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the same rules of criticism as the scholars of his days were applying to Cicero or to Virgil. In this respect his intluence on the Reformation was greater than Luther's; as the application of the principles of interpretation introduced by Erasmus must, under more favourable circumstances and in more vigorous hands, lead to consequences more important. At this time, when só much excitement has sprung up on the subject of biblical interpretation, we have thought that an account of this first effort at theological criticism might not be without interest to our readers.

In the year 1509, Erasmus was in Italy, when he received a letter from William Lord Mountjoy, urging his instant return. With more than a significant hint at the parsimony of Henry VII., Mountjoy informed him that the reign of avarice was at an end.

“Our new king,” he added, “scatters his treasures with a liberal hand; he is more ambitious of virtue and renown than of gold or precious stones.” Considering the numerous attractions which Italy had for Erasmus, it might have been thought that such an invitation, though backed by a present of 51. from Archbishop Warham, and as much more from Mountjoy himself, would not have proved very seductive. The climate of Italy, its brilliant skies, its books and antiquities, its libraries and learned societies, were exactly suited to a scholar and valetudinarian. Erasmus was fastidious in his diet. He could not endure the sour wines or sourer beer of our northern latitudes. The stoves of Germany and the winters of England filled him with dismay. But though Erasmus might care for Italy, Italy probably did not care much for Erasmus. Italian scholars, the arbiters of literary distinction, were not prepared to admit him into their exclusive circle. They were not satisfied that his Latin style smacked of the true Ciceronian flavour. Nor was Erasmus backward in expressing his contempt for their fastidiousness. He ridiculed their slavish imitation of Cicero, their utter ignorance of all authors beyond their one acknowledged idol, their tumid eloquence and shallow conceits. From the warlike Julius, whom he hated for his roughness, he received no notice; Leo X., whom he had known as a student, was condescending, but offered no substantial favour. From chagrin or other causes his health had suffered in Italy; he hastened to accept the invitation of Mountjoy.

The tediousness of the journey was relieved by casting into form the scenes he had just abandoned; the impressions made on his mind by Roman society may be seen in his Praise of Folly. Arriving in London he took up his abode with Sir Thomas More. Courted and caressed by all who had attained, or were ambitious of attaining distinction, there was no post in

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the State to which he might not have aspired; no position in the Church which was not open to him.

- There is no country,he boasts in one of his letters, " which would not gladly entertain me-Spain, Italy, England, or Scotland. When I was at Rome, there was no cardinal that would not have received me with open arms as a brother. In England,” he continues, "there is not a bishop who does not think it an honour to be noticed by me; who is not anxious to secure me at his table; who would not gladly retain me in his household. The king himself (Henry VIII.), a little before his father's death, sent me, when I was in Italy, most loving letters, written with his own hand. He addresses me with more respect and affection than any one else. Whenever I salute him, he embraces me most kindly and looks at me affectionately. You may be sure he thinks of me not less kindly than he speaks. The queen (Katharine) has endeavoured to secure me as her preceptor. Every one is aware that if I would but condescend to live a few months at court, I might accumulate as many benefices as I pleased.”

But Erasmus had devoted himself to letters, and resolutely turned his back on those paths which led others to chancellorships, baronies, and bishoprics. The liberality and undeviating kindness of Warham and Mountjoy placed him above immediate want; and his friend Fisher, chancellor of the University of Cambridge, at that time employed in founding St. John's and settling Lady Margaret's will, induced Erasmus to take up his residence at Cambridge, and give lectures in Greek to the students of that University. The precise period at which he entered on his professorship is uncertain ; his correspondence from Cambridge commences with the summer of 1511. At first the novelty of his position, and the hopes of improving it, sufficed to atone for the smallness of his audience and the scantiness of his remuneration. The account he gives of bis lectures do not impress us with a very exalted idea of the state of Greek literature in England. “ Hitherto,” he says, in a letter written from Cambridge in October 1511, “I have lectured on the grammar of Chrysoloras to a small class ; perhaps next terin I shall begin the grammar of Theodorus (a Greek of the Lower Empire) to a larger one." In other words, he was teaching the elements of Greek grammar.

His expectations were not destined to be realised. The University found it difficult to pay his salary of fifty nobles, and applied for assistance to Lord Mountjoy. His audience did not increase; neither the ambition of the University nor the influence of his friend the chancellor could secure for him pupils or a decent remuneration. The great obstacle to his success


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with younger students was his total ignorance of English; with the more advanced, his novel notions of the duties of a theologian added to his hatred and contempt of the schoolmen. The grammar of Theodorus had no greater attractions for Cambridge undergraduates than the grammar of Chrysoloras ; 1512 passed without any visible improvement; 1513 was not more promising. “ As for profit,” he says in a letter to Colet, “I see no chance of it. What can I take from those who have nothing to give ?" “ I have not been here five months,” he says in another letter to Ammonius, "and have spent sixty nobles, without receiving more than one. The expense is intolerable, and the remuneration nothing." College beer did not agree with his stomach. College gyps stole his wine, or mixed it with water. College porters mislaid his letters. Masters of Arts, divided into rival sections of Thomists and Scotists, scouted lectures on theology which denuded Scripture of all mystery and aimed at nothing higher than a literal and grammatical interpretation. The Scriptures, said they, are levelled to the capacity of children and laymen. St. Jerome was a mere grammarian; St. Augustine was a dunce. What could they or any other fathers know of entity, relation, ampliation, restriction, formality, hæcceity, quiddity, or the like? What help can the Scriptures afford for the refutation of heresy? How is the Church to stand, or the dignity of theology to be maintained, by the laws of syntax or the aids of lexicography ? To increase his vexation, the war with France carried away, in 1513, his most intimate friends, Ammonius and Mountjoy. Engrossed with the bustle of a great campaign, bishops and noblemen, who in times of peace might have repaid a translation from Lucian or a copy of complimentary verses in angels, were either occupied in mustering their retainers, or in discussing the merits of Almain rivets, apostles, and falconets. Erasmus groaned with disgust. He hated war for its own sake; he regarded it exclusively from its noisy and horrible side. He could see nothing in it, except a disorderly mob of vagabonds and scoundrels bent upon pulling down what the wisdom, patience, and experience of former ages had built up. But he hated it still more because it was incompatible with the cultivation of letters. Unfortunately, also, during the autumn of this year, the sweating sickness made its appearance. Cambridge was deserted; his hearers dispersed. In a pardonable but by no means pleasant mood, he writes to Ammonius (Nov. 28), that he had been shut up in Cambridge for some months, confined to his books, like a snail in its shell. “Here,” he adds, " is one unbroken solitude. Many have left for fear of the plague; and yet, when they are all here, the solitude is much worse. This winter I am resolved to

turn every stone, and throw out my sheet-anchor. If I succeed, I shall make a nest for myself. If I fail, I shall flit elsewhere. Had I no other reasons, I am resolved not to die in England.”

But although Cambridge had disappointed his expectations, and was not yet sufficiently prepared to do justice to his Greek or his theological lectures, his residence in that University had not been thrown away. The more scanty his audience, the

, more time was left to his own disposal ; and he was not of a temper to let it remain idle. As early as the year 1505, in a preface to Valla's notes on the New Testament, he had ventured to express his approbation of the new rules of criticism applied by Valla to the revision of the Vulgate. “Where is the harm," he remarks, “if Valla, upon the authority of the ancient Greek copies, wrote notes on such passages of the New Testament as he found to be at variance with the original, or had been less correctly rendered by dozing interpreters?” He avowed his belief that the translation of Scripture belonged exclusively to the philologist, and that Jethro in some things was wiser than Moses. “Grammar, I admit, is employed upon minutiæ; but these minutiæ are small things without which no one can become great. It is busied with trifles, sed nugæ seria ducunt. If it be said that theology is too dignified to be restrained by the laws of syntax, and that the interpretation of Scripture rests upon inspiration ;-I reply, that this is claiming a new dignity for theologians, if they are to have the exclusive privilege of writing nonsense. But I hear it said, that the old translators were skilled in the languages of the original, and are sufficiently intelligible for all practical purposes. I reply, that I prefer to see that with my own eyes, rather than with the eyes of others; and, secondly, allowing they have done much, they have certainly left much to be done by those who come after them."

With views so liberal as these, so far in advance of his age, it is not surprising that he should have entertained the idea of following the steps of Valla, and devoting his time and abilities to a critical revision of the New Testament. In common with others, he may have been influenced in this determination by his classical distaste for the old unclassical version. Yet it must be admitted that he was influenced by a nobler feeling; more than once in his serious moods he has avowed his belief that the only remedy for the vices and disorders of the time was to be found in the careful study of the holy Scriptures. More than once he expressed a wish that the pure oracles of divine truth were made accessible to all. He hoped to turn men from the unprofitable dialectics and noisy discussions of the schools to the more quiet and thoughtful study of philology. He evidently anticipated such a result from the appearance of the New Testament and the aids it would afford to a more certain and speedy study of the original. With these motives, others less pure may have been combined. There was the refinement of the scholar, in common with other classical revivalists, unduly offended with a Latin version which could be referred to no era of established Latinity. Less fastidious than his Italian contemporaries, he yet saw no reason why theology, and still more that work on which all true theology was based, should adhere to the exclusive and unenvi. able distinction of speaking a more barbarous language than any other science.

From the two bodies into which the theological world was divided, he had little reason to anticipate opposition. The revivalists could not be offended if the New Testament appeared in a style of eloquence more conformable with their notions, at least so free from gross violations of classical Latinity that they might read it without fear of vitiating their taste; whilst by Scotist and Thomist, exclusively occupied with their favourite masters, this or any other attempt to promote the study of the Gospels would be regarded with indifference amounting to contempt.

With these views he set to work whilst at Cambridge to collate such Mss. of the New Testament, whether Greek or Latin, as were within his reach. In this task he had the assistance of Lupset, one of his Greek pupils, a protégé of More and Colet. He tells the latter, in a letter dated May 1512, that he had already collated the New Testament with the ancient Greek copies, and annotated it in more than a thousand places. His collations were completed and his work ready for the press in the summer of 1513. Concurrently with these labours, either of which alone might have been deemed sufficient for the ambition of the most enterprising and indefatigable student, he was employed in preparing a new edition of St. Jerome. But though his health was suffering from excessive exertion, and the plague was then raging at Cambridge, he tells Ammonius, in September, that his labours were drawing to a close; and so earnestly was he bent upon the task that he felt as if he was inspired.

Suddenly he disappeared from England in the spring of 1514. In a letter from Hammes Castle, dated 8th July, of which his friend Lord Mountjoy, afterwards lieutenant of Tournay, was the governor, he informed Ammonius of his prosperous voyage. The Dover boatmen, whose extortions may boast the prescription of three centuries, carried off his portmanteau with all his papers. “It is the way of these fellows,” he adds, “ to

" steal where they can conveniently; and when they cannot steal, they extort money and sell you your own property. When I

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