Frobenius, John

, an eminent and learned German printer, was a native of Hammelburg, in Franconia, where he was from his childhood trained to literature. Afterwards he went to the university of Basil, where he acquired the reputation of being uncommonly learned. With a view of promoting useful learning, for which he was very zealous, he applied himself to the art of printing; and, becoming a master of it, opened a shop at Basil. He was the first of the German printers who brought the art to any perfection; and, being a man of great probity and piety, as well as skill, he was,' what very few have been, particularly choice in the authors he printed. He would never suffer libels, or any thing that might hurt the reputation of another, to go through his press for the sake of profit; but very justly thought all such practices disgraceful to his art, disgraceful to letters, and infinitely pernicious to religion and society. The great reputation and character of this printer was the principal motive which led Erasmus to fix his residence at Basil, in order to have his own works printed by him. The connection between Erasmus and Frobenius grew very close and intimate; and was a connection of friendship and the sincerest cordiality. Erasmus loved the good qualities of Frobenius, as much as Frobenius could admire the great ones of Erasmus.; | There is an epistle of Erasmus extant, which contains so full an account of this printer, that it forms a very curious memorial for his life. It was written in 1527, on the occasion of Frobenius’s death, which happened that year; and which, Erasmus tells us, he bore so extremely ill, that he really began to be ashamed of his grief, since what he felt upon the death of his own brother was not to be compared to it. He says, that he lamented the loss of Froben, not so much because he had a strong affection for him, but because he seemed raised up by Providence for the promoting of liberal studies. Then he proceeds to describe his good qualities, which were indeed very great and numerous; and concludes with a particular account of his death, which was somewhat remarkable. He relates, that about five years before, Frobenius had the misfortune to fall from the top of a pair of stairs, on a brick pavement; which fall, though he then imagined himself not much hurt by it, is thought to have laid the foundation of his subsequent malady. The year before he died, he was seized with most exquisite pains in his right ancle; but was in time so relieved from these, that he was able to go to Francfort on horseback. The malady, however, whatever it was, was not gone, but had settled in the toes of his right foot, of which he had no use. Next, a numbness seized the fingers of his right hand; and then a dead palsy, which taking him when he was reaching something from a high place, he fell with his head upon the ground, and discovered few signs of life afterwards. He died at Basil, in 1527, lamented by all, but by none more than Erasmus, who wrote his epitaph in Greek and Latin. Both these epitaphs are at the end of his epistle.

A great number of valuable authors were printed by Frobenius with great care and accuracy, among which were the works of Jerome, Augustin, and Erasmus. He had formed a design to print the Greek fathers, which had not yet been done; but death prevented him. That work, however, was carried on by his son Jerome Frobenius and his son-in-law Nicolas Episcopius, who, joining in partnership, carried on the business with the same reputation, and gave very correct editions of those fathers. 1

1 Moreri. Jortin’i Erasmus. Pantaleonii Prosopographia, part III. p. 94, ^,1. Saxii Onomatf.