Erasmus of heresy before the king and queen but this charge was repelled by two learned friends, who are supposed to have been Pace, dean of St. Paul’s, and sir Thomas More. This year, Jerome Aleander, the pope’s nuncio, solicited the emperor, and Frederic elector of Saxony, to punish Luther. Frederic was then at Cologn, and Erasmus came there, and was consulted by him upon this occasion. Erasmus replied, ludicrously at first, saying, “Luther has committed two unpardonable crimes: he touched the pope upon the crown, and the monks upon the belly.” He then told the elector seriously, that “Luther had justly censured many abuses and errors, and that the welfare of the church required a reformation of them; that Luther’s doctrine was right in the main, but that it had not been delivered by him with a proper temper, and with due moderation.” The pope’s agents, finding Erasmus thus obstinately bent to favour, at least not to condemn and write against Luther, as they often solicited him to do, endeavoured to win him over by the offer of bishoprics or abbeys. “I know,” says he, “that a bishopric is at my service, if I would but write against Luther: but Luther is a man of too great abilities for me to encounter; and, to say the truth, I learn more from one page of his, than from all the volumes of Thomas Aquinas.

Still we find Erasmus taking all opportunies of declaring his firm resolution to adhere to the see of Rome. “What connections,” says he, “have I with Luther, or what recompense to expect from him, that I should join with him to oppose the church of Rome, which 1 take to be a true part of the catholic church J, who should be loth to resist the bishop of my diocese” As for the monks, they would have been glad to have seen him a deserter, and lodged in the enemy’s quarters, because he would have much less incommoded them as a Lutheran than as a catholic; but he was determined not to stir. His wish was to seek a middle way, with a view of putting an end to these contests; but, above all, to keep himself from being looked upon as a party on either side. Thus, there is a remarkable letter | of his, written to Pace, dean of St. Paul’s, in 1521, wherein he complains equally of the violence of Luther, and of the rage of the Dominicans; as also of the malice of Aieander, who ascribed to him some writings of Luther, of which he had not even heard. Some affirmed, that Erasmus had written a treatise called “The Captivity of Babylon,” although Luther openly acknowledged it for his own: others said, that Luther had taken many of his sentiments from Erasmus. “I see now,” says he, “that the Germans are resolved at all adventures to engage me in the cause of Luther, whether I will or not. In this they have acted foolishly, and have taken the most effectual method to alienate me from them and their party. Wherein could I have assisted Luther, if I had declared myself for him, and shared the danger along with him Only thus far, that, instead of one man, two would have perished. I cannot conceive what he means by writing with such a spirit: one thing I know too well, that he has brought a great odium upon the lovers of literature. It is true, that he hath given us many wholesome doctrines, and many good counsels; and I wish he had not defeated the effect of them by his intolerable faults. But, if he had written, every thing in the most unexceptionable manner, I had no inclination to die for the sake of truth. Every man has not the courage requisite to make a martyr; and I am afraid that, if I were put to the trial, I should imitate St. Peter.” In this Erasmus betrays his genuine character, and it is plain that it was not truth, nor the desire of propagating it, but self-preservation only, which influenced his conduct throughout this affair. He certainly approved of Luther’s principal doctrines,*


This does not appear to be strictly true. Milner in his Eccl. Hist, has clearly proved that Erasmus did did coincide with Luther on many essential of doctrine.

and inwardly wished he might carry his point; but, as he could not imagine that probable, he chose to adhere outwardly to the stronger party. “I follow,” says he, “the decisions of the pope and the emperor, when they are right, which is acting religiously: I submit to them, when they are wrong, which is acting prudently: and I think it is lawful for good men to behave themselves thus, when there is no hope of obtaining any more.” From this principle of policy, he extolled the book of Henry VIII. against Luther, even before he had seen it; and he began now to throw out hints, that he | would one day enter the lists with the great reformer, yet, when his friend and patron Montjoy exhorted him, the same year, to write against Luther, he replied, “Nothing is more easy than to call Luther a blockhead nothing is less easy than to prove him one at least, so it seems to me.” Upon the whole, he was exceedingly perplexed how to behave to Luther; and frequently appears inconsistent, because he thought himself obliged to disclaim before men what in his heart he approved and even revered.

In 1519 a collection of Erasmus’s letters was published, which gave him, as he pretends, much vexation. As he had spoken freely in them on many important points, he could not avoid giving offence. The monks especially, as enemies to literature, exclaimed violently against them; and when the Lutheran contentions broke out, these letters were still more censured than before, and accused of favouring Lutheranism, at a time when, as he says, it was neither safe to speak, nor to keep silence. He adds, that he would have suppressed those letters, but that Froben would not consent: but in this, says Jortin, he could hardly speak seriously, since Froben was too much his friend to print them without his consent. In 1522 he published the works of St. Hilary. “Erasmus,” says Du Pin, “when he published his editions of the fathers, joined to them prefaces and notes full of critical discernment: and, though he may sometimes be too bold in rejecting some of their works as spurious, yet it must be confessed, that he has opened and shewed the way to all who have followed him.” He had lately published also at Basil his celebrated “Colloquies,” which he dedicated to John Erasmus Froben, son to John Froben, and his godson. He drew up these “Colloquies,” partly that young persons might have a book to teach them the Latin tongue, and religion and morals at the same time; and partly, to cure the bigotted world, if he could, of that superstitious devotion which the monks so industriously propagated. The liveliest strokes in them are aimed at the monks and their religion; on which account they had no sooner appeared, than a most outrageous clamour was raised against them. He was accused of laughing at indulgences, auricular confession, eating fish upon fast-days, &c. and it is certain he did not talk of these matters with much respect. The faculty of theology at Paris passed a general censure, in 1526, upon the Colloquies of Erasmus, as upon a work in which “the fasts | and abstinences of the church are slighted, the suffrages of the holy virgin and of the saints are derided, virginity is set below matrimony, Christians are discouraged from monkery, and grammatical is preferred to theological erudition; and therefore decreed, that the perusal of that wicked book be forbidden to all, more especially to young people, and that it be entirely suppressed, if possible.” In 1537, pope Paul III. chose a select number of cardinals and prelates, to consider about reforming the church; who, among other things, proposed, that young people should not be permitted to learn Erasmus’s Colloquies. A provincial council also, held at Cologn in 1549, condemned these Colloquies, as not fit to be read in schools. Yet they must be allowed to contain a treasure of wit and good sense, and though they were intended as only a schoolbook, are not unworthy the perusal of the most advanced in knowledge. Colineus reprinted them at Paris in 1527; and, by artfully giving out that they were prohibited, sold, it is said, above tbur-and-twenty thousand of one impression.

Adrian VI. having succeeded Leo in the see of Rome, Erasmus dedicated to him an edition of a Commentary of Arnobius upon the Psalms; and added to it an epistle, in which he congratulates this new pope, and entreats him not to pay any regard to the calumnies spread against his humble servant, without first giving him a hearing. Adrian returned him an elegant and artful letter of thanks, exhorting him strongly to write against Luther, and inviting him to Rome. Erasmus wrote a second time, and offered to communicate to Adrian his opinion upon the fittest methods to suppress Lutheranism; for he entertained some hopes that his old friend and school-fellow might possibly do some good. Adrian sent him word that he should be glad to have his opinion upon this affair; and invited him a second time to Rome. Erasmus excused himself from the journey, on account of his bad health, and other impediments; but certainly did not repose such confidence in Adrian, as to trust himself in his hands. He tells his holiness, that he had neither the talents nor the authority requisite for answering Luther with any prospect of success. He then proceeded to the advice he had promised: and, 1. He disapproves of all violent and cruel methods, and wishes that some condescension were shewed to the Lutherans. 2. He thinks that the causes of the evil should | be investigated, and suitable remedies applied; that an amnesty should ensue, and a general pardon of all that was past; and that then the princes and magistrates should take care to prevent innovations for the future. 3. He thinks it needful to restrain the liberty of the press. 4. He would have the pope to give the world hopes, that some faults should be amended, which could be no longer justified. 5. He would have him assemble persons of integrity and abilities, and of all nations. Here Erasmus breaks off in the middle of a sentence, intending to say more at another time, if the pope were willing to hear it. But he had already said too much. Adrian utterly disliked his advice and Erasmus’s enemies took this opportunity of plotting his ruin but the death of the pope soon after, put a stop to their contrivances. Yet as the monks reported in all places that Erasmus was a Lutheran, he took much pains by his letters to undeceive the public, and satisfy his friends. With this view he wrote, in 1523, to Henry VIII. and to the pope’s legate in England. Cuthbert Tonstall sent him a letter, and exhorted him to answer Luther; and, unable any longer to withstand the importunate solicitations of the Romanists, he sent word to the king that he was drawing up a piece against Luther. This was his “Diatribe cle libero arbitrio,” which was published the following year. But this gave no satisfaction at all to the Romanists; and, although he could have proved Luther erroneous in his notion of free-will, this had nothing to do with the dispute between Luther and the pope, and the Romanists therefore thought themselves Tery little obliged to him.

Adrian dying this year, he was succeeded by Clement VII. who sent to Erasmus an honourable diploma, accompanied with two hundred florins. He invited him also to Rome, as his predecessors had done: but “at Rome,” says Erasmus, “there are many who want to destroy me, and they had almost accomplished their purpose before the death of Adrian. After having, at his own request, communicated to him my secret opinion, I found that things were altered, and that I was no longer in favour.” The cause was manifest, says Jortin Erasmus had hinted at the necessity of a reformation and such language was highly disgusting at the court of Rome. If Luther did not like Erasmus, because Erasmus approved not in all things either his doctrine or his conduct, the court of Rome liked | him as little, because he did not condemn Luther in all things yet it thought proper to give him good words and promises, and to entice him thither if possible where he would have been in their power, and no better than a prisoner at large.

In 1524, Luther, upon a rumour probably that Erasmus was going to write against him, sent him a letter, full of fire and spirit; which gives so just an idea of both Luther and Erasmus, that we think ourselves obliged to present the reader with part of it. He begins in the apostolical manner: “Grace and peace to you from the Lord Jesus. I shall not complain of you for having behaved yourself as a man alienated from us, for the sake of keeping fair with the papists, our enemies; nor was I much offended, that, in your printed books, to gain their favour, or to soften their fury, you censured us with too much acrimony. We 8aw that the Lord had not conferred upon you the discernment^ the courage, and the resolution, to join with us in freely and openly opposing those monsters; and therefore we durst not exact from you what greatly surpasseth your strength and your capacity. We have even borne with your weakness, and honoured that portion of the gift of God which is in you.” Then, having bestowed upon him his due praises, as a reviver of good literature, by means of which the holy scriptures had been read and examined in the originals, he proceeds thus: “I never wished, that, deserting your own province, you should come over to our camp. You might, indeed, have favoured us not a little by your wit and eloquence; but, forasmuch as you have not the courage which is requisite, it is safer for you to serve the Lord in your own way. Only we feared, that our adversaries should entice you to write against us, and that necessity should then constrain us to oppose you to your face. I am concerned, as well as you, that the resentment of so many eminent persons of your party, hath been excited against you. I must suppose that this gives you no small uneasiness: for virtue like yours, mere human virtue, cannot raise a man above being affected by such trials. I could wish, if it were possible, to act the part of a mediator between you, that they might cease to attack you with such animosity, and suffer your old age to rest in peace in the Lord: and thus they would act, if they either considered your weakness, or the greatness of the cause in dispute, which hath been long since | beyond your talents. They would shew their moderation towards you so much the more, since our affairs are advanced to such a point, that our cause is in no peril, though even Erasmus should attack it with all his might: so far are we from dreading the keenest strokes of his wit. On the other hand, my dear Erasmus, if you duly reflect upon yor own imbecility, you will abstain from those sharp and spiteful figures of rhetoric; and, if you cannot defend your sentiments, will treat of subjects which suit you better. Our friends, as you yourself will allow, have reason to be uneasy at being lashed by you, because human infirmity thinks of the authority and reputation of Erasmus, and fears it: and indeed there is much difference between him and other papists, he being a more formidable adversary than all of them put together.” This letter vexed Erasmus not a little, as may easily be imagined, and he wrote an answer to it; but the answer is not in the collection of his epistles.

In 1525 he published his “Diatribe de libero arbitrio,” already noticed, which Luther replied to, in a treatise entitled “De servo arbitrio.” In this he mixes compliment, praise, scorn, insult, ridicule, and invective, together; at which Erasmus was much provoked, and immediately wrote a reply, which was the first part of his “Hyperaspistes:” the second was published in 1527. The year after he published two treatises, in the way of dialogue, entitled “The pronunciation of the Greek and Latin languages,” and “The Ciceronianus.” In the former, which is one of the most learned of all his compositions, are contained very curious researches into the pronunciation of vowels and consonants; in the sec.ond, which is one of the most lively and ingenious, he rallies agreeably some Italian purists, who scrupled to make use of any word or phrase which was not to be found in Cicero: not that he condemned either Cicero or his manner of writing, but only the servility and pedantry of his imitators, which he thought, and very justly, deserving of ridicule. On the contrary, when Froben engaged him, the very same year, to revise a new edition of the Tusculan Questions, he prefixed to it an elegant preface, in which he highly extols Cicero, both for his style and moral sentiments, and almost makes a saint of him: and Julius Scaliger, who censured Erasmus for his treatment of the Ciceronians, declared afterwards, that he was willing to forgive him his blasphemies, and to | be at peace with him thenceforward, for the sake of this preface; which he considered as a kind of penance, and of satisfaction made to the manes of the Roman orator.

In April 1529 Erasmus departed from Basil, where he had now lived many years, but where he thought himself no longer safe; and went to Friburg, where at first he had apartments belonging to the king, but afterwards bought a house. Here, in 1531, he had a sight of the first oration of Julius Scaliger against his “Ciceronianus;” all the copies of which, or at least as many as he could, Erasmus is said to have collected and destroyed. “There is something,” says Dr. Jortin, “ridiculously diverting in the pompous exclamations and tragical complaints of Scaliger. One would imagine at least, that Erasmus had called Cicero fool, or knave: and yet all his crime was, to have besprinkled the servile imitators of Cicero with a little harmless banter.” After the first oration, Scaliger composed a second more scurrilous if possible than the first: but it was not published till after Erasmus’s death, in 1537. Some of Scaliger’s friends were much displeased at the scandalous manner in which he had treated Erasmus, and desired him to give over the contention. He declared himself, therefore, though in a proud and awkward manner, willing to be reconciled: and, to do him justice, he was at last sorry for his rudeness to Erasmus, and wrote a copy of verses in his praise, when he heard that he was dead.

Erasmus now began to complain to his friends, and to represent himself as quite worn down with age, pain, and sickness; and in 1535 he returned to Basil, to try if he could recover his health, where he continued ever after. This year Bembus congratulates him upon the high regard which the pope had for him; and hopes that it would end in great preferment, by which he probably meant a cardinal’s hat. The enemies of Erasmus have affirmed, that the court of Rome never designed him such a favour; but Erasmus has affirmed the contrary, and says, “that having written to Paul III. that pope, before he had unsealed his letter, spoke of him in the most honourable manner: that he had resolved to add to the college of cardinals some learned men, of whom he might make use in the general council, which was to be called and I,” says Erasmus, “was named to be one. But to my promotion it was objected, that my bad state of health would make me unfit for that function, and that my income was not sufficient | so at present they think of loading me with preferments, that I may be qualified for the red hat.” He declares, however, that his health would not permit him to accept such favours, since he could scarce stir out of his chamber with safety; and he refused every thing that was offered him.

He had been ill at Friburg, and continued so at Basil. In the summer of 1536 he grew worse; and the last letter which we have of his writing is dated June the 20th of that year. He subscribes it thus, “Erasmus Rot. aegra manu.” He was for almost a month ill of a dysentery; and he knew that his disease would prove mortal. He had foreseen for several months, that he could not hold out long; and he foretold it again three days, and then two days, before his death. He died July 12, in the sixty-ninth year of his age; and was buried in the cathedral church of Basil, where his tomb is to be seen, with a Latin inscription on the marble, of which a copy it inserted in the first volume of his works. He had made his will in February, in which he left handsome legacies to his friends, and the remainder to be distributed to relieve the sick and poor, to marry young women, and to assist young men of good characters: by which it appeared, that he was not in low circumstances, nor so bad an ceconomist as he sometimes, between jest and earnest, represented himself. His friend Beatus Rhenanus has given us a description of his person and manners, and tells us, that he was low of stature, but not remarkably short; that he was well-shaped, of a fair complexion, with hair in his youth of a pale yellow, grey eyes, a cheerful countenance, a low voice, and an agreeable utterance; that he was neat and decent in his apparel; that he had a very tender and infirm constitution, and a tenacious memory; that he was a pleasant companion, a very constant friend, generous and charitable, &c. He had one peculiarity belonging to him, which was, that he could not endure even the smell of fish; so that, however he might be a papist in other respects, he had, as he says, a very Lutheran stomach. He used to dine late, that he might have a long morning for study. After dinner, he would converse cheerfully with his friends upon all sorts of subjects, and deliver his opinions freely upon men and things. Erasmus objected long to sit for his picture; but he conquered that aversion, and was frequently drawn by Holbein. | He dwelt longer at Basil than at any other place. He delighted in that city; and though he sometimes made excursions, yet he was sure to return. The revolution in religion was the only cause that hindered him from fixing his abode there all his days. At Basil they show the house in which he died; and the place where the professors of divinity read their winter-lectures is called the college of Erasmus. His cabinet is one of the most considerable rarities of the city; it contains his ring, his seal, his sword, his knife, his pencil, his will written with his own hand, and his picture by Holbein, which is a masterpiece. The magistrates bought this cabinet, in 1661, for nine thousand crowns, of the descendants of Erasmus’s heir: and, if we may believe Patin, they made a present of it to the university; but others say, they sold it for a thousand crowns. Nothing has made the city of Rotterdam more famous, than its having given birth to this great man: nor has it been insensible of the honour, but has testified its high regard to him. The house in which he was born is adorned with an inscription, to inform both natives and strangers of this illustrious prerogative; the college, where Latin, Greek, and rhetoric are taught, bears the name of Erasmus, and is consecrated to him by an inscription on th6 frontispiece; a statue of wood was raised to him in 1549; a statue of stone in 1555, and one of copper in 1622, which is admired by the connoisseurs. It is in an open part of the city, standing on a bridge over a canal, upon a pedestal adorned with inscriptions, and surrounded with iron rails.

But, with all his greatness, Erasmus had, and it must not be dissembled, his failings and infirmities. Bayle has observed of him, that he had too much sensibility when he was attacked by adversaries made too many complaints of them and was too ready to answer them and Le Clerc has often censured him for his lukewarmness, timidity, and unfairness, in the business of the reformation. Dr. Jortin seems to allow some foundation for these censures, yet has offered what can be offered by way of excuse for Erasmus. To the first of them fye replies, that Erasmus “was fighting for his honour, and for his life; being often accused of nothing less than heterodoxy, impiety, and blasphemy, by men whose forehead was a rock, and whose tongue was a razor. To be misrepresented as a pedant and a dunce,” he says, “is no great matter, for time and truth put folly | to flight to be accused of heresy by bigots, hypocrites, politicians, and infidels, this is a serious affair as they know too well, who have had the misfortune to feel the effects of it.” As for his lukewarmness in promoting the reformation, Dr. Jortin is of opinion, that much may be said, and with truth, in his behalf. He thinks that Erasmus “was not entirely free from the prejudices of education; that he had some indistinct and confused notions about the authority of the church catholic, which made it not lawful to depart from her, corrupted as he believed her to be; and that he was much shocked at the violent measures which were pursued by the reformers, as well as by the violent quarrels which arose among them.” The doctor cannot be persuaded, “that the fear of losing his pensions and coming to want ever made Erasmus say or do things which he thought unlawful;” yet supposes, “that he might be afraid of disobliging several of his oldest and best friends, who were against the Lutheran reformation, such as Henry VIII. Charles V. the popes, Wolsey, &c. and also his patrons, Warham, Montjoy, More, Tonstall, Fisher, Bembus, &c. and all these things might influence his judgment, though he himself was not at all aware of it. There is no necessity to suppose, that he acted against his conscience in adhering to the church of Rome: no, he persuaded himself that he did ’as much as piety and prudence required from him in censuring her defects.” The doctor observes, that “though as protestants we are certainly much obliged to Erasmus, yet we are more obliged to Luther, Melancthon, and other authors of the reformation. This,” says he, “is true; yet it is as true, that we and all the nations in Europe are infinitely obliged to Erasmus, for spending a long and laborious life in opposing ignorance and superstition, and in promoting literature and true piety.

The works of Erasmus were published at Leyden, 1703, in a very handsome manner, in ten volumes, folio, under the care and inspection of the learned Le Clerc: and we think it proper to subjoin the contents of each volume in a note,*


Vol. I. De copia verborum & rerum libri duo. Theodori Gaaa grammatices libri duo. Syntaxis. Ex Lueiano versa. F.rasmi declamatio Luiauat respondtrm. De rotioae con scribendi epistolas. De pueris statira ac liberaliter iastitueudis. De ratione studii. De laude medicine. Libanii aliquot dtfclacuationes verse. Similium liber uuus. Colloquioruiu liber.


De recta Latini Graecique sermonis pronunciatione. Ciceroniaous, sive de optimo dicendi genere. De civilitate raorutn puerilium. Galeni quaedam Latin6 versa. Epitome, in elegantias Laurenlii Valise. Euripidis Hecuba & Ipbigenia versibus Latinis reddita. In nucem Ovidii commentarius. Epigranunata varii generis & argument!. Vol. II. Adagiorum opus, in quo explicata proverbia 4251. Vol. III. Epistolas 1299, secundum ordinem temporum quo scriptas siint digests, ab anno 1489 ad 1536: subjuncta appendice epistolarum 517, quarum de tempore non constat. Vol. IV. Ex Plutarcho versa. Apophthegmatum libri 8. Stultitise laus. Ad Pbilippum Burgundionum principem panegyricus. Ad Philippum eundem carmen, epicum gratulatorium. Institutio principis Christian!. Isocratis oratio ad Nicoclem regem de regno administrando, Latine versa. Declamatio de morte, sive consolatio ad patrem filii obitu afflictuin. Declamatiuncula nomine episcopi, respondens iis qui sibi nomine populi gratulati essent, & omnium nomine obedientiam quam vocant detuHssent. Querela pacis undique gentium ejects protligataeqtie. Xenophontis Hiero Latine versus. Precatio ad dominum Jesum pro pace ecclesiae. Lingua, sive de linguae usu atque abusu. De senectutis incommodis: carmen heroicum & iambicum diinetrum catalecticum, ad Gulielmum Copum Basileensem. Vol. V. Enchiridion militis Christian!. Oratio de virtute amplectenda. Ratio verse theologios. Paraclesis, sive hortatio ad philosophise Christianas studium. Exomologesis, sive modus confitendi. Enarratio psalmi primi et secundi. Paraphrasis in psalmum 3. Concio in psalmum 14. De puritate ecclesiae Christi. Enarratio in psalmum 23. De bello Turcis inferendo consultatio. Enarratio in psalmos 34 & 39. De amabili ecclesiiE concprdia. Concio in psalmum 86. De magnitudine misericordiarum Domini Concio. Virginis & martyris comparatio. Concio de puero Jesu. Epistola consolatoria ad virgines sacras. Christiani matrimonii institutio. Vidua Christiana. Ecclesiastes, sive de ratione concio. nandi. Modus orandi Deum. Symbolum, sive catechismus. Precationes. Precatio dominica digesta in septem paries juxta dies totidem. Paean virgin! matri dicendus. Obsecratio ad virginem Mariam in rebus adversis. De coutemptu mundi. De taedio & pavore Christi disputatio. Ode de casa natalitia pueri Jesu. Expostulatio Jesu cum homine pereunte. Hymni varii. Liturgia virginis Lauretanae. Carmen votivum Genovevae. Commentarius in duos hymnos Prudentii, de natali & epiphania pueri Jesu. Christiani hominis institutum, sive symbolum; ‘carmen. Epitaphia in Odiliam. Vol. VI. Novum Testamentum ex Graaca Erasiui editione, cum ejus versione & annotationibus. Vol. VII. Paraphrasis Novi Testament!. Vol. VIII. Ex sancto Joanne Chrysostomo versa. Ex sancto Athanasio, ex Origene, ex Basilio versa. Oratio de pace & discordia contra factiosos, ad Cornelium Goudauum. Oratio funebris in funere Berthae de Heien, Goudanae, vidutc probatissimae. Carmina varia. Vol. IX. Epistola apologetica ad Martinum Borpium. Apologia ad Jacobum Fabrum Stapulensern. Ad Jacob! Latomi dialogum de tribus linguis & ratione studii theologici. Ad Joannem Atensem, pro declamatinne matrimonii. Apologia de ’ In principio erat sermo." Apologia prima ad uotationes Edvardi Lei. Apologia secunda & tertia. Apologia ad Jacobum Lapidem Stunicam 2 & 3. Adversus Sanctium Caranzam. Apologia in natalem Bedam. Apologia adversus debacchationes Petn Sutoris. Ad antapologiam ejus responsio. Appendix de scriptis Jodie! Clitovei. De-


elamationes adversus censuras theoloforum Parisieiuium. Apologia ad Phimouomi cujusdam disputations de divortio. Apologia ad juvenem gerontodidascalum. Apologia ad quosdam monachos Hispanos. Apologia prima ad Alhertum Pium Carpornm principem. De esu carnium & hominum constitutionibus, ad Cbristophorum rpiscopuin Basileensetn. De libero arbitrio diatribe, seu collatio. Vol. X. Hyperaspites diatribe adversus servum arbitrium Martini Lutberi, Ad­ versus epistolam ejusdem, praestigi, arum HWlicujusdaradeUctio. Contra pseudevangelicot Ad Eleutherium, ad Grunnium. Ad fratres Germaniae infcrioris. Spongia adversus adspergines Ubrici Hutteni. Pantalabus, sea adversus febricitantis cujusdam libellum. Antibarbarorum liber primus, Adversus Gneculos. Responsio ad Petri Cursii defensionem. Epistola d Termini sui inscriptione ad Alphonsum Valdesium. Episttla ad Henricum Ducam.

as it will not only present the reader with many | pietes of Erasmus, which could not well be inserted in the course of this article, but also in some measure further illustrate the history of his life. 1

Jortin’s Life of Erasmus, the improved edit. 1808, 3 vols. 8vo. Knight’s Life. Burigm’s Life, of which a German edition, very much improved, was published about thirty years ago by Henry Heiike, professor of divinity at Helmstadt Ilatesii Vitoe. Wood’s Annals. An elaborate article On Luther’s controversy with Erasmus, in vol. IV. part II. p. 845, of —Milner’s Church History. More’s Life of Sir Thomas More.-Gen. Dict. Saxii Onoinast.