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ans, which is not far from the Palace of Richmond. He said that he was there preparing a retreat for his old age, when, unequal to his duties or broken by disease, he should be compelled to withdraw from society. There he intended to lead a philosophic life with two or three choice friends, among whom he used to number me:—but death prevented the execution of his plan. Some years before, he had been attacked by the sweating sickness, a disease which particularly infests Britain; having recovered from this three times, he continued indeed to live, but from the remains of the disease a tabes viscerum was brought on, of which he died. One physician thought it was a dropsy. The dissection of his body discovered nothing new, except that his liver was found covered at its extreme points with tufts of long hair. He was buried on the north side of the choir in his own church, in a humble tomh, which he had chosen for that purpose some years before, with this inscription, Joan. Col." &c.
To this Dean Colet, we have a curious letter, which gives us a pretty forcible idea of the humiliating necessities to which the great and learned Erasmus was compelled to submit in England.
“For your offer of pecuniary assistance, I heartily thank you, and consider it one additional proof of the kindness I have so often before experienced. Let me add that there was one expression in this part of your letter, which, though doubtless not intended seriously, left à painful impression on my mind : “ so as you beg with humility.” It may be, that by these words you mean to intimate (what is perfectly true) that the impatience with which I endure my present poverty arises from a want of that Christian meekness and submission, which accommodates itself to all circumstances. If such be the case however, I am at a loss to know what connection you can have discovered between humility and assurance. Your words are,
So as you beg with humility and proper assurance. *” If by humility you mean what is commonly implied in that term, how is the above to be reconciled? But if, by a humble deportment, you mean an abject and servile one; your notions on the subject differ greatly from those of Seneca, who maintains that nothing is so dearly bought, as that which stands in need of a request to obtain it; and that he is not worthy of the name of a friend, who will put another to the necessity of asking a favour. Socrates said once, in a conversation with some of his friends, I had intended to purchase a cloak this morning, but means were wanting. He who offered his assistance after this (observes Seneca) offered it too late. I have heard of another person, who, when one of his friends was in poverty and sickness, which, from delicacy, he was unwilling to own, took an opportunity of secretly depositing a sum of money beneath his pillow. I met with this story
* The word assurance, though a tolerably accurate translation of inveseumde, is nevertheless somewhat stronger than the original. It was difficult to find an expression exactly tantamount.
when a boy, and I reinember being wonderfully delighted with the refined feeling of the one friend, and the true generosity of the other. -What, after all, can be more abject, or more incompatible with feelings of punctilious delicacy, than my situation in this country, even as it is? I can regard myself in no other light than as a dependant on public charity. From the Archbishop (Warham) I have received so much assistance already, that it would be the extreme of indelicacy in me to accept any thing more, even though spontaneously offered. To N— I have applied for relief, and have met with a refusal more unceremonious than my request. Even Linacer* seems to regard me as encroaching, though he knows as well as myself that I had only six angels in my purse when I left London, and though he is aware of the precarious state of my health, which is not likely to be improved by the approach of winter : yet notwithstanding all this, he is urgent on me to be sparing in my demands on the Archbishop and Mountjoy.f I shall be told, perhaps, that I ought to accommodate myself to my circumstances, and bear my poverty with fortitude; friendly advice, no doubt, and such as costs the givers little—but alas ! this is the very misery of my present condition, that it cannot by any shifts be made endurable—that I must ask assistance, or starve. As long as my health lasted, there was a possibility of concealing my distress; but it is no longer practicable now, unless I would risk the preservation of my life. Not that I have even yet overcome my natural repugnance to solicitation so far, as to ask all favours indiscriminately from all. From some I dread a refusal ; to yourself I have scarcely the confidence to apply, indebted to you as I am for so much previous kindness, and knowing that you are not yourself overstocked with money. As, however, you have declared yourself an enemy to bashfulness, I shall conclude by saying, that though I am not so devoid of shame, as to trespass upon your goodness without a sufficient claim; yet neither am I so proud as to refuse any
aid which such a friend might of himself offer, especially considering the present state of my finances.
Cambridge, Oct. 29, 1513.”—From Ep. 150.
He gives but a very unpromising account of his Cambridge residence, where he was appointed Greek reader, and had apartments in Queen's College.
“ As for myself, I have been living in my study these many months, wrapt up in my books like an oyster in his shell
. This is a dull place even at fullest, and at present it is almost entirely deserted, the fear of the plague having driven the inhabitants away. My expenses are enormous, and my emoluments next to nothing. As to accumulating, it is absolutely out of the question. I have not been here five
• The celebrated physician and grammarian of Oxford.
months, and my charges already amount to sixty nobles; while the only profit I have ever reaped from my lectures, is the offer of a single noble from certain of my audience, which, after many refusals, and with much unwillingness, I consented to accept. My case is becoming desperate. I must positively make a vigorous effort, this winter, to better my condition in some way or other. Should I succeed, I shall provide myself somewhere a comfortable place of retreat; at any rate, I am determined to leave Cambridge; for this is not a place which I can even die in with comfort.
“ Cambridge, Nov. 28, 1511."— From Ep. 131.
In an elegant and polished letter to the Cardinal Grimani, at Rome, he gives a description of his situation in England, which concludes with the character of Archbishop Warham, who was then waning before the rising fortunes of Wolsey.
“ You wish to know, why, after my first interview with your Ercellency, (which was destined to be my last) I forbore repeating my visit, according to your request and my own promise. I answer—it was not owing to neglect on my part, but rather (paradoxical as it may seem) to the extraordinary kindness and courtesy manifested by yourself during that interview. The circumstance which, in the ordinary course of things, would have had most weight in inducing me to return, was, in fact, the sole cause of my absence. You demand an explanation of this enigma; I will give it with the frankness of a German. The truth is then, that at the time I saw your Excellency, I had already determined on a journey to England. My motives to this were various; the desire of revisiting my old connections—the liberal promises of powerful friends-and, above all, the favour of the most powerful prince in Europe. So that I had adopted this island as a kind of second country, and as a peaceful resting-place for my old age. I had received several invitations, and even pressing requests, accompanied by large and even extravagant promises. I was led to expect an amount of treasure equal to a dozen Pactoluses. With these views and these expectations in my mind, it was natural that I should dread the result of a second interview with your Excellency. I remembered how greatly my resolution had been shaken in the course of a single conversation, and feared to trust myself to the effects of a longer and more intimate communication. What firmness of purpose could have resisted such courtesy of manner, and such a persuasive address-not to mention your profound learning, and the sincerity and affection of your counsels? Who, in fine, could be otherwise than deeply affected by such kindness from such a quarter ? I felt my determination giving way; I already began to repent of my design, and yet felt ashamed of appearing undecided. The local attachments which I had struggled to shake off, insensibly regained their power; and had I not torn myself forcibly from Rome, I sincerely believe I should have remained there for life. I flew, rather than travelled, to England. You will ask me whether I have not, by this time, changed my mind, and whether I do not repent of having
rejected friendly advice? I will not dissemble it-my mind is in a state of great fluctuation. It is impossible not to regret Rome, when I think of the numerous advantages and opportunities afforded me by living there; when I think of the city itself, the glory of the world, and the theatre of literary and scientific emulation ; the delightful feeling of independence associated with my residence there ; the numerous and ample libraries; the society and conversation of men of learning and genius; the noble monuments of antiquity; the concentration, in short, of all the various lights of the world in one spot. I take particular delight in recollecting the behaviour of many of the Cardinals towards me; especially the exemplary kindness of the Cardinal of Nantes, the politeness of the Cardinal of Bologaa, and the more than politeness, the really affectionate attentions, of Cardinal S. Giorgio; and, above all, that interview with which
honoured me, and which left me so strongly impressed with your goodness and piety. With such recollections, it is impossible that any present good fortune, however great, can ever eradicate from my mind the feelings of desire and regret with which I look back upon the period of my stay at Rome. My situation in this country, on the other hand, though in some respects highly agreeable, and certainly above my merits, has fallen short of my wishes, and the promises of my friends. Nor is this owing so much to any failure on their part, as to the misfortune of the times. The king himself, a prince of pre-eminent liberality on general occasions, and who, as I have abundant reason to know, as well from his own letters to me as from the reports of my friends, both feels and expresses the highest regard for me, has been almost entirely prevented from paying any attention to my concerns by the late unexpected breaking out of war. His mind was engrossed by preparations for a contest, which appeared to involve the supremacy of the church, and which therefore possessed no ordinary interest for a youthful prince of his piety and spirit. William Mountjoy (who is my oldest patron, next to the Bishop of Cambray) has been so distressed by the burthens consequent upon the war, as to be incapable of affording me any assistance beyond his good wishes. He is of an ancient and noble family, and a sincere friend to literature; he is however, for an English baron, not rich, except in intellectual possessions. I ought, indeed, to lay part of the blame on my own want of exertion; for I have so little of ambition in my temper, that I have need of the fortune of Timotheus, which filled his nets while he was sleeping. I consider, however, the troubles of my journey hither well repaid by my introduction to William, Archbishop of Canterbury, and Primate of England, not in name only, but by merit; a character altogether incomparable, and who may be considered as the principal ornament and support of this kingdom ; in wisdom, learning, judgement, and reputation, unrivalled ; and superior even to himself, insomuch as his exemplary modesty renders him insensible to his own merits. The purity of his life is equalled only by the capaciousness and indefatigable activity of his mind. His skill and experience in public affairs is very great, as he has been for a number of years employed in the most important embassies, and weightiest affairs of this
and other states; so that he is not only equal to the discharge of a weight of public business, sufficient to engross the whole attention of several men of inferior abilities, but has a portion of his time to spare for literary pursuits, and the society of his friends. (In addition to the duties of a bishop, he discharges the office of Lord Chancellor, or Chief Judge of the kingdom.) His Grace has testified so much friendship and liberality towards me personally, has exerted his influence so zealously in my behalf, and has proved himself altogether so excellent a patron, that I could scarcely have expected more indulgence from a father or a brother. So that my loss in the society of so many illustrious cardinals, accomplished prelates, and learned men, appears to be repaired to me in this one individual.”— Frum Epist. 167.
Such are a very few specimens of the Letters of Erasmus, on subjects perhaps the most interesting to Englishmen, of any to be found in them; should, however, the above extracts induce any scholar to pursue his examination of them farther, we can promise him an abundant supply of entertainment and instruction.
Art. VI.-Enigmaticall Characters, all taken to the life, from
several Persons, Humours and Dispositions. By Rich. Fleckno.
Anno Dom. 1658. pp. 125. Epigrams of all sorts, made at divers times, on several occasions. By Richard Flecknoe. A nostris procul est omnis vesica libellis.
Mart. London: Printed for the Author and Will. Crook, at the Green-Dragon without Temple Bar, 1670. pp. 92.
Those who know no more of this person, than that he is the subject of Dryden's celebrated satire of Mac Flecknoe, the poetical monarch who
prose and verse was own'd, without dispute,
Through all the realms of Nonsense, absolute," may perhaps be a little scandalized at our venturing to review an author who was knocked down by such authority, and who never afterwards recovered from the blow. The man who is once sealed, although undeservedly, with a bad name, must be contented to retain it for life; it fixes the eye, like a stain on a fair garment, and is as difficult to be obliterated. If an evil report be once put in circulation, his enemies confirm it, his