Vives, Joan Lewis

, one of the revivers of literature, was born at Valentia, in Spain, in 1492. He learned grammar and classical learning in his own country, and went to Paris to study logic and scholastic philosophy, the subtleties and futility of which he had soon the good sense to discover, and when he removed from Paris to Louvain, he there published a book against them, entitled “Contra Pseudo-Dialecticos.” At Louvain he undertook the office of a preceptor, and exerted himself with great ability and success in correcting barbarism, chastising the corruptors of learning, and reviving a taste for true science and elegant letters. This so raised his reputation that he was chosen to be preceptor to William de Croy, afterwards archbishop of Toledo, and cardinal, who died in 1521. In July 1517 he was made, though then at Louvain, one of the first fellows of Corpus Christi college, in Oxford, by the founder; his fame being spread over England, as well on account of his great parts and learning as for the peculiar respect and favour with which queen Catherine of Spain honoured him. In 1522 he dedicated his “Commentary upon St. Augustin de Civitate Dei” to HenryVlII; which, says Wood, was so acceptable to that prince, that cardinal Wolsey, by his order, invited him over to England; but this must be a mistake, for in a letter of the cardinal’s to the university in 1519, mention is made of his being then reader of rhetoric, and that by the cardinal’s appointment. He was also employed to teach the princess Mary polite literature and the Latin tongue: it was for her use that he wrote “De Ratione studii puerilis,” which he addressed to his patroness queen Catharine, in 1523; as he did the same year “De institutione fceminae Christiance,” written by her command. During his stay in England he resided a good deal at Oxford, where he was admitted doctor of law, and read lectures in that and the belles lettres. King Henry conceived such an esteem for him, that iie accompanied his queen to Oxford, in order to be present at the lectures which he read to the princess | Mary, who resided there: yet, when Vives afterwards presumed to speak and write against the divorce of Catherine, Henry considered his conduct as criminal, and confined him six months in prison. Having obtained his liberty, he returned to the Netherlands, and resided at Bruges, where he married, and taught the belles lettres as long as he lived. He died in 1537, or, according toThuanus, 1541.

Vives was one of the most learned men of his age; and with Budaeus and Erasmus, formed a triumvirate which did honour to the republic of letters. Their admirers have ascribed to each those peculiar qualities in which they supposed him to exceed the other; as, wit to Budaeus, eloquence to Erasmus, judgment to Vives, and learning to them all. Dupin’s opinion is somewhat different: Erasmus, he says, was doubtless a man of finer wit, more extensive learning, and of a more solid judgment than Vives; Budaeus had more skill in the languages and in profane learning than either of them; and Vives excelled in grammar, in rhetoric, and in logic. But although Dupin may seecn to degrade Vives, in comparison with Erasmus and Buda?us, yet he has not been backward in doing justice to his merit. “Vives,” says he, “was not only excellent in polite letters, a judicious critic, and an eminent philosopher; but he applied himself also to divinity, and was successful in it. If the critics admire his books ‘ de causiscorruptarum artium,’ and * de tradendis disciplinis,‘ on account of the profane learning that appears in them, and the solidity of his judgment in those matters; the divines ought no less to esteem his books * de Veritate Eidei Christiana;,’ and his commentary upon St. Augustin f de Civitate Dei,' in which he shews, that he understood his religion thoroughly.

His writings were printed at Basil, 1555, in 2 vols. folio; his commentary upon St. Austin is not included, but has been published separately. It discovers an extensive acquaintance with ancient philosophy. Among his works are “De Prima Philosophia,” “De Explanatione Essentiarum,” “De Censura Veri,” “De Initiis, Sectis, et Laudibus Philosophise,” and “De corruptis Artibus et tradendis Disciplinis.” These writings, says Brutker, of which the two last are the most valuable, discover great strength or judgment, an extensive knowledge of philosophy, much enlargement of conception, uncommon sagacity in detecting the errors of ancient and modern philosophers, | particularly of Aristotle and his followers, and, in fine, a capable of attempting things beyond the standard of the age in which he lived. To all this he added great perspicuity and elegance of style, not unworthy of the friend of Erasmus. Morhoff calls the writings of Vives, golden remains, which are worthy to be carefully perused by all learned men.1


Antonio Bibl. Hisp. Dnpin. —Ath. Ox. vol. I. new edit. Brucker. Butlart’s Academic des Sciences. —Saxii Onomast.