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' Tu iuterea patienter audi ; ac nos ambo, collidentibus inter se silicibus, si quis 
ignis excutiatur, eum avide apprehendamus. Veritatem enim quasrimus, non 
opinionis offensionem . . .' (Volet, Eras. Op. v. p. 1292). 

'Take no heed what thing many men do, but what thing the very lair of nature, 
what tiling very reason, what thing Our Lord himself showeth thee to be done' 
(Pico della Mirandola, translated by More : More's BDglish Works, p. 13). 

'Cur sic arctamus Christi professionem quam Me latissime voluit patere?' 
(Erasmus, Letter to Volzius, prefixed to the 'Enchiridion'). 





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_/5 -f qj fcyYiwcL. I^last. q^n. 




Since this book was written, years ago, the works 
of Dean Colet have one after another been placed 
within reach of the public, ably edited by my friend 
Mr. Lupton, and now I understand that a biography 
by the same competent hand is also in the press. 

Under these circumstances I have had some hesi- 
tation in allowing a Third Edition to be printed. I 
have yielded, however, to Mr. Lupton's pleading that 
this history of the fellow-work of the three friends, 
imperfect as it always was, and antiquated as it has 
now become, may live a little longer. 

F. S. 

I'm: Hermitage, Hitchin: March 8, L887. 




Two circumstances have enabled me to make this 
Second Edition more complete, and I trust more cor- 
rect, than its predecessor. 

First : the remarkable discovery by Mr. W. Aldis 
Wright, on the blank leaves of a MS. in the library of 
Trinity College, Cambridge, of an apparently contem- 
porary family register recording, inter alia, the date of 
the marriage of Sir Thomas More's parents, and of the 
birth of Sir Thomas More himself (see Appendix C), 
has given the clue, so long sought for in vain, to the 
chronology of More's early life. It has also made it 
needful to alter slightly the title of this work. . 

Secondly : the interesting MSS. of Colet's, on the 
' Hierarchies of Dionysius,' found by Mr. Lupton in the 
library of St. Paul's School, and recently published by 
him with a translation and valuable introduction, 1 

1 Mr. Lupton's volume {Bell and lish reader, a full abstract of two of 

Dahly, 1869) has a double interest. 
Apart from the interest it derives 

the Pseudo-Dionysian writings, to 
which attention has recentlv been 

from its connection with Colet, it is called by Mr. Westcott's valuable 
also interesting as placing, I believe, article in the Contemporary Review, 
for the first time, before the Eng- 

viii Preface to the Second Editi 


have supplied a missing link in the chain of Colet's 
mental history, which has thrown much fresh light, 
as well upon his connection with the Neo-Platonists 
of Florence, as upon the position already taken by 
him at Oxford, before the arrival of Erasmus. 

The greater part of the First Edition was already 
in the hands of the public, when I became aware of 
the importance of this newly discovered information ; 
but, in October last, I withdrew the remaining copies 
from sale, as it seemed to me that it would hardly be 
fair, under the circumstances, to allow them to pass 
out of my hands. They have since been destroyed. 

In publishing this revised and enlarged edition, I 
wish especially to tender my thanks to Mr. Lupton 
for his invaluable assistance in its revision, and for 
the free use he has throughout allowed me to make 
of the results of his own researches. 

I have also to thank the Librarian of Emmanuel 
College, Cambridge, for the loan of a beautiful copy 
of Colet's MS. on ' I. Corinthians ; ' and Mr. Bradshaw, 
for kindly obtaining for me a transcript of the MS. 
on 'Romans' in the University Library. 

At Mr. Bradshaw's suggestion I have added, in the 
Appendix, a catalogue of the early editions of the 
works of Erasmus in my collection. It will at least 
serve as evidence of the wide circulation obtained by 
these works during the lifetime of their author. 

Hitchin : May 10, 1869. 




Some portions of this History were published in a 
somewhat condensed form in the course of last year 
in the 'Fortnightly Eeview,' and I have to thank 
the Editor for the permission to withdraw further 
portions, although already in type, in order that the 
publication of this volume might not be delayed. 1 

Having regard to the extreme inaccuracy of the 
dates of the letters of Erasmus, 2 the conflicting nature 
of the evidence relating to the chronology of More's 
early life, 3 and the scantiness of the materials for any- 
thing like a continuous biography of Colet, I should 
have undertaken a difficult task had I attempted in 
this volume, even so far as it goes, to give anything 
approaching to an exhaustive biography of Colet, 
Erasmus, and More. But my object has not been to 

1 To avoid any charge of plagiarism 
I may also state, that a portion of 
the materials comprised in this 
volume has heen made use of in 
articles contributed by me to the 
North British Eeview, in the years 
1859 and 18G0. 

2 Where not otherwise stated, all 
references to these letters and to the 
collected works of Erasmus (Eras. 
Op.), refer to the Leyden edition. 

3 See note on the date of More's 
birth in Appendix ('. 

x Preface to the First Edition. 

write the biography of any one of them. I have 
rather endeavoured to trace their joint-history and 
to point out the character of their fellow-work. And 
with regard to the latter the evidence is so full, so 
various, and so consistent as to leave, I think, little 
room for misapprehension, either as to whether their 
work was indeed fellow-work, or as to the general 
spirit and scope of the work itself. 

I gladly take this opportunity of tendering my best 
thanks to those who have aided me in this undertaking. 

My warmest thanks are due to the Eev. J. S. Brewer, 
M.A., as well for the invaluable aid afforded by his 
Calendars of the Letters, &c. of Henry VIII., and for 
the loan of the proof-sheets of the forthcoming volume, 
as for the revision of the greater part of my translations ; 
also to Mr. Gairdner for his ever ready assistance at 
the Public Eecord Office ; to Dr. Edward Boehmer, of 
the University of Halle, for his aid in the collection of 
many of the early editions of works of Erasmus quoted 
in this volume ; to the Senate and the late Librarian 
of the Cambridge University Library for the loan of 
the volume of MSS. marked Gg. 4, 26 ; and to Mr. 
Henry Bradshaw, of King's College, Cambridge, for 
much valuable assistance, most courteously rendered, 
in the examination of this and other manuscripts at 
Cambridge. I have also to thank the Eev. J. H. 
Lupton, of St. Paul's School, for the description given 
in Appendix C. 1 of a manuscript of Colet's in the 
Library of St. Paul's School which I had overlooked, 

Of the First Edition. This has since been published by Mr. Lupton. 

Preface to the First Edition. xi 

and which I am happy to find, is likely soon to be 
printed by him. 

In conclusion, I cannot refrain from adding a tribute 
of affectionate regard for the memory of two of my 
friends — the late Mr. William Tanner of Bristol, and 
the late Mr. B. B. Wiffen of Woburn — of whose interest 
in the progress of this work I have received many 
proofs, and of whose kindly criticism I have gratefully 
availed myself. 

IIitchix: March 30, 1867. 








1. John Colet returns from Italy to Oxford (1496) 

2. The Rise of the New Learning (1453-92) . 

3. Colet's previous History (1496) 

4. Thomas More, another Oxford Student (1492-6) 

5. Colet lirst hears of Erasmus (1496) 


1. Colet's lectures on St. Paul's Epistle to the Romans 

(1496-7?) 29 

2. Visit from a Priest during the Winter Vacation (1 496-7 ?) 42 

3. Colet on the Mosaic Account of the Creation (1497 1) . 46 

4. Colet studies afresh the Pseudo-Dionysian Writings 

(1497?) 60 

5. Colet lectures on ' I. Corinthians' (1497 1) ... 78 

6. Grocyn's Discovery (1498 ?) . . . . ,90 


1. Erasmus comes to Oxford (1498) ..... 94 

2. Table-talk on the Sacrifice of Cain and Abel (1498 T) . 97 

3. Conversation between Colet and Erasmus on the School- 

men (1498 or 1499) 102 

4. Erasmus falls in love with Thomas More (1498) . .113 

5. Discussion between Erasmus and Colet on ' The Agony 

' in the Garden,' and on the Inspiration of the Scrip- 
tures (1499) .116 

6. Correspondence between Colet and Erasmus on the 

Intention of Erasmus to leave Oxford (1199-1500) . 126 

7. Erasmus leaves Oxford and England (1500) . . . 133 

xiv ( 'ontents. 



1. Colet made Doctor and Dean of St. Paul's (1500-5) . 137 

2. More called to the Bar — In Parliament — Offends Henry 

VII.— The Consequences (1500-1504) . . .142 

3. Thomas More in Seclusion from Public Life (1504-5) . 146 

4. More studies Pico's Life and Works — His Marriage (1505) 151 

5. How it had fared with Erasmus (1500-5) . . .160 

6. The ' Enchiridion.' &c. of Erasmus (1501-5) . . . 173 


1. Second Visit of Erasmus to England (1505-6) . .ISO 

2. Erasmus again leaves England for Italy (1506) . . 183 

3. Erasmus visits Italy and returns to England (1507-10). 186 

4. More returns to Public Life on the Accession of Henry 

VIII. (1509-10) 189 

5. Erasmus writes the ' Praise of Folly ' while resting at 

More's House (1510 or 1511) . ' . . . .193 


1. Colet founds St. Paul's School (1510) . . . .206 

2. His Choice of Schoolbooks and Schoolmasters (1511) . 215 


1. Convocation for the Extirpation of Heresy (1512) . . 222 

2. Colet is charged with Heresy (1512) .... 249 

3. More in trouble again (1512) . . . . . 255 


1. Colet preaches against the Continental Wars — The First 

Campaign (1512-13) 258 

2. Colet's Sermon to Henry VIII. (1513) . . . .262 

3. The Second Campaign of Henry VIII. (1513) . 267 

4. Erasmus visits the Shrine of our Lady of Walsingham 

(1513) .273 

Contents. xv 



1. Erasmus leaves Cambridge, and meditates leaving England 

(1513-14) 276 

L\ Erasmus and the Papal Ambassador (1514) . . . 282 

3. Parting Intercourse between Erasmus and Colet (151-1) 28 I 


1. Erasmus goes to Basle to print his New Testament (1514) 294 

2. Erasmus returns to England — His Satire upon Kings 

(1515) 306 

3. Returns to Basle to finish his Works — Fears of the Ortho- 

dox Party (1515) 312 


1. The 'Novum Instrumentum ' completed — What it really 

was (1516) .320 


1. More immersed in Public Business (1515) . . . 337 

2. Colet's Sermon on the Installation of Cardinal Wolsey 

(1515) 343 

3. More's 'Utopia '(1515) 346 

4. The ' Institutio Principis Christiani ' of Erasmus (1516) 365 

5. More completes his ' Utopia ' — the Introductory Book 

(1516) . . 37S 


1. WhatColet thoughtof the 'Novum Instrumentum ' (1516) 391 

2. Reception of the 'Novum Instrumentum' in otherQuarters 

(1516) 398 

3. Martin Luther reads the 'Novum Instrumentum' (1516) 402 

4. The 'Epistoke Obscurorum Virorum ' (1516-17) . . 407 

5. The ' Pythagorica ' and ' Cabalistica ' of Reuchlin (1517) 411 

6. More pays a Visit to Coventry (1517?) . . . . 414 

xvi Contents. 


1. The Sale of Indulgences (1517-18) . . . .419 

2. More drawn into the Service of Henry VI IT. — Erasmus 

leaves Germany for Basle (1518) . . 427 


1. Erasmus arrives at Basle — His Labours there (1518) . 43 I 

2. The Second Edition of the New Testament (1518-19) . 442 

3. Erasmus's Health gives way (1518) . . . 455 


1. Erasmus does not die (1518) 

2. More at the Court of Henry VIII. (1518) . 

3. The Evening of Colet's Life (1518-19). 

4. More's Conversion attempted by the Monks (1519) 

5. Erasmus and the Reformers of Wittemberg (1519) 

6. Election of Charles V. to the Empire (1519) 

7. The Hussites of Bohemia (1519) . 

8. More's Domestic Life (1519) 

9. Death of Colet (1519) ..... 
10. Conclusion ....... 


A. Extracts from MS. Gg. 4, 26, in the Cambridge Uni- 

versity Library, Translations of which are given at 

pp. 37, 38 of this Work 511 

B. Extracts from MS. on ' I. Corinthians.' — Emmanuel Col- 

lege MS. 3. 3. 12 513 

C. On the Date of More's Birth 521 

D. Ecclesiastical Titles and Preferments of Dean Colet, in 

Order of Time . 529 

E. Catalogue of early Editions of the Works of Erasmus in 

my possession ........ 530 

F. Editions of Works of Sir Thomas More in my Possession 542 

INDEX . . 545 

















It was probably in Michaelmas Term of 1496 * that Chap. i. 
the announcement was made to doctors and students A D- 1496 _ 
of the University of Oxford that John Colet, a late joimCoiet 
student, recently returned from Italy, was about to fecturesra 
deliver a course of public and o-ratuitous lectures in J5 t -. p ^ ul ' s 
exposition of St. Paul's Epistles. 

This was an event of no small significance and per- 
haps of novelty in the closing years of that last of the 

1 In a letter written in the winter 
of 1499-1500, Colet is spoken of as 
' Jam triennium enarranti,' &c. See 
Erasmus to Colet, prefixed to JDis- 
putntio de Tccclio et Pavore Christi, 
Eras. Op. v. p. 1264, A. Colet was 
in Paris, apparently on his way 
home from his continental tour, soon 
after the publication of the work 
of the French historian Gaguinus, 
De Grig, et Gest. Francorum. (See 
Eras. Epist. xi.) The first edition, 

according to Panzer and Brunet, of 
this work, was that of Paris. Prid. 
Kal. Oct. 1495. Colet may thus 
have returned home in the spring 
of 1496, and proceeded to Oxford 
after the long vacation. Erasmus 
states, ' Reversus ex Italia, mox 
' relictis parentum aadibus, Oxonise 
' maluit agere. Illic publice et gra- 
' tis Paulinas Epistolas omnes enar- 
'ravit.' — Op. iii. p. 456, B. 


Colet, Erasmus, and More. 


in Theo- 

Chap. i. Middle Ages ; not only because the Scriptures for some 
a.d. 1496. generations had been practically ignored at the Uni- 
versities, but still more so because the would-be lecturer 
had not as yet entered deacon's orders, 1 nor had ob- 
tained, or even tried to obtain, any theological degree. 2 
It is true that he had passed through the regular 
academical course at Oxford, and was entitled, as a 
Master of Arts, to lecture upon any other subject. 3 
logy might g ut a degree in Arts did not, it would seem, entitle the 

lecture on t o 

the Bible, graduate to lecture upon the Bible. 4 

It does not perhaps follow from this, that Colet was 
guilty of any flagrant breach of university statutes, 
which, as a graduate in Arts, he must have sworn to 
obey. The very extent to which real study of the 
Scriptures had become obsolete at Oxford, may possibly 
suggest that even the statutory restrictions on Scrip- 
ture lectures may have become obsolete also. 5 

Before the days of Wiclif, the Bible had been free, 

1 He was ordained deacon De- 
cember 17, 1497. Knight's Life of 
Colet, p. 22 (Lond. 1724), on the 
authority, doubtless, of Kennett, 
who refers to Reg. Savage, Lond. 

- Erasmus Jodoco Jonse : Eras. 
Op. iii. p. 456, 0. ' In theologica 
'professione nullum omnino gradum 
' nee assequutus erat, nee ambierat.' 

3 ' Tbe degree of Master in Arts 
' conferred also, and this was prac- 
' tically its chief value, the right of 
' lecturing, and therefore of receiving 
' money for lectures, at Oxford.' — 
Monument a Academica : Rev. H. 
Anstey's Introduction, p. lxxxix. 

4 One of the statutes decreed 
as follows : — ' Item statutum est, 
' quod non liceat alicui prreterquam 

' Bachilaris Theologise, legere bi- 
« bliam biblice.'— Ibid. p. 394. That 
the word 'legere,' in these statutes, 
means practically to ' lecture,' see 
Mr.Anstey's Introduction, p. lxxxix. 
5 It is possible also that Colet's 
mode of lecturing did not come 
within the meaning of the technical 
phrase, ' legere bibliam biblice? 
which is said to have meant ' read- 
ying chapter by chapter, with the ac- 
' customed glosses, and such expla- 
' nations as the reader could add.' 
— Observations on the Statutes of the 
University of Cambridge : by George 
Peacock, D.D., Dean of Ely. Loud. 
1841, p. xlvi. n. See. also Mr. An- 
stey's Introduction, p. lxxi, on the 
doubtful meaning of 'legere cursorie? 

Oxford Biblical Lectures. 

and Bishop Grosseteste could urge Oxford students to 
devote their best morning hours to Scripture lectures. 1 
But an unsuccessful revolution ends in tightening the 
chains which it ought to have broken. During the 
fifteenth century the Bible was not free. And Scripture 
lectures, though still retaining a nominal place in the 
academical course of theological study, were thrown 
into the background by the much greater relative im- 
portance of the lectures on ' the Sentences.' What 
Biblical lectures were given were probably of a very 
formal character. 2 

Chap. I. 

A.D. 1496. 

1 See the remarkable letter of 
Bishop C-rrosseteste to the ' Regents 
'in Theology' at Oxford— date 1240 
or 1246 — Roberti Grosseteste Epi- 
stolce, pp. 346-7, of which the fol- 
lowing is Mr. Luard's summary : — 
' Skilful builders are always careful 
' that foundation stones should be 
' really capable of supporting the 
' building. The best time is the 
'morning. Tbeir lectures, therefore, 

* especially in the morning, should 
' be from the Old and New Testa- 

* ments, in accordance with their 
' ancient custom and the example of 
' Paris. Other lectures are more 
' suitable at other times.' — P. cxxix. 

2 It would not be likely that sta- 
tutes, framed in some points speci- 
ally to guard against Lollard views, 
and probably early in the fifteenth 
century, should ignore the Scrip- 
tures altogether. Thus, before in- 
ception in theology, by Masters in 
Theology (see Mr. Anstey's Intro- 
duction, p. xciv), three years' at- 
tendance on biblical lectures was 
required, and the inceptor must 
have lectured on some canonical 

book of the Bible (Monumenta Aca- 
demica, p. 391), according to the 
statutes. They also contained the 
following provision: — ' Ne autem 
' lecturae varise confundantur, et ut 
' expeditius in lectura biblias proce- 
' datur, statutum est, ut bibliam bi- 
' blice seu cursorie legentes qures- 
' tiones non dicant nisi tantummodo 
' literales.' — Ibid. p. 392. The regu- 
lar course of theological training at 
Oxford may be further illustrated 
by the following passage from Tin- 
dale's ' Practice of Prelates.' Tin- 
dale, when a youth, was at Oxford 
during a portion of the time that 
Colet was lecturing on St. Paul's 

' In the universities they have 
' ordained that no man shall look on 
' the Scripture until he be noselled 
' in heathen learning eight or nine 
' years, and armed with false prin- 
' ciples with which he is clean shut 
' out of the understanding of the 

' Scripture And when he 

' taketh his first degree, he is sworn 
' that he shall hold none opinion 
' condemned by the Church 

Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

Chat. I. 

a.d. 1496. 

ment of a 
new move- 
ment at 

The announcement by Colet of this course of lectures 
on St. Paul's Epistles was in truth, so far as can be 
traced, the first overt act in a movement commenced 
at Oxford in the direction of practical Christian reform 
— a movement, some of the results of which, had they 
been gifted with prescience, might well have filled the 
minds of the Oxford doctors with dismay. 

They could not indeed foresee that those very books 
of ' the Sentences,' over which they had pored so in- 
tently for so many years, in order to obtain the degree 
of Master in Theology, and at which students were still 
patiently toiling with the same object in view — they 
could not foresee that, within forty years, these very 
books would ' be utterly banished from Oxford,' igno- 
miniously ' nailed up upon posts ' as waste paper, their 
loose leaves strewn about the quadrangles until some 
sportsman should gather them up and thread them 
on a line to keep the deer within the neighbouring 
woods. 1 They could not, indeed, foresee the end of the 
movement then only beginning, but still, the announce- 
ment of Colet's lectures was likely to cause them some 

' And then when they be admitted 
' to study divinity, because the 
' Scripture is locked up with such 
' false expositions and with false 
' principles of natural philosophy 
' that they cannot enter in, they go 
' about the outside and dispute all 
' their lives about words and vain 
' opinions, pertaining as much unto 
' the healing of a man's heel as 
' health of his soul. Provided yet 
' . . . . that none may preach ex- 
' cept he be admitted of the Bishops.' 
— Practice of Prelates, p. 291. 
Parker Society. 

"What the biblical lectures were it 

is difficult to understand, for Eras- 
mus wrote (Eras. Epist. cxlviii.) : 
' Oompertum est hactenus quosdam 
' fuisse theologos, qui adeo nunquam 
' legerant divinas literas, ut nee 
'ipsos Sententiarum libros evol- 
' verent, neque quicquam omnino 
' attingerent praeter qusestionum 
' gryphos.'— P. 130, C. 

1 Ellis's Letters, 2nd series, vol. 
ii. pp. 61, 62. Letter of Kichard 
Layton and his Associates to Lord 
Cromwell, upon his Visitation of 
the University of Oxford, Sept. 12, 

The New Learning. 5 

uneasiness. They may well have asked, whether, if Chap. i. 
the exposition of the Scriptures were to be really A . D . 1496. 
revived at Oxford, so dangerous a duty should not be 
restricted to those duly authorised to discharge it ? 
Was every stripling who might travel as far as Italy 
and return infected with the ' new learning ' to be 
allowed to set up himself as a theological teacher, 
without graduating in divinity, and without waiting 
for decency's sake for the bishop's ordination ? 

On the other hand, anv Oxford graduate choosing to 
adopt so irregular a course, must have been perfectly 
aware that it would be one likely to stir up opposition, 
and even ill-will, 1 amongst the older divines ; and it 
may be presumed that he hardly would have ventured 
upon such a step without knowing that there were at 
the university others ready to support him. 


In all ages, more or less, there is a new school of The old 
thought rising up under the eyes of an older school school of 
of thought. And probably in all ages the men of the thousht - 
old school regard with some little anxiety the ways of 
the men of the new school. Never is it more likely to 
be so than at an epoch of sharp transition, like that on 
which the lot of these Oxford doctors had been cast. 

"We sometimes speak as though our age werepar ex- An age of 
cellence the age of progress. Theirs was much more so aniftrans- 
if we duly consider it. The youth and manhood of lhon ' 
some of them had been spent in days which may well 
have seemed to be the latter days of Christendom. 

1 ' Provinciam sumsisti . . . (ne I'plenam.' — Eras. Coleto : Eras. Op. 
^ quid mentiar) et negotii et invidioe ' v. p. 1264, A. 


Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

Chap. I. 
a.d. 1496. 

of Infidel 
arms in 

of the 

They had seen Constantinople taken by the Turks. 
The final conquest of Christendom by the infidel was a 
possibility which had haunted all their visions of the 
future. Were not Christian nations driven up into the 
north-western extremity of the known world, a wide 
pathless ocean lying beyond ? Had not the warlike 
creed of Mahomet steadily encroached upon Christen- 
dom, century by century, stripping her first of her 
African churches, from thence fighting its way north- 
ward into Spain ? Had it not maintained its foothold 
in Spain's fairest provinces for seven hundred years ? 
And from the East was it not steadily creeping over 
Europe, nearer and nearer to Venice and Eome, in spite 
of all that crusades could do to stop its progress ? If, 
though little more than half the age of Christianity, it 
had already, as they reckoned it had, drawn into its 
communion five times 1 as many votaries as there were 
Christians left, was it a groundless fear that now in these 
latter days it might devour the remaining sixth ? What 
could hinder it ? 

A Spartan resistance on the part of united Christen- 
dom perhaps might. But Christendom was not united, 
nor capable of Spartan discipline. Her internal condi- 
tion seemed to show signs almost of approaching disso- 
lution. The shadow of the great Papal schism still 
brooded over the destinies of the Church. That schism 
had been ended only by a revolution which, under the 
guidance of Gerson, had left the Pope the constitutional 
instead of the absolute monarch of the Church. The 

1 ' The Turks being in number 
'five times more than we Christians.' 
And again, 'Which multitude is 
' not the fifth part so many as they 

' that consent to the law of Ma- 
' hornet.' — Works of Tyndale and 
Frith, ii. pp. 55 and 74. 

The fresh Dawn of Hope. 7 

great heresies of the preceding century had, moreover, Chap. i. 
not yet been extinguished. The very names of Wiclif A .i>. 1496. 
and Huss were still names of terror. Lollardy had 
been crushed, but it was not dead. Everywhere the 
embers of schism and revolution were still smouldering 
underneath, ready to break out again, in new fury, who 
could tell how soon ? 

It was in the ears of this apparently doomed genera- Defeat of 
tion that the double tidings came of the discovery of i n s P am, 
the Terra Nova in the West, and of the expulsion of ^er^of 
the infidel out of Spain. America. 

The ice of centuries suddenly was broken. The 
universal despondency at once gave way before a spirit 
of enterprise and hope ; and it has been well observed, 
men began to congratulate each other that their lot had 
been cast upon an age in which such wonders were 

Even the men of the old school could appreciate 
these facts in a fashion. The defeat of the Moors was 
to them a victory to the Church. The discovery of 
the New World extended her dominion. They gloried 
over both. 

But these outward facts were but the index to an 
internal upheaving of the mind of Christendom, to 
which they were blind. The men who were guiding 
the great external revolution — reformers in their way 
— were blindly stamping out the first symptoms of this 
silent upheaving. Gerson, while carrying reform over 
the heads of Popes, and deposing them to end the 
schism or to preserve the unity of the Church, was at 
the same moment using all his influence to crush Huss 
and Jerome of Prague. Queen Isabella and Ximenes, 

8 Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

Chap. i. Henry VII. and Morton, while sufficiently enlightened to 
a.d. 149G. pursue maritime discovery, to reform after a fashion the 
monasteries under their rule, and ready even to combine 
to reform the morals of the Pope himself in order to 
avert the dreaded recurrence of a schism, 1 were not 
eager to pursue these purposes without the sanction 
of Papal bulls, and without showing their zeal for the 
Papacy by crushing out free thought with an iron heel 
and zealously persecuting heretics, whether their faith 
were that of the Moor, the Lollard, or the Jew. 
The re- The fall of Constantinople, which had sounded almost 

learning. n ^e tne death-knell of Christendom, had proved itself 
in truth the chief cause of her revival. The advance 
of the Saracens upon Europe had already told upon 
the European mind. The West has always had much 
to learn from the East. It was, for instance, by trans- 
lation from Arabic versions that Aristotle had gained 
such influence over those very same scholastic minds 
to which his native Greek was an abomination. 

This further triumph of infidel arms also influenced 
Christian thought. Eastern languages and Eastern 
philosophies began to be studied afresh in the West. 
Exiles who had fled into Italy had brought with them 
their Eastern lore. The invention of printing had 
come just in time to aid the revival of learning. The 

1 See British Museum Library, 
under the head ' Garcilaso,' No. 
1445, g 23, being the draft of private 
instructions from Ferdinand and 
Isabella to the special English Am- 
bassador, and headed, 'Year 1498. 
' The King and Queen concerning 
' the correction of Alexander VI.' 
The original Spanish MS. was in the 

hands of the late B. B. WifFen, Esq., 
of Mount Pleasant, near Woburn, 
and an English translation of this 
important document was reprinted 
by him in the Life of Valdes, pre- 
fixed to a translation of his CX 
Considerations. Loud. Quaritch, 
1865, p. 24. 

The Revival of Learning. 9 

printing press was pouring out in clear and beautiful Chap, i. 
type new editions of the Greek and Latin classics. Art a .d. 1496. 
and science with literature sprang up once more into 
life in Italy ; and to Italy, and especially to Florence, 
which, under the patronage of the splendid court 
of Lorenzo de' Medici, seemed to form the most 
attractive centre, students from all nations eagerly 

It was of necessity that the sudden reproduction its effect 
of the Greek philosophy and the works of the older Hgion. 
Neo-Platonists in Italy should sooner or later produce JP^. 
a new crisis in religion. A thousand years before, platonism - 
Christianity and Neo-Platonism had been brought 
into the closest contact. Christianity was then in its 
youth — comparatively pure — and in the struggle for 
mastery had easily prevailed. Not that Neo-Platonism 
was indeed a mere phantom which vanished and left 
no trace behind it. By no means. Through the 
pseudo-Dionysian writings it not only influenced pro- 
foundly the theology of medieval mystics, but also 
entered largely even into the Scholastic system. It 
was thus absorbed into Christian theology though lost 
as a philosophy. 

Now, after the lapse of a thousand years, the same 
battle had to be fought ao-ain. But with this terrible 
difference ; that now Christianity, in the impurest form 
it had ever assumed — a grotesque perversion of Chris- 
tianity — had to cope with the purest and noblest of 
the Greek philosophies. It was, therefore, almost a The 
matter of course that, under the patronage of Lorenzo Academy, 
de' Medici, the Platonic Academy under Marsilio Iiemo ' 
Ficino should carry everything before it. Whether 
the story were literally true of Ficino himself or not, 

10 Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

Chap. i. that he kept a lamp burning in his chamber before a 
A . D . 1496. bust of Plato, as well as before that of the Virgin, it 
was at least symbolically true of the most accomplished 
minds of Florence. 

Questions which had slept since the days of Julian 
and his successors were discussed again under Sixtus 
Plato and IV. and Innocent VIII. The leading minds of Italy 
tianity. were once more seeking for a reconciliation between 
Plato and Christianity in the works of the pseudo- 
Dionysius, Macrobius, Plotinus, Proclus, and other 
Neo-Platonists. There was the same anxious endea- 
vour, as a thousand years earlier, to fuse all philoso- 
phies into one. Plato and Aristotle must be reconciled, 
as well as Christianity and Plato. The old world was 
becoming once more the possession of the new. It 
was felt to be the recovery of a lost inheritance, and 
everything of antiquity, whether Greek, Eoman, Jewish, 
Persian, or Arabian, was regarded as a treasure. It 
was the fault of the Christian Church if the grotesque 
form of Christianity held up by her to a reawaken- 
ing world seemed less pure and holy than the aspira- 
tions of Pagan philosophers. It would be by no merit 
of hers, but solely by its own intrinsic power, if Chris- 
tianity should retain its hold upon the mind of Europe, 
in spite of its ecclesiastical defenders. 

Christianity brought into disrepute by the conduct 
of professed Christians, was compelled to rest as of 
old upon its own intrinsic merits, to stand the test 
of the most searching scientific criticisms which Flo- 
rentine philosophers were able to apply to it. Men 
versed in Plato and Aristotle were not without some 
notion of the value of intrinsic evidence, and the 
methods of inductive enquiry. Ficino himself thought 

tiancl of 

Marsilio Ficino. 11 

it well, discarding the accustomed scholastic inter- Chap. i. 
preters, to turn the light of his Platonic lamp upon a .d. 149c 
the Christian religion. From his work, ' De Religione 
Christiana] dedicated to Lorenzo de' Medici, and 
written in 1474, some notion may be gained of the 
method and results of his criticism. That its nature 
should be rightly understood is important in connec- 
tion with the history of the Oxford Eeformers. 

Ficino commences his argument by demonstrating The De 
that religion is natural to man ; and having, on Pla- chr!™™ 
tonic authority, pointed out the truth of the one com- 
mon religion, and that all religions have something 
of good in them, he turns to the Christian religion in 
particular. Its truth he tries to prove by a chain of 
reasoning of which the folio wing are some of the links. 

He first shows that ' the disciples of Jesus were not 
' deceivers ; ' 1 and he supports this by examining, in a 
separate chapter, ' in what spirit the disciples of Christ 
' laboured ; ' 2 concluding, after a careful analysis of the 
Acts of the Apostles and the Epistles, that they did not 
seek their own advantage or honour but ' the glory of 
' Christ alone.' Then he shows that ' the disciples of 
' Christ were not deceived by anyone,' 3 and that the 
Christian religion was founded, not in human wisdom, 
but ' in the wisdom and power of God ; ' 4 that Christ was 
' no astrologer,' but c derived his authority from God.' 5 
He adduced further the evidence of miracles, in which 
he had no difficulty in believing, for he gave two in- 
stances of miracles which had occurred in Florence only 
four years previously, and in which he declared to 

1 Chap. v. 2 Chap. vi. 3 Chap. vii. 

4 Chap. viii. 5 Chap. ix. 

12 Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

Chap. i. Lorenzo de' Medici, that, philosopher as he was, he 
a.d. 149G. believed. 1 After citing the testimony of some Gentile 
writers, and of the Coran of the Mahometans, and dis- 
cussing in the light of Plato, Zoroaster, and Dionysius, 
the doctrine of the ' logos,' and the fitness of the incar- 
nation, he showed that the result of the coming of 
Christ was that men are drawn to love with their whole 
heart a God who in his immense love had himself be- 
come man. 2 After dwelling on the way in which 
Christ lightened the burden of sin, 3 on the errors he 
dispelled, the truths he taught, 4 and the example he 
Argument set, 5 Ficino proceeds in two short chapters to adduce 
in support the testimony of the 'Sibyls.' 6 This was natural to a 
of Chris- W riter whose bias it was to regard as genuine whatever 

tianity. o o ^ 

could be proved to be ancient. But it is only fair to 
state that he relies much more fully and discusses at 
far greater length the prophecies of the Ancient Hebrew 
prophets, 7 vindicating the Christian rendering of certain 
passages in the old Testament against the Jews, who 
accused the Christians of having perverted and de- 
praved them. 8 He concludes by asserting, that if there 
be much in Christianity which surpasses human compre- 
hension, this is a proof of its divine character rather 
than otherwise. These are his final words. ' If these 
' things be divine, they must exceed the capacity of any 
' human mind. Faith (as Aristotle has it) is the founda- 
'tion of knowledge. By faith alone (as the Platonists 
'prove) we ascend to God. "I believed (said David) 
' " and therefore have I spoken." Believing, therefore, 

Chap. x. 
Chap. xix. 
Chap. xx. 
Chap. xxii. 

5 Chap, xxiii. 

6 Chaps, xxiv. and xxv. 

7 Chaps, xxvi.-xxxiv. 

8 Chap, xxxvi. 

Philosophy and Religion. 


' and approaching the fountain of truth and goodness Chap. i. 
' we shall drink in a wise and blessed life.' 1 a.dTi496. 

Thus was the head of the Platonic Academy at 
Florence turning a critical eye upon Christianity, view- 
ing it very possibly too much in the light of the lamp 
kept continually burning before the bust of Plato, but 
still, I think, honestly endeavouring, upon its own in- 
trinsic evidence and by inductive methods, to establish 
a reasonable belief in its divine character in minds 
sceptical of ecclesiastical authority, and over whom the 
dogmatic methods of the Schoolmen had lost their 
power. 2 Nevertheless Ficino, as yet, was probably 
more of an intellectual than of a practical Christian, 
and Christianity was not likely to take hold of the 
mind of Italy — of re-awakening Europe — through any 
merely philosophical disquisitions. The lamp of Plato 
might throw light on Christianity, but it would not 
light up Christian fire in other souls. For Christianity Ohris- 
is a thing of the heart, not only of the head. Soul is thTn^ of 1 
kindled only by soul, says Carlyle ; and to teach religion the heait 
the one thing needful is to find a man who has religion. 3 
Should such a man arise, a man himself on fire with 
Christian love and zeal, his torch might light up other 
torches, and the fire be spread from torch to torch. But, 
until such a man should arise, the lamp of philosophy 
must burn alone in Florence. Men might come from 
far and near to listen to Marsilio Ficino — to share the 
patronage of Lorenzo de' Medici, to study Plato and 

1 Chap, xxxvii. 

- Villari, in his ' Life and Times 
' of Savonarola,' book i. chap, iv., 
does not seem to me to give, by any 
means, a fair abstract of the * De 
' Religione Christiana] though his 

chapter on Ficino is valuable in 
other respects. I have used the 
edition of Paris, 1510. 

3 ' Chartism,' chap. x. ' Impos- 
' sible.' 

14 Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

Chap. i. Plotinus, — to learn how to harmonise Plato and Aris- 
a .d. 1496. totle, to master the Greek language and philosophies, 
— to drink in the spirit of reviving learning — but, of 
true Christian religion, the lamp had not yet been lit 
at Florence, or if lit it was under a bushel. 
Oxford Already Oxford students had been to Italy, and 

inVab! returned full of the new learning. Grocyn, one of 
them, had for some time been publicly teaching Greek 
at Oxford, not altogether to the satisfaction of the 
old divines, for the Latin of the Vulgate was, in their 
eye, the orthodox language, and Greek a Pagan and 
heretical tongue. Linacre, too, had been to Italy and 
returned, after sharing with the children of Lorenzo 
de' Medici the tuition of Politian and Chalcondyles. 1 
These men had been to Italy and had returned, to 
all appearances, mere humanists. Now five years 
later Colet had been to Italy and had returned, not a 
mere humanist, but an earnest Christian reformer, bent 
upon giving lectures, not upon Plato or Plotinus, but 
upon St. Paul's Epistles. What had happened during 
these four years to account for the change ? 


Coiet's John Colet was the eldest 2 son of Sir Henry Colet, a 

from Italy wealthy merchant, who had been more than once Lord 

• Mayor of London, 3 and was in favour at the court of 

1 Pauli Jovii Blogia Doctorum i pp. 103-150. And Wood's Athen. 
Virorum : Basileae, 1556, p. 145. : Oxon. vol. i. p. 30. Also Hist, et 

The period of the stay of Grocyn j Antiq. Univ. Oxon. ii. 134 
and Linacre in Italy was probably j 2 Eras. Op. in. p. 455, F 
between 1485 and 1491. They 
therefore probably returned to Eng- 
land before the notorious Alexander 
VI. succeeded, in 1492, to Innocent 
VIII. See Johnson'sLife of Linacre, 

Erasmus Jodoco Jonse : Op. iii. 
p. 455, F. Also Sir Henry Oolet's 
Epitaph, quoted in Knight's Life of 
Colet, p. 7. 

Colefs History. 15 

Henry VII. His father's position held out to him the Chap. i. 
prospect of a brilliant career. He had early been sent A .i». 14%. 
to Oxford, and there, having passed through the regu- 
lar course of study in all branches of scholastic philo- 
sophy, he had taken his degree of Master of Arts. 

On the return of Grocyn and Linacre from Italy 
full of the new learning, Colet had apparently caught 
the contagion. For we are told he ' eagerly devoured His 
' Cicero, and carefully examined the works of Plato oxford.* 
* and Plotinus.' 1 

When the time had come for him to choose a pro- 
fession, instead of deciding to follow up the chances 
of commercial life, or of royal favour, he had re- 
solved to take Orders. 

The death of twenty-one 2 brothers and sisters, 
leaving him the sole survivor of so large a family, 
may well have given a serious turn to his thoughts. 
But inasmuch as family influence was ready to pro- 
cure him immediate preferment, the path he had 
chosen need not be construed into one of great self- 
denial. It was not until lon» after he had been Sets out 

1 ■ 
presented to a living in Suffolk and a prebend in travels. 

Yorkshire, that he left Oxford, probably in or about 
1494, for some years of foreign travel. 3 

The little information which remains to us of what 
Colet did on his continental journey, is very soon told. 

He went first into France and then into Italy. 4 On 

1 ' Et libros Oiceronis avidissime I < alias .... sed ex omnibus ille 

* devorarat et Platonis Plotinique 
' libros non oscitanter excusserat.' 
—Eras. Op. iii. p. 456, A. 

2 Eras. Op. iii. p. 455, F. ' Mater, 

' quae adhuc superest [in 1520], in- 

' signi probitate mulier, marito suo 

undecim filios peperit, ac totidem 

< [Colet] superfuit solus, cum ilium 
1 nosse coepisseni ' [in 1498], 

3 See list of Colet's preferments 
in tbe Appendix. 

4 ' Adiit Galliam, mox Italiam.' 
— Eras. Op. iii. p. 456, A. 

16 Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

Chap. I. 

a.d. 1490. his way there, or on his return journey, he met with 
some German monks, of whose primitive piety and 
purity he retained a vivid recollection. 1 In Italy he ar- 
dently pursued his studies. But he no longer devoted 
himself to the works of Plato and Plotinus. In Italy, 
Coiet the hotbed of the Neo-Platonists, he ' gave himself up ' 
Scriptures (we are told) ' to the study of the Holy Scriptures,' after 
m Italy, having, however, first made himself acquainted with 
the works of the Fathers, including amongst them the 
mystic writings then attributed to Dionysius the Areo- 
pagite. He acquired a decided preference for the 
works of Dionysius, Origen, Ambrose, Cyprian, and 
Jerome over those of Augustine. Scotus, Aquinas, and 
other Schoolmen had each shared his attention in due 
course. He is said also to have diligently studied 
during this period Civil and Canon Law, and especially 
what Chronicles and English classics he could lay his 
hands on ; and his reason for doing so is remarkable — 
that he might, by familiarity with them, polish his 
style, and so prepare himself for the great work of 
preaching the Gospel in England. 2 

What it was that had turned his thoughts in this 
direction no record remains to tell. Yet the knowledge 

1 Eras. Op. iii. p. 459, A. I ' quando locus postulabat. In utri- 

2 Ibid. p. 456, B. The words of ' usque juris libris erat non indili- 
Erasmus are the following : — ' Ibi I ' genter versatus. Denique nullus 
' se totum evolvendis sacris aucto- J ' erat liber historiam aut constitu- 
' ribus dedit, sed prius per omnium ; ' tiones continens majorum, quern 
' literarum genera magno studio j ' ille non evolverat. Habet gens 
' peregrinatus, priscis illis potissi- j ' Britannica qui hoc praestiterunt 
' mum delectabatur Dionysio, Ori- ' apud suos, quod Dantes ac Petrar- 
'gene,Cypriano,A moi ' os i°)Hierony- \ ' cha apud Italos. Et horum evol- 
' mo. Atque inter veteres nulli erat ; ' vendis scriptis linguam expolivit, 
'iniquior quam Augustino. Neque 'jam turn se praeparans ad praeco- 
' tamen non legit Scotum, ac ' nium sermones Evangelici.' 

' Tbomam aliosque hujus farinae, si 

( 'olet in Italy. 17 

of what was passing in Italy, while Colet was there, Chap. i. 
surely may give a clue, not likely to mislead, to the a .d. 1496. 
explanation of what otherwise might remain wholly 
unexplained. To have been in Italy when Grocyn and 
Linacre were in Italy — between the years 1485 and 
1491 — was, as we have said, to have drunk at the 
fountain-head of reviving learning, and to have fallen 
under the fascinating influence of Lorenzo de' Medici 
and the Platonic Academy — an influence more likely 
to foster the selfish coldness of a semi-pagan philosophy 
than to inspire such feelings as those with which Colet 
seems to have returned from his visit to Italy. 1 

But in the meantime Lorenzo had died, the tiara had 
changed hands, and events were occurring during 
Colet 's stay in Itafy — probably in 1495 — which may 
well have stirred in his breast the earnest resolution to 
devote his life to the work of religious and political 

For to have been in Italy while Colet was in Italy Eccie- 
was to have come face to face withEome at the time scandals. 
when the scandals of Alexander VI. and Caesar Borgia 
were in everyone's mouth ; to have been brought into 
contact with the very worst scandals which had ever 
blackened the ecclesiastical system of Europe,at the very 
moment when they reached their culminating point. 

On the other hand, to have been in Italy when Colet 
was in Italy was to have come into contact with the 
first rising efforts at Eeform. 

If Colet visited Florence as Grocyn and Linacre had Savo- 
done before him, he must have come into direct con- na10 a ' 
tact with Savonarola while as yet his fire was holy and 

1 Savonarola's lirst sermon in the Duonio at Florence was preached 
in 1491.— Villari. i. p. 122. 



Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

Chap, i his star had not entered the mists in which it set in 


a.d. 1496. later years. 

Eecollecting what the great Prior of San Marco was 
— what his fiery and all but prophetic preaching was — 
how day after day his burning words went forth against 
the sins of high and low ; against tyranny in Church 
or State ; against idolatry of philosophy and neglect 
of the Bible in the pulpit ; recollecting how they told 
their tale upon the conscience of Lorenzo de' Medici, and 
of his courtiers as well as upon the crowds of Florence ; 
— can the English student, it may well be asked, have 
passed through all this uninfluenced ? If he visited 
Florence at all he must have heard the story of Savo- 
narola's interview with the dying Lorenzo ; he must 
have heard the common talk of the people, how Politian 
and Pico, bosom friends of Lorenzo, had died with the 
request that they might be buried in the habit of the 
order, and under the shadow of the convent of San 
Marco ; ] above all, he must again and again have 
joined, one would think, with the crowd daily press- 
ing to hear the wonderful preacher. Lorenzo de' 
Medici had died before Colet set foot upon Italian 
soil: probably also Pico and Politian. 2 And the 
death of these men had added to the grandeur of 
Savonarola's position. He was still preaching those 
wonderful sermons, all of them in exposition of Scrip- 
ture, to which allusion has been made, and exerting 
that influence upon his hearers to which so many great 
minds had yielded. 

1 See Villari, i. 232. Anno 1494. 

2 Lorenzo de' Medici died in 1492 ; 
Pico and Politian in 1494. Colet 
left England early in 1494 pro- 

bably, but as be visited France on 
bis way to Italy, the exact time of 
bis reaching Italy cannot be deter- 

Savonarola, Pico, and Ficino. 


The man who had religion — the one requisite for 

teaching it — had arisen. 

Chap. I. 

And at the touch of his a.d. 1496. 

torch other hearts had caught fire. 

The influence of n s -° a , 5 

Savonarola had made itself felt even within the circle influence 

on Pico 

of the Platonic Academy. Pico had become a devoted andFicino. 
student of the Scriptures and had died an earnest 
Christian. Ficino himself, without ceasing to be a Neo- 
Platonic philosopher, had also, it would seem, been 
profoundly influenced for a time by the enthusiasm 
of the great reformer. 1 And in the light of Colet's 

1 The influence of Savonarola on 
the religious history of Pico was 
very remarkable. 

In a sermon preached after Pico's 
death, Savonarola said of Pico, 
' He was wont to be conversant 
'with me, and to break with me 
' the secrets of his heart, in which 
' I perceived that he was by privy 

* inspiration called of God unto re- 
' ligion : ' i.e. to become a monk. 
And he goes on to say that, for 
two years, he had threatened him 
with Divine judgment 'if he fore- 
' sloathed that purpose which our 

* Lord had put in his mind.' — 
More's English Works, p. 9. 

Pico died in November, 1494. 
The intimacy of which Savonarola 
speaks dated back therefore to 1492 
or earlier. 

According to the statement of his 
nephew, J. F. Pico, the change in 
Pico's life was the result of the 
disappointment and the troubles 
consequent upon his ' vainglorious 
' disputations ' at Rome in 1486 
(when Pico was twenty-three). By 
this he was ' wakened,' so that he 
' drew back his mind flowing in 
' riot, and turned it to Christ ! ' 

Pico waited a whole year in Rome 
after giving his challenge, and the 
disappointment and troubles were 
not of short, duration. They may 
be said to have commenced perhaps 
after the year of waiting, i.e. in 
1487, when he left Rome. He was 
present at the disputations at Reg- 
gio in 1487, and this does not look 
as though as yet he had altogether 
lost his love of fame and distinc- 
tion. There he met Savonarola ; 
and there that intimacy commenced 
which resulted in Savonarola's re- 
turn, at the suggestion of Pico, to 
Florence. (J. F. Pico's Vita Savo- 
narolce, chap. vi. ; Harford's Life of 
Michael Angelo, i.p. 128 ; and Villari, 
i. pp. 82, 83.) In 1490, as the re- 
sult of his first studies of Holy 
Scripture, according to J. F. Pico 
(being twenty-eight), he published 
his Heptaplus, which is full of his 
cabalistic and mystic lore, and be- 
tokens a mind still entangled in 
intellectual speculations rather 
than imbued with practical piety. 
He had, however, already burnt 
his early love songs, &c. j and it is 
evident the change had for some 
time been going on. 

c 2 


Co let, Erasmus, and More. 

Chap. i. return to Oxford from Italy, a lover of Dionysius and to 
&.D. 1496. lecture on St. Paul's Epistles, it is curious to observe 

About the time when Savonarola 
commenced preaching in Florence, 
in 1491 (three years before his 
death, according to J. F. Pico), 
Pico disposed of his patrimony and 
dominions to his nephew, and dis- 
tributed a large part of the produce 
amongst the poor, consulting Savo- 
narola about its disposal (J. F. 
Pico's Life of Savonarola, chap. xi. 
' De mira Hieronymi lenitate et 
1 amore paupertatis''), and appoint- 
ing as his almoner Girolamo Beni- 
vieni, a devout and avowed be- 
liever in Savonarola's prophetic 
gifts. This was doubtless the time 
when Pico was wont to break to 
Savonarola 'the secrets of his 
' heart ; ' the time also to which J. F. 
Pico alludes when ne speaks of him 
as ' talking of the love of Christ ; ' 
and adding, ' the substance I have 
' left; after certain books of mine 
' finished, I intend to give out to 
' poor folk, and fencing myself with 
' the crucifix, barefoot, walking 
'about the world, in every town 
• and castle, I purpose to preach of 
' Christ.' — Vide infra, p. 153. In 
1492, a few weeks after Lorenzo's 
death, he wrote three beautiful 
letters to his nephew (Pici Op. pp. 
231-236. Vide infra, pp. 153-156)— 
letters as glowing with earnest 
Christian piety as the Heptaplus 
was overflowing with cabalistic 
subtleties. His religion now, at all 
events, had the true ring about it. 
It belonged to his heart, not his head 
only. Then follow the remaining 
two years of his life when Savo- 
narola exerted his influence (but 

without success) to induce him to 
enter a religious order. On Sept. 
21, 1494, he was present at Savo- 
narola's famous sermon, in which 
he predicted the calamities which 
were coming upon Italy and the 
approach of the French army, lis- 
tening to which Pico himself said 
that he ' was filled with horror, and 
' that his hair stood on end ' (nar- 
rated by Savonarola in his Com- 
pendium Revelationum) ; and lastly 
in November, as Charles entered 
Florence, Pico was peacefully dying. 
He was buried in the robes of 
Savonarola's order and within the 
precincts of Savonarola's church of 
St. Mark. In the light of Savo- 
narola's sermon, and the facts above 
stated, it can hardly be doubted 
that whilst, in one sense, brought 
about by the disappointment of his 
worldly ambitions, the change of 
life in Pico was at least, in measure, 
the result of hi3 contact with the 
great Florentine reformer. 

With regard to the history of 
Savonarola's influence on Ficino's 
religious character, the facts are 
not so easily traced. In early years 
he is said to have been more of a 
Pagan than a Christian. Before 
writing his De Religione Christiana, 
he seems to have become fully per- 
suaded of the truth of Christianity. 
The book itself shows this. And 
there is a letter of his (Ficini Op. i. 
p. 640, Basle ed.), written while he 
was composing it, during an illness, 
in which he says that the words 
of Christ give him more comfort 
than philosophy, and his vows paid 

Savonarola, Pico, and Ficino. 


that, shortly before Colet's visit to Italy, Ficino him- Chap, i. 
self had published translations of some of the Diony- a.d. 1496. 
sian writings, 1 and that apparently about the time of 
Colet's visit he was himself lecturing on St. Paul. 2 

If therefore Colet visited Florence, it may well be Their 
believed that he came into direct contact with Savo- on Colet. 
narola and Ficino. Whilst even if he did not visit 
Florence at all (and there appears to be no direct 
evidence that he did), 3 there remains abundant 

to the Virgin more bodily good 
than medicine. He also says that 
his father, a doctor, was once 
warned in a dream, while sleeping 
under an oak tree, to go to a pa- 
tient who was praying to the Virgin 
for aid. 

But the religion of a man rest- 
ing on dreams, and visions, and 
vows made to the Virgin, was not 
necessarily of a very deep and 
practical character. Superstition 
and philosophy were easily united 
without the heart taking fire. 
Schelhorn (in his Amamitates Lite- 
rariee, i. p. 73) quotes from Whar- 
ton's appendix to Cave, the follow- 
ing statement, ' Rei philosophical 
' nimiumdeditus, religionisetpietatis 
' curam posthahuisse dicitur, donee 
1 Savonarolae Florentiam advenientis 
' eloquentiam admiratus, concioni- 
' hus ejus audiendis animum adjecit, 
■' dumque dosculis Rhetorices inhi- 
'avit, pietatis igniculos recepit: reli- 
' quamque dein vitam religionis offi- 
' ciis impendit.' Wharton does not 
give his authority. Fleury (vol. xxiv. 
p. 363) makes a similar statement ; 
also Brucker (Historia critica Phi- 
losophies, iv. p. 52) ; also Du Pin ; 
also Harford in his Life of Michael 
Angelo (i. p. 72) on the authority of 

Spondanus, who himself gives no 
contemporary authority. See also 
Mr. Lupton's Introduction to Colet's 
Celestial and Ecclesiastical Hierar- 
chies ofDionysius, where the subject 
is discussed. I am informed, through 
the kindness of Count P. Guicciar- 
dini, of Florence, that in Ficino's 
Apologia, which exists in the MSS. 
Stroziani of Libr. Magliabecchiana, 
class viii. cod. 315, he says of him- 
self that ' for five years he was one 
' of the many who were deceived by 
' the Hypocrite of Ferrara,' whom 
he calls ' Antichrist.' The truth 
therefore seems to be that he was 
profoundly influenced by Savo- 
narola's enthusiasm, but only for a 

1 Ficino's editions of his transla- 
tions of the Dionysian treatises on 
the ' Divine Names ' and the ' Mys- 
' tic Theology ' seem to have been 
published at Florence in 1492 and 
1496. — Fabricii Bibliotheca Grceca, 
vii. pp. 10, 11. 

2 Herzog's Encyclopaedia, article 
on ' Marsilius Ficinus.' 

3 Mr. Harford, in his Life of 
Michael Angelo, vol. i. p. 57, men- 
tions Colet, among others, as study- 
ing at Florence, and cites ' Tira- 
' boschi, vi. pt. 2, p. 382, edit. Roma, 


Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

a.d. 1496. 

Chap. i. evidence, which will turn up in future chapters, that 
Colet had studied the writings of Pico, 1 of Ficino, 2 
and of the authors most often quoted in their pages. 
He thus at least came directly under Florentine influ- 
ence, at a time when the fire of religious zeal, kindled 
into a flame by the enthusiasm of the great Floren- 
tine Beformer, and fed by the scandals of Rome, was 
scattering its sparks abroad. 

Be this as it may, whatever amount of obscurity may 
rest upon the history of the mental struggles through 
which Colet had passed before that result was attained, 
certain it is that he had returned to England w T ith his 
mind fully made up, and with a character already 
formed and bent in a direction from which it never 
afterwards swerved. He had returned to England, not 
to enjoy the pleasures of fashionable life in London, 
not to pursue the chances of Court favour, not to 
follow his father's mercantile calling, not even to press 

in which 
Colet re- 
turned to 

1 4to. 1784.' But I cannot find any 
mention of Oolet in Tiraboschi, 
after careful search. 

In opposition to the likelihood 
of his having been at Florence it 
may be asked, why Oolet never 
alludes to it in his letters or else- 
where ? In reply, it may be said 
that we have nothing of Colet's 
own writing relating to his early 
life. All we know of it is derived 
from Erasmus, and the only allusion 
by Colet to his Italian journey 
which Erasmus has preserved is 
the passing remark that he (Oolet) 
had there become acquainted with 
certain monks of true wisdom and 
piety. — Eras. Op. iii. 459, A. ' Nar- 
'rans sese apud Italos comperisse 
' quosdam monachos vere prudentes 

' ac pios. 1 Whether Savonarola's 
monks were amongst these is a 
matter of mere speculation. 

1 See marginal note on his ' Ro- 
mans,' in the Cambridge University 
Library, MS. Gg. 4, 26, leaf 3a, 
in which he refers to him — ' Hec 
Mircmdida,' and cites a passage 
from Pico's Apologia, Basle edition 
of Pici Opera, p. 117. There is 
also a long and almost literal ex- 
tract from Pico in the MS. on the 
' Ecclesiastical Hierarchy,' in the 
St. Paul's School Library. See 
Mr. Lupton's translation, p. 161. 

2 See an extract from Ficino in 
Colet's MS. on ' Romans,' leaf 135. 
Another is pointed out by Mr. 
Lupton, p. 36, n. 

Thomas More. 23 

on at once towards the completion of his clerical Chap. i. 
course ; but, unordained as he was, and without A . D . 1496. 
doctor's degree, in all simplicity to begin the work 
which had now become the settled purpose of his 
life, by returning to Oxford and announcing this 
course of lectures on St. Paul's Epistles. 


When Colet, catching the spirit of the new learning 
from Grocyn and Linacre, left Oxford for his visit to 
Paris and Italy, he left behind him at the university 
a boy of fifteen, no less devoted than himself to the 
study of the Greek language and philosophy. 

This boy was Thomas More. He was the son of a Thomas 
successful lawyer, living in Milk Street, Cheapside. More " 

Brought up in the very centre of London life, he had 
early entered into the spirit of the stirring times on 
which his young life was cast. He was but five years 
old when in April 1483 the news of Edward IV. 's 
death was told through London. But he was old 
enough to hear an eyewitness tell his father, that ' one 
' Pottyer, dwelling in Eedcross Street, without Cripple- 
6 gate,' within half a mile of his father's door, ' on the 
' very night of King Edward's death, had exclaimed, His early 
' " By my troth, man, then will my master the Duke mstor y- 
' " of Glo'ster be king." ' 1 And followed as this was by 

1 'Quern ego sermonem ab eo I authorship of the history of Richard 
'memini, qui colloquentes audi- i III. see Mr. Gairdner's preface to 
' verat, jam turn patri meo renun- Letters of Richard III, and Henry 
' ciatum, cum adhuc nulla prodi- <, VII. vol. ii. p. xxi. As More was 
' tionis ejus suspicio haberetur.' I born in February, 1478, there is no 
— Thonise Mori ' Latina Opera,' , difficulty in accepting the autheu- 
Lovanii, 1566, fol. 46. As to the i ticity of this incident, which, when 


Colet, Erasmus, and More. 


Chap. i. Eichard's murder of the young Princes, he never forgot 
a.d. 1496. the incident. After some years' study at St. Anthony's 
School in Threadneedle Street, his father placed him in 
domestic service (as was usual in those times) with the 
Archbishop and Lord Chancellor Morton, 1 a man than 
whom no one knew the world better or was of greater 
influence in public affairs — the faithful friend of 
Edward IV., the feared but cautious enemy of Eichard, 
the man to whose wisdom Henry VII. in great measure 
owed his crown. Morton was the Gamaliel at whose 
feet young More was brought up, drinking in his 
wisdom, storing up in memory his rich historic 
knowledge, learning the world's ways and even some- 
thing of the ways of kings, till a naturally sharp wit 
became unnaturally sharpened, and Morton recognised 
in the youth the promise of the future greatness of 
the man. He was but thirteen or fourteen at most, 
yet he would ' at Christmas time suddenly sometimes 
' step in among the players, making up an extempore 
' part of his own ; ' . . . and the Lord Chancellor ' would 
' often say unto the nobles that divers times dined 
' with him, " This child here waiting at table, whoso- 
' " ever shall live to see it, will prove a marvellous 
man." ' 2 It was Morton who had sent him to Oxford 
' for his better furtherance in learning.' 3 

Colet probably had known More from childhood. 
Their fathers were both too much of public men to be 
unknown to each other, and though Colet was twelve 
years older than young More when they most likely 


1480 was assumed as the date of 
More's birth, seemed quite impos- 
sible, as More would only have 
been three years old when it oc- 
curred, and could not have remem- 

bered the conversation. 

1 Roper, Singer's ed. p. 3. Morton 
was not made a cardinal till 1493. 

2 lloper, p. 4. 

3 Ibid. 

Thomas More at Oxford. 25 

met at Oxford in 1492-3, their common studies Chap. i. 

under Grocyn and Linacre were likely to bring them a .d. 1496. 
into contact. 1 More's ready wit, added to great 
natural power and versatility of mind, were such as 
to enable him to keep pace with others much older 
than himself, and to devote himself with equal zeal 
to the new learning. 

Whether it was thus at Oxford that Colet had first 
formed his high opinion of More's character and powers, 
we know not, but certain it is that he was long after 
wont to speak of him as the one genius of whom 
England could boast. 2 Moreover, along with great His 
intellectual gifts was combined in the young student tin^cha- 
a gentle and loving disposition, which threw itself into racter - 
the bosom of a friend with so guileless and pure an 
affection, that when men came under the power of its 
unconscious enchantment they literally fell in love with 
More. If Colet's friendship with More dated back to 
this period, he must have found in his young acquain- 
tance the germs of a character somewhat akin to his 
own. Along with so much of life and generous love- 
liness, there was a natural independence of mind which 
formed convictions for itself, and a strength and 
promptness of will whereby action was made as a 
matter of course to follow conviction. There was, in 
truth, in More's character a singular union of conser- 
vative and radical tendencies of heart and thought. 

1 Colet probably left Oxford for I 2 Eras. Op. iii. p. 477, A. Speaking 
tbe Continent about 1494. The most [ of More, Erasmus writes : ' Joannes 

probable date of More's stay at 
Oxford was 1492 and 1493. This 
leaves 1494 and 1495 for bis studies 
at New Inn, previous to his entry 
at Lincoln's Inn, in February, 1496. 

' Coletus, vir acrisexactique judicii, 
' in familiar ibus colloquiis subinde 
' dicere solet, Britannise non nisi 
' unicum esse ingenium.' 


Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

Chap. I. 

a.d. 1496. 

More al- 
ready de- 
stined for 
the Bar. 




But the intercourse between them at Oxford did 
not last long, for Colet, as already said, went off on 
his travels, leaving More buried in his Oxford studies 
under Linacre's tuition. 

It was the father's purpose that the son at Oxford 
should be preparing for his future profession. 
Jealous lest the temptations of college life should 
disqualify him for the severe discipline involved in 
those legal studies to which it was to be the prepa- 
ratory step, he kept him in leading-strings as far as he 
possibly could, cutting down his pecuniary allowance 
to the smallest amount which would enable him to 
pay his way, even compelling him to refer to himself 
before purchasing the most necessary articles of 
clothing as his old ones wore out. He judged that 
by these means he should keep his son more closely 
to his books, and prevent his being allured from the 
rigid course of study which in his utilitarian view 
was best adapted to fit him for the bar. 1 

So far as can be traced, this stern discipline did 
not fail of its end ; 2 he worked on at Oxford, without 
getting into mischief, and certainly without neglecting 
his books. But there was another snare from which 
parental anxiety was not able wholly to preserve him. 
Before he had been two years at Oxford, the father 
found out that he had begun to show symptoms of 
fondness for the study of the Greek language and 

1 Stapleton"s Tres Thomee, Colon. 
1612 ed. chap. i. pp. 155-6. ' Hanc 
' ob causam sic ei necessaria sub- 
' ministravit ut ne quidem terun- 
' cium in sua potestate eum habere 
' permitteret, prseter id quod ipsa 
' necessitas postulabat. Quod adeo 

'stricte observavit, ut nee ad re- 
' ficiendos attritos calceos, nisi a 
' patre peteret, pecuniam haberet .' 
See also Eras. Op. iii. p. 475, A, 
respecting his father's motive. 

2 Stapleton's Tres Thomee, Colon. 
1612, p. 156. 

Colet hears of Erasmus. 27 

literature, 1 and might even be guilty of preferring Chap. i. 
the philosophy of the Greeks to that of the School- a.d. 1496. 
men. This was treading on dangerous ground, and 
it seemed to the anxious parent high time that a stop 
should be put to new-fangled and fascinating studies, 
the use of which to a lawyer he could not discern. 
So, somewhat abruptly, he took young More away 
from the University, and had him at once entered as 
a student at New Inn. 2 After the usual course of More 
legal studies at New Inn, he was admitted in February Lincoln's 
1496, 3 just as Colet was returning from Italy, as a Inn ' 
student of Lincoln's Inn, for a few more years of hard 
legal study, preparatory to his call to the Bar. 


One other circumstance must be mentioned in this 

Whilst Colet was passing through Paris, on his colet first 
return journey from Italy, he became acquainted with Erasmus, 
the French historian Gaguinus, whose work ' De Ori- 
' gine et Gestis Francorum, had been published shortly 
before. 4 Colet was in the habit of reading every book 
of history which came in his way, 5 and no doubt this 

1 t 

Juvenis ad Graecas literas ac I ' phise studium omni subsidio de- 

' philosophise studium sese applicuit 
' adeo non opitulante patre . . . ut 
' ea conantem omni subsidio desti- 
' tueretac pene pro abdicatohaberet, 
'quod a patriis studiis desciscere 
' videretur, nam is Britannicarum 
' legum peritiam profitetur.' — Eras. 
Op. iii. p. 475, A. 

2 'Sic voluit pater qui eum ad 
' Grsecarum literarum et philoso- 

'stituit, ut ad istud (i.e. English 
' Law)iuduceret.' — Stapleton's Tres 
Thames, p. 168. 

3 XII. February,— 1 1 Henry VII. 
Foss's Judges of England, v. p. 207. 

4 Vide supra, p. 1, n. 

' Eras. Op.iii. p. 456,B. ; Nullus 
' erat liber, historiam aut constitu- 
' tiones continens majorum, quod 
' non evolverat.' 

28 Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

Chap. i. history of Gaguiuus was no exception to the rule. 

a.d. 1496. Whilst he was at Paris, a letter was shown to him 
which the historian had received from a scholar and 
acquaintance of rising celebrity in Paris, in which the 
new history was reviewed and praised. 1 From the 
perusal of this letter, Colet formed a high estimate of 
the learning and wide range of knowledge of its 
accomplished writer. 2 But scholars were plentiful in 
Paris, and he was not personally introduced to this 
one in particular. He was not then, like Gaguinus, 
one of the lions of Paris, though he was destined to 
become one of the lions of History. Colet after 
reading his letter did not forget his name. Nor was 
it a name likely to be soon forgotten by posterity. 
It was, ' Erasmus.' 

1 Eras. Epist. App. ccccxxxvii. 2 Eras. Epist. xi. 


ROMANS (1496-7 ?). 

To appreciate the full significance of Colet's lectures, 
it is needful to bear in mind what was the current 
opinion of the scholastic divines of the period concern- 
ing the Scriptures, and what the practical mode of 
exposition pursued by them at the Universities. 

The scholastic divines, holding to a traditional belief 
in the plenary and verbal inspiration of the whole Bible, 
and remorselessly pursuing this belief to its logical 
results, had fallen into a method of exposition almost 
exclusively textarian. The Bible, both in theory and in 
practice, had almost ceased to be a record of real 
events, and the lives and teaching of living men. It 
had become an arsenal of texts ; and these texts were 
regarded as detached invincible weapons to be legiti- 
mately seized and wielded in theological warfare, for 
any purpose to which their words might be made to 
apply, without reference to their original meaning or 

Thus, to take a practical example, when St. Jerome's 
opinion was quoted incidentally that possibly St. Mark, 
in the second chapter of his Gospel, might by a slip of 
memory have written ' Abiathar ' in mistake for ' Abi- 
'melech,' a learned divine, a contemporary of Colet's at 

Chap. II. 

a.d. 1496. 

The state 
of Scrip- 
ture study 
at Oxford. 

The Lible 


as verbally 


Method of 




Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

Chap. ii. Oxford, nettled by the very supposition, declared posi- 
A..D. 1496. tively that ' that could not be, unless the Holy Spirit 
'himself could be mistaken ; ' and the only authority he 
thought it needful to cite in proof of the statement was a 
text inEzekiel : 'Whithersoever the Spirit went, thither 
' likewise the wheels were lifted up to follow Him.' l It 
was in vain that the reply was suggested that ' it is not 
' for us to define in what manner the Spirit might use 
' His instrument.' The divine triumphantly replied, 
' The Spirit himself in Ezekiel has defined it. The 
' wheels were not lifted up, except to follow the Spirit.' 2 
This Oxford divine did not display any peculiar 
bigotry or blindness. He did but follow in the well- 
worn ruts of his scholastic predecessors. It had been 
solemnly laid down by Aquinas in the ' Summa,' that 
' inasmuch as God was the author of the Holy Scrip- 
' tures, and all things are at one time present to His 
' mind, therefore, under their single text, they express 
' several meanings.' ' Their literal sense,' he continues, 
' is manifold ; their spiritual sense threefold — viz. alle- 
'gorical, moral, anagogical.' 3 And we have the evidence 
of another well-known Oxford student, also a contem- 

Theory of 

1 ' Ut tribuatur lapsui memoriae 
' in evangelista gravatim audio. Qui 
' si spiritu sancto inspiratus scripsit, 
' memoria falli non potuit, nisi et ille 
' etiam falli potuerit, quo ductore 
' scripsit. Dicit rnihi Ezechiel : Quo- 
' cunque ibat spiritus, illuc pariter et 
'rotse elevabantur sequentes eum.' 
— Annotationes Ed. Leei in annota- 
tiones Novi Testamenti Desiderii 
Erasmi. Basil. 1520, pp. 25, 26. 
Lee studied at Oxford during a 
portion of the time of Colet's resi- 
dence there. Knight states that 

he was sent to St. Mary Magd. 
College (the college where Colet is 
supposed to have taken his degree 
ofM.A.) in 1499.— Knight's Eras- 
mus, p. 286. 

2 ' Quod dicis (non est nostrum 
' definire, quomodo spiritus ille suum 
' temperarit organum) verum quidem 
' est, sed spiritus ipse in Ezechiele 
' definivit : Rotse non elevabantur 
' nisi sequentes spiritum.' — Annota- 
tiones Edvardi Leei, p. 26. 

3 Aquinas, Summa, pt. 1, quest, i. 
article x. 

Colefs Lectures on ' Romans' 31 

porary with Colet at the University, that this was then Chap. ii. 
the prevalent view. Speaking of the dominant school A .n. 1496. 
of divines, he remarks : ' They divide the Scripture into 
6 four senses, the literal, tropological, allegorical, and 
' analogical — the literal sense has become nothing at 

' all Twenty doctors expound one text twenty 

' ways, and with an antitheme of half an inch some of 

* them draw a thread of nine days long They Literal 

' not only say that the literal sense pronteth nothing, giected. 6 " 
' but also that it is hurtful and noisesome and killeth 
' the soul. And this they prove by a text of Paul, 
' 2 Cor. iii., " The letter killeth, but the Spirit giveth 
4 " life." Lo ! say they, the literal sense killeth, the 
' spiritual sense giveth life.' 1 And the same student, 
in recollection of his intercourse at the Universities with 
divines of the traditional school in these early days, 
bears witness that ' they were wont to look on no more 
' Scripture than they found in their Duns ; ' 2 while at 
another time he complains ' that some of them will 
' prove a point of the Faith as well out of a fable of 

* Ovid or any other poet, as out of St. John's Gospel 
' or Paul's Epistles.' 3 Thus had the scholastic belief in 

the verbal inspiration of the sacred text led men blind- The Bible 
fold into a condition of mind in which they practically l^ d 
ignored the Scriptures altogether. 4 

1 Tyndale's Obedience of a Chris- 
tian Man, chap. ' On the Four 
' Senses of the Scriptures.' 

2 Preface to the Five Books of 

3 Tyndale's Obedience of a Chris- 
tian Man, chap. ' On the Four 
' Senses of Scripture.' That Tyndale 
was at Oxford during Colet's stay 
there (i.e. before 1506), see the 

evidence given by his biographers. 
It appears that he was born about 
1484. Fox says ' he tvas brought 
' up from a child in the University 
' of Oxford,' and there is no reason 
to suppose that he removed to Cam- 
bridge before 1509. See Tyndale's 
Doctrinal Treatises, xiv. xv. and 
authorities there cited. 

4 Sir Thomas More in a letter to 


Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

Chap. II. 

a.d. 1496. 


style of 

Such was the state of things at Oxford when Colet 
commenced his lectures. The very boldness of the 
lecturer and the novelty of the subject were enough to 
draw an audience at once. Doctors and abbots, men 
of all ranks and titles, flocked with the students into 
the lecture hall, led by curiosity doubtless at first, or it 
may be, like the Pharisees of old, bent upon finding 
somewhat whereof they might accuse the man whom 
they wished to silence. But since they came again and 
again, as the term went by, bringing their note-boohs 
with them, it soon became clear that they continued to 
come with some better purpose. 1 

Colet already, at thirty, possessed the rare gift of 
saying what he had to say in a few telling words, 
throwing into them an earnestness which made every 
one feel that they came from his heart. ' You say what 
' you mean, and mean what you say. Your words have 
' birth in your heart, not on your lips. They follow 
' your thoughts, instead of your thoughts being shaped 
4 by them. You have the happy art of expressing with 
' ease what others can hardly express with the greatest 
' labour.' 2 Such was the first impression made by Colet's 
eloquence upon one of the greatest scholars of the day, 

the University of Oxford (Jortin's 
Erasmus, ii. App. p. 664, 4to ed.) 
complains of a Scotist preacher 
because ' neque integrum ullumScrip- 
' turte caput tractavit, qucs 7'es in usu 
1 fuit veteribus [this was the old 
method revived by Colet] ; neque 
'dictum aliquod brevius e Sacris 
' Uteris, qui mos apud nuperos ino- 
' levit [the scholastic method] ; sed 
' thematum loco delegit Britannica 
' qusedam anilia proverbia.' [The 

practical result of the textarian 
method when pushed to its ultimate 

1 Eras. Jodoco Jonse : Eras. Op. 
iii. p. 456, C. ' Nullus erat illic doctor 
' vel theologise vel juris, nullus ab- 
' bas, aut alioqui dignitate prfeditus, 
' quin ilium audiret, etiam allatis 
' codicibus.' 

2 Eras. Ooleto : Eras. Op. iii. p. 
40, F. Epist. xli. 

Colefs Lectures on ' Romans. 


who heard him deliver some of these lectures during Chap. ii. 
another term. ~ a 

a.d. 1496. 

From the fragments which remain of what seem to be Coiet's 
manuscript notes of these lectures, written by Colethim- Spos? ° f 
self at the ' urgent and repeated request,' as he expressed tion ' 
it, 'of his faithful auditors,' 1 and now preserved in the 
Cambridge Libraries, 2 something more than a super- 
ficial notion may be gained of what these lectures were. 

They were in almost every particular in direct 
contrast with those of the dominant school. They 
were not textarian. They did not consist of a series 
of wiredrawn dissertations upon isolated texts. They Not tex- 
were no ' thread of nine days long drawn from an 
'antitheme of half an inch.' Colet began at the 
beginning of the Epistle to the Eomans, and went 
through with it to the end, in a course of lectures, 
treating it as a whole, and not as an armoury of de- 


1 ' Tamen certe miiltum ac diu 
' rogatus a quibusdam ainicis, et eis- 
' dem interpretantibus nobis Pau- 
'lum fidis auditoribus, quibus- 
' cum pro amicicia quod iu superio- 
' rem epistolse partem scriptum est 
' a nobis communicavi, adductus 
' fui tandem ut promitterem, quod 
' est ceptum modo me perrecturuui, 
' et in reliquatn epistolam quod re- 
' liquum est enarrationis adhibitu- 
' rum.' — Cambridge University Li- 
brary MS. Gg. 4, 26, fol. 27b. 

2 A copy of Coiet's exposition of 
' Romans,' witb corrections appa- 
rently in Coiet's handwriting, is in 
the Cambridge University Library ; 
MS. Gg. 4, 26. A fair copy, appa- 
rently by Peter Meghen, is in the 

Library of Corpus Christi College 
Cambridge, MS. No. 355. 

Amongst the ' Gale MSS.' in 
Trinity Library, Cambridge, is a 
MS. (O. 4, 44) said to be Coiet's, 
containing short notes or abstracts 
of the Apostolic Epistles. Through 
the kindness of Mr. Wright I had 
a copy taken of this MS., but on 
close comparison of passages with 
the Annotationes of Erasmus, I was 
obliged to conclude that the writer 
had before him an edition of the 
latter not earlier than that of 1522. 
This MS. cannot, therefore, have 
been written by Colet. Possibly it 
may have been written by Lupset, 
Coiet's disciple. The copy in the 
Trinity Library is in a later hand. 


Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

Chap. II. 

a.d. 1496. 

points out 
the marks 
of St. 
own cha- 

taclied texts. 1 Nor were they on the model of the 
Catena aurea, formed by linking together the recorded 
comments of the great Church authorities. There is 
hardly a quotation from the Fathers or Schoolmen 
throughout the exposition of the Epistle to the Eomans. 2 
Instead of following the current fashion of the day, 
and displaying analytical skill in dividing the many 
senses of the sacred text, Colet, it is clear, had but one 
object in view, and that object was to bring out the 
direct practical meaning which the apostle meant to 
convey to those to whom his epistles were addressed. 
To him they were the earnest words of a living man 
addressed to living men, and suited to their actual 
needs. He loved those words because he had learned 
to love the apostle — the man — who had written them, 
and had caught somewhat of his spirit. He loved to 
trace in the epistles the marks of St. Paul's own cha- 
racter. He would at one time point out, in his abruptly 
suspended words, that ' vehemence of speaking ' which 
did not give him time to perfect his sentences. 3 At 
another time he would stop to admire the rare prudence 
and tact with which he would temper his speech and 
balance his words to meet the needs of the different 
classes by whom his epistle would be read. 4 And 
again he would compare the eager expectations ex- 

1 This appears to have been the 
character also of the Expositions of 
Marsilio Ficino. See Fragment on 
' Romans.' — Ficini Opera, ed. 1696, 
pp. 426-472. 

2 The names of Origen, Jerome, 
Chrysostoni, and Augustine are 
mentioned, but incidentally, and 
without any quotations of any length 
being given from them. 

3 ' — est ex vehementia loquendi 
' imperfecta et suspensa sententia.' 
— MSS. Gg. 4, 26, fol. 23, in loco. 
Rom. ix. 22. 

4 ' Ita Paulus mira prudentia et 
' arte temperat orationem suam in 
' hac epistola, et earn quasi librat 
' tarn pari lance, et Judeos et Gentes 
< simul, etc.'— Ibid. fol. 26. 

Colet s Lectures on ' Romans.' 35 

pressed in the Epistle to the Romans of so soon visiting Chap, il 
Rome and Spain, with the far different realities of A .i>. 1496. 
the apostle's after life ; recalling to mind the circum- 
stances of his long imprisonment at Csesarea, and his 
arrival at last in Rome, four years after writing his Coiet's 
epistle, to remain a prisoner two years longer in the Merest in 
Imperial city before he could carry out his intention of Si Pa 
visiting Spain. 1 He loved to tell how, notwithstanding 
these cherished plans for the future, the apostle, being 
a man of great courage, was prepared, ' by his faith, 
' and love of Christ,' 2 to bear his disappointment, and 
to reply to the prophecy of Agabus, that he was ready, 
not only to be bound, but also to die at Jerusalem for 
the name of his Master, if need be, instead of fulfilling 
the plans he had laid out for himself. 

And whilst investing the epistles with so personal an cireum- 

^tfLTlPP*^ of 

interest, by thus bringing out their connection with the Rom an 
St. Paul's character and history, Colet sought also to 
throw a sense of reality and life into their teaching, 
by showing how specially adapted they were to the 
circumstances of those to whom they were addressed. 
When, for instance, he was expounding the thirteenth 
chapter of the Epistle, he would take down his Sue- 
tonius in order to ascertain the state of society at 
Rome and the special circumstances which made it 
needful for St. Paul so strongly to urge Roman 
Christians ' to be obedient to the higher powers, and 
' to pay tribute also.' 3 


1 MSS. Gg. 4, 26, fols. 59b, 61a. 

3 Ibid. fol. 60. < Sed ille homo 
' magnoanimo,fide, et amoreChristi, 
' fuit paratus non solum ligari,' &c. 

3 Ibid. fols. 42-45 (in loco, Rom. 
xiii.). In these pages Colet com- 

pares with great care the infor- 
mation to be collected from pas- 
sages in the Epistle to the Romans 
and in the Acts of the Apostles with 
what is recorded by Suetonius, and 
admires St. Paul's 'sapientissima 

D 2 


Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

Chap. II. 

A.i*. 149(5. 

Colet tries 
to look at 
all sides of 
a doctrine. 


of freewill. 

It is very evident, too, how careful he was not to 
give a one-sided view of the apostle's doctrine — what 
pains he took to realise his actual meaning, not merely 
in one text and another, but in the drift of the whole 
epistle ; now ascertaining the meaning of a passage by 
its place in the apostle's argument; 1 now comparing 
the expressions used by St. Paul with those used by St. 
John, in order to trace the practical harmony between 
the Johannine and Pauline view of a truth, which, if 
regarded on one side only, might be easily distorted 
and misunderstood. In expounding the Epistle to the 
Romans it was impossible to avoid allusion to the 
great question afterwards forced into so unhappy a 
prominence by the Wittemberg and Geneva Reformers, 
as . it had already been by Wiclif and Huss — the 
question of the freedom of the Will. Upon this 
question Colet showed an evident anxiety not to fall 
into one extreme whilst avoiding the other. His 
view seems to have been that the soul which is melted 
and won over to God by the power of love is won 
over ivillingly, and yet through no merit of its own. 
Probably his views upon this point would be described 
as ' mystic' Certainly they were not Augustinian. 2 
In concluding a long digression upon this endless and 

' admonitio opportune sane adhibi- 
'ta.' — Ibid. fols. 426 and 43a. Again, 
at fol. 44«, Colet says, ' Hsec autem 
' refero ut magna Pauli consideratio 
' et prudentia animadvertatur ; qui 
' cum non ignoravit Claudium Cesa- 
' rem tenuisse rempublicam, qui fuit 
' homo vario ingenio et improbis 
4 moribus, &c.' .... 

1 In his exposition of Romans 
(chap, iv.) he says : — ' Sed caute 

' circumspicienda suut omnia Pauli, 
' antequaui de ejus mente aliqua 
' feratur sentencia. Nunquam enim 
' censuisset revocandum ad eccle- 
'siam fornicatorem ilium, quern 
' tradidit Sathanee in prima Epi- 
1 stola ad Corinthios, si peccatoribus 
' post baptismum nullum penitendi 
'locum reliquisset.' — Ibid. fol. 6b. 

- It would be difficult in short 
quotations to give a correct iurpres- 

Colefs Lectures on ' Romans.' 


perplexing question, Colet apologises for the length to Chap. ii. 
which he had wandered from St. Paul, and excuses 

a.i>. 1406. 

sion of the doctrinal standpoint as- 
sumed by Colet in his exposition of 
the Epistle to the Romans. But 
it may be interesting to enquire, 
whether any connection can be 
traced between his views and those 
of Savonarola, on this point. 

Now Villari states that a ' funda- 
' mental point ' in Savonarola's doc- 
trine "was his ' conception of love, 
' which he sometimes says is the 
' same as grace] and that it was 
through this conception of love that 
Savonarola, ' to a certain extent,' 
explained the 'mystery of human 
' liberty and Divine omnipotence.' 
— Villari's Savonarola and his Times, 
bk. i. c. vii. p. 110. 

Whether there be any real con- 
nection between Savonarola's teach- 
ing and the following passages from 
Colet's exposition, I leave the reader 
to judge. 

'Wherefore St. Paul concludes, 
' men are justified by faith, and 
' trusting in God alone by Jesus 
' Christ, are reconciled to God and 
' restored into grace ; so that with 
' God they stand, and remain them- 

' selves sons of God If He 

' loved us when alienated from Him, 
' how much more will He love us 
' when we are reconciled ; and 
' preserve those whom He loves. 
' Wherefore we ought to be firm 
' and stable in our hope andjoy, and, 
' nothing doubting, trust in God 
' through Jesus Christ, by whom 
1 alone men are reconciled to God.' 
— MS. fol. 5. After speaking of 
that grace which where sin had 
abounded did much more abound 

unto eternal life, Colet proceeds : — 
' But here it is to be noted that this 
' grace is nothing else than the love 
' of God towards men — towards 
' those, i.e. whom He wills to love, 
' and, in loving, to inspire with His 
' Holy Spirit ; which itself is love 
' and the love of God ; which (as 
' the Saviour said, according to St. 
' John's Gospel) blows where it lists. 
' But, loved and inspired by God, 
' they are also called ; so that ac- 
' cepting this love, they may love in 
' return their loving God, and long 
' for and wait for the same love. 
' This waiting and hope springs 
' from love This love truly is ours 
'because He loves us: not (as St. 
' John writes in his 2nd Epistle) as 
' though we had first loved God, 
' but because He first loved us, even 
' when we were worthy of no love 
' at all ; but indeed impious and 
' wicked, destined by right to eter- 
' nal death. But some, i.e. those 
' whom He knew and chose, He 
' also loved, and in loving called 
' them, and in calling them justi- 
' tied them, and in j ustifying them 
' glorified them. This gracious love 
' and charity in God towards men 
' is in itself the calling and j ustifica- 
' tion and glorification. . . . And 
' when we speak of men as drawn, 
' called, justified, and glorified by 
' grace, we mean nothing else than 
' that men love in return God who 
1 loves them.'— MS. Gg. 4, 26, fol. 6. 
Again : ' Thus you see that things 
1 are brought about by a providing 
' and directing God, and that they 
' happen as He wills in the affairs 

38 Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

chap. ii. himself on the ground that ' his zeal and affection to- 
a.d. 1496. ' wards men ' — his desire ' to confirm the weak and 

' wavering ' — had got the better of his ' fear of weary- 

' ing the reader.' l 

Connected with this habit of trying to look at all 

sides of a doctrine, there is, I think, visible throughout, 

' of men, not from any force from 
' without (illata) — since nothing is 
' more remote from force than the 
' Divine action — but by the natural 
' desire and will of man, the Divine 
' will and providence secretly and 
' silently, and, as it were, naturally 
' accompanying (comitante) it, and 
' going along with it so wonder- 
' fully, that whatever you do and 
' choose was known by God, and 
' what God knew and decreed to be, 
' of necessity comes to pass.' — MS. 
fol. 18. 

The following passage is from 
Colet's exposition of the Epistle to 
the Corinthians (MS. 4, 26, p. 80). 
' The mind of man consists of in- 
1 tellect and ivill. By the intellect we 
' know : by the will we have power 
' to act (possumus). From the 
' knowledge of the intellect comes 
' faith : from the power of the will 
' charity. But Christ, the power of 
' God, is also the wisdom of God. 
' Our minds are illuminated to faith 
' by Christ, " who illumines every 
' " man coming into this world, and 
' "He gives power to become the sons 
' " of God to those who believe in 
' " His name." By Christ also our 
' wills are kindled in charity to love 
' God and our neighbour ; in which 
' is the fulfilment of the law. From 
' God alone therefore, through 
' Christ, we have both knowledge 

' and power ; for by Him we are in 
' Christ. Men, however, have in 
' themselves a blind intellect, and 
' a depraved will, and walk in dark- 
' ne^s, not knowing what they do. 
' . . . Those who by the warm rays 
' of his divinity are so drawn that 
' they keep close in communion with 
' Him, are indeed they whom Paul 
' speaks of as called and elected to 
' His glory,' &c. 

For the Latin of these extracts 
see Appendix (A). 

In further proof that Colet's views 
(like Savonarola's) were not Augus- 
tinian upon the question of the 
' freedom of the will,' may be cited 
the following words of Colet (see 
infra, chap, iv.) : ' But in especial is 
' it necessary for thee to know that 
' God of his great grace hath made 
' thee his image, having regard to 
' thy memory, understanding, and 
' free-will! Probably both Colet and 
Savonarola, in common with other 
mystic theologians, had imbibed 
their views directly or indirectly 
from the works of the Pseudo-Dio- 
nysius and the Neo-Platonists. 

1 ' Ex quodam nostro studio et 
' pietate in homines .... non 
' tam verentes legend uin fasti- 
' dium, quam cupientes confirma- 
' cionem infirmorum et vacillan- 
' tium.'— Fol. 226. 

Colets Lectures on 'Romans.' 39 

an earnest attempt to regard it in its practical con- Chap. ii. 

nection with human life and conduct rather than to A . D . 1490. 
rest in its logical completeness. 

If he quotes from the Neo-Platonic philosophers of Coiet 

Florence (and almost the only quotation of any length the prac- 

contained in this manuscript is from the Theologia pect/of 

Platonica of Marsilio Ficino 1 ), it is. not to follow them ?t. foul's 

'' doctrines. 

into the mazes of Neo-Platonic speculation, but to Q UO t es 
enforce the practical point, that whilst, here upon p^Q 10 
earth, the hioivledge of God is impossible to man, the 
love of God is not so ; and that by how much it is 
worse to hate God than to be ignorant of Him, by so 
much is it better to love Him than to know Him. 

And never does he speak more warmly and earnestly 
than when after having urged with St. Paul, that ' rites 
' and ceremonies neither purify the spirit nor justify the 
' man,' 2 and having quoted from Aristeas to show how, and 
on Jewish feast days, seventy priests were occupied in 
slaying and sacrificing thousands of cattle, deluging 
the temple with blood, thinking it well pleasing to 
God, he points out how St. Paul covertly condemned 
these outward sacrifices, as Isaiah had done before 
him, by insisting upon that living sacrifice of mens 
hearts and lives which they were meant to typify. He 
urges w r ith St. Paul that God is pleased with living 
sacrifices and not dead ones, and does not ask for 
sacrifices in cattle, but in men. His will is that their 
beastly appetites should be slain and consumed by 
the fire of God's Spirit 4 . . . . ; that men should be 
converted from a proud trust in themselves to an 

1 MS. Gg. 4, 26, fols. 136 to 15a. I 3 Ibid. fols. 286 and 29. 

2 Ibid. fol. 3b. ' Ibid. fol. 29. 



Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

tical re 

Chap. ii. humble faith in God, and from self-love to the love 
a.d. 1496. of God. To bring this about, Colet thought was 
' the chief cause, yes the sole cause,' of the coming 
of the Son of God upon earth in the flesh. 1 

Nor was he afraid to apply these practical lessons 
to the circumstances of his own times. Thus, in 
speaking of the collections made by St. Paul in relief 
of the sufferers from the famine in Judea (the same he 
Colet thought as that predicted by Agabus), he pointed out 
the need" f now mucn better such voluntary collections were than 
' money extorted by bitter exactions under the name of 
' tithes and oblations.' 2 And, referring to the advice to 
Timothy, ' to avoid avarice and to follow after justice, 
' piety, faith, charity, patience, and mercy,' he at once 
added that 'priests of our time ' might well be admo- 
nished ' to set such an example as this amongst their 
6 own parishioners ■,' referring to the example of St. Paul, 
who chose to ' get his living by labouring with his 
' hands at the trade of tentmaking, so as to avoid even 
1 suspicion of avarice or scandal to the Gospel.' 3 

One other striking characteristic of this exposition 
must be mentioned — the unaffected modesty which 
breathes through it, which, whilst not quoting autho- 
rity, does not claim to be an authority itself, which 
does not profess to have attained full knowledge, but 
preserves throughout the childlike spirit of enquiry. 4 

On the whole, the spirit of Colet's lectures was in 
keeping with his previous history. 

The passage already mentioned as quoted from 

1 MS. Gg. 4, 26, fol. 306. 

2 Ibid. fol. 596. ' Elicienda est 
' dulci doctrina prompta voluntas 
' non acerba exaccione extorquenda 


' pecunia nomine decimarum 
' oblacionum.' 

3 Ibid. fol. 60«. 

4 See particularly fol. 27 and 616 

Colet's Lectures on ' Romans.' 


Ficino, the facts that, in a marginal note on the manu- Chap. ii. 
script, added apparently in Colet's handwriting, there a .d. 1496. 
is also a quotation from Pico, 1 and that the names Coiet 
of Plotinus, 2 and ' Joannes Carmelitanus,' 3 are cited in the Neo- 
the course of the exposition — all this is evidence of platonist - 
the influence upon Colet's mind of the writings of the 
philosophers of Florence, confirming the inference 
already drawn from the circumstances of his visit to 
Italy. But in its comparative freedom from references 
to authorities of any kind, except the New Testament, 
Colet's exposition differs as much from the writings 
of Ficino and Pico as from those of the Scholastic 

In many peculiar phrases and modes of thought, Marks f 
evident traces also occur of that love for the Dionysian D^onySiS 
writings which Colet is said to have contracted in 
Italy, and which he shared with the modern Neo- 
Platonic school. 

In the free critical method of interpretation and Origenami 
thorough acknowledgment of the human element in eiome " 
Scripture, as well as in the Anti-Augustinian views 
already alluded to, there is evidence equally abundant 
in confirmation of the statement, that he had acquired 
when abroad a decided preference for Origen and 
Jerome over Augustine. 

Lastly in his freedom from the prevailing vice of the His in- 
patristic interpreters — their love of allegorising Scrip- gearSor 
ture — and in his fearless application of the critical tluth - 
methods of the New learning to the Scriptures them- 
selves, in order to draw out their literal sense, there is 

MS. Gg. 4, 26, fol. 3a. 

Ibid. fol. 7b. 

Ibid. fol. 156. Ioannes Baptista 

Mantuanus, general of the Car- 
melites, an admirer of Pico. — See 
Pici Opera, p. 262. 


Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

Chap. ii. striking confirmation of the further statement that, 
a.d. 1497. whilst in Italy, he had ' devoted himself wholly ' 1 to 
their study. Colet's object obviously had been to study 
St. Paul's Epistle to the Eomans for himself, and his 
whole exposition confirms the truth of his own decla- 
ration in its last sentence, that ' he had tried to the best 
' of his power, with the aid of Divine grace, to bring 
' out St. Paul's true meaning.' ' Whether indeed ' (he 
adds modestly) ' I have done this I hardly can tell, 
' but the greatest desire to do so I have had.' 2 


(1496-7 ?). 

visit from Colet, one night during the winter vacation, was 

a pnest. a i one [ n n i s chambers. A priest knocked at the door. 

He was soon recognised by Colet as a diligent attender 

of his lectures. They drew their chairs to the hearth, 

and talked about this thing and that over the winter 

fire, in the way men do when they have something to 

say, and yet have not courage to come at once to the 

point. At length the priest pulled from his bosom a 

little book. Colet, amused at the manner of his guest, 

smilingly quoted the words, ' Where your treasure is, 

Conversa- ' there will your heart be also.' The priest explained 

richness of that the little book contained the Epistles of St. Paul, 

writings '* care f unl y transcribed by his own hand. It was indeed 

a treasure, for of all the writings that had ever been 

1 ' Ibi se totum evolvendis sacris 
' auctoribus dedit.' — Eras. Op. iii. 
p. 456 B. 

- ' . . . couatique sumus quoad po- 
<tuirnus divina gratia adjuti veros 

' illiussensus exprimere. Quod quam 
' fecimus baud scirnus sane, volun- 
tatem tamen habuinius maxima m 
' faciendi.'— -ffinis uryumenti in Epi- 
stolam I'nuliad Romanos. Oxonie. 

Visit from a Priest. 43 

written, he most loved and admired those of St. Paul ; Chap, ii 
and he added, in a politely nattering tone, that it was A . D . 1497 
Colet's lectures during the recent term, which had 
chiefly excited in him this affection for the apostle. 
Colet turned a searching eye upon his guest, and find- 
ing that he was truly in earnest, replied with warmth, 
' Then, brother, I love you for loving St. Paul, for I, 
1 too, dearly love and admire him.' In the course of 
conversation, which now turned upon the object which 
the priest had at heart, Colet happened to remark how 
pregnant with both matter and thought were the 
Epistles of St. Paul, so that almost every word might 
be made the subject of a discourse. This was just what 
Colet's guest wanted. Comparing Colet's lectures with 
those of the scholastic divines, who, as we have heard, 
were accustomed ' out of an antitheme of half an inch 
' to draw a thread of nine days long' upon some useless 
topic, he may well have been struck with the richness 
of the vein of ore which Colet had been working, and 
he had come that he might gather some hints as to his 
method of study. ' Then,' said he, stirred up by this 
remark of Colet's, ' I ask you now, as we sit here at 
' our ease, to extract and bring to light from this 
' hidden treasure, which you say is so rich, some of these 
6 truths, so that I may gain from this our talk whilst 
' sitting together something to store up in the memory, 
' and at the same time catch some hints as to how, fol- 
' lowing your example, I may seize hold of the main 
'points in the epistles when I read St. Paul by myself.' 

' My good friend,' replied Colet, ' I will do as you Romans i 
' wish. Open your book, and we will see how many an k ex. aS 
' and what golden truths we can gather from the first ample. 
' chapter only of the Epistle to the Eomans.' 

44 Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

Chap. ii. ' But,' added the priest, ' lest my memory should fail 
A . D . !497. ' me, I should like to write them down as you say 
them.' Colet assented, and thereupon dictated to his 
guest a string of the most important points which 
struck him as he read through the chapter. They 
were, as Colet said, only like detached rings, care- 
lessly cut from the golden ore of St. Paul, as they sat 
over the winter fire, but they would serve as examples 
of what might be gathered from a single chapter of 
the apostle's writings. 

The priest departed, fully satisfied with the result of 
his visit ; and from the evident pleasure with which 
Colet told this story in a letter to Kidderminster, 
Abbot of Winchcombe, 1 we may learn how his own 
spirits were cheered by the proof it gave, that he had 
not laboured altogether in vain. 
Letter to The letter itself, too, apart from the story which it 
tells, may give . some insight into his feelings during 
these months of solitary labour. It reads, I think, like 
the letter of a man deeply in earnest, engaged in what 
he feels to be a great work ; whose sense of the great- 
ness of the work suggests a natural and noble anxiety, 
that though he himself should not live to finish it, it 
may yet be carried forward by others ; whose ambition 
it is to die working at his post, leaving behind him, 
at least, the first stones laid of a building which 
others greater than he may carry on to completion. 

After telling the story of the priest's visit, Colet 
writes thus : — 

1 Cambridge University Library, I printed in Knight's Life of Colet, 
MSS. Gg. 4, 26, p. 62, et seq., and | App. p. 311. 

an Abbot. 

Visit from a Priest. 45 

Colet to the Abbot of Winchcombe. 

Chap. II. 

a.i>. 1497 

' Thus, Keverend Father, what he [the priest] wrote 
' down at my dictation I have wished to detail to you, 
' so that you too, so ardent in your love of all sacred 
' wisdom, may see what we, sitting over the winter 
' fire, noted offhand in our St. Paul. 

' In the first chapter only of the Epistle to the 
' Romans, we found all the following truths. [Here 
' follows a long list.] . . . These we extracted, and 
' noted, venerable father, as I said, offhand, in this one 
' chapter only. Nor are these all we might have noted. 
* For even in the very address one might discover that 
' Christ was promised by the prophets, that Christ is 
' both God and man, that Christ sanctifies men, that 
' through Christ there is a resurrection, both of the soul 
4 and of the body. And besides these there are num- 
' berless others contained in this chapter, which any- 
' one with lynx eyes could easily find and dig out, if 
' he wished, for himself. Paid, of all others, seems to me 
' to be a fathomless ocean of wisdom and piety. But 
' these few, thus hastily picked out, were enough for 
' our good priest, who wanted some thoughts struck off 
' roundly, and fashioned like rings, from the gold of St. 
' Paul. These, as you see, I have written out for you with 
' my own hand, most worthy father, that your mind, in Colet 

,-,-ii i • i , • n . wants his 

' its golden goodness, might recognise, as from a speci- Mend to 
' men, how much gold lies treasured up in St. Paul, he^dmLes 
' I want the Warden also to read this over with vou, st -. ] . ,;iul ' s 


' for his cultivated taste and love of everything good 

46 Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

Chap. ii. ' is such that I think he will be very much pleased 
A . D . 1497. ' with whatever of good it may contain. 

' Farewell, most excellent and beloved father. 

' Yours, John Colet.' 

' When 3 t ou have read what is contained on this 
' sheet of paper, let me have it again, for I have no 
' copy of it ; and, although I am not in the habit of 
' keeping my letters, and cannot do so, as I send them 
' off just as I write them, without keeping a copy ; yet 
' if any of them contain anything instructive (aliquid 
' doctrince), I do not like to lose them entirely. Not 
'that they are in themselves worth preserving, but 

* that, left behind me, they may serve as little memo- 
' rials of me. And if there be any other reason why I 
4 should wish to preserve my letters to you, this is one, 

* and a chief one — that I should be glad for them to 
i remain as permanent witnesses of my regard for you. 

' Again, farewell ! ' 

The sole survivor of a family of twenty-two, though 
himself but thirty, Colet might well keep always in 
view the possibility of an early death. 


(1497 ?). 

It would seem that one of Colet's friends, named 
Radulphus, had been attempting to expound ' the dark 
* places of Scripture,' 1 and that in doing so he had com- 
menced with the words of Lamech in the fourth 
chapter of Genesis, as though this were the first ' dark 
' place ' to be found in the Bible ! 

Colet on the Mosaic Creation. 47 

Out of this circumstance arose a correspondence on Chap. ii. 
the meaning of the first chapter of Genesis, which Colet a .d. 1497. 
thought required explanation as much as any other Letters of 
portion of Scripture. Four of Colet's letters to Eadul- the Mosaic 
phus, containing his views on the Mosaic account of the creation. 
creation, have fortunately been preserved, bound up 
with a copj" of his manuscript exposition on the Epistle 
to the Eomans,in the Library of Corpus Christi College, 
Cambridge. 1 Colet seems to have thought them worth 
preserving, as he did the letter to the Abbot of Winch- 
combe ; and as any attempt to realise the position and 
feelings of Colet, when commencing his lectures at 
Oxford on St. Paul's epistles, would have been very 
imperfect without the story of the priest's visit, so these 
letters to Eadulphus, apart from their intrinsic interest, 
are especially valuable as giving another practical 
illustration of the position which Colet had assumed 
upon the question of the inspiration and interpretation 
of the Scriptures ; as showing, perhaps, more clearly 
than anything else could have done, that the prin- 
ciples and method which he had applied to St. Paul's 
writings, were not hastily adopted, but the result of 
mature conviction, — that Colet was ready to apply 
them consistently to the Old Testament as well as to 
the New, to the first chapter of Genesis as well as to 
the Epistle to the Eomans. 

Colet begins his first letter by telling Eadulphus how First letter 
surprised he was that, whilst professing to expound p °hu S a . cu 
the ' dark places of Scripture,' he should, as already 
mentioned, have commenced with the words of 
Lamech, leaving the first three chapters of Genesis 

1 In the volume of manuscripts marked 355. 

48 Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

Chap. ii. untouched ; for these very chapters, so lightly passed 
a.d. 1497. over by Eadulphus, seemed to him, he said, ' so 
' obscure that they might almost in themselves be 
' that " abyss " to which Moses alluded when he wrote 
6 that " darkness covered the face of the deep." ' l 
Use of a After admitting the impossibility of coming to an 

o"Sbrew accura te understanding of the meaning of what Moses 
wrote without a knowledge of Hebrew and access to 
Hebrew commentaries, ' which Origen, Jerome, and all 
' really diligent searchers of the Scriptures have appre- 
' ciated,' he goes on to say that, notwithstanding their 
extreme obscurity, and the possibility that Eadulphus 
might be able to throw more light upon them than he 
himself could, he would nevertheless give him some of 
his notions on the meaning of the verses from ' In the 
' beginning,' &c. to the end of the ' first day.' 

Hethenbegan his explanation by saying that, though 
not unmindful of the manifold senses of Scripture, he 
should confine himself to rapidly following one ; 2 and 
this seems to be the only allusion in these letters to 
the prevalent theory of the ' manifold senses.' Taken 
in connection with the full expression of his views 
upon the subject on a future occasion, the words here 
made use of probably must be construed rather as 
showino' that he did not wish at that moment to enter 
into the question with Eadulphus, than as intended to 
give any indication of what his views were upon it. 

Then he proceeds to state his conviction that the 
first few verses of Genesis contain a sort of summary of 

1 ' In quibus mihi videtur tanta 
' caligo ut totus ille sermo contentus 
1 in ipsis tribus capitulis appareat 
'esse ille abyssus super cujus facieni 

' elicit Moises tenebras fuisse.' 

2 ' Non me latet plures esse 
1 sensus, sed unum persequar cur- 
' sim.' 

Colet on the Mosaic Creation. 49 

the whole work of creation. ' First of all, I conceive,' chap. ii. 
Colet wrote, ' that in this passage the creation of the 77^, 
' universe has been delivered to us in brief (summatim), 
' and that God created all things at once in his eternity 1 A11 things 
' — in that eternity which transcends all time, and yet creat< r d at 

J once in 

' is less extended than a point of time, which has no eternity. 
' division of time, and is before all time.' 

The world consists primarily of matter said form, and 
the object of Moses was, Colet thought, to show that 
both matter and form were created at once (simul). 
And therefore Moses began with saying, ' In the be- 
' ginning (i.e. in eternity) God created heaven (i.e. 
' form) and the earth ' (i.e. matter). 2 Matter was never 
without form, but that he might point out the order 
of things, Moses added, that ' the earth (matter) was 
' empty and void 3 (i.e. without solid and substantial 
1 being), and darkness covered the face of the deep ' 
(i.e. the matter was in darkness, and without life and 
being). 4 Then the text proceeds, ' The Spirit of God 
' moved upon the face of the waters.' ' See how beau- 
' tifully ' (wrote Colet), ' he proceeds in order, showing 
' at one view the creation and union of form with 
' matter, 5 using the word " water " to express the un- 
' stable and fluid condition of matter.' Then follow 
the words, ' Let there be light ' (i.e. according to Colet, 
things assumed form and definition 6 ). 

1 ' . . universa simul creasse sua 
' eternitate.' 

2 ' In principio (i.e. eternitate) 
creavit Deus ccelum (forrnam) et 

' stantiali entitate) et tenebrae, &c. 

' (i.e. tenebrosa fuit materia, &c.).' 

5 ' Vide quam belle pergit ordine, 

' significans summariam creacionem 

terrain (materiam).' ! 'copulationemque forrnse cum rna- 

3 ' . . inanis et vacua.' I ' teria.' 

4 'Terra (materia) erat inanis et 
' vacua (hoc est sine solida et sub- 

forma etterminacio rerun}. 


Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

Chap. II. 

a.d. 1497. 


takes into 
the rude 
for whom 

Having thus explained the opening verses of Genesis 
as a statement in brief — a summary — of the whole 
work of creation, Colet concluded this first letter by 
saying, ' What follows in Moses is a repetition and 
* further expansion of what he has said above — a 
' distinguishing in particular of what before was com- 
' prehended in the general. If you think otherwise, 
' pray let me have your views. Farewell.' 1 

Eadulphus having, apparently in reply to this letter, 
requested Colet to proceed to explain the other days, 
Colet, in the second letter, takes up the subject where 
he left it in the first. Having spoken of form and 
matter, Moses proceeds, he says, in proper order, and 
treats of things in particular, ' placing before the eye 
' the arrangement of the world ; which he does in this 
' way, in my opinion ' (wrote Colet), ' that he may seem 
' to have regard to the understanding' of the vulgar and 

o Do 

4 rude multitude whom he taught.' 2 Thus, as when try- 
ing to understand the Epistle to the Komans, Colet took 
down his ' Suetonius,' and studied the circumstances of 
the Eoman Christians to whom the epistle was written, 
so, in trying to understand the book of Genesis, Colet 
seems to have regarded it as written expressly for the 
benefit of the children of Israel, and to have called to 
mind how rude and uncivilised a multitude Moses had 
to teach ; and he seems to have come to the conclusion 
that the object of Moses was not to give to the learned 

1 ' Quae sequuntur in Moyse est 
' repetitio et latior explicacio 'su- 
' periorum, ac speciatim distinctio 
; earum rerum quas ^rivanra genera- 
' tim complexus est. Tu aliud si 
' sentis fac nos te queso participes. 
< Vale.' 

2 . . . ' Particulatim res aggre- 
'ditur, et niundi digestionem ante 
'oculos ponit, quod sic facit meo 
'fudicio, ut sensus vulgi et rudis 
' multitudinis quam docuit racio- 
' nem habuisse videatur.' 

Colet on t/ie Mosaic Creation. 51 

of future generations a scientific statement of the Chap. ii. 

manner and order of the creation of the universe, but a .d. 1497. 

to teach a moral lesson to the people whom he was 

leading out of the bondage and idolatry of Egypt. 

And thus, in Colet's view, Moses, ' setting aside matters And that 
purely Divine and out of the range of the common ap- W a S °to e ° 
prehension, proceeds to instruct the unlearned people, Amoral 111 
by touching rapidly and lightly on the order of those less on, 
things with which their eyes were very palpably con- scientific 
versant, that he might teach them what men are, and 
for what purpose they were born, in order that he 
might be able with less difficulty to lead them on after- 
wards to a more civilised life and to the worship of 
God — which was his main object in writing} And that 
this was so is made obvious by the fact, that even 
amongst things cognisable to the senses, Moses passed 
over such as are less palpable, as air and fire, fearing 
to speak of anything but what can easily be seen, as 
land, sea, plants, beasts, men ; singling out from 
amongst stars, the sun and moon, and of fishes, " great 
" whales." Thus Moses arranges his details in such 
a way as to give the people a clearer notion, and he 
does this after the manner of a popular poet, in order 
that he may the more adapt himself to the spirit of 
simple rusticity, picturing a succession of things, 
works, and times, of such a kind as there certainly 
could not be in the work of so great a Workman.'' 2 

1 See quotation from Chrysostom 
to a similar effect : Summa, prima 
pars, lxvii. art. iv. conclusio. After 
speaking of the views of Augustine 
and Basil, Aquinas says : — 

' Chrysostomus (Homil. 2 in Gen. 
'circa medium illius torn, i.) autem 

' assignat aliam rationem quiaMoyses 
'loquebatur rudi populo qui nihil 
' nisicorporaliapoterat capere, quern 
' etiam ab idololatria revocare vole- 
' bat,' &c. 

2 ' . . . . Et hoc more poetee ali- 
'cujus popularis, quo magis consu- 

e 2 

52 Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

Chap. ii. This recognition by Colet of accommodation, on the 

• a.d. 1497. part of Moses, to the limited understanding of the rude 

Moses ac- people whom he taught, occurs over and over again in 

dated these letters ; so often, indeed, that in one letter he apo- 

therudV l°gi ses to Eadulphus for the repetition, being aware, as 

minds of h e sa y S that he is not addressing a ' muddle-headed He- 

the people. J D 

' brew ' (lutulentum Hebrseum), but a most refined phi- 
losopher ! Thus he explains the difficulty of the creation 
of the firmament on the second day by saying, ' This 
' was made before, but that simple and uncivilised multi- 
' tude had to be taught in a homely and palpable way.' 1 
Third In the third letter Colet proceeds to speak of the 

third day — the separation of the waters from the dry 
land, and the creation of plants and herbs. Here again 
everything is explained on the principle of accommoda 
tion. ' Since the untutored multitude, looking round 
' them, saw nothing but the sky above, and land and 
' water here below, and then the things which spring 
' from land and water, and live in them, so Moses suits 
' his order to their powers of observation.' 

The firmament or sky was spoken of in the second 

day ; now, therefore, on the third day, Moses mentions 

land and water, and the things which spring from them. 

Plants and herbs are thus spoken of almost as though 

Colet be- they were a part of land and water ; and here Colet 

sorTo/de^ gi yes Radulphus what he speaks of as a notion of his 

veiopment own, hard, perhaps, for his friend to receive, but never- 

of things. . 1 . . r . 

theless his own conviction, that [instead of each element 
being separately created, as it were, out of nothing] 

' lat spiritui simplicis rusticitatis, 
' fingenssuccessionem rerum operum 
' et temporum cujusinodi apud tan- 
' turn Opificem certe nulla esse potest.' 

1 ' Crassiter et pingue docenda 
' fuit stulta ilia et macra multi- 
' tudo.' 

Colet on the Mosaic Creation. 53 

' fire springs from ether, air from fire, water from air, Chap. ii. 
' and from water, lastly, earth.' And Moses probably a .d. 1497. 
in speaking of the creation of plants &c. on the third 
day, before he came to other things, intended thereby 
to show, Colet thought, that the earth is spontaneously 
productive of plants. He also thought that Moses 
mentioned the creation of plants before the heavenly 
bodies, in order to show that the germinating principle 
is in the earth itself, and not, according to the vulgar 
idea, in the sun and stars. 

At the end of the third letter, Colet naturally 
stumbles on the difficulty of explaining how, if all 
things were created at once ' in the beginning,' before 
all time, Moses could say at the end of each stage of 
his description of the creation, ' and the evening and 
' the morning were the first, second, third, &c. day : ' 
and, after fairly losing himself in an attempt to solve this 
difficulty, he ends by urging Eadulphus to leave these 
obscure points, which are practically beyond our range, 
and to bear in mind throughout what he had before 
spoken of, viz. that whilst Moses wished to speak in 
a manner not unworthy of God, he wished, at the same 
time, in matters within the knowledge of the common 
people, to satisfy the common people, and to keep to 
the order of things ; above all things, to lead the people 
on to the religion and worship of the one God. 1 ' The 
' chief things known to the common people were sky, 
' land and water, stars, fishes, beasts, and so he deals Moses di- 
' with them. He arranged them in six days ; partly Nation 6 
' because the things which readily occur to men's minds 

1 ' (1) Moysen digna Deo loqui 
' voluisse. (2) In rebus vulgo cog- 
' nitis vulgo satisfacere. (3)Ordinem 

' rerum servare. In primis populum 
' ad religionern et cultum utrius Dei 
' traducere.' 


Colet. Erasmus, and More. 

Chap. II. 

a.d. 1497. 

into six 
after the 
manner of 
a poet, by 
a useful 
and most 


c are six in number : l — (1) What is above the sky, (2) 
' sky itself, (3) land, surrounded by water, and produc- 
' tive of plants, (4) sun and moon in the sky, (5) fish 
' in the water, (6) beasts inhabiting earth and air, and 
1 ma?i, the inhabitant of the whole universe ;— and 
'partly and chiefly, that he might lead the people on 
' to the imitation of God, whom, after the manner of 
' a poet, he had pictured as working for six days and 
' resting the seventh, so that they also should de- 
' vote every seventh day to rest and to the contempla- 
' tion of God and to worship.' 2 ' For, beyond all doubt,' 
Colet proceeds to say, ' Moses never would have put 
' forward a number of days for any other purpose than 
' that, by this most useful and most wise poetic figment, 
' the people might be provoked to imitation by an ex- 
' ample set before them, and so ending their daily labours 
' on the sixth day, spend the seventh in the highest 
' contemplation of God.' 3 Colet ends his third letter 
by saying, * Thus you have my notions upon the work 
' of the third day, but what to make of it I know not. 
' It is enough, as I have said, to have touched upon it 
' lightly. Farewell.' 

From the commencement of the fourth letter it 
would seem that Eadulphus had been from home four 
days, and Colet jokingly tells him that he had spent all 
those four days in getting through one more of the 

1 ' Partial quia sex numero facile 
' in rebus homini in mentem venire 
' possunt.' 

'-' ' Maxime . . . ut imitacio di- 
' vina (quern, more poetse, finxit sex 
' dies operatum esse, septimo quie- 
' visse) populum septimo quoque die 
' ad quietem et contemplacionem 
' Dei et eultum adduceret.' 

3 'Nunquam dierum numerum 
' statuisset, nisi ut illo utilissimo et 
' sapientissimo figmento, quasi quo- 
' dam proposito exemplari populum 
' ad imitandum provocaret, ut sexto 
1 quoque die diurnis actibus fine 
' imposito, septimo in summa Dei 
' contemplatione persisterent.' 

Colet on the ' Mosaic Days' 


Mosaic days. 'And indeed whilst you have been Chap. n. 

* working in the day under the sun, I, during this time, a .d. 1497. 

* have been wandering about in the night and the dark- Colet con- 

fGSSGS liis 

' ness ; neither did I see which way to go, nor do I know uncer- 

* at what point I have arrived.' And then he went on ta,nty - 
to tell Eadulphus that, while in this perplexity himself, 

he seemed to have caught Moses also in a great mis- 
take, for in concluding each day's work with the words, 
' the evening and the morning were the second day, 
' the third day,' and so on, he ought not to have said 
day but night. What intervenes between the evening 
and the morning must of necessity be night ! For a day 
begins in the morning and ends with the evening ! 
And he went on jokingly to say that there was a still 
more pressing reason why Moses, dividing his subjects 
into days, might have rather called them nights; viz. 
that ' they are so overwhelmed with darkness that 

* nothing could be more like night than these Mosaic 

* days ! ' Then looking back upon his attempts to ex- 
plain their obscurity, he was obliged to confess that 
4 perhaps while he had been trying to throw some light 

* upon them, he might, after all, have increased the 

* darkness ; ' and he entreated Eadulphus ' to pour into 
' the darkness some of his light, that he mio-ht be en- 
' abled thereby to see Colet, and Colet together with 

* him to see Moses.' l 

1 ' Salve Radulpbe, ac cum salute 
' puto te rediisse quod tibi opto- 
' Quatuor ut arbitror dies transiisti : 
' ego interea vix unum Moysaicuui 
' diem transii. Immo tu elaborasti 
' in die sub sole ; ego boc tempore 
' in nocte et tenebris vagatus sum, 
' nee vidi quo eundum esset : nee 

' quo perveni intelligo. Sed incepto 
' pergendum erat, ac tandem inveni 
' exitum ut poteram. In quo diffi- 
' cili errore, videor mini apud 
' Moysen magnum errorem depre- 
' bendisse. Nam quum cuj usque 
' diei opus concluserat biis verbis, 
' Et factum est vesper e et mane dies 


Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

Ghap. II. 

A.i). 1497. 

All things 
must have 
at once. 

dation on 
the part 
of God 
to man. 

After this candid confession of uncertainty, Colet 
tried to explain the work of the fourth day, and the 
words, ' Let there be lights in the firmament of heaven ; ' 
but the only way he could do so was by resorting again 
to the principle of accommodation, which he did in 
these words : ' As we have said, all these were created at 
' once. For it is unworthy of God, and unbecoming 
' in us, to think of any one thing as created after any 
' other, as though He had been unable to create them 
' all at once. Hence in Ecclesiasticus, "He who dwells 
' " in eternity created all things at once." But Moses, 
' after the manner of a good and pious poet, 1 as Origen 
' (against Celsus) calls him, was willing to invent some 
' figure, not altogether worthy of God, if only it 
' might but be profitable and useful to men ; which 
' race of men is so dear to God, that God himself 
' emptied himself of his glory, taking the form of a 
' servant, that he might accommodate himself to the 
' poor heart of man. 2 So all things of God, when given 
' to man, must needs lose somewhat of their sublimity, 3 
' and be put in a form more palpable and more within 

' unus, secundus, tercius, non addi- 
' disset dies sed nox pocius una, 
' secunda, et tercia, propterea quod 
' inchoante vespere deinde mane se- 
' quente, est necesse quod intercedat 
'"inter antecedens vesper et sub- 
' sequens mane nox sit. Dies enim 
' incipit mane, vesperi terminatur. 
' Sed maxime profecto quae Moyses 
' scribens in dies distinxerat, noctes 
' appelltlsset majns, propterea quod 
' offuse sint tantis tenebris ut nihil 
' possit nocti videri similius quam 
' dies Moysaicus. Quas nocturnas 
' tenebras cum opinione aliqua lucis 

' conati sumus discutere, fortasse 
' nos quoque tenebrosi tenebras 
' auximus, noctesque produxirnus. 
' Attamen prestat nos recte facere 
' voluisse, ac quicquid est quod 
' egimus, si tibi obscurum videatur 
' infunde turn aliquid luminis tui, ut 
' etnosvideas,utque noseciani sitnul 
' tecuui Moysen videre possimus.' 

1 ' More boni piique poetse.' 

2 ' Homunculorum cordi consu- 
' leret.' 

3 . . . . ' A sua sublimitate de- 
' generent.' 

Colet on the Mosaic Creation. 


* the grasp of man. Accordingly, the high knowledge Chap. ii. 

' of Moses about God and Divine things and the crea- A . D . 1497. 

' tion of the world, when it came to be submitted to 

' the vulgar apprehension, savoured altogether of the 

' humble and the rustic, so that he had to speak, not 

' according to his own power of comprehension, but 

' according to the comprehension of the multitude. 

' Thus, accommodating himself to their comprehension, 

' Moses endeavoured, by this most honest and pious 

' poetic figure, at once to allure them and draw them 

'on to the worship of God.' 1 

Here the manuscript abruptly ends 2 in the middle of 
a reference to the works of Macrobius, whose sanction 


uses a 



and pious 



1 ' Honestisshno et piissimo fig- 
' meDto siinul inescare et trahere 
' eos ut Deo inserviant.' 

2 For the above abstracts of these 
interesting letters I am mainly in- 
debted to the kind assistance of my 
friend Henry Bradshaw, Esq., of 
King's College, Cambridge, who has 
also furnished me with the follow- 
ing description of the manuscript. 

Letters to Hadulphus. 

1. Beginning (p. 195) : ' Miror 
sane te optime Radulphe quum 
voluisti . , . . ; ' ending (p. 199) : 
. . . fac nos te queso participes. 

2. Beginning (p. 199): 'Parurn- 
per de reliquis diebus uti petis in 
calce Epistole. Facta mentione 
de materia et forma ....;' end- 
ng (p. 207) ;'.... scribendi 

paululum levaverim. Vale.' 

3. Beginning (p. 207) : ' Tercium 
nunc deinceps diem aggrediamur, 
memores semper . . . ; ' ending 

(p. 222) : ' . . . leviter nos in hiis 
' rebus lucubrasse. Vale.' 

4 Beginning (p. 222) : ' Salve 
' Radulphe, ac cum salute puto te 
'rediisse quod tibi opto . . . ' 
breaking off at the end of the quire 
(p. 220) : ' . . . .id licere facer e 
' docet Macrobius in Comen[tario 
'edito] . . .' 

%* These letters follow Colet's 
Exposition of the Epistle to the 
Romans, in the volume marked 
355, in Corpus Christi College 

The Expositio?i is written in the 
handwriting of Colet's scribe, Peter 
Meghen, the 'monoculus Brabanti- 
' nus,' and there are corrections and 
alterations throughout, evidently 
by Colet. himself. 

The letters to Hadulphus are 
merely bound ivith the other. Only 
two quires are now remaining : the 
handwriting is not the same, but 


Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

Chap. II. 

a.d. 1497. 

Colet was apparently about to quote in support of his 
attempt to explain the first chapter of Genesis by 
reference to the principle of accommodation. 1 

Colet got 

The question may be asked : — ' Whence came this 
' doctrine of accommodation which Colet here used so 
' boldly ? ' It was at least no birth of the nineteenth 
century, nor of the fifteenth. It belonged to a period 
a thousand years earlier, when men had (as in Colet's 
days and in ours) to reconcile reason and faith — to 
find a firm basis of fact for Christianity, instead of 
resting upon mere ecclesiastical authority. 

It will have been noticed that the two authors cited 
by Colet in these letters were Origen and Macrobius. 
Traces of Dionysian influence are also apparent. 2 

1 The following appears to be the 
passage Colet was about to quote : 
' Aut sacrarum rerum notio, sub 
' jigmentorum velamine, honestis et 
• tecta rebus et vestita nominibus 
' enuntiatur ; et hoc est solum fig- 
' menti genus, quod cautio de divinis 
' rebus admittit.' — In Somnium 
Scipionis, lib. i. c. 2. The 'aut' 
with which the sentence begins 
refers to its being an alternative of 
two kinds of mythical writing, 
about which Macrobius has been 
speaking. I am indebted to Mr. 
Lupton for this reference. 

2 The following passage from 
Mr. Lupton's translation of Colet's 
abstract of Dionysius's -De celesti 
Hierarchid (pp. 12, 13) will show 
that he may have derived some of 
his thoughts from that source. 
' Thus led he forth those unin- 
' structed Hebrews, like boys, to 
' school ; in order that like children, 

playing with dolls and toys, they 
might represent in shadow what 
they were one day to do in reality 
as men : herein imitating little 
girls, who in early age play with 
dolls, the images of sons, being 
destined afterwards in riper years 
to bring forth real sons : . . . 
" When I was a child," says St. 
Paul, " I understood as a child ; 
" but when I became a man, I put 
"away childish things." From 
childishness and images and imi- 
tations Christ has drawn us, who 
has shone upon our darkness, and 
has taught us the truth, and has 
made us that believe to be men, 
in order that we, " with open face 
" beholding as in a glass the glory 
"of the Lord, may be changed 
" into the same image from glory 
" to glory even as by the spirit 
"of the Lord."' % . . 
' In these foreshadowings and 

Pico's ' Heptaplus.' 


It has already been pointed out, that when, after a Chap, il 
thousand years' interval of restless slumber, the spirit A . D . 1497. 
of free enquiry was reawakened by the revival of 
learning in Italy, the works of the pre-scholastic 
fathers and philosophers were studied afresh. The 
works of Origen, Macrobius, and, more than all, of 
Dionysius, were constantly studied and quoted by such 
men as Ficino and Pico. And thus it came to pass 
that the doctrine of accommodation, with other appa- 
rently new-fangled but really old doctrines, floated, as 
it were, in the air which Colet had recently been 
breathing in Italy. 

The immediate source of some of the views con- 
tained in the letters to Eadulphus was evidently Pico's 
' Heptaplus ' 1 on the six days' creation ; a work pub- The 
lished in beautiful type, shortly before Colet's visit to i%co. US 
Italy, and dedicated to Lorenzo de' Medici. 2 Com- 

' signs, metaphors are borrowed 
'from all quarters by Moses — a 
' theologian and observer of nature 
' of the deepest insight — inasmuch 
' as there are not words proper to 
' express the Divine attributes. For 
' nothing is fitted to denote God 
'Himself, who is not only unut- 
' terable but even inconceivable. 
' Wherefore he is most truly ex- 
' pressed by negations ; since you 
' may state what He is not, but not 
' what He is ; for whatever positive 
' statement you make concerning 
' Him, you err, seeing that He is 
' none of those things which you 
' can say. Still because a hidden 
'principle of the Deity resides in 
' all things, on account of that faint 
' resemblance, the sacred writers 
' have endeavoured to indicate Him 

' by the names of all objects, not 
' only of the better but of the worse 
' kind, lest the duller sort of people, 
' attracted by the beauty of the 
' fairer objects, should think God to 
' be that very thing which He is 
< called.' 

The above is Colet's amplification 
of the passage in Dionysius (chap. 
ii.). The latter part of it is a pretty 
close rendering of the original. 

1 ' Heptaplus Johannis Pici Mi- 
' randuloe de Septiformi sex dierum 
' Geneseos Enarratione.' 

3 The first edition is without 
date, but the publisher's letter at 
the commencement, to Lorenzo de' 
Medici, shows that it was published 
during the lifetime of the latter, 
i.e. before 1492 — probably in 1490. 

60 Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

Chap. ii. paring this treatise of Pico's with Colet's letters, the 
a.d. 1497. small verbal coincidences are too striking to leave any 
doubt of the connection. 

Nor does this tracing of Colet's thoughts to their 
source detract from his originality so much as might 
at first sight appear. 

Colet found many different germs of thought in Pico. 
Falling into congenial soil, this one attained a vigorous 
growth in his mind, which it never attained with Pico. 
Other germs which flourished under Pico took no root 
with Colet. The result was, that the spirit of the 
letters to Radulphus had little in common with that 
of the ' Heptaplus.' Colet showed his originality and 
independence of thought by seizing one rational idea 
contained in Pico's treatise, and leaving the rest. He 
caught and unravelled one thread of common sense 
which Pico had contrived to interweave with a web of 
learned but not very wise speculation. 

WRITINGS (1497 ?). 

The next glimpse of Colet and his labours at Oxford 
reveals him immersed in the study of the Pseudo- 
Dionysian writings : writing from memory an abstract 
of the 'Celestial' and 'Ecclesiastical' Hierarchies, 1 and 
even composing short treatises of his own, based 
throughout upon Dionysian speculations. 2 

1 The letter preceding the abs- | may be the person to whom it was 
tract of the 'Celestial Hierarchy,' addressed. 

in the Cambridge MS. Gg. 4, 26, ' 2 These treatises were : — 1. ' De 
is evidently a copy by the same ' Compositione Sancti Corporis 
hand as the letter to the Abbot of ' Christi mistici.' — Carnb. MS. Gg. 
Winchcombe. Possibly the Abbot I 4, 26. 

The Pseudo-Dionysian Writings. 61 

During the most part of the middle ages the Pseudo- Chap. ii. 
Dionysian writings were accepted generally as the a .d. 1497. 
genuine productions of Dionysius the Areopagite — i.e. The 
of a disciple of St. Paul himself. It is not surprising, Dionysian 
therefore, that Colet, falling into this current view, writin 8 s - 
should regard the writings of the disciple with some 
degree of that interest and reverence with which he 
regarded those of the master. For a time it is evident 
they exercised a strong fascination on his mind. 

It has already been mentioned, that the influence 
of the Dionysian writings upon the JNTeo-Platonists of 
Florence was natural, seeing that they were in fact the 
embodiment of the result of the effervescence produced 
by the mixture of Neo-Platonic speculations with the 
Christianity of a thousand years earlier. 

But whilst it was their Neo-Platonic element which 
attracted the attention of Florentine philosophers, it 
was chiefly, as it seems to me, their Christian element 
which fascinated Colet. 

Nor can we of the nineteenth centurv altogether 
afford to ignore these writings as forgeries. There must 
have been in them enough of intrinsic power, apart from Their 
their supposed authorship, to account for the enormous powerf 

2. 'On the Sacraments of the , nysius, from the MSS. at St. Paul's 
'Church,' printed with a very | School; and it will he seen how 
valuable introduction aud notes, by much use I have made in this 
the Rev. J. H. Lupton, M.A., from , chapter of his admirable translation, 
the MS. in the St. Paul's School j I have expressed in the preface to 
Library. (Bell and Daldy, 1867.) J this edition the obligations I am 

3. A short essay in the Oamb. j under to Mr. Lupton for bringing 
MS. Gg. 4, 26, commencing ' Deus | to light these interesting MSS., and 
' immensum bonum,' &c. i thus materially assisting in restoring 

Mr. Lupton is publishing Colet's I some lost links in the history of 
abstracts of the ' Celestial ' and Colet's inner life and opinions. 
' Ecclesiastical ' Hierarchy of Dio- I 


Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

Chap. II. 
a.d. 1497. 

influence exerted by them for centuries over the highest 
minds in the church, in spite of the wildness of specu- 
lation in which they seemed to revel; just as there 
was enough of intrinsic power in St. Augustine to 
account for his mighty influence, in spite of his narrow 
views upon some points. It is quite possible that, as 
the very dogmatism of St. Augustine may have in- 
creased his influence in a dogmatic a^e, so, inasmuch 
as the dogmatic theology of the Schoolmen aimed at 
a pan-theological settlement of every possible question, 
their very wildness of speculation may have aided 
the influence of the Dionysian writings. This may 
partly account for the remarkable extent to which 
the works of St. Augustine and Dionysius furnished, 
as it were, the weft and woof out of which Aquinas 
wove his scholastic web. 1 But nothing but some in- 
trinsic power in these works themselves, apart from 
their dogmatism and speculation, could account for 
their double position as forming the basis, not only of 
the Scholastic Theology itself, but also of so many 
reactions against the results of its supremacy. These 
reactions were not always Augustinian. Some of 
them were mystic, and the supposed Dionysius was, 
so to speak, the prophet of the Mystics. 

One main secret of the intrinsic power of the Dio- 
nysian writings, especially to such men as Colet, lay, 
undoubtedly, in the severe rebuke they gave to the 
ecclesiastical scandals of the times. The state of the 

1 Balthasar Corderius, in his 
prefatory observations to his edition 
of the works of St. Dionysius (Paris 
1644), speaks of Dionysius as being 
the originator of the Scholastic 

Theology, and proves it by giving 
four folio pages of references to pas- 
sages in the ' Summa ' of Aquinas, 
where the authority of Dionysius is 


The Pseudo-Dionysian Writings. 63 

church under Alexander VI. was such that earnest Chap. ii. 
men in Italy had practically either ceased to believe a .d. 1497. 
in it, and in Christianity, as of divine institution ; or 
were seeking a solution of their difficulties through 
those Neo-Platonic speculations, out of which these 
Pseudo-Dionysian writings had themselves sprung. 

Colet doubtless, when he came to Italy, had the 
same difficulties to fight. Could this ecclesiastical 
system, so degraded, so vicious, so hollow and per- 
nicious, be of God? He could not, and probably 
there was not anyone in Europe at that moment who 
could, from his standing-point, wholly reject it, with- 
out rejecting Christianity along with it. The Dio- what the 
nysian writings presented a way of escape from this writings 
terrible alternative. If they were genuine (and Colet 
believed them to be so), then the hierarchical system 
and its sacraments, however perverted, were yet of 
apostolic origin. These writings apparently described, 
in the words of a disciple of St. Paul, their apostolic 
institution and their original intention and meaning-. 
But the notion gathered by Colet from Dionysius of 
the apostolic intention presented an ideal so utterly 
pure and holy, as compared with the hollowness and 
wickedness of ecclesiastical practice, as he saw it in 
Italy, that he must indeed have had a heart of stone 
had he not been moved by it. 

The following passage will show, in Colet's own 
words, how, following the lead of such men as Pico 
and Ficino (with whose writings, we have seen, he was 
acquainted), he was led to regard the Jewish traditions 
of the Cabala as genuine Mosaic traditions, committed 
to writing by Ezra ; and, in like manner, to accept the 
Pseudo-Dionysian traditions as genuine apostolic tra- 

64 Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

Chap. ii. ditions, committed to writing by a disciple of St. Paul ; 
a.dTT497. and, further, it will place in a clear light the connec- 
tion between his faith in Dionysius, his grief over the 
scandals of the church, and his zeal for reform. 
Colet sees ' I know not by what rashness of bishops, in later 
ence be- ' ages, the ancient custom fell into disuse — a custom 
Sonyskn ' which, owing to its apostolic institution, had the 
and the t highest authority. . . . And had not St. Dionysius 
rites. « (who seems to me to be such in our church as was 

* Ezra in the synagogue of Moses, who willed that the 

* mysteries of the old law should be committed to 

* writing, lest in the confusion of affairs and of men 
1 the record of so much wisdom should perish) — had 
4 not Dionysius, I say, in like manner, as though di- 
vining- the future carelessness of mankind, left written 
down by his productive pen what he retained in 

4 memory of the institutions of the apostle in arranging 
4 and regulating the church, we should have had no 
4 record of this ancient custom. . . . How it befel, 
4 (Colet continued) without grievous guilt, that these 
' became afterwards wholly changed, I know not ; since 
4 we must believe that it was by the teaching of the 
' Holy Spirit that they ordained all things in the church. 
4 For the words of our Saviour in St. John are these : 
4 " Howbeit, when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he 
4 " will guide you into all truth : for he shall not speak 
' " of himself, but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall 
4 " he speak ; and he will show you things to come." 
4 It is because their most holy traditions have been 
4 superseded and neglected, and men have fallen away 
4 from the Spirit of God to their own inventions, 
4 that, beyond doubt, all things have been wretchedly 
4 disturbed and confounded ; and, as I said before, 

The Pseudo-Dionysian Writings. 65 

unless God shall have mercy upon us, all things will Chap. ii. 
' go to ruin.' l a.d. 1497. 

The truth was that the Dionysian writings, though p U rit y 
not of apostolic origin as Colet supposed, presented, D io n y S i an 
nevertheless, a picture of the ecclesiastical usages of an standard, 
age a thousand years earlier than Colet's ; and putting 
the earlier and the later usages in contrast, it was im- 
possible for him not to perceive at once how much 
more pure and rational in its spirit and tendencies was 
the ancient Dionysian system than the more modern 
Papal one. 

Both were sacerdotal and ritualistic ; but the sacer- The Dio 
dotalism and ritualism of Dionysius were radically ^0^,1*" 
opposed in spirit to those of the more modern system, andritu- 
During the interval between the fifth and the fifteenth system is 


century, sacerdotalism had had time to turn almost different 
literally upside-down, and ritualism with it. It was p°™* e 
thus quite natural that Colet, in the light of Dionysius, 
should find ' all things wretchedly disturbed and con- 
' founded.' 

The Dionysian theory, however speculative and The object 
vicious as such, at least according to Colet's version of not ie to 8ic 
it, did not, like the modern theory, tend towards that ^g^f/ 6 
grossest heathen conception of religion, according to but to 
which its main object is the propitiation of the Deity, the heart 
rather than the changing of the heart of man. 

Its gospel was not that Christ offered his sacrifice to 
propitiate an unreconciled God — to reconcile God to 
man. On the contrary, it told of a God who is ' beau- 

1 Mr. Lupton's translation, pp. 135, 136. 


Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

a.d. 1497. 

Cur Deus 

Chap. ii. ' tiful and good,' 1 who had created all things because 
He is good, because He is good recalling 2 all things 
to Himself, by the sacrifice of Himself redeeming them, 
not from His own wrath, but from the power of Evil. 
The following passage may be taken in illustration 
of this : — 'When, directly after the creation, foolish hu- 
' man nature was allured by the seductive enticements of 
' the enemy, and fell away from God into a womanish 
' and dying condition, and was rolling headlong down 
' with rapid course to death itself, then at length, in 
' His own time, our good, and tender, and kind, and 


and merciful God, giving us all good things at 

' once in place of all that was bad, willed to take upon 
' Him human nature, and to enter into it, and rescue it 
' from the power of the adversary, overthrowing and 
' destroying his empire. For, as St. Paul writes to the 
■ Hebrews, " Forasmuch as the children " — or servants 
' — " are partakers of flesh and blood," . . . therefore 
' also God himself " made himself of no reputation, 
' " and took upon him the form of a servant," and 
' " himself likewise took part of the same " flesh and 
' blood — that is, human nature — " that through death 
' " he might destroy him that had the power of death, 
' " that is, the devil ; and deliver them who through 
' " fear of death were all their lifetime subject to 
' " bondage : " that he might destroy, I say, that 
' enemy, not by force, but (as Dionysius says) by judg- 
' ment and righteousness ; which he calls a hidden thing 

1 ' God, who is one, beautiful 
' and good — Father, Son, and Holy 
' Ghost : the Trinity which created 
' all things — is at once the purifica- 
* tion of things to unity, their illu- 
1 mination to what is beautiful, and 
' their perfection to what is good.' — 

Mr. Lupton's translation, pp. 15, 24. 
2 ' God created all things because 
' He is good (p. 16) ; and because He 
' is good, He also recalls to himself 
' all things according to their capa- 
' city, that He may bountifully com- 
' municate himself to them.' 

* Cur Deus Homo ? ' 


victory ' of 
a ' suffer- 


* and a mystery. 1 For it was a marvellous victory, Chap. ii. 

* that the Devil, though victorious, in the very fact of a.d. 1497. 
' his conquering, should be conquered ;• and that Jesus Coiet on 

., r -, . -. the ' mar- 

' should conquer m the very tact 01 his being van- veiious 
' quished on the cross ; so that in reality, in the victory 

* on each side, the matter was otherwise than it seemed. 
' And thus when the adversary that vanquished man 
' was himself vanquished by God, man was restored, 

* without giving any just cause of complaint to the 
' devil, to the liberty and light of God. There was 
' shown to him the path to heaven, trodden by the 
' feet of Christ, whose footsteps we must follow if we 

* would arrive where he has gone. A suffering Christ, 
' I say (most marvellous !), and dying as though van- 
quished, overcame. . . . By that death we have been 

* rescued from the dead, and are the servants of 
< God.' 2 

Quaint and curious as this view of the connection object of 
between the sacrifice of Christ and the just conquest c ieath. 
of the power of Evil may seem to modern ears, it re- 
flects faithfully the view most current amongst the early 

1 All after this is Colet's own 
addition to what is said in Dio- 

2 Mr. Lupton's translation of 
Colet's Abstract of the Eccl. Hier. 
p. 02. In a short essay contained in 
the MSS. Gg. 4, 26, of the Cam- 
bridge University Library, entitled 
' De compositione sancti corporis 
' Christi mistici, quae est ecclesia, 
' quae sine anima ejus, Spiritu sci- 
' licet, dispergitur et dissipatur.' 
Colet, after showing how men, if 
left to themselves, would wander 
apart and become scattered ; and 

that the purpose of God is, that 
they should be united in one body 
the church by the Spirit, as bv •* 
magnet, goes on to say, ' PrwW* 
' natum fuit honjinem qui decidit 
' a Deo retrain ad Deum non posse 
' quidem nisi per Deum factum ho- 
' minem . . . Mortuus est ut liberos 
' faceret homines ad talem vitam, 
'ut debita cujusque hominum in 
' illius morte soluta, nunc desinentes 
' peccare deinceps liberi sint justi- 
' ciae, ut non amplius maneamus in 
'peccato,' &c— Ff. 706, 71a. 

¥ 2 


Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

Chap. II. 
a.d. 1497. 

' priests ' 
act on 
behalf of 
man be- 
fore God. 

Greek Fathers ; and it has at least this merit, that it 
cannot be translated into the language of the heathen 
doctrine of propitiation. 

It followed that, as the Dionysian theory left no 
place for the notion that the sacrifice of Christ was 
offered to reconcile God to man (seeing that it upheld 
the doctrine that it was the sheep that had gone astray, 
and rejected the doctrine that the Shepherd had ever 
deserted the sheep), so it left no place for a sacerdo- 
tal order, according to the heathen notion of a priest- 
hood. Its priests were not priests according to the 
modern definition. It did not — it could not — repre- 
sent its priesthood as appearing as heathen priests did 
(and as some modern priests seem to think they do) * 
on behalf of man before God, presenting men's offer- 
ings to him. If Christ's office, according to Dionysius, 
were emphatically to plead with men, to bring them 
back, so the priest's office was to act in his stead in the 
same work. 

The following passage from Colet's abstract presents 
these two dependent facts in their proper connection : 
— ' Christ's office on earth the bishops [elsewhere he 

1 Wilberforce, in his Doctrine 
of the Incarnation, third edition, 
1850, thus expressed the modern sa- 
cerdotal theory. In the word Priest, 
in primitive languages, ' the notion 
' of the setting apart those who should 
' act on man's behalf towards God is 
' everywhere visible.' — P. 229. 

' Now if Christ is still maintaining 
' areal intercession (if He still pleads 
' that sacrifice) then is there ample 
' place for that sacerdotal system, by 
' which some actual thing is still to 

' be effected, and in which some 
' agents must still be employed.' 
—P. 381. 'We put the Priestly 
' office under the law in a line with 
'the ministerial office under the 
' Gospel ; we assert, that if the title 
' of Priest could be given fitly to the 
' first, it belongs also to the second.' 
— P. 383. ' Any persons who dis- 
' charge an office which has refer- 
' ence to God, and who present to 
' Him what is offered by men, may 
'be called Priests.'— P. 384. 

Dionysian and Modern Sacerdotalism. 69 

' speaks of priests and bishops as identical] everywhere Chap. ii. 

* discharge, and in Him act as He acted, and with like A . D . 1497. 

' zeal strive for the purification, illumination, and salva- According 

' tion of mankind by constant preaching of the truth s ius and 

' and diffusion of Gospel light, even as He strove, priests act 

'St. Paul says, "God was in Christ, reconciling the on behalf 

' " world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses towards 

' " unto them, and hath committed unto us the word of 

' " reconciliation. Now then we are ambassadors for 

' " Christ." Acting in Christ's stead, they fan the fire 

' which Christ came to send upon the earth. . . . (Luke 

' xii. 49, 50.) He baptized, as John testifies," with the 

' " Holy Ghost and with fire." For fire purifies, illu- 

' mines, and perfects. That fire of the Spirit does 

' this in the souls of men. For the increasino' of this 

' wholesome conflagration amid the forest of men, the 

' bishops are vicars and ministers of Jesus, and they 

' seek the kindling of mankind in God. Now this fire 

' is, I doubt not, the holy love of God. 1 . . . And the 

' messenger of this goodness, compassion, love, and ten- 

' derness of God was his lovely son Jesus Christ, who 

' brought down love to men, that they being 

' born anew by love, might in turn love their heavenly 
' Father along with Him.' 2 

The Dionysian theory of sacerdotalism being thus, 

1 See the same views expressed 
by Colet in his exposition of ' Oo- 
' rinthians.' — Emmanuel Col. MS. 3, 
3, 12, leaf g, 2. 

2 Colet's Abstract of the Ece. 
Hier. ch. ii. s. 2. Mr. Lupton's 
translation, pp. 61, 62. Colet 
writes a little further on : — ' The 

' office of the hishop is, like Christ, 
' to preach constantly and diligently 
' the truth he has received. For he 
' is, as it were, a messenger midway 
' between God and men, to announce 
'to men heavenly things, as Christ 
< did.'— Pp. 63, 64. 


Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

Chap. IT. 

a.d. 1497. 


and Dio- 







in its spirit and attitude, an exact inversion of the 
modern one, it might naturally be expected that the 
Dionysian ritualism would, in like manner, involve an 
inversion of modern ritualistic notions. 

This was the case. Instead of idolizing the sacra- 
ments as of mystic power and virtue in themselves, the 
Dionysian theory represented them as divinely insti- 
tuted ceremonies intended to draw mankind by types 
and shadows upward to God. 

It did not, like modern ritualism, tend towards the 
view that the Eucharist is a sacrifice in the heathen 
sense — a continued offering by a human priesthood of 
the sacrifice of Christ. 1 On the contrary, it represented 
this sacrament as commemorative of the death of Christ, 
and as symbolic of the professed communion on the 
part of men with Christ, and with one another. 2 It 
did not set forth the sacrament of baptism as modern 
ritualists are so fond of doing, as effecting there and 
then the regeneration of the person baptized. But it 
regarded baptism as a symbolic profession of change 
of heart — as the ceremony in which the believer openly 
takes his soldier's oath to Christ, and promises amended 

1 ' Through this hread and this 
'cup, that which is offered as a true 
' sacrifice in heaven is present as a 
' real though immaterial agent in 
' the church's ministrations. So that 
' what is done hy Christ's ministers 
' below is a constituent part of that 
; general work which the one great 
' High Priest performs in heaven : 
' through the intervention of his 
' heavenly Head, the earthly sacri- 
' ficer truly exhibits to the Father 
'that body of Christ which is the one 
' only sacrifice for sins ; each visible 

' act has its efficacy through those 
' invisible acts of which it is the 
' earthly expression, and things done 
' on earth are one with those done in 
' heaven.' — "Wilberforce's Doctrine 
of the Incarnation, pp. 372, 373. 

2 Colet's abstract of the Eccl. 
Hier. ch. iii. Mr. Lupton's trans- 
lation, pp. 78-94 Whilst not 
disapproving in others daily at- 
tendance ' ad mensam Dominican!,' 
Erasmus tells us that Colet did 
not make a daily habit of it him- 
self— Eras. Op. iii. p. 459, E. 

Dionysian and Modern Ritualism. 


life. 1 It did not represent the sponsors as promising or Chap. ii. 

professing in the child's stead, that he is then and there A .i>. 1497. 

regenerated, but promising that they themselves "will do Sponsors. 

all they can to bring him up as a child of God. 2 It did Priests 

. . tit • have no 

not admit m any sacerdotal order, any power to remit power of 

or retain sin, to bind or to loose. On the contrary, ^fbind- 

1 Eccl. Hier. ch. ii. Colet s 
in his abstract (Mr. Lupton's trans- 
lation, p. 65) of the Christian being 
' brought to the captain of the army, 
' the bishop,' that by the soldier's 
oath, &c. ' he may oivn himself a 
1 soldier of Christ.' He concludes 
this section as follows: — 

' Such was the custom and cere- 
' mony of baptism and the washing 
' of regeneration in the primitive 
' church, instituted by the holy 
' apostles, ivhereby the more excellent 
' baptism of the inner man is signi- 
' fled. And this form differs very 
' greatly from the one we make use 
' of in this age. And herein I own 
' that I marvel ! . . . The apostles 
' being fully taught by Jesus Christ, 
' knew well what are convenient 
' symbols and appropriate signs for 
' the mysteries. So that one may 
' suspect either rashness or neglect 
' on the part of their successors in 
' what has been added to or taken 
' from their ordinances.' 

Then follows a section on the 
' spiritual contemplation of baptism,' 
in which occurs the passage begin- 
ning ' Gracious God ! ' &c. — Infra, 
p. 73. JEccl. Hier. ch. ii. s. 3, pp. 
76, 77 of Mr. Lupton's translation. 

2 ' Meanwhile the foster father 

' who has undertaken the rearing of 
' the child in Christ, gives a pledge 

and sacred promise, on behalf of 
the infant, of all things that true 
Christianity demands, viz. a re- 
nouncing of all sin, &c. . . . And 
this he says, not in the child's stead, 
since it would be a fond thing for 
another to speak in place of one 
that was in ignorance ; but when, 
in his own person, he speaks of 
renouncing, he professes that he 
will bring it to pass, sofarashe can, 
that the little infant, as soon as 
ever it is capable of instruction, 
shall in reality and in his life 
utterly renounce, &c. . . . 
' When the bishop, I say, hears 
him saying, " I renounce," which 
means, as Dionysius explains it, "I 
" tvill take care that the infant re- 
" nounce," &c. . . . Thus we see 
how in the primitive church, by the 
ordinance of the apostles, infants 
were not admitted unreservedly to 
the sacred rights, but on condition 
only that some one would be surety 
for them, that when they came to 
years of discretion they should 
thenceforward set before them in 
reality the pattern of Christ. 
' Mark thus how great a burden 
he takes upon himself who pro- 
mises . to be a godfather,' &c. — 
Mr. Lupton's translation of Colet's 
abstract of the Eccl. Hier. ch. viii. 
pp. 158, 159. 


Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

Chap. ii. it regarded the priests as God's ministers, who ought 
a. d . 1497. to keep in communion with Him, so that receiving 
intimation by the Spirit of what is already bound or 
loosed in heaven, they may disclose it on earth. 1 

If any sacerdotal theory could be believable, it must 
be confessed, there is an intrinsically rational and 
Christian tone about the Dionysian theory according 
to Colet's rendering of it, strangely lacking in that of 
modern sacerdotalists. 

Forgetting for the moment the speculative adjuncts 
to the theory, the professed knowledge of mysteries 
unknown, which Colet's belief in Dionysius obliged him 
to accept, but which did not add any force to the 
theory itself, it will be seen at once how powerful a 
rebuke he must have felt it to be to the ecclesiastical 
scandals of the closing years of the fifteenth century. 
It assumed, as the essential attribute of any sacerdotal 
order laying claim to apostolic institution, the attribute 
of a really pure and personal holiness. No merely 
official -sanctity imputed outwardly t o a consecrated 
order, by virtue of its outward consecration, could 
possibly satisfy its requirements. 2 And in the same 
way the sacraments were nothing apart from the per- 
sonal spiritual realities which the} T were meant to 

1 ' Men execute the previous de- 
' cisions of God, and by the ministry 
' of men that is at length disclosed 
' on earth/ Ac. — Mr.Lupton's trans- 
lation, p. 149. ' It must be heed- 
' fully marked, lest bishops should 
' be presumptuous, that it is not the 
' part of men to loose the bonds of 
' sins : nor does the power pertain 

' to them of loosing or binding any- 
' thing.' . . . ' And if they do not 
' proceed according to revelation, 
' moved by the Spirit of God . . . 
' they abuse the power given to 
' them, both to the blaspheming of 
' God and the destruction of the 
< Church.'— Ibid. 150. 

2 See Eras. Op. iii. p. 459, C and D. 

Purity of the Dionysian Standard. 


Underneath, therefore, the wild excess of symbolism Chap. ii. 
and speculation which lay on the surface, and formed, A . D . 1497. 
as it were, the froth of the Dionysian theology, Colet Religion 
seems to have found this basis of eternal truth, that Zcwe . 
religion is a thing of the heart, not of creed nor of 
ceremonial observances ; that, in Colet's own rendering 
of the Dionysian theory : — ' Knowledge leads not to 
' eternal life, but love. Whoso loveth God is known 
' of Him. Ignorant love has a thousand times more 
' power than cold wisdom.' l 

Colet's abstracts of the Dionysian treatises abound 
with passages expressive of the purity and holiness of 
heart required of the Christian, and of the necessity of 
his love not being merely of the contemplative kind, 
but an active love working for Christ and his fellow- 
men. The following extracts may be taken as illus- 
trations of this. 

In concluding the chapter on the meaning of baptism 
Colet exclaims : — ' Gracious God ! here may one per- 
' ceive how cleansed and how pure he that professes 
' Christ ought to be ; how inwardly and thoroughly The purity 
' washed ; how white, how shining, how utterly without ^ a ^ ns " 
' blemish or spot ; in fine, how perfected and filled, 
i according to his measure, with Christ himself 

1 Mr. Lupton's translation of 
Colet's abstract of the Eccl. Hier. 
p. 83. This was a strictly Diony- 
sian thought and one shared also 
hy Pico. ' The little affection of an 
' old man or an old woman to God- 
' ward (were it never so small), he 
' set more by than all his own 
' knowledge as well of natural 
' things as godly.' . . . He writeth 

thiswise [to Politian], ' Love God 
' (while we be in this body), we 
' rather may than either know Him, 
' or by speech utter Him.' — Life of 
Picus, E. of Mirandula, Sir Thomas 
More's Works, p. 7. 

To the same purport is the pas- 
sage from Ficino, quoted by Colet 
in his MS. on the ' Romans.' — Vide 
supra, p. 37. 

74 Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

Chap. ii. ' May Jesus Christ himself bring it to pass, that we who 
a.d. 1497. ' profess Christ may both be, and set our affections on,. 
' and do all things that are worthy of our profession.' l 
Speaking of the anointing after baptism of the soldier 
of Christ, Colet says : — ' You must strive that you may 
' conquer ; you must conquer that you maybe crowned. 
' Fight in Him who fights in you and prevails — even 
' Jesus Christ, who has declared war against death, 

' and fights in all It is the rule of combat 

' that we should imitate our leader We have 

' no enemies except sin (which is ever against us), and 
' the evil spirits that tempt to sin. When these are 
' vanquished in ourselves, then let us, armed with the 
Self- ' armour of God, in charity succour others, even though 

for others ' they be not for suffering us, even though in their 
thSg SSed ' f° n y they see not their bondage, even though they 
' would put their deliverers to death. So to love man 
' as to die in caring for his salvation is most blessed.' 2 
These passages may also be taken as evidence how 
fully Colet had caught hold of the spirit, not merely 
of the froth, of the Dionysian doctrine ; how he had 
approached it in earnest search after practical religion, 
and not merely in the love of speculation. They will 
also do much to explain how, drinking deeply at this 
well of mystic religion, he came back from Italy, 
not a mere Neo-Platonic philosopher or ' humanist,' 
but a practical Eeformer. In Italy he had become 
acquainted with the scandals of Alexander VI. In his 
abstract of Dionysius, in speaking of ' the highest Bishop 
' ivhom we call " the Pope" ' he bursts out into these 
indignant sentences : — ' If he be a lawful bishop, he of 

1 Mr. Lupton's translation, pp. 76, 77. 2 Ibid. p. 73. 

Colefs Zeal for Reform. 75 

himself does nothing, but God in him. But if he do Chap. ii. 
attempt anything of himself, he is then a breeder of a.d. 1497. 
poison. And if he also brinj? this to the birth, and Coiet on 

, . -ii 1 • • 1 -1-1 t the Pope. 

carry into execution his own will, he is wickedly dis- 
tilling poison to the destruction of the Church. This 
has now indeed been done for many years past, and 
has by this time so increased as to take powerful hold 
on all members of the Church ; so that, unless that 
Mediator who alone can do so, who created and 
founded the church out of nothing for Himself (there- 
fore does St. Paul often call it a "creature ") — unless, 
I say, the Mediator Jesus lay to his hand with all 
speed, our most disordered church cannot be far from 
death. . . . Men consult not God on what is to be 
done, by constant prayer, but take counsel with men, 
whereby they shake and overthrow everything. All 
(as we must own with grief, and as I write with both 
grief and tears) seek their own, not the things which 
are Jesus Christ's, not heavenly things but earthly, 
what will bring them to death, not what will bring 
them to life eternal.' l 
The following passage also burns with Colet's zeal 
for ecclesiastical reform : — * Here let every priest ob- 
' serve, by that sacrament of washing [before cele- 
' bration of the eucharist], how clean, how scoured, 
' how fresh he ought to be, who would handle the 
' heavenly mysteries, and especially the sacrament of 
' the Lord's body ; how such ought to be so washed 
' and scoured and polished inwardly, as that not so 
' much as a shadow be left in the mind whereby the 
' incoming light may be in any wise obscured, and that 

1 Mr. Lupton's translation, pp. 150, 151. 


Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

a.d. 1497. 

on the 
ness of 

Chap. ii. ' not a trace of sin may remain to prevent God from 
walking in the temple of our mind. Oh priests ! Oh 
priesthood ! Oh the detestable boldness of wicked 
men in this our generation ! Oh the abominable 
impiety of those miserable priests, of whom this age 
of ours contains a great multitude, who fear not to 
rush from the bosom of some foul harlot into the 
temple of the Church, to the altar of Christ, to the 
mysteries of God ! Abandoned creatures ! on whom 
the vengeance of God will one day fall the heavier, 
the more shamelessly they have intruded themselves 
on the Divine office. Jesu Christ, wash for us, 
not our feet only, but our hands and our head ! ' 1 

The zeal 
is Colet's, 
not Dio- 

In conclusion, I must remind the reader that it would 
not be fair to take this sketch of Colet's abstract of the 
Dionysian treatises as in any sense an abstract of the 
treatises themselves. What I have tried to do is, to 
show in what Colet's own mind was influenced by 
them. The passages I have quoted are not passages 
from Dionysius but from Colet. The radical conception 
is most often due to Dionysius ; the passages themselves 
represent the effervescence produced by the Dionysian 
conceptions in Colet's mind. The enthusiasm — the fire 
which they kindled there they would not have kindled 
in every one's breast. The fire was indeed very much 
Colet's own. I find passages which burn in Colet's 
abstract freeze in the original. Whilst, therefore, ac- 
knowledging the influence of the Dionj^sian writings 
upon Colet's mind, it must not be forgotten that this 

1 Mr. Lupton's translation, pp. 
90, 91. See also pp. 123-126, where 
Colet inveighs warmly against the 

nomination by secular princes of 
worldly bishops. 

Colefs Abstract of the Dionysian Treatises. 77 

influence was exerted upon the mind of a man not only Chap, il 
already acquainted with the writings of the modern A . D . 1497.. 
ISTeo-Platonists and of the Greek Fathers, but also 
already devoted to the study of the Scriptures, and 
bent upon drawing out for himself from themselves 
their direct practical meaning. 

The truth is, that just as in the Greek Fathers, with Germs 
all their tendency to allegorise Scripture, there was scientific 
combined a rational critical element which formed the Sonysius! 
germ of a sounder and more scientific method of Scrip- 
tural interpretation — a germ which fructified whenever 
it fell into a soil suited to its growth, whether in the 
fifth and sixth or in the fifteenth and sixteenth cen- 
turies — so in thePseudo-Dionysian philosophy, with all 
its unscientific tendency to revel in the wildest specu- 
lation, there were combined germs of true scientific 
thought, which in like manner were sure to fructify in 
such a mind as Colet's. 

Thus in the Dionysian doctrine that God is in- 
scrutable — that all human knowledge is relative — that 
man cannot rise to a knowledge of the absolute — that The rela- 
therefore no conceptions men can form of God can be airknow- 
accurate, and no language in which they speak of Him ledge * 
can be more than clumsy analogy — in this principle 
there is the germ of a rational understanding of the 
necessary conditions of Divine revelation involving the 
admission of the necessity of accommodation and the 
human element in Scripture. Again, in the doctrine 
that whilst, in this sense, the knowledge of God is im- 
possible to man, the love of God is not so, there lies the 
basis of truth on which alone science can be reconciled 
with religion, and religion itself become a power of life. 

Lastly, in the very attempt, so striking throughout 

78 Colet, Erasmus, and More. 


Chap. ii. Dionysius, to find out in the sacerdotal and sacramental 
a.d. 1497. system a symbolic meaning, who does not recognise 
the attempt to find out a rational intention in its insti- 
tution, which should make it believable in an age of 
reviving philosophy and science ? 


If the manuscript exposition of the 1st Epistle to 
the Corinthians preserved at Cambridge, apparently in 
Colet's own handwriting, with his own latest correc- 
Coiet's tions, 1 may be taken as evidence of what his lectures 
on Corin- on this epistle were, it may be of some value, apart 
MstTat from its own intrinsic interest, in enabling us to judge 
at Cam- j 10W f ar } ie adhered to the same leading views and 

bridge. ... 

method of exposition which he had before adopted, 
and how far, in preceding chapters, we have been able 
to judge rightly of what they were. 

I think it will be found that this exposition of the 
Epistle to the Corinthians is in perfect harmony with 
all which had preceded it, and that it shows evident 
traces of those phases of thought through which Colet 
had been passing since his arrival at Oxford. 

Its striking characteristic, like that on the 'Eomans,' 
would seem to be the pains taken to regard it through- 
out as the letter of a living apostle to an actual church. 
Colet's On the one hand, it teems with passages which show 

sTVaui tne d e P tn °f Colet's almost personal affection for St. 
Paul, and the clearness with which he realised the 
special characteristics of St. Paul's character ; his ex- 

Camb. University Library, MS. 
Gg. 4, 26. There is a beautiful 

the band of Peter Meghen, in the 
Library of Emmanuel College, 

copy embodying these corrections in | Cambridge, MS. 3, 3, 12 

Colet on ' 1 Corinthians.'' 


treme consideration for others, 1 his modesty, 2 his Chap - il 
tolerance, his wise tact and prudence, 3 his self-denial a.d. 1497. 
for others' good. 4 

On the other hand, no less conspicuous is the attempt Colet 
on Colet's part to realise the condition and peculiar the cha- 
character and circumstances of the Corinthians, to th^Corin- 
whom the apostle was writing, as the true key to the thians - 
practical meaning of the epistle. 

Thus Colet, in treating of the commencement of the 
epistle — an epistle intended to correct the conduct of 
the Corinthians in some practical points in which they 
had erred — stops to admire the wisdom of St. Paul's 
method in speaking first of that part of their conduct 
which he could praise, before he proceeded to blame. 
And this he did, Colet thought, ' that by this gentle 
' and mild beginning he might draw them on to read 
' the rest of his epistle, and lead them to listen more 
' easily to what he had to blame in their conduct. For 
' (Colet continues) had he at once at starting been 
' rougher, and accused them more severely, he might 
' indeed have driven away from himself and his exhor- 
' tations minds as yet tender and inexperienced in 
' religion, especially those of that Greek nation, so Pride of 
' arrogant and proud, and prone to be disdainful. 5 Pru- nation. 
' dently, therefore, and cautiously had the matter to be 
' handled, having due regard to persons, places, and 

1 Emmanuel Col. MS. leaf e, 5 : 
' Homo unus omnium divinissimus 
' et consideratissimus.' See also 
leaf k, 6. 

2 Leaf a, 5. ' Quod tamen facit 
' ubique modestissime homo piissi- 
' mus.' 

3 ' Velit ergo prudentissimus 

< Paulus.'— Leaf k, 3. 

4 Leaf k, 6, and p. 8. 

5 In another place Colet writes, 
' Fuit ilia grasca natio illis argutiis 
' versatilibus humani ingenii semper 
' prompta ad arguendum et redar- 
' guendum.' — Leaf c, 2. 


Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

Chap. II. 
a.d. 1497. 

the state 
of the 

' seasons, in his observance of which Paul was surely 
' the one most considerate of all men, who knew so well 
i how to accommodate the means to the end, that while 
' he sought nothing else but the glory of Jesus Christ 
' upon earth, and the increase of faith and charity, this 
' man with divine skill neither did nor omitted any- 
' thing ever amongst any which should impede or 
' retard these objects.' 1 

The same method receives a further illustration from 
the way in which Colet draws a picture of the con- 
dition of the Corinthian church, evidently feeling while 
he did so, how closely in some points it resembled the 
condition of the church in his own day. He surely 
must have had the Schoolmen in his mind, as he 
described some among the Corinthians, ' derogating 
■ from the authority of the Apostles, and especially of 
' St. Paul, whose name ought to have had the greatest 
' weight amongst them, setting up institutions in the 
' church according to their own fancy and in their own 
' wisdom, making the people believe that they knew 
' all about everything which pertained to the Christian 
' religion, and that they could easily solve and give an 
' opinion upon every point of doubt that might arise. 
* So that, in this infant church, many things had 
4 come to be allowed which were abhorrent from the 
' institutions of Paul, wherefrom had arisen divisions 
' and factions, between which were constant conten- 
' tions and altercations, so that all things were going 
6 wrong.' 2 

Colet's almost personal affection for St. Paul en- 

1 Emmanuel Col. MS. 3, 3, 12, 
leaf a, 4, and Appendix (B, a). 

2 Abridged quotation. 
5, and Appendix (B, a). 

Leaf a, 

Colet on ' 1 Corinthians.'' 81 

abled him also to realise how, being the ' first parent Chap. ii. 
' of the Corinthian church,' he was ' troubled ' at this a .d. 1497. 
state of things, not so much at their having tried to un- 
dermine his own authority, as at the danger they were in 
of making shipwreck of their faith, after all his pains in 
piloting their vessel. ' Therefore, as far as he dared and 
' could' (writes Colet), 'he upbraided those who wished 
' to seem wise, and who conducted the affairs of the 
* Christian republic more according to their own fancies 
' than according to the will of God. Which, however, 
'he did everywhere most modestly; the most pious man St. Paul's 
' seeking rather the reformation of the evils than the and tact 
' blame of any.' And therefore it was (Colet thought), 
that St. Paul in his whole epistle, and especially in the 
first part of it, strove to assert that men of themselves 
can know and do nothing, to eradicate the false foun- 
dation of trust in themselves, and to lead them to 
Christ, who alone is the wisdom of God and the power 
of God. 1 

And here again, after following St. Paul's statement, 
that the wisdom of man being foolishness, God had 
chosen the foolish rather than the wise to hear him 
and to preach his gospel, Colet was led off into a 
train of thought which harmonises well with what 
has been stated in previous chapters, in that it shows 
how fully he had accepted the Dionysian writings as 
the genuine writings of St. Paul's disciple, and how 
closely he associated in his mind the name of the dis- 
ciple with that of the master. 

For he exclaims, ' What if sometimes some men, 
' endowed with secular wisdom such as Paul and his 

1 Emmanuel Col. MS. leaf a, 5, 6, and Appendix (B, a). 



Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

Chap. II. 

a.d. 1497. 

the Areo- 

of men by 
God not 

' disciple, Dionysius the Areopagite, and a few others, 
' were chosen both to receive the truths of his wisdom, 
' and to teach them to others, these indeed in teaching 
' others what they had learned from God, took the 
' greatest pains to appear to know nothing according 
' to this world, thinking it unworthy to mix up human 
' reason with Divine revelations. . . . Hence Paul, in 
' wise and learned Greece, was not afraid to seem in 
' himself a fool and weak, and to profess that he knew 
' nothing but Jesus Christ and Him crucified.' 1 

Then follows a passage in which Colet states, in his 
own language, what Paul meant when he preached 
' Christ crucified ; ' 2 a passage very similar to that 
already quoted from his abstract of Dionysius, and 
bearing the same marks of the modes of thought of 
a man who, as is affirmed of Colet, was more inclined 
to follow Dionysius, Origen, and Jerome, than St. 

Nor did Colet in this exposition show himself to be 
any more inclined to follow Augustine upon the question 
of election than he showed himself in his exposition of 
' the Eomans.' He is indeed ready enough to admit, 
that men never could of themselves rise out of the 
darkness of worldly wisdom to ' accept the wonderful 
1 miracle of Christ,' — ' such is the miserable and lost 
' condition of men ; ' and yet he does not fall into the 
pitfall of Augustine's doctrine, that men were chosen 
wholly without reference to their own characters. 'It 
1 would seem,' he said, ' that it was not without reason 

1 Leaf b, 4, and Appendix (B, b). 
See a very similar remark with re- 
ference to St. Paul and Dionysius 
in Joan. Fran. 1'iei Mirand. De 

Studio Div. et Sum. Philosophia; 
lib. i. ch. iii. J. F. Pico was living 
when Colet was in Italy. 
2 Appendix (B, c). 

Colet on ' 1 Corinthians! 83 

that God chose, out of the crowd of men grovelling Chap. ii. 

in the darkness of worldly wisdom, those who had not a .d. 1497. 

fallen so far into the depths of this darkness, and so 

could more easily be touched by the divine light. 

... If God himself be nobility, wisdom, and power, 

who does not see that Peter, John, and James, and 

others like them, even before the truth of God had 

shone in the world, surpassed others in wisdom and 

strength, in proportion as they were free from their 

foolishness and impotence, so that no wonder if God 

chose those held foolish and impotent, since indeed 

they were really the most noble of all the world, most 

separate, and standing out farthest from the vileness 

of the world ; so that just as that land which rises 

highest is touched by the rays of the rising sun most 

easily and most quickty, so in the same way it was of 

necessity that, at the rising of that light which lighteth 

every man coining into this world, it should first light 

up those who rose highest amongst men, and stood 

out like mountains in the valle}"S of men.' * 

The striking characteristic of Colet's letters to Accom- 

Eadulphus was the stress laid upon the principle 

of accommodation on the part of the teacher to the 

limited capacities of the taught. This is another point 

which crops up again in the MS. on Corinthians. 

When Colet turned to the practical teaching of St. 

Paul to the Corinthians, he seems to have been struck 

with the fact, that the rules which St. Paul laid down 

with reference to marriage and the like, were to be 

explained upon this principle. 2 

1 Appendix (B, d). Emmanuel I - 'In these matters regard must 
Coll. MS. leaf b, 6, and b, 8. | ' be bad to condition and strength. 


Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

Chap. II. 

a.d. 1497. 

Colet on 




The ce- 

Carried away by the authority of the Dionysian 
writings, Colet seems not only to have held the 
doctrine of the celibacy of the clergy, but even to 
have regarded marriage as allowed to the laity only 
by way of concession to the weakness of the flesh. 
He had expressed this view in his MS. treatise on 
' the Sacraments,' and he repeated it, under cover of 
St. Paul's allusions to marriage in the Epistle to the 

The influence of the Dionysian writings is indeed 
very frequently evident. Again and again the phraseo- 
logy used by Colet betrays it, and sometimes a Diony- 
sian turn of thought leads to a long digression. As 
might be expected, a notable example of this occurs 
when Colet treats of the chapters in the epistle with 
which the Dionysian theory of the celestial hierarchy 
was intimately connected ; in which St. Paul speaks, on 
the one hand, of the church as one body with many 
members, and, on the other, of celestial bodies and 
bodies terrestrial, and their differing order of glory. It 
was probably about the time that Colet was lecturing on 
Corinthians that Linacre was translating the work of 

' . . . It was thus that Moses 
'taught the truth and justice of 
' God, as it was brought down to 
'the level of sensible things, and 
' diluted for the ancient Hebrews. 
' It was thus that Christ taught to 
' the disciples what they were able 
' to bear. It was thus, lastly, that 
' Paul, both gently and sparingly 
' gave to the Corinthians, as it 
' were, milk instead of meat. . . . 
' He spoke wisdom to the perfect, 
' to the imperfect he accommodated 

' as it were foolish, more humble 
' and more homely things. With 
' this design, also, he tolerated in- 
' dulgently less perfect and less ab- 
' solute morals for a time, dealing 
' gently with them as far as was 
' lawful, not thinking how much 
' was lawful to himself, but what 
' was expedient to others ; not how 
' much he himself could bear, but 
' what was adapted to the Corin- 
'thians.' . . . — Leaf c, 7. See also 
leaf e, 6. 

Colet on ' 1 Corinthians.' 


Proclus, aNeo-Platonist of the Alexandrian School, ' De Chap. ii. 
* Sphera ; ' and Grocyn writing a preface to Linacre's A . D . 1497. 
translation in the form of a letter to Aldus, the great 
printer at Venice, by whom it was afterwards published 
in 1499, in an edition of the ' Astronomi veteres.' 1 
Astronomy was one of the sciences which the revival . 
of learning had brought into prominence. 2 At this very 
moment Copernicus was pursuing in Italy those studies 
which resulted in the overturning of the Ptolemaic 
system. That system, however, which had become in- 
separably interwoven with scholastic theology, was as 
yet in undisputed ascendancy. Its crystalline spheres 
had for generations been devoutly believed in by the 
Schoolmen, and classed by them among ' things ce- 
' lestial ; ' and as Luther stood in awe at their magic 
motions, as « no doubt done by some angel,' 3 so poor 
Colet was led, by Dionysian influence, to draw strange 
fanciful analogies between their ' differing order of 
1 glory ' and that of the 'celestial hierarchy.' 4 Thus it 
came to pass that his exposition of the Epistle to the 
Corinthians was even disfigured with diagrams to 
illustrate these fancied analogies. 

Whilst thus pointing out the evidence that Colet 

1 See Eras. Op. iii. p. 1263, and 
Ibid. p. 184, E. < 1499 was the date 
'of the 1st edition, which is com- 
' prised in eight pages, and forms 

* the last treatise in a volume of an- 
'cient writers on astronomy, edited 

* by Aldus. It is intituled, " Procli 
' " Diadochi Sphsera, Astronomiam 
' " discere Incipientibus Vtilissima, 

* " Thotna Linacro Britanno Inter- 
' " prete.'" — Johnson's Life of Lin- 
acre, p. 152. 

2 In a letter from Politian to 
Franciscus Casa, there is a de- 
scription of an ' orrery ' made at 
Florence. The letter was written 
1484. — Illu&trium Virorum Epi- 
stolce ab Angelo Politiano, n. 1523, 
fol. lxxxiii. 

3 Luther's Table Talk, < Of As- 
' tronomy and Astrology.' 

4 So also in Pico's Heptaplus 
the same kind of speculation is 
much indulged in. 

86 Colet, Eras7nus, and More. 

Chap. ii. was led astray by his unsuspecting confidence in the 
a.d. 1497. genuineness of the Dionysian writings, into doubtful 
speculations of this kind, and notions upon even 
practical points, from which his own English common 
sense, if left to itself, might have protected him, it is 
but fair to point out also the evidence contained in 
this manuscript, of that zeal for ecclesiastical reform 
which the purity of the Dionysian ideal of the priest- 
hood at all events helped to inflame. There is one 
Coiet's passage especially, in which he bursts out into an 
zeal for indignant rebuke of those ' narrow and small minds ' 

retorm. o 

who do not see that constant contention and litigation 
about secular matters on the part of the clergy ' is a 
' scandal to the church.' Their folly, he thinks, would 
be ridiculous, were it not rather to be wept over than 
laughed at, seeing that it so injures and almost 
destroys the church. 'These lost fools (he continues) 
' of which this our age is full, amongst whom there 
' are some who, to say the least, ought not to be clergy- 
' men at all, but who nevertheless are regarded as 
' bishops in the church — these lost fools, I say, utterly 
' ignorant of gospel and apostolic doctrine, ignorant of 
' Divine justice, ignorant of Christian truth, are wont 
' to say, that the cause of God, the rights of the church, 
' the patrimony of Christ, the possessions of priests, 
' ought to be defended by them, and that it would be 
' a sin to neglect to defend them. narrowness, 
' blindness of these men ! . . . with eyes duller 
' than fishes ! ' Colet then points out how the church 
is brought into disrepute with the laity by their 
worldly proceedings ; whereas, if the clergy lived in the 
love of God and their neighbour, how soon would their 
' true piety, religion, charity, goodness towards men, 

Imitation of Christ. 87 

' simplicity, patience, tolerance of evil .... conquer Chap. n. 
' evil with good ! How would it stir up the minds of A . D . 1497. 
' men everywhere to think well of the church of 
' Christ ! How would they favour it, love it, be good 
' and liberal towards it, heap gift upon gift upon it, 
' when they saw in the clergy no avarice, no abuse of 
' their liberality !'.... Finally, after saying that to 
a priesthood seeking first the promotion and extension 
of the kingdom of God upon earth, neither asking nor 
expecting anything, all things would have been added ; 
and asking with what face those, who differ from the 
laity only in dress and external appearance, can de- 
mand much from the laity, Colet exclaims, ' Good 
' God ! how should we be ashamed of this descent into 
' the world, if we were mindful of the love of God 
6 towards us, of the example of Christ, of the dignity 
' of the Christian religion, of our name and profession.' 1 
Passing from this one example of Colet's zeal for eccle- 
siastical reform, there remains only to be mentioned 
one other feature of this exposition of Colet's which 
must not be overlooked ; a feature which might seem 
to show that Colet was not wholly unacquainted with 
the writings of men of the school of Tauler and Thomas 
a Kempis, and which seems to connect itself with a re- 
mark of Colet's, reported by Erasmus, that he had met 
on his travels with some German monks, amongst whom 
were still to be found traces of primitive religion. 2 I 
allude to the warmth with which Colet urges the imitation 
necessity of following the perfect but not impossible 3 of c rist ' 
example of Christ, of Christians being bound in a re- 

1 Emmanuel Col. MS. 3, 3, 12, I 2 Eras. Op. iii. p. 459, A. 
leaves d, 3 to d, 5, and Appendix 3 Leaf g, 4. 
( B, e). See also leaf n, 2. 

88 Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

Chap. ii. lationship with Him, so close that their joint love for 
a.dTi497. Christ shall form a bond of brotherhood between them- 
selves more close than that of blood : 1 so that what is 
for the good of the brethren will become the test of 
what is lawful in Christian practice 2 — the earnestness 
with which he tried to realise the secret of that 
wonderful example, concluding that it lay in Christ's 
keeping himself as retired as possible from the world — 
from the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the 
pride of life — and as close as possible to God — in his 
character whole soul being dedicated to God. ' He was,' writes 
Colet, altogether ' pious, kind, gentle, merciful, patient 
' of evil, bearing injuries, in his own integrity shunning 
' empty popular fame, forbidding both men and demons 
' to publish his mighty power, in his goodness always 
' doing good even to the evil, as his Father makes His 
' sun to rise on the just and on the unjust. . . . His 
' body He held altogether in obedience and service to 
' his blessed mind . . . ; eating after long fasts, sleeping 
' after long watching . . . ; caring nothing for what 
' belongs to wealth and fortune. His eye was single, so 

' that his whole body was full of light Such is 

' the leader whom we have on the heavenly road . . . ; 

' whom, without doubt, if we do not follow with our 

* whole strength toward heaven, as far as we are able, 

' we shall never get there ! ' 3 

Coiet's If Colet had risen out of Neo-Platonism to Dionysius 

st ve paui an( ^" f rom Dionysius to St. Paul, it is evident that he 

but greater ciid not rest even there. How in the following few 

Christ. words, overflowing as they do with his personal love 

1 Emmanuel Col. MS. Leaf i, 1 I ~ Leaf k, 7 and 8. 
to leaf i, 3. 3 Leaves g, 5 to g, 7. 

Imitation of Christ. 89 

for St. Paul, does he give vent to a still more tender Chap. ii. 
love and reverence for Christ I a .d. 1497. 

* Here I stand amazed, and exclaim those words of Coiet's 
' my Paul, " Oh the depth of the riches of the wisdom Christ. 
' " and knowledge of God ! " wisdom ! wonderfully 
' good to men and merciful, how justly thy lovi-ng- 
' kindness can be called the " depth of riches " ! — 
' Thou who commending thy love towards us hast 
' chosen to be so bountiful to us that Thou givest thy- 
' self for us, that we may return to Thee and to God. 
' holy, kind, beneficent wisdom ! voice, 
4 word, and truth of God in man ! truth-speaking and 
' truth-acting ! who hast chosen to teach us humanly 
' that we may know divinely ; who hast chosen to be 
' in man that we may be in God ; who lastly hast 
' chosen in man to be humbled even unto death — the 
' death even of the cross — that we may be exalted 
' even unto life, the life even of God.' l 

It may safely be concluded, that if Coiet's manuscript 
expositions preserved at Cambridge may be taken as 
evidence of the nature of his public lectures, they may 
well have excited all the interest which they seem to 
have done. Doctors of Divinity, coming to listen at 
first that they might find something definite to censure, 
might well indeed find something to learn. Amongst 
the students, probably, the seed found a soil in some 
degree prepared to receive it. But it must have required Contrast 
an effort on the part of the most candid and honest coiet's 
adherents of the traditional school to reach the stand- ™ e c { h t h e 
point from which alone Coiet's method of free critical Sch ° o1 - 

L men s. 

1 Emmanuel MS. Leaf f, 6, and Appendix (B, f). 


Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

Chap. ii. interpretation could be found to be in perfect harmony 
a.d. 1497. with his evident love and reverence for the Scriptures. 
They attributed an extent of Divine inspiration to the 
apostle which placed his words on a level in authority 
with those of the Saviour himself ; while Colet, we are 
told (and some of the passages last quoted seem to 
confirm the statement), was wont to declare, * that 
' when he turned from the Apostles to the wonderful 
1 majesty of Christ, their writings, much as he loved 
' them, seemed to him to become poor, as it were, in 
' comparison ' [with the words of their Lord]. 1 

Yet they could hardly fail to see, whether they 
would or not, that while their own system left the 
Scriptures hidden in the background, Colet's method 
brought them out into the light, and invested them 
with a sense of reality and sacredness which pressed 
them home at once to the heart. 

that the 
was not 
the dis- 
ciple of 
St. Paul. 


Colet was not alone at Oxford in his regard for the 
Pseudo-Dionysian writings. 

Grocyn was so impressed with the genuineness and 
value of the ' Celestial Hierarchy,' that he consented to 
deliver a course of lectures upon it, about this time, 
in St. Paul's Cathedral. But having commenced his 
course by very strongly asserting its genuineness, and 
harshly condemning Laurentius Valla and others who 

1 ' Plurimum tribuebat Epistolis 
' Apostolicis, sed ita suspiciebat ad- 
' mirabilern illani Christimajestatem 
' ut ad banc quodainrnodo sordes- 
' cerent Apostoloruin scripta.' — Eras. 
Op. iii. p. 459, F. See also this view 

supported by Erasmus in bis Ratio 
Veres Theologies. 'Necfortassis ab- 
' surdum fuerit, in sacris quoque 
' voluminibus ordinem auctoritatis 
'aliquem constituere,' &c. — Eras. 
Op. v. p. 92, C ; and Ibid. p. 132, C. 

Grocyn's Discovery. 


had started doubts, it chanced that when he had pro- 
ceeded with his lectures for some weeks, he became 
himself convinced, by strong internal evidence, that 
the work was not written by a disciple of St. Paul ; 
and being an honest man seeking for truth, and not 
arguing for argument's sake, was obliged candidly to 
confess the unpleasant discovery to his audience. 1 

Chap. II. 

a.d. 1498. 

What effect this unexpected discovery of Grocyn's Effect of 

tli 6 (lis- 

had upon the mind of Colet we are not distinctly covery on 
informed. Whether Grocyn was able to convince him n ^ s 
of the truth of his mature judgment does not directly 
appear. 2 He had so earnestly embraced the Dionysian 
writings, and they had produced so profound an im- 
pression upon his mind, that it may readily be believed 
that he would be very unwilling to admit that they 
were spurious. Nor, perhaps, was it needful that he 
should do so. For, however clearly it might be proved 
that they were not written by the disciple of St. Paul, 
it did not therefore follow that they were merely a 
forgery. The Pseudo-Dionysius, whoever he was, must 
have been not the less a man of vast moral power and 
deep Christian feeling ; and possibly he may have had 

1 Eras. Op. vi. p. 503, F ; Annota- 
tiones in loco, Acts xvii. v. 34. The 
edition of 1516 does not mention 
the anecdote at all. Those of 1519 
and 1522 mention it as having oc- 
curred ' ante complures annos.' 
Also see ' Declamatio adversus Cen- 
'suram Facultatis Theol. Parisien.' 
Eras. Op. ix. p. 917 and Epist. mccv. 
The former was written in 1530 or 
1531, and in it he says: — 'Is ante 
' annos triginta, Londini in aede 

' Divi Pauli,' &c. : which gives the 
date of Grocyn's lectures as some 
time before 1500 or 1501. The 
publication of the Paris edition of 
Dionysius, in 1498, may have called 
forth these lectures. 

2 Jewell, however, mentions John 
Colet as believing that the Areopa- 
gite was not the author of these 
ancient writings. — Of Private 
Masse, ed. 1611, p. 8. 

92 Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

Chap. ii. no fraudulent intention in using the pseudonym of the 
a.d. 1498. Areopagite, if he did so. The conscience of the age 
in which he lived, so lax on the point of pious fraud, 
may possibly have sanctioned his doing so. 

It has already been seen that, in accepting the 
Dionysian speculations, Colet did so because he be- 
lieved Dionysius himself to have simply committed to 
writing what he had heard from the Apostles them- 
selves, and because he felt bound to believe that he 
' took the greatest pains to appear to know nothing 
' according to this world, thinking it unworthy to mix 
' up human reason with divine revelations' 1 

Supposing that Grocyn's discovery had convinced 

Colet that the speculations of the Dionysian writings 

were not of apostolic origin — were, in fact, products of 

merely ' human reason ' which the Pseudo-Dionysius 

had ' mixed up 'with Scripture truth, as Augustine and 

the Schoolmen had mixed up with it their scholastic 

speculations, it is clear that he would be bound by 

the principle set forth in the above passage, to reject 

the Dionysian speculations as he had already rejected 

those of the Schoolmen. 

Coiet He would be bound to treat the speculations of the 

morgan Pseudo-Dionysius as of no more authority than those 

ever to the f St. Augustine or Orioren, and the practical result 

Bible. fe & ' r 

would be likely to be, that he would be thrown back 
more completely than ever upon the Bible itself, and 
continue all the more earnestly to apply to its inter- 
pretation the sound, common-sense, historical methods 
which he had already applied so successfully to the 
exposition of the Epistles of St. Paul. 

Vide supra, p. 82. 

Grocyris Discovery. 93 

In the meantime it may be readily imagined that, to Chap il 
a man of such deep feeling and impulsive nature, as A ~r^r 8 
the occasional outbursts of burning zeal in his writings 
show Colet to have been, such a disappointment would 
leave a sore place to which he would not care often to 
recur in conversation with his friends. 

Such a shock as Grocyn's discovery must have been 
to him, may have simply produced in his mind a sense 
of bewilderment ending in a suspended judgment. He 
may have returned to his accustomed work feeling 
more than ever the uncertainty of human speculations, 
an humbler, a stronger, though perhaps a sadder man, 
more than ever inclined to cling closely to the Scrip- 
tures and his beloved St. Paul, and even ready some- 
times to turn with relief, as we are told he did with 
admiration, from the involved logic 1 of the Apostle 
to the simple majesty of Christ ! 

1 ' Apostoli sermo . . (qui in I — MS. on 1 Corinthians, Emmanuel 
'hoc loco artificiosissimus est) . . . ' I Coll. leaf a, 6. 



Chap. III. 

a.d. 1498. 

arrives at 

In the spring or summer of 1498, the foreign scholar 
— Erasmus of Rotterdam — arrived at Oxford, brought 
over to England by Lord Mountjoy from Paris. 1 
Erasmus was an entire stranger in England ; he did 
not know a word of English, but was at once most 
hospitably received into the College of St. Mary the 
Virgin, by the prior Richard Charnock. Colet had 

1 The date of Erasmus's coming 
to England may be approximately 
fixed as follows. Epist. xxix. dated 
1 2th April, and evidently written in 
1500, after his visit to England, 
mentions a fever which nearly killed 
Erasmus two years before. Com- 
paring this with what is said in the 
' Life 'prefixed to vol i. of Eras. Op., 
Epist. vi. vii. and viii., dated 3 Feb., 
4 Feb., and 12 Feb., seem to belong 
to Feb. 1498. Epist. vi. ix. and v. 
seem to place his studies with 
Mountjoy, at Paris, in the spring 
of that year. Epist. xxii. seems to 
mention the projected visit to Eng- 
land. Epist. xiv. ' Londini tumul- 
tuarie,' 5 Dec, is evidently written 
after he had been to Oxford and 
seen Colet, Grocyn, and Linacre, 
and yet, comparatively soon after 
his arrival in England. It alludes 

to his coming to England, but gives 
no hint that he is going to leave 
England. In the winter of 1499- 
1500 he was at Oxford, intending 
to leave, but delayed by politi- 
cal reasons. He really did leave 
England 27 Jan. 1500. Whilst, 
therefore, it is just possible that 
Epist. xiv. may have been written 
in Dec. 1499, it is more probable 
that it was written in Dec. 1498, 
and that the first experience of 
Erasmus at Oxford had been during 
the previous summer and autumn. 
This seems to comport best both 
with Epist. vi. ix. v. and xxii., and 
also with the circumstances con- 
nected with his stay in England, 
mentioned in this chapter. See also 
the next note. The years attached 
to the early letters of Erasmus are 
not in the least to be relied on. 

Erasmus at Oxford. 


indeed, as already mentioned, heard Erasmus spoken Chap. in. 
of at Paris as a learned scholar, 1 but as yet no work of A . D . 1498. 
his had risen into note, nor was even his name gene- 
rally known. He was scarcely turned thirty — just the 
age of Colet ; 2 but in his wasted sallow cheeks and 
sunken eyes were but few traces left of the physical 
vigour of early manhood. In place of the glow of 
health and strength, were lines which told that mid- 
night oil, bad lodging, and the harassing life of a poor 
student, driven about and ill-served as he had been, 
had already broken what must have been at best a 
frail constitution. But the worn scabbard told of the 
sharpness and temper of the steel within. His was a The cha- . 
mind restless for mental work, now fighting through Erasmus. 
the obstacles of ill-health and poverty, in pursuit of its 
natural bent, as it had once had to fight its way out 
of monastic thraldom to secure the freedom of action 
which such a mind required. 

Though well schooled and stored with learning, yet His object 
he had not come to Oxford to teach, or to make a name ^ oxford. 
by display of intellectual power, but simply to add new 
branches of knowledge to those already acquired. 
Greek was now to be learned there — thanks to the 
efforts of Grocyn and Linacre — and Erasmus had come 
to Oxford bent upon adding a knowledge of Greek to 
his Latin lore. To belong to that little knot of men 

1 OoletusErasmo: Eras. Epist.xi. 

2 ' Hie (at Oxford) hominem 
1 nosse coepi, nam eodem turn me 
' Deus nescio quis adegerat ; natus 
' turn erat annos ferme triginta, me 
' minor duobus aut tribus mensibus.' 
— Eras. Op. iii. p. 456, B. Erasmus, 
according to his monument at Rot- 
terdam (Eras. Op. i. (7)) was born 

28 Oct. 1467. Colet would be born, 
say, Jan. 1467-8, if three months 
younger, and would be ' annos 
' ferme triginta, in the spring of 
' 1498.' According to Colet's monu- 
ment he would be 31 at that date, 
as he died 16 Sept. 1519, and the 
inscription states ' vixit annos 53.' 
—Knight's Colet, p. 261. 


Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

a.d. 1498. 

is intro- 
duced to 

Chap. hi. north of the Alps who already knew Greek — whose 
number yet might be counted on his fingers — this had 
now become his immediate object of ambition. What 
he meant to do with his tools when he had got them, 
probably was a question to be decided by circumstances 
rather than by any very definite plan of his own. To 
gain his living by taking pupils, and to live the life 
of a scholar at some continental university, was pro- 
bably the future floating indistinctly before him. 

Prior Charnock seems to have at once appreciated 
Erasmus. • He did all in his power to give him a warm 
welcome to the university. 1 He seems to have taken 
him at once to hear Colet lecture ; 2 and he very soon 
informed Colet that his new guest turned out to be 
no ordinary man. 3 Upon this report Colet wrote to 
Erasmus a graceful and gentlemanly letter, 4 giving 
him a hearty welcome to England and to Oxford, and 
professing his readiness to serve him. 

Erasmus replied, warmly accepting Colet's friend- 
ship, but at the same time telling him plainly that he 
would find in him a man of slender or rather of no 
fortune, with no ambition, but warm and open-hearted, 
simple, liberal, honest, but timid, and of few words. 
Beyond this he must expect nothing. But if Colet 
could love such a man — if he thought such a man 
worthy of his friendship — he might then count him as 
his own. 5 

Colet did think such a man worthy of his friendship, 

1 Epist. xii. Sixtinus Erasmo. 

2 Else how could Erasmus de- 
scribe Colet's style of speaking 1 so 
clearly in his first letter to him ? 
— Epist. xli. 

3 ' Virum optimum et bonitate 
' pnedituni singulari.' — Eras. Epist. 

4 Ooletus Erasmo : Epist. xi. 

5 Eras. Epist. xli. Op. iii. p. 40, D. 

Colet on Cains Sacrifice. 97 

and from that moment Erasmus and he were the best Chap. hi. 

of friends. The lord mayor's son, born to wealth and a .d. 1498. 
all that wealth could command, whilst steeling his 
heart against the allurements of city and court life, 
eagerly received into his bosom-friendship the poor 
foreign scholar, whom fortune had used so hardly, Colet ancl 
whose orphaned youth had been embittered by the become 
treachery of dishonest guardians, and who, robbed Mends. 
of his slender patrimony and cast adrift upon the 
world without resources, had hitherto scarcely been 
able to keep himself from want by giving lessons to 
private pupils. Whether he was likely to find in 
the foreign scholar the fulfilment of his yearnings 
after fellowship, it will be for further chapters of 
this history to disclose. 


(1498 ?). 

It chanced that, after the delivery of a Latin sermon, Table-talk 
the preacher — an accomplished divine — was a guest at at 0xford • 
the long table in one of the Oxford halls. Colet pre- 
sided. The divine took the seat of honour to the left 
of Colet ; Charnock, the hospitable prior, sat opposite ; 
Erasmus next to the divine ; and a lawyer opposite to 
him. Below them, on either side, a mixed and name- 
less group filled up the table. At first the tide of 
table-talk ebbed and flowed upon trivial subjects. 
The conversation turned at length upon the sacrifices 
of Cain and Abel — why the one was accepted and the 
other not. 

Colet — if we may judge from the earnest way in coiet's 
which, in his exposition of the Epistle to the Eomans, JJL 6 ^ 8 
he had urged the uselessness of outward sacrifices, sacrifice - 



Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

Chap. III. 
a.d. 1498. 


Cain and 
Abel in 
the men, 
not in the 

unless accompanied by that living sacrifice of heart and 
mind which they were meant to typify — was not likely 
to advocate any view which should attribute the accept- 
ance of the one offering and the rejection of the other, 
merely to any difference in the offerings themselves. 
He would be sure to place the difference in the 
character of the men. Colet seems on this occasion to 
have done so, and to have fancied he saw in the 
different occupations chosen by the two brothers evi- 
dence of the different spirit under which they acted. 
The exact course of the conversation we have no 
means of following. All we know is, that Colet took 
one side, and Erasmus and the divine the other, and 
that the chief bone of contention was the suggestion 
thrown out by Colet, that Cain had in the first instance 
offended the Almighty by his distrust in the Divine 
beneficence, and too great confidence in his own art 
and industry, and that this was proved by his having 
been the first to attempt to till the cursed ground ; 
while Abel, with greater resignation, and resting con- 
tent with what nature still spontaneously yielded, had 
chosen the gentle occupation of a shepherd. 1 

There ma) 7 " have been something fanciful in the view 
urged by Colet, but it is evident that it covered a 
truth which he could not give up, however hard and 
long his opponents might argue. 

Erasmus was astonished at Colet's earnestness and 
power. He seemed to him 'like one inspired. In his 

1 ' Dicebat Coletus, Oaym ea 
' priniuni culpa Deum offendisse, 
' quod tanquam conditoris benigni- 
' tate diffisus, suteque nimium con- 
' fisus industriae, terrain primus 
; prosciderit, quum Abel, sponte 

' nascentibus contentus, oves pa- 
' verit.' — Eras. Epist. xliv. Op. iii. 
p. 42, F. Compare MS. G. g. 4, 
26, fols. 4-6 and 29, 30, and Eras- 
mus's Paraphrases, in loco, Hebrews 
xi. 4. 

Story about Cain. 99 

' voice, his eye, his whole countenance and mien, he -Chap. hi. 

* seemed raised, as it were, out of himself.' • a.d. 1498. 

Erasmus and the divine both felt themselves beaten ; 
but it is not always easy for the vanquished to yield 
gracefully, and the discussion, growing warmer as it 
proceeded, might have risen even to intemperate heat, 
had not Erasmus dexterously wound it round to a Erasmus 
happy conclusion by pretending to remember that he ^story UP 
had once met with a curious story about Cain in an ^, b ?^ t 
old wormeaten manuscript whose title-page time had 
destroyed. The disputants were all attention, and 
Erasmus, having thus tickled their curiosity, was in- 
duced to tell the story, after extracting a promise 
from the listeners that they would not treat it as a 
fable. He then drew upon his ready wit, and 
improvised the following story : — 

' This Cain was a man of art and industry, and 

* withal greedy and covetous. He had often heard 

* from his parents how, in the garden from which they 
' had been driven, the corn grew as tall as alder-bushes 
' unchoked by tares, thorns, or thistles. When he 
' brooded over these things, and saw how meagre a crop 
' the ground produced, after all his pains in tilling it, he 
' was tempted to resort to treachery. He went to the 
' angel who was the appointed guardian of paradise, and, 
' plying him with crafty arts, tempted him with pro- 
' misesto give him secretly just a few grains from the 
' luxuriant crops of Eden. He argued that so small a 
' theft could not be noticed, and that if it were, the 

1 ' At ille unus vincebat omnes ; i ' Aliud sonabat vox, aliud tuebantur 
' visus est sacro quodam furore de- ] ' oculi, alius vultus, alius adspectus, 
' bacchari, ac nescio quid bomine ' majorque videri, afflatus est uu- 
' sublimius augustiusque prteferre. \ ' miue quaudo.' — Eras. Op. iii. 42, F. 

h 2 


Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

Chap. III. 
a.d. 1498. 

angel could but fall to the condition men were in. 
Why was his condition better than theirs ? Men were 
driven out of the garden because they had eaten the 
apple. He, being set to guard the gate, could enjoy 
neither paradise nor heaven. He was not even free, 
as they were, to wander where he liked upon earth ! 
Many good things were still left to men. With care 
and labour the world might be cultivated, and human 
misery so far lessened by discoveries and arts of all 
kinds, that at length men might not need to be 
envious even of Eden. It was true that they were 
infested by diseases, but human art would find the 
cure for these in time. Perhaps some day something 
might even be found which would make life immortal. 
When man by his industry had made the earth into 
one great garden, the angel would be shut out from 
it, as well as from heaven and Eden. Let him do 
what he could for men without harm to himself, 
and then men would do what they could for him in 
return. The worst man will carry the weakest cause, if 
he be but the best talker. A few grains were obtained 
by stealth, and carefully sown by Cain. These being 
sprung up, produced an increased number. The mul- 
tiplied seed was again sown, and the process repeated 
time after time. Before many harvests had passed 
the produce of the stolen seed covered a wide tract 
of country. When what was taking place on earth 
became too conspicuous to be longer concealed from 
heaven, God was exceedingly wroth. " I see," He 
said, " how this fellow delights in toil and sweat ; I 
" will heap it upon him to his fill." He spoke, and 
sent a dense army of ants and locusts to blight 
Cain's cornfields. He added to these hailstorms and 
hurricanes. He sent another angel to guard the gate 

Position of Colet and Erasmus. 101 

' of paradise, and imprisoned the one who had favoured Chap. hi. 
* man in a human body. Cain tried to appease God A jTi498. 
' by burnt-offerings of fruits, but found that the smoke 
' of his sacrifice would not rise towards heaven. Un- 
' derstanding from this that the anger of God was 
' determined against him, he despaired ! ' 1 

Thus, with this clever impromptu fable did Erasmus 
gracefully contrive to throw the weight of his altered 
opinion into Colet's scale, and at the same time to 
restore the whole party to wonted good- humour. 
Meanwhile what he had seen of Colet made a deep 
impression upon him. He himself declared that he 
never had enjoyed an after-dinner talk so much. It 
was, he said, wanting in nothing. 2 

This little glimpse given by Erasmus himself of his The posi- 
first experience of Oxford life is of value, not only as coiet°anci 
revealing his own early impressions of Colet and Oxford, ^ OxfOTd 
but also as throwing some little light upon the position 
which Colet himself had taken in the University after a 
year's labour at his post. That he should be chosen to 
preside at the long table on this occasion was a mark 
at least of honour and respect ; while the way in which 
he evidently gave the tone to the conversation, and 
became so thoroughly the central figure in the group, 
shows that this respect was true homage paid to 
character, and not to mere wealth and station. Then, 
again, the fact that Erasmus, a stranger, without purse 
or name, should have had assigned to him the second 
seat of honour, second only to the special guest of the 
day, was in itself a proof of the same hearty apprecia- 
tion by Charnock and Colet of character, without regard 

1 Eras. Epist. xliv. 

2 Erasmus Sixtino, Epist. xliv. Op. iii. p. 42, 0. 


Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

Chap. hi. to rank or station. Would it have been so every- 
where ? Had Erasmus been so treated at Paris ? l 

No wonder that the letters of Erasmus, written 
during these his first months spent at Oxford, should 
bear witness to the delight with which he found him- 
self received, all stranger as he was, into the midst of 
a group of warm-hearted friends, with whom, for the 
first time in his life, he found what it was to be at 
home. ' I cannot tell you,' he wrote to his friend Lord 
Mountjoy, 'how delighted I am with your England. 
' With two such friends as Colet and Charnock, I would 
' not refuse to live even in Scythia ! ' 2 

a.d. 1498. 

with Colet 
and Char- 

skill of 


SCHOOLMEN (l498 Or 1499). 

But although Erasmus had formed the closest friend- 
ship with Colet, and was learning more and more to 
understand and admire him, it was long before he was 
sufficiently one in heart and purpose to induce Colet to 
unburden to him his whole mind. 

He did so only by degrees. When he thought his 
friend really in earnest in any passing argument he 
would tell him fully what his own views were. But 
Colet hated the Schoolmen's habit of arguing for argu- 
ment's sake, and felt that Erasmus was as yet not wholly 
weaned from it. It was a habit which had been fos- 
tered by the current practice of asserting wiredrawn 

1 See his colloquy, Ichthyophagia, 
in which he describes his college 
experience at Paris, especially his 
physical hardships. The latter are 
probably caricatured, and perhaps 

too much magnified for the descrip- 
tion to be taken literally. 

2 Erasmus to Lord Mountjoy : 
Epist. xlii. Oxonise, 1498. 

Conversation on the Schoolmen. 103 

distinctions and abstruse propositions for the mere Chap. hi. 
display of logical skill ; and Colet's reverence for a .d7i498. 
truth shrunk from this public vivisection of it merely 
to feed the pride of the dissector. It pained and 
disgusted him. 

Erasmus had been educated at Paris in the 
' straitest sect ' of Scholastic theologians. He had 
there studied theology in the college of the Scotists, 
and been trained in that logical subtlety for which 
the school of Duns Scotus was distinguished. 1 

But he found Colet, instead of regarding the Scotists coiet dis- 
as wonderfully clever, declaring that ' the}' seemed to scotists. 
' him to be stupid and dull and anything but clever. 
' For to cavil about different sentences and words, 
1 now to gnaw at this and now at that, and to dissect 
' everything bit by bit, seemed to him to be the mark 
' of a poor and barren mind.' 2 

But Colet had not quarrelled only with the logical 
method of the Schoolmen ; he owed the scholastic 
philosophy itself a still deeper grudge. 

The system of the Schoolmen professed to embrace what the 
the whole range of universal knowledge. It was not the 6 " 
confined strictly to religion ; it included, also, questions ^!™°!a S 
of philosophy and science. And these were settled by 
isolated texts from the Bible, or dicta of the earlier 
Schoolmen, and not by the investigation of facts. A 
theology so dogmatic and capricious could consistently 
admit of no progress. Every discovery of science or 
philosophy, contrary to the dicta of the Schoolmen, 
must be regarded as a crime. It was the logical result 
of an inherent vice in the system that Brunos and 

1 ' Beatus Rhenanus Ctesari Ca- I 2 Eras. Op. iii. p. 458, D and E. 
' rolo.' — Eras. Op. i. leaf * * * 1. I 


Colet. Erasmus, and More. 

Chap. III. 
a.d. 1498. 


not adap- 
ted to an 
age of 
and dis- 

faith in 
facts and 
free en- 

Galileos, in after ages, were tortured by successors of 
the Schoolmen into the denial of inconvenient truths. 

This might do all very well in stagnant times, but 
in an age when the new art of printing was reviving 
ancient learning, and new worlds were turning up in 
hitherto untracked seas, men who, like Colet, entered 
into the spirit of the new era, soon .found out that the 
summce theologies of the Schoolmen were no sum of 
theology at all ; that their science and philosophy were 
grossly deficient ; and that if Christianity must in truth 
stand or fall with scholastic dogmas, then the accession 
of new light would be likely to lead honest enquirers 
after truth to reject it, and to accept in its place the 
refined semi-pagan philosophy which had accompanied 
the revival of learning in Italy. Yet these were the 
alternatives which the Schoolmen, in common with the 
champions of dogmatic creeds in all ages, tried to force 
upon mankind. Their cry was, as that of their scho- 
lastic successors has been, and is, ' Our Christianity or 
' none.' 

Colet had seen in Italy which of these two alterna- 
tives those who came within the influence of the new 
learning were inclined to take. But he had seen or 
heard, too, in Italy, of a third alternative. He had 
found a Christianity, not scholastic, not dogmatic,which 
did not seem to him to have anything to fear from free 
enquiry, for it was itself one of those facts which free 
enquiry had brought once more to light : the reproduc- 
tion of its ancient records in their original languages 
was itself one of the results of the new learning. He 
had found in the New Testament a simple record of the 
facts of the life of Christ, and a few apostolic letters to 
the churches. It had brought him, not to an endless 

Colefs Theology. 



web of propositions to the acceptance of which he Chap. hi. 
must school his mind, but to a person whom to love, a .d. 1498. 
in whom to trust, and for whom to work. He would 
not rest even in the teaching of his beloved St. Paul. Coiet rests 
He had been taught by the Apostle to look up from per son of 
him to the 'wonderful majesty of Christ -,' 1 and loyalty ° h h e ri « B 2j£ d 
to Christ had become the ruling passion of his life. 2 

Having rejected the summce theologice of the School- 
men, even before his faith had been shaken, by Gro- 
cyn's discovery, in Dionysian speculations, his disap- 
pointment also in the latter would seem to have driven 
him back upon the Scriptures, upon the writings of St. 
Paul, above all upon Christ himself ; until at last he 
had seemed to find in the simple facts of the Apostles' 
Creed the true sum of Christian theology. Having en- 
trenched his faith behind its simple bulwarks, he could 
look calmly out upon the world of philosophy and 
nature, with a mind free to accept truth wherever he 
might find it, without anxiety as to what the revival of 
ancient learning, or the discoveries of new-born science, 
might reveal, anxious chiefly to find out his own life's 
work and duty, and right heartily to do it. 

And having escaped the trammels of scholastic Coiet's 
theology himself, he could urge others also to do the theoiogi° 
same. When, therefore, young theological students caistu- 

' J o o dents to 

came to him in despair, on the point of throwing up keep to 

1 1 • "I 1 ' 1 ! 1 O , 1 the Bibl<3 

theological study altogether, because of the vexed and the 
questions in which they found it involved, and dread- creed. eS 
ing lest in these days, when everything was called in 
question, they might be found unorthodox, he was 

1 Eras. Op. iii. pt. 1, p. 459, F. 

2 ' Siquidem magnum erat, Cole- 
' turn, in ea fortuna, constanter 

' sequutum esse, non quo yoca 
' natura, sed quo Christus,' &( 
Ibid. p. 461, E. 


Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

Chap. III. 

a.d. 1498. 


came to 





wont, it seems, to tell them ' to keep firmly to the 
' Bible and the Apostles' Creed, and let divines, if they 
4 like, dispute about the rest.' 1 

But Erasmus as yet had far from attained the same 

He was himself in the very position above described. 
His experience in the Scotist college in Paris had not 
been lost upon him. It was not only that its filthy 
chambers and diet of rotten eggs 2 had ruined his 
constitution for life. He had contracted within its 
walls a disgust of all theological study. He describes 
himself as, previously to his visit to England, ' abhor- 
' ring the study of theology ; ' and gives, as his double 
reason for it, the fear lest he might run foul of settled 
opinions ; and lest, if he did so, he should be branded 
with the name of 'heretic.' 3 

Disgusted, however, as he was with theology, all his 
theological training had hitherto been scholastic in its 

1 See the following extract from 

the colloquy of Erasmus, ' Pietas 

' puerilis,' edition Argent. 1522, 

leaf e, 4, and Basilete, 1526, p. 92, 

and Ei as. Cp. i. p. 653. 

' Erasmus. Many abstain from 
' divinity because they are afraid 
' lest they should waver in the 
' catholic faith, when they see there 
' is nothing which is not called in 
' question. 

' Oaspar. I believe firmly what 
' I read in the Holy Scriptures, 
' and the creed called the Apostles', 
' and I don't trouble my head any 
' further. I leave the rest to be 
' disputed and dehned by the clergy, 
' if they please. 

'Erasmus. What Thales taught 
' you that philosophy ? 

' Gaspar. I was for some time in 
' domestic service ' [as More was in 
the house of Cardinal Morton be- 
fore he was sent to Oxford], ' with 
' that honestest of men, John Colet. 
'He imbued me tvith these precepts! 
See Argent. 1522, leaf c, 4. 

2 ' Illic in collegio Montis Acuti 
' ex putribus ovis et cubiculo infecto 
1 concepit morbum, h.e. malam cor- 
' poris, antea purissimi, affectionem.' 
— Vita, prefixed to Eras. Op. i. 
written by himself. See the letter 
to Conrad Goclenius. 

3 ' A studio theologise abhorre- 
' bat, quod sentiret animum non pro- 
' pensuin, ut omnia illorum funda- 
' mentasubverteret;deindefuturum, 
' ut hferetici nomen inureretur.' — 
Vita, prefixed to Eras. Op. i. 

Colet on the Schoolmen. 107 

character, and, apart from his disgust of theology in Chap. hi. 
general, he does not seem as yet to have contracted any a .d. 149a 
special disgust of scholastic theology in particular. He Erasmus 
was still too much enamoured of the logic of the schooi- 
Schoolmen, and too often was found to take the School- man ' 
men's side in his discussions with his friend. 

Colet and Erasmus l had been conversing one day 
upon the character of the Schoolmen. Colet had ex- 
pressed his sweeping disapprobation of the whole class. 
Erasmus, whose knowledge of their works was, as he 
afterwards acknowledged, by no means deep, at length 
ventured, in renewing the conversation at another time, 
to except Thomas Aquinas from the common herd, as Erasmus 
worthy of praise, alleging in his favour that he seemed Aquinas. 
to have studied both the Scriptures and ancient litera- 
ture — which doubtless he had. Colet made no reply. 
And when Erasmus pursued the subject still further, 
Colet again passed it off, feigning inattention. But 
when Erasmus, in the course of further conversation, 
again expressed the same opinion in favour of Aquinas, 
and spoke more strongly even than before, Colet turned 
his full eye upon him in order to learn whether he 
really were speaking in earnest ; and concluding that it 
was so — ' What,' he said passionately, ' do you extol Coiet's 
' to me such a man as Aquinas ? If he had not been iep y ' 
' very arrogant indeed, he would not surely so rashly 
' and proudly have taken upon himself to define all 
6 things. And unless his spirit had been somewhat 
' worldly, he would not surely have corrupted the whole 
' teaching of Christ by mixing with it his profane 
' philosophy.' 2 

1 See for this anecdote, Eras. Op. i 2 ' Tanquam afflatus spiritu quo- 
iii. p. 458, E and F. j ' dam, " Quid tu, inquit, mihi prse- 


Colet. Erasmus, and More. 

Chap. in. Erasmus was taken aback, as he had been at the 
a.d. 1498. discussion at the public table. He had again been 
arguing without sufficient knowledge to justify his 
having any strong opinion at all. Which side he took 
on the question at issue was a matter almost of indif- 
ference to him. But he saw plainly that it was not 
so with Colet. His first allusion to Aquinas, Colet 
had resolutely shunned. When compelled to speak his 
opinion, his soul was moved to its depths, and had 
burst forth into this passionate reply. There must be 
something real and earnest at the bottom of Colet's 
dislike for Aquinas, else he could not have spoken thus. 

So Erasmus betakes himself to the more careful 
study of the great schoolman's writings. 

One may picture him taking down from the shelf 
the ' Summa Theologian,' and, as the first step towards 
the exploration of its contents, turning to the prologue. 
He reads : — 

' Seeing that the teacher of catholic truth should 
' instruct not only those advanced in knowledge, but 
' that it is a part of his duty to teach beginners (ac- 
' cording to the words of the Apostle to the Corin- 
' thians, " even as unto babes in Christ, I have fed you 
'"with milk and not with strong meat"), it is our 
' purpose in this book to treat of those things which 
' pertain to the Christian religion in a manner adapted 
' to the instruction of beginners. 

' For we have considered that novices in this learn- 
1 ing have been very much hindered in [the study of] 





' Summa.' 

' " dicas istum, qui nisi habuisset 
' " multum arrogantise, non tanta te- 
' " meritate tantoque supercilio deri- 
' " nisset omnia ; et nisi habuisset 

' " aliquid spiritus mundani, non ita 
' " totam Christi doctrinam sua pro- 
' " fanaphilosophiacontatumasset.'" 
— Eras. Op. iii. p. 458, F. 

The ' Summa ' of Aquinas. 109 

* works written by others ; partly, indeed, on account Chap. hi. 
' of the multiplication of useless questions, articles and a .d. 1498. 
4 arguments, and partly [for other reasons]. To avoid 

' these and other difficulties we shall endeavour, rely- 

* ing on Divine assistance, to treat of those things 
' which belong to sacred learning, so far as the subject 
' will admit, with brevity and clearness.' 

What could be better or truer than this ? Erasmus 
might almost have fancied that Colet himself had 
written these words, so fully do they seem to fall in 
with his views. But turning from the prologue, no- 
thing surely could open the eyes of Erasmus more 
thoroughly to the real nature of scholastic theology 
than a further glance at the body of the treatise. For 
what was he to think of a system of theology a ' brief' 
compendium of which covered no fewer than 1150 
folio pages, each containing 2000 words ! And what 
was he to think of the wisdom of that Christian doctor 
who prescribed this ' Summa ' as ' milk ' speciallv Scholastic 

' millr inv 

adapted for the sustenance of theological ' babes ' ! To babes.' 
be told first to digest forty-three propositions concern- 
ing the nature of God, each of which embraced several 
distinct articles separately discussed and concluded in 
the eighty-three folios devoted to this branch of the 
subject ; then fifteen similar propositions regarding 
the nature of angels, embracing articles such as 
these : — 

Whether an angel can be in more than one place at 
one and the same time ? 

Whether more angels than one can be in one and the 
same place at the same time ? 

Whether angels have local motion ? 


Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

iChap. hi. And whether, if they have, they pass through inter- 
a.d. 1498. mediate space ? l 

goes over 
to Colet's 

— then ten propositions regarding the Creation, consist- 
ing of an elaborate attempt to bring into harmony the 
work of the six days recorded in Genesis with mediaeval 
notions of astronomy ; then forty-five propositions re- 
specting the nature of man before and after the Fall, 
the physical condition of the human body in Paradise, 
the mode by which it was preserved immortal by eat- 
ing of the tree of life, the place where man was created 
before he was placed in Paradise, &c. ; and then, having 
mastered the above subtle propositions, stated ' briefly 
' and clearly 'in 216 of the aforesaid folio pages, to be 
told for his consolation and encouragement that he had 
now mastered not quite one-fifth part of this ' first book ' 
for beginners in theological study, and that these pro- 
positions, and more than five times as many, were to be 
regarded by him as the settled doctrine of the Catholic 
Church ! — what student could fail either to be crushed 
under the dead weight of such a creed, or to rise up, 
and, like Samson, bursting its green withes, discard and 
disown it altogether ? 

No marvel that Erasmus was obliged to confess that, 
in the process of further study of the works of Aquinas, 
his former high opinion had been modified. 2 He 
could understand now how it was that Colet could 
hardly control his indignation at the thought, how the 
simple facts of Christianity had been corrupted by the 
admixture of the subtle philosophy of this i best of the 
6 Schoolmen.' 

1 Summa, i. quest. 52, 53. i ' de illo existimationi.' — Eras. Op. 

2 ' Omnino decessit aliquid meoe I iii. pt. 1, 458, F. 

Merits and Demerits of the Schoolmen. Ill 

And yet we may well be free to own that Colet's not Chap. hi. 
unnatural hatred of the scholastic philosophy had a .d. 1498. 
blinded him in some degree to the personal merits of 
the early Schoolmen. Deeper knowledge of the his- 
tory of their times, and study of the personal character 
at least of some of them, might have enabled him not 
only to temper his hatred, but even to recognise that 
they occupied in their day a standpoint not widely 
different altogether even from his own. 

For as earnestly as Colet himself was now seeking- The merit 
to bring the Christianity and advanced thought of his early 6 
age into harmony, the early Schoolmen had tried to Sch ° o1 - 

& J ' J men. 

do the same thing in theirs. The misfortune of the 
Schoolmen was, that they had inherited from St. 
Augustine, and the Pseudo-Dionysius, the vicious ten- 
dency to fill up blanks in theology by indulging in 
hypotheses, capable of receiving the sanction of eccle- 
siastical authority, and then to be treated as established, 
although altogether unverified by facts. They had also 
to harmonise the dogmatic theology so manufactured 
with a scientific system as dogmatic as itself. For 
while theologians had been indulging in hypotheses 
respecting 'original sin,' ' absolute predestination,' and 
' irresistible grace,' natural philosophers had been in- 
dulging in similar hypotheses respecting the ' crys- 
' talline spheres,' ' epicycloids,' and 'primum mobile! 1 

1 See The Praise of Folly, Eras. | ' and measure the sun, moon, and 
Op. iv. p. 462, where the dogmatic ' stars, and the earth, as though by- 
science of the age is as severely ' thumb and thread ; and render a 
satirised by Erasmus as the dog- 'reason for thunder, winds, eclipses, 
matic theology of the Schoolmen. ' and other inexplicable things, 
Thus Folly is made to say : — ' With ' without the least hesitation, as 
' what ease, truly, do they indulge ' though they had been the secret 
' in day-dreams (delirant), when ' architects of ail the works of na- 
'they invent innumerable worlds, ' ' ture, or as though they had come 

112 Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

Chap. hi. And seeing that the method by which the School- 
a.d. 1498. men attempted to fuse these two dogmatic systems 
into one, itself consisted of a still further indulgence 
in the same vicious mode of procedure, it was but 
natural that their attempt as a whole, however well 
meant, should leave ' confusion worse confounded.' 

Still it must not be forgotten that they did succeed by 

this vicious process in reconciling theology and science 

to the satisfaction of their own dogmatic age. This 

praise is, at least, their due. On the other hand, 

The de- their successors in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries 

thS sue- could not put forward any such claims for themselves. 

cessors. They did not succeed in harmonising the theology and 

the advanced thought of their age. They strained 

every nerve to keep them hopelessly apart. They 

blindly held on to a worn-out system inherited from 

their far worthier predecessors, and spent their 

strength in denouncing, in no measured terms, the 

scientific spirit and inductive method of the ' new 

' learning.' 

Hence there can be little doubt that Colet's hatred 
of what in his day was in truth a huge and bewildering 
mass of dreary and lifeless subtlety, was a just and 
righteous hatred. And though it took some time for 
Erasmus thoroughly to accept it, he could in after 
years, when Colet was no more, endorse, from the 
bottom of his heart, Colet's advice to young theological 
students : ' Keep to the Bible and the Apostles' Creed ; 
' and let divines, if they like, dispute about the rest.' 

1 down to us from the council of the I ' tures nature is mightily amused ! ' 
' gods. At whom and whose conjee- I 


Erasmus and Thomas More. 113 


Amongst the broken gleams of light which fall, here 
and there only, upon the Oxford intercourse of Eras- 
mus with Colet, there are one or two which reveal an 
already existing friendship with Thomas More, but 
unfortunately without disclosing how it had begun. 

Erasmus, when passing through London on his way introduc- 
to Oxford, had probably been introduced by Lord MoreJo 
Mountj oy to his brilliant young friend. It is even 
possible that there may be a foundation of fact in the 
story that they had met for the first time, unknown to 
each other, at the lord mayor's table, or, as is more likely 
still, at the table of the ^-lord mayor, Sir Henry Colet. 
Erasmus, having perhaps been told Colet's saying, that 
there was but one genius in England, and that his name 
was Thomas More, may have been set opposite to him 
at table without knowing who he was. More in his turn 
may have been told of the logical subtlety of the great 
scholar newly arrived from the Scotist college in Paris, 
without having been personally introduced to him. If 
this were so, the rest of the story may easily be true. 
They are said to have got into argument during dinner, 
Erasmus, in Scotist fashion, ' defending the worser part,' 
till finding in his young opponent ' a readier wit than 
' ever he had before met withal,' he broke forth into 
the exclamation, ' Aut tu es Moms aut nullus ; ' to 
which the ready tongue of More retorted — so runs the 
story, ' Aut tu es Erasmus aut Diaholus? 1 Whether at 
the lord mayor's table, or elsewhere, they had become 
acquainted, and a correspondence had grown up be- 

1 Oresacre More's Life of Sir Thomas More, p. 98. 


Colet, Erasmus, and More. 



Chap. hi. tween them, one letter of which, like a solitary waif> 
has been left stranded on the shore of the gulf which 
has swallowed the rest. It reads thus : — 

Erasmus Thomce Moro suo, S.D. 

' I scarcely can get any letters, wherefore I have 
' showered down curses on the head of this letter-carrier, 
' by whose laziness or treachery I fancy it must be 
' that I have been disappointed of the most eagerly ex- 
' pected letters of my dear More (Mori mei). For that 
' you have failed on your part I neither want nor ought 
' to suspect. Albeit, I expostulated with you most 
' vehemently in m}^ last letter. Nor am I afraid that 
' you are at all offended by the liberty I took, for you 
' are not ignorant of that Spartan method of fighting 
' " usque ad cutem." This, joking aside, I do entreat 
' you, sweetest Thomas, that you will make amends 
' with interest for the suffering occasioned me by the 
' too long continued deprivation of yourself and your 
' letters. I expect, in short, not a letter, but a huge 
' bundle of letters, which would weigh down even an 
' Egyptian porter,' 

ship be- 
More and 

* Vale jucundissime More. 1 

' Oxonise : Natali Simonis et Judse. 1499.' 

Such being the friendship already existing between 
them, and beginning to show itself in the use of those 
endearing superlatives without which Erasmus, from 
the first to the last, never could write a letter to More, 
it is not surprising that, as winter came on, Erasmus 
should take the opportunity afforded by the approach- 

1 Erasmi aliquot Epistolse : Paris J lxiii. 1521 ed. p. 291. Whether 
1524. p. 33. Eras. Op. iii. Epist. I written in 1498 or 1499 is doubtful. 

Erasmus delighted with England. 115 

ing vacation for a visit to London. Accordingly we Chap, in. 
get one chance glimpse of him there, writing a letter a .d. 
to one of his friends, and expressing his delight with 1 
everything he had met with in England. 

Staying as he most likely was with Mountjoy or 
with More, enjoying the warmth of their friendship, 
and feeling himself at home in London as he had done 
in Oxford, but never had done before anywhere else, 
it was natural that the foreign scholar should paint, in 
the warmest colours, this land of friends. Especially 
of Mountjoy, who had brought him to England, and* 
who found him the means of living at Oxford, he 
would naturally speak in the highest terms. Such 
was the politeness, the goodnature, and afiectionate- 
ness of his noble patron, that he would willingly 
follow him, he said, ad inferos, if need be. 

Nor was it only the warm-heartedness of his English Erasmus 
friends which filled him with delight. His purpose in with Eng- 
coming to Oxford he declared to be fully answered. la °<V and 
He had come to England because he could not raise Mountjoy, 
the means for a longer journey to Italy. To prosecute Grocyn, 
his studies in Italy had been for years an object of an^More. 
anxious yearning ; but now, after a few months' ex- 
perience of Oxford life, he wrote to his friend, who 
was himself going to Italy, 'that he had found in 
' England so much polish and learning — not showy, 
' shallow learning, but profound and exact, both in 
' Latin and Greek — that now he would hardly care 
' much about going to Italy at all, except for the 
' sake of having been there.' ' When,' he added, ' I 
' listen to my friend Colet it seems to me like listening 
' to Plato himself. In Grocyn, who does not admire 
' the wide range of his knowledge ? What could be 

i 2 


Colet. Erasmus, and More. 

Chap. III. 

a.d. 1499. 

falls in 
love with 

' more searching, deep, and refined than the judgment 
' of Linacre ? ' And after this mention of Colet, 
Grocyn, and Linacre, he adds : ' Whenever did nature 
' mould a character more gentle, endearing, and 
1 happy than Thomas More's ? ' 1 

So that while here, as elsewhere, Colet seems to 
take his place again as the chief of the little band of 
English friends, we learn from this letter that the 
picture would not have been complete without the 
figure of the fascinating youth with whom Erasmus, 
like the rest of them, had fallen in love. 

The letter itself was written to Eobert Fisher, from 
London ' tumultuarie,' 5th December, in 1498 or 1499. 

the agony 
of Christ 
to fear of 


The greater part of 1499 was spent by Erasmus 
apparently at Oxford. On one occasion Colet and 
Erasmus were spending an afternoon together. 2 Their 
conversation fell upon the agony of Christ in the 
garden. They soon, as usual, found that they did not 
agree. Erasmus, following the common explanation 
of the Schoolmen, saw only in the agon}^ suffered 
by the Saviour that natural fear of a cruel death to 
which in his human nature he submitted as one of 
the incidents of humanity. It seemed to him that in 

1 Erasmus Roberto Piscatori : 
Epist. xiv. 

2 The incidents related in this 

Jesu, instante Supplirio Cruris, 
deque Verbis, quibus visus est Mor- 
tem deprecari, 'Pater, si fieri potest, 

section are taken from Disputatiun- \ ' transeat a me calix iste.' — Eras. 
cula de Tcedio, Pavore, Tristitid \ Op. v, pp. 1265-1294 

Colet on ' Christ's Agony.' 117 

His character as truly man, left for the moment un- Chap. hi. 
aided by His divinity, the prospect of the anguish in a .d. 1499. 
store for Him might well wring from Him that cry of 
fearful and trembling human nature, ' Father, if it 
' be possible, let this cup pass from me ! ' while the 
further words, ' not my will but Thine be done,' 
proved, he thought, that He had not only felt, but 
conquered, this human fear and weakness. Erasmus 
further supported this view by adducing the commonly 
received scholastic distinction between what Christ 
felt as man and what He felt as God, alleging that it 
was only as man that He thus suffered. 

Colet dissented altogether from his friend's opinion, colet ob- 
it might be the commonly received interpretation of tMs S view. 
recent divines, but in spite of that he declared his own 
entire disapproval of it. Nothing could, he thought, 
be more inconsistent with the exceeding love of Christ, 
than the supposition that, when it came to the point, 
He shrank in dread from that very death which He 
desired to die in His great love of men. It seemed 
utterly absurd, he said, to suppose that while so many 
martyrs have gone to torture and death patiently and 
even with joy — the sense of pain being lost in the 
abundance of their love — Christ, who was love itself, 
who came into the world for the very purpose of de- 
livering guilty man by his own innocent death, should 
have shrunk either from the ignominy or from the 
bitterness of the cross. The sweat of great drops of 
blood, the exceeding sorrow even unto death, the 
touching entreaty to His Father that the cup might pass 
from Him — was all this to be attributed to the mere 
fear of death ? Colet had rather set it down to any- 
thing but that. For it lies in the essence of love, he 

118 Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

Chap. hi. said, that it should cast out fear, turn sorrow into joy, 

a.d. 1499. think nothing of itself, sacrifice everything for others. 

It could not be that He who loved the human race 

more than anyone else should be inconstant and fearful 

in the prospect of death. In confirmation of this view 

he referred to St. Jerome, who alone of all the church 

fathers had, he thought, shown true insight into the 

real cause of Christ's agony in the garden. St. Jerome 

had attributed the Saviour's prayer, that the cup might 

pass from Him, not to the fear of death but to the 

sense felt by Him of the awful guilt of the Jews, who, 

by thus bringing about that death which He desired 

to die for the salvation of all mankind, seemed to be 

Christ bringing down destruction and ruin on themselves — 

kjof the an anxiety and dread bitter enough, in Colet's view, to 

of Him 0t wrni c? from the Saviour the prayer that the cup might 

self. pass from Him, and the drops of bloody sweat in the 

garden, seeing that it afterwards did wring from Him, 

whilst perfecting his eternal sacrifice on the cross, 

that other prayer for the very ministers of his torture, 

' Father, forgive them, for they know not what they 

do ! ' Such was the view expressed by Colet in reply to 

Erasmus, and in opposition to the view which he was 

aware was generally received by scholastic divines. 

Whilst they were in the heat of the discussion it 
happened that Prior Charnock entered the room. 
Colet, with a delicacy of feeling which Erasmus after- 
wards appreciated, at once broke off the argument, 
simply remarking, as he took leave, that he did not 
doubt that were his friend, when alone, to reconsider 
the matter with care and accuracy, their difference of 
opinion would not last very long. 

When Erasmus found himself alone and at leisure 

Erasmus to Colet. 119 

in his chambers he at once followed Colet's advice. Chap. hi. 
He reconsidered Colet's argument and his own. He A . D . 1499. 
consulted his books. By far the most of the authori- 
ties, both Fathers and Schoolmen, he found beyond 
dispute to be on his own side. And his reconsidera- 
tion ended in his being the more convinced that he 
had himself been right and Colet wrong. Naturally 
finding it hard to yield when there was no occasion, 
and feeling sure that this time he had the best of the 
argument, he eagerly seized his pen, and with some 
parade, both of candour and learning, stated at great 
length what he thought might be said on both sides. 
After having written what, in type, would fill about Erasmus 
fifty of these pages, he confidently wound up his long cole? 
letter by saying that, so far as he could see, he had 
demonstrated his own opinion to be in accordance 
with that of the Schoolmen and most of the early 
Fathers, and, whilst not contrary to nature, clearly 
consistent with reason. But he knew, he said, to 
whom he was writing, and whether he had convinced 
Colet he could not tell. For, he wrote in conclusion,- 
* how rash it is in me, a mere tyro, to dare to encoun- 
' ter a commander — for one, whom you call a rhe- 
' torician, to venture upon theological ground, to 
' enter an arena which is not mine ! Still I have not 
' shrunk from daring everything even with you, who 
' are so skilled in all elegant and ancient lore, who 
' have brought with you from Italy such stores of 
' Greek and Latin, and who, on this very account, are 
4 not as yet appreciated as you ought to be by theo- 
' logians. Wherefore, in discussing with you, I have 
' chosen to use the old and free way of arguing ; not 
' only because I prefer it myself, but also because I 


Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

Chap. III. 
a.d. 1499. 

knew your dislike to the modern and new-fangled 
method of disputation, which, keen and ready as it 
may seem to some, is in your view complicated, 
superstitious, spiritless, and plainly sophistical. And 

perhaps you are right Yet I would have you 

take care lest you should not be able to stand alone 
against so many thousands. Let us not, contented 
with the plain homespun sense of Origen, Ambrose, 
Jerome, Augustine, Chrysostom, and others as 
ancient, grudge to these modern disputants their 
more elaborated doctrines. 

' And now I await your attack. I await your mighty 
war-trumpet. I await those " Coletian" arrows, surer 
even than the arrows of Hercules. In the meantime I 
will array the forces of my mind ; I will concentrate 
my ranks ; I will prepare my reserves of books, lest I 
should not be able to stand your first charge. 

' As to the rest, the matters which you have pro- 
pounded from the Epistles of St. Paul, since they 
are such as it would be dangerous to dispute of, I 
had rather enter into them by word of mouth when 
we are together than by letter. Vale ! ' 


The reply of Colet was short, and very characteristic 
of the man. 

' Your letter, most learned Erasmus, as it is very 
' long, so also is it most eloquent and happy. It is 
' a proof of a tenacious memory, and gives a faithful 

' review of our discussion But it contains 

' nothing to alter or detract from the opinions which I 
' imbibed from St. Jerome. Not that I am perverse 
' and obstinate with an uncandid pertinacity, but that 
' (though I may be mistaken) I think I hold and 
' defend the truth, or what is most like the truth. . . . 

' Manifold Senses ' of Scripture. 121 

' I am unwilling, just now, to grapple with your letter Chap. hi. 

' as a whole ; for I have neither leisure nor strength a .d. 1499. 

' to do so at once, and without preparation. But I 

' will attack the first part of it — your first line of 

' battle as it were. ... In the meantime do you 

' patiently hear me, and let us both, if, when striking 

' our flints together, any spark should fly out, eagerly 

' catch at it. For we seek, not for victory in argu- coiet'a 

' ment, but for truth, which perchance may be elicited J°uth° f 

' by the clash of argument with argument, as sparks 

' are by the clashing of steel against steel ! ' 1 

Erasmus, at the commencement of his loner letter, Erasmus 

h 1 f 1 

feeling, perhaps, that after all there might be some i owe a the 
truth in Colet's view not embraced in his own, had jj e t ^J 
fallen back upon the strange theory, already alluded 'manifold 

x ... senses ' of 

to as held by scholastic divines, that the words of the Scripture. 
Scriptures, because of their magic sacredness and ab- 
solute inspiration, might properly be interpreted in 
several distinct senses. 'Nothing' (he had said) 'for- 
' bids our drawing various meanings out of the 
1 wonderful riches of the sacred text, so as to render 
' the same passage in more than one way. I know 
6 that, according to Job, " the word of God is mani- 
' "fold." I know that the manna did not taste alike 
1 to all. But if you so embrace your opinion that you 
' condemn and reject the received opinion, then I 
' freely dissent from you.' 

This was the first line of battle which Colet, in his 
letter, declared that he would at once attack. It was a 
notion of Scripture interpretation altogether foreign to 
his own. He yielded to none in his admiration of the 

1 Eras. Op. v. pp. 1291 and 1292. 


Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

Chap. in. wonderful fulness and richness of the Scriptures. He 
a.d. 1499. had made it the chief matter of his remark to the 
priest who had called on him during the winter 
vacation of 1496-7, and had written to the Abbot of 
Winchcombe an account of the priest's visit in order to 
press the same point upon him. But from the method 
adopted in his expositions of St. Paul's Epistles, and the 
first chapter of Genesis, it appears that he did not hold 
the theory of uniform verbal inspiration, which ignored 
the human element in Scripture, round which had 
grown this still stranger theory of the manifold senses, 
and upon which alone it could be at all logically held. 
It is true that, in his abstract of the Dionysian 
writings, he had, upon Dionysian authority, accepted, in 
a modified form, 1 the doctrine of the ' four senses ' of 


1 ' From this order, any one may I 
perceive the reason of the four 
senses in the old law which are 
customary in the church. The 
literal is, when the actions of the 
men of old time are related. "When 
you think of the image, even of the 
Christian church which the law 
foreshadows, then you catch the 
allegorical sense. When you are 
raised aloft, so as from the shadow 
to conceive of the reality which 
both represent, then there dawns 
upon you the anagogic sense. And 
when from signs you observe the 
instruction of individual man, then 
all has a moral tone for you. . . . 
In the writings of the New Testa- 
ment, saving when it pleased the 
Lord Jesus and his Apostles to 
speak in parables, as Christ often 
does in the Gospels, and St. John 
throughout in the Revelation, all 
the rest of the discourse, in which 

' either the Saviour teaches his dis- 
' ciples more plainly, or the disciples 
' instruct the churches, has the sense 
' that appears on the surface. Nor 
' is one thing said and another meant, 
' but the very thing is meant which 
' is said, and the sense is wholly 
' literal. Still, inasmuch as the 
' church of God is figurative, con- 
' ceive always an anagoge in what 
' you hear in the doctrines of the 
' church, the meaning of which will 
' not cease till the figure has become 
' the truth. From this moreover 
' conclude, that where the literal 
' sense is, then the allegorical sense 
' is not always along with it ; but, 
' on the other band, that where 
' there is the allegorical sense, the 
' literal sense is always underlying 
' it.' — Colet's abstract of the Eccl. 
Hier., Mr. Lupton's translation, pp. 
105-107 ; and see Mr. Lupton's note 
on this passage. 

Aquinas on the ' Manifold Senses.' 123 

Scripture ; and in his letters to Radulphus, whilst con- Chap. in. 
fining himself to the literal sense, he guarded himself AtD . 1499. 
against the denial of the same theory. But he had 
never sanctioned the gross abuse of the doctrine to 
which Erasmus had appealed, which asserted that even 
the literal sense of the same passage might be inter- 
preted to mean different things. It was one thing to 
hold that some passages must be allegorically under- 
stood and not literally, and that other passages have 
both a literal and an allegorical meaning (which Colet 
seems to have held), or even that all passages have 
both a literal and an allegorical meaning (which Colet 
did not hold). It was quite another thing to hold that 
the words of the same passage might, in their literal 
sense, mean several different things, and be used as 
texts in support of statements not within the direct 
intention of their human writer. 

Thomas Aquinas, in his ' Summa,' had indeed laid Aquinas 
down a proposition, which practically amounted to <° m anifoki 
this. For in discussing the doctrine of the ' four senses -' 
' senses ' of Scripture, he had not only stated that the 
spiritual sense of Scripture was threefold, viz. alle- 
gorical, moral, and anagogical, but also that the 
literal sense was manifold. He had laid down the 
doctrine, that ' Inasmuch as the literal sense is that 
' which the author intends, and God is the author of 
4 Holy Scripture, who comprehends all things in His 
' mind at one and the same time, it is not inconsistent, 
' as Augustine says in his twelfth Confession, if even 
' according to the literal sense in the one letter of the 
' Holy Scriptures there are many senses.' 1 

1 Summa, pt. i. quest. 1, article x. Conclusio. 


124 Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

Chap. hi. It may, however, well be doubted whether Aquinas 
a.d. 1499. would have sanctioned altogether the absurd length 
to which this doctrine was carried by scholastic dis- 

Whether Colet, since Grocyn's discovery, had or 
had not altogether repudiated the doctrine of ' mani- 
' fold senses,' as one of the notions which he had once 
held on Dionysian authority, but which the authority 
of the Ps<?z£<i0-Dionysius was not sufficient to establish, 
it is clear that in his reply to Erasmus he utterly 
Colet on repudiated the abuse of it to which Erasmus had 
fold appealed. ' In the first place ' (he wrote), ' I cannot 

' agree with you when you state, along with many 
' others, and as I think mistakenly, that the Holy 
' Scriptures, at least uno in aliquo genere, are so pro- 
' lific that they give birth to many senses. Not that 
' I would not have them to be as prolific as possible — 
' their overflowing fecundity and fulness I, more than 
' others, admire — but that I consider their fecundity to 
4 consist in their giving birth not to many [senses], 
4 but to only one, and that the most true one.' 

After remarking that whilst the lower forms of life 
produce the most numerous offspring, the highest forms 
of life tend towards unity of offspring, he argues that 
the Holy Spirit gives birth in the Scripture, accord- 
ing to its own power, to one and the same simple truth. 
What if from the simple, divine, and truth-speaking 
words of the Scriptures of the Spirit of Truth, whether 
heard or read, many and various persons draw many 
and varying senses ? He set that down, he said, not to 
the fecundity of the Scriptures, but to the sterility of 
men's minds, and their incapacity of getting at the pure 

Colet on ' Inspiration.'' 


and simple truth. If they could but reach that, they Chap. hi. 
would as completely agree as now they differ. He a.d. 1499. 
then remarked how mysterious the inspiration of the Coiet's 
Scriptures was ; how the Spirit seemed to him, by rea- « inspira- 
son of its majesty, to have a peculiar method of its tlon '' 
own, singularly absolute and free, blowing where it 
lists, making prophets of whom it will, yet so that the 
spirit of the prophets is subject to the prophets. He 
repeated, in conclusion, that he admired the fulness of 
the Scriptures, not because each word nuiy be construed 
in several senses — that would be want of fulness — but 
because quot sententice totidem sunt verba, et quot verba 
tot sentential. Having said this, he was ready to descend 
into the arena, and to join battle with Erasmus on the 
matter in dispute, but he could not do so now ; he was 
called away by other engagements, and must end his 
letter for the present. 1 

The letters which followed in which Colet further 
pursued the subject of the Agony in the Garden, have 
unfortunately been lost. But enough remains to give, 
by a passing glimpse, some idea of the pleasant collo- 
quies and earnest converse, both by mouth and letter, 
in which the happy months of college intercourse 
glided swiftly by. 

1 Eras. Op. v. pp. 1291 to 1294. 
This reply of Colet to the long letter 
of Erasmus does not seem to have 
been published in the early editions 
of the latter. Thus I do not find it 

in the editions of Schurerius, Ar- 
gent. 1516, and again 1517. The 
earliest print of it that 1 have seen 
is that appended to the Enchiridion, 
&c. Basle, 1518. 


Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

Chap. III. 
a.d. 1499. 

at Court. 

But soon 
tires of 
Court life. 





The winter vacation of 1499-1500 had apparently 
dispersed for a while the circle of Oxford students. 
Erasmus having, it would seem, some friend at Court, 
had joined the Eoyal party, probably spending Christ- 
mas at Woodstock or some other hunting station. 
He was at first delighted with Court manners and 
field sports, and in a letter, 1 written about this time, 
he jocosely told a Parisian friend, that the Erasmus 
whom he once had known was now a hunter, and his 
manners polished up into those of an experienced 
courtier. He was greatly struck, he added, with the 
beauty and grace of the English ladies, and urged 
hirn to let nothing less than the gout hinder his 
coming to England. 

But while Court life might captivate at first, Eras- 
mus had soon found out that its glitter was not gold. 
As the wolf in the fable lost his relish for the dainties 
and delicate fare of the house-dog when he saw the 
mark of the collar on his neck, so when Erasmus had 
seen how little of freedom and how much of bondage 
there was in the courtier's life he had left it with 
disgust; choosing rather to return to Oxford to share 
the more congenial society of what students might 
be found there during these vacation weeks, than to 
remain longer with ' be-chained courtiers.' 2 He was 
waiting only for time and tide to return to Paris. 

1 Eras. Op. iii. Epist. lxv. Eras- 
mus Fausto Audreliuo, 1521 ed. p. 

2 ' Torquatis istis aulicis.' 
Op. v. p. 126, E. 


Erasmus prepares to leave Oxford. 127 

At present the weather was too rough for so bad a Chaf. hi. 
sailor ; and, owing to political disquiet and danger, it a.d. 1499. 
was difficult to obtain the needful permission to leave 
the realm. 

The fear that Erasmus was so soon to leave Oxford Erasmus 
was one which troubled Colet's vacation thoughts. to°ieave S 
To be left alone at Oxford again to fight his way single- 0xford - 
handed was by no means a cheering prospect. But his 
saddest feeling was one not merely of sorrow at parting 
with his new friend — it was a feeling of disappoint- 
ment. He had hoped for more than he had found in 
Erasmus. That he could have won over Erasmus 
all at once to his own views and plans he had never 
dreamed. The scholar had his own bent of mind, and 
of course his own plans. Such was his love of learn- 
ing for its own sake, that he was bent on constant and 
persevering study ; and his stay at Oxford he looked 
upon merely as one step in the ladder, valuable chiefly 
because it led to the next. But Colet longed for fellow- 
ship. In his friend he had sought, and in some measure 
found, fellow-feeling. But feeling and action to him 
were too closely linked to make that all he wanted. 
Fellow-feeling- was to him but a half-hearted thing 
unless it ripened into fellow work ; and he had hoped 
for this in Erasmus. He had purposely left Erasmus to 
find out his views and to discern his spirit by degrees. 
He had not tried to force him in anywise. He had 
shown his wisdom in this. But now that Erasmus 
talked of leaving Oxford, it was Colet's duty to speak 
out. He could not let him go without one last appeal. Colet 
He therefore wrote to him, telling him plainly of his "J remain 
disappointment. He urged him to remain at Oxford. at 0xford - 

128 Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

Chap. hi. He urged him, once for all, to come out boldly, as lie 
a.d. 1499. himself had done, and to do his part in the great work 
of restoring that old and true theology of Christ, so 
long obscured by the subtle webs of the Schoolmen, in 
its pristine brightness and dignity. What could he do 
more noble than this ? There was plenty of room for 
both of them. He himself was doing his best to ex- 
pound the New Testament. Why should not Erasmus 
take some book of the Old Testament, say Genesis or 
Isaiah, and expound it, as he had done the Epistles of 
St. Paul ? If he could not make up his mind to do 
this at once, Colet urged that, as a temporary alter- 
native, he should lecture on some secular branch of 
study. Anything was better than that he should 
leave Oxford altogether. 1 

Erasmus received this letter soon after his return 
from his short experience of Court life. The tone of 
disappointment and almost reproof pervading it Eras- 
mus felt was undeserved on his part, yet it evidently 
made a deep impression upon him. Looking back 
upon his intercourse with Colet at Oxford, he must 
have seen how much it had done to change his views, 
and felt how powerfully Colet's influence had worked 
upon him. Yet he knew how far his views were from 
being matured like Colet's, and how foolish it would 
be to begin publicly to teach before his own mind 
was fully made up. He knew that Colet had brought 
him over very much to his way of thinking, and he 
was ready to confess himself a disciple of Colet's ; but 
he must digest what he had learned, and make it 
thoroughly his own, before he could publicly teach it. 

1 Colet's letter to Erasmus has j gathered from the reply of Eras- 
heen lost, hut the above may be | mus. 

Erasmus to Colet. 129 

Perhaps he might one day be able to join Colet in his Chap. hi. 
work at Oxford ; but he thought, and probably A . D . 1499. 
wisely, that the time had not yet come. This at least 
may be gathered from his reply to Colet's letter. 
With some abridgment and unimportant omissions, it 
may be translated thus : — 

Erasmus to Colet} 

. . . ' In what you say of your dislike to the Reply of 
modern race of divines, who spend their lives in mere to Colet's 
logical tricks and sophistical cavils, in very truth I en rea ies ' 
entirely agree with you. 

' Not that, valuing as I do all branches of study, I 
condemn the studies of these men as such, but that 
when they are pursued for themselves alone, un- 
seasoned by more ancient and elegant literature, they 
seem to me to be calculated to make men sciolists and 
contentious ; whether they can make men wise I 
leave to others. For they exhaust the mental powers Agrees 
by a dry and biting subtlety, without infusing any i n aj s . 
vigour or spirit into the mind. And, worst of all, gohofastio 
theology, the queen of all science — so richly adorned System. 
by ancient eloquence — they strip of all her beauty 
by their incongruous, mean, and disgusting style. 
What was once so clear, thanks to the genius of the 
old divines, they clog with some subtlety or other, 
thus involving everything in obscurity while they 
try to explain it. It is thus we see that theology, 
which was once most venerable and full of majesty, 
now almost dumb, poor, and in rags. 

' In the meantime we are allured by a never-satiated 

1 Eras. Op. v. p. 1263: 


Colet Erasmus, and More. 

Chap. III. 
a.d. 1499. 


Colet and 
his work. 

appetite for strife. One dispute gives rise to another, 
and with wonderful gravity we fight about straws. 
Then, lest we should seem to have added nothing to 
the discoveries of the old divines, we audaciously 
lay down certain positive rules according to which 
God has performed his mysteries, when sometimes 
it might be better for us to believe that a thing teas 
done, leaving the question of how it was done to the 
omnipotence of God. So, too, for the sake of show- 
ing our ingenuity, we sometimes discuss questions 
which pious ears can hardly bear to hear ; as, for 
instance, when it is asked whether the Almighty 
could have taken upon Him the nature of the devil 
or of an ass. 

' Besides all this, in our times those men in general 
apply themselves to theology, the chief of all studies, 
who by reason of their obtuseness and lack of sense 
are hardly fit for any study at all. I say this not of 
learned and upright professors of theology, whom 
I highly respect and venerate, but of that sordid and 
haughty pack of divines who count all learning as 
worthless except their own. 

'Wherefore, my dear Colet, in having joined battle 
with this redoubtable race of men for the restoration, 
in its pristine brightness and dignity, of that old and 
true theology which they have obscured by their 
subtleties, you have in very truth engaged in a work 
in many ways of the highest honour — a work of de- 
votion to the cause of theology, and of the greatest 
advantage to all students, and especially the students 
of this flourishing University of Oxford. Still, to 
speak the truth, it is a work of great difficulty, and 
one sure to excite ill-will. Your learning and energy 

Erasmus to Colet 131 

will, however, conquer every difficulty, and your Chap.iii. 
magnanimity will easily overlook ill-will. There are a .d. 1499. 
not a few, even among divines themselves, both able 
and willing to second your honest endeavours. There 
is no one, indeed, who would not give you a hand, 
since there is not even a doctor in this celebrated 
University who has not given attentive audience to 
your public readings on the Epistles of St. Paul, now 
of three j^ears' standing. And which is the most 
praiseworthy in this, their modesty in not being 
ashamed to learn from a young man without doctor's 
degree, or your remarkable learning, eloquence, and 
integrity of life, which they have thought worthy of 
such honour ? 

' I do not wonder that you should put your shoulder Erasmus 
under so great a burden, for you are able to bear it, with Colet 
but I do wonder greatly that you should call me, ^ady yet 
who am nothing of a man, into the fellowship }° J°* n 

° r him 111 

of so glorious a work. For you exhort — yes, you feiiow- 
almost reproachfully urge me, that, by expounding 
either the ancient Moses l or the eloquent Isaiah, in 
the same way as you have expounded St. Paul, I 
should try, as you say, to kindle up the studies of this 
University, now chilled by these winter months. But 
I, who have learned to live in solitude, know well 
how imperfectly I am furnished for such a task ; nor 
do I lay claim to sufficient learning to justify my 

1 It is possible that Colet him- 
self had, at one time, thought of 
expounding the book of Genesis, 
but the manuscript letters to Ra- 
dulphus appended to the copy of 

the MS. on the ' Romans,' in the 
library of Corpus Christi College, 
Cambridge, contain no allusion to 
any such intention. 

132 Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

Chap. iii. ' undertaking it. Nor do I judge that I have strength 
a.dTi499. ' of mind enough to enable me to sustain the ill-will of 
' so many men stoutly maintaining their own ground. 
4 Matters of this kind require not a tyro, but a prac- 
' tised general. Nor can you rightly call me immodest 
' in refusing to do what I should be far more immodest 
' to attempt. You act, my dear Colet, in this matter 
' as wisely as they who (as Plautus says) " demand 
' " water from a rock." With what face can I teach 
' what I myself have not learned ? How shall I 
' kindle the chilled warmth of others while I am alto- 
' gether trembling and shivering myself ? . . . 

' But you say you expected this of me, and now you 
' complain that you were mistaken. You should rather 
' blame yourself than me for this. For I have not 
' deceived you. I have neither promised nor held out 
' any prospect of any such thing. But you have deceived 
' yourself in not believing me when I told you truly 
' what I meant to do. 

' Nor indeed did I come here to teach poetry and 

' rhetoric, for these ceased to be pleasant to me when 

' they ceased to be necessary. I refuse the one task 

' because it does not come up to my purpose, the other 

Er m ' Decause it is beyond my strength. You unjustly blame 

is return- ' me in the one case, my dear Colet, because I never 

Paris. ' intended to follow the profession of what are called 

' secular studies. As to the other, you exhort me in 

' vain, as I know myself to be too unfit for it. But 

' even though I were most fit, still it must not be. 

' For soon I must return to Paris. 

' In the meantime, whilst I am detained here, partly 
' by the winter, and partly because departure from 
' England is forbidden, owing to the flight of some 

Erasmus leaves Oxford. 


*■ duke, 1 I have betaken myself to this famous Chap, hi. 
' University that I might rather spend two or three a.d. 1499. 
' months with men of your class than with those 
' be-chained courtiers. 

' Be it, indeed, far from me to oppose your glorious 
' and sacred labours. On the contrary, I will promise But some 
' (since not fitted as yet to be a coadjutor) sedulously j m Coiet 
' to encourage and further them. For the rest, ™ rk Uow ~ 
' whenever I feel that I have the requisite firmness 
' and strength I will join you, and, by your side, and 
' in theological teaching, I will zealously engage, if 

* not in successful at least in earnest labour. In the 
' meantime, nothing could be more delightful to me 

* than that we should go on as we have begun, whether 
6 daily by word of mouth, or by letter, discussing the 
' meaning of Holy Scripture. 

' Vale, mi Colete. 
' Oxford : at the College of the Canons of the 
' Order of St. Augustine, commonly called 
' the College of St. Mary.' 2 


Erasmus took leave of Colet, and left Oxford early 
in January, 1500. 

1 Probably De la Pole. See Mr. 
Gairdner's Letters and Pajiers, fyc. of 
Richard III. and Henry VII. vol. i. 
p. 129, and vol. ii. preface, p. xl ; 
and appendix, p. 377 ; where Mr. 
Gairdner mentions under date, 20th 
Aug. 14 Henry VII. (1499) a 'Pro- 
' clamation, against leaving tbe 
' kingdom without license,' and 

adds ' N.B. clearly in consequence 
'of the flight of Edmund De la 
' Pole.' If this prohibition extended 
through December, it fixes the date 
of this letter as written in the 
winter of 1499-1500. 

2 Eras. Op. v. p. 1263. This letter 
is generally found prefixed to the 
various editions of the Disputati- 


Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

Chap. III. 

a.d. 1500. 

at Lord 

More and 
visit the 

They see 
the Prince 

He proceeded to Greenwich, to the country seat of 
Lord and Lady Mount joy ; for his patron had, appa- 
rently, since his arrival in England, married a wife. 1 

While he was resting under this hospitable roof, 
Thomas More came down to pay him a farewell visit. 
He brought with him another young lawver named 
Arnold — the son of Arnold the merchant, a man well 
known in London, and living in one of the houses 
built upon the arches of London Bridge. 2 

More, whose love of fun never slept, persuaded 
Erasmus, by way of something to do, to take a walk 
with himself and his friend to a neighbouring village. 

He took them to call at a house of rather im- 
posing appearance. As they entered the hall, Erasmus 
was struck, with the style of it ; it rivalled even that of 
the mansion of his noble patron. It was in fact the 
Koyal Nursery, where all the children of Henry VII., 
except Arthur the Prince of Wales, were living under 
the care of their tutor. In the middle of the group 
was Prince Henry (afterwards Henry VIII.), then a 
boy of nine years old. To his right stood the Princess 
Margaret, who afterwards was married to the King of 
Scotland. On the left was the Princess Maria, a mere 
child at play. The nurse held in her arms the Prince 
Edmund, a baby about ten months old. 3 

More and Arnold at once accosted Prince Henry, 
and presented him with some verses, or other literary 

uncula de Tcedio Christi. And this 
is often appended to editions of the 

1 Epist. lxiv. Erasmus to Mount- 
joy, and also see Epist. xlii. 

2 Eras. Op. iii. p. 26, E. Epist. 

3 The fact that Erasmus saw 
Prince Edmund fixes the date of' 
his departure from England to 
1500, instead of 1499. He left 
England 27th Jan., and it could not 
be in 1499, for Prince Edmund was 
not born till Feb. 21, 1499. 

The Three Friends are scattered. 


offering. Erasmus, having brought nothing of the kind Chap. hi. 
with him, felt awkward, and could only promise to a .d. 1500. 
prove his courtesy to the Prince in the same way on 
some future occasion. They were invited to sit down 
to table, and during the meal the Prince sent a note to 
Erasmus to remind him of his promise. The result was 
that More received a merited scolding from Erasmus, 
for having led him blindfold into the trap ; and Erasmus, 
after parting with More, had to devote three of the 
few remaining days of his stay in England to the Erasmus 
composition of Latin verses in honour of England, 
Henry VII., and the Eoyal children. 1 He was in 
good humour with England. He had been treated 
with a kindness which he never could forget ; and he 
was leaving England with a purse full of golden 
crowns, generously provided by his English friends to 
defray the expenses of his long-wished-for visit to 
Italy. Under these circumstances it was not surprising 
if his verses should be laudatory. 2 

By the 27th January, 3 he was off to Dover, to catch Leaves 

. ; n for Dover. 

the boat tor Boulogne. 


So the three friends were scattered. Each 
evidently a separate path of his own. Their natures 
and natural gifts were, indeed, singularly different. 
They had been brought into contact for one short 
year, as it were by chance, and now again their spheres 
of life seemed likely to lie wide apart. 

had The three 
friends are 

1 See the mention of this inci- 
dent in Erasmus's letter to Botz- 
hem, printed as Catalogvs Omnium 
Erasmi Roterodami Lucubratio- 
num, ipso Autore, 1523, Basil, fol. 

a. 6, and reprinted by Jortin, app. 
418, 419. 

2 For the verses see Eras. Op. i. 
p. 1215. 

3 See Ep. xcii. and lxxxi. 

136 Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

Chap. iii. How could it be otherwise ? Even Colet, who had 

a.d. 1500. longed that his friendship for Erasmus might ripen 
into the fellowship of fellow-work, could not hope 
against hope. The chances that his dream might yet 
be realised, seemed slight indeed. ' Whenever I feel 
' that I have the requisite firmness and strength, I 
' will join you ! ' So Erasmus had promised. But 
Colet might well doubtfully ask himself — ' When will 
8 that be ? ' 





Colet, left alone to pursue the even tenor of his way Chap, iv 
at Oxford, worked steadily at his post. It mattered 
little to him that for years he toiled on without any 
official recognition on the part of the University author- 
ities of the value of his work. What if a Doctor's de- 
gree had never during these years been conferred upon 
him ? The want of it had never stopped his teaching. 
Its possession would have been to him no triumph. 

That young theological students were beginning Coiet's 
more and more to study the Scriptures instead of the oxford. 
Schoolmen — for this he cared far more. For this he 
was casting his bread upon the waters, in full faith that, 
whether he might live to see it or not, it would return 
after many days. And in truth — known or unknown 
to Colet — young Tyndale, and such as he, yet in their 
teens, were already poring over the Scriptures at 
Oxford. 1 The leaven, silently but surely, was leaven- 

1 ' He [Tyndale] was born (about 
' 1484) about the borders of Wales, 
' and brought up from a child in the 
' University of Oxford, where he, by 
' long continuance, grew and in- 
' creased as well in the knowledge 

' of tongues and other liberal arts, as 
' specially in the knowledge of the 
' Scriptures, whereunto his mind 
' was singularly addicted ; insomuch 
' that he, lying there in Magdalen 
' Hall, read privily to certain stu- 



138 Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

Chap. iv. i n g the surrounding mass. But Colet probably did 
not see much of the secret results of his work. That 
it was his duty to do it was reason enough for his doing- 
it ; that it bore at least some visible fruit was sufficient 
encouragement to work on with good heart. 

So the years went by ; and as often as each term 
came round, Colet was ready with his gratuitous course 
of lectures on one or another of St. Paul's Epistles. 1 
colet It happened that, in 1504, Eobert Sherborn, Dean of 

Doctor St. Paul's, was nominated, being then in Eome on an 
Tst Dean em bassy, to the vacant see of St. David's. It was pro- 
Paui's. bably at the same time 2 that Colet was called to dis- 
charge the duties of the vacant deanery, though, as 
Sherborn was not formally installed in his bishopric till 
April 1505, Colet did not receive the temporalities of 
his deanery till May in the same year. 3 

Colet is said to have owed this advancement to the 
patronage of King Henry VII. The title of Doctor 
was at length conferred upon him, preparatory to his 
acceptance of this preferment, and it would appear as 
an honorary mark of distinction. 4 

' dents and fellows of Magdalen 
' College, some parcel of divinity, in- 
' structing them in the knowledge 
' and truth of the Scriptures.' — 
Quoted from Foxe in the biogra- 
phical notice of William Tyndale, 

1 ' How many yearsdid he (Colet) 
' following the example of St. Paul, 
' teach the people without reward! ' 
— Eras. Epist. cccclxxxi. Eras. Op. 
iii. p. 532, E. 

2 In Colet's epitaph it is stated 

prefixed to his Doctrinal Treatises, i ' administravit 16 ; ' as he died in 
p. xiv, Parker Society, 1848. Mag- | 1519, this will bring the commence- 
dalen College is supposed to have ment of his administration to 1504, 
been the college in which Colet i at latest. See also the note in the 
resided at Oxford ; as, according to Appendix on Colet's preferments. 
"Wood, some of the name of Colet 3 Fasti Ecclesise Anglicanse, p. 
are mentioned in the records, though 184. 
not John Colet himself. 4 Eras. Op. iii. p. 456, C. 

Colet, Dean of St. P aid's. 139 

It was to the work, writes Erasmus, and not to the Chap. iv. 
dignity of the deanery, that Colet was called. To A . D . 
restore the relaxed discipline of the College — to preach 1500_5 ' 
sermons from Scripture in St. Paul's Cathedral as he Coiet's 
had done at Oxford — to secure permanently that such London, 
sermons should be regularly preached — this was his 
first work. 1 

By his remove from Oxford to St. Paul's the field of 
his influence was changed, and in some respects greatly 
widened. His work now told directly upon the people 
at large. The chief citizens of London, and even stray 
courtiers, now and then, heard the plain facts of 
Christian truth, instead of the subtleties of the School- 
men, earnestly preached from the pulpit of St. Paul's 
by the son of an ex-lord mayor of London. The 
citizens found too, in the new Dean, a man whose 
manner of life bore out the lessons of his pulpit. 

He retained as Dean of St. Paul's the same sim- The habits 
plicity of character and earnest devotion to his work Deam 
for which he had been so conspicuous at Oxford. As 
he had not sought ecclesiastical preferment, so he 
was not puffed up by it. Instead of assuming the 
purple vestments which were customary, he still wore 
his plain black robe. The same simple woollen gar- 
ment served him all the year round, save that in winter 
he had it lined with fur. The revenues of his deanery 
were sufficient to defray his ordinary household ex- 
penses, and left him his private income free. He gave 
it away, instead of spending it upon himself. 2 The 
rich living of Stepney, which, in conformity with the 
custom of the times, he might well have retained 

1 Eras. Op. iii. p. 456, D. - Ibid. E. and F. 


Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

Chap. IV. 

a.d. 1505. 




circle of 

along with his other preferment, he resigned at once 
into other hands on his removal to St. Paul's. 1 

It would seem too that he shone by contrast with 
his predecessor, whose lavish good cheer had been 
such as to fill his table with jovial guests, and some- 
times to pass the bounds of moderation. 2 

There was no chance of this with Colet. His own 
habits were severely frugal. For years he abstained 
from suppers, and there were no nightly revels in his 
house. His table was neatly spread, but neither 
costly nor excessive. After grace, he would have a 
chapter read from one of St. Paul's Epistles or the Pro- 
verbs of Solomon, and then contrive to engage his 
guests in serious table-talk, drawing out the un- 
learned, as well as the learned, and changing the topics 
of conversation with great tact and skill. Thus, when 
the citizens dined at his table, they soon found, as his 
Oxford friends had found at their public dinners, that, 
without being tedious or overbearing, somehow or 
other he contrived so to exert his influence as to 
send his guests away better than they came. 3 

Moreover, Colet soon gathered around him here in 
London, as he had done at Oxford, an inner circle of 
personal friends. 4 These were wont often to meet at 
his table and to talk on late into the night, conversing 
sometimes upon literary topics, and sometimes speaking- 
together of that invisible Prince whom Colet was as 

1 "Walter Stone, LL.D., was ad- 
mitted to the vicarage of Stepney, 
void by the resignation of D. Colet, 
Sept. 21, 1505.— Kennett's MSS. 
vol. xliv. f. 234 b (Lansdowne, 
978). He seems to have retained 

his rectory of Denyngton. 

2 Eras. Op. iii. p. 465, E. 

3 Ibid. E. and F. 

4 Grocyn and Linacre had also 
removed to London. More was 
already there. 

Colet's Sermons at St. Paul's. 141 

loyally serving now in the midst of honour and prefer- Chap. iv. 
ment as he had done in an humbler sphere. 1 Colet's a .d. 1505. 
loyalty to Him seemed indeed to have been deepened Colet's 
rather than diminished by contact with the outer world, loyalty to 
The place which St. Paul's character and writings had nst ' 
once occupied in his thoughts and teaching, was now 
filled by the character and words of St. Paul's Master 
and his. 2 He never travelled, says Erasmus, without 
reading some book or conversing of Christ. 3 He had 
arranged the sayings of Christ in groups, to assist the 
memory, and with the intention of writing a book on 
them. 4 His sermons, too, in St. Paul's Cathedral bore 
witness to the engrossing object of his thoughts. It 
was now no longer St. Paul's Epistles but the ' Gospel 
' History,' the ' Apostles' Creed,' the ' Lord's Prayer,' 5 
which the Dean was expounding to the people. And 
highly as he had held, and still held, in honour the 
apostolic writings, yet, as already mentioned, they 
seemed to him to shrink, as it were, into nothing, com- 
pared with the wonderful majesty of Christ himself. 

The same method of teaching which he had applied Colet's 

„ .. , . . ra Tk ^^ i* -i • sermons at 

at Oxford to the writings 01 fct. Paul he now applied 111 St. Paul's, 
his cathedral sermons in treating of these still higher 
subjects. For he did not, we are told, take an isolated 
text and preach a detached discourse upon it, but went, 
continuously through whatever he was expounding 
from beginning to end in a course of sermons. 6 Thus 

'• ' Impense delectabatur amico- I 5 Ibid. p. 456, E. 
' ruin colloquiis quse srepe differ e bat '' ' Porro in suo templo non su- 
' in multain noctem. Sed omnis il- ' rnebat sibi carptim argumentum ex 
' lius sermo, aut de Uteris erat, aut 'EvangelioautexepistolisApostoli- 
' deCbristo.' — Eras. Op. iii. p. 457, A. ' cis sed unum aliquod argumentum 

2 Eras. Op. iii. p. 459, F. 'propouebat, quod diversis concio- 

3 Ibid. p. 457, A. 4 Ibid.p.459,F. I 'nibus ad finem usque prosequeba- 


Colet, Erasmus, and Mo 


Chap. IV. 

a.d. 1505. 

these cathedral discourses of Colet's were continuous 
expositions of the facts of the Saviour's life and teach- 
ing, as recorded by the Evangelists, or embodied in 
that simple creed which in Colet's view contained the 
sum of Christian theology. And thus was he prac- 
tically illustrating, by his own public example in these 
sermons, his advice to theological students, to 'keep to 
' the Bible and the Apostles' Creed, letting divines, if 
' they like, dispute about the rest.' 





and More 
all in 



After the departure of Erasmus, More worked on 
diligently at his legal studies at Lincoln's Inn. A few 
more terms and he received the reward of his industry 
in his call to the bar. 

During the years devoted to his legal curriculum, 
he had been wholly absorbed in his law books. 

Closely watched by his father, and purposely kept 
with a stinted allowance, as at Oxford, so that ' his 
' whole mind might be set on his book,' the law student 
had found little time or opportunity for other studies. 
But being now duly called to the bar, and thus freed 
from the restraints of student life, his mind naturally 
reverted to old channels of thought. Grocyn and Lin- 
acre in the meantime had left Oxford and become near 
neighbours of his in London. Thus the old Oxford 
circle partially formed itself again, and with the re- 
newal of old intimacies returned, if ever lost, the love 
of old studies. For no sooner was More called to the 

'tur: puta Evangelium Matthsei, I ' Dominican!.' — Eras. Op. iii. p. 456, 
' Symbolum Fidei, Precationeni I D, E. 

Move's Readings. 


bar than he commenced his maiden lectures in the Chap. iv. 
church of St. Lawrence, 1 in the Old Jewry, and chose ~^ 
for a subject the great work of St. Augustine, 'De 150 °- 4 - 

i Civitate Dei.' Moreiec- 

-rj. -■ . tures on 

-His object, we are told, in these lectures was not to t^e/De 
expound the theological creed of the Bishop of Hippo, S3?* 8 
but the philosophical and historical 2 arguments con- 
tained in those first few books in which Augustine had 
so forcibly traced the connection between the history 
of Konie and the character and religion of the Eomans, 
attributing the former glory of the great Eoman Com- 
monwealth to the valour and virtue of the old Eomans ; 
tracing the recent ruin of the empire, ending in the 
sack of Eome by Alaric, to the effeminacy and profli- 
gacy of the modern Eomans ; defending Christianity 
from the charge of having undermined the empire, and 
pointing out that if it had been universally adopted by 
rulers and people, and carried out into practice in 
their lives, the old Pagan empire might have become 
a truly Christian empire and been saved,— those 
books which, starting from the facts of the recent 
sack of Eome, landed the reader at last in a discus- 
sion of the philosophy of free-will and fate. 

Eoper tells us that the young lawyer's readings were 
well received, being attended not only by Grocyn, his 
old Greek master, but also by ' all the chief learned 
'of the city of London.' 3 

More was indeed rising rapidly in public notice and More a 
confidence. He was appointed a reader at Furnival's ^ ader a ,* 

-r -, , . Furnival s 

inn about this time, and when a Parliament was called Inn - 

1 Grocyn was apparently rector 
of this parish up to 1517, when 
he vacated it.— "Wood's Ath. Oxon. 

p. 32. 

Stapleton, p. 160. 

Roper, Singer's ed. 1822, p. 5. 


Colet, Erasmus, and More. 



More in 

Chap. iv. in the spring of 1503-4, though only twenty-five, he 
was elected a member of it. 

Sent up thus to enter public life in a Parliament of 
which the notorious Dudley was the speaker, 1 the last 
and probably the most subservient Parliament of a 
king who now in his latter days was becoming more 
and more avaricious, the mettle of the young member 
was soon put to the test, and bore it bravely. 

At the last Parliament of 1496-7, 2 the King, in pro- 
spect of a war with Scotland, had exacted from the 
Commons a subsidy of two-fifteenths, and, finding they 
had submitted to this so easily, had, even before the 
close of the session, pressed for and obtained the omis- 
sion of the customary clauses in the bill, releasing 
about 12,000Z. of the gross amount in relief of decayed 
towns and cities. 3 Now all was peace. The war with 
Scotland had ended in the marriage of the Princess 
Margaret, whom More had seen in the royal nursery a 
few years before, to the King of Scots. But by feudal 
right the King, with consent of Parliament, 4 could claim 
a ' reasonable aid ' in respect of this marriage of the 
Princess Eoyal, in addition to another for the knighting 
of Prince Arthur, who, however, in the meantime, had 
died. This Parliament of 1503-4 was doubtless called 
chiefly to obtain these 'reasonable aids.' But with 
Dudley as speaker the King meant to get more than 
his strictly feudal rights. Instead of the two ' aids,' he 
put in a claim (so Eoper was informed 5 ) for three- 
fifteenths ! i.e. for half as much again as he had asked 

of the 

1 Rot. Pari. vi. 521, B. 

2 12 Henry VII. c. 12, also Rot. 
Pari, vi. p. 514. 

3 12 Henry VII. c. 13. 

4 See 3 Edward I. c. 36, and 25 
Edward III. s. 5, c. 11. 

5 Roper, p. 7. 

More in Parliament offends Henry VII. 145 

for to defray the cost of the Scottish war. And Chap.iv. 
Dudley's flock of sheep were going to pass this bill in A .^lio4. 
silence ! Already it had passed two readings, when More 
! at the last debating thereof,' More, probably the SJe^s 
youngest member of the House, rose from his seat demands ; 
1 and made such arguments and reasons there against,' 
that the King's demands (says Eoper) < were thereby 
' clean overthrown.' < So that ' (he continues) ' one 
' of the King's Privy Chamber, named Maister Tyler, 1 
' being present thereat, brought word to the King, out 
< of the Parliament House, that a beardless boy had 
' disappointed all his purpose.' 

Instead of three-fifteenths, which would have and sue 
realised 113,000/. 2 or more, the Parliament EoUs bear Cessfully ' 
witness that the King, with royal clemency and grace, 
had to accept a paltry 30,000/., being less than a 
third of what he had asked for ! 3 

Possibly, our trusty and right i of the clergy, which latter was esti- 
well-beloved knight and counselor,' \ mated at 12,000/. by the Venetian 
Str William Tyler, who had so often! ambassador in 1500 This bein^ 
partaken of the royal bounty, being added would raise Blackstone's esti- 
made < Controller of Works,' < Mes- mate to 41,000/. in all. From this 
< senger of Exchequer,' < Receiver of however, about 4,000/. was always' 
' certain Lordships,' &c.&c.(seeRot. excused to 'poor towns cities &c ' 
Pari. vi. 341, 378 b, 404 b, 497 b), so that the nett actual amoun't 
and who was remembered for good would be about 37,000/. according 
in chap. 35 of this very Parliament. | to Blackstone, which agrees well 

2 A fifteenth of the three estates 
was estimated by the Venetian 
ambassador, in 1500, to produce 
37,930/.— See Italian Relation of 
England, Camden Soc. p. 52. The 

amount of a ' fifteenth ' was fixed ! deceased, and°the othei of marriage 
in 1334, by 8 Ed. III. Blackstone ' of Princess Margaret to the Kino- of 
(vol.i. p. 310) states that the amount! Scots, and also great expenses in 
was fixed at about 29,000/. This i wars, the Commons grant 40,000/ 
was probably the amount, exclusive j less 10,000/. remitted, < of his more 
of the quota derived from the estates i 'ample grace and pity, for that the 


with the Venetian estimate. 

3 19 Henry VII. c. 32, Jan. 25, 
1503, Rot. Pari. vi. 532-542. In 
lieu of two reasonable aids, one for 
making a knight of Prince Arthur 

146 Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

Chap. iv. No wonder that, soon after, the King devised a quarrel 

a.d. 1 504. with More's father (who, by the way, was one of the 

Hemyvn. commissioners for the collection of the subsidy), 1 threw 

with More. nun into the Tower, and kept him there till he had paid 

a fine of 100/. No wonder that young More himself 

was compelled at once to retire from public life, and 

hide himself from royal displeasure in obscurity. 2 


More and Compelled to seek safety in seclusion, More shut 
ofbecom- 1 ^ hi mse lf U P m hi s lodgings near the Charterhouse with 
ing monks William Lilly, another old Oxford student, a contem- 
porary of Colet's, if not of More's, at Oxford, who 
having spent some years travelling in the East, had 
recently returned home fresh from Italy. More seems 
to have shared with him the intention of becoming a 
monk or a priest. 3 

It was possibly not the first time his thoughts had 
turned in this direction ; but he had hitherto gone 
cautiously to work, taking no vow, determined to 

1 poraill of his comens should not in 
' anywise be contributory or charge- 
1 able to any part of the said sum of 
' 40,000/.' The 30,000/. to be paid 

1 John More was one of the com- 
missioners for Herts. 

2 This story is told in substan- 
tially the same form in the manu- 

by the shires in the sums stated, and i script life of More by Harpsfield, 

to the payment every person to be 
liable having lands, &c. to the yearly 
value of 20s. of free charter lands, 
or of 26s. 8d. of lands held at will, 
or any person having goods or cat- 
tails to the value of x marks or 
above, not accounting their cattle 
for their plough nor stuff or imple- 
ment of household. 

written in the time of Queen Mary, 
and dedicated to William Roper. — 
Harleian MSS. No. 6253, fol. 4. 

3 ' Meditabatur adolescens sacer- 
' dotium cum suo Lilio.' — Staple- 
ton, Tres Thomce, ed. 1588, p. 18, 
ed. 1612, p. 161. See also Roper, 
pp. 5, 6. 

Move's Ascetic Tendencies. 147 

feel his way, and not to rush blindly into what he Chap. iv. 
might afterwards repent of. a~d~1504. 

He had now taken to wearing an * inner sharp shirt More 
* of hair,' and to sleeping on the bare boards of his entering 
chamber, with a log under his head for a pillow, and ^0^"" 
was otherwise schooling, by his powerful will, his 
quick and buoyant nature into accordance with the 
strict rules of the Carthusian brotherhood. 1 

It was a critical moment in his life. Soon after his 
father had been imprisoned and fined, having some 
business with Fox, Bishop of Winchester, that great 
courtier called him aside, pretending to be his friend, 
and promised that if he would be ruled by him, he 
would not fail to restore him into the King's favour. 
But Fox was only setting a trap for him, from which Escapes a 
he was saved by a friendly hint from Whitford, 2 the lauffor^ 
bishop's chaplain. This man told More that his master hun " 
would not stick to agree to his own father's death to 
serve the King's turn, and advised him to keep quite 
aloof from the King. This hint was not reassuring, 
but it may have saved More's life. 

What would have happened to him had he been 
left alone with misadvising friends to give hasty vent 
to the disappointment which thus had crushed his 
hopes at the very outset of his career — whether the 
cloister would have received him as it did his friend 
Whitford afterwards, to be another ' wretch of Sion,' 
none can tell. 

1 Stapletonand Proper, ubi supra. 

2 Richard Whitford himself, re- 
tiring soon after from public life, 
entered the monastery called ' Sion,' 
near Brentford in Middlesex, and 

wrote books, in which he styled 
himself ' the wretch of Sion.' See 
Roper, p. 8, and Knight's Life of 
Erasmus, p. 64. 

l 2 

148 Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

Chap. iv. Happily for liim it was at this critical moment that 

a.d. 1504. Colet came up to London to assume his new duties 

when at St. Paul's. More was a diligent listener to his 

comes to sermons, and chose him as his father confessor. Sta- 

Mo°e 0n ' pie ton has preserved a letter from More to Colet, 1 

chooses which throws much light upon the relation between 

him as his c r 

spiritual them. It was written in October, 1504, whilst Colet, 
after preaching during the summer, was apparently 
spending his long vacation in the country. It shows 
that, under Colet's advice, More was not altogether 
living the life of a recluse. 

Colet had for some time been absent from his pulpit 
at St. Paul's. As More was one day walking up and 
down Westminster Hall, waiting while other peo|)le's 
suits were being tried, he chanced to meet Colet's 
More's servant. Learning from him that his master had not 
Colet. t0 y et returned to town, More wrote to Colet this letter, 
to tell him how much he missed his wonted delight- 
ful intercourse with him. He told him how he had 
ever prized his most wise counsel ; how by his most 
delightful fellowship he had been refreshed ; how by 
his weighty sermons he had been roused, and by 
his example helped on his way. He reminded him 
how fully he relied upon his guidance — how he had 
been wont to hang upon his very beck and nod. 
Under his protection he had felt himself gaining 
strength, now without it he was flagging and undone. 
He acknowledged that, by following Colet's leading, he 
had escaped almost from the very jaws of hell ; but 
now, amid all the temptations of city life and the noisy 
wrangling of the law courts, he felt himself losing 

1 Stapleton, ed. 1588, p. 20, ed. 1612, p. 163. 

More to Colet. 149 

ground, without his help. No doubt the country might Chap. iv. 

be much more pleasant to Colet than the city, but the A .^T504. 
city, with all its vice, and follies, and temptations, had 
far more need of his skill than simple country folk ! 

* There sometimes come, indeed,' he added, ' into the More ai- 
' pulpit at St. Paul's, men who promise to heal the c iet's 

* diseases of the people. But, though they seem to have p [ e s t ching 
' preached plausibly enough, their lives so jar with Paul's. 

' their words that they stir up men's wounds, rather 
' than heal them.' But, he said, his fellow-citizens had 
confidence in Colet, and all longed for his return. He 
urged him, therefore, to return speedily, for their sake 
and for his, reminding Colet again that he had sub- 
mitted himself in all things to his guidance. ' Mean- 
' while,' he concluded, ' I shall spend my time with 
' Grocyn,Linacre, and Lilly; the first, as you know, is 
' the director of my life in your absence ; the second, 
' the master of my studies ; the third, my most dear 
' companion. Farewell, and, as you do, ever love me.' 

' London : 10 Calend. Novembris ' [1504]. 1 

Surrounded as he was by Colet, Grocyn, and Linacre, 
More soon began to devote his leisure to his old studies. 
Lilly, too, had returned home well versed in Greek. 

1 That this letter was written in 
1504 is evident. First, it cannot 
well have been written before Oolet 
had commenced his labours at St. 

wrote it. And he married in 1505, 
according to the register on the 
Burford picture, which, the correct 
date of More's birth having' been 

Paul's ; secondly, it cannot have : found and from it the true date of 
been written in Oct. 1505, because Holbein's sketch, seems to be amply 
it speaks of Colet as still holding the confirmed by the age there erven 

living of Stepney, which he resigned 
Sept. 21, 1505. Also the whole 
drift of it leads to the conclusion 
that More was unmarried when he 

of More's eldest daughter, Margaret 
Roper. She is stated to be twenty- 
two on the sketch made in 1528, 
and so was probably born in 1506. 

150 Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

Chap. iv. He had spent some years in the island of Ehodes, to 
a.d. 1504. perfect his knowledge of it. 1 Naturally enough, there- 
ore fore, the two friends busied themselves in jointly trans- 
hSaseif in lating Greek epigrams ; 2 and as, with increasing zeal, 
withLUiT tne y yielded to the charms of the new learning, it 
is not surprising if the fascinations of monastic life 
began to lose their hold upon their minds. The re- 
sult was that More was saved from the false step he 
once had contemplated. 

He had, it would seem, seen enough of the evil side 
of the ' religious life ' to know that in reality it did not 
offer that calm retreat from the world which in theory 
it ought to have done. He had cautiously abstained 
from rushing into vows before he had learned well what 
they meant ; and his experience of ascetic practices 
had far too ruthlessly destroyed any pleasant pictures 
of monastic life in which he may have indulged at first, 
to admit of his ever becoming a Carthusian monk. 

Still we may not doubt that, in truth, he had a real 
and natural yearning for the pure ideal of cloister 
holiness. Early disappointed love possibly, 3 added to 
the rude shipwreck made of his worldly fortunes on 
the rock of royal displeasure, had, we may well believe, 
effectually taught him the lesson not to trust in those 
' gay golden dreams ' of worldly greatness, from which, 
he was often wont to say, ' we cannot help awaking 
' when we die ; ' and even the penances and scourgings 
inflicted by way of preparatory discipline upon his 
' wanton flesh,' though soon proved to be of no great 

1 Mori Epigrammata : Basle, j ' latur quod earn repererit Incolu- 
1518, p. 6. See the prefatory letter ' mem quam olim ferme Puer ama- 
by Beatus Rkenanus. ' verat.' — Epigrammata: Basle, 

2 Ibid. 1520, p. 108, and I'kilomorus, pp. 

3 See Epigram entitled ' Gratu- ' 37-39. 

More studies Pico's Life and Works. 151 

efficacy, were not the less without some deep root in Chap. iv. 
his nature ; else why should he wear secretly his A .n. 1505. 
whole life long the ' sharp shirt of hair ' which we 
hear about at last ? 1 

So much as this must be conceded to More's 
Catholic biographers, who naturally incline to make 
the most of this ascetic phase of his life. 2 

But that, on the other hand, he did turn in disgust More 
from the impurity of the cloister to the better chances w i t h the 
which, he thought, the world offered of living a cloister - 
chaste and useful life, we know from Erasmus ; and 
this his Catholic biographers have, in their turn, 
acknowledged. 3 

MARRIAGE (1505). 


More appears to have been influenced in the course 
he had taken, mainly by two things : — first, a sort of 
hero-worship for the great Italian, Pico della Miran- 
dola ; and, secondly, his continued reverence for Colet. 

The ' Life of Pico,' with divers Epistles and other 
' Works ' of his, had come into More's hands. Very 
probably Lilly may have brought them home with him 
amongst his Italian spoils. More had taken the pains 

1 From whence [the Tower], the 
' day before he suffered, he sent his 
' shirt of hair, not willing to have it 
' seen, to my wife, his dearly beloved 
' daughter.' — Roper, p. 91. 

2 Walter's Life of More, London, 
1840, pp. 7, 8. Cresacre More's 
Life of More, pp. 24-26. 

3 ' Maluit igitur maritus esse 
' castus quam sacerdos impurus.' — 
Erasmus to Hutten : Eras. Op. iii. 

p. 75, c. Stapelton, 1612 ed. pp. 
161, 162. Cresacre More's Life of 
More, pp. 25, 26. Even Walter 
allows that his ' finding that at that 
; time religious orders in England 
' had somewhat degenerated from 
' their ancient strictness and fervour 
' of spirit,' was the cause of bis 
' altering his mind.' — Walter's Life 
of More, p. 8. 




152 Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

Chap. iv. to translate them into English. He had doubtless 
a.d. 1505. heard all about Pico's outward life from those of his 
More friends who had known him personally when in Italy. 
the life But here was the record of Pico's inner history, for the 
oTpico! S most P ar "t m his own words ; and reading this in More's 
translation, it is not hard to see how strong an influence 
it may have exercised upon him. It told how, sud- 
denly checked, as More himself had been, in a career 
of worldly honour and ambition, the proud vaunter of 
universal knowledge had been transformed into the 
humble student of the Bible ; how he had learned to 
abhor scholastic disputations, of which he had been so 
great a master, and to search for truth instead of fame. 
Pico's It told how, ' giving no great force to outward obser- 
piety and ' vances,' ' he cleaved to God in very fervent love,' so 
that, ' on a time as he walked with his nephew in an 
' orchard at Ferrara, in talking of the love of Christ, he 
' told him of his secret purpose to give away his goods 
' to the poor, and fencing himself with the crucifix, 
' barefoot, walking about the world, in every town 
4 and castle to preach of Christ.' It told how he, too, 
' scourged his own flesh in remembrance of the pas- 
' sion and death that Christ suffered for our sake ; ' and 
urged others also ever to bear in mind two things, 
' that the Son of God died for thee, and that thou thy- 
1 self shall die shortly ; ' and how, finally, in spite of the 
urgent warnings of the great Savonarola, he remained 
A layman a layman to the end, and in the midst of indefatigable 
study of the Oriental languages, and, above all, the 
Scriptures, through their means, died at the early age 
of thirty-five, leaving the world to wonder at his genius, 
and Savonarola to preach a sermon on his death. 1 

1 Sir Thomas More's Works, pp. I religious history, and his connection 
1-34 ; and see the note on Pico's I with Savonarola, ahove, p. 19. 

to the end. 

Pico della Mirandola. 153 

And turning from the ' Life of Pico ' to his ' Works," Chap. iv. 
and reading these in More's translation, they present a .d. 1505. 
to the mind a type of Christianity, so opposite to the The 
ceremonial and external religion of the monks, that one pi co . 
may well cease to wonder that More, having caught the 
spirit of Pico's religion, could no longer entertain any 
notion of becoming a Carthusian brother. 

It will be worth while to examine carefully what 
these works of Pico's were. 

The first is a letter from Pico to his nephew — a Pico's 
letter of advice to a young man somewhat in More's his 
position, longing to live to some 'virtuous purpose,' but nep iew ' 
finding it hard to stem the tide of evil around him. 
To encourage his nephew, he speaks of the 'great peace 
' and felicity it is to the mind when a man hath nothing 
' that grudgeth his conscience, nor is appalled with the 
' secret touch of any privy crime.' . . . . ' Doubtest 
' thou, my son, whether the minds of wicked men be 
' vexed or not with continual thought and torment ? 
' . . . . The wicked man's heart is like the stormy 
' sea, that may not rest. There is to him nothing 
' sure, nothing peaceable, but all things fearful, all 
' things sorrowful, all things deadly. Shall we, then, 
' envy these men ? Shall we follow them, forgetting 
1 our own country — heaven, and our own heavenly 
' Father — where we were free-born ? Shall we wil- 
' fully make ourselves bondmen, and with them, 
' wretched living, more wretchedly die, and at the last 
' most wretchedly in everlasting fire be punished ? ' 

Having warned his nephew against wicked com- Pico's 
panions, Pico proceeds to make evident allusion to the cims- 
sceptical tendencies of Italian society. ' It is verily tianit F- 
' a great madness ' (he says) ' not to believe the Gospel, 
' whose truth the blood of martyrs crieth, the voice of 

154 Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

Chap. iv. ' Apostles soundeth, miracles prove, reason confirmeih, 
a.d. 1505. ' the world testifieth, the elements speak, devils con- 
' fess ! ' 1 ' But,' he continues, ' a far greater madness is 
' it, if thou doubt not but that the Gospel is true, to 
' live then as though thou doubtest not but that it 
' were false.' 
its reason- And it is worth notice, that the perception of the 


and har- reasonableness of Christianity, and its harmony with 

Saws of tne l aws °f nature, breaks out again a little further on. 

nature. Yico writes to his nephew : ' Take no heed what thing 
' many men do, but [take heed] ivhat thing the very law 
' of nature, what thing very reason, what thing our Lord 
1 himself showeth thee to be done.' 

A little further on Pico points out two remedies, or 
aids, whereby his nephew may be strengthened in his 
course. First, charity ; and secondly, prayer. With 
regard to the first he wrote : — ' Certainly He shall not 
' hear thee when thou callest on Him, if thou hear not 
' first the poor man when he calleth upon thee.' With 

Pico on regard to prayer, he wrote thus : — ' When I stir thee 
' to prayer, I stir thee not to the prayer that standeth 
' in many words, but to that prayer which, in the 
' secret chamber of the mind, in the privy-closet of the 
1 soul, with very affect speaketh unto God, and in the 
' most lightsome darkness of contemplation, not only 
' presenteth the mind to the Father, but also uniteth 
' it with Him by unspeakable ways, which only they 
' know that have assayed. Nor I care not how long 
' or how short thy prayer be, but how effectual, how 
' ardent. . . . Let no day pass, then, but thou once at 
' the leastwise present thyself to God by prayer, and 
' falling down before Him flat to the ground, with an 

1 Compare this with the line of I cino in his De Religione Christiana. 
argument pursued by Marsilio Fi- I Vide supra, p. 11. 

Pico della Mirandola. 


' humble affect of devout mind, not from the extremity Chap. iv. 

4 of th) r lips, but out of the inwardness of thine heart, A . D . 1505. 

' cry these words of the prophet : " The offences of 

' "my youth, and mine ignorances, remember not, good 

' " Lord, but after thy goodness remember me." What 

' thou shalt in thy prayer ask of God, both the Holy 

' Spirit, which prayeth for us and eke thine own 

' necessity, shall every hour put into thy mind, and 

' also what thou shalt pray for thou shalt find matter Pico on 

' enough in the reading of Holy Scripture, which that tures. 

' thou wouldst now (setting poets, fables, and trifles 

' aside) take ever in thine hand I heartily pray thee ; 

' . . . . there lieth in them a certain heavenly strength 

' quick and effectual, which with marvellous power 

' transformeth and changeth the readers' mind into the 

' love of God, if they be clean and lowly entreated.' 

Lastly, he said he would ' make an end with this one 

' thing. I warn thee (of which when we were last to- 

' gether I often talked with thee) that thou never forget 

' these two things ; that both the Son of God died for 

4 thee, and that thou thyself shalt die shortly ! ' 1 

This, then, was the doctrine which Pico, ' fencing 
' himself with a crucifix, barefoot, walking about the 
' world, in every town and castle,' purposed to preach ! 

The next letter is a reply to a friend of his who had 
urged him to leave his contemplative and studious life, 
and to mix in political affairs, in which, as an Italian 
prince, lay his natural sphere. He replied, that his 
desire was ' not so to embrace Martha as utterly to 
' forsake Mary' — to 'love them and use them both, as 

1 This remarkable letter was 
written, ' Ferrariae, 15 May, 1492' 
(Pici Op. p. 23b), scarcely six weeks 

after Pico's visit to the deathbed of 
Lorenzo de Medici. 

156 Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

Chap. iv. ' well study as worldly occupation.' ' I set more ' (lie 
a.d. 1505. continued) 'by my little house, my study, the pleasure 
' of my books, the rest and peace of my mind, than by 
' all your king's palaces, all your business, all your 
' glory, all the advantage that ye hawke after, and all 
' the favour of the court ! ' 
Pico's Then he tells his friend that what he looks to do is, 

study of . , -. „ 

Eastern to give out some books oj mine to the common projit, 



and that he is mastering the Hebrew, Chaldee, and 

Arabic languages. 1 

Another Then follows another letter to his nephew, who, in 

his trying to follow the advice given in his first letter, 

nephew. nn d s himself slandered and called a hypocrite by his 
companions at court. It is a letter of noble encour- 
agement to stand his ground, and to heed not the 
scoffs and sneers of his fellows. 

These letters are followed by an exposition of 
Psalm xvi., in which Pico incidentally uses his know- 
ledge of the Hebrew text and of Eastern customs. 2 


Pico's All the foregoing are in prose ; after them come 

More's translations of some of Pico's verses. 

The first is entitled, ' Twelve rules, partly exciting 
' and partly directing a man in spiritual battle,' and 
reminds one of the ' Enchiridion ' of Erasmus. The 
second is named, 'The twelve weapons of spiritual 
' battle.' The striking feature in both these metrical 
works is the holding up of Christ's example as an 
incentive to duty and to love. Thus : — 

1 This letter is dated in More's 
translation M.cccclxxxxii. from 
Paris, in mistake for M.cccclxxxvi. 

from Perugia. See Pici Op. p. 257. 
2 See More's Works, p. 19, in 
loco, v. v. 6. 

Pico della Mirandola. 157 

' Consider, when thou art moved to be wroth, Chap. IV. 
He who that was God and of all men the best, 

Seeing himself scorned and scourged both, 

And as a thief between two thieves threst, 
With all rebuke and shame ; yet from his breast 

Came never sign of wrath or of disdain, 

But patiently endured all the pain ! 

And again, after speaking of the shortness of life — 

' How fast it runneth on, and passen shall 
As doth a dream or shadow on a wall.' 

he continues : — 

' Think on the very lamentable pain, 

Think on the piteous cross of woeful Christ, 
Think on his blood, beat out at every vein, 
Think on his precious heart carved in twain : 

Think how for thy redemption all was wrought. 

Let him not lose, what he so clear hath bought.' 

There is another poem in which the feelings of a 
lover towards his love are made to show what the 
Christian's feelings ought to be to Christ ; and lastly, 
there is a solemn and beautiful 'Praver of Picus Miran- 
' dola to God,' glowing with the same adoration of 

. . . . ' that mighty love 

Which able was thy dreadful majesty 

To draw down into earth from heaven above 

And crucify God, that we poor wretches, we 

Should from our filthy sin yclensed be ! ' 

and the same earnest longing 

' That when the journey of this deadly life 

My silly ghost hath finished, and thence 

Departen must,' .... 

' He may Thee find .... 

In thy lordship, not as a lord, but rather 

As a very tender, loving father ! ' 


Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

Chap. IV. 
a.d. 1505. 

Pico's en- 

of the 
tonic phi- 
of Flo- 

I have made these quotations, and thus endeavoured 
to put the reader in possession of the contents of this 
little volume, which More in his seclusion was trans- 
lating, because I think they throw some light upon the 
current in which his thoughts were moving, and be- 
cause, whilst the name of Pico is known to fame as that 
of a great linguist and most precocious genius, his en- 
lightened piety and the extent of the influence of his 
heroic example have scarcely been appreciated. 

This little book, indeed, has a special significance 
in relation to the history of the Oxford Eeformers. 
Whatever doubt may rest upon the direct connection 
between their views and those of Savonarola, there is 
here in More's translation of these writings of a disciple 
of Savonarola, another mdirect connection between 
them and that little knot of earnest Christian men in 
Italy of which Savonarola was the most conspicuous. 

The extracts made and translated by More from 
Pico's writings may also help us to recognise in the 
Neo-Platonic philosophers of Florence, by whose writ- 
ings Colet had been so profoundly influenced, a vein of 
earnestChristian feeling of which it may be that we know 
too little. Like their predecessors of a thousand years 
before, they stood between the old world and the new. 
They were the men who, when the learning of the old 
Pagan world was restored to light, and backed against 
the dogmatic creed of priest-ridden degraded Christen- 
dom, built a bridge, as it were, between Christian and 
Pagan thought. That their bridge was frail and insecure 
it maybe, but, to a great extent, it served its end. A 
passage was effected by it from the Pagan to the Chris- 
tian shore. Ficino, the representative Neo-Platonist, 
who, as has been seen, had aided in its building, had 

Savonarola. 159 

himself passed over it. Savonarola too had crossed Chap. iv. 
it. Pico had crossed it. It is true that these men may, a .d. 1505. 
to some extent, have Platonised Christianity in becom- 
ing Christian ; but it will be recognised at once that 
the earnest Christian feeling found by More in Pico, 
so to speak, rose far above his Platonism. 

That the life and writings of such a man should have 
awakened in his breast something of hero-worship 1 is, 
therefore, not surprising. That he should have singled 
out these passages, and taken the trouble to translate 
them, is some proof that he admired Pico's practical 
piety more than his Neo-Platonic speculations ; that he 
shared with Colet those yearnings for practical Chris- 
tian reform with which Colet had returned from Italy 
ten years before. That a few years after this translation 
should be published and issued in English in More's More calls 
name was further proof of it. For here was a book roiaa ' 
not only in its drift and spirit boldly taking Colet's side UJJ 1 ? of 
against the Schoolmen, and in favour of the study of 
Scripture and the Oriental languages, but as boldly 
holding up Savonarola as ' a preacher, as well in cunning 
' as in holiness of living, most famous,' — ' a holy man ' — 
i a man of God ' 2 — in the teeth of the fact that he had 
been denounced by the Pope as a ' son of blasphemy 
' and perdition,' excommunicated, tortured, and, re- 
fusing to abjure, hung and burned as a heretic ! 3 

And if the fire of hero-worship for Pico had lit Colet's 
up something of heroism in More's heart — something "„ More! 

1 Stapleton, ed. 1612, p. 162. Library. ' 276, c. 27, IHco, fyc, 4°, 

Cresacre More's Life of Sir T. More, 1 l London, 1510.' This is probably 
p. 27. : the original edition. More may bave 

2 Sir T. More's Works, p. 9. j waited till Henry VHI.'s accession 

3 There is a copy of this transla- before daring to publish it. 
tion of More's in the British Museum I 


Colet. Erasmus, and More. 

Chap. IV. 

a.d. 1505. 

More mar- 
ries under 



had not 

which yearned for the battle of life, and not for the 
rest of the cloister — so the living example of Colet was 
ready to feed the flame into strength and steadiness. 
The result was that, in 1505, 1 in spite of early 
disappointments, and, it is said, under Colet's ' advice 
' and direction,' 2 More married Jane Colt, of New Hall 
in Essex, took a house in Bucklersbury, and gave up 
for ever all longings for monastic life. 


Soon after Colet's elevation to the dignities of 
Doctor and Dean, a letter of congratulation arrived 
from Erasmus. 

Colet had written no letter to him, and had almost 
lost sight of him during these years. It would seem 
that, after his departure from Oxford, Colet had 
given up all hopes of his aid. Nor had any other 
kindred soul risen up to take that place in fellow- 
work beside him, which at one time he had hoped 
the great scholar might have filled. 

But Erasmus on his side had not forgotten Colet. 
His intercourse with Colet at Oxford had changed 
the current of his thoughts, and the course of his 
life. Colet little knew by what slow and painful 
steps he had been preparing to redeem the promise 
he had made on leaving Oxford. 

We left him making the best of his way to Dover, 

1 This date of More's marriage is or record. It is confirmed by the 
the date given in the register con- ' age of Margaret Roper on the Basle 
tained on the Burford family pic- sketch — 22 in 1528. Vide supra, 
ture ; and as it is in no way de- p. 149, n. 1. 

pendent on the other dates, probably 2 Cresacre More's Life of Sir T. 
it rested upon some family tradition More, p. 39. 

at Dover. 

Troubles of Erasmus. 161 

with his purse full of golden crowns, kindly bestowed Chap. iv. 
by his English friends in order that he might now carry A . D . 
out his long-cherished intention of going to Italy. But 150 °- 5 - 
the Fates had decreed against him. King Henry VII. 
had already reached the avaricious period of his life 
and reign. Under cover of an old obsolete statute, he 
had given orders to the Custom House officers to stop 
the exportation of all precious metals, and the Custom 
House officers in their turn, construing their instructions 
strictly to the letter, had seized upon Erasmus's purse- The legal 
ful of golden crowns, and relieved him of the burden, Erasnius f 
for the benefit of the King's exchequer. 1 The poor 
scholar proceeded without them to cross to Boulogne. 
He was a bad sailor, and the hardships of travel soon 
told upon his health. He was heart-sick also ; as well 
he might be, for this unlucky loss of his purse had 
utterlv disconcerted once more his lono-- cherished 
plans. On his arrival at Paris, after a wretched and 
dangerous journey, 2 he was taken ill, and recovered 
only to bear his bitter disappointment as best he could. 
Before he had yet recovered from his illness he wrote 
this touching letter to Arnold, the young legal friend 
of More, with whom a few weeks before he and More 
had visited the Eoyal nursery. 

Erasmus to Arnold? 

' Salve, mi Arnolde. Now for six weeks I having been 
' suffering much from a nocturnal ague, of a lingering 

1 Erasmus Botzhemo : Cataloyus 
Omnium Erasmi Lucubrationum : 
Basle, 1523. 

2 Epist. lxxxi. He arrived at 

Paris ' postridie Calend, Februarias' 
(p. 73, E.), i.e. Feb. 2, 1500. 

3 Epist. iii. This letter is dated 
in the Ley den edition, 1490, and 



Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

Chap. IV. 



gives up 
all hope of 
going to 

Cost of 
going to 

kind but of daily recurrence, and it has nearly killed 
me. I am not yet free from the disease, but still 
somewhat better. I don't yet live again, but some 
hope of life dawns upon me. You ask me to tell you 
my plans. Take this only, to begin with : To mortify 
myself to the world, I dash my hopes. I long for 
nothing more than to give myself rest, in which I 
might live wholly to God alone, weep away the sins 
of a careless life, devote myself to the study of the 
Holy Scriptures, either read somewhat or write. This 
I cannot do in a monastery or college. One could not 
be more delicate than I am ; my health will bear neither 
vigils, nor fasts, nor any disturbance, even when at its 
best. Here, where I live in such luxury, I often fall ill ; 
what should I do amid the labours of college life ? 

' I had determined to go to Italy this year, and to 
work at theology some months at Bologna ; also there 
to take the degree of Doctor ; then in the year of 
Jubilee to visit Eome ; which done, to return to my 
friends and then to settle down. But I am afraid that 
these things that I would, I shall not be able to accom- 
plish. I fear, in the first place, that my health would 
not stand such a journey and the heat of the climate. 
Lastly, I reckon that I could not go to Italy, nor live 
there without great expense. It costs a great deal also 
to prepare for a degree. And the Bishop of Cambray 
gives very sparingly. He altogether loves more libe- 
rally than he gives, and promises everything much 

in trie edition of 1521, p. 261, t ' Arnold ' in Epist. xxix. (Paris, 12 
M.LXXXIX. {sic), but it evidently ; April) and a repetition in it of much 
was written shortly after the illness that is said in this letter respecting 

of Erasmus at Paris in the spring 
of 1500. See also the mention of 

Erasmus's illness and intention of vi- 
siting Italy. See also Epist. dii. App. 

Poverty of Erasmus. 


' more largely than he performs. It is partly my own chap, iv 
' fault for not pressing him. There are so many who 
' are even extorting. In the meantime I shall do what 
' seems for the best. Farewell.' 



What was he to do ? It was clear that he did not 
know what to do. The worst of it was that the unfor- 
tunate loss of the price of many months' leisure, 1 not 
only obliged him to postpone sine die his project of visit- 
ing Italy, but also to spend a large portion of his time 
and strength for the next few years in a struggle almost 
for subsistence. For the wolf must in some way or other 
be kept from the door ; and Erasmus was poor ! 

For a few months he struggled on at Paris, living in Poverty of 
lodgings with an old fellow student ' sparingly,' 2 hard 
at work at a collection of Greek and Latin proverbs — 
his Adagia — partly in order to raise the wind, partly to 
improve himself in Greek. Sometimes borrowing and 
sometimes begging, whatever money came to his hands 
went forthwith first in buying Greek books and then in 
clothes. 3 Later in the year, the prevalence of the 
Plague in Paris drove him to Orleans. He would have 
gone to Italy, but he had not the means. 4 In December 
he returned to Paris to continue his struggling life. 5 
In a letter written in January, 1501, on the anniversary 


His Greek 

1 ' In Britaimico littore pecuniola 
' mea, studiorum meorurn alimonia, 
' naufragium fecit.' — Epist. xcii. p. 
84 C. 

2 ' Tenuiter. 7 — Eras. Op. iii. p. 73, 
F. Epist. lxxxi. and see also lxxx. 

3 Erasmus to Battus : Epist. xxix. 
Paris, 12 April, probably in 1500. 
See also Epist. lxxx. ' Graecse literse 
'aninium meum propemodum ene- 

' cant : verum neque precium datur, 
'neque suppetit, quo libros, aut 
' prseceptoris operant redimam. Et 
' dum bsec omnia tumultuor, vix est. 
' unde vitam sustineam.' 

4 Epist. xciv. 

5 Epistolse xxxvi. lxxvi. lxxi. (20 
Nov.), lxxii. (9 Dec), xciv. xcix. 
(11 Dec), lxxiii. (11 Dec), and 
lxxiv. seem to belong to this period 

M 2 

164 Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

Chap. iv. of liis misfortune at Dover, he described himself ' as 

A>D# ' having now for a whole year been sailing under a 

1500-5. i s t orm y s ky against the waves and against the winds.' 1 

To add to his troubles, the Plague again broke out in 

Paris ; and, terrified by the number of funerals passing 

his door, the poor scholar fled from the city to spend a 

Erasmus few weeks in his native country. 2 During his stay in 

Holland. Holland he visited the monastery at Stein, 3 where in 

early years he had tasted the bitters of the monastic 

life. Neither there nor elsewhere in Holland did he 

find a resting-place. 

Fortunately for him, one true friend at least turned 
up, willing and able to enter into sympathy with him. 
This was Battus, tutor to the Marchioness of Vere. 
Erasmus had already corresponded with him from 
Paris, pouring out his troubles to him, and declaring 
that he had no other hope but in him alone. 4 Kept 
away from Paris by the Plague, and finding not even a 
temporary home in Holland, he at last found a refuge 
for a while from his fears and cares in a visit to the 
Princess of castle of Tomahens, 5 the residence of the Marchioness 
Battus" of Vere and of Battus. It had the additional attrac- 

of flight to Orleans. Epist. xv. and i Onier, where Erasmus was then stay- 
lxxvii. (14 Dec), lxxviii. (18 Dec), ing with the Abbot. See also Epist. 
and xci. (14 Jan.), seem to mark the ! xxxix., where he speaks of having 
date of his return to Paris. been terrified at Paris with the 

1 Epist. xcii. Paris, 27 Jan. 1500 numbers of funerals. On 12 July and 

(should be 1501). 

2 Epist. xxxix. 

3 Epist. ccccvii. App. 

4 ' Nee est in ullo mortal ium ali- 
' quid solidse spei, nisi in uno Batto.' 
— Eras. Op. iii. p. 48, C. Epist. liii. 

5 Epist. xxx. 2 July [1501] seems 
to be the first letter written from St. 

18 July he writes Epist. liv.-lviii. 
(' Tornaco ' evidently meaning the 
castle of Tornahens). Epist. lix. also 
was written about the same time. 
Epist. xcviii. ;j0 July, if written by 
Erasmus, shows he was still at St. 
Omer. All these letters seem to 
belong to the year 1501. 

Erasmus writes his ' Enchiridion. .' 165 

tion of being near to St. Omer, where lived a former chap. iv. 
patron of Erasmus, the Abbot of St. Bertin. AD# 

Whilst staying with Battus he wrote to a friend, that 150 °- 5 - 
he sometimes thought of returning to England to spend WO uki like 
a month or two more with Colet, in order to confer coieT* 
further with him on some theological questions. He a s ain - 
knew well, he said, how much good he should gain from 
doing so, but he could not get over the unlucky expe- 
rience of his last voyage. As to his journey to Italy, 
that, too, was knocked on the head. He told his 
friend that he longed to visit Italy as ardently as ever, 
but it was out of the question ; for, according to the 
adage of Plautus, ' Sine pennis volare haud facile est. 1 1 

Battus also wrote to Lord Mountjoy to tell him with 
what pleasure he had embraced Erasmus, but, ' alas, 
' how ill-treated and spoiled ! ' He told him how he 
had been commiserating Erasmus on his ill-fortune in 
England, and how the philosopher had smiled and bade 
him put a good face on it. He did not regret having 
visited England ; he cared more for the friends he 
had found in England than for all the gold of Crcesus. 
Battus concluded by telling Lord Mountjoy how Eras- 
mus had described to him the courtesy of the Prior 
Charnock, the learning of Colet, the good nature of Writes his 
More, the virtues of his noble patron. 2 It was during dion.' 
this visit to St. Omer, in the summer of 1501, that 
Erasmus wrote his ' Enchiridion.' 

There happened to be staying in the castle a lady, 
a friend of Battus, who had a bad husband. The latter, 
whilst holding other divines at arm's length, took to 
Erasmus. The wife, thinking that he possibly might 
have some influence over her husband, begged him, 

1 Eras. Op. iii. p. 52, E. Epist. lix. - Epist. lxii. 


Colet, Erasmus, and More. 




Chap. iv. without betraying that it was at her instigation, to 
write something which might produce in him some 
religious impressions. 1 The ' Enchiridion ' was the 
result, of which more will be said by and by. 

It was at St. Omer also that Erasmus became ac- 
quainted with John Vitrarius — a second John Colet in 
the earnestness of his Christian zeal against the cor- 
ruptions of the church and vices of the clergy, in his 
love for St. Paul, in his outspoken preaching, and even 
in his manner of preaching, in his dislike of the Scho- 
lastic subtlety of Scotus, and even in his preference for 
Ambrose, Cyprian, Jerome, and Origen over Augustine. 
Erasmus ever afterwards linked the names of Colet and 
Vitrarius together, and admitted them both deservedly 
into his calendar of uncanonised saints. 2 The ' Enchi- 
' ridion' was submitted to the judgment of Vitrarius, 
and obtained his approval. 3 

After many refreshing days passed at St. Omer, Eras- 
mus returned to Paris to pursue his literary labours. 
These, notwithstanding all the hindrances of ill-health 
and poverty, never seemed to have flagged. 4 He had 
already made up his mind to devote himself to the 
Herculean task of correcting the text of St. Jerome's 
voluminous works, with a view to their publication. 5 
The first edition of his ' Adagia ' had been printed in 

Return of 
to Paris. 

1 Erasmus to Botzhem : Cata- 
logue Omnium Erasmi Lucubrati- 
onum : Basle, 1523, leaf b, 4. 

2 Erasmus to Justus Jonas : Epist. 


3 ' Ea qimm placerent etiam eru- 
' ditis, proesertim Ioanni Viterio 
' Franci^cano cujus erat in illis re- 
'gionibusautoritassumma.' — Letter 

to Botzhem, leaf b, 4. There can be 
no doubt that the John Viterius 
mentioned in this letter is the same 
person as the Vitrarius of the letter 
to Justus Jonas. See also Mr. Lup- 
ton's introduction to his translation 
of Colet on Dionysius. 

4 Eras. Epist. clxxiii. 

5 Ibid. xciv. 

Erasmus writes to Colet. 


1501 ; and during a visit to Louvain and Antwerp, in chap. iv. 
1503, he was able to publish some other works — his AD _ 
afterwards famous ' Enchiridion ' amongst the rest. 1 . 150 °- 5 - 
But notwithstanding all his indomitable energy, and 
the often repeated kindness of Battus and the Mar- 
chioness, it would be difficult to imagine a longer cata- 
logue of troubles and disappointments — and these too 
of that harassing and vexatious kind which are most 
trying to the temper — than is contained in the letters 
of Erasmus during these dreary years. 2 

He might well have been excused if, lost sight of as 
it would seem by his English friends, he had himself 
forgotten his promise to Colet on leaving Oxford, 
amidst the cares of his continental life. 

But whilst these necessities not a little interrupted, Erasmus 
as was likely, those studies to which Colet's example bereTis 
and precept had urged him, and lengthened out the jj°^ ise to 
preliminary labours which Erasmus had made up his 
mind must precede his active participation in Colet's 
work, they did not, it seems, damp his energy, or 
induce him to look back after putting his hand to the 
plough. This and more lies touchingly hinted in the 
following letter written by Erasmus to Colet on receipt 
of the news of the elevation of his friend to the dignity 
of Doctor and Dean. 

1 Lucubratiunculce aliquot Eras- 
mi: Antwerp, 1503. Biogr. de 
Thierry Martins: par A. F. Van 
Iseghem : Alost, 1852, 8vo. See 
also Letter to Botzhem ( Catalogus, 
#c), fol. b, 4. 

2 It is very difficult to fix the true 

dates of these letters, and to ascer- 
tain to what year they belong. 
Epist. ccccxlvi. App., from Louvain, 
mentions the death of Battus, and 
that the Marchioness of Vere bad 
married below her. He speaks of 
himself as buried in Greek studies. 

Chap. IV. 

168 Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

Erasmus to Colet. 

' If our friendship, most learned Colet, had been of 
' a common-place kind, or your habits those of the 
' common run of men, I should indeed have been some- 
' what fearful lest it might have been extinguished, or 
' at least cooled, by our long and wide separation. . . 
' But I prefer to believe that the cause of my having 
' received no letter from you now for several years, 
' lies rather in your press of business, or ignorance of 
' my whereabouts, or even in myself, than in your for- 

' getfulness of an old friend 

' I am much surprised that you have not yet given 

' to the world any of your commentaries on St. Paul 

'and the Gospels. I know your modesty, but surely 

' you ought to conquer that, and print them for the 

'public good. 

Erasmus ' As to the title of Doctor and Dean, I do not so 

lateFcSet ' mucn congratulate you about these — for I know well 

on his pre- « they will bring you nothing but labour — as those for 

ferment. - ° J n 

' whose good you are to bear them. 
Wants to ' I cannot tell you, dearest Colet, how, by hook and 
himself to ' by crook, I struggle to devote myself to the study of 
Scripture t sacrec [ literature — how I regret everything which 

studies. & J n 

' either delays me or detains me from it. But constant 
' ill-fortune has prevented me from extricating myself 
4 from these hindrances. When in France, I deter- 
' mined that if I could not conquer these difficulties 
' I would cast them aside, and that once freed from 
' them, with my whole mind I would set to work at 

1 Eras. Op. iii. p. 94. Epist. cii. Dated 1504, but should be probably 

Erasmus to Colet. 169 

these sacred studies, and devote the rest of my life Chap. iv. 
to them. Although three years before I had attempted a.d. 
something on St. Paul's Epistle to the Eomans, 1 and 
had completed four volumes at one pull, I was never- 
theless prevented from going on with it, owing chiefly 
to the want of a better knowledge of Greek. Con- Greek and 
sequently, for nearly these three years past, I have stu diel 
buried myself in Greek literature ; nor do I think 
the labour has been thrown away. I began also to 
dip into Hebrew, but, deterred by the strangeness of 
the words, I desisted, knowing that one man's life 
and genius are not enough for too many things at a 
time. I have read through a good part of the works 
of Origen, under whose guidance I seemed really to 
get on, for he opened to me, as it were, the springs 
and the method of theological science. 

' I send you [herewith], as a little literary present, 
some lucubrations of mine. Among them is our dis- 
cussion, when in England, on the Agony of Christ, but 
so altered that you will hardly know it again. Besides, 
your reply and my rejoinder to it could not be 
found. The " Enchiridion " I wrote to display neither The « En- 
genius nor eloquence, but simply for this — to coun- 
teract the vulgar error of those who think that reli- 
gion consists in ceremonies, and in more than Jewish 
observances, while they neglect what really pertains to 
piety. I have tried to teach, as it were, the art of piety 
in the same way as others have laid down the rules of 
[military] discipline. . . . The rest were written against 
the grain, especially the " Paean " and " Obsecratio," 
which I wrote to please Battus and Anna, the Princess 

1 See Erasmus Edmundo : Epist xcvi. ' ex arce Courtemburnensi.' 


Colet. Erasmus, and More. 

Chap. IV. 




1 Adagia.' 

wants help 
from his 

of Vere. As to the " Panegyric," 1 it was so con- 
trary to my taste, that I do not remember ever having 
written anything more reluctantly ; for I saw that such 

a thing could not be done without adulation 

' I wrote, if you recollect, sometime past, about the 
100 co23ies of the " Adagia " which I sent at my own 
expense into England, now three years ago. Grocyn 
wrote me word that he would arrange with the 
greatest fidelity and diligence that they should be sold 
according to my wish, and I do not doubt but that he 
has performed his promise, for he is the best and most 
honourable man that ever lived in England. Will 
you be so good as to aid me in this matter, so far as 
to advise and spur on those by whom you think the 
business ought to be settled ? For one cannot doubt 
but that, in so long a time, the books must be sold ; 
and the money must of necessity have come to some- 
body's hand ; and it is likely to be of more use to 
me now than ever before. For, by some means or 
other, I must contrive to have a few months entirely 
to myself, that I may extricate m} T self somehow from 
my labours in secular literature. This I trusted I 
could have done this winter, had not so many hopes 
proved illusive. Nor, indeed, " with a great sum can 
" I obtain this freedom," even for a few months. I 
entreat you, therefore, to do what you can to aid me, 
panting as I do eagerly after sacred studies, in disen- 
gaging myself from those [secular] studies which have 
now ceased to be pleasarit to me. It would not do 
for me to beg of my friend, Lord Mountjoy, although 
it would not seem unreasonable or impertinent if, of 

1 The Panegyric upon Philip, | Netherlands. See Epist. ccccxlv. 
King of Spain, on his return to the I App. Erasmus Gulielmo Goudano. 

Erasmus to Colet. 171 

' his own good will, lie had chosen to aid me, both on Chap. iv. 
' the ground of his habitual patronage of my studies, a .d. 

' and also because the " Adagia " were undertaken at 15 " ' 
' his suggestion, and inscribed with his name. I am 

OS ' 

' ashamed of the first edition [of the " Adagia " 
' both on account of the blundering mistakes of the 
' printers, which seem made almost on purpose, and 
' because, urged on by others, I hurried over the 
' work which had now begun to seem to me dry and 
' poor after my study of the Greek authors. Conse- 
' quently, another edition is resolved upon, in which 
' the errors of both author and printer are to be cor- 
' rected, and the work made as useful as possible to 
' students. 

' Although, however, I may for a while be engaged His Greek 
' upon an humble task, yet whilst thus working in the n " t ies 
' Garden of the Greeks, I am gathering much fruit by 
' the way for the time to come, which may hereafter be 
' of use to me in sacred studies. For I have learned 
' this by experience, that without Greek one can do 
' nothing in any branch of study ; for it is one thing 
' to conjecture, and quite another thing to judge — one 
' thing to see with other people's ej^es, and quite an- 
1 other thing to believe what you see with your own. 

' But to what a length this letter has grown ! Love, 
'however, will excuse loquacity. Farewell, most 
' learned and excellent Colet. 

' Pray let me know what has happened to our friend 
' Sixtinus ; also what your friend the Prior Eichard 
' Charnock is doing. 

' In order that whatever you may write or send to 
' me may duly come to hand, be so good as to have 
' them addressed to Christopher Fisher (a most loving 


172 Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

Chap. iv. ' friend and patron of all learned men, and }^ou amongst 
' the rest), in whose family I am now a guest.' Paris, 
1504 [in error for 1505]. 



Thus had the poor scholar worked on, for the most 
part in silence, during these years, struggling alone, yet 
manfully, in the midst of the manifold hindrances cast 
in his wa}r by ill-health and straitened means, neither 
free-born (as his friend Colet was), and thus able to 
tread unencumbered the path of duty, nor finding 
himself able even ' with a great sum to obtain free- 
' dom ' for a while. Yet through all had Erasmus 
kept courageously to the collar, steadily toiling on 
through five years of preliminary labours, with 
earnest purpose to redeem his promise to Colet — 
first, fully to equip himself with the proper tools and 
then, but not till then, to join him in fellow work, 
why Colet Colet surely had forgotten the promise of Erasmus 
written. on leaving Oxford, or perchance the hope it held out 
was too slender for him to rest on, else he would 
hardly have left him during these years without 
letters of brotherly encouragement. 

It is true that Erasmus still confessed himself to be 
occupied in merely preliminary labours. His great 
work, no less than it had been five years before, was 
still in the future. Yet the fire caught from his con- 
tact with Colet at Oxford was at least flickering on 
the hearth, and with fresh stirring and fuel might 
perhaps after all be kindled into active flame. 

Colet's reply to this letter has not come down to us, 
but from the result we may be sure that it contained 
a pressing invitation to revisit England, and the 
promise of a warm reception. 

The ' Enchiridion.' 



Chap. IV. 




In the meantime, closer inspection of the literary 
present sent by Erasmus, must have proved to Colet to 
how large an extent, after so long a process of study and 
digestion, his friend had really adopted the views which 
he himself had held and consistently preached for the 
last ten years. 

The ' Enchiridion ' was, in truth, are-echo of the very The « En 
key-note of Colet's faith. It openly taught, as Colet 
now for so many years had been teaching, that the 
true Christian's religion, instead of consisting in the 
acceptance of scholastic dogmas, or the performance 
of outward rites and ceremonies, really consists in a 
true, self-sacrificing loyalty to Christ, his ever-living 
Prince ; that life is a warfare, and that the Christian 
must sacrifice his evil lusts and passions, and spend his 
strength, not in the pursuit of his own pleasure, but in 
active service of his Prince ; — such was the drift and 
spirit of this ' Handybook of the Christian Soldier.' l 

It must not be assumed, however, that Erasmus had 
adopted all the views which Colet had expressed in their 
many conversations at Oxford. On the contrary, I 
think there may be traced in the ' Enchiridion ' 2 a ten- 
dency to interpret the text of Scripture allegorically, 
rather than to seek out its literal meaning — a tendency 
which must have been somewhat opposed to the strong 

1 More literally ' The Pocket Dag- 
' ger of the Christian Soldier.' But 
Erasmus himself regarded it as a 
' Handybook.' See Enchiridion, ch. 
viii. English ed. 1522. ' We must 
' haste to that which rem aineth lest 
' it should not be an " Enchiridion," 

' that is to say " a lytell treatyse 
' " hansome to be caryed in a man's 
'"hande," but rather a great 
' volume.' 

2 See especially chap. ii. Alle- 
goria de Manna, Eras. Op. v. fol. 
6-10, &c. 


Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

Chap. iv. convictions of Colet, and even to those of Erasmus, in 
a.d. after years. But he had just then been studying Origen, 
and it is not strange that he should for a while be fas- 
cinated, as so many others have been, by the allegorical 
method of interpretation adopted by that father. He 
had learned so much from his writings, that he yielded 
the more readily perhaps in this particular to the force 
of Origen's rich imagination. 1 

But if Colet did not find his own views reflected in 
all points in this early production of Erasmus, he 
would not the less rejoice to find its general tone so 
spiritual, so anti-ceremonial, and so free from supersti- 
tious adherence to ecclesiastical authority. That it was 
so, no stronger proof could be given than the fact that, 
Not a sue- whilst for years after it was written it was known only 
first. in select circles, and was far from being a popular 

book ; yet no sooner had the Protestant movement 
commenced than, with a fresh preface, it passed through 
almost innumerable editions with astonishing rapidity. 
Nor was it read only by the learned. It was translated 
into English by Tyndale, and again in an abridged form 
reissued, in English by Coverdale. And whilst in this 
country it was thus treated almost as a Protestant book, 
so in Spain also it had a remarkably wide circulation. 
' The work,' wrote the Archdeacon of Alcor, in 1 527 — 
twenty years after its first silent publication — 'has 
' gained such applause and credit to your name, and 
' has proved so useful to the Christian faith, that there 
' is no other book of our time which can be compared 
' with the " Enchiridion " for the extent of its circula- 

A favour- 
ite with 
the Pro- 

1 It is evident that Erasmus had 
not yet appreciated as fully as he 
did afterwards the Itistorical method 

which Colet had applied to St. 
Paul's Epistles to get at their real 
meaning and { spirit.' 

The ' Enchiridion.'' 


will and 

' tion, since it is found in everybody's hands. There is Chap. iv. 

' scarcely anyone in the court of the Emperor, any a.d. 

' citizen of our cities, or member of our churches and 

' convents, no not even a hotel or country inn, that 

' has not a copy of the " Enchiridion " of Erasmus in 

' Spanish. The Latin version was read previously by 

' the few who understood Latin, but its full merit was 

6 not perfectly perceived even by these. Now in the 

' Spanish it is read by all without distinction ; and 

' this short work has made the name of Erasmus a 

' household word in circles where it was previously 

' unknown and had not been heard of.' l 

Strong as must have been the Protestant tendencies Anti-Au- 
of this little book to have made it so great a favourite on S free an 
with Protestant Eeformers, it is worthy of note that its 
tone was as moderate and anti-Augustinian upon the 
great questions of free will and grace, and in this respect 
as decidedly opposed to the extreme Augustinian views 
adopted by the Protestant Eeformers, as anything that 
Erasmus ever afterwards wrote during the heat of the 

To abridge what is said in the ' Enchiridion ' on this 
subject into a few sentences, but retaining, as nearly 
as may be, the words of Erasmus, it is this : — 

' The good man is he whose body is a temple of the 
' Holy Spirit ; the bad man is like a whited sepulchre 
4 full of dead men's bones. If the soul loathes its proper 
4 food, if it cannot see what is truth, if it cannot discern 
' the Divine voice speaking in the inner ear ; if, in fact, 
4 it has become senseless, it is dead. And wherefore 
' dead ? Because God, who is its life, has forsaken it. 

1 Alfonso Fernandez, Archdeacon 
of Alcor, to Erasmus : Palencia, 
Nov. 27, 1527. Life and Writings 

of Juan de Valdes, by Benjamin 
Wift'en : London, Quaritcb, 1865, 
p. 41. 


Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

Chap. IV. 



works of 

tion at 
Oxford on 

' Agony of 

' Now if the soul be dead it cannot be raised into life 
' again but by the gracious power of God only. But we 
' have God on our side. Our enemy has been con- 
' quered by Christ. In ourselves we are weak ; in Him 
' we are strong. The victory lies in his hands, but he 
' has put it also in ours. No one need fail to conquer, 
4 unless he does not choose to conquer. Aid is with- 
' held from none who desire it. If we accept it, he will 
' fight for us, and impute his love as merit to us. The 
' victory is to be ascribed to him, who alone being sin- 
' less, overcame the tyranny of sin ; but we are not on 
' that account to expect it without our own exertions. 
' We must steer our course between Scylla and Cha- 
' rybdis. We must neither sit down in idle security, 
' relying on Divine grace ; nor, in view of the hardness 
' of the struggle, lay down our arms in despair.' 1 

Thus early had Erasmus, following the lead of Colet, 
taken up the position as regards this question to which 
he adhered through life. 

But the ' Enchiridion ' was not the only work pub- 
lished by Erasmus during this interval. Probably an- 
nexed to it, and under the same cover, he had published 
his long report of the conversation between himself 
and Colet at Oxford on the causes of the Agony of 
Christ in the Garden. This showed at least that he 
had not forgotten what had passed between them on 
that occasion. As, however, he did not append to it 
Colet's reply, it cannot be concluded that he had given 
up his own opinion, either on the question directly in 

1 The above is an abridged trans- 
lation from the Enchiridion, ed. 
Argent. June, 1516, pp. 7, 8, which, 
being published before the Lutheran 

controversy commenced, is probably 
a reprint of the earlier editions. The 
editions of 1515 are the earliest that 
I have seen. 

Other Works of Erasmus. 177 

dispute, or on the still more important one, which Chap. iv. 
came out of it, on the inspiration of the Scriptures a.d. 1505. 
and the theory of ' manifold senses.' 

Very clearly, however, did the letter which accom- 
panied these works show that Erasmus had already re- 
solved to dedicate his life to the great work of bringing 
out the Scriptures into their proper prominence, and 
thereby throwing into the background all that mass of 
scholastic subtlety which had for so long formed the 
food of theologians. If now for years he had been 
wading through Greek literature, it was not merely for 
its own sake, but with this great object in view. If, 
on account of his learning and eloquence, his friends at 
the court of the Netherlands had pressed him into their 
service, and induced him to compose a nattering oration 
on the occasion of the return of Philip from Spain, he 
had counted the labour as lost, except so far as it pro- 
bably helped to keep the wolf from the door for a week 
or two. Even the two editions of the ' Adagia ' were The 
evidently regarded only as stepping-stones to that know- 
ledge without which he felt that it would be useless for 
him to attempt to master the Greek New Testament. 
Of this he gave further practical proof before his arrival 
again in England. For whilst still under the hospitable 
roof of his friend Fisher, the Papal protonotary at Paris, 
he brought out his edition of Laurentius Valla's ' Anno- 
* tations upon the New Testament ; ' a copy of which 
he had chanced to light upon in an old library during 
the previous summer. And to this edition was prefixed 
a prefatory letter to this kind host, remarkable for the 
boldness of its tone and the freedom of its thought. 

He knew well, he wrote, that some readers would Pref a?e to 

an edition 

cry out, ' Oh, Heavens ! ' before they had got to the end of Valla's 


' Adagia.' 


Colet. Erasmus, and More. 

CHAr. IV. 

a.d. 1505. 

' Annota- 
tions on 
the New 

of the text 
of Scrip- 

of the titlepage ; but such as these he reminded of the 
advice of Aristophanes : ' First listen, my friends, and 
4 then you may shriek and bluster ! ' He knew, he went 
on to say, that theologians, who ought to get more 
good out of the book than any one else, would raise 
the greatest tumult against it ; that they would resent 
as a sacrilegious infringement of their own sacred pro- 
vince, any interference of Valla, the grammarian, with 
the sacred text of the Scriptures. But he boldly vin- 
dicated the right and the necessity of a fair criticism, 
as in many passages the Vulgate was manifestly at 
fault, was a bad rendering of the original Greek, or 
had itself been corrupted. If any one should reply 
that the theologian is above the laws of grammar, and 
that the work of interpretation depends solery upon 
inspiration, this were, he said, indeed to claim a new 
dignity for divines. Were they alone to be allowed to 
indulge in bad grammar ? He quoted from Jerome to 
show that he claimed no inspiration for the translator ; 
and asked what would have been the use of Jerome's 
giving directions for the translation of Holy Scripture 
if the power of translating depended upon inspiration. 
Again, how was it that Paul was evidently so much 
more at home in Hebrew than in Greek ? Finally he 
urged, if there be errors in the Vulgate, is it not lawful 
to correct them? Many indeed he knew would object 
to change any word in the Bible, because they fancy 
that in every letter is hid some mystic meaning. Sup- 
pose that it were so, would it not be all the more need- 
ful that the exact original text should be restored ? 1 

1 This letter was republished 
in the edition of some letters of 
Erasmus printed at Basle, 1521, 

p. 221, and see also Eras. Op. iii. 
Epist. ciii. 

Valla s Annotations. 179 

This was a bold public beginning of that work of Chap. iv. 
Biblical criticism to which Colet's example so power- A . D . 1505. 
fully urged Erasmus. 

The edition of Valla's ' Annotations,' with this letter 
prefixed to it, was published at Paris in 1505, while 
he was busily engaged in bringing out the second 
edition of the ' Adagia.' And it would seem that he 
only waited for the completion of these works before 
again crossing the Straits to pay another visit to his 
English friends. 

s 2 



Chap. V. 
a.d. 1505. 

again is 


Towards the close of 1505, Erasmus arrived in Eng- 
land, to renew Ms intimacy with his English friends. 1 
He had not this time to visit Oxford in order to meet 
them. Colet, Grocyn, Linacre, More, and his friend 
Lilly, all were ready to receive him with open arms 
in London. He seems, for a time at least, to have 
been More's guest. 2 

Since Erasmus had last seen him, the youth had 
matured into the man. He had passed through much 
discipline and mental struggle. But his grey eye 
sparkled still with native wit, and a hasty glance 
round his rooms was enough to assure his old friend 
that his tastes were what they used to be — that in 
heart and mind, in spite of all that had befallen him, 
he was the same high-toned and happy-hearted soul 
he always had been. 

More's young and gentle wife, fresh from the 
retirement of her father's country home, was too un- 
cultured to attract much notice from the learned 
foreigner ; but he tells us More had purposely chosen 

1 Letter to Fox, Bishop of Win- 
chester. London, Cal. Jan. 1506. 
Eras. Op. i. p. 214. 

2 Erasmus's letter to Botzhem, 
Catalogus, Sfc. Basle, 1523, leaf b, 3. 

Erasmus in England. 


a wife whom he could mould to his own liking for 
a life companion. Both were young, and she was apt 
to learn. Whilst, therefore, he himself found time to 
devote to his favourite Greek books and his lyre, he 
was imparting by degrees to her his own fondness for 
literature and music. 1 

Erasmus found him writing Latin epigrams 
verses, in which the pent-up bitter thoughts of the past 
year or two were making their escape. Some were on 
priests and monks — sharp biting satires on their evil 
side, and by no means showing abject faith in monk- 
hood. 2 

Nor was he courting back again the favour of offended 
royalty by melodious and repentant winnings. Bather 
his pen gave vent to the chafed and untamed spirit of 
the man who knew he had done his duty, and was un- 

Chap. V. 

a.d. 1505. 

and More'a 


1 Eras. Op. iii. p. 475, D. 

2 The epigrams have no dates, 
and it is impossible, therefore, to 
say positively which of them were 
written during this period. The 
following translation of one of 
them from Cayley's Life of Sir 
Thomas More, vol. i. p. 270 (with 
this reservation as to its date), may 
be taken as a sample : — 

A squall arose ; the vessel's tossed ; 
The sailors fear their lives are lost. 
' Our sins, our sins,' dismayed they 

' Have wrought this fatal destiny ! ' 

A monk it chanced was of the crew, 
And round him to confess they 

Yet still the restless ship is tossed, 
And still they fear their lives are lost. 

One sailor, keener than the rest, 
Cries, ' With our sins she's still 

oppress'd ; 
Heave out that monk, who bears 

them all, 
And then full well she'll ride the 


So said, so done ; with one accord 
They threw the caitiff overboard. 
And now the bark before the gale 
Scuds with light hull and easy 

Learn hence the weight of sin to 

With which a ship could scarcely 


[For the Latin, see Epigrammata 
Thomce Mori, Basilse, 1520, pp. 72, 



Colet, Erasmus, and Mere. 

Chap. V. 

a.d. 1505. 

tions from 

tion of 
for More. 

justly suffering for it. His unrelenting hatred of the 
king's avarice and tyranny may be read in the very 
headings of his epigrams. 1 

Erasmus joined More in his studies. 2 He was trans- 
lating into Latin some of Lucian's Dialogues and his 
' Declamatio pro Tyrannicida.' At More's suggestion 
they both wrote a full answer to Lucian's arguments 
in favour of tyrannicide, imitating Lucian's style as 
nearly as possible ; and Erasmus, in sending a copy of 
these essays to a friend, spoke of More in terms which 
show how fully he had again yielded to the fascination 
and endearing charms of his character. As he had 
once spoken of the youth, so now he spoke of the man. 
Never, he thought, had nature united so fully in one 
mind so many of the qualities of genius — the keenest 
insight, the readiest wit, the most convincing eloquence, 
the most engaging manners — he possessed, he said, 
every quality required to make a perfect advocate. 3 

Such a man, with fair play and opportunity, was 
sure to rise into distinction. But as yet he must bide 
his time, waiting for the day when he could pursue his 
proper calling at the bar without risk of incurring 
royal displeasure. 

1 E.g.:- 

T. Mori in A varum.' 
: Dives Avarus Pauper est.' 
Sola Mors Tyrannicida est.' 
Quid inter Tyrannum et Prin- 

' cipem.' 
Sollicitam esse Tyranni Vitam.' 
Bonum Principem esse Patrem non 

' Dominum.' 
; De bono Pege et Populo.' 
1 De Principe bono et male' 

'Pegern non satellitium sed virtus 

' reddit tutum.' 
' Populus consentiens regnum dat et 

' aufert.' 
' Quis optimus reipub. status.' 

2 Alluding to tbis time, Erasmus 
spoke of More as ' Turn studiorum 
' sodali.' — Letter to Botzbem, 1523, 
leaf b, 3. 

3 See letter of Erasmus to Picb- 
ard Wbitford, Eras. Op. i. p. 265, 
dated May, ex rure (1506). 

Erasmus leaves for Italy, 183 

Chap. V, 


Erasmus seems to have spent some months during 
the spring of 1506 with his English friends, busying 
himself, as already mentioned, in translating in More's 
company portions of Lucian's works, and, so far as his 
letters show at first sight, not very eagerly pursuing 
those sacred studies at which he had told Golet that he 
longed to labour. 

Nor was there really anything inconsistent in this. 
The truth was that, in order to complete his knowledge 
of Greek, without which he had declared he could do 
nothing thoroughly, he had yet to undertake that jour- Erasmus 
ney to Italy which had been the dream of his early visit Italy, 
manhood, and the realisation of which six years ago fu nc ^ ants 
had only been prevented by his unlucky accident at 
Dover. This journey to Italy lay between him and the 
great work of his life, and still the adage of Plautus 
remained inexorable, ' Sine pennis volare haud facile 
' est.' 

It was therefore that he was translating Lucian. It 
was therefore that he dedicated one dialogue to one 
friend, another to another. 1 It was therefore that he 
paid court to this patron of learning and that. It was 
not that he was importunate and servilely fond of 
begging, but that, by hook or by crook, the necessary 
means must be found to carry out his project. 

It was thus that we find Grocyn rowing with him to 

1 Lucian's dialogue called Sam- 
mum lie sent to Dr. Christopher 
Urswick, a well-known statesman 
(Eras. Op. i. p. 243) ; Toxaris, sive 

Winchester {Ibid. p. 214) ; Timon 
to Dr. Ruthall, afterwards Bishop of 
Durham (Ibid. p. 255) ; De Tyran- 
nicidd, to Dr. Whitford, chaplain 

de Amicitid, to Fox, Bishop of | to Fox (Ibid. p. 267). 

184 Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

Chap. v. Lambeth to introduce him to Archbishop Warham, and 
A.i>. 1506 the two joking together as they rowed back to town, 
upon the small pecuniary result of their visit. 1 

Funds, it appeared, did not come in as quickly as 
might have been wished, but at length the matter was 
arranged. Erasmus was to proceed to Italy, taking 
under his wing two English youths, sons of Dr. Baptista, 
chief physician to Henry VII. A young Scotch noble- 
man, the Archbishop of St. Andrew's, was also to be 
placed under the scholar's care. 2 By this arrangement 
Erasmus was, as it were, to work his passage ; which he 
thankfully agreed to do, and set out accordingly. With 
Erasmus what feelings he left England, and with what longings 
Italy, with to return, may be best gathered from the few lines he 
pupils. wrote to Colet from Paris, after having recovered from 
the effects of the journey, including a rough toss of four 
days across the Straits : — 

Erasmus to Colet. 

'Paris : June 19, 1506. 

' When, after leaving England, I arrived once more 
' in France, it is hard to say how mingled were 
' my feelings. I cannot easily tell you which pre- 
' ponderated, my joy in visiting again the friends 
' I had before left in France, or my sadness in 
' leaving those whom I had recently found in Eng- 
' land. For this I can say truly, that there is no whole 
' country which has found me friends so numerous, 
' so sincere, learned, obliging, so noble and accom- 
' pushed in every way, as the one City of London has 

1 See an amusing accouutof this \ 2 See Knight's Life of Erasmus, 

visit to Lambeth Palace in the let- 
ter to Botzhem ( Catalogus, leaf a, 5) ; 
also Knight's Life of Erasmus, p. 83. 

pp. 96-101. Adagia. Op. ii. 554. 
Epist. dccclxxiv. and dccccliii. 

Erasmus to Colet. 185 

' done. Each lias so vied with others in affection and Chap. v. 

' good offices, that I cannot tell whom to prefer. I am A . D . 1506. 

' obliged to love all of them alike. The absence of 

' these must needs be painful ; but I take heart again 

' in the recollection of the past, keeping them as 

' continually in mind as if they were present, and 

' hoping that it may so turn out that I may shortly Letter to 

' return to them, never again to leave them till p ° r jg r01T 

' death shall part us. I trust to you, with my other 

' friends, to do your best for the sake of your love 

' and interest for me to bring this about as soon and 

1 as propitiously as you can. 

' I cannot tell you how pleased I am with the dis- 
' position of the sons of Baptista : nothing could be 
' more modest or tractable ; nor could they be more 
' diligent in their studies. I trust that this arrangement 
' for them may answer their father's hopes and my 
* desires, and that they may hereafter confer great 
' honour upon England. Farewell.' l 

To Linacre, too, Erasmus wrote in similar terms. He Letter to 
alluded to the unpleasant consequences to his health of Lmacre - 
his four days' experience of the winds and waves, and 
wished, he said, that Linacre's medical skill were at 
hand to still his throbbing temples. He expressed, as 
he had done to Colet, the hope that he soon might be 
able to return to England, and that the task he had 
undertaken with regard to his two pupils, might turn 
out well ; and he ended his letter by urging his friend 
to write to him often. Let it be in few words, if he 
liked, but he must write. 2 

1 Eras. Op. iii. Epist. civ. 2 Epist. cv. 


Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

Chap. V. 
a.d. 1507. 

on his 
way to 




At length Erasmus really was on his way to Italy, 

trudging along on horseback, day after day, through 

'the dirt of continental roads, accompanied by the two 

sons of Dr. Baptista, their tutor, and a royal courier, 

commissioned to escort them as far as Bologna. 

It is not easy to realise the toil of such a journey to 
a jaded delicate scholar, already complaining of the 
infirmities of age, though as yet not forty. Strange 
places, too, for a fastidious student were the roadside 
inns of Germany, of which Erasmus has left so vivid a 
picture, and into which he turned his weary head each 
successive night, after grooming his own horse in the 
stable. One room serves for all comers, and in this 
one room, heated like a stove, some eighty or ninety 
guests have already stowed themselves — boots, bag- 
gage, dirt and all. Their wet clothes hang on the 
stove iron to dry, while they wait for their supper. 
There are footmen and horsemen, merchants, sailors, 
waggoners, husbandmen, children, and women — sound 
and sick — combing their heads, wiping their brows, 
cleaning their boots, stinking of garlic, and making as 
great a confusion of tongues as there was at the build- 
ing of Babel ! At length, in the midst of the din and 
stifling closeness of this heated room, supper is spread 
— a coarse and ill-cooked meal — which our scholar 
scarcely dares to touch, and yet is obliged to sit out to 
the end for courtesy's sake. And when past midnight 
Erasmus is shown to his bedchamber, he finds it to be 
rightly named — there is nothing in it but a bed ; and 

Erasmus visits Italy. 


Chap. V. 

a.d. 1507. 

the last and hardest task of the day is now to find 
between its rough unwashed sheets some chance hours 
of repose. 

So, almost in his own words, 1 did Erasmus fare on 
his way to Italy. Nor did comforts increase as Germany 
was left behind. For as the party crossed the Alps, Journey 
the courier quarrelled with the tutor, and they even Alps. 
came to blows. After this, Erasmus was too angry 
with both to enjoy the company of either, and so rode 
apart, composing verses on those infirmities of age 
which he felt so rapidly encroaching upon his own 
frail constitution. 2 At length the Italian frontier was 
reached, and Erasmus, as Luther did three or four 
years after, 3 began, the painful task of realising what 
that Italy was about which he had so long and so 
ardently dreamed. 

It is not needful here to trace Erasmus through all Erasmus 
his Italian experience. It presents a catalogue of dis- 
appointments and discomforts upon which we need not 
dwell. How his arrangement with the sons of Baptista, 
having lasted a year, came to an end, and with it the 
most unpleasant year of his life ; 4 how he took his 
doctor's degree at Turin ; how he removed to Bologna 
to find the city besieged by Soman armies, 5 headed by 
Pope Julius himself; how he visited Florence 6 and 
Borne ; 7 how he went to Venice to superintend a new 
edition of the ' Adagia ; ' how he was flattered, and how 
many honours he was promised, and how many of 

1 See his Colloquy, Diversoria. 

Q Eras. Op. iv. p. 755. Erasmus 
to Botzhem, leaf a, 4. 

3 Luther visited Rome in 1510, 
or a year or two later. Luther's 
Briefe, De Wette, 1. xxi. 

4 ' Nullum enim annum vixi in- 
' suavius ! ' — Erasmus to Botzhem, 
leaf a, 4. 

5 Eras. Ep. cccclxxxvi. App. 
,J Epist. cccclxxxvii. App. 

7 Eras, to Botzhem, leaf b, 8. 


Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

Chap. V. 

a.d. 1509. 

returns to 

these promises he found to be, as injuries ought to be, 
written on sand ; — these and other particulars of his 
Italian experience may be left to the biographer of 
Erasmus. In 1509, on the accession of Henry VIII. 
to the English throne, the friends of Erasmus sent him 
a pressing invitation to return to England, 1 which he 
gladly accepted. For our present purpose it were 
better, therefore, to see him safely on his horse again, 
toiling back on the same packhorse roads, lodging at 
the same roadside inns, and meeting the same kind of 
people as before, but his face now, after three or four 
years' absence, set towards England, where there are 
hearts he can trust, whether he can or cannot those in 
Eome, and where once again, safely housed with More, 
he can write and talk to Colet as he pleases, and forget 
in the pleasures of the present the toils and disappoint- 
ments of the past. 2 

For what most concerns the history of the Oxford 
Eeformers is this — that it was to beguile these journeys 
that Erasmus conceived the idea of his 'Praise of 

1 Mountjoy to Erasmus, Epist. x., 
dated May 27, 1497, but should 
be 1509. 

2 It is difficult to fix the date of 
the arrival of Erasmus in England. 
He was at Venice in the autumn of 

1508. (See the Aldine edition of his 
Adagia, dated Sept. 1508.) After 
this he wintered at Padua (see 

Vita Erasmi, prefixed to Eras. Op. 
i.) ; and after this went to Rome 
(ibid.). This brings the chronology 
to the spring of 1509. In April, 

1509, Henry VIII. ascended the 
English throne. On May 27, 1509, 
Lord Mountjoy wrote to Erasmus, 

who seems to have been then at 
Rome, pressing him to come back to 
England (Eras. Epist. x., the date 
of which is fixed by its contents). 

The letter prefixed to the Praise 
of Folly is dated ex rure, ' quinto 
1 Idas Junius] and states that the 
book is the result of his meditations 
during his long journeys on horse- 
back on his way from Italy to 
England. This letter must have 
been dated June 9, 1510, at earliest, 
or 1511, at latest. 1510 is the pro- 
bable date (see infra, note at p. 
204) . The later editions of the Praise 
of Folly put the year 1508 to this 

More returns to Public Life. 


' Folly,' a satire upon the follies of the times which had Chap. v. 
grown up within him at these wayside inns, as he met A j>Ti509. 
in them men of all classes and modes of life, and the 'Praise of 
keen edge of which was whetted by his recent visit to 
Italy and Eome. 1 What most concerns the subject of 
these pages is the mental result of the Italian journey, 
and it was not long before it was known in almost 
every wayside inn in Europe. 

OF HENRY VIII. (1509-10). 

But little can be known of what happened to Colet 
and More during the absence of Erasmus in Italy. 

That Colet was devoted to the work of his Deanery 
may well be imagined. 

As to More ; during the remaining years of Henry More 
VII. 's reign, he was living in continual fear — thinking feSng 
of flying the realm 2 — going so far as to pay a visit to J*°™ Eng " 
the universities of Louvain and Paris, 3 as though to make 
up his mind where to flee to, if flight became needful. 4 

Nor were these fears imaginary. More was not 
alone in his dread of the King. Daily the royal ava- 
rice was growing more unbounded. Cardinal Morton's 

thinks of 

letter ; but the edition of August, 
1511 (Argent.) gives no year, nor 
does the Basle edition of 1519, to 
which the notes of Lystrius were 
appended. So that the printed date 
is of no authority, and it is entirely 
inconsistent with the history of the 
book as given by Erasmus. The 
first edition, printed by Gourmont, 
at Paris, I have not seen, but, ac- 
cording to Brunet, it has no date. 

In the absence of direct proof, it is 
probable on the whole that Erasmus 
returned to England between the 
autumn of 1509 and June, 1510. 

1 See the letter to More prefixed 
to the Praise of Fully. 

2 Roper, p. 9. 

3 See More's letter to Dorpius, in 
which he mentions this visit. 

4 Roper, p. 6. 


Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

Chap. V. 
A.D. 1509. 




VII.'s ex- 

VII. dies. 

of Henry 

celebrated fork — the two-pronged dilemma witli which 
benevolences were extracted from the rich by the clever 
prelate — had been bad enough. The legal plunder of 
Empson and Dudley was worse. It filled every one 
with terror. ' These two ravening wolves,' writes Hall, 
who lived near enough to the time to feel some of the 
exasperation he described, ' had such a guard of false 
' perjured persons appertaining to them, which were by 
' their commandment empannelled on every quest, that 
' the King was sure to win whoever lost. Learned 
' men in the law, when they were required of their 
' advice, would say, " to agree is the best counsel I can 
' " give you." By this undue means, these covetous 
' persons filled the King's coffers and enriched them- 
' selves. At this unreasonable and extortionate doing 
' noblemen grudged, mean men kicked, poor men 
' lamented, preachers openly at Paul's Cross and other 
' places exclaimed, rebuked, and detested, but yet they 
' would never amend.' 1 Then came the general pardon, 
the result, it was said, of the remorse of the dying 
King, and soon after the news of his death. 

Henry VIII. was proclaimed King, 23rd April, 1509. 
The same day Empson and Dudley were sent to the 
Tower, and on the 17th of August, in the following 
year, they were both beheaded. 

More was personally known to the new King, and 
presented to him on his accession a richly illuminated 
vellum book, containing verses of congratulation. 2 
These verses have been disparaged as too adulatory in 
their tone. And no doubt they were so ; but More 
had written them evidently with a far more honest 
loyalty than Erasmus was able to command when he 

1 Hall, ed. 1548, fol. lix. 2 Epigrammata Mori: Basil, 3520, p. 17. 

Accession of Henry VIII. 191 

wrote a welcome to Philip of Spain on his return to Chap. v. 
the Netherlands. More honestly did rejoice, and with a .d. 1509. 
good reason, on the accession of Henry VIII. to the 
throne. It not only assured him of his own personal 
safety ; it was in measure like the rise of his own little 
party into power. 

Not that More and Colet and Linacre were suddenly The 
transformed into courtiers, but that Henry himself, formers in 
having been educated to some extent in the new learn- ^rTthe 
ing, would be likely at least to keep its enemies in Kin §; 
check and give it fair play. There had been some 
sort of connection and sympathy between Prince 
Henry in his youth and More and his friends ; witness 
More's freedom in visiting the royal nursery. Linacre 
had been the tutor of Henry's elder brother, and was 
made royal physician on Henry's accession. 1 From 
the tone of More's congratulatory verses it may be 
inferred that he and his friends had not concealed 
from the Prince their love of freedom and their hatred 
of his father's tyranny. For these verses, however 
flattering in their tone, were plain and outspoken 
upon this point as words well could be. With the 
suaviter in modo was united, in no small proportion, 
the fortiter in re. It would be the King's own fault if, 
knowing, as he must have done, More's recent history, 
he should fancy that these words were idle words, or but no 
that he could make the man, whose first public act tiers. 
was one of resistance to the unjust exactions of his 
father, into a pliant tool of his own ! If he should 
ever try to make More into a courtier, he would do 
so at least with his royal eyes open. 

How fully Henry VIII. on his part sided with the 

1 Johnson's Life of Linacre, pp. 179 et seq. 

mere cour- 


Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

Chap. V. 

a.d. 1509. 

sheriff of 

high prin- 

people against the counsellors of his father was not 
only shown b} T the execution of Dudley, but also by 
the appointment, almost immediately after, of Thomas 
More to the office of under-sheriff in the City, the very 
office which Dudley himself had held at the time when, 
as speaker of the House of Commons, he had been a 
witness of More's bold conduct — an office which he 
and his successor had very possibly used more to the 
King's profit than to the ends of impartial justice. 

The young lawyer who had dared to incur royal dis- 
pleasure by speaking out in Parliament in defence of 
the pockets of his fellow-citizens, had naturally become 
a popular man in the City. And his appointment to this 
judicial office was, therefore, a popular appointment. 

The spirit in which More entered upon its responsible 
duties still more endeared him to the people. Some 
years after, by refusing a pension offered him by Henry 
VIII., he proved himself more anxious to retain the 
just confidence of his fellow-citizens, in the impar- 
tiality of his decisions in matters between them and 
the King, than to secure his own emolument or his 
Sovereign's patronage. 1 The spirit too in which he re- 
entered upon his own private practice as a lawyer was 
illustrated both by his constant habit of doing all he 
could to get his clients to come to a friendly agreement 
before going to law, and also by his absolute refusal to 
undertake any cause which he did not conscientiously 
consider to be a rightful one. 2 It is not surprising 
that a man of this tested high principle should rapidly 
rise upon the tide of merited prosperity. Under the 
circumstances in which More was now placed, his 

1 Vide infra, p. 380. 

2 Stapleton, 1588 ed. pp. 26, 27. 

Erasmus writes the 'Praise of Folly.' 193 

practice at the bar became rapidly extensive. 1 Every- Chap. v. 
thing went well with him. Once more he was drinking a .d. 1509. 
the wine of life. 

There was probably no brighter home — brighter in 
present enjoyment, or more brilliant in future pro- 
spects — than that home in Bucklersbury, into which 
Erasmus, jaded by the journey, entered on his arrival 
from Italy. He must have found More and his gentle More's 

... .,..„ .., domestic 

wife rejoicing m their miant son, and the merry happiness, 
voices of three little daughters echoing the joy of the 
house. 2 

RESTING AT MORE's HOUSE (1510 OR 1511). 

For some days Erasmus was chained indoors by an 
attack of a painful disease to which he had for long 
been subject. His books had not yet arrived, and he 
was too ill to admit of close application of any kind. 

To beguile his time, he took pen and paper, and The : 
began to write down at his leisure the satirical reflec- of Folly,' 
tions on men and things which, as already mentioned, Mm-e's ™ 
had grown up within him during his recent travels, and house - 
served to beguile the tedium of his journey from Italy 
to England. It was not done with any grave design, 
or any view of publication ; but he knew his friend 
More was fond of a joke, and he wanted something to 
do, to take his attention from the weariness of the pain 
which he was suffering. So he worked away at his 
manuscript. One day when More came home from 
business, bringing a friend or two with him, Erasmus 

1 Roper, p. 9. 

2 More's son John — nineteen in 
1528, according to Holbein's sketch 

— was probably born in 1509. More's 
three daughters, Margaret, Eliza- 
beth, and Cicely, were all older. 


Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

Chap. V. 
a.d. 1510. 


brought it out for their amusement. The fun would 
be so much the greater, he thought, when shared by 
several together. He had fancied Folly putting on her 
cap and bells, mounting her rostrum, and delivering 
an address to her votaries on the affairs of mankind. 
These few select friends having heard what he had 
already written, were so delighted with it that they 
insisted on its being completed. In about a week the 
whole was finished. 1 This is the simple history of the 
'Praise of Folly.' 

It was a satire upon follies of all kinds. The book- 
worm was smiled at for his lantern jaws and sickly 
look ; the sportsman for his love of butchery ; the 
superstitious were sneered at for attributing strange 
virtues to images and shrines, for worshipping another 
Hercules under the name of St. George, for going on 
pilgrimage when their proper duty was at home. The 
wickedness of fictitious pardons and the sale of indul- 
gences, 2 the folly of prayers to the Virgin in shipwreck 
or distress, received each a passing censure. 

Grammarians were singled out of the regiment of 
fools as the most servile votaries of folly. They were 
described as ' A race of men the most miserable, who 
' grow old in penury and filth in their schools — schools, 
' did I say ? prisons ! dungeons ! I should have said — 
' among their boys, deafened with din, poisoned by a 
' foetid atmosphere, but, thanks to their folly, perfectly 
' self-satisfied, so long as they can bawl and shout to 
' their terrified boys, and box, and beat, and flog them, 

1 See the letter of Erasmus to 
Botzhem, ed. Basle, 1523, leaf b, 3, 
and Jortin, App. 428. Also Erasmi 
ad Dorpium Apologia, Louvain, 

1615, leaf F, iv. 

2 Argent. 1511, leaf D, in., where 
occurs the marginal reading, ' In- 
' dulgentias taxat.' 

The 'Praise of Folly! 195 

' and so indulge in all kinds of ways their cruel dis- Chap. v. 
' position.' 1 A ^^- 

After criticising with less severity poets and authors, The scho- 
rhetoricians and lawyers, Folly proceeded to re-echo Jem!° sys " 
the censure of Colet upon the dogmatic system of the 

She ridiculed the logical subtlety -which spent itself 
on splitting hairs and disputing about nothing, and to 
which the modern followers of the Schoolmen were 
so painfully addicted. She ridiculed, too, the preva- 
lent dogmatic philosophy and science, which having 
been embraced by the Schoolmen, and sanctioned by 
ecclesiastical authority, had become a part of the 
scholastic system. 'With what ease do they dream Scholastic 
' and prate of the creation of innumerable worlds, 

* measuring sun, moon, stars, and earth as though by 
' a thumb and thread ; rendering a reason for thunder, 

* wind, eclipses, and other inexplicable things ; never 
4 hesitating in the least, just as though they had been 
' admitted into the secrets of creation, or as though 
' they had come down to us from the council of the 
' Gods — with whom, and whose conjectures, Nature is 
i mightily amused ! ' 2 

From dogmatic science Folly turned at once to dog- Scholastic 
matic theology, and proceeded to comment in her eoogy> 
severest fashion on a class whom, she observes, it mi^ht 
have been safest to pass over in silence — divines. 3 
' Their pride and irritability are such (she said) that 
' they will come down upon me with their six hundred 
'conclusions, and compel me to recant; and, if I refuse, 

1 Argent. 1511, E, 8, and Eras. 
Op. iv. p. 457. 

2 Argent. 1511, leaf E, viii., and 

Eras. Op. iv. p. 462. 

3 Argent. 1511, leaf F, and Eras. 
Op. iv. p. 465. 

o 2 


Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

Chap. V. 
a.d. 1510. 



declare me a heretic forthwith. . . . They explain to 
their own satisfaction the most hidden mysteries : how 
the universe was constructed and arranged — through 
what channels the stain of original sin descends to pos- 
terity — how the miraculous birth of Christ was effected 
— how in the Eucharistic wafer the accidents can exist 
without a substance, and so forth. And they think 
themselves equal to the solution of such questions as 
these : — Whether . . . God could have taken upon 
himself the nature of a woman, a devil, an ass, a gourd, 
or a stone ? And how in that case a gourd could 
have preached, worked miracles, and been nailed to 
the cross ? What Peter would have consecrated if he 
had consecrated the Eucharist at the moment that the 
body of Christ was hanging on the Cross ? Whether 
at that moment Christ could have been called a man ? 
Whether we shall eat and drink after the resurrec- 
tion ? ' 1 In a later edition 2 Folly is made to say 
further : — ' These Schoolmen possess such learning and 
subtlety that I fancy even the Apostles themselves 
would need another Spirit, if they had to engage with 
this new race of divines about questions of this kind. 
Paul was able " to keep the faith," but when he said, 
"Faith is the substance of things hoped for," he 
defined it very loosely. He was full of charity, but 
he treated of it and defined it very illogically in the 
thirteenth chapter of the first epistle to the Corin- 
thians The Apostles knew the mother of 

Jesus, but which of them demonstrated so philosophi- 
cally as our divines do in what way she was preserved 
from the taint of original sin ? Peter received the 

1 Argent. 1511, leaf F, and Eras. 
Op. iv. p. 465. 

2 Basle, 1519, p. 178 et seq., and 
Eras. Op. ix. pp. 466 et seq. 

The 'Praise of Folly: 197 

keys, and received them from Him who would not Chap. v. 
have committed them to one unworthy to receive A . D . 1510. 
them, but I know not whether he understood (cer- 
tainly he never touched upon the subtlety !) in what 
way the key of knowledge can be held by a man who 
has no knowledge. They often baptized people, but 
they never taught what is the formal, what the 
material, what the efficient, and what the ultimate 
cause of baptism ; they say nothing of its delible 
and indelible character. They worshipped indeed, 
but in spirit, following no other authority than the 
gospel saying, " God is a Spirit, and they that worship 
" Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth." But 
it hardly seems to have been revealed to them, that 
in one and the same act of worship the picture of 
Christ drawn with charcoal on a wall was to be 
adored, as well as Christ himself. . . . Again, the 
Apostles spoke of " grace," but they never distin- 
guished between " gratiam gratis datam," and "gra- 
" tiam gratificantem." The}^ preached charity, but 
did not distinguish between charity "infused " and 
" acquired," nor did they explain whether it was an 
accident or a substance, created or zmcreated. They 
abhorred " sin" but I am a fool if they could define 
scientifically what we call sin, unless indeed they were 
inspired by the spirit of the Scotists ! ' 1 
After pursuing the subject further, Folly suggests 
that an army of them should be sent against the 
Turks, not in the hope that the Turks might be 
converted by them so much as that Christendom 
would be relieved by their absence, and then she 

1 Basle, 1519, p. 181. 


Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

Chap. V. 

a.d. 1510. 

There are 
some who 
hate the 

is made quietly to say : 1 — ' You may think all this 
' is said in joke, but seriously, there are some, even 
' amongst divines themselves, versed in better learning, 
' who are disgusted at these (as they think) frivolous 
' subtleties of divines. There are some who execrate, 
' as a kind of sacrilege, and consider as the greatest 
' impiety, these attempts to dispute with unhallowed 
' lips and profane arguments about things so holy that 
' they should rather be adored than explained, to define 
' them with so much presumption, and to pollute the 
' majesty of Divine theology with cold, yea and sordid, 
' words and thoughts. But, in spite of these, with 
' the greatest self-complacency divines go on spending 
' night and day over their foolish studies, so that they 
'never have any leisure left for the perusal of the 
' gospels, or the epistles of St. Paul.' 2 

Finally, Folly exclaims, ' Are they not the most 
' happy of men whilst they are treating of these 
6 things ? whilst describing everything in the infernal 
' regions as exactly as though they had lived there for 
' years ? whilst creating new spheres at pleasure, one, 
' the largest and most beautiful, being finally added, 
' that, forsooth, happy spirits might have room enough 
' to take a walk, to spread their feasts, or to play at 
'ball?' 3 

With this allusion to the ' empyrean ' heavens of the 
Schoolmen, the satire of Folly upon their dogmatic 
theology reaches its climax. And in the notes added 
by Lystrius to a later edition, it was thus further ex- 

1 Basle, 1519, p. 183, and Eras, f ever, only part of this paragraph. 
Op. iv. p. 468. 3 Basle, 1519, p. 185. Argent. 

2 Basle, 1519, p. 183, and Argent. I 1511, leaf F, ii., and Eras. Op. iv. 
1511, leaf F ; which contains, how- j p. 469. 

The 'Praise of Folly: 199 

plained in terms which aptly illustrate the relation of Chap. v. 
theology and science in the scholastic system : — ■ A . D . 1510. 

'The ancients believed .... in seven spheres Dogmatic 
' — one to each planet — and to these they added the a nd°dog- 
' one sphere of the fixed stars. Next, seeing that these ^ c ce . 
' eight spheres had two motions, and learning from 
' Aristotle that only one of these motions affected all 
6 the spheres, they were compelled to regard the other 
' motion as violent. A superior sphere could not, how- 
' ever, be moved in its violent motion by an inferior 
' one. So outside all they were obliged to place a 
' ninth sphere, which they called " primum mobile." 
' To these, in the next place, divines added a tenth, 
1 which they called the " empyrean sphere," as though 
' the saints could not be happy unless they had a 
' heaven of their own ! ' ! 

And that the ridicule and satire of Erasmus were 
aimed at the dogmatism of both science and theology is 
further pointed out in a previous note, where the pre- 
sumption of ' neoteric divines ' in attempting to account 
for everything, however mysterious, is compared to the 
way in which ' astronomers, not being able to find out 
' the cause of the various motions of the heavens, con- 
' structed eccentrics and epicycles on the spheres.' 2 

Thus were the scholastic divines censured for just 
those faults to which the eyes of Erasmus had been 
opened ten years before by his conversation with Colet 
at Oxford, and words of more bitter satire could hardly 
have been used than those now chosen. 

Mo?iks came in for at least as rough a handling. On Monks. 
There is perhaps no more severe and powerful passage 

Basle, 1519, pp. 185 and 186. ~ Ibid. p. 180. 

200 Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

Chap. v. anywhere in the whole book than that in which Folly 
a.d. 1510. is made to draw a picture of their appearance on the 
Judgment Day, finding themselves with the goats 
on the left hand of the Judge, pleading hard their 
rigorous observance of the rules and ceremonies of 
their respective orders, but interrupted by the solemn 
question from the Judge, ' Whence this race of new 
' Jews ? I know only of one law which is really mine ; 
' but of that I hear nothing at all. When on earth, 
' without mystery or parable, I openly promised my 
6 Father's inheritance, not to cowls, matins, or fastings, 
' but to the practice of faith and charity. I know you 
' not, ye who know nothing but your own works. 
' Let those who wish to be thought more holy than I am 
' inhabit their newly-discovered heavens ; and let those 
' who prefer their own traditions to my precepts, order 
' new ones to be built for them.' When they shall 
hear this (continues Folly), ' and see sailors and 
1 waggoners preferred to themselves, how do you 
1 think they will look upon each other ? ' 1 
On kings, Kings, princes, and courtiers next pass under re- 
view, and here again may be traced that firm attitude 
of resistance to royal tyranny which has already been 
marked in the conduct of More. If More in his con- 
gratulatory verses took the opportunity of publicly 
asserting his love of freedom and hatred of tyranny in 
the ears of the new King, his own personal friend, as he 
mounted the throne, so Erasmus also, although come 
back to England full of hope that in Henry VIII. he 
might find a patron, not only of learning in general 
but of himself in particular, took this opportunity of 

1 This paragraph is not inserted I pears in the Basle edition, 1519, p. 
in the edition Argent. 1511, but ap- | 192, and Eras. Op. iv. pp. 473, 474. 


The 'Praise of Folly: 201 

putting into the mouth of Folly a similar assertion of the Chap. v. 
sacred rights of the people and the duties of a king : — a .d. 1510. 

' It is the duty (she suggests) of a true prince to seek Duties of 
1 the public and not his own private advantage. From 
' the laws, of which he is both the author and executive 
' magistrate, he must not himself deviate by a finger's 
' breadth. He is responsible for the integrity of his 
' officials and magistrates. . . . But (continues Folly) by 
' my aid princes cast such cares as these to the winds, and 
' care only for their own pleasure. . . . They think they Their 
1 fill their position well if they hunt with diligence, if pra 
' they keep good horses, if they can make gain to them- 
' selves by the sale of offices and places, if they can 
1 daily devise new means of undermining the wealth of 
' citizens, and raking it into their own exchequer, dis- 
' guising the iniquity of such proceedings by some 
' specious pretence and show of legality.' 1 

If the memoiy of Henry VII. was fresh in the minds 
of More and Erasmus, so also his courtiers and tools, 
of whom Empson and Dudley were the recognised 
types, were not forgotten. The cringing, servile, ab- 
ject, and luxurious habits of courtiers were fair game 
for Folly. 

From this cutting review of kings, princes, and 
courtiers, the satire, taking a still bolder flight, at 
length swoojDed down to fix its talons in the very flesh 
of the Pope himself. 

The Oxford friends had some personal knowledge On the 
of Koine and her pontiffs. When Colet was in Italy, the ° pe " 
notoriously wicked Alexander VI. was Pope, and what 
Colet thought of him has been mentioned. While 

1 Argent. 1511, leaf F, viii. and Eras. Op. iv. p. 479. 

202 Colet, Erasmus, and Afore. 

Chap. v. Erasmus was in Italy Julius II. was Pope. He had 

a.d. loio. succeeded to the Papal chair in 1503. 
Pope Julius II., in the words of Eanke, ' devoted himself 

' to the gratification of that innate love of war and con- 
6 quest which was indeed the ruling passion of his life 
' .... It was the ambition of Julius II. to extend the 
' dominions of the Church. He must therefore be re- 
' garded as the founder of the Papal States.' 1 Erasmus, 
during his recent visit, had himself been driven from 
Bologna when it was besieged by the Eoman army, 
led by Julius in person. He had written from Italy that 
' literature was giving place to war, that Pope Julius 
' was warring, conquering, triumphing, and openly 
' acting the Csesar.' 2 Mark how aptly and boldly he 
now hit off his character in strict accordance with the 
verdict of histor}^ when in the course of his satire he 
came to speak of popes. Folly drily observes that — 
' Although in the gospel Peter is said to have 
' declared, " Lo, we have left all, and followed thee," 
' yet these Popes speak of " St. Peters patrimony " as 
' consisting of lands, towns, tributes, customs, lord- 
' ships ; for which, when their zeal for Christ is stirred, 
' they fight with fire and sword at the expense of much 
' Christian blood, thinking that in so doing they are 
' Apostolical defenders of Christ's spouse, the Church, 
' from her enemies. As though indeed there were any 
' enemies of the Church more pernicious than impious 
' Popes ! . . . . Further, as the Christian Church was 
'founded in blood, and confirmed by blood, and 
4 advanced by blood, now in like manner, as though 

1 lianke, Hist, of the Pojies, I 2 Erasmus Ba^lidiano : Bononise. 
chap. ii. s. 1. | loCal. Dec. 1506,Eras. Op. i.p. 311. 

The 'Praise of Folly: 203 

' Christ were dead and could no longer defend his Chap. v. 
' own, they take to the sword. And although war be a .d. 1510. 
' a thing so savage that it becomes wild beasts rather On the 
' than men, so frantic that the poets feigned it to be waZ ° 
' the work of the Furies, so pestilent that it blights at 
' once all morality, so unjust that it can be best waged 
' by the worst of ruffians, so impious that it has nothing 
' in common with Christ, yet to the neglect of every- 
' thing else they devote themselves to war alone.' 1 

And this bold satire upon the warlike passions of 
the Pope was made still more direct and personal by 
what followed. To quote Eanke once more : — ' Old as 
' Julius noiu was, worn by the many vicissitudes of p ope 
' good and evil fortune, and most of all by the conse- and his 
' quences of intemperance and licentious excess, in the t^wlx* 
' extremity of age he still retained an indomitable spirit. 
1 It was from the tumults of a general war that he hoped 
' to gain his objects. He desired to be the lord and 
' master of the game of the world. In furtherance of 
' his grand aim he engaged in the boldest operations, 
' risking all to obtain all.' 2 Compare with this picture 
of the old age of the warlike Pope the following words 
put by Erasmus into the mouth of Folly, and printed 
and read all over Europe in the lifetime of Julius 
himself ! 

' Thus you may see even decrepid old men display 
' all the vigour of youth, sparing no cost, shrinking 
' from no toil, stopped by nothing, if only they can 
1 turn law, religion, peace, and all human affairs 
4 upside down.' 3 

1 Argent. 1511, leaf G, iii. Eras. | chap. ii. s. 1 (abridged quotation). 
Op. iv. p. 484. 3 Morice Encomium : Argent. 

2 Ranke, Hist, of the Popes, | m.dxi. leaf G, iii. This edition 


Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

Chap. V. 

A.D. 1511. 

In conclusion, Folly, after pushing her satire in other 
directions, was made to apologise for the bold flight 
she had taken. If anything she had said seemed to 
be spoken with too much loquacity or petulance, she 
begged that it might be remembered that it was spoken 
by Folly. But let it be remembered, also, she added, 

A fool oft speaks a seasonable truth. 

She then made her bow, and descended the steps of 

her rostrum, bidding her most illustrious votaries 

farewell — valete, plaudite, vivite, bibite ! 

Editions Such was the ' Praise of Folly,' the manuscript of 

' Praise of which was snatched from Erasmus by More or one of his 

Folly.' friends, and ultimately sent over to Paris to be printed 

there, probably in the summer of 1511, and to pass 

within afew months through no less than seven editions. 1 

contains all the above passages on 
Popes, and was published during 
the lifetime of Julius II., as he did 
not die till the spring of 1513. 

1 Erasmus writes : ' It was sent 
' over into France by the arrange- 
' ment of those at whose instigation 
' it was written, and there printed 
' from a copy not only full of rnis- 
1 takes, but even incomplete. Upon 
'this within a few months it was 
' reprinted more than seven times in 
' different places.' — Erasmi ad Dor- 
pium Apologia, Louvain, 1515. 

See also Erasmus to Botzhem, 
where Erasmus says ' Aderam Lu- 
' tetise quum per Ricardum Crocum 
' pessimis formulis depravatissime 
' excuderetur.' (First edition of this 
letter : Basle, 1523 ; leaf b, 4.) 
In the copy fixed to Eras. Op i. 
' nescio quos ' is substituted for 

' Ricardum Crocum] who was not 
the printer, but the friend of More 
who got it published. (See Erasmus 
to Colet, Epist. cxlix. Sept. 13, 1511 
(wrongly dated 1513), where Eras- 
mus says of Crocus, ' qui nunc 
' Parisiis dat operam bonis littris.' 
Erasmus was at Paris in April 1511. 
(See Epistote clxix., ex., and clxxv. 
taken in connection with each 
other.) ) In a catalogue of the 
works of Erasmus (a copy of which 
is in the British Museum Library), 
entitled Lucubrationum Erasmi 
Roterodami Index, and printed by 
Froben, at Basle, in 1519, it is 
stated that the Morice Encomium 
was ' saepius excusum, primum 
' Lutetian per Gormontium, deinde 
1 Argentorati per Schureriwm] &c. 
The latter edition is the earliest 
which I have been able to procure, 

The 'Praise of Folly.' 


Meanwhile, after recruiting liis shattered health Chap, v. 
under More's roof, spending a few months with Lord a.d. 1511. 
Mountjoy * and Warham, 2 and paying a flying visit 
to Paris, it would seem that Erasmus, aided and 
encouraged by his friends, betook himself to Cam- Erasmus 

° . . . settled at 

bridge to pursue his studies, hoping to be able to Cam- 
eke out his income by giving lessons in the Greek 
language to such pupils as might be found amongst 
the University students willing to learn, — the chance 
fees of students being supplemented by the promise 
of a small stipend from the University. 3 

It seems to have been taken for granted that the 
' new learning ' was now to make rapid progress, 
having Henry VIII. for its royal patron, and Erasmus 
for its professor of Greek at Cambridge. 

and it is dated ' mense A ugusti m.dxi.' 
But the date of the first edition 
printed at Paris by Gourmont I 
have not been able to fix certainly. 
According to Brunet, it had no 
date attached. 

After staying at More's house, 
and there writing the book itself, 
he may have added the prefatory 
letter ' Quinto Idus Junias,' 1510, 
' ex rure,' whilst spending a few 
months with Lord Mountjoy, as we 
learn he did from a letter to Serva- 
tius from ' London from the Bishop's 
' house ' (Brewer, No. 1418, Epist. 
cccclxxxv., under date 1510), it is 
most probable that in 1511 Erasmus 
paid a visit to Paris, being at Dover i 
10 April, 151 1 ; at Paris 27 April I 
(see EpistolcB clxix., ex., andclxxv.); 
and thus was there when the first 

edition was printed. His letters 
from Cambridge do not seem to 
begin till Aug. 1511. See Brewer, 
Nos. 1842, Epist. cxvi. ; and 1849, 
Epist. cxviii. No. 1652 belongs, I 
think, to 1513. Possibly No. 1842, 
Epist. cxvi., belongs to a later date ; 
and, if so, No. 1849, Epist. cxviii., 
may be the first of his Cambridge 
letters, and with this its contents 
would well agree. 

1 Brewer, No. 1418. Eras. Epist. 
App. cccclxxxv., and see cccclxxxiv., 
dated 1 April, London. 

2 Brewer, No. 1478. Eras. Epist. 
cix. 6, Id. Feb., and it seams, in 
March 1511, Warham gave him a 
pension out of the rectory of 
Aldington. Knight, p. 155. 

3 Brewer, No. 4427. 

Chap. VI. 
a.d. 1510. 

Colet in- 
herits his 



Fully as Colet joined his friends in rejoicing at the 
accession to the throne of a king known to be favour- 
able to himself and his party, he had drunk by far too 
deeply of the spirit of self-sacrifice to admit of his 
rejoicing with a mere courtier's joy. 

Fortune had indeed been lavish to him. His eleva- 
tion unasked to the dignity of Doctor and Dean ; the 
popular success of his preaching ; the accession of a 
friendly king, from whom probably further promotion 
was to be had for the asking ; and, lastly, the sudden 
acquisition on his father's death of a large independent 
fortune in addition to the revenues of the deanery ; — 
here was a concurrence of circumstances far more 
likely to foster habits of selfish ease and indulgence 
than to draw Colet into paths of self-denial and self- 
sacrificing labour. Had he enlisted in the ranks of a 
great cause in the hasty zeal of enthusiasm, it had had 
time now to cool, and here was the triumphal arch 
through which the abjured hero might gracefully re- 
tire from work amidst the world's applause. 

But Colet, in his lectures at Oxford, had laid great 
stress upon the necessity of that living sacrifice of 
men's hearts and lives without which all other sacri- 

Colds Self-sacrifice. 


fices were empty things, and it seems that after he was chap. vi. 
called to the deanery he gave forth ' A right fruitfull A D> 1510 . 
' Admonition concerning the Order of a good Christian 
' Man's Life,' l which passed through many editions 
during the sixteenth century, and in which he made 
use of the following language : — 

' Thou must know that thou hast nothing that good Coiet on 
* is of thyself, but of God. For the gift of nature and seif-sacri- 
' all other temporal gifts of this world .... well con- ce ' 
' sidered have come to thee by the infinite goodness 

' and grace of God, and not of thyself But in 

' especial is it necessary for thee to know that God of 
' his great grace has made thee his image, having re- 
' gard to thy memory, understanding, and free will, and 
' that God is thy maker, and thou his wretched creature, 
' and that thou art redeemed of God by the passion of 
' Jesus Christ, and that God is thy helper, thy refuge, 

' and thy deliverance from all evil And, there- 

' fore, think, and thank God, and utterly despise thy- 
' self, .... in that God hath done so much for thee, 
' and thou hast so often offended his highness, and also 
' done Him so little service. And therefore, by his 
' infinite mercy and grace, call unto thy remembrance 
' the degree of dignity which Almighty God hath 
' called thee unto, and according thereunto yield thy 
4 debt, and do thy duty.' 

Colet was not the man to preach one thing and 
practise another. No sooner had he been appointed 

1 ' A right fruitfull Admonition 
' concerning the Order of a good 
' Christian Man's Life, very profit- 
' able for all manner of Estates, &c, 
' made by the famous Doctour Colete 

'sometime Deane of Paules. Im- 
' printed at London for Gabriell 
' Cawood, 1577.' — Brit. Museum 


Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

Chap. VI. 
A.D. 1510. 

St. Paul's 

Colet 's 
object in 

to the deanery of St. Paul's, than he had at once 
resigned the rich living of Stepney, 1 the residence of his 
father, and now of his widowed mother. And no 
sooner had his father's fortune come into his hands, 
than he earnestly considered how most effectually to 
devote it to the cause in which he had laboured so 
unceasingly at Oxford and St. Paul's. 

After mature deliberation he resolved, whilst living 
and in health, to devote his patrimony 2 to the founda- 
tion of a school in St. Paul's Churchyard, wherein 153 
children, 3 without any restriction as to nation or 
country, who could already read and write, and were 
of ' good parts and capacities,' should receive a sound 
Christian education. The 'Latin adulterate, which 
' ignorant blind fools brought into this world,' poison- 
ing thereby ' the old Latin speech, and the very 
' Eoman tongue used in the time of Tully and Sallust, 
' and Virgil and Terence, and learned by St. Jerome, 
' St. Ambrose, and St. Augustine,' — all that ' abusion 
' which the later blind world brought in, and which 
' may rather be called Blotterature than Literature,' — 
should be ' utterly abanished and excluded ' out of 
this school. The children should be taught good litera- 
ture, both Latin and Greek, ' such authors that have 
' with wisdom joined pure chaste eloquence' — 'speci- 
' ally Christian authors who wrote their wisdom in 
' clean and chaste Latin, whether in prose or verse ; 
' for,' said Colet, ' my intent is by this school specially to 
' increase knowledge, and worshipping of God and Our 

1 In Sept. 1505. Knight's Life 
of Colet, p. 265, and n. a. 

2 ' Insumpto patrinionio universo 
' vivus etiam ac superstes solidam 
' haereditateni cessi,' &c. Letter of 

Colet to Lilly, dated 1513, prefixed 
to the several editions of De Octo 
Orationis Partibus, fyc. 

3 The number of the ' miraculous 
' draught of fishes.' 

Colet founds St. Paul's School. 209 

* Lord Jesus Christ, and good Christian life and Chap. vi. 
' manners in the children.'' x a.d. 1510. 

And, as if to keep this end always prominently in 
view, he placed an image of the ' Child Jesus,' to whom 
the school was dedicated, standing over the master's 
chair in the attitude of teaching, with the motto, ' Hear 
' ye him ; ' 2 and upon the front of the building, next 
to the cathedral, the following inscription : — ' Schola 
' catechizationis puerorum in Christi Opt. Max. fide 
' et bonis Literis. Anno Christi MDX.' 3 

The building consisted of one large room, divided 
into an upper and lower school by a curtain, which 
could be drawn at pleasure ; and the charge of the two 
schools devolved upon a high-master and a sub-master 

The forms were arranged so as each to seat sixteen 
boys, and were provided each with a raised desk, at 
which the head boy sat as president. The building 
also embraced an entrance-porch and a little chapel 
for divine service. Dwelling-houses were erected, ad- 
joining the school, for the residence of the two masters ; 
and for their support Colet obtained, in the spring of Salaries 
1510, a royal license to transfer to the Wardens and masters. 
Guild of Mercers in London, real property to the value 
of 53/. per annum 4 (equivalent to at least 530/. of pre- 
sent money). Of this the headmaster was to receive 
as his salary 35/. (say 350/.) and the under-master 18/. 
(say 180/.) per annum. Three or four years after, Colet 

1 Statutes of St. Paul's School. 
Knight's Life of Colet, p. 364. See 
also the letter from Colet to Lilly, 
prefixed to the Rudiments of Gram- 
mar, 1510. Knight's Life of Colet, \ 1076, under date June 6, 1510 
p. 124, n. r. 

2 Eras. Op. iii. p. 457, c. 
s Knight's Life of Colet, p. 109. 
4 Brewer's Calendar of State 
Papers, Henry VIII., vol. i. No. 

210 Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

Chap. vi. made provision for a chaplain to conduct divine service 
a .d. 1510. in the chapel, and to instruct the children in the Cate- 
chism, the Articles of the faith, and the Ten Com- 
mandments — in English ; and ultimately, before his 
death, he appears to have increased the amount of 
the whole endowment to 122/. (say 1,200/.) per annum. 
Cost of So that it may be considered, roughly, that the whole 
school. endowment, including the buildings, cannot have 
represented a less sum than 30,000/. or 40,000/. of 
present money. 1 

And if Colet thus sacrificed so much of his private 
fortune to secure a liberal (and it must be conceded his 
was a liberal) provision for the remuneration of the 
masters who should educate his 153 boys, he must 
surely have had deeply at heart the welfare of the 
boys themselves. And, in truth, it was so. Colet was 
like a father to his schoolboys. It has indeed been as- 
sumed that a story related by Erasmus, to exhibit the 
low state of education and the cruel severity exercised 
in the common run of schools, was intended by him to 
describe the severe discipline maintained by Colet and 
his masters ; but I submit that this is a pure assump- 
tion, without the least shadow of proof, and contrary 
to every kind of probability. The story itself is dark 
enough truly, and, in order that Colet's name may be 
cleared once for all from its odium, may as well be 
given to the reader as it is found in Erasmus's work 
* On the Liberal Education of Boys.' 

It occurs, let it be remembered, in a work written 
b}^ Erasmus to expose and hold up to public scorn the 
private schools, including those of monasteries and 

1 Compare licenses mentioned in 
Brewer's Calendar of State Papers 
of Henry VIII. (vol. i. Nos. 1076, 

3900, and 4659), with documents 
given in Knight's Life of Colet, 
Miscellanies, No. v. and No. iii. 

Colefs Love of Children. 211 

colleges, in which honest parents were blindly in- CW. vi. 
duced to place their children — at the mercy, it might A . D . 1510. 
be, of drunken dames, or of men too often without 
knowledge, chastity, or judgment. It was a work in Abuses in 
which he described these schools as he had described schools, 
them in his ' Praise of Folly,' and in which he detailed 
scandals and cruelty too foul to be translated, with the 
express object of enforcing his opinion, that if there 
were to be any schools at all, they ought to be public 
schools — in fact, precisely such schools as that which 
Colet was establishing. The story is introduced as 
an example of the scandals which were sometimes 
perpetrated by incompetent masters, in schools of the 
class which he had thus harshly, but not too harshly, 

After sa}dng that no masters were more cruel to 
their boys than those who, from ignorance, can teach 
them least (a remark which certainly could not be 
intended to refer to Colet's headmaster), he thus pro- 
ceeded :— 

' What can such masters do in their schools but get Cruelty 
' through the day by flogging and scolding ? I once schooi- 
' knew a divine, and intimately too — a man of reputa- 
' tion — who seemed to think that no cruelty to scholars 
' could be enough, since he would not have any but 
' flogging masters. He thought this was the only way 
' to crush the boys' unruly spirits, and to subdue the 
' wantonness of their age. Never did he take a meal 
' with his flock without making the comedy end in a 
' tragedy. So at the end of the meal one or another 
' boy was dragged out to be flogged. ... I myself 
' was once by when, after dinner, as usual, he called out 
' a boy, I should think, about ten years old. He had 



Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

Chap. VI. 

a.d. 1510. 

Story of 
to Colet. 

and love 
of chil- 

* only just come fresli from his mother to school. His 
' mother, it should be said, was a pious woman, and 
' had especially commended the boy to him. But he 
' at once began to charge the boy with unruliness, 
' since he could think of nothing else, and must 
' find something to flog him for, and made signs to 
' the proper official to flog him. Whereupon the 
' poor boy was forthwith floored then and there, and 
' flogged as though he had committed sacrilege. The 
' divine again and again interposed, " That will do — 
' " that will do ; " but the inexorable executioner con- 
' tinued his cruelty till the boy almost fainted. By- 
' and-by the divine turned round to me and said, "He 
' " did nothing to deserve it, but the boys' spirits 
' " must be subdued." n 

This is the story which we are told it would be diffi- 
cult to apply to anyone but Colet, 2 as though Colet 
were the only ' divine of reputation ' ever intimately 
known to Erasmus ! or as though Erasmus would thus 
hold up his friend Colet to the scorn of the world ! 

The fact is that no one could peruse the ' precepts 
' of living ' laid down by Colet for his school without 
seeing not only how practical and sound were his views 
on the education of the heart, mind, and body of his 
boys, but also how at the root of them lay a strong 
undercurrent of warm and gentle feelings, a real love 
of youth. 3 

1 'De pueris statirn ac liberaliter 
' instituendis.' — Eras. Op. i. p. 505. 

3 Knight's Life of Colet, p. 175, 
and copied from him by Jortin, vol. 
i. pp. 169, 170. 

3 Take the following examples : 

' Revere thy elders. Obey thy su- 
' periors. Be a fellow tothine equals. 
' Be henign and loving to thy infe- 
' riors. Be always well occupied. 
' Lose no time. Wash clean. Be 
'no sluggard. Learn diligently. 

Coiet's Latin Grammai 


In truth, Colet was fond of children, even to tender- Chap, vi 
ness. Erasmus relates that he would often remind his a.dTisTo. 
guests and his friends how that Christ had made chil- 
dren the examples for men, and that he was wont to 
compare them to the angels above. 1 And if any further 
proof were wanted that Colet showed even a touching 
tenderness for children, it must surely be found in the 
following ' lytell proheme ' to the Latin Grammar which 
he wrote for his school, and of which we shall hear 
more by-and-by : — 

' Albeit many have written, and have made certain coiet's 
4 introductions into Latin speech, called Donates and j^ gSm? 
' Accidens, in Latin tongue and in English ; in such mar - 
' plenty that it should seem to suffice, yet nevertheless, 
' for the love and zeal that I have to the new school 
' of Paul's, and to the children of the same, I have also 
' .... of the eight parts of grammar made this little 
' book. ... In which, if any new things be of me, it 
' is alonely that I have put these " parts " in a more 
' clear order, and I have made them a little more easy 
' to young wits, than (methinketh) they were before : 
'judging that 'nothing may be too soft, nor too 
4 familiar for little children, specially learning a tongue 
' unto them all strange. In which little book I have 

* left many things out of purpose, considering the ten- 
' derness and small capacity of little minds. . . . ] I 

* pray God all may be to his honour, and to the 
4 erudition and profit of children, my countiymen 

* Londoners specially, whom, digesting this little work, 
' I had always before mine eyes, considering more what 

' Teach what thou hast learned lov- 
' ing'ly.' — Coiet's Precepts of Living 
for the Use of his School. Knight's 

Life of Colet. Miscellanies, No. 

1 Eras. Op. iii. p. 458, D. 


Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

Chap. VI. 
a.d. 1510. 


will not 
them with 

' was for them than to show any great cunning ; willing 
' to speak the things often before spoken, in such man- 
' ner as gladly young beginners and tender wits might 
6 take and conceive. Wherefore I pray you, all little 
' babes, all little children, learn gladly this little trea- 
' tise, and commend it diligently unto your memories, 
' trusting of this beginning that ye shall proceed and 
' grow to perfect literature, and come at the last to 
' be great clerks. And lift up your little white hands for 
' me, which prayeth for you to God, to whom be all 
' honour and imperial majesty and glory. Amen.' 

The man who, having spent his patrimony in the 
foundation of a school, could write such a preface as 
this to one of his schoolbooks, was not likely to insist 
' upon having none but flogging masters.' 

Moreover, this preface was followed by a short note, 
addressed to his ' well-beloved masters and teachers of 
' grammar,' in which, by way of apology for its brevity, 
and the absence of the endless rules and exceptions 
found in nlost grammars, he tells them : ' In the begin- 
' ning men spake not Latin because such rules were 
' made, but, contrariwise, because men spake such Latin 
' the rules were made. That is to say, Latin speech was 
' before the rules, and not the rules before the Latin 
' speech.' And therefore the best way to learn ' to speak 
' and write clean Latin is busily to learn and read good 
' Latin authors, and note how they wrote and spoke.' 
' Wherefore,' he concludes, ' after " the parts of speech " 
' sufficiently known in your schools, read and expound 
' plainly unto your scholars good authors, and show to 
' them every word, and in every sentence what they 
' shall note and observe ; warning them busily to follow 
' and to do like, both in writing and in speaking, and 

Colet's Schoolbooks and Schoolmasters. 


' be to them your own self also, speaking with them Chap. vi. 
' the pure Latin, very present, and leave the rules. For a .d. 1510. 
' reading of good books, diligent information of taught 
' masters, studious advertence and taking heed of 
' learners, hearing eloquent men speak, and finally 
' busy imitation with tongue and pen, more availeth 
' shortly to get the true eloquent speech, than all the 
' traditions, rules, and precepts of masters.' 

Nor would it seem that Colet's first headmaster, at 
all events, failed to appreciate the practical common- 
sense and gentle regard for the l tenderness of little Lilly's 
' minds,' which breathes through these prefaces ; for at 
the end of them he himself added this epigram : — 

Pocula si lingua? cupias gustare Latirue, 

Quale tibi monstret, ecce Coletus iter ! 
Non per Caucaseos montes, aut summa Pyrene ; 

Te ista per Hybleos sed via ducit agros. 1 



The mention of Colet's ' Latin Grammar ' suggests one Linage's 
of the difficulties in the way of carrying out of his Grammar. 
projected school, his mode of surmounting which was 
characteristic of the spirit in which he worked. It was 
not to be expected that he should find the schoolbooks 
of the old grammarians in any way adapted to his 
purpose. So at once he set his learned friends to work 
to provide him with new ones. The first thing wanted 

1 This epigram and the above- 
mentioned prefaces are inserted by 
Knight in his Life of Colet (Miscel- 
lanies, No. xiii.), and were taken by 
him from what he calls Grammatices 

Rudimenta, London, m.dxxxiiii. 
in ' Bibl. publ. Cantabr. inter MS. 
' Reg.' But see note 1 on the next 
page. They were in the preface to 
Colet's Accidence. 


Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

Chap. VI. 

a.d. 1511. 

' Lilly's 

' De Copia 



was a Latin Grammar for beginners. Linacre under- 
took to provide this want, and wrote with great pains 
and labour a work in six books, which afterwards came 
into general use. But when Colet saw it, at the risk of 
displeasing his friend, he put it altogether aside. It 
was too long and too learned for his ' little beginners.' 
So he condensed within the compass of a few pages two 
little treatises, an ' Accidence ' and a ' Syntax,' in the 
preface to the first of which occur the gentle words 
quoted above. 1 These little books, after receiving ad- 
ditions from the hands of Erasmus, Lilly, and others, 
finally became generally adopted and known as Lillys 
Grammar. 2 

This rejection of his Grammar seems to have been a 
sore point with Linacre, but Erasmus told Colet not to 
be too much concerned about it : he would, he said, 
get over it in time, 3 which probably he did much 
sooner than Colet's school would have got over the loss 
which would have been inflicted by the adoption of a 
schoolbook beyond the capacity of the boys. 

Erasmus, in the same letter in which he spoke of 
Linacre's rejected grammar, told Colet that he was 
working at his ' De Copia Verborum,' which he was 
writing expressly for Colet's school. He told him, too, 
that he had sometimes to take up the cudgels for him 
against the ' Thomists and Scotists of Cambridge ; ' that 

1 See also the characteristic letter 
from Colet to Lilly, prefixed to the 
Syntax. The editions of 1513, 1517, 
and 1524 are entitled, Absolutissimus 
de Octo OrationisPartium Construc- 
tions Libellus. The Accidence was 
entitled, Coleti Editio una cum qui- 
busdam, &c. 

8 Knight's Life of Colet, p. 126. 

3 Eras. Epist. cxlix. Erasmus to 
Colet, Sept, 13, 1513 (Brewer, i. 
4447), but should be 1511. See 
4528 (Eras. Epist. cl.), which men- 
tions the De Copia being in hand, 
which was printed in May 1512. (?) 

Erasmus on the True Method of Education. 217 

he was looking out for an under-schoolmaster, but had Chap. vi. 
not yet succeeded in finding one. Meanwhile he en- A . D . 1511. 
closed a letter, in which he had put on paper his 
notions of what a schoolmaster ought to be, and the 
best method of teaching boys, which he fancied Colet 
might not altogether approve, as he was wont some- 
what more to despise rhetoric than Erasmus did. He 
stated his opinion that — 

' In order that the teacher might be thoroughly up Erasmus 
to his work, he should not merely be a master of one true 
particular branch of study. He should himself have gjucatiorf 
travelled through the whole circle of knowledge. In 
philosophy he should have studied Plato and Aristotle, 
Theophrastus and Plotinus ; in Theology the Sacred 
Scriptures, and after them Origen, Chrysostom, and 
Basil among the Greek fathers, and Ambrose and 
Jerome among the Latin fathers ; among the poets, 
Homer and Ovid ; in geography, which is very im- 
portant in the study of history, Pomponius Mela, 
Ptolenry, Pliny, Strabo. He should know what 
ancient names of rivers, mountains, countries, cities, 
answer to the modern ones ; and the same of trees, 
animals, instruments, clothes, and gems, with regard 
to which it is incredible how ignorant even educated 
men are. He should take note of little facts about 
agriculture, architecture, military and culinary arts, 
mentioned by different authors. He should be able 
to trace the origin of words, their gradual corruption 
in the languages of Constantinople, Italy, Spain, and 
France. Nothing should be beneath his observation 
which can illustrate history or the meaning of the 
poets. But you will say what a load you are putting 
on the back of the poor teacher ! It is so ; but I 


Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

Chap. VI. 

burden the one to relieve the many. I want the 
a.d. 1511. ' teacher to have traversed the whole range of know- 
' ledge, that it may spare each of his scholars doing it. 
' A diligent and thoroughly competent master might 
' give boys a fair proficiency in both Latin and Greek, 
' in a shorter time and with less labour than the com- 
' mon run of pedagogues take to teach their babble.' l 

On receipt of this letter and its enclosure, Colet 
wrote to Erasmus : — 

with Eras- 

Colet to Erasmus. 

'London, 151 1. 2 

' " What ! I shall not approve ! " So you say ! 
What is there of Erasmus's that I do not approve ? 
I have read your letter "De Studiis" hastily, for as yet 
I have been too busy to read it carefully. Glancing 
through it, not only do I approve everything, but 
also greatly admire your genius, skill, learning, ful- 
ness, and eloquence. I have often longed that the 
boys of my school should be taught in the way in 
which you say they should be. And often also have 
I longed that I could get such teachers as you have 
so well described. When I came to that point at the 
end of the letter where you say that you could edu- 
cate boys up to a fair proficiency in both tongues in 
fewer years than it takes those pedagogues to teach 
their babble, Erasmus, how I longed that I could 
make you the master of my school ! I have indeed 

1 De Hatione Studii Commen- 
tariolus : Argent. 1512, mense Ju- 
lio, and printed again with addi- 
tions, Argent. 1514, mense Augusto. 

The above translation is greatly 

2 Eras. Epist. App. iv. 

Colet to Erasmus. 219 

4 some hope that you will give us a helping hand in Chap. vi. 
' teaching our teachers when you leave those " Can- A . D . mi. 

' " tabrigians. 

' With respect to our friend Linacre, I will follow 
1 your advice, so kindly and prudently given. 

'Do not give up looking for an undermaster, if 
' there should be anyone at Cambridge who would not 
' think it beneath his dignity to be under the head- 
1 master. 

'As to what you say about your occasional skir- The 
' mishes with the ranks of the Scotists on my behalf, I of Cam- 
1 am glad to have such a champion to defend me. But 
' it is an unequal and inglorious contest for you ; for 
' what glory is it to you to put to rout a cloud of flies ? 
' What thanks do you deserve from me for cutting 
' down reeds ? It is a contest more necessary than 
1 glorious or difficult ! ' 

While Colet acquiesced in the view expressed by 
Erasmus as to the high qualities required in a school- 
master, he gave practical proof of his sense of the 
dignity of the calling by the liberal remuneration he 
offered to secure one. 

At a time when the Lord Chancellor of England Salaries ^ 
received as his salary 100 marks, with a similar sum masters. 
for the commons of himself and his clerk, making in 
all 133/. per annum, 1 Colet offered to the high-master 
of his school 35/. per annum, and a house to live in 
besides. This was practical proof that Colet meant 
to secure the services of more than a mere common 

1 In 4 Henry VIII. (1513) Lord I commons of himself and clerk — 200 
Chancellor Warham received 100 marks, or 133/. Brewer, i. Intro- 
marks salary, and 100 marks for | duction, cviii. note (3). 


Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

Chap. VI. 

a.d. 1511. 

master of 

An under- 

grammarian. He had in view for his headmaster, Lilly, 
the friend and fellow-student of More, who had mas- 
tered the Latin language in Italy, and even travelled 
farther East to perfect his knowledge of Greek. He 
was well versed not only in the Greek authors, but 
in the manners and customs of the people, having 
lived some years in the island of Rhodes. 1 He had 
returned home, it is said, by way of Jerusalem, and had 
recently opened a private school in London. 2 He was, 
moreover, the godson of Grocyn, and himself an Oxford 
student. He had at one time, as already mentioned, 
shared with More some ascetic tendencies, but, like his 
friend, had wisely stopped short of Carthusian vows. 
He was, in truth, thoroughly imbued with the spirit of 
Colet and his friends, and, in the opinion of Erasmus, 
' a thorough master in the art of educating youth.' 3 
Thus Colet had found a high-master ready to be fully 
installed in his office, as soon as the building was com- 
pleted. But an under-master was not so easy to find. 
Colet had written to Erasmus, in September, 1511, 
wishing him to look one out for him, 4 and in the letter 
last quoted had again repeated his request. Erasmus 
wrote again in October, and informed him that he had 
mentioned his want to some of the college dons. One 
of them had replied by sneeringly asking, 'Who would 
' put up with the life of a schoolmaster who could get 
' a living in any other way?' Whereupon Erasmus 

1 Prefatory Letter of Beatus 
Bhenanus, prefixed to the edition 
of More's Epigrammata, printed at 
Basle, 1518 and 1520. 

2 Knight's Life of Colet, p. 370. 
Miscellanies, No. vi. 

3 ' Recte instituendae pubis arti- 

'fex.' Preface of Erasmus to De 
Octo Orationis Partium Constvuc- 
tione, &c. Basle, 1517. 

4 Colet to Erasmus, Sept. 1511, 
not 1513 (Brewer, No. 4448), for 
the same reason as Nos. 4447 and 

Colefs Schoolmasters. 221 

modestly urged that he thought the education of youth Chap. vi. 
was the most honourable of all callings, and that there a .d. 1511. 
could be no labour more pleasing to God than the 
Christian training of boys. At which the Cambridge 
doctor turned up his nose in contempt, and scornfully 
replied, ' If anyone wants to give himself up entirely 
' to the service of Christ, let him enter a monastery ! ' 
Erasmus ventured to question whether St. Paul did not 
place true religion rather in works of charity — in doing 
as much good as possible to our neighbours ? The 
other rejected altogether so crude a notion. 'Behold,' 
said he, ' we must leave all ; in that is perfection.' story of a 
' He scarcely can be said to leave all,' promptly re- bridge 
turned Erasmus, ' who, when he has a chance of doing doctor - 
1 good to others, refuses the task because it is too 
' humble in the eyes of the world.' ' And then,' wrote 
Erasmus, ' lest I should get into a quarrel, I bade the 
' man good-bye.' l 

This, he said, was an example of ' Scotistical 
' wisdom,' and he told Colet that he did not care often 
to meddle with these self-satisfied Scotists, well know- 
ing that no o-ood would come of it. 

It would seem that, after all, a worthy under-master 
did turn up at Cambridge, willing to work under Lilly, 
and thereafter to become his son-in-law ; 2 so that 
with schoolmasters already secured, and schoolbooks 
in course of preparation, Colet's enterprise seemed 
likely fairly to get under way so soon as the building 
should be completed in St. Paul's Churchyard. 

1 Eras. Epist. cl. Brewer, p. 45 8. I hand, it must have been written in 
Dated October 29, 1513, but, as 1511. 
it mentions the De Copid being in | ~ John Ritwyse, or Rightwyse. 




Chap. vii. Colet's labours in connection with his school did 
A^Ti5i2. not interfere with his ordinary duties. He was still, 
Sunday after Sunday, preaching those courses of 
sermons on ' the Gospels, the Apostles' Creed, and 
' the Lord's Prayer,' which attracted by their novelty 
and unwonted earnestness so many listeners. The 
Dean was no Lollard himself, yet those whose leanings 
were toward Lollard views naturally found, in Colet's 
simple Scripture teaching from his pulpit at St. Paul's, 
what they felt to be the food for which they were 
Lollards in search, and which they did not get elsewhere. They 
Coilr s 6ai were wont, it seems, to advise one another to go and 
hear Dr. Colet ; and it was not strange if, in the future 
examination of heretics, a connection should be traced 
between Colet's sermons and the increase of heresy. 1 
That heresy was on the increase could not be doubted. 
Foxe has recorded that several Lollards suffered in 
1511 under Archbishop Warham, and, strange to say, 
Colet's name appears on the list of judges. 2 Foxe 


1 ' Moreover, that Thomas Geffrey 
* caused this John Butler divers 
' Sundays to go to London to hear 

'Dr. Colet.'— Foxe, ed. 1597, p. 

Ibid. p. 1162. 

Convocation of 1512. 223 

also mentions no fewer than twenty-three heretics who Chap. vii. 
were compelled by Fitzjames, Bishop of London, to A . D . 1512. 
abjure during 1510 and 1511. And so zealous was 
the Bishop in his old age against them that he burned Two 
at least two of them in Smithfield during the autumn bumedat 
of 1511. l So common, indeed, were these martyr- ym i th - 

J field. 

fires, that Ammonms, Latin secretary to Henry VIII. , 
writing from London, a few weeks after, to Erasmus 
at Cambridge, could jestingly say, that ' he does not 
' wonder that wood is so scarce and dear, the heretics 
' cause so many holocausts ; and yet (he said) their 
' numbers grow — nay, even the brother of Thomas, 
' my servant, dolt as he is, has himself founded a sect, 
' and has his disciples ! ' 2 

It was under these circumstances that a royal 
mandate was issued, in November 1511, to the Arch- 
bishop of Canterbury, to summon a convocation of his 
province to meet in St. Paul's Cathedral, February 6, 
1512. 3 

The King — under the instigation, it was thought, of 
Wolsey 4 — was just then entering into a treaty with the 
Pope and other princes with a view to warlike pro- 
ceedings against France ; and the King's object in call- 
ing this convocation was doubtless to procure from the convoca- 
clergy their share of the taxation necessary to meet the m ° n e s c i. m " 
expenses of equipping an army, which it was con- 
venient to represent as required ' for the defence of 
' the Church as well as the kingdom of England ; ' but 
there was another object for which a convocation was 
required besides this of taxation — one more palatable 

1 "William Sweeting and John 
Brewster, on October 18, 1511. — 
Foxe, ed. 1597, p. 756. 

2 Eras. Epist. cxxvii. Brewer, i. 

No. 1948. 

3 Brewer, i. p. 2004. 

4 Ibid. i. Introduction. 


Colet. Erasmus, and More. 

Chap. VII. 
a.d. 1512. 



to preach 




St. Paul's 

to Bishop Fitzjames and his party — that of the ' extir- 
' pation of heresy.' x 

On Friday, February 6, 1512, members of both 
Houses of Convocation assembled, it would seem, in 
St. Paul's Cathedral, to listen to the sermon by which 
it was customary that their proceedings should be 

Dean Colet was charged by the Archbishop with 
the duty of preaching this opening address. 

It was a task by no means to be envied, but Colet 
was not the man to shirk a duty because it was un- 
pleasant. He had accepted the deanery of St. Paul's 
not simply to wear its dignities and enjoy its revenues, 
but to do its duties ; and one of those duties, perhaps 
the one to which he had felt himself most clearly called, 
had been the duty of preaching. Probably, there was 
not a pulpit in England which offered so wide a sphere 
of influence to the preacher as that of St. Paul's. 

The noble cathedral itself was then, in a sense which 
can hardly be realised now, the centre of the metropolis 
of England. In architectural merits, in vastness, and 
in the beauty of its proportions, it was rivalled by few 
in the world ; but it was not from these alone that it 
derived its importance. Under the shadow of its grace- 
fully-tapering spire, 534 feet in height, its nave and 
choir and presbytery extended 700 feet in one long line 
of Gothic arches, broken only by the low screen between 
the nave and choir. And pacing up and down this 

1 Brewer, i. p. 4312. Warham to 
Henry VIII. — a document referring 
to this convocation as held at St. 
Paul's from Feh. 6, 1511 (i. e. 
1512) to Dec. 17 following. This 
document is in many places wholly 
illegible, but these words are visi- 

ble : ' concessimus . . . [pro defen- 
' sione ecclesite] Anglicante ethujus 
' inclyti regni vestri Anglise ; nec- 
' non ad sedandum et extirpandum 
' hereses et schismata in universali 
' ecclesia qua? his diebus plus solito 
' pullulant.' 

Colefs Sermons at St. Paul's. 225 

nave might be seen men of every class in life, from Chap. vii. 
the merchant and the courtier down to the mendicant A . D . 1512 
and the beggar. St. Paul's Walk was like a 'change, St. Paul's 

. Walk. 

thronged by men of business and men of the world, 
congregated there to hear the news, or to drive their 
bargains ; while in the long aisles kneeled the devotees 
of saints or Virgin, paying their devotions at shrines 
and altars, loaded with costly offerings and burning 
tapers ; and in the chantries, priests in monotonous 
tones sang masses for departed souls. 

In this cathedral had Colet preached now for seven coiet 
successive years. He had preached to the humblest preached 
classes in their own English tongue, 1 and, in order ^ s , t ; 

# ° . Pauls 

to bring down his teaching to their level, had given seven 

. . & years. 

them an English translation of the Paternoster 2 for 
their use. He had seen them kneeling before the 
shrines, and had faithfully warned them against the 
worship of images. 3 He had preached to the merchants 
and citizens of London, and they had recognised in him 
a preacher who practised what he preached, whose life 
did not give the lie to what he taught ; and he had 
done all this in spite of any talk his plain-speaking 
might create amongst the orthodox, and notwithstand- 
ing the open opposition of his bishop. If poor Lollards 
found in him an earnestness and simple faith they did 
not find elsewhere, he knew that it was not his fault. 

1 That Colet preached in English, 
see the remark of Erasmus that he 
had studied English authors in order 
to polish his style and to prepare 

chaplain should instruct the chil- 
dren in the Catechism and the 
Articles of the faith and the Ten 
Commandments in English. — 

himself for preaching the gospel. — Knight's Life of Colet. Miscellanies, 
Eras. Op. iii. p. 456, B. It may also Num. v. p. 361. 
he inferred from the Lollards going ~ Tyndale, p. 368 (Parker So- 
to hear his sermons. In his rules ciety). 
for his school he directed that the 3 Eras. Op. iii. p. 460, D. 



Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

Chap. VII. 

a.d. 1512. 

of the 

and their 

It was not he who was making heretics so fast, but 
the priests and bishops themselves, who were driving 
honest souls into heretical ways by the scandal of 
their worldly living, and the pride and dryness of 
their orthodox profession. And now, when he was 
called upon to preach to these very priests and 
bishops, was he to shrink from the task ? 

Colet had already, in his lectures at Oxford, given 
expression to the pain which ecclesiastical scandals had 
given him ; and in his abstracts of the Dionysian treatises 
he had recorded, with grief and tears, his longings for 
ecclesiastical reform. These, however, had never been 
printed. They lay in manuscript in his own hands, and 
could easily be suppressed. It remained to be seen 
whether seven years' enjoyment of his own preferment 
had closed his lips to the utterance of unpopular truths. 

If it were possible so far to look behind the screen 
of the past as to see the bishops of the province of 
Canterbury with the sight and knowledge of Colet, as 
he saw them assembled at St. Paul's on that Friday 
morning, then, and then only, would it be possible to 
appreciate fairly what it must have cost him to preach 
the sermon he did on this occasion. 

The Archbishop and some of the bishops were friends 
of his and of the new learning ; but even some of these 
were so far carried away by the habits of the times,, 
as to fall inevitably under the censure of any honest 
preacher who should dare to apply the Christian 
standard to their episcopal conduct. There might be 
honourable exceptions to the rule, but, as a rule, the 
bishops looked upon their sees as property conferred 
upon them often for political services, or as the natural 
result of family position or influence. The pastoral 

Condition of the Clergy. 227 

duties which properly belonged to their position were Chap. vii. 
too often lost sight of. A bishopric was a thing to A .^m" 2 . 
be sued for or purchased by money or influence. It 
mattered little whether the aspirant were a boy or a 
greyheaded old man, whether he lived abroad or in 
England, whether he were illiterate or educated. There 
was one bishop, for instance, whom Erasmus speaks 
of as a ' youth,' and who was so illiterate that he had 
offered Erasmus a benefice and a large sum of money 
if he would undertake his tuition for a year — a bribe 
which Erasmus, albeit at the time anxiously seeking 
remunerative work of a kind which would not inter- 
fere with his studies, refused with contempt. 1 Then 
there was James Stanley, an old man, whose only title 
to preferment was his connection with the Royal 
Eamily and a noble house, who, in spite of his abso- 
lute unfitness, had been made Bishop of Ely in 1506, 
and was now living, it is said, a life of open pro- 
fligacy, to the great scandal of the English Church, 
and of the noble house to which he belonged 2 

There was a bishop, too, whom More satirised 
repeatedly in his epigrams, under the name of ' Post- 
' humus ; ' at whose promotion he expresses his delight, 
inasmuch as, whilst bishops were 'generally selected at 
' random, this bishop had evidently been chosen with 
' exceptional care. If an error had been made in this 
' case, it could not certainly have arisen from haste in 
' selection ; for had the choice been made out of a thou- 
' sand, a worse or morestiqjid bishop could not possibly 

1 Erasmus to Werner : Eras. Ep. 
Lond. ed. lib. xxxi. Ep. 23. The 
person alluded to in this letter was 
clearly not James Stanley, as has 
sometimes been assumed. 

2 Cooper's Athena Cantab, p. 
16. Also Philomorus, Lond. Pick- 
ering, 1842, pp. 55-57, and Fasti 
Ecclesics Anglicance, p. 70. 

a 2 


Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

A.D. 1512. 

Chap. vii. ' have been found ! ' l From another epigram, it may be 
inferred that this ' Posthumus ' was one of the ignorant 
Scotists whose opposition the Oxford Eeformers had so 
often to combat; for More represents him as fond of 
quoting the text, ' The letter killeth, but the spirit giveth 
' life,' — the text which is mentioned by Tyndale as 
quoted by the Scotists against the literal interpreta- 
tion of Scripture ; — and then he drily remarks, that 
this bishop was too illiterate for any ' letters to have 
' killed him, and that, if they had, he had no spirit to 
' bring him to life again ! ' 2 

These may, indeed, have been exceptional or, at all 
events, extreme cases ; but, however the bishops of the 
province of Canterbury had come by their bishoprics, 
their general practice seems to have been to use their 
benefices only as stepping-stones to higher ones. No 
sooner were they promoted to one see than they as- 
pired to another, of higher rank and greater revenue. 
This, at least, was no exceptional thing. The Bishop 
of Bath and Wells had been Bishop of Hereford ; the 
Bishop of Chichester had been translated from the see 
of St. David's. The Bishop of Lincoln had been Bishop 
of Lichfield and Coventry. Audley had filled the sees 
of Eochester and Hereford in succession, and was now 
Bishop of Salisbury. Fitzjames had been first promoted 

and their 

1 Epigram ' In Posthumum Epi- 
' scopum.' 

3 Epigram ' In Episcopum illite- 
1 ratum, de quo ante Epigramma est 
' sub nomine Posthumi.' There is 
no reason, I think, to conclude that 
More's satire was directed in these 
epigrams against the Bishop of Ely. 
There may have been plenty of 
Scotists whom the cap might fit as 

well, or better. In the same year 
that Stanley was made Bishop of 
Ely, Fitzjames was made Bishop of 
London. The late Dean Milman 
{Annals of St. Paul's, p. 120) 
shows, however, that Fitzjames was 
not unlearned, as he had been War- 
den of Merton and Vice-chancellor 
of Oxford. 

Condition of the Clergy. 229 

to the see of Eochester, after that to the see of Chi- Chap. vii. 
Chester, and from thence, in his old age, to the most a .d. 1512. 
lucrative of all — the see of London. Fox had com- 
menced his episcopal career as Bishop of Exeter ; he had 
from thence been translated, in succession, to the sees of 
Bath and Wells, and Durham, and was now Bishop of 
Winchester. And be it remembered that these nume- 
rous promotions were not in reward for the successful 
discharge of pastoral duties : those who had earned the 
most numerous and rapid promotions were the men who 
were the most deeply engaged in political affairs, sent 
on embassies, and so forth, whose benefices were thus 
the reward of purely secular services, and who, conse- 
quently, had hardly had a chance of discharging with 
diligence their spiritual duties. The Bishop of Bath and 
Wells was a foreigner, and lived abroad ; and so also 
the Bishop of Worcester owed his bishopric to Papal 
provision, and lived and died at Eome. His prede- 
cessor and his successor also both were foreigners. 1 

There was also, amongst the clergy of the province 
of Canterbury, a man who was to surpass all others in 
these particulars ; who was to be handed down to 
posterity as the very type of an ambitious churchman ; Woisey. 
who was already high in royal favour, always engaged 
in political affairs, and considered to be the instigator 
of the approaching war ; who had the whole charge of 
equipping the army committed to his care ; who had 
lately been promoted to the deanery of Lincoln, and 
was waiting for the bishopric as soon as it should be 
vacant ; who had already had conferred upon him, in 
addition to the deanery, two rectories, a prebend, and 

1 Fasti Ecclesice Anglicance, p. 298 ; and Knight's Life of Erasmus, 
p. 229. 


Colet, Erasmus, and More. 


Chap. vii. a canonry ; who, before another year was out, without 
a.d. 1512. giving up any of these preferments, was to be made 
Dean of York ; and who was destined to aspire from 
bishopric to archbishopric, to hold abbeys and bishop- 
rics in commendam, sue for and obtain from the Pope 
a cardinal's hat and legatine authority, and to rule 
England in Church and State — England's king amongst 
the rest — failing only in his attempt to get himself 
elected to the Papal chair. This Dean of Lincoln, 
so aspiring, ambitious, fond of magnificence and 
state, was sure to be found at his place in a convo- 
cation called that the clergy might tax themselves 
in support of his warlike policy, and in aid of his 
ambitious dreams. Wolsey, we may be sure, would 
be there to watch anxiously the concessions of his 
' dismes,' as Bishop Fitzjames would be there also, to 
await the measures to be taken for the ' extirpation 
' of heresy.' 

It was before an assembly composed of such bishops 
and churchmen as these, that Colet rose to deliver the 
following address : — 

' You are come together to-day, fathers and right 
' wise men, to hold a council. In which what ye will 
' do, and what matters ye will handle, I do not yet 
' know ; but I wish that, at length, mindful of your name 
' and profession, ye would consider of the reformation 
' of ecclesiastical affairs : for never was it more neces- 
' sary, and never did the state of the Church more 
1 need your endeavours. For the Church — the spouse 
' of Christ — which He wished to be without spot or 
' wrinkle, is become foul and deformed. As saith 
Esaias, " The faithful city is become a harlot ; " and 
as Jeremias speaks, " She hath committed fornication 

Colet' s 

Need of 
tion in the 

Colet's Sermon to Convocation. 231 

* " with many lovers," whereby she hath conceived Chap. vii. 

* many seeds of iniquity, and daily bringeth forth the a .d. 1512. 

* foulest offspring. Wherefore I have come here to- 

* day, fathers, to admonish you with all your minds to 

* deliberate, in this your Council, concerning the re- 

* formation of the Church. 

' But, in sooth, I came not of my own will and plea- 
' sure, for I was conscious of my unworthiness, and I saw 
4 too how hard it would be to satisfy the most critical 
4 judgment of such great men. I judged it would be 

* altogether unworthy, unfit, and almost arrogant in 

* me, a servant, to admonish you, my masters ! — in me, 

* a son, to teach you, my fathers ! It would have come Colet's 

J J . modesty. 

* better from some one of the fathers, — that is, from one 
' of you prelates, who might have done it with weightier 

* authority and greater wisdom. But I could not but 
i obey the command of the most reverend Father and 
' Lord Archbishop, the President of this Council, who 

* imposed this duty, a truly heavy one, upon me ; for 
' we read that it was said by Samuel the prophet, 
' " Obedience is better than sacrifice." Wherefore, 
' fathers and most worthy sirs, I pray and beseech you 

* this day that you will bear with my weakness by your 

* forbearance and patience ; next, in the beginning, help 

* me with your pious prayers. And, before all things, let 
' us pour out our prayers to God the Father Almighty ; 
' and first, let us pray for his Holiness the Pope, for all 
' spiritual pastors, with all Christian people ; next, let 
' us pray for our most reverend Father the Lord Arch- 
' bishop, President of this Council, and all the lords 
'bishops, the whole clergy, and the whole people 
' of England ; let us pray, lastly, for this assembly and 
' convocation, praying God that He may inspire your 


Colet. Erasmus, and More. 

Chap. VII. 

a.d. 1512. 

' minds so unanimously to conclude upon what is for 
' the good and benefit of the Church, that when this 
' Council is concluded we may not seem to have been 
' called together in vain and without cause. Let us 
' all say " the Pater noster, &c." ' 

Text from 
Rom. xii. 

The Paternoster concluded, Colet proceeded : — 

' As I am about to exhort you, reverend fathers, to 
endeavour to reform the condition of the Church ; 
because nothing- has so disfigured the face of the 
Church as the secular and worldly way of living on 
the part of the clergy, I know not how I can com- 
mence my discourse more fitly than with the Apostle 
Paul, in whose cathedral ye are now assembled : 
(Komans xii. 2) — " Be ye not conformed to this world, 
" but be ye reformed in the newness of your minds, 
" that ye may prove what is the good, and well-pleasing, 
" and perfect will of God." This the Apostle wrote 
to all Christian men, but emphatically to priests and 
bishops : for priests and bishops are the lights of the 
world, as the Saviour said to them, " Ye are the 
" light of the world ; " and again He said, " If the light 
' ; that is in you be darkness, how great will be that 
" darkness ! " That is, if priests and bishops, the 
very lights, run in the dark way of the world, how 
dark must the lay-people be ! Wherefore, emphati- 
cally to priests and bishops did St. Paul say, " Be 
" ye not conformed to this world, but be ye reformed 
" in the newness of your minds." 

' By these words the Apostle points out two things : — 
First, he prohibits our being conformed to the world 
and becoming carnal ; and then he commands that 

Gout's Sermon to Convocation. 233 

' we be reformed in the Spirit of God, in order that we Chap. vii. 
' may be spiritual. I therefore, following this order, A .r>. 1512. 
' shall speak first of Conformation, and after that of 
' Reformation. 

'• "Be not," he says, "conformed to this world." By Of «con- 
' the world the Apostle means the worldly way and tion.' 
1 manner of living, which consists chiefly in these four 
' evils — viz. in devilish pride, in carnal concupiscence, 
1 in worldly covetousness, and in worldly occupations. 
' These things are in the worid, as St. John testifies in 
1 his canonical epistle ; for he says, " All things that 
' " are in the world are either the lust of the flesh, or 
' " the lust of the eye, or the pride of life." These 
' things in like manner exist and reign in the Church, 
' and amongst ecclesiastical persons, so that we seem 
' able truly to say, "All things that are in the Church 
' " are either the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, 
' " or the pride of life ! " 

' In the first place, to speak of pride of life — what Pride of 
' eagerness and hunger after honour and dignity are 
' found in these days amongst ecclesiastical persons ! 
' What a breathless race from benefice to benefice, from 
' a less to a greater one, from a lower to a higher ! 
' Who is there who does not see this ? Who that sees 
' it does not grieve over it ? Moreover, those who 
' hold these dignities, most of them carry themselves 
' with such lofty mien and high looks, that their place 
' does not seem to be in the humble priesthood of 
' Christ, but in proud worldly dominion ! — not ac- 
' knowledging or perceiving what the master of hu- 
' mility, Christ, said to his disciples whom he called to 
' the priesthood. " The princes of the nations" (said 
' He) " have lordship over them, and those who are 


Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

Chap. VII. 
a.d. 1512. 

Lust of 
the flesh. 


" amongst the great have power. But it shall not be 
" so with you : but he who is great among you, let 
" him be your minister ; he who is chief, let him be 
" the servant of all. For the Son of Man came not 
" to be ministered unto, but to minister/' By which 
words the Saviour plainly teaches, that magistracy 
in the Church is nothing else than humble service. 

' As to the second worldly evil, which is the lust of the 
flesh — has not this vice, I ask, inundated the Church 
as with the flood of its lust, so that nothing is more 
carefully sought after, in these most troublous times, 
by the most part of priests, than that which ministers 
to sensual pleasure ? They give themselves up to 
feasting and banqueting ; spend themselves in vain 
babbling, take part in sports and plays, devote them- 
selves to hunting and hawking ; are drowned in the 
delights of this world ; patronise those who cater for 
their pleasure. It was against this kind of people 
that Jude the Apostle exclaimed: "Woe unto them ! 
" for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran 
" greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and 
" perished in the gainsaying of Core. These are spots 
"in your feasts of charity, when they feast with you, 
" feeding themselves without fear ; clouds they are 
" without water, carried about of winds ; trees whose 
" fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead, plucked 
" up by the roots ; raging waves of the sea, foaming 
" out their own shame ; wandering stars, to whom 
" is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever." 

' Covetousness also, which is the third worldly evil, 
which the Apostle John calls the lust of the eye, and 
Paul idolatry — this most horrible plague — has so 
taken possession of the hearts of nearly all priests, 

Colefs Sermon to Convocation. 235 

and lias so darkened the eyes of their minds, that Chap. vii. 
now-a-days we are blind to everything, but that a .d. 1512. 
alone which seems to be able to bring us gain. For 
in these days, what else do we seek for in the Church 
than rich benefices and promotions ? In these same 
promotions, what else do we count upon but their 
fruits and revenues? We rush after them with such 
eagerness, that we care not how many and what 
duties, or how great benefices we take, if only they 
have great revenues. 
'0 Covetousness ! Paul rightly called thee "the root 
" of all evil! " For from thee comes all this piling-up 
of benefices one on the top of the other ; from thee 
come the great pensions, assigned out of many 
benefices resigned ; from thee quarrels about tithes, 
about offerings, about mortuaries, about dilapida- 
tions, about ecclesiastical right and title, for which 
we fight as though for our very lives ! Cove- 
tousness ! from thee come burdensome visitations 
of bishops ; from thee corruptions of Law Courts, 
and those daily fresh inventions by which the poor 
people are harassed ; from thee the sauciness and 
insolence of officials ! Covetousness ! mother of all 
iniquity ! from thee comes that eager desire on the 
part of ordinaries to enlarge their jurisdiction; from 
thee their foolish and mad contention to get hold of 
the probate of wills ; from thee undue sequestrations 
of fruits ; from thee that superstitious observance of 
all those laws which are lucrative, and disregard and 
neglect of those which point at the correction of 
morals ! Why should I mention the rest ? — To sum 
up all in one word : every corruption, all the ruin of 
the Church, all the scandals of the world, come from 


Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

Chap. VII. 

a.d. 1512. 



the covetousness of priests, according to the saying 
of Paul, which I repeat again, and beat into your 
ears, " Covetousness is the root of all evil ! " 
' The fourth worldly evil which mars and spots the 
face of the Church is the incessant worldly occupation 
in which many priests and bishops in these days en- 
tangle themselves — servants of men rather than of 
God, soldiers of this world rather than of Christ. For 
the Apostle Paul writes to Timothy, " No man that 
" warreth for God entangleth himself in the affairs 
" of this life." But priests are " soldiers of God." 
Their warfare truly is not carnal, but spiritual : for 
our warfare is to pray, to read, and to meditate upon 
the Scriptures ; to minister the word of God, to ad- 
minister the sacraments of salvation, to make sacri- 
fice for the people, and to offer masses for their souls. 
For we are mediators between men and God, as Paul 
testifies, writing to the Hebrews : " Every priest " (he 
says) ''taken from amongst men is ordained for men in 
" things pertaining to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices 
" for sins." Wherefore the Apostles, the first priests 
and bishops, so shrank from every taint of worldly 
things that they did not even wish to minister to the 
necessities of the poor, although this was a great 
work of piety : for they said, " It is not right that we 
" should leave the word of God and serve tables ; we 
" will give ourselves continually to prayer, and the 
" ministry of the word of God." And Paul exclaims to 
the Corinthians, " If you have any secular matters, 
"make those of you judges who are of least estimation 
" in the Church." Indeed from this worldliness, and 
because the clergy and priests, neglecting spiritual 
* things, involve themselves in earthly occupation, many 

Colefs Sermon to Convocation. 237 

' evils follow. First, the priestly dignity is dishonoured, Chap. vii. 

' which is greater than either royal or imperial dignity, a .d. 1512. 

' for it is equal to that of angels. And the splendour of 

' this high dignity is obscured by darkness when priests, 

' whose conversation ought to be in heaven, are occupied 

' with the things of earth. Secondly, the dignity of priests 

' is despised when there is no difference between such 

' priests and laymen ; but (according to Hosea the pro- 

' phet) " as the people are, so are the priests." Thirdly, Modem 

' the beautiful order of the hierarchy in the Church is 

' confused when the magnates of the Church are busied 

' in vile and earthly things, and in their stead vile and 

' abject persons meddle with high and spiritual things. 

' Fourthly, the laity themselves are scandalised and 

' driven to ruin, when those whose duty it is to draw 

' men from this world, teach men to love this world by 

' their own devotion to worldly things, and by their love 

1 of this world are [themselves] carried down headlong 

' into hell. Besides, when priests themselves are thus 

' entangled, it must end in hypocrisy ; for, mixed up 

' and confused with the laity, they lead, under a priestly 

' exterior, the mere life of a layman. Also their 

' spiritual weakness and servile fear, when enervated 

' by the waters of this world, makes them dare neither 

' to do nor say anything but what they know will 

* be grateful and pleasing to their princes. Lastly, 

' such is their ignorance and blindness, when blinded by 

' the darkness of this world, that they can discern 110- 

' thing but earthly things. Wherefore not without cause 

' our Saviour Christ admonished the prelates of his 

' Church, " Take heed lest your hearts be burdened by 

' "surfeiting or banqueting, and the cares of this world." 

' " By the cares (He says) of this world ! " The hearts of 


Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

Chap. VII. 

a.d. 1512. 

of here- 

life of 
priests the 
worst kind 
of heresy. 

priests weighed down by riches cannot lift themselves 
on high, nor raise themselves to heavenly things. 

' Many other evils there be, which are the result of 
the worldliness of priests, which it would take long 
to mention ; but I have done. These are those four 
evils, fathers ! priests ! by which, as I have said, 
we are conformed to this world, by which the face 
of the Church is marred, by which her influence is 
destroyed, plainly, far more than it was marred and 
destroyed, either at the beginning by the persecution 
of tyrants, or after that by the invasion of heresies 
which followed. For by the persecution of tyrants 
the persecuted Church was made stronger and more 
glorious ; by the invasion of heretics, the Church 
being shaken, was made wiser and more skilled in 
Holy Scriptures. But after the introduction of this 
most sinful worldliness, when worldliness had crept in 
amongst the clergy, the root of all spiritual life — 
charity itself — was extinguished. And without this 
the Church can neither be wise nor strong in God. 

' In these times also we experience much opposition 
from the laity, but they are not so opposed to us as 
we are to ourselves. Nor does their opposition do us 
so much hurt as the opposition of our own wicked lives, 
which are opposed to God and to Christ ; for He said, 
" He that is not with me is against me." We are 
troubled in these days also by heretics — men mad with 
strange folly ; — but this heresy of theirs is not so pes- 
tilential and pernicious to us and the people as the 
vicious and depraved lives of the clergy, which, if we 
may believe St. Bernard, is a species of heresy, and 
the greatest and most pernicious of all ; for that holy 
father, preaching in a certain convocation to the priests 

Colefs Sermon to Convocation. 239 

of his time, in his sermon spake in these words : — Chap, vil 
" There are many who are catholic in their speaking a .d. 1512. 
" and preaching who are very heretics in their actions, 
" for what heretics do by their false doctrines these 
"men do by their evil examples — they seduce the 
" people and lead them into error of life — and they 
" are by so much worse than heretics as actions are 
" stronger than words." These things said Bernard, 
that holy father of so great and ardent spirit, against 
the faction of wicked priests of his time ; by which 
words he plainly shows that there be two kinds of 
heretical pravity — one of perverse doctrine, the other 
of perverse living — of which the latter is the greater 
and more pernicious ; and this reigns in the Church, 
to the miserable destruction of the Church, her priests 
living after a worldly and not after a priestly fashion. 
Wherefore do you fathers, you priests, and all of you 
of the clergy, awake at length, and rise up from this 
your sleep in this forgetful world : and being awake, 
at length listen to Paul calling unto you, " Be ye not 
" conformed to this world." 
' This concerning the first part. 

'Now let us come to the second — concerning Re- Eeforma- 

, j> ,• tion. 


' "But be ye reformed in the newness of your minds." 
' What Paul commands us secondly is, that we should 
' " be reformed into a new mind ; " that we should 
' savour the things which are of God ; that we should 
' be reformed to those things which are contrary to 
4 what I have been speaking of — i.e. to humility, 
' sobriety, charity, spiritual occupations ; just as Paul 
' wrote to Titus, " Denying ungodliness and worldly 

240 Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

Chap. vii. ' " lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and 
a.d. 1512. ' " godly in this present world." 

Must ' But this reformation and restoration in ecclesiastical 

thf n W1 ' affairs must needs begin with you, our fathers, and 

bishops. <. t j ien afterwards descend upon us your priests and the 

' whole clergy. For you are our chiefs — you are our 

' examples of life. To you we look as waymarks for our 

* direction. In you and in your lives we desire to read, 

* as in living books, how we ourselves should live. 
' Wherefore, if you wish to see our motes, first take the 
1 beams out of your own eyes ; for it is an old proverb, 
' " Physician heal thyself." Do you, spiritual doctors, 
' first assay that medicine for the purgation of morals, 
' and then you may offer it to us to taste of it also. 

' The way, moreover, by which the Church is to be 
' reformed and restored to a better condition is not to 
' enact any new laws (for there are laws enough and to 
' spare). As Solomon says, " There is no new thing 
' " under the sun." The diseases which are now in the 
' Church were the same in former ages, and there is 
' no evil for which the holy fathers did not provide 
' excellent remedies ; there are no crimes in prohibition 
' of which there are not laws in the body of the Canon 
Existing ' Law. The need, therefore, is not for the enactment 
laws must t f i awg an( j constitutions, but for the observance 

be en- 
forced, t of those already enacted. Wherefore, in this your 

' congregation, let the existing laws be produced and 

' recited which prohibit what is evil, and which enjoin 

' what is right. 

' First, let those laws be recited which admonish you, 

* fathers, not to lay your hands on any, nor to admit 

* them to holy orders, rashly. For here is the source 

* from whence other evils flow, because if the entrance 
' to Holy Orders be thrown open, all who offer them- 

Colefs Sermon to Convocation. 241 

selves are forthwith admitted without hindrance. Chap. vii. 

' Hence proceed and emanate those hosts of both un- a .d. 1512. 
' learned and wicked priests which are in the Church, wicked 

-r, . , , , . and un- 

'.bor it is not, m my judgment, enough that a priest learned 
6 can construe a collect, propound a proposition, or ^^ ' 
'reply to a sophism; but much more needful are a tonolv 

1 J r orders. 

' good and pure and holy life, approved morals, mode- 
' rate knowledge of the Scriptures, some knowledge 
' of the Sacraments, above all fear of God and love 
' of heavenly life. 

' Let the laws be recited which direct that eccle- 
' siastical benefices should be conferred on the worthy, 
' and promotions in the Church made with just regard 
' to merit ; not by carnal affection, nor the accepta- 
' tion of persons, whereby it comes to pass in these days, 
' that boys instead of old men, fools instead of wise 
1 men, wicked instead of good men, reign and rule ! 

' Let the laws be recited against the guilt of Simony. 
' simony ; which plague, which contagion, which dire 
4 pestilence, now creeps like a cancer through the 
' minds of priests, so that most are not ashamed in 
4 these days to get for themselves great dignities by 
4 petitions and suits at court, rewards and promises. 

' Let the laws be recited which command the per- Residence 
4 sonal residence of curates at their churches : for 
4 many evils spring from the custom, in these days, of 
' performing all clerical duties by help of vicars and 
' substitutes ; men too without judgment, unfit, and 
' often wicked, who will seek nothing from the people 
' but sordid gain — whence spring scandals, heresies, 
' and bad Christianity amongst the people. Worldly 

J & l l living of 

' Let the laws be rehearsed, and the holy rules priests 
' handed down from our ancestors concerning the life monks. 

242 Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

Chap. vii. ' and character of the clergy, which prohibit any 
a.d. 1512. ' churchman from being a merchant, usurer, or 
' hunter, or common player, or from bearing arms — 
' the laws which prohibit the clergy from frequenting 
' taverns, from having unlawful intercourse with 
' women — the laws which command sobriety and 
' modesty in vestment, and temperance in dress. 

'Let also the laws be recited concerning monks 
' and religious men, which command that, leaving the 
' broad way of the world, they enter the narrow way 
' which leads to life ; which command them not to 
' meddle in business, whether secular or ecclesiastical ; 
' which command that they should not engage in 
' suits in civil courts for earthly things. For in the 
' Council of Chalcedon it was decreed that monks 
' should give themselves up entirely to prayer and 
' fasting, the chastisement of their flesh, and observance 
' of their monastic rule. 
Worldly ' Above all, let those laws be recited which concern 

' and pertain to you, reverend fathers and lords bishops 
1 — laws concerning your just and canonical election, 
' in the chapters of your churches, with the invocation 
' of the Holy Spirit : for because this is not done in 
' these days, and prelates are often chosen more by 
■ the favour of men than the grace of God, so, in conse- 
' quence, we sometimes certainly have bishops too little 
' spiritual — men more worldly than heavenly, wiser in 
4 the spirit of this world than in the spirit of Christ ! 

' Let the laws be rehearsed concerning the residence 
' of bishops in their dioceses, which command that 
' they watch over the salvation of souls, that they 
' disseminate the word of God, that they personally 
' appear in their churches at least on great festivals, 

Colefs Sermon to Convocation. 243 

that they sacrifice for their people, that they hear Chap. vii. 
the causes of the poor, that they sustain the father- a .d. 1512. 
less, and widows, that they exercise themselves 
always in works of piety. 

' Let the laws be rehearsed concerning the due dis- 
tribution of the patrimony of Christ — laws which 
command that the goods of the Church be spent not 
in sumptuous buildings, not in magnificence and 
pomp, not in feasts and banquets, not in luxury and 
lust, not in enriching kinsfolk nor in keeping hounds, 
but in things useful and needful to the Church. For 
when he was asked by Augustine, the English 
bishop, in what way English bishops and prelates 
should dispose of those goods which were the offer- 
ings of the faithful, Pope Gregory replied (and his 
reply is placed in the Decretals, ch. xii. q. 2), that 
the goods of bishops should be divided into four 
parts, of which one part should go to the bishop and 
his family, another to his clergy, a third for repair- 
ing buildings, a fourth to the poor. 

' Let the laws be recited, and let them be recited Reform of 
again and again, which abolish the scandals and ^ca! esias " 
vices of courts, which take away those daily newly- Courts - 
invented arts for getting money, which were designed 
to extirpate and eradicate that horrible covetous- 
ness which is the root and cause of all evils, which 
is the fountain of all iniquity. 

' Lastly, let those laws and constitutions be renewed councils 
concerning the holding of Councils, which com- ^ e °^ be 
mand that Provincial Councils should be held more ottener - 
frequently for the reformation of the Church. For 
nothing ever happens more detrimental to the 

R 2 


Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

must first 
be re- 

Chap. vii. ' Church of Christ than the omission of Councils, both 
a.d. 1512. ' general and provincial. 

'Having rehearsed these laws and others, like 
' them, which pertain to this matter, and have for 
' their object the correction of morals, it remains that 
' with all authority and power their execution should 
' be commanded, so that having a law we should at 
' length live according to it. 

' In which matter, with all due reverence, I appeal 
most strongly to you, fathers ! For this execution of 
laws and observance of constitutions ought to begin 
with you, so that by your living example you may 
teach us priests to imitate you. Else it will surely 
be said of you, " They lay heavy burdens on other 
" men's shoulders, but they themselves will not move 
" them even with one of their fingers." But you, if 
you keep the laws, and first reform your own lives 
to the law and rules of the Canons, will thereby 
provide us with a light, in which we shall see what 
we ought to do — the light, i.e. of your good example. 
And we, seeing our fathers keep the laws, will gladly 
follow in the footsteps of our fathers. 

' The clerical and priestly part of the church being 
thus reformed, we can then with better grace proceed 
to the reformation of the lay part, which indeed it will 
be very easy to do, if we ourselves have been reformed 
first. For the body follows the soul, and as are the 
rulers in a State such will the people be. Wherefore, 
if priests themselves, the rulers of souls, were good, 
the people in their turn would become good also ; 
for our own goodness would teach others how they 
may be good more clearly than all other kinds of 
teaching and preaching. Our goodness would urge 

then the 

then the 
lay part 
of the 

Colets Sermon to Convocation. 245 

' them on in the right way far more efficaciously than Chap. vii. 
' all your suspensions and excommunications. Where- A .^T5i2. 
' fore, if you wish the lay-people to live according to 
' your will and pleasure, you must first live according 
' to the will of God, and thus (believe me) you will 

* easily attain what you wish in them. 

' You want obedience from them. And it is right ; 
' for in the Epistle to the Hebrews are these words of 
' Paul to the laity : " Be obedient " (he says) " to your 
' " rulers, and be subject to them." But if you desire 
' this obedience, first give reason and cause of obedi- 
' ence on your part, as the same Paul teaches in the 
'following text — "Watch as those that give an account 

* " of their souls," and then they will obey you. 

' You desire to be honoured by the people. It is 
' right ; for Paul writes to Timotheus, " Priests who 
' " rule well are worthy of double honour, chiefly 
' " those who labour in word and doctrine." There- 
' fore, desiring honour, first rule well, and labour in 
' word and doctrine, and then the people will hold 
' you in all honour. 

' You desire to reap their carnal things, and to 
' collect tithes and offerings without any reluctance 

* on their part. It is right ; for Paul, writing to the 
1 Eomans, says : " They are your debtors, and ought 
' " to minister to you in carnal things." But if you 
' wish to reap their carnal things, you must first sow 
' your spiritual things, and then ye shall reap abun- 
' dantly of their carnal things. For that man is hard 

* and unjust who desires " to reap where he has not 
' " sown, and to gather where he has not scattered." 

' You desire ecclesiastical liberty, and not to be 
' drawn before civil courts. And this too is right ; 

246 Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

Chap. vii. ' for in the Psalms it is said, " Touch not mine 
A-D . i5i2. ' " anointed." But if ye desire this liberty, loose 
' yourselves first from worldly bondage, and from the 
' cringing service of men, and claim for yourselves 
' that true liberty of Christ, that spiritual liberty 
' through grace from sin, and serve God and reign in 
' Him, and then (believe me) the people will not 
' touch the anointed of the Lord their God ! 

' You desire security, quiet, and peace. And this is 
' fitting. But, desiring peace, return to the God of love 
' and peace ; return to Christ, in whom is the true 
' peace of the Spirit which passeth all understanding ; 
' return to the true priestly life. And lastly, as Paul 
' commands, " Be ye reformed in the newness of your 
' " minds, that ye may know those things which are of 
God ; and the peace of God shall be with you ! " 


. .. 

Con- ' These, reverend fathers and most distinguished men, 

' are the things that I thought should be spoken con- 
' cerning the reformation of the clergy. I trust that, 
' in your clemency, you will take them in good part. 
' If, by chance, I should seem to have gone too far in 
' this sermon — if I have said anything with too much 
' warmth — forgive it me, and pardon a man speaking 
' out of zeal, a man sorrowing for the ruin of the 
' Church ; and, passing by any foolishness of mine, con- 
6 sider the thing itself. Consider the miserable state 
' and condition of the Church, and bend your whole 
' minds to its reformation. Suffer not, fathers, suffer 
' not this so illustrious an assembly to break up with- 
' out result. Suffer not this your congregation to 
' slip by for nothing. Ye have indeed often been 
' assembled. But (if by your leave I may speak the 

Colefs Sermon to Convocation. 


' truth) I see not what fruit has as yet resulted, Chap. vii. 
' especially to the Church, from assemblies of this a.d. 1512. 
' kind ! Go now, in the Spirit whom you have in- 
' voked, that ye may be able, with his assistance, to 
' devise, to ordain, and to decree those things which 
' may be useful to the Church, and redound to your 
' praise and the honour of God : to whom be all 
' honour and glory, for ever and ever, Amen ! ' 

Comparing this noble sermon with the passages 
quoted in an earlier chapter from Colet's lectures at 
Oxford and his Abstracts of the Dionysian writings, 
it must be admitted that what, fourteen years before, 
he had uttered as it were in secret, he had now, as 
occasion required, proclaimed upon the housetops. 
What effect it had upon the assembled clergy no 
record remains to tell. 

The object which Wolsey had in view in the con- 
vocation was, it may be presumed, attained to his 
satisfaction. The clergy granted the King ' four 
' dismes,' to be paid in yearly instalments. 1 And this 
was the full amount of taxation usually demanded 
by English sovereigns from the clergy in time of war, 
except in cases of extreme urgency. 2 

Whether Bishop Fitzjames succeeded equally well 
in securing the inhuman object which was nearest to 
his heart, is not equally clear. 


1 Brewer, i. 4312. 

2 A ' tenth,' of the clergy, pro- 
duced in 1500 about 12,000/. See 
Italian Relation of England, 0. S. 
p. 52. Four-tenths would be equal 
to about half a million sterling in 
present money. 

' If the King should go to war, 
'he . . . . immediately compels 
' the clergy to pay him one, two, or 
' three fifteenths or tenths . . . and 
' more if the urgency of the war 
' should require it.' — Ibid. p. 52. 


ColeL Erasmus, and More. 

Chap. VII. 

a.d. 1512. 

sion on 
the burn- 
ing of 

But one authentic picture of a scene which there 
can be little doubt occurred in this Convocation has 
been preserved, to give a passing glimpse into the 
nature of the discussion which followed upon the 
subject of the ' extirpation of heresy.' In the course 
of the debate, the advocates of increased severity 
against poor Lollards were asked, it seems, to point 
out, if they could, a single passage in the Canonical 
Scriptures which commands the capital punishment 
of heretics. Whereupon an old divine 1 rose from his 
seat, and with some severity and temper quoted the 
command of St. Paul to Titus : ' A man that is an 
'heretic, after the first and second admonition, reject.' 
The old man quoted the words as they stand in the 
Vulgate version : ' Hsereticum hominem post unam et 
1 alteram correptionem devita ! ' — l De-vita ! ' he repeated 
with emphasis ; and again, louder still, he thundered 
' De-vita ! ' till everyone wondered what had happened 
to the man. At length he proceeded to explain that 
the meaning of the Latin verb ' devitare ' being ' de 
' vita tollere ' (!), the passage in question was clearly 
a direct command to punish heretics by death ! 2 

1 ' Senex quidam theologus et 
' imprimis severus.' — Erasmi Anno- 
tationes, edit. 1519, p. 489; and edit. 
1522, p. 558. ' Senex quidam seve- 
' rus et vel supercilio teste theolo- 
gus, magno stomacho, respondit.' 

— Erasmi Morice Encomium, Basle, 
1519, p. 225. 

2 See note of Erasmus in his 
' Annotationes,' in loco Titus iii. 10 ; 
also the Praise of Folly, where 
the story is told in connection with 
further particulars. The exact 
coincidence between the two ac- 

counts of the old divine's construc- 
tion of Titus iii. 10 leads to the 
conclusion that the rest of the story, 
as given in the Praise of Folly, 
may also very probably be literally 
true. Knight, in his Life of C'olet, 
concludes that as the story is told 
in the Praise of Folly, the incident 
must have occurred in a previous 
convocation, as this satire was writ- 
ten before 1512. — Knight, pp. 199, 
200. But the story is not inserted 
in the editions of 1511 and of 1515, 
whilst it is inserted in the Basle 

Convocation of 1 51 2 . 249 

A smile passed round among those members of Con- Chap. vii. 
vocation who were learned enough to detect the gross a .d. 1512. 
ignorance of the old divine ; but to the rest his logic 
appeared perfectly conclusive, and he was allowed 
to proceed triumphantly to support his position by 
quoting, again from the Vulgate, the text translated 
in the English version, ' Suffer not a witch to live.' For 
the word ' witch ' the Vulgate version has ' maleficus.' 
A heretic, he declared, was clearly 'maleficus,' and 
therefore ought not to be suffered to live. By which 
conclusive logic the learned members of the Convo- 
cation of 1512 were, it is said, for the most part 
completely carried away. 1 

This story, resting wholly or in part upon Colet's 
own relation to Erasmus, is the only glimpse which 
can be gathered of the proceedings of this Convo- 
cation ' for the extirpation of heresy.' 


Before the spring of 1512 was passed, Colet's Colet's 
Sermon to Convocation was printed and distributed pt-inteS. 

edition of the Encomium Morice, 
November 12, 1519, published just 
after Colet's death (p. 226). Nor is 
the first part of the story relating to 
Titus iii. 10 to be found in the first 
edition of the Annotationes (1516). 
The story is first told by Erasmus 
in the second edition (1519), pub- 
lished just before Colet's death, and 
then without any mention of Colet's 
name ; the latter being possibly 
omitted lest, as Bishop Fitzjames 

was still living, its mention should be 
dangerous to Colet. It was not till 
the third edition was published (in 
1522), when both Colet and Colet's 
persecutor were dead, that Eras- 
mus added the words, ' Id, ne quis 
'suspicetur meum esse commen- 
' turn, accepi ex Johanne Coleto, viro 
' spectatse integritatis, quo prsesi- 
' dente res acta est.' — Annotationes, 
3rd ed. 1522, p. 558. 

1 Praise of Folly, 1519, p. 226. 


Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

Chap. VII. 

a.d. 1512. 

tion of 



in Latin, and probably in English l also ; and as there 
was an immediate lull in the storm of persecution, he 
may possibly have come off rather as victor than as 
vanquished, in spite of the seeming triumph of the 
persecuting party in Convocation. 

The bold position he had taken had rallied round him 
not a few honest-hearted men, and had made him, 
perhaps unconsciously on his part, the man to whom 
earnest truth-seekers looked up as to a leader, and 
upon whom the blind leaders of the blindly orthodox 
party vented all their jealousy and hatred. 

He was henceforth a marked man. That school of 
his in St. Paul's Churchyard, to the erection of which 
he had devoted his fortune, which he had the previous 
autumn made his will to endow, had now risen into a 
conspicuous building, and the motives of the Dean in 
building it were of course everywhere canvassed. The 
school was now fairly at work. Lilly, the godson of 
Grocyn, the late Professor of Greek at Oxford, was 
already appointed headmaster ; and as he was known 
to have himself travelled in Greece to perfect his clas- 
sical knowledge, it could no longer be doubted by any 
that here, under the shadow of the great cathedral, was 
to be taught to the boys that * heretical Greek ' which 
was regarded with so much suspicion. Here was, in 
fact, a school of the 'new learning,' sowing in the minds 
of English youth the seeds of that free thought and 

1 There is an old English transla- 
tion given by Knight in his Life of 
Colet (pp. 289-308), printed by 
' Thomas Berthelet, regius impres- 
sor,' and without date. Pynson was 
the King's printer in 1512 (Brewer, 
i. p. 1030), and accordingly he printed 

the Latin edition of 1511, i.e. 1512. 
— Knight, p. 271. Knight speaks of 
the old English version as ' written 
' probably by the Dean himself,' but 
he gives no evidence in support of 
his conjecture. — See Knight's Life 
of Colet, p. 199. 

Colet to Erasmus. 251 

heresy which Colet had so long been teaching to the Chap. vii. 
people from his pulpit at St. Paul's. More had already a.d. 1512. 
facetiously told Colet that he could not wonder if his 
school should raise a storm of malice; for people cannot 
help seeing that, as in the Trojan horse were concealed 
armed Greeks for the destruction of barbarian Troy, so 
from this school would come forth those who would 
expose and upset their ignorance. 1 

No wonder, indeed, if the wrath of Bishop Fitzjames 
should be kindled against Colet ; no wonder if, having 
failed in his attempt effectually to stir up the spirit of 
persecution in the recent Convocation, he should now 
vent his spleen upon the newly-founded school. 

But how fully, amid all, Colet preserved his temper 
and persevered in his work, may be gathered from the 
following letter to Erasmus, who, in intervals of leisure 
from graver labours, was devoting his literary talents 
to the service of Colet's school, and whose little book, 
' De Copia Verborum,' was part of it already in the 
printer's hands : — 

Colet to Erasmus. 2 

' Indeed, dearest Erasmus, since you left London 
' I have heard nothing of you. . . . 

' I have been spending a few days in the country 
' with my mother, consoling her in her grief on the 

1 ' Neque valde miror si clarissi- [ Tres TJwmce, p. 166, ed. 1612 ; p. 23, 
' moe schoke tuas rumpantur invidia. ed. 1588. 

' Vident enim uti ex equo Trojano ! - Brewer, vol. ii. No. 3190. 
' prodieruut Grasci, qui barbaram ! The true date, 1512, is clearly 
' diruere Trojam, sic e tua prodire fixed by the allusion to the ' De 
' schold qui ipsorum arguunt atque ' 'Copia,' &c. — Eras. Epist. App. 
subvertuntinscitiam.' — Stapleton's l ccccvi. 

252 Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

Chap. vii. ' death of my servant, who died at her house, whom 

a.d. 1512. ' she loved as a son, and for whose death she wept as 

' though he had been more than a son. The night on 

' which I returned to town I received your letter. 

a bishop ' Now listen to a joke ! A certain bishop, who is 

phemes ' held, too, to be one of the wiser ones, has been 

sehoof ' blaspheming our school before a large concourse 

' of people, declaring that I have erected what is a 

' useless thing, yea a bad thing — yea more (to give 

' his own words), a temple of idolatry. Which, 

' indeed, I fancy he called it, because the poets are to 

' be taught there ! At this, Erasmus, I am not angry, 

' but laugh heartily. . . . 

' I send you a little book containing the sermon ' 
[to the Convocation?]. 'The printers said they had 
' sent some to Cambridge. 

; Farewell ! Do not forget the verses for our boys, 
' which I want you to finish with all good nature and 
' courtesy. Take care to let us have the second part 
' of your " Copia." ' 

<DeCo ia' ^ ne secon( l P art of the 'Copia' was accordingly 
preface of completed, and the whole sent to the press in May, 

Erasmus. . . 

with a prefatory letter to Colet, in which Erasmus 
paid a loving tribute to his friend's character and 
work. He dwelt upon Colet's noble self-sacrificing 
devotion to the good of others, and the judgment he 
had shown in singling out two main objects at which 
to labour, as the most powerful means of furthering 
the great cause so dear to his heart. 
„ . , To implant Christ in the hearts of the common 

Colet's L 

preaching, people, by constant preaching, year after year, from 

1 Dated ' m.dxii. iii. Kal. Maias : Londini.' 

Completion of Colet's School. 253 

his pulpit at St. Paul's — this, wrote Erasmus, had Chap. vii. 
been Colet's first great work ; and surely it had a.d. 1512. 
borne much fruit ! 

To found a school, wherein the sons of the people Colet's 
should drink in Christ along with a sound education 
— that thereb}^, as it were in the cradle of coming 
generations, the foundation might be laid of the 
future welfare of his country — this had been the 
second great work to which Colet had devoted time, 
talents, and a princely fortune. 

' What is this, I ask, but to act as a father to all your Erasmus 
' children and fellow-citizens ? You rob yourself to f Colet's 
' make them rich ; you strip yourself to clothe them. work " 
' You wear yourself out with toil, that they may be 
' quickened into life in Christ. In a word, you spend 
1 yourself away that you may gain them for Christ ! 

' He must be envious, indeed, who does not back 
1 with all his might the man who engages in a work 
' like this. He must be wicked, indeed, who can 
' gainsay or interrupt him. That man is an enemy 
' to England who does not care to give a helping 
4 hand where he can.' 

Which words in praise of Colet's self-sacrificing 
work were not merely uttered within hearing of those 
who might hang upon the lips of the aged Fitzjames 
or the bishop who had ' blasphemed ' the school ; they 
passed, with edition after edition of the ' Copia ' of 
Erasmus, into the hands of every scholar in Europe, 
until they were known and read of all men ! 1 

But Bishop Fitzjames, whose unabating zeal against 

1 The first edition was printed 
at Paris by Badius. Another was 
printed hy Schurerius (Argentorat.), 

January 1513. And, in Oct. 1514, 
Erasmus sent to Schurerius a revise/'' 
copy for publication. 

254 Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

Chap. vii. heretics had become the ruling passion of his old age, 
a.d. 1512. no longer able to control his hatred of the Dean, 
associated with himself two other bishops of like 
opinion and spirit in the ignoble work of making 
trouble for Colet. They resorted to their usual 
weapon — persecution. They exhibited to the Arch- 
Coiet bishop of Canterbury articles against Colet extracted 
with 8ed from his sermons. Their first charge was that he had 
lier f?y preached that images ought not to be worshipped, 
bishop. The second charge was that he had denied that Christ, 
when He commanded Peter the third time to ' feed 
' his lambs,' made any allusion to the application of 
episcopal revenues in hospitality or anything else, 
seeing that Peter was a poor man, and had no epi- 
scopal revenues at all. The third charge was, that in 
speaking once from his pulpit of those who were 
accustomed to read their sermons, he meant to give 
a side-hit at the Bishop of London, who, on account of 
his old age, was in the habit of reading his sermons. 1 
But the Archbishop, thoroughly appreciating as 
he did the high qualities of the Dean, became his 
protector and advocate, instead of his judge. Colet 
himself, says Erasmus, did not deign to make any 
reply to these foolish charges, and others ' more 
' foolish still.' 2 And the Archbishop, therefore, with- 
out hearing any reply, indignantly rejected them. 
Proceed- What the charges ' more foolish still ' may have 

qiEshed been Erasmus does not record. But Tyndale men- 
by War- tions, as a well known fact, that ' the Bishop of 

ham. ± 

' London would have made Dean Colet of Paules a 
■ heretic for translating the Paternoster in English, had 

1 Eras. Op. iii. p. 460, D and E. 2 Ibid. p. 460, E. 

Colet charged with Heresy. 255 

' not the [Arch]bishop of Canterbury helped the Chap, vil 
' Dean.' x Colet's English translation or paraphrase A . D . 1512. 
of the Paternoster still remains to show that he was 
open to the charge. 2 But for once, at least, the 
persecutor was robbed of his prey ! 

For a while, indeed, Colet's voice had been silenced ; 
but now Erasmus was able to congratulate his friend 
on his return to his post of duty at St. Paul's. 

' I was delighted to hear from you ' [he wrote from Erasmus 
Cambridge], ' and have to congratulate you that you 
' have returned to your most sacred and useful work 
' of preaching. I fancy even this little interruption 
' will be overruled for good, for your people will 
' listen to your voice all the more eagerly for having 
' been deprived of it for a while. May Jesus, Optimus 
' Maximus, keep you in safety ! ' 3 


In closing this chapter, it may perhaps be remarked 
that little has been heard of More during these the 
first years of his return to public life. 

The fact is, that he had been too busy to write More en- 
many letters even to Erasmus. He had been rapidly jjf u s j n e e c J s m 
drawn into the vortex of public business. His judicial 
office of undersheriff of London had required his close 
attention every Thursday. His private practice at the 

1 3 Tyndale, p. 168 (Parker I ' Marie Virginis secundum usum 
Society). ■ ' Sarum totaliter ad longum.' — 

2 ' The Seven Peticyons of the Knight's Life of Colet, App. Miscel- 
' Paternoster, hy Joan Colet, Deane lanies, No. xii. p. 450. 

' of Paules,' inserted in the collec- : 3 Eras. Epist. cvii. Brewer, No. 
tion of Prayer entitled ' Horaibeate I 3405, under date 1st Nov. 1512. 


Colet. Erasmus, and More. 

Chap. VII. 
a.d. 1512. 

writes his 
history of 

Death of 
h'is wife. 

His four 

bar had also in the meantime rapidly increased, and 
drawn largely on his time. When Erasmus wrote to 
know what he was doing, and why he did not write, 
the answer was that More was constantly closeted with 
the Lord Chancellor, engaged in ' grave business,' l 
and would write if he could. What leisure he could 
snatch from these public duties he would seem to 
have been devoting to his ' History of Eichard III.' 2 
the materials for which he probably obtained through 
his former connection with Cardinal Morton. 

And were we to lift the veil from his domestic life, 
we should find the dark shadow of sorrow cast upon 
his bright home in Bucklersbury. But a few short 
months ago, such was the air of happiness about that 
household, that Ammonius, writing as he often did to 
Erasmus, to tell him all the news, whilst betraying, by 
the endearing epithets he used, his fascination for the 
loveliness of More's own gentle nature, had spoken also 
of his ' most good-natured wife,' and of the ' children 
' and whole family ' as ' charmingly well.' 3 

Now four motherless children nestle round their 
widowed father's knee. 4 Margaret, the eldest daughter 

1 Eras. Epist. cxxviii. and cxvi. 

2 ' Written by Master Thomas 
' More, then one of the undersheriffs 
' of London, about the year 1513.' — 
Mores Enylish Works, p. 35. 

3 ' Morus noster melitissiinus, 
'cum sua facilliuia conjuge . . . et 
' liberis ac universa familia pulcher- 
' rime valet.' — Ammonius to Eras- 
mus: Epist. clxxv. This letter, 
dated May 19, 1515, evidently 
belongs to an earlier date. It is 
apparently in reply to Epist. ex. 

dated April 27, from Paris, and 
written by Erasmus during his 
stay there in 1511. 

1 The date of the death of More's 
first wife it is not easy exactly to fix. 
Cresacre More says, ' His wife Jane, 
' as long as she lived, which was 
' but some six years, brought unto 
' him almost every year a child.' — 
lift of Sir T. More, p. 40. This 
would bring her death to 1511, or 

Move's Domestic Sorrow. 257 

— the child of six years old — henceforth it will be her Chap. vii. 
lot to fill her lost mother's place in her father's heart, A . D . 1512. 
and to be a mother to the little ones. And she too 
is not unknown to fame. It was she 

. . . . ' who clasped in her last trance 
' Her murdered father's head.' .... 



a.d. 1512. 



If Colet returned to his pulpit after a narrow escape 
of being burned for heresy, it was to continue to do 
his duty, and not to preach in future only such sermons 
as might escape the censure of his bishop. His honesty 
and boldness were soon again put to the test. 

It was in the summer of 1512 that Henry VIII. for 
the first time mingled the blood of English soldiers 
in those Continental wars which now for some years 
became the absorbing object of attention. 

European rulers had not yet accepted the modern 
notion of territorial sovereignty. Instead of looking 
upon themselves as the rulers of nations, living within 
the settled boundaries of their respective countries, 
they still thirsted for war and conquest, and dreamed 
of universal dominion. To how great an extent this 
was so, a glance at the ambitious schemes of the chief 
rulers of Europe at this period will show. 

How Pope Julius II. was striving to add temporal 
to spiritual sovereignty, and desired to be the ' lord 
' and master of the game of the world,' has been 
already noticed in mentioning how it called forth 
the satire of Erasmus, in his ' Praise of Folly.' This 

a.d. 1512. 

European Politics. 259 

warlike Pope was still fighting in his old age. Side Chap 
by side with Pope Julius was Caesar Maximilian, Arch- 
duke of Austria, King of the Eomans, Emperor of 
Germany, &c. — fit representative of the ambitious 
House of Hapsburg! Not contented with all these 
titles and dominions, Maximilian was intriguing to 
secure by marriages the restoration of Hungary and 
Bohemia, and the annexation of the Netherlands, 
Franche-Comte, and Artois, as well as of Castile and 
Arragon, to the titles and possessions of his royal 
house. And what he could not secure by marriages 
he was trying to secure by arms. Had his success 
equalled his lust of dominion, east and west would 
have been united in the one ' Holy Empire ' of which 
he dreamed, independent even of Papal interference, 
and hereditary for ever in the House of Hapsburg. 
Then there was Louis XII. , the 'Most Christian ' King 
of France, laying claim to a great part of Italy, pushing 
his influence and power so far as to strike terror into 
the minds of other princes ; assuming to himself the 
rank of the first prince in Christendom ; his chief minis- 
ter aspiring to succeed Julius II. in the Papal chair ; 
his son Francis ready to become a candidate for the 
Empire on the death of Maximilian. And, lastly, there 
was Henry VIII. of England, eager to win his spurs, 
and to achieve military renown at the first opportunity ; 
reviving old obsolete claims on the crown of France ; 
ready to offer himself as a candidate for the Empire 
when it became vacant, and to plot to secure the elec- 
tion of Wolsey to the Papal chair ! Throw all these 
rival claims and objects of ambition into a wild medley, 
consider to what plots and counterplots, leagues and 
breaches of them, all this vast entanglement of interests 

8 2 

260 Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

Chap, and ambitions must give rise, and some faint idea may 
be gained of the state of European politics. 

Already in December 1511, a Holy Alliance had 
been formed between Pope Julius, Maximilian, Ferdi- 
nand, and Henry VIII., to arrest the conquests and 
humble the ambition of Louis XII. How the clergy 
had been induced to tax themselves in support of this 
holy enterprise has already been seen. Parliament 
also had granted a subsidy of two fifteenths and 
tenths, and had made some needful provision for the 
First approaching war. Everything was ready, and in the 

exjfedi summer of 1512 the first English expedition sailed. 

Ferdinand persuaded Henry VIII. to aid him in 
attacking Guienne, and, all unused to the stratagems 
of war, he fell into the snare. While his father-in law 
was playing his selfish game, and reducing the kingdom 
of Navarre, Henry's fleet and soldiers were left to play 
its their part alone. The whole expedition, owing to 

failure. delays and gross mismanagement, wofully miscarried. 
There were symptoms of mutiny and desertion ; and at 
length the English army returned home utterly de- 
moralised, and in the teeth of their commands. The 
English flag was disgraced in the eyes of Europe. 
French wits wrote biting satires 'De Anolorum e Gal- 
' liis Fuga,' 1 and in bitter disappointment Henry VIII., 
to avoid further disgrace, was obliged to hush up the 
affair, allowing the disbanded soldiers to return to their 
homes without further inquiry. 2 It was in vain that 
More replied to the French wits with epigram for epi- 
gram, correcting their exaggerated satire, and turn- 
ing the tables upon their own nation. 3 He laid the 

1 Philomorus, p. 71. 

2 See Brewer, i. preface p. xl et 
^eq., and authorities there cited. 

3 ' In Brivium Germanum falsa 
scribentem de Chordigera! ' In 
eundem: Versus excerptie Chordi- 

Colet Opposes the War. 261 

foundation of a controversy by which he was annoyed Chap. 

. . VIII 

in after-years, and did little at the time to remove L 

the general feeling of national disgrace which resulted AI) ' 1512 ' 
from this first trial of Henry VIII. at the game of war. 

Meanwhile Colet, ever prone to speak out plainly Colet 
what he thought, had publicly from his pulpit expressed agalnsf 3 
his strong condemnation of the war. And the oldBishop the war - 
of London, ever lying in wait, like the persecuting 
Pharisees of old, to find an occasion of evil against him, 
eagerly made use of this pretext to renew the attempt 
to get him into trouble. He had failed to bring down 
upon the Dean the terrors of ecclesiastical authority, 
but it would answer his purpose as well if he could pro- 
voke against him royal displeasure. He therefore in- 
formed the King, now eagerly bent upon his Continental 
wars, that Colet had condemned them ; that he had 
publicly preached, in a sermon, that an unjust peace 
was ' to be preferred before the justest war.' While 
the Bishop was thus whispering evil against him in the 
royal ear, others of his party were zealously preaching 
up the war, and launching out invectives against Colet 
and ' the poets,' as they designated those who were sus- 
pected of preferring classical Latin and Greek to the 

* blotteraturej as Colet called it, of the monks. By these 
means they appear to have hoped to bring Colet into 
disgrace, and themselves into favour, with the King. 

But it would seem that they watched and waited in 

* gera JBrixii ; ' ' Postea de eadem I For the wearisome correspondence 
' Chordigera ; ' ' Epigramma Mori \ which resulted from the publication 
' alludens ad versus superiores : of these epigrams and the ' Antimo- 

' Aliud de eodem] &c. — Mori Epi- 

1 See the several epigrams relat- 
ing to Brixius in MoriEpigrammata. 

' rus' of Brixius in reply, see Eras. 
Op. iii., index under the head 
' Brixius (Germanus).' See also 
Philomorus, p. 71. 

a.d. 1512 

262 Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

Chap, vain for any visible sign of success. The King appeared 

strangely indifferent alike to the treasonable preaching 

of the Dean and to their own effervescent loyalty. 

The King Unknown to them, the King sent for Colet, and 

Coiet 01 privately encouraged him to go on boldly reforming 

enem?es hlS ^y his teaching the corrupt morals of the age, and by 

no means to hide his light in times so dark. He knew 

full well, he said, what these bishops were plotting 

against him, and also what good service he had done 

to the British nation both by example and teaching. 

And he ended by saying, that he would put such a 

check upon the attempts of these men, as would make 

it clear to others that if any one chose to meddle with 

Colet it would not be with impunity ! 

Upon this Colet thanked the King for his kind inten- 
tions, but, as to what he proposed further, beseeched 
him to forbear. ' He had no wish,' he said, ' that any 
' one should be the worse on his account ; he had rather 
' resign his preferment than it should come to that.' l 


Prepara- The spring of 1513 was spent by Henry VIII. in 
tions for energetic preparations for another campaign, in which 
campaign, he hoped to retrieve the lost credit of his arms. The 
young King, in spite of his regard for better counsellors, 
was intent upon warlike achievements. His first failure 
had made him the more eager to rush into the combat 
again. Wolsey, the only man amongst the war party 
whose energy and tact were equal to the emergency, 
found in this turn of affairs the stepping-stone to his 

1 Eras. Op. iii. pp. 460, 461. See 
also ' Richardi Pacei . . . de Fructu 
qui ex doctrina percipitur, liber.' 

Basle, 1517, Oct. And Cresacre 
More's Life of More, App. 

a.d. 1513. 

Colefs Sermon to Henry VIII. 263 

own ambitious fortune. The preparations for the Chap. 
next campaign were entrusted to his hands. 

Kumours were heard that the French would be 
likely to invade England if Henry VIII. long delayed 
his invasion of France. To meet this contingency, the 
sheriffs of Somerset and Dorset had been already or- 
dered to issue proclamations, that every man between 
sixty and sixteen should be ready in arms 1 to defend 
his country. Ever and anon came tidings that the 
French navy was moving restlessly about on the op- 
posite shore, 2 in readiness for some unknown enterprise. 
Diplomatists were meanwhile weaving their wily webs 
of diplomacy, deceiving and being deceived. Even 
between the parties to the League there were constant 
breaches of confidence and double-dealing. The en- 
tangled meshes of international policy were thrown 
into still greater confusion, in February, by the death 
of Julius II., the head of the Holy Alliance. The new 
Pope might be a Frenchman, instead of the leader of 
the league against France, for anything men knew. 
The moment was auspicious for the attempt to bring 
about a peace. But Henry VIII. was bent upon war. 
He urged on the equipment of the fleet, and was im- 
patient of delay. On March 17 he conferred upon 
Sir Edward Howard the high-sounding title of c Admi- 
' ral of England, Wales, Ireland, Normandy, Gascony, 
6 and Aquitaine.' 3 On Saturday, the 21st, he went 
down to Plymouth to inspect the fleet in person, and 
left orders to the Admiral to put to sea. He had set 
his heart upon his fleet, and in parting from Howard 
commanded him to send him word ' how every ship 

1 Brewer, i. 3723. 2 Ibid. 3752, 3821. 3 Ibid. 3809. 

264 Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

Chap. ' did sail.' 1 With his royal head thus full of his ships 


A.D. 1513. 

and sailors, and eagerly waiting for tidings of the result 
of their first trial-trip in the Channel, Henry VIII. 
entered upon the solemnities of Holy Passion Week. 
Good On Good Friday, the 27th, the King attended 

Divine service in the Chapel Eoyal. Dean Colet was 
the preacher for the day. It must have been especially 
difficult and even painful for Colet, after the kindness 
shown to him so recently by the King, again to express 
in the royal presence his strong condemnation of the 
warlike policy upon which Henry VIII. had entered in 
the previous year, and in the pursuit of which he was 
now so eagerly preparing for a second campaign. The 
King too, coming directly from his fleet full of expecta- 
tion, was not likely to be in a mood to be thwarted by 
a preacher. But Colet was firm in his purpose, and 
as, when called to preach before Convocation, he had 
chosen his text expressly for the bishops, so now in the 
royal presence he preached his sermon to the King. 
Coiet's ' He preached wonderfully ' (says Erasmus) ' on the 

Henry ' victory of Christ, exhorting all Christians to fight and 
' conquer under the banner of their King. He showed 
' that when wicked men, out of hatred and ambition, 
' fought with and destroyed one another, they fought 

* under the banner, not of Christ, but of the devil. 
' He showed, further, how hard a thing it is to die a 
' Christian death [on the field of battle] ; how few 
' undertake a war except from hatred or ambition ; 

* how hardly possible it is for those who really have 
1 that brotherly love without which " no one can see 

1 Brewer, i. xlvii, and No. 3820. Edward Lord Howard to Henry 

A.D. 1513. 

Cole? s Sermon to Henry VIII. 265 

' " the Lord " to thrust their sword into their brother's Chat. 

4 blood ; and he urged, in conclusion, that instead of 

' imitating the example of Cassars and Alexanders, 
' the Christian ought rather to follow the example of 
' Christ his Prince.' 1 

So earnestly had Colet preached, and with such Renewed 
telling and pointed allusion to the events of the day, to get 
that the King was not a little afraid that the sermon trouble? 
might damp the zeal of his newly enlisted soldiers. 
Thereupon, like birds of evil omen, the enemies of 
Colet hovered round him as though he were an owl, 
hoping that at length the royal anger might be stirred 
against him. The King sent for Colet. He came at 
the royal command. He dined at the Franciscan 
monastery adjoining the Palace at Greenwich. When 
the King knew he was there, he went out into the 
monastery garden to meet him, dismissing all his atten- 
dants. And when the two were quite alone, he bade 
Colet to cover his head and be at ease with him. ' I 
' did not call you here, Dean,' he said to him, ' to 
' interrupt your holy labours, for of these I altogether 
' approve, but to unburden my conscience of some 
* scruples, that by your advice I may be able more 
6 fully to do my duty.' They talked together nearly 
an hour and a half; Colet's enemies, meanwhile, im- 
patiently waiting in the court, scarcely able to contain 
their fury, chuckling over the jeopardy in which they 
thought Colet at last stood with the King. As it was, 
the King approved and agreed with Colet in everything 
he said. But he was glad to find that Colet had not 
intended to declare absolutely that there could be no 

1 Eras. Op. iii. p. 461. Compare Enchiridion, l Canon VI.' 


Colet, Erasmus, and More. 


a.d. 1513. 

The King 

just war, no doubt persuading himself that his own 
was one of the very few just ones. The conversation 
ended in his expressing a wish that Colet would some 
time or other explain himself more clearly, lest the raw 
soldiers should go away with a mistaken notion, and 
think that he had really said that no war is lawful to 
Christians. 1 'And thus' (continues Erasmus) ' Colet, by 
' his singular discretion and moderation, not only satis - 
' fied the mind of the King, but even rose in his favour.' 
When he returned to the palace at parting, the King 
graciously drank to his health, embracing him most 
warmly, and, promising all the favours which it was in 
the power of a most loving prince to grant, dismissed 
him. Colet was no sooner gone than the courtiers 
nocked again round the King, to know the result, of 
his conference in the convent garden. Whereupon 
the King replied, in the hearing of all : ' Let every 
' one have his own doctor, and let every one favour 
' his own ; this man is the doctor for me.' Upon this 
the hungry wolves departed without their bone, and 
thereafter no one ever dared to meddle with Colet. 
This is Erasmus's version 2 of an incident which, espe- 
cially when placed in its proper historical setting, 
may be looked upon as a jewel in the crown both of 
the young King and of his upright subject. It has 
been reported that Colet complied with the King's 
wish, and preached another sermon in favour of the 
war against France, of the necessity and justice of 
which, as strictly defensive, the King had convinced 

1 Colet, and Erasmus, and More, 
notwithstanding their very severe 
condemnation of the wars of the 
period, and wars in general, never 

went so far as to lay down the 
doctrine, that ' All War is unlawful 
' to the Christian.' 

2 Eras. Op. iii. p. 461, A, E. 

Henry VIII.'s Second Campaign. 267 

him. But with reference to this second sermon, if Chap. 
ever it was preached, Erasmus is silent. 1 1 

A.D. 1513. 


While the King was trying to pacify his conscience, 
and allay the scruples raised in his mind by Colet's 
preaching, his ambassador (West) was listening to a 
Good Friday sermon at the Chapel Eoyal of Scotland, 
and using the occasion to urge upon the Queen to use 
her influence with the Scotch king in favour of peace 
with England. There were rumours that the Scotch 
king was playing into the hands of the King of France 
— that he was going to send a ' great ship ' to aid 
him in his wars. A legacy happened to be due from 
England to the Queen of Scotland, and West was 
instructed to threaten to withhold payment unless 
James would promise to keep the peace with Eng- 
land. James gave shuffling and unsatisfactory replies. 
There were troubles ahead in that quarter ! 2 

The news sent by West from Scotland must have 
raised some forebodings in Henry's mind. The chance 
of finding one enemy behind him, if he attempted to 
invade France, in itself was not encouraging. As to 
any scruples raised by Colet's preaching, his head was 
probably far too full of the approaching campaign, 
and his heart too earnestly set upon the success of his 
fleet, to admit of his impartially considering the right 
and the wrong of the war in which he was already 
involved, or the evils it would bring upon his country. 

1 Knight's Life of Colet, p. 207, 
note quoted from Antiq. Britann., 
Sub. Wil.Warham, ed. Han. p. 306. 

2 Brewer, Nic. West to Henry 
VIII. 3838. 

A.D. 1513. 

268 Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

Chap. Meanwhile, probably only a few days after Colet's 
sermon was preached, the anxiously expected news 
reached England of the election to the Papal chair of 
Cardinal de' Medici, an acquaintance of Erasmus, and 
the fellow-student of his friend Linacre, under the 
Leo x. in title of Leo X. The letter which conveyed the news 
peace. to Henry VIII. spoke of the ' gentleness, innocence, 
' and virtue ' of the new Pope, and his anxiety for a 
' universal peace! He had declared that he would 
abide by the League, but the writer expressed his 
opinion that ' he would not be fond of war like Julius 
' — that he would favour literature and the arts, and 
' employ himself in building [St. Peter's], but not enter 
' upon any war except from compulsion, unless it 
' might be against the infidels.' * 

Henry — just then receiving reports from his fleet, 
dating to April 5, 2 full of eager expectation and confi- 
dence on the part of the Admiral, ' that an engagement 
' with the French might be looked for in five or six 
' days, and that by the aid of God and of St. George they 
' hoped to have a fair day with them ' — was not at all in 
Henry a humour to hear of a general peace. So on April 12, 
not listen all good advice of Colet's forgotten, he wrote to his 
minister at Eome, 3 instructing him to express his joy 
that Leo X. had adhered to the Holy League, and to 
state that he (Henry) could not think of entertaining 
any propositions for peace, considering the magnitude 
and vast expense of his preparations, at all events 
without the consent of all parties. A fleet of 12,000 
soldiers, the minister was to say, was already at sea, 

to it. 

1 Brewer, i. 3780. 

2 Ibid. 3857. Sir E. Howard to 


5 Henry VIII. to Cardinal Bain- 
bridge. Brewer, i. 3876, 

Military Disasters. 269 

and Henry was preparing to invade France himself Chap. 

. VIII. 

with 40,000 more, and powerful artillery. It would 1 

be most expedient to cripple the power of the King of A ' D ' 15 3 " 
France now, and prevent his ambition for the future. 1 

This letter was written on April 12. On the 17th 
Sir Arthur Plantagenet came with letters from the fleet, 
under leave of absence. He could ill be spared, wrote 
the Admiral ; but his ship had struck upon a rock, and 
in great peril he had made a vow that, if it pleased 
God to deliver him, he would not eat flesh or fish till 
he had made a pilgrimage to the shrine of Our Lady 
of Walsingham ; 2 and accordingly thither he was 

This was only the beginning of troubles. On April Admiral 
25, Admiral Howard, with a personal bravery and i os t. 
daring which immortalised his name, boarded the ship 
of the French admiral with sixteen companions, but, 
in the struggle which ensued, was thrust overboard 
with ' morris pykes ' and lost. The English fleet, dis- 
heartened by the loss of its brave admiral, returned 
to Plymouth without proper orders, and without 
having inflicted any considerable blow upon the French 
fleet. 3 

The King, just then preparing to cross over to Calais 
with his main army, to invade France in person, hastily 
appointed Thomas Lord Howard admiral in the place of 
his brother ; and in letters to the captains, gave vent to 
his royal displeasure at their return to Plymouth with- 
out his orders — letters which disheartened still more 
an army which the new Admiral found ' very badly 

1 Brewer, i. 3876. 

2 Ibid. 3903, Sir E. Howard to 
Henry VIII. 

3 Ibid. 4005, Ecbyngbaui to 


Colet, Erasmus, and More. 


A.D. 1513. 


Prance in 

' ordered, more than half on land, and a great number 
* stolen away.' 1 

But still Henry was determined to press on with his 
enterprise. He wrote to his ambassadors to urge the 
King of Spain at once to invade Guienne or Gascony, 
as the English navy, though amounting to 10,000 men, 
was not sufficient to meet the combined forces of the 
enemy without Ferdinand's aid. Yet for all this, they 
were to say, ' he would not forbear the invasion of 
' France.' 2 He was not even deterred by receipt of 
intelligence, before he set sail, that his treacherous 
father-in-law had already forsaken him, and made a 
year's truce with France. 3 On June 30 the watchers 
on the walls of Calais beheld the King, with ' such 
1 a fleet as Neptune never saw before,' approaching 
amid ' great firing of guns from the ships and towers,' 
to commence in good earnest his invasion of France. 

Little as did the ' Oxford Eeformers ' sympathise with 
the war, they were no indifferent spectators. Even 
Erasmus for the time could not but share the feelings of 
an Englishman, though he had many friends in France, 
and hated the war. From the list of the ships of the 
navy, in the handwriting of Wolsey, it appears that one 
or more of them had been christened ' Erasmus.'' 4 
Some of his intimate friends followed the army in the 
King's retinue. Ammonius, the King's Latin secretary, 
was one of them ; and Erasmus was kept informed by 
his letters of what was going on, and amused by his 
quaint sketches of camp-life. 5 He was even ready him- 

1 Brewer, i. 4019, Thomas Lord 
Howard to Wolsey ; 4020, Thomas 
Lord Howard to Henry VIII. 

2 Ibid. 4055, Henry VIII. to his 
ambassadors in Arragon. 

3 Ibid. 4075, Fox to Wolsey. 

4 Ibid. 3977, 5761. 

5 Eras. Epist. cxix. Brewer, i. 
4427, Erasmus to Ammonius. 

Henry VIII. 's Invasion of France. 271 

self with an epigram upon the flight of the French after Chap. 


A.D. 1513. 

the Battle (or rather the no-battle) of Spurs. He could 
not resist the temptation to turn the tables upon the 
French poets, who had indulged their vein of satire at 
the expense of the English during the last year's cam- 
paign, and had thereby so nettled the spirit of More 
and his friends. To the ' De Anglorum e Galliis fugd ' of 
the French poet, Erasmus was now ready with a still 
more biting satire, ' In fugam Gallorum insequentibus 
' Anglis.' l More also wrote an epigram, in which he 
contrasted the bloody resistance of the Nervii to Csesar 
with the feeble opposition offered by their modern 
French successors to Henry VIII. 2 

It would be out of place here to follow the details Success 
of the campaign. Suffice it to say that, like the first game campaign. 
of a child, it was carelessly and blunderingly played, 
— not, however, without buoyant spirit, and that air of 
exaggerated grandeur which betokens the inexperi- 
enced hand. The towns of Terouenne and Tournay were 
indeed taken, and that without much bloodshed ; but 
they were taken under the selfish advice of Maximilian, 
who throughout never lost sight of his own interest, and 
was pleased enough to use the lavish purse and the ardent 
ambition of his young ally to his own advantage. The 
power of France was not crippled by the taking of these 
unimportant towns. The whole enterprise was con- 
fined within the narrow limits of so remote a corner of 
France that her soil could hardly be regarded as really 
invaded. So small a portion of the French army was 
engaged in opposing it, that it was scarcely a war with 

1 Erasmi Epigrammata : Basle, 
1518, p. 353; and Eras. Op. i. 
p. 1224, F. 

2 Dp Deditione Nervice, Mori 
Epigrammata : Basle, 1518, p. 263, 
and ed. 1522, p. 98. 


Colet, Erasmus, and More. 


a.d. 1513. 

of Eng- 

Battle of 

Louis XII. Henry VIII. himself spent more time in 
tournaments and brilliant pageants than in actual fight- 
ing. He was emphatically playing at the game of war.. 

But while Henry was thus engaged in France, King 
James of Scotland, in spite of treaties and promises, 
treacherously took opportunity to cross the borders, 
and recklessly to invade England with a large but ill- 
trained army. Queen Katherine, whom Henry had 
appointed Eegent during his absence, sharing his love 
of chivalrous enterprise, zealously mustered what forces 
were left in England ; and thus it came about, that just 
as Henry was entering Tournay, the news arrived of 
the Battle of Flodden. From 500 to 1,000 English and 
about 10,000 Scotch, it was reported, lay dead upon 
that bloody field. The King of Scots fell near his 
banner, and at his side Scotch bishops, lords, and 
noblemen, amongst whom was the friend and pupil 
of Erasmus — the young Archbishop of St. Andrew's. 
Queen Katherine wrote, with a thankful heart, to her 
royal husband, giving an account of the great victory, 
and informing him that she was about to go on pil- 
grimage to Our Lady of Walsingham, in performance 
of past promises, and to pray for his return. 

Before the end of October the King, finding nothing- 
better to do, amid great show of triumph returned 
to England. Thus ended this second campaign, with 
just sufficient success to induce the King andWolsey 
to prepare for a third. 1 

1 For the particulars mentioned l See vol. i. of his Calendar, preface 
in this section, it will he seen how | pp. 1-lv, in addition to the par- 
much I am indehted to Mr. Brewer. I ticular authorities cited. 

Erasmus at Walsingham. 273 




. „ . A.D. 1513. 


While Sir Arthur Plantagenet and Queen Katherine 
were going on pilgrimage to the shrine of Our Lady of 
Walsingham, to give thanks, the one for the defeat of 
the Scots, and the other for deliverance from shipwreck, 
Erasmus took it into his head to go on pilgrimage also. 
He had told his friend Ammonius, in May, that he 
meant to visit the far-famed shrine to pray for the suc- 
cess of the Holy League, and to hang up a Greek Ode 
as a votive offering. 1 He appears to have made the 
pilgrimage from Cambridge in the autumn of 1513, ac- 
companied by his young friend Eobert Aldridge, 2 after- 
wards Bishop of Carlisle. It was probably this visit 
which Erasmus so graphically described many years 
afterwards in his Colloquy of the '■Religious Pilgrimage.'' 

The College of Canons, under their Sub-prior, main- Erasmus 
tained chiefly by the offerings left by pilgrims upon the girin^of 
Virgin's altar ; the Priory Church, a relic of which still ° f u L L f dy 
stands to attest its architectural beauty ; the small singham. 
unfinished chapel of the Virgin herself, the sea-winds 
whistling through its unglazed windows ; the inner 
windowless wooden chapel, with its two doors for 
pilgrims' ingress and egress ; the Virgin's shrine, rich 
in jewels, gold and silver ornaments, lit up by burning 
tapers ; the dim religious light and scented air ; the 
Canon at the altar, with jealous eye watching each pil- 
grim and his gift, and keeping guard against sacri- 
legious theft ; the little wicket in the gateway through 

1 Eras. Epist. cxiv. Brewer, i. | 2 See mention of Aldridge in 
1652. I Eras. Epist. dcclxxxii. 


274 Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

Chap, the outer wall, so small that a man must stoop low to 
viii. . . 
pass through it, and yet through which, by the Virgin's 

aid, an armed knight on horseback once escaped from 
his pursuer ; the plate of copper, on which the knight's 
figure was engraved in ancient costume with a beard 
like a goat, and his clothes fitting close to his body, 
with scarcely so much as a wrinkle in them ; the little 
chapel towards the east, containing the middle joint 
of St. Peter's finger, so large, the pilgrims thought, 
that Peter must needs have been a very lusty man ; 
the house hard by, which it was said was ages ago 
brought suddenly, one winter time, when all things 
were covered with snow, from a place a great way 
off (though to the eyes of Erasmus its thatch, timber, 
walls, and everything about it, seemed of modern 
date) ; the concreted milk of the Holy Virgin, which 
looked like beaten chalk tempered with the white of an 
egg ; the bold request of Erasmus, to be informed what 
evidence there was of its really being the milk of the 
Virgin ; the contracted brows of the verger, as he re- 
ferred them to the ' authentic record ' of its pedigree, 
hung up high against the wall, — all this is described 
with so much of the graphic detail of an eyewitness, that 
one feels, in reading the ' Colloquy,' that it must record 
the writer's vivid recollections of his own experience. 
The Greek The concluding incident of the ' Colloquy,' whether 
Erasmus, referring to a future visit, or only an imaginary one, 
evidently alludes to the Greek Ode mentioned in the 
letter to Ammonius. It tells how that, before they 
left the place, the Sub-prior, with some hesitation, 
modestly ventured to ask whether his present visitor 
was the same man who, about two years before, had 
hung up a votive tablet inscribed in Hebrew letters : 

A.D. 1513. 

Erasmus at Wokingham. 275 

for Erasmus remarks, they call everything Hebrew Chap. 
which they cannot understand. The Sub-prior is then 
made to relate what great pains had been taken to 
read the Greek verses ; what wiping of glasses ; how 
one wise man thought they were written in Arabic 
letters, and another in altogether fictitious ones ; how 
at length one had been able to make out the title, 
which was Latin written in Eoman capitals — the 
verses themselves being in Greek, and written in 
Greek capitals. In reward for the explanation and 
translation of the Ode, the ' Colloquy ' goes on to 
relate that the Sub-prior pulled out of his bag, and 
presented to his visitors a piece of wood cut from a 
beam on which the Virgin mother had been seen to 

Whether this concluding incident related in the 
' Colloquy ' was a real occurrence or not, it, at all 
events, confirms the testimony of the 'Colloquy' itself 
to the fact that Erasmus made this pilgrimage in a 
satirical and unbelieving mood, and that his votive ode 
was rather a joke played upon the ignorant canons, 
than any proof that he himself was a worshipper of 
the Virgin, or a believer in the efficacy of pilgrimages 
to her shrine. 

T 2 


A.D. 1513. 

at Cam- 

ENGLAND (1513-14). 

Chap. ix. During the autumn of 1513 Erasmus made up his 
mind to leave Cambridge. He had come to England 
on the accession of Henry VIII. with full purpose to 
make it his permanent home. 1 That his friends would 
try to bring this about had been his last entreaty on 
leaving England for his visit to Italy. They had done 
their best for him. They had found all who cared 
for the advance of learning anxious to secure the 
residence of so great a scholar in their own country. 
The promises were indeed vague, but there were plenty 
of them, and altogether the chances of a fair main- 
tenance for Erasmus had appeared to be good. He 
had settled at Cambridge intending to earn his living 
by teaching Greek to the students ; expecting, from 
them and from the University, fees and a stipend 
sufficient to enable him to pay his way. But the 
drudgery of teaching Greek was by no means the work 
upon which Erasmus had set his heart. It was rather, 
like St. Paul's tent-making, the price he had to pay for 
that leisure which he was bent upon devoting to his 

1 Compendium Vita Erasmi: Eras. Op. i. preface. 

Erasmus at Cambridge. 277 

real work. This work was his fellow-work with Colet. Chap. ix. 
Apart from the aid he was able to give to his friend, by A . D . 1513. 
taking up the cudgels for him at the University, and 
finding him teachers and schoolbooks for his school — His real 
for all this was done by-the-bye — he was labouring to 
make his own proper contribution towards the object 
to which both were devoting their all. He was labour- 
ing hard to produce an edition of the New Testament The New 

. . Testa- 

iu the original Greek, with a new and free translation ment and 
of his own, and simultaneously with this a corrected je rome . 
edition of the works of St. Jerome — the latter in itself 
an undertaking of enormous labour. 

In letters written from Cambridge during the years 
1511—1513, we catch stray glimpses of the progress 
of these great works. He writes to Colet, in August 
1511, that 'he is about attacking St. Paul,' 1 and in 
July 1512, that he has finished collating the New 
Testament, and is attacking St. Jerome. 2 

To Ammonius, in the camp, during the French cam- 
paign of 1513, he writes that he is working with almost 
superhuman zeal at the correction of the text of St. 
Jerome ; and shortly after the close of the campaign 
against France, he tells his friend that ' he himself has 
' been waging no less fierce a warfare with the blunders 
' of Jerome.' 3 And now, with his editions of the New 
Testament and Jerome nearly ready for the press, why 
should he waste any further time at Cambridge? He 
had complained from the first that he could get nothing 

1 Eras. Epist. cxvii. Brewer, i. ■ fixes the date. 
1847. 3 Eras. Epist. cxxix. Brewer, i. 

~ Eras. Epist. cxv. Brewer, i. 4576. See also Brewer, i. 2013, 
4336. The allusion to the 'De which belongs to the same autumn. 
'Copia' (printed in May 1512) I Epist. cxli. 


Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

Chap. ix. out of the students. 1 All these years he had been, in 
a .d. i5i3. spite of all his efforts, and notwithstanding an annual 
stipend secured upon a living in Kent, through the 
kindness of Warham, to a great extent dependent 
on his friends, obliged most unwillingly to beg, till 
he had become thoroughly ashamed of begging. 2 
And now this autumn of 1513 had brought matters to 
a crisis. At Michaelmas the University had agreed to 
pay him thirty nobles, 3 and, on September 1, they had 
begged the assistance of Lord Mountjoy in the payment 
of this ' enormous stipend ' for their Greek professor, 
adding, by way of pressing the urgency of their claim, 
that they must otherwise soon lose him. 4 

On November 28, Erasmus wrote to Ammonius 
that he had for some months lived like a cockle shut up 
in his shell, humming over his books. Cambridge, he 
said, was deserted because of the plague ; and even 
when all the men were there, there was no large com- 
pany. The expense was intolerable, the profits not a 
brass farthing. The last five months had, he said, cost 
him sixty nobles, but he had never received more than 
one from his audience. He was going to throw out 
his sheet-anchor this winter. If successful he would 
make his nest, if not he would flit. 5 

1 From the letters referred to 
"by Brewer, i. p. 963, Nos. 5731 
(Eras. Epist. clxv.), 5732, 5733, 
and 5734, it would seem that he 
had undertaken the education of a 
hoy to whom he had been ' more 
i than a father! This does not 
prove that he was in the habit at 
Cambridge of taking private pupils, 
as possibly this boy was placed un- 
der his care somewhat in the same 
way as More had been placed with 

Cardinal Morton. 

8 See Eras. Epist. cl. Brewer, 
i. 4528. 

3 Eras. Epist. cxix. Brewer, 
i. 4427. 

4 Brewer, i. 4428. 

' Eras. Epist. cxxxi. Brewer, i. 
2001, under the date 1511. The 
allusion to the King of Scots, aa 
well as the passage quoted, fix the 
date 1513. See also Eras. Epist. 
cxxix. Brewer, i. 4576. 

Erasmus leaves Cambridge. 279 

The result was that in the winter of 1513-14 Chap. ix. 
Erasmus finally left Cambridge. The disbanding of a.d. 1514. 
disaffected and demoralised soldiers had so increased Erasmus 
the number of robbers on the public roads, 1 that cam- 
travelling in the winter months was considered n ge " 
dangerous ; but Erasmus was anxious to proceed 
with the publication of his two great works. He was 
in London by February, 1514. 

He found Parliament sitting, and the war party 
having all their own way. He found the compliant 
Commons supporting by lavish grants of subsidies 
Henry VIII. 's ambition ' to recover the realm of 
' France, his very true patrimony and inheritance, 
' and to reduce the same to his obedience,' 2 and 
carried away by the fulsome speeches of courtiers who 
drew a triumphant contrast between the setting fortunes 
and growing infirmities of the French king and the 
prospects of Henry, who, 'like the rising sun, was 
4 growing brighter and stronger every day.' 3 While 
tax-collectors were pressing for the arrears of half a 
dozen previous subsidies, and Parliament was granting 
new ones, the liberality of English patrons was likely 
to decline. Their heads were too full of the war, and 
their purses too empty, to admit of their caring much 
at the moment about Erasmus and his literary projects. 

No wonder, therefore, that when his friends at the Invited t0 
Court of the Netherlands urged his acceptance of an the court 

. • . oi Prince 

honorary place in the Privy Council of Prince Charles, Charles, 
which would not interfere with his literary labours, 
together with a pension which would furnish him with 

1 Eras. Epist. cxxxi. Brewer, i. 

2 5 Henry VIII. c. i. 

3 Brewer, i. 4819. Notes of a 
speech in this parliament. 


Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

Chap. IX. 

a.d. 1,514. 

Letter to 
the Abbot 
of St. 

the means to carry them on — no wonder that under 
these circumstances Erasmus accepted the invitation 
and concluded to leave England. 

In reply to the Abbot of St. Bertin, he wrote an 
elegant letter, 1 gracefully acknowledging his great kind- 
ness in wishing to restore him to his fatherland. Not 
that he disliked England, or was wanting in patrons 
there. The Archbishop of Canterbury, if he had been 
a brother or a father, could not have been kinder to 
him, and by his gift he still held the pension out of the 
living in Kent. But the war had suddenly diverted 
the genius of England from its ordinary channels. The 
price of everything was becoming dearer and dearer. 
The liberality of patrons was becoming less and less. 
How could they do other than give sparingly with so 
many war-taxes to pay ? He then proceeded : — 

' Oh that God would deign to still the tempest of 
' war ! What madness is it ! The wars of Christian 
' princes begin for the most part either out of ambition 
' or hatred or lust, or like diseases of the mind. Con- 
' sider alsoby whom they are carried on: by homicides, 
' by outcasts, by gamblers, by ravishers, by the most 
' sordid mercenary troops, who care more for a little 
' pay than for their lives. These offscourings of man- 
' kind are to be received into your territory and your 
' cities that you may carry on war. Think, too, of the 
' crimes which are committed under pretext of war, for 
' amid the din of arms good laws are silent ; what 
' rapine, what sacrilege, what other crimes of which 
' decency forbids the mention ! The demoralisation 
' which it causes will linger in your country for years 
' after the war is over 

Eras. Epist. cxliv. 

Erasmus against War. 281 

'It is much more glorious to found cities than to Chap. ix. 
' destroy them. In our times it is the people who build A . D . 1514. 
' and improve cities, while the madness of princes 
' destroys them. But, you may say, princes must 
' vindicate their rights. Without speaking rashly of 
' the deeds of princes, one thing is clear, that there 
' are some princes at least who first do what they like, 
' and then try to find some pretext for their deeds. And 
' in this hurlyburly of human affairs, in the confusion 
' of so many leagues and treaties, who cannot make 
' out a title to what he wants ? Meanwhile these wars 
' are not waged for the good of the people, but to settle 
' the question, who shall call himself their prince. 

' We ought to remember that men, and especially 
' Christian men, are free-men. And if for a long time 
' they have flourished under a prince, and now 
' acknowledge him, what need is there that the world 
' should be turned upside down to make a change ? 
' If even among the heathen, long-continued consent 
' [of the people] makes a prince, much more should 
' it be so among Christians, with whom royalty is an 
' administration, not a dominion} . . . .' 

He concluded by urging the abbot to call to mind 
all that Christ and his apostles said about peace, and 
the tolerance of evil. If he did so, surely he would 
bring all his influence to bear upon Prince Charles 
and the Emperor in favour of a ' Christian peace 
' among Christian princes.' 2 

1 Compare More's Epigrams, j lished among ' Auctarium Selecta- 
headed : ' Populus consentiens ! ' rum aliquot Epistolarum Erasmi,' 

' Reguuni dat et aufert,' and 
' Bonuui Principem esse patrem 
' non dominum.' 

2 Eras. Epist. cxliv. and pub- 

&c. Basil, 1518, p. 62. The above 
extracts are abridged in the transla- 


282 Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

Chap. ix. In writing to the Prince de Vere on the same 
a.d. 1514. subject Erasmus had expressed his grief that their 
common country had become mixed up with the 
wars, and his wish that he could safely put in writing 
what he thought upon the subject. 1 Whether safely 
or not, he had certainly now dared to speak his mind 
pretty fully in the letter to the Abbot of St. Bertin. 


Erasmus had other opportunities of speaking out 
his mind about the war. 
Erasmus There was a rumour afloat that a Papal ambassador 
Ammo- bad arrived in England — a Cardinal in disguise. It 
SePapai na PP ene( l that Erasmus was invited to dine with his 
Ambassa- friend Ammonius. He went as a man goes to the 

dor in .... 

disguise, house of an intimate friend, without ceremoiry, and 
expecting to dine with him alone. He found, however, 
another guest at his friend's table — a man in a long 
robe, his hair bound up in a net, and with a single 
servant attending him. Erasmus, after saluting his 
friend, eyed the stranger with some curiosit}^. Struck 
by the military sternness of the man's look, he asked 
of Ammonius in Greek, ' Who is he ? ' He replied, 
also in Greek, ' A great merchant.' ' I thought so,' 
said Erasmus ; and caring to take no further notice of 
him, they sat down to table, the stranger taking pre- 
cedence. Erasmus chatted with Ammonius as though 
they had been alone, and, amongst other things, hap- 
pened to ask him whether the rumour was true that an 
ambassador had come from Leo X. to negotiate a peace 
between England and France . ' The Pope,' he continued, 

1 Eras. Epist. cxliii. 

Erasmus and the Papal Ambassador. 283 

' did not take me into his councils ; but if he had I Chap. ix. 
' should not have advised him to propose a peace.' a .d7i614. 
' Why ? ' asked Ammonius. ' Because it would not be 
' wise to talk about peace,' replied Erasmus. ' Why ? ' 
' Because a peace cannot be negotiated all at once ; and 
1 in the meantime, while the monarchs are treating 
' about the conditions, the soldiers, at the very thought 
' of peace, will be incited to far worse projects than in 
' war itself; whereas by a truce the hands of the soldiery 
' maybe tied at once. I should propose a truce of three 
' years, in order that the terms might be arranged of 
' a really permanent treaty of peace.' Ammonius as- 
sented, and said that he thought this was what the 
ambassador was trying to do. 'Is he a Cardinal ? ' 
asked Erasmus. ' What made you think he was ? ' 
said the other. ' The Italians say so.' ' And how do 
' they know ? ' asked Ammonius, again fencing with 
Erasmus's question. ' Is it true that he is a Cardinal ? ' 
repeated Erasmus by-and-bye, as though he meant to 
have a straightforward answer. ' His spirit is the spirit 
'of a Cardinal,' evasively replied Ammonius, brought to 
bay by the direct question. ' It is something,' observed 
Erasmus, smiling, ' to have a Cardinal's spirit ! ' 

The stranger all this time had remained silent, drink- 
ing in this conversation between the two friends. 

At last he made an observation or two in Italian, 
mixing in a Latin word now and then, as an intelligent 
merchant might be expected to do. Seeing that Eras- 
mus took no notice of what he said, he turned round, 
and in Latin observed, ' I wonder you should care 
' to live in this barbarous nation, unless you choose 
' rather to be all alone here than, first at Home.' 

Erasmus astonished and somewhat nettled to hear 

284 Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

Chap. ix. a merchant talk in this way, with disdainful dryness 

a.d. 1514. replied that he was living in a country in which there 

was a very great number of men distinguished for 

their learning. He had rather hold the last place 

among these than be nowhere at Eome. 

Ammonius, seeing the awkward turn that things 
were taking, and that Erasmus in his present humour 
might probably, as he sometimes did, speak his mind 
rather more plainly than might be desirable, inter- 
posed, and, to prevent further perplexity, suggested 
that they should adjourn to the garden. 1 

Erasmus found out afterwards that the merchant 
stranger with whom he had had this singular brush was 
the Pope's ambassador himself — Cardinal Canossa! 



Meanwhile, in spite of Papal Nuncios, the prepara- 
tions for the continuance of the war proceeded as 
before. There were no signs of peace. The King 
had had a dangerous illness, but had risen from his 
couch ' fierce as ever against France.' 2 

With heavy hearts Colet and Erasmus held on their 
way. The war lay like a dark cloud on their horizon. 
It was throwing back their work. How it had changed 
the plans of Erasmus has been shown. It had also 
made Colet's position one of greater difficulty. It is 
true that hitherto royal favour had protected him 
from the hatred of his persecutors, but the Bishop of 
London and his party were more exasperated against 
him than ever, and who could tell how soon the King's 

1 Eras. Gerniano Brixio : Eras, i 2 Brewer, i. 4845, 5173, and 
Epist. ruccxxxix. I 4727. 

Erasmus and Colet. 285 

fickle humour might change ? His love of war was Chat. ix. 
growing wilder and wilder. He was becoming intoxi- a .d. 1514. 
cated by it. And who could tell what the young King 
might do if his passions ever should rise into mastery 
over better feelings ? Even the King's present favour, 
though it had preserved Colet as yet unharmed in 
person, did not prevent his being cramped and 
hindered in his work. Whatever he might do was 
sure to be misconstrued, and to become the subject 
of the ' idle talk of the malevolent.' 1 

It would seem also that other clouds than that of Colet 
the war cast their shadow at this time over Colet's by family 
life. By the erection and foundation of his school, he dls P utes - 
had reduced his income almost more than he could 
well afford, 2 and accustomed, as he was, to abundant 
means, it was natural that he should be harassed and 
annoyed by anything likely still further to narrow his 
resources. He seems to have been troubled with 
vexed questions of property and family dispute — 
most irksome of all others to a man who was giving 
life and wealth away in a great work. 

Erasmus, six months previously, in July 1513, had 
written to Colet thus : — 

' The end of your letter grieved me, for you write 
' that you are more harassed than usual by the troubles 
1 of business. I desire indeed for you to be removed 
' as far as possible from worldly business ; not because 
' I am afraid lest this world, entangled though it be, 
' should get hold of you and claim you for its own, but 

1 Eras. Epist. cxv. Eras. Op. I ~ Eras. Epist. cxv. Eras. Op. 
p. 107, D. Brewer, i. 4336. I Hi. p. 106, E and F. 

286 Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

Chap. ix. ' because I had rather such genius, such eloquence, 

a.d. 1514. ' such learning should be devoted wholly to Christ. 

' What if you should be unable to extricate yourself 

' from it ! Take care lest little by little you become 

Erasmus ' more and more deeply immersed in it. Perhaps it 

Colet to ' might be better to give in, rather than to purchase 

give in. t victory at so great a cost. For peace of mind is worth 

1 a great deal. And these things are the thorns which 

' accompany riches. In the meantime, oppose a good 

' honest conscience to the idle talk of the malevolent. 

' Wrap yourself up in Christ and in him alone, and this 

6 entangled world will disturb you less. But why should 

' I, like the sow, preach to Minerva ; or, like the sick 

6 man, prescribe for the doctor ? Farewell, my best be- 

' loved teacher ! ' — From Cambridge, July 11 [1513]. 1 

Six months had passed since Erasmus had thus 

advised his friend to give in rather than to conquer 

at the cost of his peace of mind, but Colet had not 

yet succeeded in getting rid of his perplexities. It 

would almost seem that the same old quarrel was still 

lingering on unhealed ; for there was now a dispute 

between Colet and an aged uncle of his, and the bone 

of contention was a large amount of property. 2 

One day Colet took Erasmus with him by boat to 
dine with Archbishop Warham at Lambeth Palace. 
As they rowed up the Thames, Colet sat pensively 
reading in his book. At dinner, being set opposite his 
uncle at table, Erasmus noticed that he was ill at ease, 
carinsr neither to talk nor to eat. And the uncle would 
doubtless have remained as silent as the nephew, had 
not the Archbishop drawn out the garrulousness of 

1 Eras. Epist. cxv. 2 Eras. Op. iii. p 785, A. 

Erasmus and Colet. 287 

his old age by cheerful conversation. After dinner Chap. ix. 

the three were closeted together. Erasmus knew not A . D . 1514. 

what all this meant. But, as they were rowing back 

to town in the boat, Colet said, ' Erasmus, you're a 

* happy man, and have done me a great service ; ' and 

then he went on to tell his friend how angry he had 

been with his uncle, and how he had even thought of 

going to law witli him, but in this state of mind, 

having taken a copy of the ' Enchiridion ' with him, 

he had read the ' rule ' there given ' against anger and 

' revenge,' and it had done him so much good that 

he had held his tongue at dinner, and with the Arch- Colet does 

bishop's kind assistance after dinner, made up matters fait 

with his uncle. 1 

Apart from these cares and troubles, Colet's heart 
was naturally saddened with the thought of so soon 
parting with his dearest friend, and, as he now could 
feel, his ablest fellow-worker. The two were often 
together. Colet sometimes would send for Erasmus to 
be his companion when he dined out, or when he had 
to make a journey. 2 At these times Erasmus testifies 
that no one could be more cheerful than Colet was. 
It was his habit always to take a book with him. His 
conversation often turned upon religious subjects ; 
and though in public he was prudently reserved and 
cautious in what he said, at these times to his bosom 
friend he most freely spoke out his real sentiments. 

On one occasion Colet and Erasmus paid a visit Piigrim- 
together to the shrine of St. Thomas-a-Becket. Going canter- 
on pilgrimage was now the fashionable thing. How hm ' J - 

1 Eras. Op. iii. p. 785, A, C. 

2 Ibid. p. 457, A. See also Eras. Epist. viii. App. 


Colet. Erasmus, and More. 

Chap. ix. admirals and soldiers who had narrowly escaped in the 
a.dTi514. war went to the shrine of Our Lady at Walsingham to 
fulfil the vows they had made whilst their lives were 
in peril ; how even Queen Katherine had been to invoke 
the Virgin's aid upon her husband's French campaign^ 
and to return thanks for the victory over the Scots, 
has already been seen. It has also been mentioned' 
that Erasmus had paid a visit to Walsingham from 
Cambridge in a satirical and sceptical mood, and had 
returned convinced of the absurdity of the whole 
thing, doubting the genuineness of the relics, and 
ridiculing the credulity of pilgrims. It seems that 
before leaving England he had a desire to pay a 
similar visit to the rival shrine of St. Thomas-a-Becket. 
The same ' Colloquy ' in which Erasmus describes 
his visit to Walsingham enables us to picture the two 
friends on this occasion threading the narrow rustic 
lanes of Kent on horseback, making the best of their 
way to Canterbury. 1 

1 The companion of Erasmus 
was, according to the 'Colloquy,' 
' Gratianus Pullus, an Englishman, 
'learned and pious, but with less 

* liking for this part of religion than 
'I could wish.' 'A Wickliffite, 
1 I fancy ! ' suggested the other 
spokesman in the ' Colloquy.' ' I 
' do not think so ' (was the reply), 

* although he had read his books, 
1 somewhere or other.' — Colloquia : 
Basle, 1526, p. 597. In his letter 
to Justus Jonas, Erasmus mentions 
that Colet was in the habit of read- 
ing heretical books. — Eras. Op. iii. 
p. 460, A. It has been suggested 
also (Pilgrimages to Walsingham, 
&c. by J. G. Nichols, F.S.A. 

Westminster, 1849, p. 127), that 
as in the same letter he descrihes 
Colet as wearing black vestments 
(pullis\9stihns) , instead of the usual 
purple (Eras. Op. iii. p. 457, B.), 
hence the name ' Pullus ' may in it- 
self point to Colet. There is also an 
allusion by Erasmus in his treatise, 
' Modus Orandi," 1 to his visit to the 
shrine of St. Thomas-a-Becket, in 
which he says, ' Vidi ipse quum 
1 ostentarent linteola lacera quibus 
' ille dicitur abstersisse muccum 
' milium, abbatem ac creteros, qui 
' adstabant, aperto scriniolo venera- 
' bundos procidere ad genua, ac ma- 
' nibus etiam sublatis adorationem 
' gestu repraesentare. Ista Joanni 

Shrine of St. Thomas. 


As they approach the city the outline of the cathe- Chap. ix. 
dral church rises imposingly above all surrounding a.d. 1514. 
objects. Its two towers seem to stand, as it were, bid- 
ding welcome to approaching pilgrims. The sound The 


of its bells rolls through the country far and wide in f st. 
melodious peals. At length they reach the city, and, ^offiS 
armed with a letter of introduction from Archbishop 
Warham, enter the spacious nave of the cathedral. 
This is open to the public, and beyond its own vast- 
ness and solemn grandeur, presents little of mark, save 
that they notice the gospel of Nicodemus among other 
books affixed to the columns, and here and there se- 
pulchral monuments of the nameless dead. A vaulted 
passage under the steps ascending to the iron grating 
of the choir, brings them into the north side of the 
church. Here they are shown a plain ancient wooden 
altar of the Virgin, whereupon is exhibited the point 
of the daowr with which St. Thomas's brain was 


pierced at the -time of his murder, and whose sacred 
rust pilgrims are expected most devoutly to kiss. In 
the vault below they are next shown the martyr's 
skull, covered with silver, save that the place where 
the dagger pierced it is left bare for inspection : also 

' Coleto, namis mecum aderat,\iie- 
' bantur indigna, mihi ferenda vide- 
' bantur donee se daret opportunitas 
' ea citra tumultum corrigendi.' — 
Eras. Op. v. p. 1119, F, and p. 1120, 
A. This allusion to Colet so accu- 
rately comports with what is said in 
the Colloquy of ' Gratianus Pullus,' 
that the one seems most probably 
suggested only as a nom de jrtuine 
for the other. I am further indebted 
to Mr. Lupton for the suggestion 
that when Ammonius, writing to 

Erasmus (Epist. clxxv.), says ' tuus 
' Leucophceics salvere te jubet,' he 
alludes to Colet : ' Leucophseus ' 
being a Greek form of the same 
nickname as ' Pullus ' might be in a 
Latin form. Mr. Lupton has also 
shown that ' Gratian'' is a render- 
ing of 'John.' See his introduction 
to his edition of Colet on the Sacra- 
ments of the Church, pp. 6, 7. So 
that the identification of Colet with 
the Gratian us Pullus of the Colloquy 
is now complete. 


290 Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

Chap. ix. the hair shirt and girdle with which the saint was 

a.d. 1514. wont to mortify his flesh. Thence they are taken into 

the choir to behold its treasures — bones without end ; 

skulls, jaw-bones, teeth, hands, fingers, arms — to all 

which the pilgrim's kiss is duly expected. 

But Colet having had about enough of this, begins 
to show evident tokens of dislike to kiss any more. 
Whereupon the verger piously shuts up the rest of his 
treasures from the gaze of the careless and profane. 
The high altar and its load of costly ornaments next 
claim attention; after which they pass into the vestry, 
where is preserved the staff of St. Thomas, surrounded 
by a wonderful display of silk vestments and golden 
candlesticks. Thence they are conducted up a flight 
of steps into a chapel behind the high altar, and 
shown the face of the saint set in gold and jewels. 
Here, again, Colet breaks in upon the dumb show 
with awkward bluntness. He asks the guide whether 
St. Thomas-a-Becket when he lived was not very kind 
to the poor? The verger assents. ' Nor can he have 
' changed his mind on this point, I should think,' 
continues Colet, ' unless it be for the better ? ' The 
verger nods a sign of approbation. Whereupon Colet 
submits the query whether the saint, having been so 
liberal to the poor when a poor man himself, would 
not now rather permit them to help themselves to some 
of his vast riches, in relief of their many necessities, 
than let them so often be tempted into sin by their 
need ? And the guide still listening in silence, Colet 
in his earnest way proceeds boldly to assert his own 
firm conviction that this most holy man would be even 
delighted that, now that he is dead, these riches of his 
should go to lighten the poor man's load of poverty, 

Colet and the Relics. 291 

rather than be hoarded up here. At which sacri- Chap. ix. 
legious remark of Colet's the verger, contracting his a .d. 1514. 
brow and pouting his lips, looks upon his visitors with 
a wondering stare out of his gorgon eyes, and doubt- 
less would have made short work with them were it 
not that they have come with letters of introduction 
from the archbishop. Erasmus throws in a few paci- 
fying words and pieces of coin, and the two friends 
pass on to inspect, under the escort now of the prior 
himself, the rest of the riches and relics of the place. 
All again proceeds smoothly till a chest is opened 
containing the rags on which the saint, when in the 
flesh, was accustomed to wipe his nose and the sweat 
from his brow. The prior, knowing the position and 
dignity of Colet, and wishing to do him becoming 
honour, graciously offers him as a present of untold 
value one of these rags ! Colet, breaking through all Colet's 
rules of politeness, takes up the rag between the tips thefreHcs 
of his fingers with a somewhat fastidious air and a Thomas 
disdainful chuckle, and then lays it down again in a-Becket. 
evident disgust. The prior, not choosing to take 
notice of Colet's profanity, abruptly shuts up the 
chest and politely invites them to partake of some 
refreshment. After which the two friends again 
mount their horses, and make the best of their way 
back to London. 

Their way lies through a narrow lane, worn deep by 
traffic and weather, and with a high bank on either 
side. Colet rides to the left of the road. Presently an 
old mendicant monk comes out of a house 1 on Colet's 
side of the way, and proceeds to sprinkle him with holy 

1 The lazar-house of Harbledowu. I morials of Canterbury, ed. 1868, 
See Dean Stanley's Historical Me- I p. 243. 

tj 2 

292 Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

Chap. ix. water. Though not in the best of tempers, Colet sub- 
a.d. 1514. mits to this annoyance without quite losing it. But 
when the old mendicant next presents to him the upper 
leather of an old shoe for his kiss, Colet abruptly de- 
mands what he wants with him. The old man replies 
that the relic is a piece of St. Thomas's shoe ! This is 
more than Colet knows how to put up with. ' What ! ' 
he says passionately, turning to Erasmus, ' do these 
' fools want us to kiss the shoes of every good man ? 
' They pick out the filthiest things they can find, and 
' ask us to kiss them.' Erasmus, to counteract the effect 
of such a remark upon the mind of the astonished 
mendicant, gives him a trifle, and the pilgrims pass on 
their journey, discussing the difficult question how- 
abuses such as they have witnessed this day are to be 
remedied. Colet cannot restrain his indignant feeling, 
but Erasmus urges that a rough or sudden remedy 
might be worse than the disease. These superstitions 
must, he thinks, be tolerated until an opportunity 
arises of correcting them without creating disorder. 

There can be little doubt that the graphic picture 
of which the above is only a rapid sketch was drawn 
from actual recollections, and described the real feel- 
ings of Erasmus and his bolder friend. 

Little did the two friends dream, as they rode back 
to town debating these questions, how soon they 
would find a final solution. Men's faith was then so 
strong and implicit in ' Our Lady of Walsingham ' 
that kings and queens were making pilgrimage to her 
shrine, and the common people, as they gazed at 
night upon the ' milky way,' believed that it was the 
starry pathway marked out by heaven to direct pil- 
o-rims to the place where the milk of the Holy Virgin 

Religious Pilgrimages. 


was preserved, and called it the ' Walsingham way' Chap. ix. 
Little did they dream that in another five and twenty a .d. 1514. 
years the canons would be convicted of forging relics 
and feigning miracles, and the far-famed image of the 
Virgin dragged to Chelsea by royal order to be there 
publicly burned. Then pilgrims were flocking to 
Canterbury in crowds to adore the relics and to 
admire the riches of St. Thomas's shrine. Little did 
they dream that in five and twenty years St. Thomas's 
bones would share the fiery fate of the image of the 
Virgin, and the gold and jewellery of St. Thomas's 
shrine be carried off in chests upon the shoulders of 
eio'ht stout men, and cast without remorse into the 
royal exchequer ! 1 

1 The colloquy from which the 
particulars given in this section have 
been obtained is entitled Peregri- 
natio Peligionis ergo. It was not 
contained in the edition of 1522 
(Argent.), but it was inserted pro- 
bably in that of 1524 (which, how- 

ever, I have not seen). It was 
contained in the Basle edition of 
1526, which is probably a reprint 
of that of 1524, the prefatory letter 
at the beginning being dated Calen. 
Aug. 1524. 


Chap. X. 
a.d. 1514. 


TESTAMENT (1514). 

It was on a July morning in the year 1514 that Eras- 
mus again crossed the Channel. The wind was fair, the 
sea calm, the sky bright and sunny ; but during the 
easy passage Erasmus had a heavy heart. He had 
once more left his English friends behind him, bent 
upon a solitary pilgrimage to Basle, in order that his 
edition of the letters of St. Jerome and his Greek New 
Testament might be printed at the press of Froben 
the printer. But, always unlucky on leaving British 
shores, he missed his baggage from the boat when, 
after the bustle of embarkation, he looked to see that 
all was right. To have lost his manuscripts — his 
Jerome, his New Testament, the labours of so many 
years — to be on his way to Basle without the books 
for the printing of which he was taking the long 
journey — this was enough to weigh down his heart 
with a grief which he might well compare to that of 
a parent who has lost his children. It turned out, 
after all, to be a trick of the knavish sailors, who 
threw the traveller's luggage into another boat in 
order to extort a few coins for its recovery. Eras- 
mus, in the end, got his luggage back again ; but he 

Erasmus leaves England. 295 

might well say that, though the passage was a good Chap. x. 
one, it was an anxious one to him. 1 A . D . 1514. 

On his arrival at the castle oillammes, near Calais, 
where he had agreed to spend a few days with his old 
pupil and friend Lord Mountjoy, he found waiting for 
him a letter from Servatius, prior of the monastery Letter 
of Stein, in Holland — the monastery into which he v r a °tius er 
had been ensnared when a youth against his judg- 
ment by treachery and foul play, 

It was a letter doubtless written with kindly feeling, 
for the prior had once been his companion ; but still 
he evidently took it as a letter from the prior of the 
convent from which he was a kind of runaway, not 
only inviting, but in measure claiming him back 
again, reproachfully reminding him of his vows, cen- 
suring his wandering life, his throwing off the habit 
of his order, and ending with a bribe — the offer of a 
post of great advantage if he would return. 

Erasmus return ! No, truly ; that he would not ! 
But the very naming of it brought back to mind not 
only the wrongs he had suffered in his youth ; the 
cruelty and baseness of his guardians ; his miserable 
experience of monastic life ; how hardly he had escaped 
out of it ; his trials during a chequered wandering 
life since ; but also his entry upon fellow-work with 
Colet ; the noble-hearted friends with whom he had 
been privileged to come in contact ; the noble work 
in which they were now engaged together. What ! 
give up these to put his neck again under a yoke 
which had so galled him in dark times gone by ! 
And for what ? To become perchance the father- 

1 Eras. Ammonio : Eras. Epist. clix. 

296 Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

Chap. x. confessor of a nunnery ! It was as though Pharaoh 
a.d. 1514. had sent an embassy to Moses offering to make him 
a taskmaster if he would but return into Egypt. 

No wonder that Erasmus, finding this letter from 
Servatius waiting for him on his arrival at the castle 
of his friend, took up his pen to reply somewhat 
warmly before proceeding on his journey. His letter 
lies as a kind of waymark by the roadside of his 
wandering life, and with some abridgment and omis- 
sions may be thus translated : — 

Erasmus to Servatius. 

' . . . . Being on a journey, I must reply in but 
' few words, and confine myself to matters of the 
' most importance. 

' Men hold opinions so diverse that it is impossible 
' to please everybody. That my desire is in very deed 
' to follow that which is really the best, God is my 
1 witness ! It was never my intention to change my 
' mode of life or my habit ; not because I approved 
' of either, but lest I should give rise to scandal. You 
Erasmus ' know well that it was by the pertinacity of my guar- 
his youth. ' dians and the persuasion of wicked men that I was 
' forced rather than induced to enter the monastic life. 
6 Afterwards, when I found out how entirely unsuited 
' it was for me, I was restrained by the taunts of Cor- 

' nelius Wertem and the bashfulness of youth 

' But it may be objected that I had a year of what is 
' called " probation," and was of mature age. Eidicu- 
' lous ! As though anyone could require that a boy 
' of seventeen, brought up in literary studies, should 
'have attained to a self-knowledge rare even in an 
4 old man — should be able to learn in one year what 

Erasmus to Servatius. 297 

many men grow grey without learning ! Be this as Chap, x 
it may, I never liked the monastic life ; and I liked A . D . 1514. 
it less than ever after I had tried it ; but I was en- Erasmus 
snared in the way I have mentioned. For all this, Mastic 
I am free to confess that a man who is really a good life - 
man may live well in any kind of life. 

' I have in the meantime tried to find that mode of 
living in which I should be least prone to evil. And 
I think assuredly that I have found it ; I have lived 
with sober men, I have lived a life of literary study, 
and these have drawn me away from many vices. It 
has been my lot to live on terms of intimacy with 
men of true Christian wisdom, and I have been 

bettered by their conversation Whenever the 

thought has occurred to me of returning into your 
fraternity it has always called back to my remem- 
brance the jealousy of many, the contempt of all ; 
converse how cold, how trifling ! how lacking in 
Christian wisdom ! feastings more fit for the laity ! 
the mode of life, as a whole, one which, if you sub- 
tract its ceremonies from it, has nothing left that 
seems to me worth having. Lastly, I have called to 
mind my bodily infirmities, now increased upon me 
by age and toil, by reason of which I should have both 
failed in coming up to your mark and also sacrificed 
my own life. For some years now I have been 
afflicted with the stone, and its frequent recurrence His m 
obliges me to observe great regularity in my habits. health - 
I have had some ex^ierience both of the climate of 
Holland and of your particular diet and habits, and I 
feel sure that, had I returned, nothing else could have 
come of it but trouble to you and death to me. 

' But it may be that you deem it a blessed thing to 


Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

Chap. X. 

a.d. 1514. 

His works. 

die at a good age in the midst of your brotherhood. 
This is a notion which deceives and deludes not you 
alone, but almost everybody. We think that Christ 
and religion consist in certain places, and garments 
and modes of life, and ceremonial observances. It is 
all up, we think, with a man who changes his white 
habit for a black one, who substitutes a hat for a 
hood, and who frequently changes his residence. I 
will be bold to say that, on the other hand, great 
injury has arisen to Christian piety from what we call 
the " religious orders," although it may be that they 

were introduced with a pious motive Pick 

out the most lauded and laudable of all of them, and 
you may look in vain, so far as I can see, for any 
likeness to Christ, unless it be in cold and Judaical 
ceremonies. It is on account of these that they think 
so much of themselves ; it is on account of these that 
they judge and condemn others. How much more 
accordant to the teaching of Christ would it be to 
look upon all Christendom as one home ; as it were, 
one monastery ; to regard all men as canons and 
brothers ; to count the sacrament of baptism the 
chief religious vow ; not to care where you live, if 

only you live well ! And now to say a 

word about my works. The " Enchiridion " I fancy 

you have read The book of " Adagia," 

printed by Aldus, I don't know whether you have 

seen I have also written a book, " De 

Eerum et Verborum Copia," which I inscribed to 

my friend Colet For these two years past, 

amongst other things, I have been correcting the 
text of the " Letters of Jerome." .... By the col- 
lation of Greek and ancient codices, I have also 

Erasmus to Servatius. 


' corrected the text of the whole New Testament, and Chap. x. 

' made annotations not without theological value on a.d. 1514. 

' more than one thousand places. I have commenced 

' Commentaries on St. Paul's Epistles, which I shall 

' finish when the others are published ; for I have 

' made up my mind to work at sacred literature to 

' the day of my death. Great men say that in these 

' things I am successful where others are not. In 

' your mode of life I should entirely fail. Although I 

' have had intercourse with so many men of learning, 

' both here and in Italy and in France, I have never 

' yet found one who advised me to betake myself 

' back again to you I beg that you will not 

' forget to commend me in your prayers to the keep- 
' ing of Christ. If ever I should come really to know 
' that it would be doing my duty to Him to return to 
' your brotherhood, on that very day I will start on 
' the journey. Farewell, my once pleasant com- 
' panion, but now reverend father. 

' From Hammes Castle, near Calais, 9th July, 1514 


This bold letter written, Erasmus took leave of his visits the 
host, and hastened to repay by a short embrace the st. Bertin. 
kindness of another friend, the Abbot of St. Bertin. 2 
After a two days' halt to accomplish this object, he 
again mounted his horse, and, followed by his servant 
and baggage, set his face resolutely towards Basle : on his 
cheered in spirit by the marks of friendship received Basie.° 

1 Eras. Epist. App. viii. There 
is a reference in the letter to Wolsey 
as ' Episcopus Lincolniensis,' and 
this confirms the correctness of the 
date, as Wolsey was translated to 

the Archbishopric of York Aug. 
1514. — Fasti Eccl. Anglicance, p. 

2 Eras. Op. iii. p. 160, A. 


Colet, Erasmus, and More. 




Chap. x. during the past few days, and anxious to reach his 
a.d. 1514. journey's end that he might set about his work. 

But all haste is not good speed. As he approached 
the city of Ghent, while he chanced to be turning 
one way to speak to his servant, his horse took fright 
at something lying on the road, and turned round the 
other way, severely straining thereby Erasmus's back. 

It was with the greatest difficulty and torture that he 
reached Ghent. There he lay for some days motionless 
on his back at the inn, unable to stand upright, and 
fearing the worst. By degrees, however, he again be- 
came able to move, and to write an amusing; account of 
his adventure to Lord Mountjoy ; * telling him that he 
had vowed to St. Paul that, if restored to health, he 
would complete the Commentaries he was writing on 
the Epistle to the Eomans ; and adding that he was 
already so much better that he hoped ere long to pro- 
ceed another stage to Antwerp. Antwerp was accord- 
ingly reached in due course, and from thence he was 
able to pursue his journey. 

At Louvain he prepared for publication a collection 
of stray pieces, including amongst them the ' Institutes 
' of a Christian Man,' written by Colet for his school in 
English prose, and turned into Latin verse by Erasmus. 
In the letter prefixed to the collection 2 he spoke of Colet 
as a man ' than whom, in my opinion, the kingdom of 
' England has not another more pious, or who more 
' truly knows Christ.'' 3 Two editions of this volume 

1 Eras. Epist. clxxxii. Partly 
written at Antwerp, but finished at 
Basle, Aug. 29, 1514. 

2 The letter is dated ' Lovanii, 
a.d. mdxiiii. Kal. Aug.' 

3 ' Quo viro non alium habet 
' mea quidern sententia Anglorum 
' Imperium vel magis pium, vel qui 
' Christum verius sapiat.' 

Erasmus on his way to Basle. 


were published at Cologne in the course of a few months Chap - x - 
by different typographers. 1 a.d. 1514. 

AtMaintz he appears to have halted awhile, and he At Maintz. 
afterwards informed Colet 2 that ' much was made of 
'him there.' That it was so may be readily conjec- 
tured, for it was at Maintz that the Court of Inquisition 
had sat in the autumn of the previous year, which, 
had it not been for the timely interference of the 
Archbishop of Maintz, would have condemned the 
aged Eeuchlin as a heretic. In this city Erasmus Keuchiin 
would probably fall in with many of Eeuchlin's friends, friends. 
and as the matter was now pending the decision of the 
authorities at Eome, they may well have tried to secure 
his influence with the Pope, to whom he was personally 
known. Be this as it may, from the date of his visit 
to Maintz, Erasmus seems not only never to have lost 
an opportunity of supporting the cause of Eeuchlin at 
Eome or elsewhere, but also to have himself secured 
the friendship and regard of Eeuchlin's protector, the 
archbishop. 3 

Leaving Maintz, he proceeded to Strasburg, where Erasmus 
he was surrounded and entertained by a galaxy of burg™* 
learned men. Another stage brought him to Schele- 
stadt. 4 The chief men of this ancient town, having 

1 Cato Erasmi. Opuscula aliquot 
Erasmo Roterodamo Castigatore et 
Interprete, tyc. l Colonie in edibus 
' Quentell. a.d. mcccccxv ; ' and Ibid. 
' Colonie in edibus Martini Wer- 
'denensis xii. Kal. Dec. (1514?) ' 

2 Coletus Erasmo : Epist. Ixxxv. 

3 Ranke's History of the Refor- 
mation, bk. ii. c. 1. See Erasmus's 
mention of Reuchlin in tbe letter 

written this autumn to Wimphe- 
lingus, appended to the 2nd edition 
of De Copid. Schelestadt, 1514 ; 
and Eras. Epist. clxvii. and clxviii. 
As to his friendship with the 
Archbishop of Maintz, vide Epist. 

4 See letter to Wimphelingus, 
Basle, xi. Kal. Oct. 1514, ubi supra, 
for these and the following' particu- 


Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

Chap. X. 

a.d. 1514. 

Arrives at 



Circle of 
men at 


His three 

heard of his approach, sent him a present of wines, 
requested his company to dinner on the following day, 
and offered him the escort of one of their number for 
the remainder of his journey. Erasmus declined to be 
further detained, but gladly accepted the escort of John 

After having been thus lionised at each stage of the 
journey, and to prevent a similar annoyance, on his 
arrival at Basle, Erasmus requested his new companion 
to conceal his name, and if possible to introduce him 
to a few choice friends before his arrival was known. 
Sapidus complied with this request. He had no diffi- 
culty in making his choice. 

Eound the printing establishment of Froben, the 
printer had gathered a little group of learned and 
devoted men, whose names had made Basle famous as 
one of the centres of reviving learning. There was a 
university at Basle, but it was not this which had 
attracted the little knot of students to the city. The 
patriarch of the group was Johann Amerbach. He was 
now an old man. More than thirty years had passed 
since he had first set up his printing-press at Basle, 
and during these years he had devoted his ample 
wealth and active intellect to the reproduction in type 
of the works of the early Church Fathers. The works 
of St. Ambrose and St. Augustine had already issued 
from his press at vast cost of labour, time, and wealth. 
To publish St. Jerome's works before he died, or at 
least to see the work in hand, was now the aged patri- 
arch's ambition. Many years ago he had imported 
Froben, that he might secure an able successor in the 
printing department. His own three sons, also, he had 
educated in Latin, Greek, and Hebrew, so as to qualify 

Froben' s Printing Office. 303 

them thoroughly for the work he wished them to con- Chap. x. 
tinue after he was gone. And the three brothers a .d. 1514. 
Amerbach did not belie their father's hopes. They had 
inherited a double portion of his spirit. 1 Froben, too, Froben. 
had caught the old printer's mantle, and worked like 
him, for love, and not for gain. 2 Others had gathered 
round so bright a nucleus. There was Beatus Ehe- Beatus 
nanus, a young scholar of great ability and wealth, nus . 
whose orentle loving nature endeared him to his intimate 
companions. He, too, had caught the spirit of reviving 
learning, and thought it not beneath his dignity to 
undertake the duties of corrector of the press in 
Froben's printing-office. 3 Gerard Lystrius, a youth Lystrius. 
brought up to the medical profession, with no mean 
knowledge both of Greek and Hebrew, had also 
thrown in his lot with them. 4 

Such was the little circle of choice friends into which Erasmus 
Sapidus, without betraying who he was, introduced a uce d 
the stranger who had just arrived in Basle, who, ad- J^pfoben 
dressing himself at once to Froben, presented letters ^ nd llis 
from Erasmus, with whom he said that he was most 
closely intimate, and from whom he had the fullest 
commission to treat with reference to the printing of 
his works, so that Froben might regard whatever 
arrangement he might make with him as though it 

1 Eras. Op. iii. p. 1249 ; and see 
Epist. clxxiv. Erasmus to Leo X. p. 
154, C and D. 

2 Epist. dccccxxii. Eras. Op. iii. 
pp. 1054, 1055. 

3 See tb e Life of Beatus Rhenanus, 
by John Sturmius, ' Vita clarissi- 

name) ; and especially the prefatory 
letter from Erasmus to Beatus 
Rhenanus, prefixed to ' Enarratio 
' in Primum Psalmum, Beatus vir,' 
&c. Louvain, 1515. There is also 
a mention of him worth consulting 
in Du Pin's Ecclesiastical Writers, 

' nioruru Historicorum.' Buderi, iii. p. 399. 

1740, pp. 53-62; and Eras. Op. iii. I 4 Eras. Op. iii. p. 222, E; and the 

pp. 154, C, &c. (see Index under his ' letter to Wimphelingus. 

304 Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

Chap. x. had been made with Erasmus himself. Finding still 
^d. i5i4. that he was undiscovered, and wishing to slide easily 
from under his incognito, he soon added drily that 
Erasmus and he were ' so alike that to see one was 
i to have seen the other ! ' Froben then, to his great 
amusement, discovered who the stranger was. He was 
received with open arms. His bills at the inn were 
forthwith paid, and himself, servant, horses, and bag- 
gage transferred to the home of Froben's father-in-law, 
there to enjoy the luxuries of private hospitality. 

When it was known in the city that Erasmus had 
arrived he was besieged by doctors and deans, rectors 
of the University, poets-laureate, invitations to dine, 
and every kind of attention which the men of Basle 
could give to so illustrious a stranger. 

But Erasmus had come back to Basle not to be 
lionised, but to push on with his work. He was 
gratified ; and, indeed, he told his friends, almost put 
to the blush by the honours with which he had been 
received ; but, finding their constant attentions to 
interfere greatly with his daily labours at Froben's 
office, he was obliged to request that he might be left 
to himself. 1 
Erasmus At Froben's office he found everything prepared to 
Froben's 1 " ms Dan< ^- The train was already laid for the publica- 
printing tion of St. Jerome. Beatus Ehenanus and the three 
brothers Amerbach were ready to throw themselves 
heart and soul into the work. The latter undertook 
to share the labour of collating and transcribing por- 
tions which Erasmus had not yet completed, and so 
the ponderous craft got fairly under way. By the 

1 Erasmus to Mountjoy, Epist. clxxxii., and the letter above mentioned 
to Wiinphelingus. 

Erasmus at Basle. 305 

end of August, he was thoroughly immersed in types Chap. x. 
and proof-sheets, and, to use his own expression, no a .d. 1514. 
less busy in superintending his little enterprise than 
the Emperor in his war with Venice. 1 

Thus he could report well of his journey and his 
present home to his English friends. He felt that he 
had done right in coming to Basle, but, none the less 
on that account, that his true home was in the hearts 
of these same English friends. In his letters to them he "Writes to 
expressed his longing to return. 2 His late ill-fortune u s h 
in England he had always set down to the war, which 
had turned the thoughts of the nation and the liberality 
of patrons into other channels, and he hoped that now, 
perhaps, the war being over, a better state of things 
might reign in England, and better fortunes be in store 
for the poor scholar. 

What Colet thought of this and things in general, 
how clouds and storms seemed gathering round him, 
may be learned from his reply to his friend's letter, 
brief as was his wont, but touchingly graphic in its 
little details about himself and his own life during 
these passing months. He was already preparing to 
resign his preferments, and building a house within 
the secluded precincts of the Charterhouse at Sheene 
near Richmond, wherein, with a few bosom friends, 
he hoped to spend the rest of his days in peace, un- 
molested by his evil genius, the Bishop of London. 

Colet to Erasmus. 3 
'Dearest Erasmus — I have received your letter 

1 Epist. clxxxii. i lxxxv. App. 

- Epist. Erasrni clix. and Epist. | 3 Epist. lxxxv. App. 

306 Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

Chap. x. ' written from Basle, 3 Cal. Sept. I am glad to know 
a.d. 1514. ' where you are, and in what clime you are living. I 
' am glad, too, that you are well. See that you perform 
' the vow which you say you made to St. Paul. That 
' so much was made of you at Maintz, as you tell me, 
' I can easily believe. I am glad you intend to return 
' to us some day. But I am not very hopeful about it. 
' As to any better fortune for you, I don't know what 
' to say. I don't know, because those who have the 
4 means have not the will, and those who have the will 
' have not the means. All your friends here are well. 
' The Archbishop of Canterbury keeps as kindly dis- 
' posed as ever. The Bishop of Lincoln [Wolsey] now 
' reigns " Archbishop of York ! " The Bishop of London 
Colet still ' never ceases to harass me. Every day I look forward 


by Bishop ' to my retirement and retreat with the Carthusians. 
Fitzjames. s jy^ negt « g near iy finished. When you come back 

' to us, so far as I can conjecture, you will find me 
' there, " mortuus mundo." Take care of your health, 
' and let me know where you go to. Farewell. — From 
' London, Oct 20 (1514).' 


KINGS (1515). 

Erasmus had at first intended to remain at Basle till 
the Ides of March (1515), and then, in compliance with 
the invitation of his Italian friends, to spend a few 
weeks in Italy. 1 But after working six or eight months 
at Froben's office, he was no longer inclined to carry 
out the project ; and so, a new edition of the ' Adagia ' 
being wellnigh completed, and the ponderous folios of 

1 Epist. ad Wimpkelingum. 

Erasmus returns to England. 307 

Jerome proceeding to satisfaction, under the good Chap. x. 
auspices of the brothers Amerbach, when spring came a .d. 1515. 
round Erasmus took sudden flight from Basle, and Erasmus 
turned up, not in Italy, but in England. Safely England" 
arrived in London, he was obliged to do his best, by 
the discreet use of his pen, to excuse to his friends at 
Eome this slight upon their favours. 

He wrote, therefore, elegant and flattering letters to 
the Cardinal Grimanus, the Cardinal St. George, and 
Pope Leo, 1 describing the labours in which he was en- 
gaged, the noble assistance which the little fraternity 
at Basle were giving, and which could not have been 
got in Italy nor anywhere else ; alluding in flattering 
terms to the advantages offered at Eome, and the kind- 
ness he had there received on his former visit ; but de- 
scribing in still more glowing terms the love and gene- 
rosity of his friends in England, and declaring ' with 
' that frankness which it becomes a German to use,' 
that ' England was his adopted country, and the chosen 
' home of his old age.' 2 He also took the opportunity 
of strongly urging the two cardinals to use their utmost 
influence in aid of the cause of Eeuchlin. He told them Supports 
how grieved he was, in common with all the learned 5 R?uck- 
men of Germany, that these frivolous and vexatious lin * 
proceedings should have been taken against a man ve- 
nerable both on account of age and service, who ought 
now in his declining years to be peacefully wearing his 
well-earned laurels. And lastly, in his letter to the 
Pope, Erasmus took occasion to express his hatred of the 
wars in which Europe had been recently involved, and 

1 Epist. clxvii. clxviii. and clxxiv. 2 Eras. Op. iii. p. 141, C aud D 

x 2 


Colet. Erasmus, and More. 

Chap. X. 

A.i). 1515. 






Death of 
Louis XII. 
and ac- 
cession of 
Francis I. 

his thankfulness that the efforts of his Holiness to bring 
about a peace had at last been crowned with success. 
Peace had indeed been proclaimed between France 
and England, while Erasmus had been working at Basle, 
but under circumstances not likely to lessen those 
feelings of indignation with which the three friends 
regarded the selfish and reckless policy of European 
rulers. For peace had been made with France merely 
to shuffle the cards. Henry's sister, the Princess Mary 
(whose marriage with Henry's ally, Prince Charles, 
ought long ago to have been solemnised according to 
contract), had been married to their common enemy, 
Louis XII. of France, with whom they had just been 
together at war. In November, Henry and his late 
enemy, Louis, were plotting to combine against Henry's 
late ally, King Ferdinand ; and England's blood and 
treasure, after having been wasted in helping to wrest 
Navarre from France for Ferdinand, were now to be 
wasted anew to recover the same province back to 
France from Ferdinand. 1 On the first of January this 
unholy alliance of the two courts was severed by the 
death of Louis XII. The Princess Mary was a widow. 
The young and ambitious Francis I. succeeded to the 
French throne, and he, anxious like Henry VIH. to 
achieve military glory, declared his intention, on suc- 
ceeding to the crown, that ' the monarchy of Christen- 
' dom should rest under the banner of France as it was 
' wont to do.' 2 Before the end of July he had already 
started on that Italian campaign in which he was soon 
to defeat the Swiss in the great battle of Marignano — a 
battle at the news of which Ferdinand and Henry were 

1 Brewer, i. lxix, and ii. i, et seq. 

- Ibid. ii. xxxviii. 

Satire on Kings. 309 

once more to be made secret friends by their common Chap. x. 
hatred of so dangerous a rival ! * a.dTisTs. 

These international scandals, for such they must be 
called, wrung from Erasmus other and far more bitter 
censure than that contained in his letter to the Pope. 
He was laboriously occupied with great works passing 
through the printing-press at Basle, but still he stole 
the time to give public vent to his pent-up feelings. It 
little mattered that the actors of these scandals were 
patrons of his own — kings and ministers on whose aid 
he was to some extent dependent, even for the means 
wherewith to print his Greek New Testament. His 
indignation burst forth in pamphlets printed in large 
type, and bearing his name, or was thrust into the new 
edition of the ' Adagia,' or bound up with other new 
editions which happened now to be passing through 
Froben's press. 2 And be it remembered that these 
works and pamphlets found their way as well into 
ro}^al courts as into the studies of the learned. 

What could exceed the sternness and bitterness of Satire 
the reproof contained in the following passages ? — Kings. 

' Aristotle was wont to distinguish between a king 
' and a tyrant by the most obvious marks : the tyrant 
' regarding only his own interest ; the king the interests 
' of his people. But the title of " king," which the first 
' and greatest Koman rulers thought to be immodest 
' and impolitic, as likely to stir up jealousy, is not 
' enough for some, unless it be gilded with the most 
' splendid lies. Kings who are scarcely men are 

1 Brewer, ii. liv. i tion of the New Testament as 

2 See Eras. Epist. App. xxvii. | not yet placed in Froben's hand, 
xxi. and xxiii. These letters are ! this date would seem to be correct, 
dated 1515 ; and, from the men- [ 


Colet. Erasmus, and More. 

Chap. X. 

A.D. 1515. 

called " divine ; " they are " invincible," though they 
never have left a battlefield without being conquered ; 
" serene," though they have turned the world upside 
down in a tumult of war ; " illustrious," though they 
grovel in profoundest ignorance of everything noble ; 
" Catholic," though they follow anything rather than 

' And these divine, illustrious, triumphant kings . . . 
have no other desire than that laws, edicts, wars, 
peaces, leagues, councils, judgments, sacred or pro- 
fane, should bring the wealth of others into their 
exchequer — i.e. they gather everything into their 
leaking reservoir, and, like the eagles, fatten their 
eaglets on the flesh of innocent birds. 

' Let any physiognomist worth anything at all con- 
sider the look and the features of an eagle — those 
rapacious and wicked eyes, that threatening curve of 
the beak, those cruel jaws, that stern front . . . 
will he not recognise at once the image of a king ? — 
a magnificent and majestic king ? Add to this a 
dark ill-omened colour, an unpleasing, dreadful, 
appalling voice, and that threatening scream at 
which every kind of animal trembles. Every one 
will acknowledge this type who has learned how 
terrible are the threats of princes, even uttered in 

jest At this scream of the eagle the people 

tremble, the senate yields, the nobility cringes, the 
judges concur, the divines are dumb, the lawyers 
assent, the laws and constitutions give way, neither 
right nor religion, neither justice nor humanity, avail. 
And thus while there are so many birds of sweet and 
melodious song, the unpleasant and unmusical scream 
of the eagle alone has more power than all the 

Satire on Kings. 


* rest Of all birds the eagle alone has seemed Chap, x. 

' to wise men the type of royalty — not beautiful, not a.d. 1515. 

* musical, not fit for food ; but carnivorous, greedy, 
' hateful to all, the curse of all, and, with its great 

* powers of doing harm, surpassing them in its desire 
' of doing it.' * 

Again : — 

' The office of a prince is called a " dominion," 

* when in truth a prince has nothing else to do but 

* to administer the affairs of the commonwealth. 

' The intermarriages between royal families, and 

* the new leagues arising from them, are called " the 
' "bonds of Christian peace," though almost all wars 
' and all tumults of human affairs seem to rise out of 
' them. When princes conspire together to oppress 
'and exhaust a commonwealth, they call it a "just 
' " war." When they themselves unite in this object, 

* they call it "peace." 

' They call it the extension of the empire when 
' this or that little town is added to the titles of the 
i prince at the cost of the plunder, the blood, the 
' widowhood, the bereavement of so many citizens.' 2 

These passages may serve to indicate what feelings 
were stirred up in the heart of Erasmus by the con- 
dition of international affairs, and in what temper he 
returned to England. The works in which they 
appeared he had left under the charge of Beatus 

1 Eras. Op. ii. pp. 870-2 ; and in 
part translated in Hallam's Litera- 
ture of the Middle Ages, part 1, c. iv. 
These passages are quoted from the 
explanation given in the Adagia of 
the proverb, ' Scarabeus Aquilam 
4 qucerit.' They occur in the edition 

separately printed by Froben in 
large type and in an octavo form, 
entitled ' Scarabeus : ' Basle, mense 
Maio, 1517, ff. 21-23. 

2 Eras. Op. ii. p. 775. From tbe 
Adagia, ' Sileni Alcibiadis.' 


ColeL Erasmus, and More. 

Chap. x. Khenanus, to be printed at Basle in his absence. 

a.d. 1515. And some notion of the extent to which whatever 
proceeded from the pen of Erasmus was now devoured 
by the public, may be gained from the fact that Ehe- 
nanus, in April of this very year, wrote to Erasmus, 

Eapid sale to tell him that out of an edition of 1,800 of the 

of the . . 

'Praise of ' Praise of Folly ' just printed by Froben, with notes 
y ' by Lystrius, only sixty remained in hand. 1 

returns to 



It will be necessary to recur to the position of 
international affairs ere long ; meanwhile, the quota- 
tions we have given will be enough to show that, 
buried as Erasmus was in literary labour, he was 
alive also to what was passing around him — no mere 
bookworm, to whom his books and his learning were 
the sole end of life. As we proceed to examine more 
closely the object and spirit of the works in which 
he was now engaged, it will become more and more 
evident that their interest to him was of quite another 
kind to that of the mere bookworm. 

Before the summer of 1515 was over he was again 
on his way to Basle, where his editions of Jerome and 
of the New Testament were now really approaching 
completion. Their appearance was anxiously expected 
by learned men all over Europe. The bold intention 
of Erasmus to publish the Greek text of the New 
Testament with a new Latin translation of his own, a 

1 Eras. Epist. App. xxi. That j letter to Dorpius, dated Antwerp, 
this edition was printed in 1515, 1515, and published at Louvain, 
see mention of it in Erasmus's ' Oct. 1515. 

Erasmus again at Basle. 



Chap. X. 

rival of the sacred Vulgate, had got wind. Divines 
of the traditional school had already taken alarm. A . D . 1515. 
It was whispered about amongst them that something 
ought to be done. The new edition of the ' Praise of 
' Folly,' with notes by Lystrius, had been bought and 
read with avidity. Men now shook their heads, who 
had smiled at its first appearance. They discovered 
heresies in it unnoticed before. Besides, the name of 
Erasmus was now known all over Europe. It mattered 
little what he wrote a few years ago, when he was 
little known ; but it mattered much what he might 
write now that he was a man of mark. 

While Erasmus was passing through Belgium on Rumours 
his way to Basle, these whispered signs of discontent s ition. 
found public utterance in a letter from Martin 
Dorpius, 1 of the Louvain University, addressed to 
Erasmus, but printed, and, it would seem, in the 
hands of the public, before it was forwarded to him. 
He met with it by accident at Antwerp. 2 It was written 
at the instigation of others. Men who had not the wit 
to make a public protest of this nature for themselves, 
had urged Martin Dorpius to employ his talents in 
their cause, and to become their mouthpiece. 3 

Thus this letter from Dorpius was of far more 
importance than would at first sight appear. It had a 
representative importance which it did not possess in 
itself. It was the public protest of a large and 

1 Martiuus Dorpius Erasmo : Tt. 
Erasmi, fyc. Enar ratio in Primum 
Psalmum, S;c, §c. Louvain, Oct. 

3 See the commencement of the 
reply of Erasmus. 

3 ' Martinus Dorpius instiganti- 

' bus quibusdam primus omnium 
' ccepit in me velitari. . . . Scirem 
' ilium non odio mei hue venisse, sed 
'juvenem turn, ac natura facilem, 
'aliorum impulsu protrudi.' — Eras- 
mus Botzomo, Catalogus,Scc. Basle, 
1523 ; leaf b, 5. 


Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

Chap. X. 

a.d. 1515. 




that there 
are no 
in the 

powerful party. As such it required more than a 
mere private reply from Erasmus, and deserves more 
than a passing mention here, for it affords an insight 
into the plan and defences of a theological citadel, 
against which its defenders considered that Erasmus 
was meditating a bold attack. 

' I hear ' (wrote Dorpius, after criticising severely 
the ' Praise of Folly ') — ' I hear that you have been 
' expurgating the epistles of Saint Jerome from the 
' errors with which they abound .... and this is a 
' work in all respects worthy of your labour, and by 
' which you will confer a great benefit on divines. . . . 
' But I hear, also, that you have been correcting the 
' text of the New Testament, and that " you have 
' " made annotations not without theological value on 
' " more than one thousand places." ' 

Here Dorpius evidently quotes the words of the 
letter of Erasmus to Servatius, so that he too is silently 
behind the scenes, handing Erasmus's letter about 
amongst his theological friends, perhaps himself 
inciting Dorpius to write as he does. 

' .... If I can show you that the Latin transla- 
' tion has in it no errors or mistakes ' (continued 
Dorpius), ' then you must confess that the labour of 
' those who try to correct it is altogether null and 
* void. ... I am arguing now with respect to the 
' truthfulness and integrity of the translation, and I 
' assert this of our Vulgate version. For it cannot be 
' that the unanimous universal Church now for so 
' many centuries has been mistaken, which always has 
' used, and still both sanctions and uses, this version 
' Nor in the same way is it possible that so many holy 
' fathers, so many men of most consummate authority, 

Letter from Dorpius. 315 

4 could be mistaken, who, relying on the same version, Chap. x. 
' have defined the most difficult points even in General a.d. 1515. 
' Councils ; have defended and elucidated the faith, 

* and enacted canons to which even kings have bowed 
' their sceptres. That councils rightly convened never 
' can err in matters of faith is generally admitted by 

'both divines and lawyers What matters it 

4 whether you believe or not that the Greek books are 
' more accurate than the Latin ones ; whether or not 
4 greater care was taken to preserve the sacred books 
' in all their integrity by the Greeks than b} 7 the 
' Latins ; — by the Greeks, forsooth, amongst whom the 
' Christian religion was very often almost overthrown, 
' and who affirmed that none of the gospels were free 
' from errors, excepting the one gospel of John. What 
' matters all this when, to say nothing of anything 
' else, amongst the Latins the Church has continued 
' throughout the inviolate spouse of Christ ? . . . . 
' What if it be contended that the sense, as rendered 
' by the Latin version, differs in truth from the Greek 
4 text ? Then, indeed, adieu to the Greek. I adhere 
1 to the Latin because I cannot bring my mind to 
' believe that the Greek are more correct than the 
' Latin codices. 

' But it may be said, Augustine ordered the Latin 
' rivulets to be supplied from the Greek fountain- 
' head. He did so ; and wisely in his age, in which 
4 neither had any one Latin version been received by 

* the Church as now, nor had the Greek fountain-head 

4 become so corrupt as it now seems to be. A sin § le 

x t error 

4 You may say in reply, " I do not want you to would 
' " change anything in your codices, nor that you should the au- 
' "believe that the Latin version is a false one. I only {he r BU>ie. 


Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

Chap. X. 
a.d. 1515. 

" point out what discrepancies I discover between the 
" Greek and Latin copies, and what harm is there in 
" that ? " In very deed, my dear Erasmus, there is 
great harm in it. Because, about this matter of the 
integrity of the Holy Scriptures many will dispute, 
many will doubt, if they learn that even one jot or 
tittle in them is false, .... and then will come to 
pass what Augustine described to Jerome : " If any 
" error should be admitted to have crept into the 
" Holy Scriptures, what authority would be left to 
" them ? " All these considerations, my dear Erasmus, 
have induced me to pray and beseech you, by our 
mutual friendship, by your wonted courtesy and can- 
dour, either to limit your corrections to those pas- 
sages only of the New Testament in which you are 
able, without altering the sense, to substitute more 
expressive words ; or if you should point out that 
the sense requires any alteration at all, that you will 
reply to the foregoing arguments in your preface.' 

replies to 

Erasmus replied to this letter of Dorpius with sin- 
gular tact, and reprinted the letter itself with his 

He acknowledged the friendship of Dorpius, and 
the kind and friendly tone of his letter. He received, 
he said, many flattering letters, but he had rather re- 
ceive such a letter as this, of honest advice and criticism, 
by far. He was knocked up by sea-sickness, wearied by 
long travel on horseback, busy unpacking his luggage ; 
but still he thought it was better, he said, to send some 
reply, rather than allow his friend to remain under 
such erroneous impressions, whether the result of his 
own consideration, or instilled into him by others, who 

Erasmus to Dorpius. 317 

had over-persuaded him into writing this letter, and Chap. x. 
thus made a cat's-paw of him, in order to fight their A . D . 1515. 
battles without exposure of their own persons. 

He told him freely how and when the ' Praise of 
4 Folly ' was written, and what were his reasons for 
writing it, frankly and courteously replying to his 

He described the labour and difficulty of the cor- 
rection of the text of St. Jerome — a work of which 
Dorpius had expressed his approval. But he said, 
with reference to what Dorpius had written upon the 
New Testament, he could not help wondering what 
had happened to him — what could have thrown all 
this dust into his eyes ! 

' You are unwilling that I should alter anything, 
' except when the Greek text expresses the sense of 
' the Vulgate more clearly, and you deny that in the 
' Vulgate edition there are any mistakes. And you 
' think it wrong that what has been approved by the 

* sanction of so many ages and so many synods should 

* be unsettled by any means. I beseech you to con- 
' sider, most learned Dorpius, whether what }'ou have 

' written be true ! How is it that Jerome, Augustine, There are 
6 and Ambrose all cite a text which differs from the hi the 
4 Vulgate ? How is it that Jerome finds fault with Vul s ate - 
' and corrects many readings which we find in the 
' Vulgate ? What can you make of all this concurrent 
' evidence — when the Greek versions differ from the 
' Vulgate, when Jerome cites the text according to the 

* Greek version, when the oldest Latin versions do the 
' same, when this reading suits the sense much better 

* than that of the Vulgate, — will you, treating all this 
' with contempt, follow a version perhaps corrupted by 


Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

Chap. X. 
a.d. 1515. 

at Basle. 

' some copyist ? .... In doing so you follow in the 
1 steps of those vulgar divines who are accustomed to 
' attribute ecclesiastical authority to whatever in any 

' way creeps into general use I had rather be 

' a common mechanic than the best of their number.' 

With regard to some other points, it was, he said, 
more prudent to be silent ; but he told Dorpius that he 
had submitted the rough draft of his Annotations to 
divines and bishops of the greatest integrity and learn- 
ing, and these had confessed that they threw much 
light on Scripture study. He concluded with the ex- 
pression of a hope that even Dorpius himself, although 
now protesting against the attempt, would welcome 
the publication of the book when it came into his 

This letter 1 written and despatched to the printer, 
Erasmus proceeded with his journey. The Ehine, 
swollen by the rains and the rapid melting of Alpine 
snows, had overflowed its banks ; so that the journey, 
always disagreeable and fatiguing, was this time more 
than usually so. It was more like swimming, Erasmus 
said, than riding. But by the end of August 2 he was 
again hard at work in Froben's printing-office putting 
the finishing strokes to his two great works. 3 By the 

1 Erasmus to Dorpius: D. 
Erasmi, fyc. Enarratio in Primum 
Psalmum, fyc. fyc. Louvain, Oct. 

2 Erasmus to Wolsey : Eras. 
Op. iii. p. 1565 ; App. Epist. lxxiv. 
wrongly dated 1516 instead of 

3 In a letter prefixed to the 
Erasmi Epigrammata, Basle, 1518, 

Froben pays a just tribute to the 
pood humour and high courtesy of 
Erasmus while at work in his print- 
ing-office, interrupted as he often 
was, in the midst of his laborious 
duties, by frequent requests from 
all kinds of people for an epigram 
or a letter from the great scholar. 
—Pp. 275, 276. 

''Jerome'' and the ' New Testament.'' 319 

7th of March, 1516, he was able to announce that Chap. x. 
the New Testament was out of the printer's hands, a .d. 1515. 
and the final colophon put to St. Jerome. 1 

It is time therefore that we should attempt to real- 
ise what these two great works were, and what the 
peculiar significance of their concurrent publication. 

1 Erasmus Urbauo Regio: Eras. Op. iii. p. 1554, App. Epist. liii. 


IT REALLY WAS (1516). 


Chap. XL 
a.d. 1516. 

object of 
the ' No- 
vum In- 

Not the 



The New Testament of Erasmus ought not to be 
regarded b} r any means as a mere reproduction of the 
Greek text, or criticised even chiefly as such. The 
labour which falls to the lot of a pioneer in such a 
work, the multiplied chances of error in the colla- 
tion by a single hand, and that of a novice in the art of 
deciphering difficult manuscripts, the want of experi- 
ence on the part of the printers in the use of Greek 
type, the inadequate pecuniary means at the disposal 
of Erasmus, and the haste with which it was prepared, 
considering the nature of the work, — all tended to 
make his version of the Greek text exceedingly im- 
perfect, viewed in the light of modern criticism. He 
may even have been careless, and here and there un- 
candid and capricious in his choice of readings, — all 
this, of which I am incapable of forming a conclusive 
judgment, I am willing to grant by-the-bye. The 
merit of the New Testament of Erasmus does not 
mainly rest upon the accuracy of his Greek text, 1 
although this had cost him a great deal of labour, 
and was a necessary part of his plan. 

1 In one place he even supplied i was missing by translating the 
a portion of the Greek text which | Latin back into Greek ! 

The Novum Instrumentum. 321 

I suppose the object of an author may be most Chap. xi. 
fairly gathered from his own express declarations, a .d. 1516. 
and that the prefaces of Erasmus to his first edition — 
the 'Novum Instrumentum,' as he called it — are the 
best evidence that can possibly be quoted of the pur- 
pose of Erasmus in its publication. To these, there- 
fore, I must beg the reader's attention. 

Now a careful examination of these prefaces cannot Main 
fail to establish the identity of the purpose of Erasmus b e 3 £arned 
in publishing the ' Novum Instrumentum ' with that ^J^es 
which had induced Colet, nearly twenty years before, 
to commence his lectures at Oxford. 

During those twenty years the divergence between 
the two great rival schools of thought had become 
wider and wider. 

The intellectual tendencies of the philosophic Tne 


school in Italy had become more and more decidedly school, 
sceptical. The meteor lights of Savonarola, Pico, 
and Ficino had blazed across the sky and vanished. 
The star of semi-pagan philosophy was in the ascen- 
dant, and shed its cold light upon the intellect of Italy. 
Leo X. was indeed a great improvement upon 
Alexander VI. and Julius II. — of this there could be no 
doubt. Instead of the gross sensuality of the former 
and the warlike passions of the latter, what Eanke has 
well designated ' a so<rt of intellectual sensualism,' now 
reigned in the Papal court. Erasmus had indeed enter- 
tained bright hopes of Leo X. He had declared him- 
self in favour of a peaceful policy ; he was, too, an 
enemy to the blind bigotry of the Schoolmen. Nor 
does he seem to have been openly irreligious. His 
choice of Sadolet as one of his secretaries was not 
like the act of a man who himself would scoff at the 


Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

A.D. 1516. 



Chap. xi. Christian faith ; though, on the other hand, this 
enlightened Christian was unequally yoked in the 
office with the philosophical and worldly Bembo. 
Under former Popes the fear of Erasmus had been 
'lest Rome should degenerate into Babylon.'' He hoped 
now that, under Leo X., ' the tempest of war being 
' hushed, both letters and religion might be seen 
' flourishing at Eome.' l 

At the same time he was not blind to the sceptical 
tendencies of the Italian schools. Thus whilst in a 
letter written not long after this period, expressing his 
faith in the ' revival of letters,' and his belief that the 
' authority of the Scriptures will not in the long run be 
' lessened by their being read and understood correctly 
' instead of incorrectly ' — whilst thus, in fact, taking a 
hopeful view of the future — we yet find him confessing 
to a fear, ' lest, under the pretext of the revival of ancient 
' literature, Paganism should again endeavour to rear its 
' head.' 2 The atmosphere of the Papal Court was indeed 
far more semi-pagan than Christian. With the revival 
of classical literature it was natural that there should 
be a revival of classical taste. And just as the mediaeval 
church of St. Peter was demolished to make room for 
a classical temple, so it was the fashion in high society 
at Eome to profess belief in the philosophy of Pliny 
and Aristotle and to scoff at the Christian faith. 3 

1 JEpist. ad Car. Grymanum, pre- 
fixed to the Paraphrase on the 
Epistle to the Romans. Edition 
Louvain, 1517. 

2 Erasmus Gwolfgango Fabricio 
Capitoni : Epist. ccvii. Op. iii. p. 
189, 89, A, C, Feb. 22, 1516, from 
Antwerp, but probably the year 

should be 1518. See also his refer- 
ence to the same pagan tendencies 
of Italian philosophy in his treatise 
entitled ' Ciceroniaims] and the 
letter prefixed to it. 

3 Ranke's History of the Popes, 
i. ch. ii. sec. 3. 

Italian Sceptical Tendencies. 323 

The extent to which anti-Christian and sceptical Chap. xi. 
tendencies were carried in the direction of speculative a.d. 1516. 
philosophy was shown by the publication in this very 
year, 1516, by Pomponatius, whom Ranke speaks of as 
1 the most distinguished philosopher of the day,' 1 of a 
work in which he denied the immortality of the soul. 2 
This philosopher was, in the words of Hallam, 'the most 
' renowned professor of the school of Padua, which 
' for more than a century was the focus of atheism in 
' Italy.' 3 

That the same anti-Christian and sceptical tendencies The 
were equally prevalent in the sphere of practical mo- school 
rality and politics as in that of speculative philosophy, ^ulan in 
was also painfully obvious. That popes themselves had j* s P oli - 
discarded Christianity as the standard of their own 
morality both in social and political action, had for 
generations been trumpeted forth to the world by their 
own sensual lives, and their faithless and immoral poli- 
tical conduct. When in the 'Praise of Folly ' Erasmus 
had satirised the policy of popes, he had put a sting to 
his description of their unchristian conduct by adding 
that they acted 'as though Christ were dead.' 4 The 
greatest political philosopher of the age had already 
written his great work ' The Prince,' in which he had 
codified, so to speak, the maxims of the dominant anti- 
Christian school of politics, and framed a system of 
political philosophy based upon keen and godless 
self-interest, and defying, if not in terms denying, both 

1 Ubi supra. , 1837, p. 435. 

• See the authorities mentioned 
by Ranke, and also Hallam's 
Literature of Europe, chap. iv. ed. 

3 Hallam, p. 436. 

4 Moria, ed. loll, Argent, fol. 
G. iii. 

T 2 


Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

Chap. XI. 
a.d. 1516. 


in its 

and in its 

the obligation and policy of the golden rule — a system 
which may be best described, in a word, by reference 
to the name of its author, as Machiavellian} 

On the other hand, opposed to the new ' learning,' 
and its anti-Christian tendencies, was the dogmatic 
system of the Schoolmen, defended with blind bigotry 
by monks and divines of the old school. These had 
done nothing during the past twenty years to reconcile 
their system with the intellectual tendencies of their 
age. They were still straining every nerve to keep 
Christianity and reviving science hopelessly apart. 
Their own rigidly denned scholastic creed, with all 
its unverified hypotheses, rested as securely as ever, 
in their view, on the absolute inspiration of the Vul- 
gate version of the Bible : witness the letter of 
Dorpius. No new light had disturbed the entire 
satisfaction with which they regarded their system, 
or the assurance with which they denounced Greek 
and Hebrew as 'heretical tongues,' derided all attempts 
at free inquiry, and scornfully pointed to the sceptical 
tendencies of the Italian school as the result to which 
the ' new learning ' must inevitably lead. 

And yet the practical results of this proudly orthodox 
philosophy were as notoriously anti-Christian, both as 
regards social and political morality, as was the Machi 
avellian philosophy, at which these professed Christians 
pointed with the finger of scorn. Again and again 
had Erasmus occasion bitterly to satirise the gross 
sensuality in which as a class they grovelled. Again 
and again had he to condemn their political influence, 
and the part they played in prompting the warlike 

1 Hallam's Literature of the Middle Ages, ed. 1837, p. 555, etseq. 

Machiavellian Politics. 325 

and treacherous policy of princes whose courts they Chap. XL 
infested. 1 a.d. 1516. 

And passages have already been quoted from the 
' Praise of Folly ' in which Erasmus pointed out how 
completely they had lost sight of the one rule of 
Christian morals — the golden rule of Christ — how 
they had substituted a new notion of virtue for the 
Christian one, and how the very meaning of the word 
* sin ' had undergone a corresponding change in their 
theological vocabulary. 

Such were the two opposing parties, which, in this Neither 

t • . 11 * 1 1 • 1 partyhad 

age ol intellectual re-awakening and progress, were practical 
struggling in hopeless antagonism ; both of them for the chris- m 
sake of ecclesiastical emoluments still professing alle- tiamt y- 
giance to the Church, and keeping as firm a foothold as 
possible within her pale, but both of them practically 
betraying at the same time their real want of faith in 
Christianity by tacitly setting it aside as a thing which 
would not work as the rule of social and political life. 
Erasmus, in writing the preface to his ' Novum 
' Instrumentum,' had his eye on both these dominant 
parties. He, like Colet, believed both of them to be 
leading men astray. He believed, with Colet, that 
there was a Christianity which rested on facts and not 
upon speculation, and which therefore had nothing to 
do with the dogmatic theology of the Schoolmen on the 
one hand, and nothing to fear from free inquiry on the 

1 Compare the satire on Monks 
in ' ScarabeuSf and the colloquy 
called ' Charon] with the following 

' fabulge non minimani partem Mi- 
' noritse duo agehant, quorum alter, 
'fax belli, mitram meruit, alter bonis 

passage, in which Erasmus alludes ' ' lateribus vociferabatur in concioni 

to the continental wars of Henry 
VIII. : ' Id enim teniporis adorna- 
'batur bellum in Gallos, et hujus 

' bus in Poetas. Sic enim desig- 
' nabat Coletum,' &c. Eras. Op. 
iii. p. 460, F. 

326 Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

Chap. xi. other. To ' call men as with the sound of a trumpet ' 
a.d. 1516. to this, was the object of the earnest 'Paraclesis' 

which he prefixed to his Testament. 

He first appealed to the free-thinking philosophic 

school : — 

The ' In times like these, when men are pursuing with 

cies^s.' ' such zest all branches of knowledge, how is it that 
' the philosophy of Christ should alone be derided by 
' some, neglected by many, treated by the few who 
' do devote themselves to it with coldness, not to say 
' insincerity ? Whilst in all other branches of learning 
' the human mind is straining its genius to master all 
' subtleties, and toiling to overcome all difficulties, why 
' is it that this one philosophy alone is not pursued 
' with equal earnestness, at least by those who profess 
' to be Christians ? Platonists, Pythagoreans, and the 
' disciples of all other philosophers, are well instructed 
' and ready to fight for their sect. Why do not 
' Christians with yet more abundant zeal espouse the 
' cause of their Master and Prince ? Shall Christ 
' be put in comparison with Zeno and Aristotle — 
' his doctrines with their insignificant precepts ? 
'Whatever other philosophers may have been, he 
' alone is a teacher from heaven ; he alone was able 
' to teach certain and eternal wisdom ; he alone taught 
' things pertaining to our salvation, because he alone 
' is its author ; he alone absolutely practised what he 
' preached, and is able to make good what he pro- 
6 mised. . . . The philosophy of Christ, moreover, is to 
• be learned from its few books with far less labour than 
' the Aristotelian philosophy is to be extracted from its 
'multitude of ponderous and conflicting commentaries. 

The Novum Instrumentum. 327 

* Nor is anxious preparatory learning needful to the Chap, xl 

* Christian. Its viaticum is simple, and at hand to all. a.d. 1516. 

* Only bring a pious and open heart, imbued above all 
' things with a pure and simple faith. Only be teach- 

* able, and you have already made much, way in this 
' philosophy. It supplies a spirit for a teacher, im- 
' parted to none more readily than to the simple-minded. 
' Other philosophies, by the very difficulty of their pre- 

* cepts, are removed out of the range of most minds. No 

* age, no sex, no condition of life is excluded from this. 
' The sun itself is not more common and open to all than 

* the teaching of Christ. For I utterly dissent from 
' those who are unwilling that the sacred Scriptures 

* should be read by the unlearned translated into their ah men 

* vulgar tongue, as though Christ had taught such sub- read the 
4 tleties that they can scarcely be understood even by ^c.^n 8 ' 
' a few theologians, or as though the strength of the * e j ir ar 

* Christian religion consisted in men's ignorance of it. tongue. 
' The mysteries of kings it may be safer to conceal, 

* but Christ wished his mysteries to be published as 
' openly as possible. I wish that even the weakest 

* woman should read the Gospel — should read the 
' epistles of Paul. And I wish these were translated 
' into all languages, so that they might be read and 

* understood, not only by Scots and Irishmen, but also 
' by Turks and Saracens. To make them understood 

* is surely the first step. It may be that they might 
' be ridiculed by many, but some would take them 
' to heart. I long that the husbandman should sing 
' portions of them to himself as he follows the plough, 

* that the weaver should hum them to the tune of his 

* shuttle, that the traveller should beguile with their 
' stories the tedium of his journey.' 

328 Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

Chap. xi. Then turning more directly to the Schoolmen, 

a.d. 1516. Erasmus continued : — 

Why is a greater portion of our lives given to the 
study of the Schoolmen than of the Gospels ? The 
rules of St. Francis and St. Benedict may be con- 
sidered sacred by their respective followers ; but 
just as St. Paul wrote that the law of Moses was not 
glorious in comparison with the glory of the Gospel, 
so Erasmus said he wished that these might not be 
considered as sacred in comparison with the Gospels 
and letters of the Apostles. What are Albertus,. 
Alexander, Thomas, iEgidius, Eicardus, Occam, in 
comparison with Christ, of whom it was said by the 
Father in heaven, ' This is my beloved Son ' ? (Oh, 
how sure and, as they say, ' irrefragable ' his autho- 
rity !) What, in comparison with Peter, who received 
the command to feed the sheep ; or Paul, in whom, 
as a chosen vessel, Christ seemed to be reborn ; or 
John, who wrote in his epistles what he learned as he 
leaned on his bosom ? ' If the footprints of Christ be 
' anywhere shown to us, we kneel down and adore. 
' Why do we not rather venerate the living and 

The Gos- ' breathing picture of Him in these books ? If the 

living ' vesture of Christ be exhibited, where will we not go 
' to kiss it ? Yet were his whole wardrobe exhibited 
' nothing could represent Christ more vividly and truly 
' than these evangelical writings. Statues of wood and 
' stone we decorate with gold and gems for the love of 
' Christ. They only profess to give us the form of his 
' body ; these books present us with a living image 
'of his most holy mind. 1 Were we to have seen Him 

image of 
the mind 
of Christ. 

1 Compare the similar views expressed in the Enchiridion (Canon V.). 
fifteen years before. 

The Novum Instrumentum. 329 

' with our own eyes, we should not have had so Chap. xi. 
' intimate a knowledge as they give of Christ, speak- A .r>. 1516. 
' ing, healing, dying, rising again, as it were, in our 
' own actual presence.' 

Such was the earnest ' Paraclesis ' l with which 
Erasmus introduced his Greek and Latin version of 
the books of the New Testament. 

To this he added a few pages to explain what he Method; of 
considered the right ' method ' to be adopted by the 
Scripture student. 2 

First, as to the spirit in which he should work : — 

' Let him approach the New Testament, not with an 
' unholy curiosity, but with reverence ; bearing in mind 
' that his first and only aim and object should be that 
' he may catch and be changed into the spirit of what 
' he there learns. It is the food of the soul ; and to be 
1 of use, must not rest only in the memory or lodge in 
' the stomach, but must permeate the very depths of 
' the heart and mind.' 

Then, as to what special acquirements are most 
useful in the prosecution of these studies : — 

' A fair knowledge of the three languages, Latin, 
' Greek, and Hebrew, of course, are the first things. 
' Nor let the student turn away in despair at the diffi- 
' culty of this. If you have a teacher and the will to 
' learn, these three languages can be learned almost 
' with less labour than every day is spent over the 
' miserable babble of one mongrel language under 
' ignorant teachers. It would be well, too, were the 
i student tolerably versed in other branches of learning 

1 Both the above passages are I 3 to bbb. 
slightly abridged in the translation. . 3 Id. leaf bbb to bbb 5. Thequo- 
— Novum Instrumentum, leaf aaa, i tations in this case also are abridged. 


Colet. Erasmus, and More. 

Chap. XI. 
a.d. 1516. 

— dialectics, rhetoric, arithmetic, music, astrology, 
and especially in knowledge of the natural objects — 
animals, trees, precious stones — of the countries men- 
tioned in the Scriptures ; for if we are familiar with 
the country, we can in thought follow the history and 
picture it to our minds, so that we seem not only to 
read it, but to see it ; and if we do this, we shall not 
easily forget it. Besides, if we know from study of 
history not only the position of those nations to whom 
these things happened, or to whom the Apostles wrote, 
but also their origin, manners, institutions, religion, 
and character, it is wonderful how much light and, if 
I may so speak, life is thrown into the reading of what 
before seemed dry and lifeless. Other branches of 
learning — classical, rhetorical, or philosophical — may 
all be turned to account ; and especially should the 
student learn to quote Scripture, not second-hand, but 
from the fountain-head, and take care not to distort 
its meaning as some do, interpreting the " Church" as 
the clergy, the laity as the " world," and the like. To 
get at the real meaning, it is not enough to take four 
or five isolated words ; you must look where they 
came from, what was said, by whom it was said, to 
whom it was said, at what time, on what occasion, in 
what words, what preceded, what followed. And if 
you refer to commentaries, choose out the best, such 
as Origen (who is far above all others), Basil, &c, 
Jerome, Ambrose, &c. ; and even these read with 
discrimination and judgment, for they were men 
ignorant of some things, and mistaken in others. 

' As to the Schoolmen, I had rather be a pious 
divine with Jerome than invincible with Scotus. 
Was ever a heretic converted by their subtleties ? 

The Novum Instrumentum, 331 

'Let those who like follow the disputations of the Chap. XL 

' schools ; but let him who desires to be instructed a.d. 1516. 

' rather in piety than in the art of disputation, first and 

' above all apply himself to the fountain-head — to those 

' writings which flowed immediately from the fountain- 

' head. The divine is " invincible " enough who 

' never yields to vice or gives way to evil passions, 

' even though he may be beaten in argument. That 

' doctor is abundantly " great " who purely preaches 

< Christ.' 

I have quoted these passages very much at length, 
that there may be no doubt whatever how fully Eras- 
mus had in these prefaces adopted and made himself 
the spokesman of Colet's views. An examination of 
the ' Novum Instrumentum ' itself, and of the ' Annota- The ' An- 
' tions ' which formed the second part of the volume, 
reveals an equally close resemblance between the cri- 
tical method of exposition used by Colet and that here 
adopted by Erasmus. There was the same rejection of 
the theory of verbal inspiration which was noticed in Theory of 
Colet as the result of an honest attempt to look at the inspira- 
facts of the case exactly as they were, instead of at- f^Jd 
tempting to explain them away by reference to pre- 
conceived theories. 

Thus the discrepancy between St. Stephen's speech 
and the narrative in Genesis, with regard to a portion 
of the history of the Patriarch Abraham, was freely 
pointed out, without any attempt at reconcilement. 1 

1 Novum Instrumentum: Annota- [' Etheo filio Saor juxta Hebron 

tiones in loco Acts vii. p. 382: — 'Et 
1 hunc locum aunotavit Hieronymus 
'in Libro ad Painmachium de Opti- 
' mo Genere Interpretandi, qui secus 
' habeatur in Genesi, ubi legitur 
' quod Abraham emerit ab Ephron 

' quadringentis drachmis speluncam 
' duplicem, et agrum circa earn, 
' sepelieritque in ea Saram uxorem 
' suam ; atque in eodem legimus libro 
' postearevertentemde Mesopotamia 
'Jacob cum uxoribus et hliis suis 

332 Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

Chap, xl St. Jerome's suggestion was quoted, that Mark, in the 
a.d. 1516. second chapter of his Gospel, had, by a lapse of memory, 
written ' Abiathar ' in mistake for ' Ahimelech,' l and 
that Matthew, in the twenty-seventh chapter, instead of 
quoting from Jeremiah, as stated in the text, was really 
quoting from the Prophet Zachariah. 2 

The fact that in a great number of cases the quota- 
tions from the Old Testament are by no means exact, 
either as compared with the Hebrew or Septuagint 
text, was freely alluded to, and the suggestion as freely 

• posuisse tabernaculuni ante Salem, 
' urbein Sichynior um,quse est in terra 
' Cbanaan, et liabitasse ibi et emisse 
' partem agri, in quo babebat tentoria, 
'ab Emor patre Sycbem, centum 
' agnis, et statuisse ibi altare et in- 
' vocasse deum Israbel. Proinde 
' Abrabam non emit specum ab Emor 
' patre Sycbem, sed ab Epbron filio 
' Saor, nee sepultus est in Sycbem 
' sed in Hebron, qusecorrupte dicitur 
' non sunt sepulti in Arbocb sed in 
' Sycbem, qui ager non est emptus ab 
' Abrabam sed a Jacob. Hunc no- 
' duui illic nectit Hieronymus nee 
' eum dissolvit.' 

1 In loco Mark ii. p. 299, wbere 
Erasmus writes: — 'Divus Hierony- 
' mus in libello de Optimo Genere 
' Interpretandi indicat nomen Abia- 
' tbar pro Acbimelecb esse positum, 
' propterea quod libro Regum primo, 
'capite 22, ubi refertur bujusce rei 
'bistoria, nulla mentio fiat Abia- 
' tbar sed duntaxat Acbimelecb. 
' Sive id accident lapsu memorise, 
' sive vitio scriptorum, sive quod 
'ejusdem bominis vocabulum sit 
' Abiatbaret Abimelecb ; nam Lyra 
' putat Abiatbar fuisse filium 
' Acbimelecb qui sub patre functus 

sit officio paterno, et eo cseso jussu 
Saulis comes fuerit fugse Davi- 

2 In loco Matt, xxvii. p. 290:— 
Annotavit bunc quoque locum 
divus Hieronymus in libro cui ti- 
tulus de Optimo Genere Interpre- 
tandi, negans quod bic citat ex 
Hieremia Mattbseus, prorsus ex- 
stare apud Hieremiam, verum apud 
Zacbariam propbetam, sed ita ut 
quse retulit evangelista, parum 
respondeant ad Hebraicam verita- 
tem, ac multo minus ad vulgatam 
editionem Septuaginta. Etenim 
ut idem sit sensus tamen inversa 
esse verba, imo pene diversa. Cse- 
terum locus est apud Zachariam, 
cap. ii. , si quis velit excutere. 
Nam res perplexioT est quam ut 
bic paucis explicari possit, et prope 
irdpepyov est. Refert Hieronymus 
Hieremaiam apocrypbum sibi ex- 
hibitum a quodam Judseo factionis 
Nazarenee in quo bsec ad verbum 
ut ab evangelista citantur babe- 
rentur. Verum non probat ut apo- 
stolus ex apocryphis adduxerit tes- 
timonium, prsesertim cum bis mos 
sit evangelistis etapostobs ut, neg- 
lectis verbis, sensum utcumque 
reddant in citandis testimonii9.' 

The Novum Instrumentum. 333 

thrown out that the Apostles habitually quoted from Chap. xi. 
memory, without giving the exact words of the A . D . 1516. 
original. 1 

All these were little indications that Erasmus had 
closely followed in the steps of Colet in rejecting the 
theory of the verbal inspiration of the-Scriptures ; and 
they bear abundant evidence to prove that he did so, 
as Colet had done, not because he wished to undermine 
men's reverence for the Bible, but that they might learn 
to love and to value its pages infinitely more than they 
had done before — not because he wished to explain 
away its facts, but that men might discover how truly 
real and actual and heart-stirring were its histories — 
not to undermine the authority of its moral teaching, 
but to add just so much to it as the authority of the 
Apostle who had written, or of the Saviour who had 
spoken, its Divine truths, exceeds the authority of the 
Fathers who had established the canon, or of the School- 
men who had buried the Bible altogether under the 
rubbish of the thousand and one propositions which 
they professed to have extracted from it. 

Let it never be forgotten that the Church party 
which had staked their faith upon the plenary inspira- 
tion of the Bible was the Church party who had suc- 
ceeded in putting it into the background. They were 
the party whom Tyndale accused of ' knowing no more 
' Scripture than they found in their Duns.' They were 
the party who throughout the sixteenth century re- 
sisted every attempt to give the Bible to the people 
and to make it the people's book. And they were per- 
fectly logical in doing so. Their whole system was 

1 See especially Novum Instrument urn, pp. 295, 290, 377, 382, 270. 

334 Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

Chap. xi. based upon the absolute inspiration of the Holy Scrip- 
A . D . i5i6. tures, and even to a great extent of the Vulgate version. 
If the Vulgate version was not verbally inspired, it was 
impossible to apply to it the theory of ' manifold senses.' 
And if a text could not be interpreted according to that 
theory, if it could not properly be strained into mean- 
ings which it was never intended by the writer to con- 
vey, the scholastic theology became a castle of cards. 
Its defenders adopted, and in perfect good faith applied 
to the Vulgate, the words quoted from Augustine: 'If 
' any error should be admitted to have crept into the 
' Holy Scriptures, what authority would be left to them ? ' 
If Colet and Erasmus should undermine men's faith 
in the absolute inspiration of the Scriptures, it would 
result, in their view, as a logical necessity, in the de- 
struction of the Christian religion. For the Christian 
religion, in their view, consisted in blind devotion to 
the Church, and in gulping whole the dogmatic creed 
which had been settled by her ' invincible ' and ' irre- 
' fragable ' doctors. 
The But this was not the faith of Colet and Erasmus, 

region ° With them the Christian religion consisted not in gulp- 
loyaity to ni g a cre ed upon any authority whatever, but in loving 
and loyal devotion to the person of Christ. They 
sought in the books which they found bound up into a 
Bible not so much an infallible standard of doctrinal 
truth as an authentic record of his life and teaching. 
Where should they go for a knowledge of Christ, if not 
to the writings of those who were nearest in their re- 
lations to Him ? They valued these writings because 
they sought and found in them a ' living and breathing 
' picture of Him ; ' because ' nothing could represent 
' Christ more vividly and truly ' than they did ; because 

The Novum Instrument// m. 335 

' they present a living image of his most holy mind,' so Chap. xi. 
that ' even had we seen Him with our own eyes we a .d. 1516. 
' should not have had so intimate a knowledge as they 
' give of Christ speaking, healing, dying, rising again as 
' it were in our own actual presence.' It was because 
these books brought them, as it were, so close to Christ 
and the facts of his actual life, that they wished to get 
as close to them as they could do. They would not be 
content with knowing something of them secondhand 
from the best Church authorities. The best of the 
Fathers were ' men ignorant of some things, and mis- 
' taken in others.' They would go to the books them- 
selves, and read them in their original languages, and, 
if possible, in the earliest copies, so that no mistakes 
of copyists or blunders of translators might blind their 
eyes to the facts as they were. They would study 
the geography and the natural history of Palestine 
that they might the more correctly and vividly realise 
in their mind's eye the events as they happened. And 
they would do all this, not that they might make 
themselves ' irrefragable ' doctors — rivals of Scotus 
and Aquinas — but that they might catch the Spirit of 
Him whom they were striving to know for themselves, 
and that they might place the same knowledge within 
reach of all — Turks and Saracens, learned and un- 
learned, rich and poor — by the translation of these 
books into the vulgar tongue of each. 

The 'Novum Instrumentum ' of Erasmus was at once 
the result and the embodiment of these views. 

Hence it is easy to see the significance of the con- works 
current publication of the works of St. Jerome. St. f e ^ me 
Jerome belonged to that school of theology and 
criticism which now, after the lapse of a thousand 

336 Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

Chap. xi. years, Colet and Erasmus were reviving in Western 
a.d. 1516. Europe. St. Jerome was the father who in his day 
strove to give to the people the Bible in their vulgar 
tongue. St. Jerome was the father against whom 
St. Augustine so earnestly strove to vindicate the 
verbal inspiration of the Bible. It was the words of 
St. Augustine used against St. Jerome that, now after 
the lapse of ten centuries, Martin Dorpius had quoted 
against Erasmus. We have seen in an earlier chapter 
how Colet clung to St. Jerome's opinion, against that of 
nearly all other authorities, in the discussion which led 
to his first avowal to Erasmus of his views on the inspi- 
ration of the Scriptures. Finally, the Annotations to 
the ' Novum Instrumentum ' teem with citations from 
St. Jerome. 

The concurrent publication of the works of this 
father was therefore a practical vindication of the 
' Novum Instrumentum ' from the charge of presump- 
tion and novelty. It proved that Colet and Erasmus 
were teaching no new doctrines — that their work was 
correctly defined by Colet himself to be ' to restore 
' that old and true theology which had been so long 
' obscured by the subtleties of the Schoolmen.' 

Under this patristic shield, dedicated by permission 
to Pope Leo, and its copyright secured for four years 
by the decree of the Emperor Maximilian, the ' Novum 
1 Instrumentum ' went forth into the world. 



While the work of Erasmus had for some years past chap. xii. 
lain chiefly in the direction of laborious literary study, it .^^Tsis. 
had been far otherwise with More. His lines had fallen 
among the busy scenes and cares of practical life. His 
capacity for public business, and the diligence and im- 
partiality with which he had now for some years dis- 
charged his judicial duties as under-sheriff, had given 
him a position of great popularity and influence in the 
city. He had been appointed hy the Parliament of 
1515 a Commissioner of Sewers — a recognition at least 
of his practical ability. In his private practice at the 
Bar he had risen to such eminence, that Eoper tells us More's 
' there was at that time in none of the prince's courts theBar. a 
4 of the laws of this realm airy matter of importance 
' in controversy wherein he was not with the one party 
' of counsel.' * Roper further reports that ' by his office 
' and his learning (as I have heard him say) he gained 
' without grief not so little as 400/. by the }^ear ' 
(equal to 4,000/. a year in present money). He had in 
the meantime married a second wife, Alice Middleton, 
and taken her daughter also into his household ; and 
thus tried, for the sake of his little orphans, to roll away 
the cloud of domestic sorrow from his home. 

His second 

1 Rpper, 9. 


Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

Chap. XII. 

a.d. 1515. 

results of 
the wars. 

Becoming himself more and more of a public man, 
lie had anxiously watched the course of political 

The long- continuance of war is almost sure to bring 
up to the surface social evils which in happier times 
smoulder on unobserved. It was especially so with 
these wars of Henry VIII. Each successive Parliament, 
called for the purpose of supplying the King with the 
necessar}^ ways and means, found itself obliged reluc- 
tantly to deal with domestic questions of increasing dif- 
ficulty. In previous years it had been easy for the 
flattering courtiers of a popular king, by talking of vic- 
tories, to charm the ear of the Commons so wisely, that 
subsidies and poll-taxes had been voted without much, 
if any, opposition. But the Parliament which had met 
in February 1515, had no victories to talk about. 
Whether right or wrong in regarding ' the realm of 
' France his very true patrimony and inheritance,' 
Henry VIII. had not yet been able ' to reduce the same 
' to his obedience.' Meanwhile the long continuance 
of war expenditure had drained the national exche- 
quer. It is perfectly true that under Wolsey's able 
management the expenditure had already been cut down 
to an enormous extent, but during the three years of 
active warfare — 1512, 1513, and 1514 — the revenues 
of more than twelve ordinary years : had been spent, 
the immense hoards of wealth inherited by the young 
king from Henry VII. had been squandered away, and 

1512 £286,269 

1513 699,714 

1514 155,757 


1515 £74,007 

1516 130,779 

1517 78,887 

See Brewer, ii. preface, cxciv. 

Condition of England. 339 

even the genius of Wolsey was unable to devise means Chap. xii. 
to collect the taxes which former Parliaments had a.d. 1515. 
already voted. The temper of the Commons was in 
the meantime beginning to change. They now, in 1515, 
for the first time entered their complaint upon the rolls Complaint 
of Parliament, that whereas the King's noble progenitors men t. 
had maintained their estate and the defences of the 
realm out of the ordinary revenues of the kingdom, he 
now, by reason of the improvident grants made by him 
since he came to the throne, had not sufficient revenues 
left to meet his increasing expenses. The result was 
that all unusual grants of annuities, &c, were declared 
to be void. 1 The Commons then proceeded to deal 
with the large deficiency which previous subsidies had 
done little to remove. Of the 160,000/. granted by the 
previous Parliament only 50,000/. had been gathered, 
and all they now attempted to achieve was the col- 
lection, under new arrangements, of the remaining 
110,000/. 2 

It was evident that the temper of the people would 
not bear further trial ; and no wonder, for the tax 
which in the previous year had raised a total of 50,000/. 
was practically an income-tax of sixpence in the pound, 
descending even to the wages of the farm-labourer. In Taxes on 
the coming year this income-tax of sixpence was to be 
twice repeated simply to recover arrears of taxation. 
What should we think of a government which should 
propose to exact from the day-labourer, by direct 
taxation, a tax equal to between two and three weeks' 
wages ! 

The selfishness of Tudor legislation — or, perhaps it 

1 6 Henry VIII. c. 24. ~ Ibid. c. 26. 

z 2 




Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

A.D. 1515. 

Legal in- 


Chap. xii. might be more just to say of Wolsey's legislation, for lie 
was the presiding spirit of this Parliament — was shown 
no less clearly in its manner of dealing with the social 
evils which came under its notice. 

Thus the Act of Apparel, with its pains and penal- 
ties, was obviously more likely to give a handle to 
unscrupulous ministers to be used for purposes of 
revenue, than to curb those tastes for grandeur in 
attire which nothing was so likely to foster as the 
example of Wolsey himself. 1 

Thus, too, not content with carrying their income-tax 
down to the earnings of the peasant, this and the pre- 
vious Parliament attempted to interfere with the wages 
of the labouring classes solely for the benefit of em- 
ployers of labour. The simple fact was that the drain 
upon the labour market to keep the army supplied with 
soldiers, had caused a temporary scarcity of labour, and 
a natural rise in wages. Complaints were made, accord- 
ing to the chronicles, that ' labourers would in nowise 
' work by the day, but all by task, and in great,' and 
that therefore, 'especially in harvest time, the husband- 
men [i.e. the farmers and landowners] could scarce 
' get workmen to help in their harvest.' 2 The agricul- 
tural interest was strongly represented in the House of 
Commons — the labourers not at all. So, human nature 
being the same then as now, the last Parliament had 
attempted virtually to re-enact the old statutes of 
labourers, as against the labourers, whilst repealing all 
the clauses which might possibly prove inconvenient to 

1 6 Henry VIII. c. 1. The draft 
of this Act in the final form in which 
it was adopted when Parliament met 
again in the autumn, is in Wolsey's 

handwriting - . — Brewer. 

2 Grafton, p. 104. Holinshed, ii. 
835, under date 6 Henry VIII. 

Condition of England. 


employers. This Parliament of 1515 completed the Chap. xn. 
work ; re-enacted a rigid scale of wages, and imposed A . D . 1515. 
pains and penalties upon ' artificers who should leave 
'their work except for the King's service.' 1 Here again 
was oppression of the poor to spare the pockets of 
the rich. 

Again, the scarcity of labour made itself felt in the increase 
increased propensity of landowners to throw arable farming. 
land into pasture, involving the sudden and cruel 
ejection of thousands of the peasantry, and the enact- 
ment of statutory provisions 2 to check this tendency 
was not to be wondered at ; but the rumour that 
many by compounding secretly with the Cardinal 
were able to exempt themselves 3 from the penalties 
of inconvenient statutes, leads one to suspect that 
Wolsey thought more of the wants of the exchequer 
than of the hardship and misery of ejected peasants. 

It was natural that the result of wholesale ejec- 
tions, and the return of deserting or disbanded soldiers 
(often utterly demoralised), 4 should still show itself in 
the appalling increase of crime. Perhaps it was equally increase 
natural that legislators who held the comforts and ° n ^ r o £ ne 
lives of the labouring poor so cheap, should think e . xecu - 
that they had provided at once a proper and efficient 
remedy, when by abolishing benefit of clergy in the 
case of felons and murderers, and by abridging the 
privilege of sanctuary, they had multiplied to a 
terrible extent the number of executions. 5 

1 4 Henry VIII. c. 5, and 6 
Henry VIII. c. 3. 

2 6 Henry VIII. c. 5. 

3 Lord Herbert's History, under 
date 1521, ed. 1649, p. 108; and 

Grafton, pp. 1016-1018. 

4 Brewer, i. Nos. 4019 and 

5 4 Henry VIII. c. 2, and 6 
Henry VIII. c. 6. 


Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

Chap. XII. 
a.d. 1515. 

with the 
lands in- 

More sent 
on an 

If the labouring classes were thus harshly dealt 
with, so also the mercantile classes did not find their 
interests very carefully guarded. 

The breach of faith with Prince Charles in the matter 
of the marriage of the Princess Mar}- had caused a 
quarrel between England and the Netherlands, and 
this Parliament of 1515 had followed it up by pro- 
hibiting the exportation of Norfolk wool to Holland 
and Zealand, 1 thus virtually interrupting commercial 
intercourse with the Hanse Towns of Belgium at a 
time when Bruges was the great mart of the world. 

It was not long before the London merchants ex- 
pressed a very natural anxiety that the commercial 
intercourse between two countries so essential to each 
other should be speedily resumed. They saw clearly 
that whatever military advantage might be gained 
by the attempt to injure the subjects of Prince Charles 
by creating a wool-famine in the Netherlands, would 
be purchased at their expense. It was a game that 
two could play at, and it was not long before retalia- 
tive measures were resorted to on the other side, 
very injurious to English interests. 

When therefore it was rumoured that Henry VIII. 
was about to send an embassy to Flanders, to settle 
international disputes between the two countries, it 
was not surprising that London merchants should 
complain to the King of their own special grievances, 
and pray that their interests might not be neglected. 
It seems that they pressed upon the King to attach 
' Young More,' as he was still called, to the embassy, 
specially to represent themselves. So, according to 

1 6 Henry VIII. c. 12. 

Mores First Embassy. 343 

Eoper, it was at the suit and instance of the English Chap. xii. 
merchants, ' and with the King's consent,' that in a.d. 1515. 
May, 1515, More was sent out on an embassy with 
Bishop Tunstal, Sampson, and others, into Flanders. 

The ambassadors were appointed generally to ob- 
tain a renewal and continuance of the old treaties of 
intercourse between the two countries, but More, 
aided by a John Clifford, ' governor of the English 
'merchants,' was specially charged with the commercial 
matters in dispute : Wolsey informing SamjDSon of 
this, and Sampson replying that he ' is pleased with 
' the honour of being named in the King's commission 
* with Tunstal and " Young More." ' l 

The party were detained in the city of Bruges about 
four months. 2 They found it by no means easy to 
allay the bitter feelings which had been created by 
the prohibition of the export of wool, and other 
alleged injuries. 3 In September they moved on to 
Brussels, 4 and in October to Antwerp, 5 and it was 
not till towards the end of the year that More, having 
at last successfully terminated his part in the nego- 
tiations, was able to return home. 

11. colet's sermon on the installation of cardinal 

WOLSEY (1515). 

During the absence of More, on his embassy to 
Elanders, Wolsey, quit of a Parliament which, how- 
ever selfish and careless of the true interests of the 
Commonweal, and especially of the poorer classes, 

1 Brewer, ii. 422 (7 May), 480, 
and 534 ; also Eoper, 10. 

2 Brewer, ii. 672, 679, 733, 782, 

Ibid. 672 and 733. 
Ibid. 904 and 922. 
Ibid. 1067. 

344 Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

Chap. xii. had shown some symptoms of grumbling at Eoyal 
a.d. 1515. demands, had pushed on more rapidly than ever his 
schemes of personal ambition. 

His first step had been to procure from the Pope, 
through the good offices of Henry VIII., a cardinal's 
hat. It might possibly be the first step even to the 
papal chair ; at least it would secure to him a position 
within the realm second only to the throne. It chafed 
him that so unmanageable a man as Warham should 
take precedence of himself. 

Let us try to realise the magnificent spectacle of 
the installation of the <?reat Cardinal, for the sake of 
the part Colet took in it. 
instaiia- It was on Sunday, November 18, 1515, that the 
Cardinal ceremony was performed in Westminster Abbey. 
Woisey. ]\/[ ass was sung by Archbishop Warham (with whom 
Wolsey had already quarrelled), Bishop Fisher acting 
as crosier-bearer. The Bishop of Lincoln read the 
Gospel, and the Bishop of Exeter the Epistle. The 
Archbishops of Armagh and Dublin, the Bishops of 
Winchester, Durham, Norwich, Ely, and Llandaff, 
the Abbots of Westminster, St. Albans, Bury, Glas- 
tonbury, Beading, Gloucester, Winchcombe, and 
Tewkesbury, and the Prior of Coventry, were all in 
attendance ' in pontificalibus.' All the magnates of 
the realm were collected to swell the pomp of the 
ceremony. Before this august assemblage and crowds 
of spectators Dean Colet had to deliver an address to 
Colet As was usual with him, he preached a sermon 

fhTser 68 suited to the occasion, more so perhaps than Wolsey 
mon - intended. First speaking to the people, he explained 
the meaning of the title of ' Cardinal,' the high honour 

Wolsey made Cardinal. 


and dignity of the office, the reasons why it was con- Chap, xii 
ferred on Wolsey, alluding, first, to his merits, naming a .d. 1515. 
some of his particular virtues and services ; secondly, 
to the desire of the Pope to show, by conferring this 
dignity on one of the subjects of Henry VIII., his 
zeal and favour to his grace. He dwelt upon the 
great power and dignity of the rank of cardinal, how it 
corresponded to the order of ' Seraphim' in the celestial 
hierarchy, ' which continually burnetii in the love of 
1 the glorious Trinity.' 1 And having thus magnified the 
office of cardinal in the eyes of the people, he turned 
to Wolsey — so proud, ambitious, and fond of magnifi- 
cence — and addressed to him these few faithful words : 

' Let not one in so proud a position, made most Coiet's 
'illustrious by the dignity of such an honour, be wolsey. 
' puffed up by its greatness. But remember that our 
' Saviour, in his own person, said to his disciples, 
' " I came not to be ministered unto, but to minister," 
' and " He who is least among you shall be greatest 
' " in the kingdom of heaven ; " and again. " He who 
' "exalts himself shall be humbled, and he who humbles 
' "himself shall be exalted." ' And then, with reference 
to his secular duties, and having perhaps in mind the 
rumours of Wolsey's partiality and the unfairness of 
recent legislation to the poorer classes, he added — 
' My Lord Cardinal, be glad, and enforce yourself 
' always to do and execute righteousness to rich and 
< "poov, with mercy and truth.' 

Then, addressing himself once more to the people, he 

1 ' First after the Trinity come the 
' Seraphic spirits, all flaming and on 
' fire. . . . They are loving beings of 
' the highest order, &c.' Coiet's 

abstract of the Celestial Hierarchy 
of Dionysius. Mr. Lupton's trans- 
lation, p. 20. 

346 Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

Chap. xii. desired them to pray for tlie Cardinal, that ' he might 
a.d. 1515. ' observe these things, and in accomplishing the same 
' receive his reward in the kingdom of heaven.' 

This sermon ended, Wolsey, kneeling at the altar, had 
the formal service read over him by Warham, and the 
cardinal's hat placed upon his head. The ' Te Deum ' 
was then sung, and, surrounded by dukes and earls, 
Wolsey left the Abbey and passed in gorgeous proces- 
sion to his own decorated halls, there to entertain the 
King and Queen, in all pomp and splendour, bent 
upon pursuing his projects of self-exaltation, regard- 
less of Colet's honest words so faithfully spoken, and 
little dreaming that they would ever find fulfilment in 
his own fall. 1 
Wolsey Five weeks only after this event, on December 22, 

chancel- Warham resigned the great seal into the King's 
lor< hands, and the Cardinal Archbishop of York as- 

sumed the additional title of Lord Chancellor of 
England. 2 On the same day, Parliament, which had 
met again on November 12 to grant a further sub- 
sidy, was dissolved, and Wolsey commenced to rule 
the kingdom, according to his own will and pleasure, 
for eight years, without a Parliament, and with but 
little regard to the opinions of other members of the 
King's council. 

III. MORE'S ' UTOPIA ' (1515). 

It was whilst More's keen eye was anxiously watching 
the clouds gathering upon the political horizon, and 

1 Fiddes' Life of Wolsey. Col- i p. 219, &c. Brewer, ii. 1153. 
lections, p. 252, quoted from MS. 2 Brewer, ii. 1335. 
in Herald's office. Cerem. vol. iii. 

Mores Utopia. 347 

during the leisure snatched from the business of his Chap. xii. 
embassy, that he conceived the idea of embodying his a .d. 1515. 
notions on social and political questions in a descrip- 
tion of the imaginary commonwealth of the Island of 
' Utopia ' — ' Nusquama ' — or ' Nowhere.' 1 

It does not often happen that two friends, engaged 
in fellow-work, publish in the same }^ear two books, 
both of which take an independent and a permanent 
place in the literature of Europe. But this may be 
said of the ' Novum Instrumentum ' of Erasmus and 
the ' Utopia ' of More. 

Still more remarkable is it that two such works, 
written by two such men, should, in measure, be trace- 
able to the influence and express the views of a more 
obscure but greater man than they. Yet, in truth, 
much of the merit of both these works belongs in- 
directly to Colet. 

As the ' Novum Instrumentum,' upon careful exami- 
nation, proves to be the expression, on the part of 
Erasmus, not merely of his own isolated views, but of 
the views held in common by the little band of Oxford 
Eeformers, on the great subject of which it treats ; so 
the ' Utopia ' will be found to be in great measure the 
expression, on More's part, of the views of the same 
little band of friends on social and political questions. 
On most of these questions Erasmus and More, in the 
main, thought alike : and they owed much of their 
common convictions indirectly to the influence of Colet. 

The first book of the ' Utopia ' was written after the 
second, under circumstances and for reasons which 
will in due course be mentioned. 

1 Eras. Epist. ccli. and App. Lxxxvii. 


Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

book of 
the ' Uto 

Chap. xii. The second book was complete in itself, and con- 
a.d. 1515. tained the description, by Eaphael, the supposed 
traveller, of the Utopian commonwealth. Erasmus 
informs us that More's intention in writing it was to 
point out where and from what causes European 
commonwealths were at fault, and he adds that it 
was written with special reference to English politics, 
with which More was most familiar. 1 

Whilst, however, we trace its close connection with 
the political events passing at the time in England, it 
must not be supposed that More was so gifted with 
prescience that he knew what course matters would 
take. He could not know, for instance, that Wolsey 
was about to take the reins of government so com- 
pletely into his own hands, as to dispense with a 
Parliament for so many years to come. As yet, More 
and his friends, in spite of Wolsey 's ostentation and 
vanity, which they freely ridiculed, had a high opinion 
of his character and powers. It was not unnatural 
that, knowing that Wolsey was a friend to educa- 
tion, and, to some extent at least, inclined to patronise 
the projects of Erasmus, they should hope for the 
best. Hence the satire contained in ' Utopia ' was 
not likely to be directed personally against Wolsey, 
however much his policy might come in for its share 
of criticisms along with the rest. 

The point of the ' Utopia ' consisted in the contrast 
presented by its ideal commonwealth to the condition 
and habits of the European commonwealths of the 
period. This contrast is most often left to be drawn 
by the reader from his own knowledge of contemporary 

1 Erasmus to Hutten, Epist. ccccxlvii. Eras. Op. iii. p. 476, F. 

Mores Utopia. 349 

politics, and hence the peculiar advantage of the Chap. xn. 
choice by More of such a vehicle for the bold satire A . D . 1515. 
it contained. Upon any other hypothesis than that 
the evils against which its satire was directed were 
admitted to be real, the romance of ' Utopia ' must 
also be admitted to be harmless. To pronounce it to 
be dangerous was to admit its truth. 

Take, e.g., the following passage relating to the inter- 
international policy of the Utopians : — policy aI 

'While other nations are always entering into leagues, ° f x th . e 

J ° o ' Utopians. 

' and breaking and renewing them, the Utopians never 

' enter into a league with any nation. For what is the 

' use of a league ? they say. As though there were no 

' natural tie between man and man ! and as though any 

' one who despised this natural tie would, forsooth, 

' regard mere words ! They hold this opinion all the 

' more strongly, because in that quarter of the world 

' the leagues and treaties of princes are not observed 

' as faithfully as they should be. For in Europe, and 

' especially in those parts of it where the Christian faith 

1 and religion are professed, the sanctity of leagues is 

' held sacred and inviolate ; partly owing to the justice 

6 and goodness of princes, and partly from theirfear and 

' reverence of the authority of the Popes, who, as they 

' themselves never enter into obligations which they do 

'not most religiously perform [!], command other princes 

' under all circumstances to abide by their promises, and 

' punish delinquents by pastoral censure and discipline. 

' For indeed, with good reason, it would be thought a 

' most scandalous thing for those whose peculiar desig- 

' nation is " the faithful," to be wanting in the faithful 

' observance of treaties. But in those distant regions 

' ... no faith is to be placed in leagues, even though 

350 Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

Chap. xii. ' confirmed by the most solemn ceremonies. Some flaw 

a.d. 1515. ' is easily found in their wording which is intentionally 

' made ambiguous so as to leave a loophole through 

' which the parties may break both their league and 

'their faith. Which craft — yes, fraud and deceit — if 

' it were perpetrated with respect to a contract between 

' private parties, they would indignantly denounce as 

' sacrilege and deserving the gallows, whilst those who 

' suggest these very things to princes, glory in being 

' the authors of them. Whence it comes to pass that 

'justice seems altogether a plebeian and vulgar virtue, 

' quite below the dignity of royalty ; or at least there 

4 must be two kinds of it, the one for common people 

' and the poor, very narrow and contracted, the other, 

' the virtue of princes, much more dignified and free, 

' so that that only is unlawful to them which they don't 

' like. The morals of princes being such in that region, 

' it is not, I think, without reason that the Utopians 

' enter into no leagues at all. Perhaps they would 

- alter their opinion if they lived amongst us.' * 

its bitter Bead without reference to the international history 

the policy °f tne period, these passages appear perfectly harmless. 

of princes. ;g ut reac [ m the light of that political history which, 
during the past few years, had become so mixed up 
with the personal history of the Oxford Eeformers, 
recollecting ' how religiously ' treaties had been made 
and broken by almost every sovereign in Europe — 
Henry VIII. and the Pope included — the words in 
which the justice and goodness of European princes 
is so mildly and modestly extolled, become almost as 
bitter in their tone as the cutting censure of Erasmus 

1 Utopia, 1st ed. T. Martins. Louvain [161G], chap. 'De Foedenbus.' 
Leaf k, ii. 

J Fore's Utopia. 351 

in the ' Praise of Folly,' or his more recent and open Chap. xii. 

satire upon kings. A . D . 1515. 

Again, bearing in mind the wars of Henry VIII., And on the 

and how evidently the love of military glory was the poUcyof 

motive which induced him to engage in them, the Sf T n T ry 


following passage contains almost as direct and 
pointed a censure of the King's passion for war as 
the sermon preached by Colet in his presence : — 

' The Utopians hate war as plainly brutal, although 
' practised more eagerly by man than by any other 
' animal. And contrary to the sentiment of nearly 
' every other nation, they regard nothing more in- 
' glorious than glory derived from war.' l 

Turning from international politics to questions of 
internal policy, and bearing in mind the hint of Eras- 
mus, that More had in view chiefly the politics of his 
own country, it is impossible not to recognise in the 
' Utopia ' the expression, again and again, of the sense 
of wrong stirred up in More's heart, as he had wit- 
nessed how every interest of the commonwealth had 
been sacrificed to Henry VIII. 's passion for war ; and 
how, in sharing the burdens it entailed, and dealing 
with the social evils it brought to the surface, the 
interests of the poor had been sacrificed to spare the 
pockets of the rich ; how, whilst the very wages of 
the labourer had been taxed to support the long- 
continued war expenditure, a selfish Parliament, 
under colour of the old ' statutes of labourers,' had 
attempted to cut down the amount of his wages, and 
to rob him of that fair rise in the price of his labour 
which the drain upon the labour market had produced. 

1 Utopia, 1st ed. ' De Re Militari.' Leaf k, iii. 


Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

Chap. XII. 

a.d. 1515. 

Satire on 
and the 
statutes of 

to the 

It is impossible not to recognise that the recent 
statutes of labourers was the target against which 
More's satire was specially directed, in the following 
paragraph : — 

' Let any one dare to compare with the even justice 
' which rules in Utopia, the justice of other nations ; 
' amongst whom, let me die, if I find any trace at all 
' of equity and justice. For where is the justice, that 
' noblemen, goldsmiths, and usurers, and those classes 
' who either do nothing at all, or, in what they do, are 
' of no great service to the commonwealth, should live 
' a genteel and splendid life in idleness or unproductive 
' labour ; whilst in the meantime the servant, the wag- 
' goner, the mechanic, aud the peasant, toiling almost 
' longer and harder than the horse, in labour so neces- 
' sary that no commonwealth could endure a year with- 
' out it, lead a life so wretched that the condition of 
' the horse seems more to be envied ; his labour being 
' less constant, his food more delicious to his palate, and 
' his mind disturbed by no fears for the future ? . . . 

' Is not that republic unjust and ungrateful which 
' confers such benefits upon the gentry (as they are 
' called) and goldsmiths and others of that class, whilst 
' it cares to do nothing at all for the benefit of peasants, 
' colliers, servants, waggoners, and mechanics, without 
' which no republic could exist ? Is not that republic 
' unjust which, after these men have spent the spring- 
' time of their lives in labour, have become burdened 
' with age and disease, and are in want of every com- 
' fort, unmindful of all their toil, and forgetful of all their 
' services, rewards them only by a miserable death ? 

' Worse than all,the rich constantly endeavour to pare 
' away something further from the daily wages of the 

Move's Utopia. 353 

' poor, by private fraud, and even by public laws, so that Chap. xii. 
' the already existing injustice (that those from whom a .d. 1515. 
' the republic derives the most benefit should receive Modem 
'the least reward), is made still more unjust through ments a 
* the enactments of public law ! Thus, after careful re- g°?" of 
' flection, it seems to me, as I hope for mercy, that our the . nch 

. against 

' modern republics are nothing but a conspiracy of the poor. 

' the rich, pursuing their own selfish interests under 

' the name of a republic. They devise and invent all 

' ways and means whereby they may, in the first place, 

' secure to themselves the possession of what they have 

' amassed by evil means ; and, in the second place, 

' secure to their own use and profit the work and labour 

' of the poor at the lowest possible price. And so soon 

' as the rich, in the name of the public (i.e. even in 

' the name of the poor), choose to decide that these 

' schemes shall be adopted, then they become law ! ' l 

The whole framework of the Utopian common- The 
wealth bears witness to More's conviction, that what common- 
should be aimed at in his own country and elsewhere, } vealth a 

' true com- 

was a true community — not a rich and educated aris- munity. 
tocracy on the one hand, existing side by side with a 
poor and ignorant peasantry on the other — but one 
people, well-to-do and educated throughout. 

Thus, More's opinion was, that in England in his 
time, 'far more than four parts of the whole [people], 
' divided into ten, could never read English,' 2 and 
probably the education of the other six-tenths was 
anything but satisfactory. He shared Colet's faith in Every 

-i • -. -i i • tt 7 .77 child edu- 

education, and represented that m Utopia every child cated. 
teas properly educated. 3 

1 Utopia, 1st ed. Leaves m, iv. v. | Apology, p. 850. 

2 More's English Works : The I 3 Utopia, 1st ed. Leaf h, i. 

A A 


Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

tion of the 
hours of 

Chap. xii. Again the great object of the social economy of 
a.d. 1515. Utopia was not to increase the abundance of luxuries, 
or to amass a vast accumulation in few hands, or even 
in national or royal hands, but to lessen the hours of 
labour to the working man. By spreading the burden 
of labour more evenly over the whole community — 
by taking care that there shall be no idle classes, be 
they beggars or begging friars — More expressed the 
opinion that the hours of labour to the working man 
might probably be reduced to six. 1 

Again : living himself in Bucklersbury, in the midst 
of all the dirt and filth of London's narrow streets ; 
surrounded by the unclean, ill- ventilated houses of the 
poor, whose floors of clay and rushes, never cleansed, 
were pointed out by Erasmus as breeding pestilence, 
and inviting the ravages of the sweating sickness ; 
himself a commissioner of sewers, and having thus 
some practical knowledge of London's sanitary ar- 
rangements ; More described the towns of Utopia as 
well and regularly built, with wide streets, water- 
works, hospitals, and numerous common halls ; all the 
houses well protected from the weather, as nearly as 
might be fireproof, three stories high, with plenty of 
windows, and doors both back and front, the back 
door always opening into a well-kept garden. 2 All this 
was Utopian doubtless, and the result in Utopia of 
the still more Utopian abolition of private property ; 
but the gist and point of it consisted in the contrast 
it presented with what he saw around him in Europe, 
and especially in England, and men could hardly fail 
to draw the lesson he intended to teach. 


Utopia, 1st ed. Leaf f, iii. 

2 Ibid. chap. ' De Urbibus,' Leaf f, i. 

Mores Utopia. 355 

It will not be necessary here to dwell further upon Chap. xii. 
the details of the social arrangements of More's ideal a.d. 1515. 
commonwealth, 1 or to enter at length upon the philo- 
sophical opinions of the Utopians ; but a word or two 
will be needful to point out the connection of the 
latter with the views of that little band of friends 
whose joint history I am here trying to trace. 

One of the points most important and characteristic Faith 
is the fearless faith in the laws of nature combined with science 
a 'profound faith in religion, which runs through the i^ on e " 
whole work, and which may, I think, be traced also in 
every chapter of the history of the Oxford Eeformers. 
Their scientific knowledge was imperfect, as it needs 
must have been, before the days of Copernicus and 
Newton ; but they had their eyes fearlessly open in 
every direction, with no foolish misgivings lest science 
and Christianity might be found to clash. They re- 
membered (what is not always remembered in this 
nineteenth century), that if there be any truth in 
Christianity, Nature and her laws on the one hand and 
Christianity and her laws on the other, being framed 
and fixed by the same Founder, must be in harmony, 
and that therefore for Christians to act contrary to the 
laws of Nature, or to shut their eyes to facts, on the 
ground that they are opposed to Christianity, is — to 
speak plainly — to fight against one portion of the Al- 
mighty's laws under the supposed sanction of another ; 
to fight, therefore, without the least chance of success, 
and with every prospect of doing harm instead of good. 

1 I may be allowed to refer the I et seq., -where its connection with 
reader to the valuable mention of the political and social condition of 
' Utopia ' in the preface to Mr. Europe at the time is well pointed 
Brewer's Calendar of the Letters, out. 
8?c. of Henry VIII. vol. ii. cclxvii 


Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

Chap. xii. Hence the moral philosophy of the Utopians was 
a.d. 1515. both Utilitarian and Christian. Its distinctive fea- 
Theory of tures, according to More, were — 1st, that they placed 
bothutiii- pleasure (in the sense of ' utility') as the chief object 
christian.' °f l^ e ' an ^ 2ndly, that they drew their arguments in 

support of this as well from the principles of religion 

as from natural reason. 1 

1 In support of the abstract here 
given of the moral philosophy of the 
Utopians, see Utopia, 1st ed. Leaf 
h, ii. et seq. 

For the following careful trans- 
lation of the most material part of 
it, I am indebted to the Rev. W. G. 
Rouse, M.A. 

' The same points of moral philo- 
' sophyare discussed by theUtopians 
' as by us. They inquire what is 
' " good, " in respect as well of the 
' mind as of the body, as also of ex- 
' ternal things ; also, whether the title 
' " good " be applicable to all these, 
' or to the mental qualities alone. 
' They discuss " virtue " and " plea- 
1 " sure." But their first and prin- 
' cipal topic of debate is concerning 
' human "happiness " — on what thing 
' or things they consider it to depeud . 

' But here they seeui more inclined 
' than they should be to that party 
' which advocates "pleasure" as be- 
' ing that which they define as either 
' the whole, or the most important 
' part of human happiness. And, 
' what is more surprising, they even 
' draw arguments in support of so 
1 nice an opinion from the principles 
• of religion, which is usually sombre 
' and severe, and of a stern and me- 
' lancholy character. For they never 
•' dispute about happiness without 
' joining some principles drawn from 

: religion to those derived from ra- 
! tional philosophy ; without which, 

■ reason is, in their opinion, defective 

■ and feeble in the search for true 
: happiness. Their religious princi- 
: pies are as follow. The soul is im- 
mortal, and, by the goodness of 
God, born to happiness. He has 
appointed -rewards after this life 
for man's virtues and good deeds 
— punishment for his sins. Now, 
though these principles appertain 
to religion, yet they think that they 

: are led by reason to believe and 

: assent to them. Apart from these 

principles, they unhesitatingly de- 

: clare that no man can be so foolish 

as not to see that pleasure is to be 

pursued for its own sake through 

thick and thin ; so long as he takes 

care only not to let a less pleasure 

stand in the way of a greater, and 

: not to pursue any pleasure which 

: is followed in its turn by pain. 

' For they consider " virtue " aus- 
: tere and hard to strive after ; and 
; they deem it the greatest madness 
'• for a man not only to exclude all 
• "pleasure" from life, but even 

■ voluntarily to suffer pain without 
; prospect of future profit (for what 
'• profit can there be, if you gain 
' nothing after death, after having 
'■ spent the whole of your life with- 
' out pleasure, that is, in misery ?). 

Mores Utopia. 


They defined ' pleasure ' as ' every emotion or state of Chap. xii. 
' body or mind in which nature leads us to take delight. ' A . D . 1515. 

' But now they do not place happi- 
' nessin the enjoyment of every kind 
' of pleasure, but in that ouly which 
' is honest and good. For they think 
' that our nature is attracted to 
' happiness, as to its supreme good, 
' by that very " virtue " to which 
' alone the opposite party ascribes 
' happiness. For they define " vir- 
' tue" the living in accordance with 
' nature ; inasmuch as, to this end, 
' we are created by God. They 
' believe that he follows the guid- 
' ance of nature who obeys the 
' dictates of reason in the pursuit or 
'avoidance of anything ; and they 
' say that reason first of all inflames 
** men with a love and reverence for 
'the Divine Majesty, to whom we 
' owe it both that we exist, and that 
' we are capable of happiness ; and 
' secondly, that reason impresses 
' upon us and urges us to pass our 
' lives with the least amount of care 
' and the greatest amount of pleasure 
' ourselves; and, as we are bound to 
' do by the natural ties of society, 
' to give our assistance to the rest of 
' mankind towards attaining the same 
' ends. For never was there a man 
' so stern a follower of " virtue," or 
' hater of pleasure, who, whilst thus 
' enjoining upon you labours, watch- 
' ings, and discomfort, would not 
'tell you likewise to relieve the want 
' and misfortunes of others to the 
' utmost of your ability, and would 
' not think it commendable for men 
' to be of mutual help and comfort 
' to one another in the name of bu- 
'manity. If, then, it be in human 
' nature (and no virtue is more pe- 
' culiar to man) to relieve the misery 

' of others, and, by removing their 
' troubles, to restore them to the en- 
' joyment of life, that is, to pleasure 
' — does not nature, which prompts 
' men to do this for others, urge 
' them also to do it for themselves ? 
' For a joyful life — that is, a life of 
'pleasure — is either an evil — in 
' which case, not only should you 
' not help others to lead such a life, 
' but, as far as you can, prevent 
' them from leading it, as being 
' hurtful and deadly ; or, if it be a 
' good thing, and if it be not only 
'lawful, but a matter of duty to 
' enable others to lead such a life — 
' why should it not be good for your- 
' self first of all, who ought not to 
'be less careful of yourself than of 
' others ? For when nature teaches 
' you to be kind to others, she does 
' not bid you to be hard and severe 
' to yourself in return. Nature her- 
' self then, in their belief, enjoins 
' a happy life — that is, "pleasure" — 
' as the end of all our efforts; and to 
' live by this rule, they call " virtue." 
' But, since nature urges men to 
' strive together to make life more 
' cheerful (which, indeed, she rightly 
' does; for no man is so much raised 
' above the condition of his fellows 
' as to be the only favourite of 
' nature, which cherishes alike all 
' whom she binds together by the tie 
'of a common shape), she surely 
' bids you urgently to beware of 
' attending so much to your own 
' interest as to prejudice the interest 
' of others. They think, therefore, 
' that not only all contracts between 
' private citizens should be kept, but 
' also public laws, which either a 


ColeL Erasmus, and Afore. 

Chap. xii. And from reason they deduced, as modern utilitarians 

a.dTisTs. do, that not merely the pleasure of the moment must 

be regarded as the object of life, but what will produce 

the greatest amount and highest kind of pleasure in 

the long run ; that, e.g. a greater pleasure must not be 

sacrificed to a lesser one, or a pleasure pursued which 

will be followed by pain. And from reason they also 

deduced that, nature having bound men together by 

the ties of Society, and no one in particular being a 

special favourite of nature, men are bound, in the 

pursuit of pleasure, to regard the pleasures of others 

as well as their own — to act, in fact, in the spirit of the 

golden rule ; which course of action, though it may 

involve some immediate sacrifice, they saw clearly 

never costs so much as it brings back, both in the 

interchange of mutual benefits, and in the mental 

pleasure of conferring kindnesses on others. And thus 

they arrived at the same result as modern utilitarians, 

' good prince has legally enacted, 
' or a people neither oppressed by 
'tyranny, nor circumvented by 
' fraud, has sanctioned by common 
' consent for the apportionment of 
' the conveniences of life ; that is, 
' the material of pleasure. Within 
' the limits of these laws, it is com- 
' mon prudence to look after your 
' own interests ; it is a matter of 
' duty to have regard for the public 
' weal also. But to attempt to 
' deprive another of pleasure in 
' favouring your own, is to do a 
'real injury. On the other hand, 
' to deprive yourself of something 
' in order that you may give it to 
' another, that is indeed an act of 
' humanity and kindness which in 
' itself never costs so much as it 
' brings back. For it is not only 

' repaid by the interchange of kind- 
' nesses ; but also the very conscious- 
' ness of a good action done and 
'the recollection of the love and 
' gratitude of those whom you have 
' benefited, afford more pleasure to 
' the mind, than the thing from 
' which you have abstained would 
' have afforded to the body. And, 
' lastly, God repays the loss of these 
' small and fleeting pleasures with 
' vast and endless joy ; a doctrine of 
' the truth of which religion easily 
' convinces a believing mind. 

' Thus, on these grounds, they 
' determine that, all things being 
' carefully weighed and considered, 
' all our actions, and our very virtues 
' among them, regard pleasure and 
' happiuess after all as their object.' 
— Utopia, 1st ed. Leaf h, ii. et seq. 

Move's Utopia. 359 

that, while ' nature enjoins pleasure as the end of all Chap, xil 
' men's efforts,' she enjoins such a reasonable and far- a .d. 1515. 
sighted pursuit of it that ' to live by this rule is " virtue" ' 

In other words, in Utopian philosophy, ' utility ' was 
recognised as a criterion of right and wrong ; and from 
experience of what, under the laws of Nature, is man's 
real far-sighted interest, was derived a sanction to the 
golden rule. And thus, instead of setting themselves 
against the doctrine of utility, as some would do, on the 
ground of a supposed opposition to Christianity, they 
recognised the identity between the two standards. 
They recognised, as Mr. Mill urges, that Christians 
ought to do now, ' in the golden rule of Jesus of Naza- 
' reth, the complete spirit of the ethics of utility.' l 

The Utopians had no hesitation in defining ' virtue ' 
as ' living according to nature ; ' for, they said, ' to this 
' end we have been created by God.' Their religion 
itself taught them that ' God in his goodness created 
' men for happiness ; ' and therefore there was nothing 
unnatural in his rewarding, with the promise of endless 
happiness hereafter, that 'virtue' which is living ac- 
cording to those very laws of nature which He Him- 
self established to promote the happiness of men on 

Nor was this, in More's hands, a merely philosophical 
theory. He made the right practical use of it, in cor- 
recting those false notions of religion and piety which 
had poisoned the morality of the middle ages, and 
soured the devotion even of those mediaeval mystics 
whose mission it was to uphold the true religion of the 
heart. Who does not see that the deep devotion even 
of a Tauler, or of a Thomas a Kempis, would have been 

1 J. S. Mill's Essay on Utilitarianism, p. 24. 

360 Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

Chap. xii. deepened had it recognised the truth that the religion 
a.d. 1515. of Christ was intended to add heartiness and happi- 
ness to daily life, and not to draw men out of it ; that 
the highest ideal of virtue is, not to stamp out those 
feelings and instincts which, under the rule of selfish- 
ness, make a hell of earth, but so, as it were, to tune 
them into harmony, that, under the guidance of a 
heart of love, they may add to the charm and the 
perfectness of life ? The ascetic himself who, seeing 
the vileness and the misery which spring out of selfish 
riot in pleasure, condemns natural pleasure as almost 
in itself a sin, fills the heaven of his dreams with 
white robes, golden crowns, harps, music and angelic 
songs. Even his highest ideal of perfect existence is 
the unalloyed enjoyment of pleasure. He is a Utili- 
tarian in his dreams of heaven. 

More, in his ' Utopia,' dreamed of this celestial 
morality as practised under earthly conditions. He 
had banished selfishness from his commonwealth. He 
was bitter as any ascetic against vanity, and empty 
show, and shams of all kinds, as well as all sensuality 
and excess ; but his definition of ' virtue ' as ' living 
' according to nature ' made him reject the ascetic 
notion of virtue as consisting in crossing all natural 
desires, in abstinence from natural pleasure, and 
stamping out the natural instincts. The Utopians, 
More said, ' gratefully acknowledged the tenderness 
' of the great Father of nature, who hath given us 
' appetites which make the things necessary for our 
' preservation also agreeable to us. How miserable 
'would life be if hunger and thirst could only be 
' relieved by bitter drugs.' 1 Hence, too, the Utopians 
esteemed it not only ' madness,' but also ' ingratitude to 

1 Utopia 1st ed. Leaf i ; i. 

Mores Utopia. 361 

' God,' to waste the body by fasting, or to reject the Chap. xii. 
delights of life, unless by so doing a man can serve a .d. i5i5. 
the public or promote the happiness of others. 1 

Hence also they regarded the pursuit of natural The 

, ", . , r. , reverence 

science, the ' searching out the secrets ol nature, not f the 
only as an agreeable pursuit, but as ' peculiarly accept- £*°naturai 
' able to God.' 2 Seeing that they believed that ' the science - 
' first dictate of reason is love and reverence for Him 
' to whom we owe all we have and al] we can hope 
' for,' 3 it was natural that they should regard the 
pursuit of science rather as a part of their religion 
than as in any way antagonistic to it. But their 
science was not likely to be speculative and dogmatic 
like that of the Schoolmen ; accordingly, whilst they 
were said to be very expert in the mathematical 
sciences (numerandi et metiendi scientia), they knew 
nothing, More said, ' of what even boys learn here in 
the " Parva logicalia ; " ' and whilst, by long use and 
observation, they had acquired very exact knowledge 
of the motions of the planets and stars, and even of 
winds and weather, and had invented very exact in- 
struments, they had never dreamed, More said, of 
those astrological arts of divination ' which are now- 
1 a-days in vogue amongst Christians.' 4 

From the expression of so fearless a faith in the Their 
consistency of Christianity with science, it might be broadand 
inferred that More would represent the religion of the tolerant - 
Utopians as at once broad and tolerant. It could not 
logically be otherwise. The Utopians, we are told, 
differed very widely ; but notwithstanding all their 

1 Leaf i, ii. " Leaf i, iii. 3 Leaf h, ii. 4 Leaves h, i. and ii. 


Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

A.D. 1515. 

No man 
for his 

Chap. xii. different objects of worship, they agreed in thinking 
that there is one Supreme Being who made and governs 
the world. By the exigencies of the romance, the 
Christian religion had only been recently introduced 
into the island. It existed there side by side with other 
and older religions, and hence the difficulties of complete 
toleration in Utopia were much greater hypothetically 
than they would be in any European country. Still, 
sharing Colet's hatred of persecution, More represented 
that it was one of the oldest laws of Utopia ' that no 
' man is to be punished for his religion.' Every one 
might be of any religion he pleased, and might use ar- 
gument to induce others to accept it. It was only when 
men resorted to other force than that of persuasion, 
using reproaches and violence, that they were banished 
from Utopia ; and then, not on account of their religion, 
and irrespective of whether their religion were true or 
false, but for sowing sedition and creating a tumult. 1 
This law Utopus founded to preserve the public 
peace, and for the interests of religion itself. Supposing 
only one religion to be true and the rest false (which 
he dared not rashly assert), Utopus had faith that in 
the long run the innate force of truth would prevail, 
if supported only by fair argument, and not damaged 
by resort to violence and tumult. Thus, he did not 
punish even avowed atheists, although he considered 
them unfit for any public trust. 2 
Priests of Their priests were very few in number, of either 
seieetedby sex, 3 and, like all their other magistrates, elected by 
ballot. ballot (suffragiis occultis) ; 4 and it was a point of dispute 
even with the Utopian Christians, whether they could 

1 Leaf 1, iv. 


Leaf m, ii. 

Leaf m, i. 

Mores Utopia. 363 

not elect their own Christian priests in like manner, Chap. xii. 
and qualify them to perform all priestly offices, without a .d. i5is. 
any apostolic succession or authority from the Pope. 1 
Their priests were, in fact, rather conductors of the Utopian 
public worship, inspectors of the public morals, and 
ministers of education, than ' priests ' in any sacerdotal 
sense of the word. Thus whilst representing Confes- 
sion as in common use amongst the Utopians, More 
significantly described them as confessing not to the 
priests but to the heads of families. 2 Whilst also, as 
in Europe, such was the respect shown them that 
they were not amenable to the civil tribunals, it was 
said to be on account of the extreme fewness of their 
number, and the high character secured by their 
mode of election, that no great inconvenience resulted 
from this exemption in Utopian practice. 

If the diversity of religions in Utopia made it more 
difficult to suppose perfect toleration, and thus made 
the contrast between Utopian and European practice 
in this respect all the more telling, so also was this 
the case in respect to the conduct of public worship. 

The hatred of the Oxford Eeformers for the endless Public 
dissensions of European Christians ; the advice Colet Utopia. 
was wont to give to theological students, ' to keep to 
' the Bible and the Apostles' Creed, and let divines, 
' if they like, dispute about the rest ; ' the appeal of 
Erasmus to Servatius, whether it would not be better 
for ' all Christendom to be regarded as one monastery, 
' and all Christians as belonging to the same religious 
'brotherhood,' — all pointed, if directed to the practical 
question of public worship, to a mode of worship in 
which all of every shade of sentiment could unite. 

1 Leaf 1, iii. 2 Leaf m, iii. 

364 Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

Chap. xii. This might be a dream even then, while as yet Chris- 
a.d. 1515. tendom was nominally united in one Catholic Church ; 
and still more practically impossible in a country like 
Utopia, where men worshipped the Supreme Being 
under different symbols and different names, as it 
might be now even in a Protestant country like England, 
where religion seems to be the source of social divisions 
and castes rather than a tie of brotherhood, separating 
men in their education, in their social life, and even in 
their graves, by the hard line of sectarian difference. 
It might be a dream, but it was one worth a place in 
the dream-land of More's ideal commonwealth. 
ah sects Temples, nobly built and spacious, in whose solemn 
public" 1 twilight men of all sects meet, in spite of their distinc- 
worship. tions, to unite in a public worship avowedly so arranged 
that nothing may be seen or heard which shall jar with 
the feelings of any class of the worshippers — nothing 
in which all cannot unite (for every sect performs its 
own peculiar rites in private) ; — no images, so that 
every one may represent the Deity to his own thoughts 
in his own way ; no forms of prayer, but such as every 
one may use without prejudice to his own private 
opinion ; — a service so expressive of their common 
brotherhood that they think it a great impiety to enter 
upon it with a consciousness of anger or hatred to any 
one, without having first purified their hearts and 
reconciled every difference ; incense and other sweet 
odours and waxen lights burned, not from any notion 
that they can confer any benefit on God, which even 
men's prayers cannot, but because they are useful aids 
to the worshippers ; 1 the men occupying one side of the 

1 It is impossible not to see in j Dionysian than of the modern 
this a ritualism rather of the I sacerdotal t) T pe, 

Mores Utopia. 365 

temple, the women the other, and all clothed in white ; Chap. xii. 
the whole people rising as the priest who conducts the a .d. 1516. 
worship enters the temple in his beautiful vestments, 
wonderfully wrought of birds' plumage, to join in 
hymns of praise, accompanied by music; then priest and 
people uniting in solemn prayer to God in a set form 
of words, so composed that each can apply its meaning 
to himself, offering thanks for the blessings which sur- 
round them, for the happiness of their commonwealth, 
for their having embraced a religious persuasion which 
they hope is the most true one ; praying that if they 
are mistaken they may be led to what is really the 
true one, so that all may be brought to unity of faith 
and practice, unless in his inscrutable will the Almighty 
should otherwise ordain ; and concluding with a prayer 
that, as soon as it may please Him, He may take them 
to Himself; lastly, this prayer concluded, the whole 
congregation bowing solemnly to the ground, and then, 
after a short pause, separating to spend the remainder 
of the day in innocent amusement, — this was More's 
ideal of public worship ! l 

Such was the second book of the 'Utopia,' probably 
written by More whilst on the embassy, towards the 
close of 1515, or soon after his return. Well might 
he conclude with the words, 'I freely confess that 
' many things in the commonwealth of Utopia I rather 
' wish than hope to see adopted in our own ! ' 



Some months before More began to write his 
' Utopia,' Erasmus had commenced a little treatise 

Utopia, 1st ed. ' De Religionibus Vtopiensium.' 


Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

A.D. 1516. 

tion be- 
tween the 
' Utopia ' 

Chap. xii. with, a very similar object. In the spring of 1515, 
while staying with More in London, he had mentioned, 
in a letter to Cardinal Grimanus l at Eome, that he 
was already at work on his 'Institutes of the Christian 
' Prince,' designed for the benefit of Prince Charles, 
into whose honorary service he had recently been 

The similarity in the sentiments expressed in this 
little treatise and in the ' Utopia' would lead to the con- 
clusion that they were written in concert by the two 

' christian friends, as their imitations of Lucian had been under 


similar circumstances. Political events must have 
often formed the topic of their conversation when 
together in the spring ; and the connection of the 
one with the Court of Henry VIII. and the other 
with that of Prince Charles, would be likely to give 
their thoughts a practical direction. Possibly they 
may have parted with the understanding that, inde- 
pendently of each other, both works should be written 
on the common subject, and expressing their common 
views. Be this as it ma}', while More went on his 
embassy to Flanders, and returned to write his 
' Utopia,' Erasmus went to Basle to correct the proof- 
sheets of the ' Novum Instrumentum,' and to finish 
the ' Institutio Principis Christiani.' 

On his return from Basle in the spring of the 
following year Erasmus brought his manuscript with 
him, and left it under the care of the Chancellor of 
Prince Charles, 2 to be printed by Thierry Martins, the 

1 Epist. clxvii. Eras. Op. iii. p. 
144, A. 

2 Erasmus to Savage : Epist. 

clxxvi. June 1, 1516. Brewer, 

Erasmus's ' Christian Prince. .' 367 

printer of Louvain, whilst lie himself proceeded to Chap. xii. 
England. Thus it was being printed while Erasmus A . D . 1516. 
was in England in August 1516, and while the manu- 
script of the second book of More's ' Utopia' was still 
lying unpublished, waiting until More should find 
leisure to write the Introductory Book which he was 
intending to prefix to it. 

The publication by Erasmus of the ' Christian 
' Prince ' so soon after the ' Novum Instrumentum ' 
that the two came before the public together was 
not without its significance. It gave to the public 
expression of the views of Erasmus that wideness and 
completeness of range which More had given to his 
views by embracing both religious and political 
subjects in his as yet unpublished ' Utopia.' 

By laying hold of the truth that the laws of nature chris- 
and Christianity owe their origin to the same great and the 
Founder, More had adopted the one standpoint from laA I s of 

y k nature. 

which alone, in the long run, the Christian in an age 
of rapid progress can look calmly on the discoveries of 
science and philosophy without fears for his faith. He 
had trusted his bark to the current, because he was 
sure it must lead into the ocean of truth ; while other 
men, for lack of that faith, were hugging the shore, mis- 
taking forsooth, in their idle dreams, the shallow bay in 
which they had moored their craft for the fathomless 
ocean itself ! This faith of More's had been shared by 
Colet — nay, most probably More had caught it from 
him. It was Colet who had been the first of the little 
group of Oxford Eeformers to proclaim that Chris- 
tianity had nothing to fear from the ' new learning,' — 
witness his school, and the tone and spirit of his Oxford 

368 Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

Chap. xii. lectures. Erasmus, too, had shared in this same faith. 
a.d. 1516. In his ' Novum Instrumentum ' he had placed Chris- 
tianity, so far as he was able, in its proper place — at 
the head of the advanced thought of the age. 

But More had gone one step further. The man who 
believes that Christianity and the laws of nature were 
thus framed in perfect harmony by the same Founder 
must have faith in both. As he will not shrink from 
accepting the results of science and philosophy, so he 
will not shrink, on the other hand, from carrying out 
Christianity into practice in every department of social 
and political life. 

Accordingly More had fearlessly done this in his 
'Utopia.' And this Colet also had done in his own prac- 
tical way ; preaching Christian politics to Henry VIII. 
and Wolsey, from his pulpit as occasion required, be- 
lieving Christianity to be equally of force in the sphere 
of international policy as within the walls of a cloister. 
And now, in the ' Institutio Principis Christiani,' Eras- 
mus followed in the same track for the special benefit 
of Prince Charles, who, then sixteen years old, had 
succeeded, on the death of Ferdinand in the spring of 
1516, to the crowns of Castile and Aragon, as well 
as to the kingdoms of Naples and Sicily and of the 
island of Sardinia. 

The full significance of this joint action of the three 

friends will only be justly appreciated if it be taken 

into account that probably, at the very moment when 

Erasmus was writing his ' Christian Prince ' and More 

his 'Utopia,' the as yet unpublished manuscript of 

1 The ' The Prince ' of Machiavelli was lying in the study of 

Machia-° its author. The semi-pagan school of Italy was not 

veih. on iy d r ifti n g i n to the denial of Christianity itself, but it 

had already cast aside the Christian standard of morals 

Erasmus s ' Christian Prince.' 369 

as one which would not work in practice at least in Chap. xii. 
political affairs. The Machiavellian theory was already a .d. isig. 
avowedly accepted and acted upon in international 
affairs by the Pope himself ; and indeed, as I have said, 
it was not a theory invented by Machiavelli ; what that 
great philosopher had achieved was rather the codifica- 
tion of the current practice and traditions of the age. 1 
A revolution had to be wrought in public feeling before 
the Christian theory of politics could be established in 
place of the one then in the ascendant — a revolution to 
attempt which at that time might well have seemed like 
a forlorn hope. But placed as the Oxford Eeformers 
were, so close to the ears of royalt}% in a position 
which gave them some influence at least with Henry 
VIII., with Prince Charles, and with Leo X., it was 
their duty to do what they could. And possibly it 
may have been in some measure owing to their labours 
that a century later Hugo Grotius, the father of the 
modern international system, was able in the name of Hugo 
Europe to reject the Machiavellian theory as one that Grotlus 
would not work, and to adopt in its place the Christian 
theory as the one which was sanctioned by the laws 
of nature, and upon which alone it was safe to found 
the polity of the civilised world. 2 

1 ' There is certainly a steadiness 
' of moral principle and Christian 
' endurance, which tells us that it is 
' better not to exist at all than to 
' exist at the price of virtue ; hut few 
' indeed of the countrymen and con- 
' temporaries of Machiavel had any 
' claim to the practice, whatever they 
'might have to the profession, of 
' such integrity. His crime in the 

l a crime, was to have cast away 
' the veil of hypocrisy, the profession 
1 of a religious adherence to maxims 
i which at the same -moment were 
' violated.' 1 — Hallam's Literature of 
the Middle Ages, chap. vii. s. 31. 

2 ' Whatever may he thought of 
' the long-disputed question as to 
' Machiavelli's motives in writing, 
' his work certainly presents to us 

' eyes of the world, and it teas truly ' a gloomy picture of the state of 

B B 

370 Colet, Erasmus , and More. 

Chap. xii. It may be worth, while to notice also one other 
a.d. 1516. point which may be said to turn upon this perception 
of the relation of Christianity to the laws of nature. 

To the man who does not recognise the harmony 
between them, religion and the world are divorced, as 
it were. Eeligion has no place in politics or business, 
and scarcely even in family life. These secular matters 
begin to be considered as the devil's concerns. A 
man must choose whether he will be a monk or man 
of the world, or still more often he tries to live at 
the same time two separate lives, the one sacred, the 
other secular, trusting that he shall be able to atone 
for the sins of the one by the penances and devotions 
of the other. This was the condition into which the 
dogmatic creed of the Schoolmen had, in fact, brought 
its adherents. It is a matter of notorious history that 
there had grown up this vicious severance between 
the clergy and the laity, and between things religious 
and secular, and that in consequence religion had lost 
its practical and healthy tone, while worldly affairs 
were avowedly conducted in a worldly spirit. The 
whole machinery of confession, indulgences, and 
penances bore witness as well to the completeness of 
the severance as to the hopelessness of any reunion. 

' public law and European society 
' in the beginning of the sixteenth 
' century: one mass of dissimulation, 
' crime, and corruption, which called 
' loudly for a great teacher and re- 
' former to arise, who should speak 
* the unambiguous language of 
' truth and justice to princes and 
' people, and stay the ravages of 
' this moral pestilence. 

' Such a teacher and reformer 

' was Hugo Grotius, who was born 
' in the latter part of the same 
' century and flourished in the be- 

' ginning of the seventeenth 

' He was one of those powerful minds 
• which have paid the tribute of 
' their assent to the truth of Chris- 
' tianity.' — Wheaton's Elements of 
International Law : London, 1836, 
pp. 18, 19. 

Erasmus's ' Christian Prince.'' 371 

But to the man who does recognise in the laws of Chap, xii 
nature the laws of the Giver of the golden rule, the a .d. 1516. 
distinction between things religious and things secular 
begins to give way. In proportion as his heart 
becomes Christian, and thus catches the spirit of the 
golden rule, and his mind becomes enlightened and 
begins to understand the laws of social and political 
economy, in that proportion does his religion lose its 
ascetic and sickly character, and find its proper 
sphere, not in the fulfilment of a routine of religious 
observances, but in the honest discharge of the daily 
duties which belong to his position in life. 

The position assumed by Erasmus in these respects The 
will be best learned by a brief examination of the p r ince ' of 
4 Institutes of the Christian Prince.' Erasmus - 

First he struck at the root of the notion that a 
prince having received his kingdom jure Divino had 
a right to use it for his own selfish ends. He laid 
down at starting the proposition that the one thing 
which a ' prince ought to keep in view in the admini- 

* stration of his government is that same thing which 

* a people ought to keep in view in choosing a prince, 

* viz. the public good.' 1 

Christianity in his view was as obligatory on a 
prince as on a priest or monk. Thus he wrote to 
Prince Charles : — 

' As often as it comes into your mind that you are 
4 a prince, call to mind also that you are a Christian 
' prince.' 2 

But the Christianity he spoke of was a very different 
thing from what it was thought to be by many. ' Do 

1 1st ed. leaf c, i. 2 1st ed. leaf d, ii. Eras. Op. iv. p. 567. 


Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

A.D. 151G. 

Duties of a 
Prince to 
his people. 

Chap. xii. ' not think,' he wrote, ' that Christianity consists in 
' ceremonies, that is, in the observance of the decrees 
' and constitutions of the Church. The Christian is not 
' he who is baptized, or he who is consecrated, or he 
' who is present at holy rites ; but he who is united to 
' Christ in closest affection, and who shows it by his 

' holy actions Do not think that you have done 

' your duty to Christ when you have sent a fleet against 
' the Turks, or when you have founded a church or a 
6 monaster}^. There is no duty by the performance 
' of which you can more secure the favour of God than 
' by making yourself a prince useful to the people.' 1 

Having taken at the outset this healthy and practical 
view of the relations of Christianity to the conduct of a 
prince, Erasmus proceeded to refer everything to the 
Christian standard. Thus he continued : — 

' If you find that you cannot defend your kingdom, 
' without violating justice, without shedding much 
' human blood, without much injury to religion, 
' rather lay it down and retire from it.' 

But he was not to retire from the duties of his king- 
dom merely to save himself from trouble or danger. 
' If you cannot defend the interests of your people 
' without risk to your life, prefer the public good 
' even to your own life.' 2 . . . The Christian prince 
should be a true father to his people. 3 

The good of the people was from the Christian 
point of view to override everything else, even royal 

' If princes were perfect in every virtue, a pure and 

1 1st ed. leaf d 7 iii. Eras. Op. iv. 
p. 567. 

3 Leaf d, iii. 

3 1st ed. leaf f, ii. Eras. Op. iv. 
p. 574. 

Erasmus's ' Christian Prince.' 


' simple monarchy might be desirable ; but as this can Chap. xii. 
' hardly ever be in actual practice, as human affairs are a.dTi516. 
' now, a limited monarchy l is preferable, one in which Limited 

. . . . monarchy 

' the aristocratic and democratic elements are mixed the best. 

* and united, and so balance one another.' 2 And lest 
Prince Charles should kick against the pricks, and 
shrink from the abridgment of his autocratic power, 
Erasmus tells him that ' if a prince wish well to the 
' republic, his power will not be restrained, but aided 
' by these means.' 3 

After contrasting the position of the pagan and 
Christian prince, Erasmus further remarks : — 

' He who wields his empire as becomes a Christian, 

* does not part with his right, but he holds it in a dif- 
' ferent way ; both more gloriously and more safely. 

' . . . Those are not your subjects whom you force to Consent of 

' obey you, for it is consent which makes a prince, but m akes°a 6 

' those are your true subjects who serve you volun- Pnnce - 

' tarily. . . . The duties between a prince and people 

' are mutual. The people owe you taxes, loyalty, and 

' honour ; you in your turn ought to be to the people 

' a good and watchful prince. If you wish to levy 

' taxes on your people as of right, take care that you 

' first perform your part — first in the discharge of 

' your duties pay your taxes to them.' 4 

Proceeding from the general to the particular, there 
is a separate chapter, 'DeVectigalibusetExactionibus,' 
remarkable for the clear expression of the views 
which More had advanced in his ' Utopia,' and which 

1 ' Monarchia temperata,' in the ; 3 Ibid. 

marginal reading. 4 1st ed. leaf g, iii. Eras. Op. iv. 

2 Abridged quotation, 1st ed. leaf ! p. 579. 
f, iv. Eras. Op. iv. p. 576. 

374 Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

Chap. xii. the Oxford Eeformers held in common, with regard to 
a.d. 1516. the unchristian way in which the interests of the poor 
were too often sacrificed and lost sight of in the levying 
of taxes. The great aim of a prince, he contended, 
should be to reduce taxation as much as possible. 
Bather than increase it, it would be better, he wrote, 
for a prince to reduce his unnecessary expenditure, 
to dismiss idle ministers, to avoid wars and foreign 
enterprises, to restrain the rapacity of ministers, and 
rather to study the right administration of revenues 
Taxes than their augmentation. If it should be reallv neces- 

shouldnot & . / 

oppress sary to exact something from the people, then, he main- 
tained, it is the part of a good prince to choose such 
ways of doing so as should cause as little inconvenience 
as possible to those of slender means. It may perhaps 
be expedient to call upon the rich to be frugal ; but to 
reduce the poor to hunger and crime would be both 
most inhuman and also hardly safe. ... It requires 
care also, he continued, lest the inequality of property 
should be too great. ' Not that I would wish to take 
' away any property from any one by force, but that 
' means should be taken to prevent the wealth of the 
' multitude from getting into few hands.' 1 

Erasmus then proceeded to inquire what mode of 
taxation would prove least burdensome to the people. 

Neces- And the conclusion he came to was, that ' a good prince 

saries of . .. , , . . 

life should ' will burden with as lew taxes as possible such things 
taxed. ' as are i 11 common use amongst the lowest classes, such 
' things as corn, bread, beer, wine, clothes, and other 
' things necessary to life. Whereas these are what are 
' now most burdened, and that in more than one way ; 
' first by heavy taxes which are farmed out, and com- 

1 Leaf 1, i. 

Erasmus's ' Christian Prince' 


' monly called assizes ; then by customs, which again Chap. xii. 

' are farmed out in the same way; lastly by ?nonopolies, AlD . 1516. 

' from which little revenue comes to the prince, while 

' the poor are mulcted with great charges. Therefore 

' it would be best, as I have said, that a prince should 

' increase his revenue by contracting his expenditure ; 

6 . . . and if he cannot avoid taxing something, and it is best 

. to tax 

' the affairs of the people require it, let those foreign luxuries. 

' products be taxed which minister not so much to 

' the necessities of life as to luxury and pleasure, and 

' which are used only by the rich ; as, for instance, fine 

' linen, silk, purple, pepper, spices, ointments, gems, 

' and whatever else is of that kind.' * 

Erasmus wound up this chapter on taxation by ap- 
plying the principles of common honesty to the question 
of coinage, in connection with which many iniquities 
were perpetrated by princes in the sixteenth century. 

' Finally, in coining money a good prince will main- Honesty 
' tain that good faith which he owes to both God and ^ j^ ai 
' man, ... in which matter there are four ways in coina g e - 
' which the people are wont to be plundered, as we saw 
' some time ago after the death of Charles, when a long 
' anarchy more hurtful than any tyranny afflicted your 
' dominions. First the metal of the coins is deteriorated 
' by mixture with alloys, next its weight is lessened, 
' then it is diminished by clipping, and lastly its nominal 
' value is increased or lowered whenever such a process 
' would be likely to suit the exchequer of the prince.' 2 

In the chapter on the ' Making and Amending of 
' Laivs,' 3 Erasmus in the same way fixes upon some 

1 1st. ed. leaf 1, i. Eras. Op. iv. 
pp 593, 594. 

2 Ibid. Charles the Bold was 

the prince alluded to. 

3 Eras. Op. iv. p. 595, et seq. 


Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

Chap. XII. 
a.d. 1516. 

tion of 


of the points which are so prominently mentioned in 
the ' Utopia.' 

Thus he urges that the greatest attention should be 
paid, not to the punishment of crimes when committed, 
but to the prevention of the commission of crimes 
worthy of punishment. Again, there is a paragraph in 
which it is urged that just as a wise surgeon does not 
proceed to amputation except as a last resort, so all 
remedies should be tried before capital punishment is 
resorted to. 1 This was one of the points urged by 

Thus also in speaking of the removal of occasions 
and causes of crime, he urged, just as More had done, 
that idle people should either be set to work or 
banished from the realm. The number of priests and 
monasteries should be kept in moderation. Other idle 
classes — especially soldiers — should not be allowed. 
As to the nobility, he would not, he said, detract from 
the honour of their noble birth, if their character were 
noble also. ' But if they are such as we see plenty 
' nowadays, softened by ease, made effeminate by 
' pleasure, unskilled in all good arts, revellers, eager 
' sportsmen, not to say anything worse ; . . . . why 
' should this race of men be preferred to shoemakers or 
'husbandmen?' 2 The next chapter is ' De Magistra- 
' tibus et Officii* J and then follows one, i De Fosderibus^ 
in which Erasmus takes the same ground as that taken 
by More, that Christianity itself is a bond of union 
between Christiannations which oucdit to make leagues 
unnecessary. 4 In the chapter ' De Bella suscipiendo,' 

1 1st ed. leaf 1, iv. 

2 Leaf m, i. 

3 Eras. Op. iv. 603. 

4 1st ed. leaf o, i. Eras. Op. iv. 
pp. 607 et seq. 

Erasmus's ' Christian Prince.'' 377 

he expressed his well-known hatred of war. ' A good Chap. xii. 
' prince,' he said, ' will never enter upon any war at all A . D . 151c 
' unless after trying all possible means it cannot be 
' avoided. If we were of this mind, scarcely any wars War. 
' would ever occur between any nations. Lastly, if 
' so pestilential a thing cannot be avoided, it should 
' be the next care of a prince that it should be waged 
' with as little evil as possible to his people, and as 
' little expense as possible of Christian blood, and as 
' quickly as possible brought to an end.' It was na- 
tural that, holding as he did in common with Colet and 
More such strong views against war, he should express 
them as strongly in this little treatise as he had already 
done elsewhere. It is not needful here to follow his 
remarks throughout. It would involve much repetition. 
But it may be interesting to inquire what remedy or 
substitutes for war be proposed. He mentioned two. 
First, the reference of disputes between princes to arbi- 
trators ; second, the disposition on the part of princes 
rather to concede a point in dispute than to insist 
upon it at far greater cost than the thing is worth. 1 

He concludes this, the last chapter of the book, Conciu- 
with a personal appeal to Prince Charles. ' Christ 
' founded a bloodless empire. He wished it always 
' to be bloodless. He delighted to call himself the 
' " Prince of Peace." May He grant likewise that 
' by your good offices and by your wisdom there may 
' be a cessation at last from the maddest of wars. The 
'remembrance of past evils will commend peace to 
' our acceptance, and the calamities of former times re- 
' double the honour of the benefits conferred by you!'' 

1 1st ed. leaf o, iii. 



Colet, Erasmus, and Jlore. 

Chap. xii. This was the ' Institutio Principis Christiani ' of 
a.d. 1516. Erasmus ; a work written, as I have said, while More 
was writing his ' Utopia,' but printed in August 1516, 
at Louvain, while Erasmus was in England, and while 
the manuscript of the ' Utopia ' was lying unpublished, 
waiting for the completion of More's Introduction. 

BOOK (1516). 

More's Introduction was still unwritten, and the 
4 Utopia ' thus in an unfinished state, when Erasmus 
arrived in England in the autumn of 1516. Erasmus 
seems on this occasion to have spent more time with 
Fisher at Eochester than with More in London ; but 
he at least paid the latter a short visit on his way to 
Eochester, 1 and repeated it before leaving England. 
The latter visit seems also to have been more than a 
flying one, for we find him writing to Ammonius, that 
he might possibly stay a few days longer in England, 
were he not ' afraid of making himself a stale guest to 
' More's wife.' 2 Encouraged as More doubtless was 
by Erasmus, and spurred on by the knowledge that 
the ' Institutio Principis Christiani ' was already in 
the press, he still does not seem to have been able to 
find time to complete his manuscript before Erasmus 

1 On August 5 he seems to have 
been in London, and to have written 
a letter from thence to Leo X. 
Eras. Epist. clxxxi. Brewer, ii. 

On August 17 he writes from 
Rochester to Ammonius. that he is 
spending ten days there. Eras. 
Epist. cxlvi. Brewer, ii. 2283. And 

again on August 22. Eras. Epist. 
cxlvii. Brewer, ii. 2290. On the 
31st he writes to Boville from the 
same place. Eras. Epist. cxlviii. 
Brewer, ii. 2321. 

2 Erasmus to Ammonius : Epist. 
cxxxiii. Brewer, ii. 2323, without 

Introduction to ' Utopia.' 1 379 

left England. Probably, however, it was arranged Chap. xn. 

between them that it should be completed and printed a.d. i5ie. 

with as little delay as possible at the same press and 

in the same type and form as Erasmus's work. 

The manuscript was accordingly sent after Eras- ' ut °P ia ' 
1 . sen * to 

mus in October, 1 and by him and Peter Giles at once the press. 

placed in the hands of Thierry Martins for publi- 
cation at Lou vain. 2 

This long delay in the completion of the ' Utopia ' 
had been caused by a concurrence of circumstances. 
More had been closely occupied by public matters, 
in addition to his judicial duties in the city, and a 
large private practice at the bar — a combination of 
pressing engagements likely to leave him but little 
leisure for literary purposes. Even when the daily 
routine of public labours was completed, there were 
domestic duties which it was not in his nature to 
neglect. He was passionately fond of his home, and 
' reckoned the enjoyment of his family a necessary 
' part of the business of the man who does not wish 
' to be a stranger in his own house.' 3 

Nor did the ' Utopia ' itself suffer from the delay 
in its publication. Instead of losing its freshness it 
gained in interest and point ; for, as it happened, the 
introductory book was written under circumstances 
which gave it a peculiar value which it could not 
otherwise have had. 

On More's return to England from his foreign mis- 
sion, he had been obliged to throw himself again into 

1 Eras. Epist.'lxxxvii. App. and 
ccxviii. Brewer, ii. 2400. 

2 Erasmus ^Egidio : Epist.cccxlv. 
November 18, 1518. The mention 
of St. Jerome as not yet finished 

(see Epist. ccxviii. ; Brewer, 2409), 
fixes the date 1510. Brewer, ii. 

3 Letter from More to Peter 
Giles, prefixed to ' Utopia.' 


Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

More de- 
clines to 
enter the 
Boyal ser 

C hap, xi i. the vortex of public business. The singular discretion 

a.d. 1516. and ability displayed by him in the conduct of the 

delicate negotiations entrusted to his charge on this 

and another occasion, had induced Henry VIII. to try 

to attach him to his court. 

Hitherto he had acted more on behalf of the London 
merchants than directly for the King. Now Wolsey 
was ordered to retain him in the King's service. More 
was unwilling, however, to accede to the proposal, and 
made excuses. Wolsey, thinking no doubt that he 
shrank from relinquishing the emoluments of his posi- 
tion as undersheriff, and the income arising from his 
practice at the bar, offered him a pension, and sug- 
gested that the King could not, consistently with his 
honour, offer him less than the income he would re- 
linquish by entering his service. 1 More wrote to Eras- 
mus that he had declined the pension, and thought he 
should continue to do so ; he preferred, he said, his 
present judicial position to a higher one, and was afraid 
that were he to accept a pension without relinquishing 
it, his fellow- citizens would lose their confidence in his 
impartiality in case any questions were to arise, as 
they sometimes did, between them and the Crown. 
The fact that he was indebted to the King for his pen- 
sion might make them think him a little the less true 
to their cause. 2 Wolsey reported More's refusal to 
the King, who it seems honourably declined to press 
him further at present. 3 Such, however, was More's 
popularity in the city, and the rising estimation in 
which he was held, that it was evident the King 

1 Roper, pp. 9, 10. Eras. Op. j 2 More to Erasmus : Eras. Epist. 
iii. pp. 474, 476. j ccxxvii. 3 Roper, 10. 

Introduction to ' Utopia.' 381 

would not rest until lie had drawn him into his ser- Chap. xii. 
vice — yes, ' dragged,' exclaims Erasmus, ' for no one A .i>. 1516. 
' ever tried harder to get admitted to court than he 
' did to keep out of it.' 1 

As the months of 1516 went by, More, feeling that Writes the 

J y Introduc- 

his entry into Koyal service was only a question of tory Book 
time, determined, it would seem, to take the oppor- his rea- 
tunity, while as yet he was free and unfettered, to sons ' 
insert in the introduction to his unfinished ' Utopia ' 
still more pointed allusion to one or two matters 
relating to the social condition of the country and 
the policy of Henry VIII. ; also at the same time to 
make some public explanation of his reluctance to 
enter the service of his sovereign. 

The prefatory book which More now added to his 
description of the commonwealth of Utopia was 
arranged so as to introduce the latter to the reader 
in a way likely to attract his interest, and to throw 
an air of realit} T over the romance. 

More related how he had been sent as an ambassador More's 
to Elanders in company with Tunstal, to compose story" 
some important disputes between Henry VIII. and 
Prince Charles. They met the Flemish ambassadors 
at Bruges. They had several meetings without coming 
to an agreement. While the others went back to 
Brussels to consult their prince, More went to Ant- 
werp to see his friend Peter Giles. One day, coming 
from mass, he saw Giles talking to a stranger — a man 
past middle age, his face tanned, his beard long, Meets 
his cloak hanging carelessly about him, and wearing 
altogether the aspect of a seafaring man. 

1 Erasmus to Hutten : Epist. ccccxlvii. Eras. Op. iii. p. 476, B. 

382 Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

Chap. xii. More then related how he had joined in the con- 
a.d. 1516. versation, which turned upon the manners and habits 
of the people of the new lands which Eaphael (for that 
was the stranger's name) had visited in voyages he 
had recently taken with Vespucci. After he had told 
them how well and wisely governed were some of these 
newly-found peoples, and especially the Utopians, 
and here and there had thrown in just criticisms 
on the defects of European governments, Giles asked 
the question, why, with all his knowledge and judg- 
ment, he did not enter into Eoyal service, in which 
his great experience might be turned to so good an 
account ? Eaphael expressed in reply his unwilling- 
ness to enter into Eoyal servitude. Giles explained that 
he did not mean any ' servitude ' at all, but honourable 
service, in which he might confer great public benefits, 
as well as increase his own happiness. The other 
replied that he did not see how he was to be made 
happier by doing what would be so entirely against 
his inclinations. Now he was free to do as he liked, 
and he suspected very few courtiers could say the same. 
Here More put in a word, and urged that even 
though it might be against the grain to Eaphael, he 
ought not to throw away the great influence for good 
which he might exert b}^ entering the council of some 
why Ea- jxreat prince. Eaphael replied that his friend More 

phael will & , , , . , TT . , 

not enter was doubly mistaken. His talents were not so great as 
service° ya ne supposed, and if they were, his sacrifice of rest and 
peace would be thrown away. It would do no good, 
for nearly all princes busy themselves far more in mili- 
tary affairs (of which, he said, he neither had, nor 
wished to have, any experience), than in the good arts 
of peace. They care a great deal more how, by fair 

Introduction to ' Utopia.' 383 

means or foul, to acquire new kingdoms, than how to Chap. xii. 
govern well those which they have already. Besides, X . D . 1516. 
their ministers either are, or think that they are, too 
wise to listen to any new counsellor ; and, if they ever 
do so, it is only to attach to their own interest some one 
whom they see to be rising in their prince's favour. 

After this, Eaphael having made a remark which 
showed that he had been in England, the conversation 
turned incidentally upon English affairs, and Eaphael 
proceeded to tell how once at the table of Cardinal 
Morton he had expressed his opinions freely upon the 
social evils of England. He had on this occasion, he Eaphael 
said, ventured to condemn the system of the wholesale number of 
execution of thieves, who were handed so fast that ? ie T es l n 

& England. 

there were sometimes twenty on a gibbet. 1 The seve- 
rity was both unjustly great, and also ineffectual. No 
punishment, however severe, could deter those from 
robbing who can find no other means of livelihood. 

Then Eaphael is made to allude to three causes 
why the number of thieves was so large : — 

1st. There are numbers of wounded and disbanded 
soldiers who are unable to resume their old employ- 
ments, and are too old to learn new ones. 

2nd. The gentry who live at ease out of the labour 
of others, keep around them so great a number of idle 
fellows not brought up to any trade, that often, from 
the death of their lord or their own illness, numbers 
of these idle fellows are liable to be thrown upon the 
world without resources, to steal or starve. Eaphael 
then is made to ridicule the notion that it is needful 
to maintain this idle class, as some argue, in order to 
keep up a reserve of men ready for the army, and 

1 Leaf b, 4. 


Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

A.D. 1516. 

on the 
rage for 

Chap. xii. still more severely to criticise the notion that it is 
necessary to keep a standing army in time of peace. 
France, he said, had found to her cost the evil of 
keeping in readiness these human wild beasts, as also 
had Home, Carthage, and Syria, in ancient times. 

3rd. Eaphael pointed out as another cause of the 
number of thieves — an evil peculiar to England — the 
rage for sheep-farming, and the ejections consequent 
upon it. ' For,' he said, ' when some greedy and 
' insatiable fellow, the pest of his county, chooses to 
' enclose several thousand acres of contiguous fields 
' within the circle of one sheepfold, farmers are 
' ejected from their holdings, being got rid of either 
1 by fraud or force, or tired out by repeated injuries 
' into parting with their property. In this way it 
c comes to pass that these poor wretches, men, women, 
1 husbands, wives, orphans, widows, parents with 
' little children — households greater in number than 
' in wealth, for arable-farming requires many hands 
' — all these emigrate from their native fields without 
' knowing where to go. Their effects are not worth 
1 much at best ; they are obliged to sell them for 
' almost nothing when they are forced to go. And 
' the produce of the sale being spent, as it soon must 
' be, what resource then is left to them but either to 
' steal, and to be hanged, justly forsooth, for stealing, 
' or to wander about and beg. If they do the latter, 
' they are thrown into prison as idle vagabonds 
' when they would thankfully work if only some one 
' would give them employment. For there is no 
' work for husbandmen when there is no arable- 
' farming. One shepherd and herdsman will suffice 
' for a pasture-farm, which, while under tillage, em- 

Introduction to ' Utopia.' 385 

ployed many hands. Corn has in the meantime Chap. xn. 
been made dearer in many places by the same cause. a .d. I5i6. 
Wool, too, has risen in price, owing to the rot 
amongst the sheep, and now the little clothmakers 
are unable to supply themselves with it. For the 
sheep are falling into few and powerful hands ; and 
these, if they have not a monopoly, have at least an 
oligopoly, and can keep up the price. 

' Add to these causes the increasing luxury and 
extravagance of the upper classes, and indeed of all 
classes — the tippling houses, taverns, brothels, and On beer- 
other dens of iniquity, wine and beer houses, and &c. 
places for gambling. Do not all these, after rapidly 
exhausting the resources of their devotees, educate 
them for crime ? 

' Let these pernicious plagues be rooted out. Enact Practical 


that those who destroy agricultural hamlets or towns suggested. 
should rebuild them, or give them up to those who 
will do so. Eestrain these engrossings of the rich, 
and the license of exercising what is in fact a 
monopoly. Let fewer persons be bred up in idleness. 
Let tillage farming be restored. Let the woollen 
manufacture be introduced, so that honest employ- 
ment may be found for those whom want has already 
made into thieves, or who, being now vagabonds or 
idle retainers, will become thieves ere long. Surely 
if you do not remedy these evils, your rigorous 
execution of justice in punishing thieves will be in 
vain, which indeed is more specious than either just 
or efficacious. For verily if you allow your people to 
be badly educated, their morals corrupted from child- 
hood, and then, when they are men, punish them for 
the very crimes to which they have been trained 

c c 

386 Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

Chap. xii. ' from childhood, what is this, I ask, but first to make 
a.d. 1516. ' the thieves and then to punish them ? ' l 

Raphael then went on to show that, in his opinion, 
it was both a bad and a mistaken policy to inflict the 
same punishment in the case of both theft and murder, 
such a practice being sure to operate as an encourage- 
ment to the thief to commit murder to cover his crime, 
and suggested that hard labour on public works would 
be a better punishment for theft than hanging. 

After Raphael had given an amusing account of the 
way in which these suggestions of his had been received 
at Cardinal Morton's table, More repeated his regret 
that his talents could not be turned to practical ac- 
count at some royal court, for the benefit of mankind. 
Thus the point of the story was brought round again 
to the question whether Raphael should or should not 
attach himself to some royal court — the question which 
More's Henry VIII. was pressing upon More, and which he 

connec- J x ° . 

tion with would have finally to settle, in the course ol a lew 
viTl 7 months, one way or the other. It is obvious that, in 
framing Raphael's reply to this question, More inten- 
ded to express his own feelings, and to do so in such 
a way that if, after the publication of the ' Utopia,' 
Henry VIII. were still to press him into his service, it 
would be with a clear understanding of his strong 
disapproval of the King's most cherished schemes, as 
well as of many of those expedients which would be 
likely to be suggested by courtiers as the best means 
of tiding over the evils which must of necessity be 
entailed upon the country by his persistence in them. 
Raphael, in his reply, puts the supposition that the 

1 Leaves b, iv to c, ii. These extracts are somewhat abridged and 

Introduction to ' Utopia.'' 387 

councillors were proposing schemes of international Chap. xii. 
intrigue, with a view to the furtherance of the King's AD . 1516. 
desires for the ultimate extension of his empire : — 

What if Eaphael were then to express his own Evident 
judgment that this policy should be entirely changed, to English 
the notion of extension of empire oiven up, that the p o1i * 1cs , 

* ° - r ' and Mores 

kingdom was already too great to be governed by one position. 
man, and that the King had better not think of adding 
others to it ? What if he were to put the case of the 

* Achorians,' neighbours of the Utopians, who some 
time ago waged war to obtain possession of another 
kingdom to which their king contended that he was 
entitled by descent through an ancient marriage alli- 
ance [just as Henry VIII. had claimed France as 'his 

* very true patrimony and inheritance '], but which 
people, after conquering the new kingdom, found 
the trouble of keeping it a constant burden [just as 
England was already finding Henry's recent conquests 

*in France], involving the continuance of a standing 
army, the burden of taxes, the loss of their property, 
the shedding of their blood for another's glory, the 
destruction of domestic peace, the corrupting of their 
morals by war, the nurture of the lust of plunder and 
robbery, till murders became more and more auda- 
cious, and the laws were treated with contempt? 
What if Eaphael were to suggest that the example of 
these Achorians should be followed, who under such 
circumstances refused to be governed by half a king, 
and insisted that their king should choose which of 
his two kingdoms he would govern, and give up the 
other ; how, Eaphael was made to ask, would such 
counsel be received ? 

And further : what if the question of ways and 


Colet. Erasmus, and More. 

Chap. xii. means were discussed for the supply of the royal ex- 
a.d. 1516. chequer, and one were to propose tampering with the 
currency ; a second, the pretence of imminent war to 
justify war taxes, and the proclamation of peace as 
soon as these were collected ; a third, the exaction of 
penalties under antiquated and obsolete laws which 
have lonii" been forgotten, and thus are often trans- 
gressed ; a fourth, the prohibition under great penal- 
ties of such things as are against public interest, and 
then the granting of dispensations and licenses for 
large sums of money; a fifth, the securing of the judges 
on the side of the royal prerogative ; — ' What if here 
' again I were to rise ' [Eaphael is made to say] ' and 
' contend that all these counsels were dishonest and 
' pernicious, that not only the king's honour, but also 
' his safety, rests more upon his people's wealth than 
' upon his own, who (I might go on to show) choose 
' a king for their own sake and not for his, viz. that 
' by his care and labour they might live happily and 
' secure from danger ; . . . that if a king should fall 
' into such contempt or hatred of his people that he 
' cannot secure their loyalty without resort to threats, 
' exactions, and confiscations, and his people's im- 
' poverishment, he had better abdicate his throne, 
' rather than attempt by these means to retain the 
6 name without the glory of empire ? . . . What if I 
' were to advise him to put aside his sloth and his 
' pride, . . . that he should live on his own revenue, 
' that he should accommodate his expenditure to his 
w income, that he should restrain crime, and by good 
' laws prevent it, rather than allow it to increase and 
' then punish it, that he should repeal obsolete laws 
' instead of attempting to exact their penalties ? . . . , 

Introduction to ' Utopia' 389 

' If I were to make such suggestions as these to men Chap. xii. 
' strongly inclined to contrary views, would it not be A .i>. 1516. 
' telling idle tales to the deaf? ' l 

Thus was Eaphael made to use words which must 
have been understood by Henry VIII. himself, when he 
read them, as intended to convey to a great extent 
More's own reasons for declining to accept the offer 
which Wolsey had been commissioned to make to him. 

The introductory story was then brought to a close 
by the conversation being made again to turn upon the 
laws and customs of the Utopians, the detailed parti- 
culars of which, at the urgent request of Giles and 
More, Eaphael agreed to give after the three had dined 
together. A woodcut in the Basle edition, probably 
executed by Holbein, represents them sitting on a 
bench in the garden behind the house, under the shade 
of the trees, listening to Eaphael's discourse, of which 
the second book of the ' Utopia ' proposed to give, as 
nearly as might be, a verbatim report. 

With this bold and honest introduction the ' Utopia ' Utopia 
was published at Louvain by Thierry Martins, with a a" Lou- 6 
woodcut prefixed, representing the island of Utopia, and vam - 
with an imaginary specimen of the Utopian language 
and characters. It was in the hands of the public by 
the beginning of the new year. 2 

Such was the remarkable political romance, which, 
from its literary interest and merit, has been translated 
into almost every modern language — a work which, 
viewed in its close relations to the history of the times 

1 Leaves d, ii. et seq. These ex- ; ii. 2748), in which Lord Mountjoy 
tracts are somewhat abridged and j acknowledges the receipt of a copy 
condensed. ' sent by Erasmus, dated Jan. 4, 1516; 

2 Eras. Epist. App. xliv. (Brewer, | i.e. 1517 in modern reckoning. 


Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

Chap. xii. in which it was written, and the personal circumstances 
a.d. 1516. of its author when he wrote it, derives still greater 
interest and importance, inasmuch as it not only dis- 
closes the visions of hope and progress floating before 
the eyes of the Oxford Eeformers, but also embodies, 
as I think I have been able to show, perhaps one of 
the boldest declarations of apolitical creed ever uttered 
by an English statesman on the eve of his entry into a 
king's service. 1 

1 The extracts from the Utopia, 
translations of wliicli are given in this 
chapter, have in all cases been taken 
from the first edition (Louvain, 
1516), but very few alterations were 
made in subsequent editions. The 
first edition was published in Dec. 
1516. I am indebted to Mr. Lupton 
for the suggestion that the publica- 
tion of some letters of Vespucci at 
Florence, in 1516, may have sug- 
gested More's use of that voyager's 

name in his introductory book. 

Erasmus, writing from Antwerp 
to More, March 1 [1517], says: 
' Utopiam tuam recognitam, hue 
' quam primum mittito, et nos ex- 
' emplar, aut Basilium mittemus aut 
' Lutetiam.' — Epist. ccviii. 

Erasmus sent it to Froben of 
Basle, by whom a corrected edition 
was published in March, 1518, and 
another in November of the same 
year. See Appendix F. 




Having traced the progress and final publication of 
these works by Erasmus and More, the enquiry sug- 
gests itself, how were they received ? 

And first it may naturally be asked, What did Colet 
think of them, especially of the ' Novum Instrumentum ' ? 

An early copy had doubtless been sent to him, and 
with the volume itself, it would seem, came a letter 
from Erasmus, probably from Antwerp, by the hand of 
Peter Meghen — ' Unoculus,' as his friends called him. 1 
In this letter Erasmus had consulted him about his 
future plans. After the labours of the past, and suffer- 
ing as he was from feeble and precarious health, he had 
indulged, it would seem, in the expression of longings 
that he could share with Colet his prospects of rest. 
He knew how often Colet had mentioned the wish 
to spend his old age in retirement and peace, with one 
or two congenial companions, such as Erasmus ; and 
now, just escaped from his monotonous labours at 
Basle, he was for the moment inclined to take Colet at 
his word. Still, much as he talked of rest, his mind 
would not stop working. Witness, for instance, his 

1 Eras. Epist. cclvi. Brewer, ii. 2000 ; from St. Omer ; and see ccxxv. 
Brewer, ii. 1976. 


A.D. 1516. 

ment, but 
than ever. 

392 Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

Chap. ' Institutio Principis Christiani.' In fact, while the 


.'. ' Novum Instrumentum ' and the works of St. Jerome 

a.d. 151 . | ia( j k een p ass i n g through the press the number of other 
works of his had increased rather than lessened. During 
the very intervals of travel he was sure to be writing 
some book. On his way to Basle he had written his 
letter to Dorpius, and he had published with it a com- 
mentary on the first Psalm, i Beatus est vir,' &c, which; 
by the way, he had dedicated to his gentle friend, 
Beatus Khenanus, because, said he, ' blessed is the man 
' who is such as the Psalm describes.' New editions, also, 
of the ' De Copia,' of the ' Praise of Folly,' and of the 
' Adagia,' were constantly being issued from the press 
of Froben, Martins, Schurerius, or some other printer ; 
for whatever bore the name of Erasmus now found 
so ready a sale, that printers were anxious for his 
patronage. Visions, too, of future work kept rising up 
before him. He wanted to write a commentary on the 
Epistle to the Eomans ; and in writing to Colet it 
would seem that he had confided to him his project of 
adding to his Latin version of the New Testament an 
honest exposition of its meaning in the form of a simple 
Erasmus paraphrase — a work which it took him years to com- 
pany plete. Thus it came to pass that he had mentioned 
phrases, these literary projects in the same letter in which he 
had expressed himself as envious of Colet's anticipated 
rest, and that freedom from the cares of poverty to 
which he himself was so constantly a prey. Doubtless 
for a moment it had seemed to him easier to wish 
himself in Colet's place than with renewed energy to 
toil on in his own. 

But every heart knoweth its own bitterness. Colet 
had his share of troubles, which made him, in his turn, 

A.Dv 1516. 

Colet in Retirement. 393 

almost envy Erasmus. He felt as keenly as Erasmus Chap. 
and More did, how the mad rush of princes to arms 
had blasted the happy visions of what had seemed like 
a golden age approaching, and he had been the first to 
speak out what he thought ; but now, while More and 
Erasmus could speak boldly and get Europe to listen 
to what they had to say, he was thwarted and harassed 
by his bishop, and obliged to crawl into retirement. Colet 
His work was almost done. He could not use his into re- 
pulpit as he used to do. He had spent his patrimony in 
the foundation of his school, and he had not another 
fortune to spend, for his uncle's quarrel and other de- 
mands upon the residue had reduced his means even 
below his wants. JSor had he much of bodily strength 
and energy left. The sole survivor of a family of 
twenty-two, his health was not likely to be robust, and 
now, at fifty, he spoke of himself as growing old, and 
alluded with admiration to the high spirits of his still 
surviving mother, and the beauty of her happy old age. 
Still Colet had his heart in the work as much as ever. 
We do not hear much of his doings, but what we do 
hear is all in keeping with his character. Thus we 
find him incidentally exerting himself to get some poor 
prisoner released from the royal prison, and Erasmus He pro- 
exclaiming, 'I love that Christian spirit of Colet's, for release 
'I hear that it was all owin^ to him, and him alone, from P n - 

o son ol one 

' that N. was released, notwithstanding that N., though who had 
' always treated in the most friendly way by Colet, him. 
' and professing himself as friendly to Colet, had 
* sided with Colet's enemies at the time that he was 
'accused by the calumnies of the bishops.' 1 

1 Epist. clviii. Erasmus to Amnionius : June 5, 1514 ; in error for 

394 Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

Chap. It was about the time that he was thus returning 


'- good for evil to this unfortunate prisoner, that the 

J * letter of Erasmus and the copy of the ' Novum In- 
' strumentum ' came to his hands. 
Coiet'sde- j n S pite of his own troubles he could hail the 

light in the L 

success of labours and success of Erasmus with delight. Twenty 
years ago, while alone and single-handed, he had 
longed for fellowship ; now he could rejoice that in 
Erasmus he had not only found a fellow-worker, but a 
successor who would carry on the work much further 
than he could do. He had looked forward with 
eager expectation to the appearance of the ' Novum 
' Instrumentum,' and, anticipating its perusal, had 
for months past l been working hard to recover the 
little knowledge of Greek which, during the active 
business of life, he had almost lost. And the more 
he felt that his own work was drawing to a close, the 
more was he disposed to encourage Erasmus to go 
on with his. He looked upon Erasmus now as the 
leader of the little band, forgetting that Erasmus 

owed, in one sense, almost everything to him 

This is the beautiful letter Ik 
the ' Novum Instrumentum : ' — 

This is the beautiful letter he wrote after reading 

Colet to Erasmus. 

' You cannot easily believe, my dear Erasmus, how 
' much joy your letter gave me, which was brought to 
' me by our " one-eyed friend." For I learned from it 
' where you are (which I did not know before), and 
' also that you are likely to return to us, which would 

1 More to Erasmus : Eras. Epist. lii. App. London, Feb. 25, 1516. 

Colet to Erasmus. 395 

' be very delightful both to me and to your other Chap. 


' friends, of whom you have a great many here. 

'What you say about the New Testament I can 
' understand. The volumes of your new edition of it 
' [the " Novum Instrumentum "] are here both eagerly what 
' bought and everywhere read. By many, your labours thought 
' are received with approval and admiration. There °Novum 
' are a few, also, who disapprove and carp at them, Ins *x U ^ . 
' saying what was said in the letter of Martin Dorpius 
' to you. But these are those divines whom you have 
' described in your " Praise of Folly " and elsewhere, 
' no less truly than wittily, as men whose praise is 
' blame, and by whom it is an honour to be censured. 

' For myself, I so love your work, and so clasp to 
' my heart this new edition of yours, that it excites 
' mingled feelings. For at one time I am seized with 
' sorrow that I have not that knowledge of Greek, 
' without which one is good for nothing ; at another 
' time I rejoice in that light which you have shed 
4 forth from the sun of your genius. 

' Indeed, Erasmus, I marvel at the fruitfulness of 
' your mind, in the conception, production, and daily 
' completion of so much, during a life so unsettled, 
' and without the assistance of any large and regular 
' income. 

' I am looking out for your " Jerome," who will Edition of 
' owe much to you, and so shall we also when able to 
' read him with your corrections and explanations. 

' You have done well to write " De Institutione The 
'"Principis Christian!." I wish Christian princes p^c? 11 
' would follow good institutes ! By their madness 
' everything is thrown into confusion 

' As to the " peaceful resting-place " which you say 


Colet, Erasmus, and More. 


a.d. 1516. 

Treatise of 
on the 


' Para- 
phrases ' 
of Eras- 

you long for, I also wish for one for you, both 
peaceful and happy ; both your age and your studies 
require it. I wish, too, that this your final resting- 
place may be with us, if you think us worthy of 
so great a man ; but what we are you have often 
experienced. Still you have here some who love 
you exceedingly. 

' Our friend, the Archbishop of Canterbury, when I 
was with him a few days ago, spoke much of you, and 
desired your presence here very much. Freed from 
all business cares, he lives now in quiet retirement. 

' What you say about " Christian philosophising " is 
true. There is nobody, I think, in Christendom more 
fit and suited for that profession and work than you 
are, on account of the wide range of your knowledge. 
You do not say so, but I say so because I think so. 

' I have read what you have written on the First 
Psalm, and I admire your eloquence. I want to 
know what you are going to write on the Epistle to 
the Eomans. 

' Go on, Erasmus. As you have given us the New 
Testament in Latin, illustrate it by your expositions, 
and give us your commentary most at length on 
the Gospels. Your length is brevity ; the appetite 
increases if only the digestive organs are sound. You 
will confer a great boon upon those who delight to 
read your writings if you will explain the meaning 
[of the Gospels], which no one can do better than 
you can. And in so doing, you will make your name 
immortal — immortal did I say ? — the name of Eras- 
mus never can perish ; but you will confer eternal 
glory on your name, and, toiling on in the name of 
Jesus, you will become a partaker of his eternal life. 

A.D. 1516. 

Colet to Erasmus. 397 

' In deploring your fortune you do not act bravely. C HAp - 
In so great a work — in making known the Scriptures 
— your fortune cannot fail you. Only put your trust 
in God, who will be the first to help you, and who 
will stir up others to aid you in your sacred labours. 

' That you should call me happy, I marvel ! If you 
speak of fortune, although I am not wholly without 
any, yet I have not much, hardly sufficient for my 
expenses. I should think myself happy if, even in 
extreme poverty, I had a thousandth part of that 
learning and wisdom which you have got without 
wealth, and which, as it is peculiar to yourself, so also 
you have a way of imparting it, which I don't know 
how to describe, unless I call it that " Erasmican " 
way of your own. 

' If you will let me, I will become your disciple, even 
in learning Greek, notwithstanding my advanced 
years (being almost an old man), recollecting that 
Cato learned Greek in his old age, and that you 
yourself, of equal age with me, are studying Hebrew. 

' Love me as ever ; and, if you should return to us, 
count upon my devotion to your service. — Farewell. 

' From the country at Stepney, with my mother, who Coiet's 
still lives, and wears her advancing age beautifully ; mo 
often happily and joyfully speaking of you. On the 
Feast of the Translation of St. Edward.' l 

1 Eras. Epist.lxxxiv.App. Brewer, i in the copy of this letter in Ali- 
1. 2941,dated"'indiesanctiEdwardi, j quot Epistolce,8)C. (Basle, 1518, pp. 
in festo sace [? secundse] transla- | 249, 252), nor in the ed. of 1640. 

tionis, sive 18 Octobris, 1516.' Pro- 
bably 'second translation of St. 
'Edward,' on June 20, 1516. The 
words ' sive 13 Oct.' are not found 

The earlier date seems to harmonise 
more with the contents of the letter 
than the later date. 


Colet, Erasmus, and More. 


a.d. 1516. 

of the 
' Novum 
mentum ' 
in Eng- 

QUARTERS (1516). 

Colet was not alone in his admiration of the ' Novum 
' Instrumentum ' and its author. 

William Latimer, of Oxford, one of the earliest 
Greek scholars in England, expressed his ardent ap- 
proval of the new Latin translation, and would have 
been glad, he said, if Erasmus had gone still further, 
and translated even such words as ' sabbatum ' and the 
like into classical Latin. 1 

Warham had all along encouraged Erasmus in his 
labours, both by presents of money and constant good 
offices, and now he recommended the ' Novum Instru- 
' mentum ' to some of his brother bishops and divines, 
who, he wrote to Erasmus, all acknowledged that the 
work was worthy of the labour bestowed upon it. 2 

Fox, the Bishop of Winchester, in a large assembly 
of magnates, when the conversation turned on Erasmus 
and his works, declared that his new version threw so 
much light on the New Testament, that it was worth 
more to him than ten commentaries, and this remark 
was approved by those present. 3 The Dean of Salis- 
bury used almost the same words of commendation. 4 

In fact, it would appear that in England it was re- 
ceived coldly only by that class of pseudo-orthodox 
divines, now waning both in numbers and influence, 
who had consistently opposed the progress of the new 

1 Eras. Epist. lxxxvii. App. 
Brewer, ii. 2492. 

2 Eras. Epist. Waranius Erasmo, 
cclxi. Aliquot Epistolce, Sfc. Basle, 
1518, p. 231. 

3 Eras. Epist. ccxxi. App. 

4 Thomse Mori ad Monachurn 
Epistola : Epistolce aliquot Erurfi- 
torum Virorum. Basle, 1520, p. 

Reception of the ' Novum Instrumentwm? 399 

learning, ' blasphemed ' Colet's school, and censured Chap. 
the heretical tendencies of Erasmus as soon as their 1 1 

blind eyes had been opened to them by the recent A ' D " 1 " 
edition of the ' Praise of Folly.' 

Thus while Erasmus was in England in the autumn, 
enjoying at Eochester the hospitality of Bishop Fisher, 
who was Chancellor of the University of Cambridge, 
he was informed that his ' Novum Testamentum ' had 
encountered no little opposition in some circles at 
that centre of learning. 

In one of his letters from the Bishop's palace T . ts rece P- 
to his friend Boville, who was resident at Cambridge, Cam- 

he mentions a report that a decree had been formally 
issued in one of the colleges, forbidding anyone to 
bring ' that book ' within the precincts of the college, 
' by horse or by boat, on wheels or on foot.' He 
hardly knew, he said, whether to laugh at or to grieve 
over men ' so studiously blind to their own interests ; 
8 so morose and implacable, harder to appease even than 
8 wild beasts ! How pitiful for men to condemn and 
' revile a book which they have not even read, or, having 
' read, cannot understand ! They had possibly heard 
8 of the new work over their cups, or in the gossip of 
' the market, .... and thereupon exclaimed, " 
' " heavens ! earth ! Erasmus has corrected the 
' " Gospels ! " when it is they themselves who have 

' depraved them 

' Are they indeed afraid,' Erasmus continued, ' lest 
8 it should divert their scholars, and empty their lec- 
' ture-rooms ? Why do they not examine the facts ? 
8 Scarcely thirty years ago, nothing was taught at Cam- 
' bridge but the " parva logicalia " of Alexander, anti- 
8 quated exercises from Aristotle, and the " Quagstiones" 


A.D. 151G. 

400 Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

Chap. ' f Scotus. In process of time improved studies were 
' added — mathematics, a new, or, at all events, a reno- 
' vated Aristotle, and a knowledge of Greek letters 
' . . . . What has been the result of all this ? Now 
' the University is so flourishing, that it can com- 
* pete with the best universities of the age. It contains 
' men, compared with whom, theologians of the old 
' school seem only the ghosts of theologians. These 
' men grieve because more and more students study 
' with more and more earnestness the Gospels and the 
1 apostolic Epistles. They had rather that they spent 
' all their time, as heretofore, in frivolous quibbles. 
' Hitherto there have been theologians who so far from 
' having read the Scriptures, had never read even the 
' " Sentences" or touched anything beyond the collec- 
' tions of questions. Ought not,' exclaimed Erasmus, 
' such men to be called back to the very fountain-head? ' 
He then told Boville that he wished his works to be 
useful to all. He looked to Christ for his chief reward ; 
still he was glad to have the approval of wise men. 
He hoped too, that what now was approved by the 
best men, would ere long meet with general approval. 
He felt sure that posterity would do him justice. 1 

Nor was the opposition to the ' Novum Instrumen- 
' turn ' by any means confined to Cambridge. A few 
weeks later, very soon after Erasmus had left England 
— in October — More wrote to inform him that a set of 
acute men had determined to scrutinise closely, and 
criticise remorselessly, what they could discover to find 
fault with. A party of them, with a Franciscan divine 

1 Erasmus to Boville, from the 
Bishop's palace at Rochester, pri- 
die calendas Septembris. Aliquot 
Epistolce, 8)"c. Basle, 1518, pp. 234- 

246. Eras. Epist. cxlviii. Brewer, 
ii. 2321. The above is only an ab- 
stract of this letter, and some of the 
quotations are abridged. 

A.D. 1516. 

Reception of the ' Novum Instrumentum! 401 
at their head, had agreed to divide the works of Eras- Chap. 


mus between them, and to pick out all the faults they 
could find as they read them. But, More added, he 
had heard that they had already given up the project. 
The labour of reading was more laborious and less 
productive than the ordinary work of mendicants, 
and so they had gone back again to that. 1 

The work was indeed full of small errors which 
might easily give occasion to adverse critics to exer- 
cise their talents. But Erasmus was fully conscious 
of this, and within a year of the completion of the 
first edition, he was busily at work making all the 
corrections he could, with a view to a second edition. 

The reception of the ' Novum Instrumentum ' on the Reception 
Continent was much the same as in England. It had ' Novum 
some bitter enemies, especially atLouvain and Cologne. 2 mentum • 
But, on the other hand, letters poured in upon Erasmus continent 
from all sides of warm approval and congratulation, 3 
and so great a power had his name become, that ere 
long princes competed for his residence within their 
dominions ; and if their numerous promises had but 
been faithfully performed, Erasmus need have had little 
fear for the future respecting ' ways and means.' 

Amongst the numerous tributes of admiration re- 
ceived by Erasmus, was one forwarded to him by 
Beatus Ehenanus, in Greek verse, 4 from the pen of an 

1 More to Erasmus: Epist. 
lxxxvii. App. dated Oct. 31, 1516. 

2 Erasmus to Aminonius, from 
Brussels, December 29, 1516. 
Brewer, ii. 2709. 

3 Epist. cclvi. June 1517 ; should. ' dami.' Basle, March 1518 
he 1516. Brewer, ii. 2000. 

4 Bearing date, Tubingen, Aug. 
21, 1516. Eras. Op. in. p. 1595. 
It was first printed probably at 
the back of the titlepage of ' Epi- 
grammata Des. Erasmi Rotero- 

D D 


Colet. Erasmus, and More. 


a.d. 1516. 


accomplished and learned youth at the University of 
Tubingen, already known by name to Erasmus, and 
mentioned with honour in the ' Novum Instrumentum ' 
— a student devoted to study, and reported to be 
working so hard, that his health was in danger of 
giving way, whom another correspondent introduced 
as worthy of the love of ' Erasmus the first,' inasmuch 
as he was likely to prove ' Erasmus the second.' 
His name — then little known beyond the circle of his 
intimate friends — was Philip Melanchthon} 






In the winter of 1516-17, Erasmus received a letter 
from George Spalatin, whose name he may have heard 
before, but to whom he was personally a stranger. It 
was dated from the castle of the Elector of Saxony. It 
was a letter full of flattering compliments. The writer 
introduced himself as acquainted with a friend of Eras- 
mus, and as being a pupil of one of his old schoolfellows 
at Deventer. He mentioned his intimacy with the 
Elector, whom he reported to be a diligent and admi- 
ring reader of the works of Erasmus, and informed him 
that these had honourable places on the shelves of the 
ducal library. It was, in fact, a letter evidently written 
with a definite object ; but beating about the bush so 
long, that one begins to wonder what matter of impor- 
tance could require so roundabout an introduction. 

At length the writer disclosed the object of his 
letter : — ' A friend of his,' whose name he did not 
give, had written to him suggesting that Erasmus in 

1 (Ecolarupadius Erasuio : 
and ccccxi. 

Eras. Epist. ccxxxviii. ; also cxix. App. 

Martin Luther. 403 

his Annotations on the Epistle to the Komans, in the Chap. 


' Novum Instrumentum,' had misinterpreted St. Paul's _ 
expression, justicia opericm, or legis, and also had not A ' r> ' 1516 ' 
spoken out clearly respecting ' original sin.' He 
believed that if Erasmus would read St. Augustine's 
books against Pelagius, &c, he would see his mistake. 
His friend interpreted justicia legis, or the ' righteous- 
' ness of works,' not as referring only to the keeping of 
the ceremonial law, but to the observance of the whole 
decalogue. The observance of the latter miff lit make 
a Fabricius or a Eegulus, but without Christian faith 
it would no more savour of ' righteousness ' than a 
medlar would taste like a fig. This was the weighty 
question upon which his friend had asked him to 
consult the oracle, and a response, however short, 
would be esteemed a most gracious favour. 1 

This unnamed friend of Spalatin was in fact Martin Martin 
Luther. The singular coincidence, that not only this reads the 
letter of Spalatin to Erasmus, but also the letter of in^™ 
Luther to Spalatin, 2 have been preserved, enables us to mentum -' 
picture the monk of Wittemberg sitting in his room in 
a corner of the monaster} 7 , pondering over the pages of 
the ' Novum Instrumentum,' and ' moved,' as he reads 
it, with feelings of grief and disappointment, because 
his quick eye discerns that the path in which Erasmus 
is treading points in a different direction from his own. 

In truth, Luther, though as yet without European 
fame — not having yet nailed his memorable theses to 
the Wittemberg church-door — had for years past fixed, 
if I may use the expression, the cardinal points of his 
theology. He had already clenched his fundamental 

1 Spalatinus Erasmo : Eras. I - Luther's Briefe. De Wette, i. 
Epist. xciv. App. ] 40, No. xxii. 

D D 2 


Colet, Erasmus, and More. 


A.D. 1511). 

tinian ten- 

convictions with too firm a grasp ever to relax. He 
had chosen his permanent standpoint, and for years had 
made it the centre of his public teaching in his pro- 
fessorial chair at the university, and in his pulpit also. 

The standpoint which he had so firmly taken was 

During the four years spent by him in the Augusti- 
nian monastery at Erfurt, into which he had fled to 
escape from the terrors of conscience, he had deeply 
studied, along with the Scriptures, the works of St. 
Augustine. It was from the light which these works 
had shed upon the Epistles of St. Paul that he had 
mainly been led to embrace those views upon ' justifi- 
' cation by faith ' which had calmed the tumult and 
disarmed the lisfhtnino-s of his troubled conscience. 
This statement rests upon the authority of Melan- 
chthon, and is therefore beyond dispute. 1 

Eight years had passed since he had left Erfurt to 
become a professor in the Wittemberg University, 
and four or five years since his return from his me- 
morable visit to Eome. During these last years his 
teaching and preaching had been full of the Augus- 
tinian theology. Melanchthon states that during this 
period he had written commentaries on the ' Komans/ 
and that in them and in his lectures and sermons he 
had laboured to refute the prevalent error, that it is 
possible to merit the forgiveness of sins by good works, 
pointing men to the Lamb of God, and throwing great 
light upon such questions as ' penitence,' ' remission of 
'sins,' 'faith,' the difference between the ' Law' and the 
'Gospel,' and the like. He also mentions that Luther, 

1 Philippi Melanchthonis Vita Martini Lutheri, chap. v. ' Vita ejus 

Martin Luther 



A.D. 1516. 

catching the spirit which the writings of Erasmus had 
diffused, had taken to the study of Greek and Hebrew. 1 

We may therefore picture the Augustinian monk — 
deeply read in the works of St. Augustine, and, as 
Eanke expresses it, 2 ' embracing even his severer views,' 
having for years constantly taught them from his 
pulpit and professorial chair, clinging to them with a 
grasp which would never relax, looking at every- 
thing from this immovable Augustinian standpoint — 
now in 1516 with a copy of the ' Novum Instru- 
mentum ' before him on his table in his room in the 
cloisters of Wittemberg, reading it probably with 
eager expectation of finding his own views reflected 
in the writings of a man who was looked upon as the 
great restorer of Scriptural theology. 

He reads the Annotations on the Epistle to the Luther 
Romans. He does not find Erasmus using the watch- the Anti- 
words of the Augustinian theology. He does not find ^fwi'ten- 
the words iusticia leqis understood in the Augustinian dencies of 

. ° Erasmus. 

sense, as referring to the observance of the whole 
moral law, but, rather, explained as referring to the 
Jewish ceremonial. 

He turns as a kind of touchstone to Chapter V., 
where the Apostle speaks of death as ' having reigned 
' from Adam to Moses over those who had not sinned 
' after the similitude of Adam's transgression.' He 
finds Erasmus remarking that he does not think it 
needful here to resort to the doctrine of ' original sin,' 
however true in itself ; he finds him hinting at the 
possibility ' of hating Pelagius more than enough,' and 

1 Philippi Melanchthonis Vita 
Martini Lutheri, chap. vi. vii. 

2 Ranke refers to the period be- 

fore 1516. See Hist, of Reforma- 
tion, vol. i. bk. ii. ch. i. 

A.D. 1516. 

406 Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

Chap, of resorting too freely to the doctrine of ' original sin ' 
as a means of getting rid of theological difficulties, in 
the same way as astrologers had invented a system of 
epicycles to get them out of their astronomical ones. 1 

The Augustinian doctrine of ' original sin ' compared 
to the epicycles of the astrologers ! No wonder that 
Luther was moved as he traced in these Annotations 
symptoms of wide divergence from his own Augus- 
tinian views. In writing to Spalatin, he told him that 
he was ' moved ; ' and in asking him to question 
Erasmus further on the subject, he added that he felt 
no doubt that the difference in opinion between him- 
self and Erasmus was a real one, because that, as 
regards the interpretation of Scripture, he saw clearly 
that Erasmus preferred Jerome to Augustine, just as 
much as he himself preferred Augustine to Jerome. 
Jerome, evidently on principle, he said, follows the 
historical sense, and he very much feared that the 
great authority of Erasmus might induce many to 
attempt to defend that literal, i.e. dead, understanding 
[of the Scriptures] of which the commentaries of 
Lyra and almost all after Augustine are full. 2 

Still Luther went on with the study of his ' Novum 
' Instrumentum,' and we find him writing again from 
his ' hermitage ' at Wittemberg, that every day as he 
reads he loses his liking for Erasmus. And again the 
reason crops out. Erasmus, with all his Greek and 
Hebrew, is lacking in Christian wisdom; 'just as 
' Jerome, with all his knowledge of five languages, was 
' not a match for Augustine with his one.' . . . "The 
' judgment of a man who attributes anything to the 

1 Novum Instrumentum, folio, I 2 Luther to Spalatin : Luther's 
433. I Briefe. De Wette, No. xxii. 

in princi- 

Martin Luther. 407 

* human will ' [which Jerome and Erasmus did] is ' one Chap. 

. . . XIII. 
'thing, the judgment of him who recognises nothing 1 

' but grace ' [which Augustine and Luther did] ' is quite A * D " 151 ' 

' another thing.' . . . ' Nevertheless [continues Luther] 

' I carefully keep this opinion to myself, lest I should 

' play into the hands of his enemies. May God give 

' him understanding in his own good time ! ' l 

This is not the place to discuss the rights of the 

question between Luther and Erasmus. It is well, 

however, that by the preservation of these letters the 

fact is established to us, which as yet was unknown to 

Erasmus, that this Augustinian monk, as the result of 

hard-fought mental struggle, had years before this P le be - 

° °P J tween 

irrevocably adopted and, if we may so speak, welded Erasmus 
into his very being that Augustinian system of re- Luther, 
ligious convictions, a considerable portion of which 
Erasmus made no scruple in rejecting ; that at the 
root of their religious thought there was a divergence 
in principle which must widen as each proceeded on 
his separate path — unknown as yet, let me repeat it, 
to Erasmus, but already fully recognised, though 
wisely concealed, by Luther. 


In the meantime symptoms had appeared portend- 
ing that a storm was brewing in another quarter against 
Erasmus. It was not perhaps to be wondered at that 
the monks should persist in regarding him as a renegade 
monk. His bold reply to the letter of Servatius, and 
the unsubdued tone in which he had answered the 
attack of Martin Dorpius, must have made the monastic 

1 Luther an Joh. Lange : De Wette, No. xxix. p. 52. 

A.D. 1516. 

408 Colet, Erasmus, and Afore. 

xhl party hopeless of his reconversion to orthodox views. 
At the same time, neither his letter to Servatius nor 
his reply to Dorpius had at all converted them to his 
way of thinking. Men perfectly self-satisfied, blindly 
believing in the sanctity of their own order, and arro- 
gating to themselves a monopoly of orthodox learning, 
were in a state of mind, both intellectually and morally, 
beyond the reach of argument, however earnest and 
convincing. They still really did believe, through 
thick and thin, that the Latin of the Vulgate and the 
Schoolmen was the sacred language. They still did 
believe that Hebrew and Greek were the languages 
of heretics ; and that to be learned in these, to scoff 
at the Schoolmen and to criticise the Vulgate, were 

' e istoiai ^ e surest P ro °f s °f ignorance as well as impiety. 

obscuro- It was in the years 1516 and 1517 that the ' Epistolse 

rum Viro- 

rum.' ' Obscurorum Virorum ' were published. They were 
written in exaggerated monkish Latin, and professed 
to be a correspondence chiefly between monks, con- 
veying their views and feelings upon current events 
and the tendencies of modern thought. Of course the 
picture they gave was a caricature, but nevertheless it 
so nearly hit the truth that More wrote to Erasmus 
that ' in England it delighted eveiy one. To the 
' learned it was capital fun. Even the ignorant, who 
' seriously took it all in, smiled at its style, and did 
' not attempt to defend it ; but they said the weighty 
' opinions it contained made up for that, and under a 
' rude scabbard was concealed a most excellent blade.' 1 
The first part was full of the monks' hatred of 
Eeuchlin and the Jews. One monk writes to his 
superior to consult him in a difficulty. Two Jews were 

1 More to Erasmus : Epist. lxxxvii. App. Eras. Op. iii. p. 1575, A and B. 

' Epistolce Obscurorum Virorum.' 409 

walking in the town in a dress so like that of monks Chap. 


that he bowed to them by mistake. To have made 1 1 

obeisance to a Jew! Was this a venial or a mortal sin? A,D * 1516 ' 
Should he seek absolution from episcopal authority, 
or would it require a dispensation from the Pope ? l 

Side by side with scrupulosity such as this were hints 
of secret immorality and scandal. Immense straining 
at gnats was put in contrast with the ease with which 
camels were swallowed within the walls of the cloister. 

In the appendix to the first part Erasmus at length Mention of 
makes his appearance. The writer of the letter, a in them. 
medical graduate, informs his learned correspondent 
that, being at Strasburg, he was told that a man who 
was called ' Erasmus Eoterdamus ' (till then unknown 
to him) was in the city — a man said to be most learned 
in all branches of knowledge. This, however, he did 
not believe. He could not believe that so small a man 
could have so vast a knowledge. To test the matter, 
he laid a scheme with one or two others to meet 
Erasmus at table, get him into an argument, and 
confute him. He thereupon betook himself to his 
' vademecum,' and crammed himself with some ab- 
struse medical questions, and so armed entered the field. 
One of his friends was a lawyer, the other a specula- 
tive divine. They met as appointed. All were silent. 
Nobody would begin. At length Erasmus, in a low 
tone of voice, began to sermonise (sermonizare), and 
when he had done, another began to dispute de ente et 
essencia. To which the writer himself responded in a 
few words. Then a dead silence again. They could 
not draw the lion out. At length their host started 
another hare — praising both the deeds and writings of 

1 Vol. i. Epist. 2. 

A.D. 1516. 

410 Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

Chap. Julius Caesar. The writer here again put in. He knew 


something of poetry, and did not believe that Caesar's 
' Commentaries ' were written by Caesar at all. Caesar 
was a warrior, and always engaged in military affairs. 
Such men never are learned men, therefore Caesar can- 
not have known Latin. ' I think,' he continued, ' that 
' Suetonius (!) wrote those " Commentaries," because 1 
' never saw anyone whose style was so like Caesar's as 
' his. When I had said this,' he continued, ' Erasmus 
' laughed, and said nothing, because the subtlety of 
' my argument had confounded him. So I put an end 
' to the discussion. I did not care to propound my 
' question in medicine, because I knew he knew no- 
' thing about it, since, though himself a poet, he did 
' not know how to solve my argument in poetry. And 
' I assert before God that there is not as much in him 
' as people say. He does not know more than other 
' men, although I concede that in poetry he knows 
' how to speak pretty Latin. But what of that ! ' 1 

In the second part, published in 1517, Erasmus 
makes a more prominent figure. One correspondent 
had met him at Basle, and ' found many perverse 
'heretics in Froben's house.' 2 Another writes that he 
hears Erasmus has written many books, especially a 
letter to the Pope, in which he commends Eeuchlin : — 

' That letter, you know, I have seen. One other 
' book of his also I have seen — a great book — entitled 
' " Novum Testamentum," and he has sent this book 
' to the Pope, and I believe he wants the Pope's au- 
' thority for it, but I hope he won't give it. One holy 
' man told me that he could prove that Erasmus was 
' a heretic ; because he censured holy doctors, and 

1 Vol. i. App. 1. 2 Vol. ii. Ep. 9. 

' Epistolce Obscurorum Virorum? 411 

thought nothing of divines. One of his things, called Chap 

i a 


Moria Erasnii," contained,' he said, ' many scan- 
' dalous propositions and open blasphemies. On this A,D ' ' 
4 account the book would be burned at Paris. There- 
' fore I do not believe that the Pope will sanction his 
'"great book.'" 1 

Another reports that his edition of St. Jerome has 
been examined at Cologne ; that in this work Erasmus 
says that Jerome was not a Cardinal; that he thinks evil 
of St. George and St. Christopher, the relics of the saints 
and candles, and the sacrament of confession ; that many 
passages contain blasphemy against the holy doctors. 2 

These 'Epistolse Obscurorum Virorum' were widely 
read, and proved like an advertisement, throughout 
the monasteries of Europe, of the heresy of Erasmus 
and his hatred of monks. As by degrees the latter 
began to understand that these allusions to Erasmus 
were intended to bring ridicule on themselves, instead 
of, as they thought at first, to censure Erasmus, it 
was likely that their anger should know no bounds. 3 



Eeuchlin in his zeal for Hebrew had been led to study studies of 
along with the old Testament Scriptures, other Hebrew 
books, especially the ' Cabala,' and, after the fashion of 
his Jewish teachers, had lost himself in the ' mystical 
' value of words ' and in the Pythagorean philosophy. 
He believed, writes Eanke, that by treading in the 
footsteps of the 'Cabala,' he should ascend from symbol 

1 Vol. ii. Ep. 49. 
8 Ibid. Ep. 68. 

3 One of the best and most valu- 
able essays on the Epistolce Obscu- 

rorum Virorum will be found in 
No. cv. of the Edinburgh Review, 
March 1831. 

412 Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

Chap, to symbol, from form to form, till he should reach that 

XIII. i 

1 last and purest form which rules the empire of mind, 

a.d. 151 . an( j ' m ^.JjJqJj human mutability approaches to the Im- 
mutable and Divine 1 — whatever that might mean. 

Eeuchlin had embodied his speculations on these 

subjects in a work upon which he wished for the 

opinion of Erasmus and his friends. 

Reuch- Erasmus accordingly sent a copy of this book to 

works sent Bishop Fisher, with a letter asking his opinion there- 

musto 8 " upon. 2 He sent it, it seems, by More, who, more suo, 

England. as Fisher jokingly complained, purloined it, 3 so that it 

did not reach its destination. What had become of it 

may be learned from the following letter from Colet to 

Erasmus, playful and laconic as usual, and beaming 

with that true humility which enabled him to unite 

with his habitual strength of conviction an equally 

habitual sense of his own fallibility and imperfect 

knowledge. It is doubly interesting also as the last 

letter written by Colet which time has spared. 

Colet to Erasmus. 4 

' I am half angry with you, Erasmus, that you send 
' messages to me in letters to others, instead of writing 
' direct to myself; for though I have no distrust of our 
' friendship, yet this roundabout way of greeting me 
' through messages in other people's letters makes me 
'jealous lest others should think you loved me less 
' than you do. 

' Also, I am half angry with you for another thing — 
' for sending the " Cabalistica " of Eeuchlin to Bishop 
' Fisher and not to me. I do not grudge your sending 

1 Ranke's History of the He/or- ' 3 Ibid, ccccxxviii. App. 
mation, bk. ii. chap. 1. 4 Ibid, ccxlvi. App. 

2 Epist. cxxxiii. App. 

A.D. 1517. 

' Cabalistica ' of Reuchlin. 413 

' him a copy, but you might have sent me one also. Chap. 
' For I so delight in your love, that I am jealous when 
' I see you more mindful of others than of myself. 

'That book did, however, after all come into my 
' hands first. I read it through before it was handed 
' to the bishop. 

' I dare not express an opinion on this book. I am 
' conscious of my own ignorance, and how blind I am 
' in matters so mysterious, and in the works (opibus — 
' operibus ?) of so great a man. However, in reading it, 
' the chief miracles seemed to me to lie more in the 
' words than the things ; for, according to him, Hebrew 
' words seem to have no end of mystery in their 
' characters and combinations. 

' Erasmus ! of books and of knowledge there is Coiet's 

mi • • • opinion on 

'no end. lhere is no thing better lor us in this them. 
' short life than to live holily and purely, and to 
' make it our daily care to be purified and enlightened, 
' and really to practise what these "Pythagorica " and 
' " Cabalistica " of Eeuchlin promise ; but, in my 
' opinion, there is no other way for us to attain this 
' than by the earnest love and imitation of Jesus. 
' Wherefore leaving these wandering paths, let us go 
' the short way to work. I long, to the best of my 
'ability, to do so. 1 Farewell. — From London, 1517.' 

1 'Sed, meo judicio, nulla via i ' aia. Adhuc enim durior milii 
' assequemur, quam ardenti amore ! ' videtur esse hie serrno tuus.' And 

' et imitatione Jesu. Quare relictis 
' ainbagibus, ad brevitatem brevi 
' compendio eamus : ego pro viri- 
' bus volo.' These sentences remind 
one of the conversation between 
Tauler and Nicholas of Basle, in the 
beautiful story of the Master and 
the Man, where the master says, 
' Verum est, cbarissime fili, quod 

tbe layman replies, ' Et tamen ipse 
' me rogasti, Domine Magister, ut 
' compendiosissimum ad supremam 
' hujus vitse perfectionem iter tibi 
' demonstrarem. Et certe securio- 
' rem ego, quam sit ista, viam ad 
' imitandum exemplar sacratissinire 
' humanitatis Ohristi nullam novi.' 
Thaulevi Opera, p. 16. Paris. 1623. 


Colet. Erasmus, and More. 


A.D. 1517. 


ments at 


It chanced about this time that More had occasion 
to go to Coventry to see a sister of his there. 

Coventry was a very nest of religious and monastic 
establishments. It contained, shut up. in its narrow 
streets, some six thousand souls. On the high ground 
in the heart of the city the ancient Monastery and Ca- 
thedral Church of the monks of St. Benedict lifted their 
huge piles of masonry above surrounding roofs. By 
their side, and belonging to the same ancient order, 
rose into the air like a rocket the beautiful spire of 
St. Michael's, lightly poised and supported by its four 
flying buttresses, whilst in the niches of the square 
tower, from which these were made to spring, stood 
the carved images of saints, worn and crumbled by a 
century's storms and hot suns. There, too, almost 
within a stone's throw of this older and nobler one, 
and as if faintly striving but failing to outvie it, rose 
the rival spires of Trinity Church, and the Church 
of the Grey Friars of St. Francis ; while in the distance 
might be seen the square massive tower of the College 
of Babbelake, afterwards called the Church of St. 
John; the Monastery of the Carmelites or White Friars ; 
and the Charterhouse, where Carthusian monks were 
supposed to keep strict vigils and fasts in lonely and 
separate cells. And beneath the shadow of the spire 
of St. Michael's stood the Hall of St. Mary, chased 
over with carved work depicting the glory of the 
Virgin Mother, and covered within by tapestry repre- 
senting her before the Great Throne of Heaven, the 
moon under her feet, and apostles and choirs of angels 
doing her homage. Other hospitals and religious 

Mariolatry at Coventry. 415 

houses which have left no trace behind them, were to be Chap. 

found within the walls of this old city. Far and wide 

had spread the fame of the annual processions and Ar>> 1517- 
festivals, pageants and miracle plays, which even royal 
guests were sometimes known to witness. And from 
out the babble and confusion of tongues produced by 
the close proximity of so many rival monastic sects, 
rose ever and anon the cry for the martyrdom of honest 
Lollards, in the persecution of whom the Pharisees and 
Sadducees of Coventry found a temporary point of 
agreement. It would seem that, not many months after 
the time of More's visit, seven poor gospellers were 
burned in Coventry for teaching their children the 
paternoster and ten commandments in their own 
English tongue. 1 

This was Coventry — its citizens, if not ' wholly given Fit of 
' up to idolatry,' yet ' in all things too superstitious,' try at 
and, like the Athenians of old, prone to run after ' some oven ry " 
' new thing.' At the time of which we speak, they were 
the subjects of a strange religious frenzy — a fit of 

The doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of the 
Blessed Virgin had not yet been finally settled. It 
was the bone of contention between the rival monastic 
orders. The Franciscans or Grey Friars, following 
Scotus, waged war with the Dominicans, who followed 
Aquinas. Pope Sixtus IV. had in 1483 issued a bull 
favouring the Franciscans and the doctrine of the 
Immaculate Conception, and Foxe tells us that it was 
in consequence ' holden in their schools, written in their 
6 books, preached in their sermons, taught in their 

1 Foxe, ed. 1597, p. 887. 

416 Colet, Erasmus, and Afore. 

Chap. <■ churches, and set forth in their pictures .' On the other 
. — — side had occurred the tragedy of the weeping image 
of the Virgin, and the detection and burning of the 
Dominican monks who were parties to the fraud. 

It chanced that in Coventry a Franciscan monk 
made bold to preach publicly to the people, that who- 
ever should daily pray through the Psalter of the Blessed 
Virgin could never he damned. The regular pastor of 
the place, thinking that it would soon blow over, and 
that a little more devotion to the Virgin could do no 
harm, took little notice of it at first. But when he saw 
the worst men were the most religious in their devotion 
to the Virgin's Psalter, and that, relying on the friar's 
doctrine, they were getting more and more bold in 
crime, he mildly admonished the people from his 
pulpit not to be led astray by this new doctrine. The 
result was he was hissed at, derided, and publicly 
slandered as an enemy of the Virgin. The friar again 
mounted his pulpit, recounted miraculous stories in 
favour of his creed, and carried the people away with 
More's More shall tell the rest in his own words : — 

w\thV ' While this frenzy was at its height, it so happened 

' that I had to go to Coventry to visit a sister of mine 
' there. I had scarcely alighted from my horse when 
' I was asked the question, " Whether a person who 
' " daily prayed through the Psalter of the Blessed 
' " Virgin could be damned ? " I laughed at the ques- 
' tion as absurd. I was told forthwith that my answer 
' was a dangerous one. A most holy and learned father 
' had declared the contrary. I put by the whole affair 
' as no business of mine. Soon after I was asked to 
' supper. I promised, and went. Lo and behold ! in 


A.D. 1517. 

More at Coventry. 417 

came an old, stooping, heavy, crabbed friar ! A Chap. 
servant followed with his books. I saw I must 
prepare for a brush. We sat down, and lest any 
time should be lost, the point was at once brought 
forward by our host. The friar made answer as he 
already had preached. I held my tongue, not 
liking to mix myself up in fruitless and provoking 
disputations. At last they asked me what view I 
took of it. And when I was obliged to speak, I 
spoke what 1 thought, but in few words and off- 
hand. Upon this the friar began a long premeditated 
oration, long enough for at least two sermons, and 
bawled all supper time. He drew all his argument 
from the miracles, which he poured out upon us in 
numbers enough from the " Marial ; " and then from 
other books of the same kind, which he ordered to 
be put on the table, he drew further authority for 
his stories. Soon after he had done I modestly 
began to answer ; first, that in all his long discourse 
he had said nothing to convince those who perchance 
did not admit the miracles which he had recited, 
and this might well be, and a mail s faith in Christ be 
firm notwithstanding. And even if these were mostly 
true, they proved nothing of any moment ; for though 
you might easily find a prince who would concede 
something to his enemies at the entreaty of his 
mother, yet never was there one so foolish as to 
publish a law which should provoke daring against 
him by the promise of impunity to all traitors who 
should perform certain offices to his mother. 

' Much having been said on both sides, I found 
that he was lauded to the skies while I was laughed 
at as a fool. The matter came at last to that pass, 

E E 

418 Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

Chap. ' by the depraved zeal of men who cloaked their own 
1 — 1 ' vices under colour of piety, that the opinion could 
A D " " ' hardly be put down, though the Bishop with all his 
' energy tried all the means in his power to do so.' * 

1 Thomse Mori ad Monachum j 128, 129. The letter does not state 
Epistola. Epistotce aliquot Erudi- exactly the date of this singular 
torum Virorum : Basle, 1 520, pp. I occurrence. 



While Erasmus in 1517 was hard at work at the Chap. 

revision of his New Testament, publishing the first '_ 

instalment of his Paraphrases, 1 recommending the A,D- 1517- 
' Utopia ' and the ' Christian Prince ' to the perusal of 
princes and their courtiers,' 2 expressing to his friends 
at the Papal Court his trust that under Leo X. Eome 
herself might become the centre of peace and reli- 
gion, 3 — while Erasmus was thus working on hope- 
fully, preparing the way, as he thought, for a 
peaceful reform, Europe was suddenly brought, by 
the scandalous conduct of princes and the Pope, to 
the very brink of revolution. 

Leo X. was in want of money. He had no scruple Leo x. 
to tax the Christian world for selfish family purposes money, 
any more than his predecessors in the Papal chair ; 
but times had altered, and he thought it prudent, in- 
stead of doing so openly, to avoid scandal, by cloak- 
ing his crime in double folds of imposture and decep- 
tion. It mattered little that a few shrewd men might 


suspect the dishonesty of the pretexts put forth, if 

1 On the Romans : Lonvain, cclxviii. 

1517, at the press of Martins. 3 ErasmustoCardinalGrvrnanus, 

2 Erasmus to Cope, ccv. Brewer, prefixed to the Paraphrases on the 
ii. p. 2962. See also cciii. and cciv. Romans. Dated, Id. Nov. 1517. 
and Erasmus to Henry VIII. 

e e 2 

420 Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

Chap, only the multitude could be sufficiently deluded to 
xiv. . 
. make them part with their money. 

A war against the Turks could be proposed and 


and in- abandoned the moment the ' tenths ' demanded to pay 
duigences. -^ eX p enses were sa f e m m the Papal exchequer. If 

indulgences were granted to all who should contribute 
towards the building of St. Peter's atEome, the profits 
could easily be devoted to more pressing uses. So, 
in the spring of 1517, the payment of a tenth was 
demanded from all the clergy of Europe, and com- 
missions were at the same time issued for the sale of 
indulgences to the laity. Some opposition was to be 
expected from disaffected princes ; but experience on 
former occasions had proved that these would be 
easily bribed to connive at any exactions from their 
subjects by the promise of a share in the spoil. 1 

Hence the project seemed to the Papal mind 
justified on Machiavellian principles, and, judged by 
the precedents of the past, likely to succeed. 
Satire on But the seeds of opposition to Machiavellian projects 
gences in of this kind had recently been widely sown. More 
S Folly!' 86 m nis ' Utopia,' and Erasmus in his ' Christian Prince/ 
had only a few months before spoken plain words to 
people and princes on taxation and unjust exactions. 
Erasmus, too, in his 'Praise of Folly,' had spoken con- 
temptuously of the crime of false pardons, in other 
words, of Papal indulgences'? And though Lystrius, 
in his recent marginal note on this passage, had ex- 

1 Mountjoy to Wolsey: Brewer, ' 'cum condonationes vel indulgen- 

ii. p. 1259; and Bishop of Worces- 
ter to Wolsey: ibid. No. 4179. 
Ranke's Hist, of the Reformation, 
bk. ii. chap. 1. 

2 One early edition, without date, 
has in the margin, ' Fictse pontifi- 

' tise ; ' and Lystrius, in his note on 
this passage, says, ' Has vulgo 
' vocant indulgentias ' The margi- 
nal note in the Argent, edition of 
1511 reads, 'indulgentias taxat.' 

The Sale of Indulgences. 421 

plained that Papal indulgences are not included in this Chap. 

sweeping censure, 'unless they be false, it being no part 1 1 

* of our business to dispute of the pontifical power,' yet A ' D ' 1 
he had almost made matters worse by adding : — 

' This one thing I know, that what Christ promised 

* concerning the remission of sins is more certain than 
' what is promised by men, especially since this whole 
i affair [of indulgences] is of recent date and inven- 

* tion. Finally a great many people, relying on these 

* pardons, are encouraged in crime, and never think 

* of changing their lives.' * 

How eagerly the ' Praise of Folly ' was bought and 
read by the people has already been seen. New edi- 
tions had recently been exceedingly numerous, for 
the notes of Lystrius had opened the eyes of many 
who had not fully caught its drift before. An edition 
in French had moreover appeared, and (Erasmus 
wrote) it was thereby made intelligible even to monks, 
who hitherto had been too deeply drowned in sensual 
indulgence to care anything about it, whose ignorance 
of Latin was such that they could not even under- 
stand the Psalms, which they were constantly mum- 
bling over in a senseless routine. 2 

Silently and unseen the leaven had been working ; Luther's 
and when, on October 31, Luther posted up his theses 
on the church-door at Wittemberg, defying Tetzel 
and his wicked trade, he was but the spokesman, 
perhaps unconsciously to himself, of the grumbling 
dissent of Europe. 

Discontent against the proceedings of the Papal other op- 
Court was not by any means confined to Wittemberg. fnlui- " 
It had got wind that the tenths and indulgences were fiences - 
resorted to for private family purposes of the Pope's ; 

1 Basle, ed. 1519, p. 141. 2 Eras. Epist. cclxiv. Aug. 29, 1517. 

422 Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

Chap, that they were part of a system of imposture and de- 


A.D. 1517. 

ception; and hence they encountered opposition, poli- 
tical as well as religious, in more quarters than one. 
Unhappily, the Pope had reckoned with reason on 
the connivance of princes. Their exchequers were 
more than usually empty, and they had proved for 
the most part glad enough to sell their consciences, 
and the interests of their subjects, at the price of a 
share in the spoil. Had it been otherwise the Papal 
collectors would have been forbidden entrance into 
the dominions of many a prince besides Frederic of 
European Saxony ! The Pope offered Henry VIII. a fourth of 
bribed^ the moneys received from the sale of indulgences in 
theTpoii. 11 England, and the English Ambassador suggested that 
one-third would be a reasonable proportion. 1 When 
in December 1515 the Pope had asked for a tenth 
from the English clergy, he had found it needful to 
abate his demand by one-half, and even this was re- 
fused by Convocation on the ground that they had 
already paid six-tenths to enable the King to defend 
the patrimony of St. Peter, and that the victories of 
Henry VIII. had removed all dangers from the Eoman 
See ; 2 and no sooner was there any talk of the new 
tenth of 1517, than the Papal collector in England 
was immediately sworn, probably as a precautionary 
measure, not to send any money to Eome. 3 Prince 
Charles, in anticipation of the amount to be collected 
in his Spanish dominions, obtained a loan of 175,000 
ducats. The King of Prance made a purse for him- 

1 Bishop of Worcester to Wol- j 3 Ranke's History of the Refor- 
sey: Brewer, ii. p. 4179. ■ mation, London, 1845, i. p. 333. 

2 Papers relating to the Convo- i Brewer, ii. p. 3160 and 3688. 
cation : Brewer, ii. p. 1312. i 

The Sale of Indulgences. 423 

self out of the collections in France, 1 and by the Pope's Chap. 
express orders paid over a part of what was left direct __ '.. 
to the Pope's nephew Lorenzo, 2 for whom it was AD ' 1517 ' 
rumoured in select circles that the money was re- 
quired. The Elector of Maintz also received a share 
of the spoil taken from his subjects. 3 The Emperor 
had made common cause with the Pope, in hopes 
of attaining thereby the realisation of long-indulged 
dreams of ambition, and all Europe would have been Opposi- 

111 A 1 I "l • f» 1 • ^ 0I1 °f 

thus bought over ; 4 had not the princes ol the empire German 
unexpectedly refused to follow his leading, and to pimces 
grant any taxes on their subjects without their consent. 5 
These facts will be sufficient to show that the ques- 
tion of Papal taxation was becoming a serious politi- 
cal question. The ascendency of ecclesiastics in the 
courts of princes had, moreover, again and again 
been the subject of complaint on the part of the 
Oxford Eeformers. These Papal scandals revealed a 
state not only of ecclesiastical, but also of political Political 
rottenness surpassing anything which had yet been f Europe, 
seen. Church and State, the Pope and the Emperor, 
princes and their ecclesiastical advisers, were seen 
wedded in an unholy alliance against the rights of 
the people. Ecclesiastical influence, and the practice 
of Machiavellian principles, had brought Christendom 
into a condition of anarchy in which every man's 
hand was against his neighbour. The politics of 
Europe were in greater confusion than ever. Not 
only was the Emperor in league with the Pope against 
the interests of Europe, but he was obtaining money 

1 Brewer, ii. p. 3818, and preface, 

2 Eanke, p. 332. 

3 Ibid, p. 333. 

4 Ibid. p. 350. 

5 Ibid. p. 356. 

424 Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

Chap, from England under the pretext of siding with Eng- 
1 land against France and Prince Charles, while he was 


' at the same moment making a secret treaty with 
France and preparing the way for the succession of 
Charles to the empire. The three young and aspiring 
princes — Henry, Francis, and Charles — were eyeing 
one another with shifting suspicions, and jealously 
plotting against one another in the dark. Europe in 
the meantime was kept in a chronic state of warfare. 
Scotland was kept by France always on the point of 
Political quarrelling with England. The Duke of Gueldres and 
his 'black band' were committing cruel depredations 
in the Netherlands to the destruction of the peace 
and prosperity of an industrious people. 1 Franz von 
Sickingen was engaged in what those who suffered 
from it spoke of as 'inhuman private warfare." 2 Such 
was the state of Germany, that, to quote the words of 
Eanke, ' there was hardly a part of the country which 
1 was not either distracted by private wars, troubled 
' by internal divisions, or terrified by the danger of 
' an attack from some neighbouring power.' 3 The 
administration of civil and criminal law was equally 
bad. Again, to quote from the same historian, ' The 
' criminal under ban found shelter and protection ; 
' and as the other courts of justice were in no better 
' condition — in all, incapable judges, impunity for 
' misdoers, and abuses without end — disquiet and 
' tumult had broken out in all parts. Neither by land 
' nor water were the ways safe : . . . the husband- 
' man, by whose labours all classes were fed, was 
' ruined ; widows and orphans were deserted ; not a 

1 Erasmus to Beatus Rhenanus : I 2 Ranke, pp. 239 and 379. 
Epist. clxiv. App. Brewer, ii. p. 3 Ibid. p. 359. 
3614. Ranke, p. 378. 

Erasmus to Colet. 425 

' pilgrim or a messenger or a tradesman could travel Chap. 

r c & . XIV. 

' along the roads . . . .' 1 Such, according to Banke, _ 

were the complaints of the German people in the Diet 
of Maintz in 1517, and the Diet separated without 
even suggesting a remedy. 2 

It was from a continent thus brought, by the mad- 
ness of the Pope and princes, to the very brink of 
both a civil and a religious revolution, that Erasmus Erasmus 
looked longingly to England as ' out of the world, and a journey 
' perhaps the least corrupted portion of it ' 3 — as that war d,"and 
retreat in which, after one more journey southwards, JJ^ e * to 
to print the second edition of his New Testament and England. 
' some other works,' he hoped at length to spend his 
declining years in peaceful retirement. The following 
portion of a letter to Colet will also show how fully 
he saw through the policy of Leo X., hated the mad- 
ness of princes, and shared the indignation of Luther 
at the sale of indulgences. 

Erasmus to Colet. 

' I am obliged, in order to print the New Testament 
and some other books, to go either to Basle, or, more 
probably, I think, to Venice : for I am deterred from 
Basle partly by the plague and partly by the death 
of Lachnerus, whose pecuniary aid was almost indis- 
pensable to the work. " What," you will say, " are 
" you, an old man, in delicate health, going to un- 
" dertake so laborious a journey ! — in these times, 
" too, than which none worse have been seen for 
" six hundred years ; while everywhere lawless rob- 
" bery abounds ! " But why do you say so ? I was 

1 Ranke, p. 239. 3 Erasmus to Fisher : cccvi. App. 

2 Ibid. p. 241. I Brewer, ii. p. 3989. 


Colet, Erasmus, and More. 




on indul- 

He sees 
the Pope's 

' born to this fate ; if I die, I die in a work which, 
' unless I am mistaken, is not altogether a bad one. 
' But if, this last stroke of my work being accom- 
* plished according to my intention, I should chance 
' to return, I have made up my mind to spend the re- 
' mainder of my life with you, in retirement from a 
'world which is everywhere rotten. Ecclesiastical 
' hypocrites rule in the courts of princes. The court 
' of Eome clearly has lost all sense of shame ; for what 
' could be more shameless than these continued indul- 
' gences ? Now a war against the Turks is put forth 
' as a pretext, when the real purpose is to drive the 
' Spaniards from Naples ; for Lorenzo, the Pope's 
' nephew, who has married the daughter of the King 
' of Navarre, lays claim to Campania. If these tur- 
' moils continue, the rule of the Turks would be easier 
' to bear than that of these Christians.' * 

' Julius de 
Ccelo ex- 

Erasmus wrote to Warham in precisely the same 
strain, 2 and shortly afterwards, on March 5, 1518, in 
a letter to More, he exclaimed, ' The Pope and some 
' princes are playing a fresh game under the pretext 
' of a horrid war against the Turks. Oh, wretched 
' Turks ! unless this is too much like bluster on the part 
' of us Christians.' And, he added, ' They write to 
' me from Cologne that a book has been printed by 
' somebody, describing " Pope Julius disputing with 
' " Peter at the gate of paradise." The author's name 
' is not mentioned. The German press will not cease 
' to be violent until some law shall restrain their 

1 Eras. Epist. App. cccv. Brewer, 
ii. p. 3992. 

Eras. Epist. App. cclxix. 

European Politics. 427 

' boldness, to the detriment also of us, who are labour- Chap. 

' ing to benefit mankind.' l 

This satire, entitled ' Julius de Ccelo exclusus,' was A ' D ' 1518 ' 

eagerly purchased and widely read, 2 and was one of 

a series of satirical pamphlets upon the Papacy and 

the policy of the Papal party, for which the way had 

been prepared by the ' Praise of Folly ' and the 

1 Epistolse Obscurorum Yirorum.' It was one of the 

sisns of the times. 



It was at this juncture — at this crisis it may well be 
called — in European politics, that More was induced 
at length, by the earnest solicitations of Henry VIII. , 
to attach himself to his court under circumstances 
which deserve attention. 

In the spring of 1517, a frenzy more dangerous than 
that in which the men of Coventry indulged had seized 
the London apprentices. Not wholly without excuse, 
they had risen in arms against the merchant strangers, 
who were very numerous in London, and to some of 
whom commercial privileges and licenses had, perhaps, 
been too freely granted by a minister anxious to in- 
crease his revenue. Thus had resulted the riots of 
1 the evil May-day,' and More had some part to play 'Evil May - 
in the restoration of order in the city. 

Then, in August 1517, he was sent on an embassy More's 
to Calais with Wingfield and Knight. Their mission toCaiais. 
ostensibly was to settle disputes between French and 

1 Epist. App. cclxv. Brewer, ii. | 2 iEgidius to Erasmus : Epist. 
p. 8991. I ccccxxxvi. Brewer, ii. p. 4238. 

428 Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

Chap. English merchants, but probably its real import was 
quite as much to pave the way for more important 

A.D. 1518. , ■ 


No sooner had English statesmen opened their eyes 
to the fact that Maximilian had been playing into the 
hands of the French King against the interests of Eng- 
land, than, with the natural perversity of men who had 
no settled principles to guide their international policy, 
they began themselves, out of sheer jealousy, once 
more to court the favour of the sovereign against whom 
they had so long been fruitlessly plotting. They began 
secretly to seek to bring about a French alliance with 
England, which should out-manoeuvre the recent treaty 
of the Emperor with France. Thus, by a sudden and 
unlooked-for turn in continental politics, was brought 
about the curious fact that, within a few months of 
the publication of the ' Utopia,' in which More had 
Henry advocated such a policy, the surrender of Henry's 
meditates recent conquests in France was under discussion. By 
Ms French February in the following year (1518) not only was 
conquests. Tournay restored to France, but a marriage had been 
arranged between the infant Dauphin of France and 
the infant Princess Mary of England. This of course 
involved the abandonment, at all events for a time, of 
Henry's personal claims on the crown of France. 1 
What share More had in the conversion of the King 
to this new policy remains untold ; but it is remark- 
able that within so short a time his Utopian counsels 
should have been so far practically followed, and that 
he himself should have been chosen as one of the 
ambassadors to Calais to prepare the way for it. 
It would be impossible here to enter into a detailed 

1 See Brewer's preface to vol. ii. pp. cxlvii-clvii. 

A.D. 1518. 

More drawn to Court. 429 

examination of the political relations of England ; Chap 
suffice it to say, that a pacific policy seems to have 
gained the upper hand for the moment, and that even 
Wolsey himself seems to have admitted the necessity 
of so far following More's Utopian counsels as to cut More's 
down the annual expenditure of the kingdom, and counsels 

-i-i-ii i followed. 

to husband her resources. 1 

It may have been only a momentary lull in the 
King's stormy passion for war, but it lasted long 
enough to admit of the renewal of the King's endea- 
vours to draw More into his service, and of More's 
yielding at last to Eoyal persuasions. 

Eoper tells us that the immediate occasion of his More 
doing so was the great ability shown by him in the into court, 
conduct of a suit respecting a ' great ship ' belonging 
to the Pope, which the King claimed for a forfeiture. 
In connection with which, Eoper tells us that More, ' in 
' defence on the Pope's side, argued so learnedly, that 
' both was the aforesaid forfeiture restored to the Pope, 
' and himself among all the hearers, for his upright and 
' commendable demeanour therein, so greatly renowned 
' that for no entreaty would the King from henceforth 
* be induced any longer to forbear his service.' 2 

What passed between the King and his new courtier 
on this occasion, and upon what conditions More 
yielded to the King's entreaties, Eoper does not men- 
tion in this connection ; but that he maintained his 
independence of thought and action, may be inferred 
from the fact that eighteen years after, when in peril 
of his life from Eoyal displeasure, he had occasion upon 
his knees to remind his sovereign of ' the most godly 
' words that his Highness spake unto him at his first 

1 See Brewer, ii. cxlii-clxi (preface). 2 Roper, p. 11. 

430 Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

Chap. ' coming into his noble service — the most virtuous 


' lesson that ever a prince taught his servant — willing 
' him first to look to God, and after God unto him! ' 1 

A.D. 1518. 

VIII. rises 
again in 
the favour 
of Eras- 

Now that Henry YIII. had apparently changed his 
policy, now that he was giving up his pretensions to the 
crown of France, and no longer talking of invading her 
shores, now that he seemed to be calling to his counsels 
the very man who, next to Colet, had spoken more 
plainly than anyone else in condemnation of that war- 
like policy in which Henry VIII. had so long indulged, 
now that Henry VIII. himself seemed to be returning 

Henry to his first love of letters and the ' new learning,' the 
hopes of Erasmus began once more to rely upon him 
rather than upon any other of the princes of Europe. 

mus. Erasmus had lost his confidence in Leo X. Prince 

Charles was now going to Spain, leaving the Nether- 
lands in a state of confusion and anarchy, a prey to 
the devastations of the 'black band,' and for the 
present little could reasonably be expected from him, 
notwithstanding all the good advice Erasmus had 
given him in the ' Christian Prince.' 

While Henry VIII. had been wild after military 
glory, and had seemed ready to sacrifice everything 
to this dominant passion, Erasmus had thought it use- 
less to waste words upon him which he would not heed ; 
but the war being over in September 1517, he had sent 
him a copy of the ' Christian Prince,' and encouraged 
his royal endeavours to still the tempests which during 
the past few years had so violently raged in human 
affairs. Nor is it without significance that in this letter 

1 Koper, p. 48. 

More drawn to Court. 431 

to Henrv VIII. we find him using warm words in com- Chap. 

. XIV 

mendation of a trait of the King's character, which 

Erasmus said he admired above all others ; viz. this, A ' D ' 1518 * 
— that he delighted ' in the converse of prudent and 
' learned men, especially of those who did not know 
1 how to speak just what they thought would please! 1 

Under other circumstances such words written to 
Henry VIII. might have seemed like satire or perhaps 
empty adulation, but written as they were while Henry 
was as yet unsuccessfully trying to induce More to 
enter his service, and only a few months after the 
publication of the ' Utopia,' they do not read like 
words of flattery. 

When in writing to Fisher he had spoken of England 
as ' out of the world, or perhaps the least corrupted 
' portion of it,' he had honestly expressed his real 
feelings at a time when, whilst continental affairs were 
in hopeless confusion and anarchy, there were at least 
some hopeful symptoms that a better policy would be 
adopted for the future by Henry VIII. 

It was strictly in accordance with the same feelings Erasmus 
that, on hearing that More had yielded to the King's J" e ks will 
wishes, he wrote to him on April 24, 1518, not to con- serve * he 

x best oi 

gratulate him on the step he had taken, but to tell kings. 
him that the only thing which consoled him in regard 
to it was the consideration that he would serve under 
' the best of kings.' And from this remark he passed 
by a natural train of thought to speak of the dangers 
which would attend his own projected journey south- 
wards through Germany, and bitterly to allude to the 
' novel clemency ' of the Dukes of Cleves, Juliers, and 

1 Epist. cclxviii. 

432 Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

Chap. Nassau, who had been secretly conspiring to disperse 

1 in safety the ' black band ' of political ruffians, at whose 

a.i.. 1518. depredations they had too long connived. Had their 
scheme been successful, it would have cast loose these 
lawless ruffians upon society without even the control 
of their robber leaders. But, as it was, the people took 
the matter into their own hands, and disconcerted the 
conspiracy of their princes. The peasantry, exaspe- 
rated by constant depredations, and thirsting for the 
destruction of the robbers, had risen in a body and 
surrounded them. A chance blast from a trumpet 
had revealed their whereabouts, and in the melee which 
followed, more than a thousand were cut to pieces-; the 
rest escaped to continue their work of plunder. 1 It 
was not remarkable if, living in the midst of anarchy 
such as this, Erasmus should envy the comparative 
security of England, and even for the moment be 
inclined to praise the harsh justice with which 
English robbers, instead of being secretly protected 
and encouraged, were sent to the gallows. 2 
Erasmus Erasmus had decided upon going to Basle, and in 
Basle. t0 writing to Beatus Ehenanus 3 to inform him that he 
intended to do so in the course of the summer, ' if it 
' should be safe to travel through Germany,' he spoke 
of the condition of Germany as ' icorse than that of the 
' infernal regions,' on account of the numbers of rob- 
bers ; and asked what princes could be about to allow 
such a state of things to exist. 

' All sense of shame,' he wrote, ' has vanished alto- 

1 Epist. App. cccxi. and cclxxxii. ; Brewer, iii. No. 226. 
Brewer, ii. p. 4111. 3 March 13, 1518. Eras. Epist. 

~ Erasmus to Henry VIII. : I App. cclxxiv. Brewer, ii. p. 4005. 

Erasmus goes to Basle. 433 

' gether from human affairs. I see that the very height Chap. 

. XIV. 

' of tyranny has been reached. The Pope and kings 

' count the people not as men, but as cattle in the A-D " 1518 ' 
' market.'' 

Once more, on May 1, Erasmus wrote to Colet 
before leaving for Basle, to tell him that he really 
was going, in spite of the dangers of travel through 
a country full of disbanded ruffians ; to complain of 
the cruel clemency of princes who spare scoundrels 
and cut-throats, and yet do not spare their own sub- 
jects, to whom those who oppress their people are 
dearer than the people themselves ; and to reiterate 
his intention to fly back to his English friends as Erasmus 
soon as his work at Basle should be accomplished. Louvain 
And then he ventured on the journey. 1 

1 Epist. ccxlvii. Brewer, ii. p. 4138. Eras. Epist. Basle, 1521, p. 217. 

F F 



Chap. xv. Erasmus arrived at Basle on Ascension Day, May 13, 
a.d. 1518. 1518. 1 

reaches? 8 But tnou gh ne na( ^ escaped the robbers, and sur- 
Basie and v ived the toils of the iourney, he reached Basle in a 

falls ill. J ; . 

state of health so susceptible of infection, that, in 
the course of a day or two, he found himself laid up 
with that very disease which he had mentioned in 
his letter to Colet as prevalent at Basle, and as one 
great reason why he had shrunk from going there. 2 

But even an attack of this ' plague ' did not prevent 
him from beginning his work at once. 

Whilst suffering from its early symptoms, during 
intervals of pain and weakness, 3 he wrote a careful 
reply to a letter he had received from Dr. Eck, 
Professor of the University of Ingolstadt in Bavaria, 
complaining, as Luther had already done, indirectly 
through Spalatin, of the anti-Augustinian proclivities 
of the ' Novum Instrumentum.' 4 

Luther and Eck had already had communications 

His reply 
to Dr. Eck. 

1 Eras. Epist. App. cclxxxiv.-v. 

2 Ibid. App. cccv. 

3 Eras. Op. iii. 401 E. 

4 Eras. Epist. ccciii. first printed 

in Auctarium selectarum Episto- 
larum Erasmi, fyc. Basle, 1518, 
p. 39. 

Erasmus at Basle. 435 

on theological subjects. The Wittemberg theologian chap, xv. 
had sent to his Ingolstadt brother for his approval, a .d. i5is. 
through a mutual friend, a set of propositions aimed 
against the Pelagian tendencies of the times. 1 

But Eck and Luther, whilst both admirers of 
St. Augustine, and both jealous of Erasmus and his 
anti-Augustinian proclivities, rested their objections 
on somewhat different grounds. 

Luther looked coldly on the ' Novum Instrumentum ' 
mainly because he thought he found in its doctrinal 
statements traces of Pelagian heresy. Dr. Eck objected Dr. Eck 
not so much to any error in doctrine which it might plenary in- 
contain, as to the method of Biblical criticism which it s P iratlon - 
adopted throughout. He objected to the suggestion it 
contained, that the Apostles quoted the old Testament 
from memory, and, therefore, not always correctly. 
He objected to the insinuation that their Greek was 
colloquial, and not strictly classical. 

With regard to the first point, he referred to the 
well-known, and, as he thought, ' most excellent 
* argument of St. Augustine' against the admission of 
any error in the Scriptures, lest the authority of the 
whole should be lost. And with regard to the second, 
he charged Erasmus with making himself a preceptor 
to the Holy Spirit, as though the Holy Spirit had been 
wanting in attention or learning, and required the 
defects resulting from his negligence to be now, after 
so many centuries, supplied by Erasmus. 

He made these criticisms, he wrote, not in the spirit 
of opposition, but because he could not agree with the 
preference shown by Erasmus to Jerome over Augus- 

1 Luther's Briefe. De Wette. Epist. No. xxxvii. 

f p 2 


436 Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

Chap. xv. tine. It was the one point in which the Erasmian 
a.d. 1518. creed was at fault. Nearly all the learned world was 
Erasmian already, but this one thing all Erasmians 
complained of in Erasmus — that he would not study 
the works of St. Augustine. If he would but do this, 
Eck was sure he would acknowledge that it would be 
rash indeed to assign to St. Augustine any other than 
the highest place amongst the fathers of the Church. 1 
Reply of Erasmus replied 2 to the first objection, that, in his 

judgment, the authority of the whole Scriptures would 
not fall with any slip of memory on the part of an 
Evangelist — e.g. if he put ' Isaiah ' by mistake for 
' Jeremiah ' — because no point of importance turns 
upon it. We do not forthwith think evil of the whole 
life of Peter because Augustine and Ambrose affirm that 
even after he had received the Holy Ghost he fell into 
error on some points ; and so our faith is not altogether 
shaken in a whole book because it has some defects. 
With regard to the colloquial Greek of the Apostles, 
lie took the authority of Jerome, and Origen, and the 
Greek fathers as good evidence on that point. 

With respect to his preference for Jerome over 
Augustine, he knew what he was about. His pre- 
ference for Jerome was deliberate, and rested on good 
grounds. When he came to the passage in Eck's 
letter, where he stated that all Erasmians complained 
of his one fault — not reading Augustine — he could 
not read it without laughing. ' I know of nothing in 
' me,' he wrote, ' why anyone should wish to be Eras- 
' mian, and I altogether hate that term of division. 
w We are all Christians, and labour, each in his own 

1 Eras. Epist. ccciii. 
• Epist. ccclxxvi. dated May 15, 
1518, and first printed at p. 45 of 

the Auctarium select arum Episto- 
larum, fyc, Basle, 1518. 

Erasmus to Dr. Eck. 437 

' sphere, to advance the glory of Christ.' But that he Chap. xv. 
had not read the works of Augustine ! Why, they a.d. 1518. 
were the very first that he did read of the writings 
of the fathers. He had read them over and over 
again. Let his critics examine his works, they would 
find that there was scarcely a work of St. Augustine 
which was not i there quoted many hundred times. 
Let him compare Augustine and Jerome on their 
merits. Jerome was a pupil of Origen, and one page 
of Origen teaches more Christian philosophy than ten 
of Augustine. Augustine scarcely knew Greek ; at 
all events was not at home in Greek writers. Besides 
this, by his own confession, he was busied with his 
bishopric, and could hardly snatch time to learn what 
he taught to others. Jerome devoted thirty-jive years 
to the study of the Scriptures. 

In the meantime, in conclusion, he observed that the 
difference of opinion between himself and Eck upon 
these points need not interrupt their friendship, any 
more than the difference of opinion upon the same point 
between Jerome and Augustine interrupted theirs. 

Having despatched this reply to Eck, and recovered 
from what proved a short but sharp attack of illness, 
Erasmus wrote to More on the 1st of June to advise him 
of his safe arrival at Basle, of his illness and recovery, 
and to express the hope that a few months would see 
his labours there accomplished. If the Fates were pro- 
pitious, he hoped to return to Brabant in September. 1 

What were the works which he had come to Basle 
to publish during these tumultuous times ? 

1 Erasmus to More, App. cclxxxv. Brewer, ii. p. 4204 ; and in App. 
cclxxxiv. Ibid. ii. p. 4203. 


Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

A.D. 1518. 


editions of 
works of 

Chap. xv. The second edition of the New Testament will 
require a separate notice by-and-by. A new and 
corrected edition of More's ' Utopia ' was already in 
hand, and waiting only for a letter which Budams 
was writing to be prefixed to it. 1 A new edition of 
the ' Institutio Principis Christiani ' was also to come 
forth from the press of Froben. 2 

It might seem hopeless to put forth works such as 
these, expressing views so far in advance of the prac- 
tices of the times, but the fact that new editions were 
so rapidly called for proved that they were eagerly 
read. In the same letter in which Erasmus ridiculed 
to More the projected expedition against the Turks,, 
and spoke of the violence of the German press and 
the satire which had just appeared, ' Julius de Coelo 
' exclusus^ he spoke of his having seen another edition 
of the ' Utopia ' just printed at Paris. 3 

In the previous year, 1517, Froben had printed a 
sixth edition of the ' Adagia,' whichhad now expanded 
into a thick folio volume, and become a receptacle for 
the views of Erasmus on many chance subjects. In 
this edition he had expressed his indignant feelings 
against the political anarchy and Papal scandals of 
the period, and he told More to look particularly at 
what he had written on the adage, ' Ut fici oculis in- 
cumbunt; ?4 in which was an allusion to the 'insatiable 
' avarice, unbridled lust, most pernicious cruelty, and 
' great tyranny ' of princes ; and to the evil influence 
of those ecclesiastics who, ever ready to do the dirty 

1 Brewer, ii. p. 3901. Eras. Epist. 
App. cclxv. 

2 Lucubrationum Erasmi Index : 
Frobenius, Basle, 1519. 

3 Epist. cclxv. App. Brewer, ii. 
p. 3991. Dated March 5, 1518. 

4 Eras. Epist. App. cccxu 
Brewer, ii. p. 4110. 

Works of Erasmus. 


Chap. XV. 

a.d. 1518. 

tions of 

work of princes and popes, abetted and mixed them- 
selves up with the worst scandals. 1 And again it is 
remarkable to find how rapidly this ponderous edition 
of the ' Adagia ' must have been sold to admit of 
another following in 1520, still further increased in 
bulk — a large folio volume of nearly 800 pages. 

In addition to these reprints, two separate collec 
tions of some of his letters were printed by Froben in letters 
1518, 2 evidently intended to aid in spreading more pu 
widely those plain-spoken views on various subjects 
which he had expressed in his private letters to his 
friends during the last few years. Another edition was 
also called for of the ' Enchiridion ; ' and Erasmus, on 
his arrival at Basle, burning as well he might with 
increased indignation against the scandals of the 
times, wrote a new preface, in the form of a letter to 
Volzius, the Abbot of a monastery at Schelestadt — a Letter to 
letter which, containing in almost every line of it 
pointed allusion to passing events, was eagerly de- 
voured by thinking men all over Europe, and passed 
through several editions in a very short space of time. 

It was a letter in which he repeated the conviction 
which he had learned twenty years before from Colet, 
that the true Christian creed was exceedingly simple, 
adapted not for the learned alone, but for all men. 


1 Adagia : Basle, 1520-21, p. 
494. I have not seen the edition 
of 1517, but it is mentioned in 
Lucubrationum Erasmi Index ; 
Basle, 1519. 

2 Auctarium selectarwm aliquot 
Epistolarum Erasmi, &c. : Basle, 
with preface by Beatus Rhenanus, 
dated xi. Calendas Septembris, 
1518, and 'Aliquot Epistolce sane 

1 quam elegantes Erasmi Rotero- 
1 da?ni, et ad hunc aliorum eruditis- 
1 simontm nominum.' Basle, Jan. 
1518. The latter includes Colet's 
letter to Erasmus on the Novum 
Instrumentum. An edition, con- 
taining some of the letters of Eras- 
mus and others, had also been 
printed by Martins at Louvain in 
April, 1517. 

440 Colet, Erasmus^ and More. 

Chap. xv. And upon this ground he defended the simplicity of 
a.d. i5i8. his little handy-book, contrasting it with the ' Surtvma ' 
of Aquinas. ' Let the great doctors, which must needs 
' be but few in comparison with other men, study and 
' busy themselves in those great volumes.' The ' un- 
' learned and rude multitude, which Christ died for, 
' ought to be provided for also.' ' Christ would that 
' the way should be plain and open to every man,' 
and therefore, we ourselves ought to endeavour, with 
all ' our strength to make it as easy as can be.' l 

He then alluded to the war against the Turks, and 
hinted that it would be better to try to convert them. 
Do we wonder, he urged, that Christianity does not 
spread ? that we cannot convert the Turks ? What is 
the use of laying before them the ponderous tomes of 
the Schoolmen, full of ' thorny and cumbrous and in- 
' extricably subtle imaginations of instants, formalities, 
' quiddities,' and the like ? We ought to place before 
them the simple philosophy of Christ contained in the 
Gospels and Apostolic Epistles, simplifying even their 
phraseology ; giving them in fact the pith of them in 
as simple and clear a form as possible. And of what 
use would even this be if our lives belied our creed ? 
They must see that we ourselves are servants and 
imitators of Jesus Christ, that we do not covet any- 
thing of theirs for ourselves, but that we desire their 
salvation and the glory of Christ. This was the true, 
pure, and powerful theology which in olden time 
subjected to Christ the pride of philosophers and the 
sceptres of kings. 

Erasmus then, after a passing censure of the scandals 
brought upon Christianity by the warlike policy of 

1 English translation. London : Jno. Byddell, 1522. 

New Edition of the ' Enchiridion! 441 

priests and princes, the sale of indulgences, and so Chap. xv. 

forth, proceeded to criticise the religion of modern A . D . 1518. 

monks, their reliance on ceremonies, their degeneracy, 

and worldliness. 

' . . . Once the monastic life was a retreat or retire- 
ment from the world, of men who were called out of 
idolatry to Christ : now those who are called monks 
are found in the very vortex of worldly business, 
exercising a sort of tyrannical rule over the affairs 
of men. They alone are holy, other men are scarcely 
Christians. Why shoidd we thus narrow the Christian 
profession, when Christ wished it to be as broad as pos- 
sible ? 1 Except the big name, what is a state but one 
great monasteiy ? Let no one despise another because 
his manner of life is different. ... In every path 
of life let all strive to attain to the mind of Christ 
[scopum Christi], Let us assist one another, neither 
envying those who surpass us, nor despising those 
who may lag behind. And if anyone should excel 
another, let him beware lest he be like the Pharisee 
in the Gospel, who recounted his good deeds to 
God ; rather let him follow the teaching of Christ, 
and say, " I am an unprofitable servant." No one 
more truly has faith than he who distrusts himself. 
No one is really farther from true religion than he 
who thinks himself most religious. Nothing is worse 
for Christian piety than for what is really of the 
world to be misconstrued to be of Christ — for 
human authority to be preferred to Divine.' 2 
It was a letter firm and calm in its tone, and well 

1 ' Cur sic arctamus Christi pro- 2 These passages are condensed 
' fessionem quam ille latissime voluit in the translation. 
' patere ? ' 

442 Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

Chap. xv. adapted to the end in view. It was dated from Basle, 

a.d. 1518. in August, 1518. 

The ' Enchiridion,' with this prefatory letter, was 
published in September, together with some minor 
works, amongst which was the g Discussion on the 
' Agony in the Garden,' including Colet's reply, in 
which he had expressed his views on the theory of the 
' manifold senses ' of Scripture, the whole forming an 
elegant quarto volume printed in the very best type 
of Froben. Another beautiful edition was published 
at Cologne in the following year. 



The time had come for Erasmus more fully and 
publicly to reply to the various attacks which had 
been made upon the * Novum Instrumentum.' 

Its most bitter opponents had been the ignorant 
Scotists and monks who were caricatured in the 
' Epistola? Obscurorum Virorum.' ' There are none,' 
wrote Erasmus to a friend, ' who bark at me more 
' furiously than they who have never seen even the 
' outside of my book. Try the experiment upon any 
' of them, and you will find what I tell you is true. 
' When you meet any one of these 'brawlers, let him 
' rave on at my New Testament till he has made him- 
' self hoarse and out of breath, then ask him gently 
1 whether he has read it. If he have the impudence 
' to say " yes" urge him to produce one passage that 
' deserves to be blamed. You will find that he cannot.' l 

To opponents such as these, Erasmus had suffi- 

1 Erasmus to Laurinus : Epist. ccclvi. See Jortin, i. 140. 

Second Edition of the ' New Testament.'' 443 

ciently replied by the re-issue of the ' Enchiridion ' Chap. xv. 
with the new prefatory letter to Volzius. a.d. 1518. 

Bat there was another class of objectors to the 
' Novum Instrumentum ' who were not ignorant and 
altogether bigoted, and who honestly differed from 
the views of Erasmus ; some of them, like Luther, 
because he did not follow the Augustinian theology ; 
others, like Eck, who adhered to Augustine's theory of 
verbal inspiration ; others, again, who were jealous of 
the tendencies of the ' new learning,' and saw covert 
heresies in all departures from the beaten track. 

The reply of Erasmus to these was a second edition Second 

. . edition of 

of his New Testament ; and this was already 111 course the New 


of publication at Froben's press. 1 men t. 

Erasmus took pains in the second edition to correct 
an immense number of little errors which had crept 
into the first. But in those points in which it was 
the expression of the views of the Oxford Eeformers, 
he altered nothing, unless it were to express them 
more clearly and strongly, or to defend what he had 
said in the ' Novum Instrumentum.' 

Thus the passage condemned by Luther, in which 
the resort by theologians to the doctrine of ' original 
' sin ' was compared to the invention of epicycles by 
mediaeval astronomers, was retained in all essential 
particulars without modification. 2 

So, too, the passages censured by Eck as inimical 
to the Augustinian theory of the inspiration of the 
Scriptures, were not only retained, but amplified, 
while opportunity was taken to strengthen the argu- 

1 The Epistle at the beginning ! the date printed at the end. 
from Leo X. to Erasmus, bears 2 Novum Testamentum, 2nd ed. 
date Sept. 1518. March 1519 is I p. 266. 


Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

A.D. 1518. 

' Para- 

Chap. xv. merits in favour of the freer view of inspiration held 
by the Oxford Eeformers. 1 

Again ; the main drift and spirit of the body of the 
work remained unchanged. Its title, however, was 
altered from ' Novum Instrumentum ' to ' Novum 
' Testamentum.' 

In speaking of the ' Novum Instrumentum ' it was 
observed, that perhaps the most remarkable portion 
of the work was the prefatory matter, especially the 
' Paraclesis.' 

This ' Paraclesis ' remained the same in the second 
edition as in the ' Novum Instrumentum,' including 
the passages quoted in a former chapter, urging the 
translation of the New Testament into every language, 
so that it might become the common property of the 
ploughman and the mechanic, and even of Turks and 
Saracens, and ending also with the passage in which 
Erasmus had so forcibly summed up the value of the 
Gospels and Epistles, by pointing out how 'living 
' and breathing a picture ' they presented of Christ 
' speaking, healing, dying, and rising again, bringing 
' his life so vividly before the eye, that we almost 
' seem to have seen it ourselves.' 

Next to the ' Paraclesis,' in the first edition, had 
followed a few paragraphs treating of the ' method of 
' theological study.' This in the second edition was 
so greatly enlarged as to become an important feature 
of the work. It was also printed separately, and 
passed through several editions under the title, 
' Ratio Vera? Theologian! 

Erasmus in this treatise pointed out, as he had done 
before, the great advantages of the study of the New 

' Ratio 

1 Novum Testamentum, pp. 209, 93, 82, 83. 

' Ratio Verce Theologice.' 445 

Testament in its original language, and urged that Chap. xv. 
all branches of knowledge, natural philosophy, geo- a .d. isis. 
graphy, history, classics, mythology, should be 
brought to bear upon it, again assigning the reason 
which he had before given, — ' that we may follow 
' the story, and seem not only to read it but to see 
1 it ; for it is wonderful how much light — how much 
6 life, so to speak — is thrown by this method into 
'what before seemed dry and lifeless.' 

Contrasting the results of this method with that Example 
commonly in use in lectures and sermons, he exclaimed, historical 
' How these very things which were meant to warm ^^ od 
' and to enliven, themselves lie cold and without any 0ri 8 en - 
' life ! ' And then, to give an example of the true 
method, he recommended the student to study the 
homily of Origen on ' Abraham commanded to sacrifice 
' his son,' in which a type or example is set before 
our eyes, to show that the power of faith is stronger 
than all human passions. The object [of Origen] is to 
point out, dwelling on each little circumstance, by 
what and how many ways the trial struck home over 
and over again to the heart of the father. ' Take, he 
' said, thy sou. What parent's heart would not soften 
' at the name of son ? But that the sacrifice might 
' be still greater, it is added — thy dearest son — and 
' yet more emphatic — whom thou lovest. Here surely, 
' was enough for a human heart to grapple with. . . . 
' But Isaac was more than merely a son, he was the 
' son of promise. The good man longed for posterity, 
' and all his hope depended on the life of this one 
' child. He was commanded to ascend a high moun- 
' tain, and it took him three days to get there. During 
' all the time, what conflicting thoughts must have 
' rent the heart of the parent ! his human affections 


Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

Chap. XV. 

a.d. 1518. 

on the one side, the Divine command on the other. 
As they are going, the boy carrying the wood, calls 
to his father who bears the fire and the sword, 
"Father!" and he replies, "What dost thou want, 
" my son ? " How must the heart of the old man have 
throbbed with the pulsations of his love ! Who would 
not have been moved with loving pity for the simpli- 
city of the obedient boy, when he said, "Here is the 
" fire and the wood, but where is the victim ? " In how 
many ways was the faith of Abraham tried ! And now 
mark with what firmness, with what constancy, did 
he go on doing what he was commanded to do. He 
did not reply to God, he did not argue with him con- 
cerning his promised faithfulness, he did not even 
mourn with his friends and relations over his child- 
lessness, as most men would have done to lighten their 
grief. Seeing the place afar off, he told his servants 
to stop, lest any of them should hinder his carrying 
out what was commanded. . . . He himself built the 
altar ; he himself bound the boy and put him on the 
wood ; the sword quivered in his grasp, and would 
have slain his only son, on whom all his cherished 
hope of posterity depended, had not suddenly the 
voice of an angel stayed the old man's hand.' 1 
Thus (continued Erasmus), but more at length and 
more elegantly, are these things related by Origen, I 
hardly know whether more to the pleasure or profit 
of the reader ; although, be it observed, they are con- 
strued altogether according to the historical sense ; nor 
does he apply any other method to the Holy Scriptures 
than that which Donatus applies to the comedies of 
Terence when elucidating the meaning of the classics. 

1 Novum Testamentum, 2nd ed. pp. 19, 20. 

' Ratio Verce Theologice.' 4:4.7 

It would almost seem that Erasmus might have read Chap. xv. 
Luther's letter to Spalatin in which he complained of a.d. 1518. 
St. Jerome's adhering upon principle to the historical 
sense, and mourned over the tendency he had seen in 
Erasmus to follow his example. Luther spoke of this 
literal historical method of interpretation as the reason 
why, in the hands of commentators since St. Augustine, 
the Bible had been a dead book. Erasmus thought, 
on the other hand, that the only way to restore the 
position of the Bible as a living book was to apply to 
it the same method which common sense applied to 
all other books ; to resume, in fact, that literal and his- 
torical method which had been neglected since the 
days of St. Jerome, and which Origen had so success- 
fully applied to the story of Abraham in the passage 
he had cited. It is singular also that, in quoting 
from Origen this example of the skilful application of 
the historical method, he was quoting from the father 
whose rich imagination was mainly responsible for 
the theory of ' the manifold senses.' 

The adoption of the common sense historical method 
of interpreting the Scriptures, made it possible and 
needful to rest faith in Christianity on its own evi- 
dences rather than upon the dogmatic authority of the 
Church, her fathers, doctors, schoolmen, or councils. 
To this Erasmus seems to have been fully alive. He 
was not prepared to throw aside the authority of the 
general consent of Christians, especially of the earlv 
fathers, as a thing of naught, but he was too conscious 
of the fallibility of all such authority to rest wholly 
upon it. Besides, one evident object he had in view 
was to gain back again to Christianity those disciples 
of the new learning who, in revulsion from the Chris- 


Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

for the 
truth of 

Chap. xv. tianity of Alexander VI., Caesar Borgia, and Julius II., 
a.d. 1518. were trying to satisfy themselves with a refined semi- 
pagan philosophy. And no ecclesiastical authority 
could avail to undo what ecclesiastical scandal had 
done in that quarter. 

The stress which in this little treatise Erasmus laid 
upon internal evidence will be best illustrated by a 
few examples. 

Take first the following argument for the truth of 

He recommends the student ' attentively to observe, 
' in both New and Old Testaments, the wonderful 
' compass and consistency of the whole story, if I may 
' so speak, of Christ becoming a man for our sake. 
' This will help us not only more rightly to understand 
' what we read, but also to read with greater faith. 
' For no lie was ever framed with such skill as in 
' everything to comport with itself. Compare the 
' types and prophecies of the Old Testament which 
' foreshadowed Christ, and these same things happen- 
' ing as they were revealed to the eye of faith. Next 
' to them was the testimony of angels — of Gabriel 
' to the Virgin at his conception, and again of a choir 
' of angels at his birth. Then came the testimony of 
' the shepherds, then that of the Magi, besides that of 
' Simeon and Anna. John the Baptist foretold his 
' coming. He pointed him out with his finger when 
' he came as he whose coming the prophets predicted. 
' And lest we should not know what to hope for from 
' him, he added, " Behold him who taketh away the 
' " sin of the world ! " . . . 

' Next observe the whole course of his life, how he 
' grew up to youth, always in favour with both God 

' Ratio Verce Theologice! 449 

' and man. ... At twelve years of age, teaching and Chap, xv. 
' listening in the temple, he first gave a glimpse of a.d. 1518. 
' what he was. Then by his first miracle, at the mar- 
' riage feast, in private, he made himself known to a 

* few. For it was not until after he had been baptized 

* and commended by the voice of his Father and the 
' sign of the dove ; lastly, not until after he had been 
' tried and proved by the forty days' fast and the 
' temptation of Satan, that he commenced the work of 
' preaching. Mark his birth, education, preaching, 
' death ; you will find nothing but a perfect example of 
' poverty and humility, yea of innocence. The whole 
' range of his doctrine, as it was consistent with itself, 
' so it was consistent with his life, and also consistent 
' with his nature. He taught innocence; he himself so 
' lived that not even suborned witnesses, after trying in 
' many ways to do so, could find anything that could 
' plausibly be laid to his charge. He taught gentle- 
' ness : he himself was led as a lamb to the slaughter. 
' He taught poverty, and we do not read that he ever 
' possessed anything. He warned against ambition 
' and pride : he himself washed his disciples' feet. He 
' taught that this was the way to true glory and im- 
' mortality : he himself, by the ignominy of the cross, 
' has obtained a name which is above every name ; 
' and whilst he sought no earthly kingdom, he earned 
' the empire both of heaven and earth. When he rose 
1 from the dead, he taught what he had taught before. 
' He had taught that death is not to be feared by the 
' good, and on that account he showed himself risen 
' again. In the presence of the same disciples he as- 
' cended into heaven, that we might know whither we 
' are to strive to follow. Lastly, that heavenly Spirit 

G G 


Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

A.D. 1518. 

Chap. xv. ' descended which by its inspiration made his apostles 
' what Christ wished them to be. You may perhaps 
' find in the books of Plato or Seneca what is not in- 
' consistent with the teaching of Christ ; you may find 
' in the life of Socrates some things which are certainly 
' consistent with the life of Christ ; but this wide range, 
' and all things belonging to it in harmonious agree- 
' ment inter se, you will find in Christ alone. There 
' are many things in the prophets both divinely said 
' and piously done, many things in Moses and other 
' men famous for holiness of life, but this complete 
' range you will not find in any man.' 1 . . . . 

From this general view of the 'wonderful compass 
' and consistency of the whole story ' let us pass with 
Erasmus to details. We shall find him following the 
same method in treating of each point, taking pains 
to rest his belief rather on the evidence of facts than 
upon mere dogmatic authority. 

Thus in treating of the ' innocence of Christ,' it would 
have been easy to have quoted a few authoritative 
passages from the Apostolic epistles, and to have relied 
upon these, but Erasmus chose rather to rest on the 
variety of evidence afforded by the many different 
kinds of witnesses whose testimony is recorded in the 
New Testament. After alluding to the testimony of 
the voice from heaven, of John the Baptist, and of 
the friends of Jesus, he thus proceeds : — 

' . . . . The men who were sent to take him bore 
' witness that " never man spake as this man." . . . 
' Pilate also bore witness, "I am pure from the blood 
' " of this just man ; see ye to it." Pilate's wife also bore 

Proofs of 
the inno- 
cence of 


1 Novum Testamentum, 2nd ed. pp. 28, 29. 

'Ratio Verce Theologiw? 451 

' witness, "have nothing to do with that just person" chap, xv. 

' . . . Hostile judges recognised his innocence, rejecting a .d. i»i«. 

1 the evidence of the many witnesses. They declared, 

' and themselves were witnesses, that the suborned men 

' lied: they had nothing to object but the saying about 

' the destruction and rebuilding of the temple. . . . 

' The wretched Judas confessed, " I have sinned, in 

' " betraying innocent blood." The centurion at the 

' cross confessed, " truly this was the Son of God." 

' The wicked Pharisees confessed that they had no- 

' thing to lay to his charge why he should be cruci- 

' fied, but the saying about the temple. Thus was 

' he so guiltless, that nothing could even be invented 

' against him with any show of probability. ' : 

In the same way, in order to show that Christ was Pi-oofs of 

J ' . . Christ's 

truly a man, instead of quoting texts to prove it, he humanity. 

pointed to the facts ' that he called himself the " Son 

' " of man; " that he grew up through the usual stages 

' of growth; that he slept, ate, hungered, and thirsted ; 

' that he was wearied by travel ; that he was touched 

' by human passions. We read in Matthew that he 

' pitied the crowd ; in Mark, that he was angry and 

' grieved and groaned in spirit ; in John, that his mind 

' was moved before his passion ; that such was his 

' anguish in the garden that his sweat was like drops 

' of blood ; that he thirsted on the cross, which was 

' what usually happened during crucifixion ; that he 

' wept over the city of Jerusalem ; that he wept and 

' was moved at the grave of Lazarus.' 2 

And in the same way to prove Christ's divinity, Proofs of 

. the divi- 

Erasmus pointed to his miracles, and their consistency n ity of 

Chi ; 
1 Novum Testamentum, 2nd ed. pp. 34, 35. 2 Ibid. p. 32. 

G C4 2 

452 Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

Chap. xv. with his own declarations. Again he wrote, ' Who 
a.d. 1518. ' indeed would look for true salvation from a mere 
' man ? . . . He said that he was sent from heaven, that 
; he was the Son of God, that he had been in heaven. 
' He called God his Father ; and the Jews understood 
' what he meant by it, for they said, "Thou, a man, 
' "makest thyself God." Lastly, he rose from the dead, 
' ascended into heaven, and sent down the Paraclete, 
' by whom the Apostles were suddenly refreshed.' 1 
The mode Another subject upon which Erasmus dwelt was ' the 
Christ in- ' way which was adopted by Christ to draw the world 
thawarid. ' under his influence.' He showed how the prophets 
and the preaching of John had prepared the way for 
him. ' He did not seek suddenly to change the world ; 
' for it is difficult to remove from men's minds what 
' they have imbibed in childhood, and what has been 
' handed down to them by common consent from their 
' ancestors. First, John went before with the baptism 
' of repentance ; then the Apostles went forth, not yet 
' announcing the coming Messiah, but only that the 
' kingdom of heaven was at hand. By means of poor 
' and unlearned men the thing began, . . . and for a long 
' while he bore with the rudeness and distrust of even 
' these, that they might not seem to have believed 
' rashly. Thomas pertinaciously disbelieved, and not 
' until he had touched the marks of the nails and the 
' spear did he exclaim, " My Lord and my God ! " When 
' about to ascend to heaven, he upbraided all of them 
' for their hardness of heart and difficulty in believing 

' what they had seen He added the evidence 

' of miracles, but even these were nothing but acts of 

1 Novum Testamentuin, 2nd ed. p. 32. These passages are abridged in 
the translation. 

'Ratio Verce Theologice! 453 

* kindness. He never worked a miracle for anyone who Chap, xv. 

* had not faith. The crowd were witnesses of nearly a .d. lsis. 
' all he did. He sent the lepers to the priests, not 

* that they might be healed, but that it might be more 

* clearly known that they were healed. . . . And for 

* all the benefits he rendered, he never once took any 
4 reward, nor glory, nor money, nor pleasure, nor rule, 
' so that the suspicion of a corrupt motive might not 

* be imputed to him. And it was not till after the 
' Holy Spirit had been sent that the Gospel trumpet 
' was sounded through the whole world, lest it should 

* seem that he had sought anything for himself while 

* alive. Moreover, there is no testimony held more 

* efficacious amongst mortals than blood. By his 

* own death, and that of his disciples, he set a seal to 
'the truth of his teaching. I have already alluded 
4 to the consistency of his whole life.' x 

These passages will serve as examples of the means 

by which, in this treatise, Erasmus sought to bring out 

the facts of the life of Christ as the true foundation of 

the Christian faith, instead of the dogmas of scholastic 

theology. After thus thoughtfully dwelling upon the 

facts of the life of Christ, he proceeds to examine his 

teaching, and he concludes that there were two things 

which he peculiarly and perpetually inculcated — faith 

and love — and, after describing them more at length, 

he writes, ' Eead the New Testament through, you will Precepts 

n .. . 1-t • oi the 

' not nnd m it any precept which pertains to cere- New Tes- 

* monies. Where is there a single word of meats or 
' vestments? Where is there any mention of fasts and 

the like ? Love alone He calls His precept. Cere- 

1 Novum Testamentum, 2nd ed. pp. 35, 36. 

454 Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

Chap. xv. ' monies give rise to differences ; from love flows peace. 
a.d. 1518. ' • • • And yet we burden those who have been made 
' free by the blood of Christ with all these almost 
' senseless and more than Jewish constitutions ! ' ] 

Finally, turning from the New Testament and its 
theology to the Schoolmen and theirs, he exclaimed, 
1 What a spectacle it is to see a divine of eighty years 
' old knowing nothing but mere sophisms ! ' 2 and ended 
with the sentences which have already been quoted as 
the conclusion of the shorter treatise prefixed to the 
' Novum Instrumentum.' 

This somewhat lengthy examination of ' the method 
' of true theology ' w~ill not have been fruitless, if it 
should place beyond dispute what was pointed out with 
reference to the 'Novum Instrumentum,' that its value 
lay more in its prefaces, and its main drift and spirit 
as a whole, than in the critical exactness of its Greek 
text or the correctness of its readings. If it could be 
said of the ' Novum Instrumentum ' that much of its 
value lay in its preface — in its beautiful 'Paracusis' — 
it may also be said that the importance of the second 
edition was greatly enhanced by the addition of the 
' Ratio Vera? Theologian. , 

And as, like its forerunner, this second edition went 
forth under the shield of Leo X.'s approval, with the 
additional sanction of the Archbishops of Basle and of 
Canterbury, and with all the prestige of former success, 
it must have been felt to be not only a firm and digni- 
fied, but also a triumphant reply to the various attacks 
which had been made upon Erasmus — a reply more 
powerful than the keenest satire or the most bitter in- 

1 Novum Test amentum, 2nd ed. p. 42. a Ibid. p. 61. 

Return of Erasmus to Louvain. 


vective could have been — a reply in which the honest Chap. xv. 
dissentient found a calm restatement of what perhaps a .d. 1518. 
he had only half comprehended ; the candid critic, the 
errors of which he complained corrected; and the blind 
bigot, the luxury of something further to denounce. 1 


After several months' hard and close labour in Fro- 
ben's office in the autumn of 1518, Erasmus left Basle, 
jaded and in poor health. As he proceeded on his 
journey to Louvain his maladies increased. Carbuncles 
made their appearance, and added to the pains of 
travel. He reached Louvain thoroughly ill; and 
turned into the house of the hospitable printer, Thierry JJ 
Martins, almost exhausted. A physician was sent for. 
He told Martins and his wife that Erasmus had the 
plague, and never came again for fear of contagion. 
Another was sent for, but he likewise did not repeat 
his visit. A third came, and pronounced it not to be 
the plague. A fourth, at the first mention of ulcers, 
was seized with fear, and though he promised to call 
again, sent his servant instead. And thus for weeks 
lay Erasmus, ill and neglected by the doctors, in the 
house of the good printer at Louvain. 2 





Some monks were drinking together at Cologne, a 
city where Erasmus had many bigoted enemies. One 

1 When, after tbe 3rd edition had 
been published and a 4th was in 
preparation, in 1526, a Doctor of 
the Sorbonne attacked the New 
Testament of Erasmus, he was able 
triumphantly to ask bim, 'what he 
' wanted ? ' His New Testament 

bad already been ' scattered abroad 
'by the printers in thousands of 
' copies over and over again. ' His 
critic '■should have written in time ! ' 
— Erasmus to the Faculty of Paris. 
Jortin, ii. App. No. xlix. p. 492. 
2 Eras. Op. iii. pp. 374, 375. 

456 Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

Chap. xv. of the fraternity of preaching friars brought to them 

a.d. 1518. the news that Erasmus was dead at Louvain ! The 

joy of the intelligence was received with applause by the con- 
monks at.., , , . -, . , , 

the report vivial monks, and again and again was the applause 
death of repeated, when the preacher added, in his monkish 
Erasmus. Latin, that Erasmus had died, like a heretic as he was, 
' sine lux, sine crux, sine Deus? 1 

1 Eras. Op. iii. p. 432, D and E. 



The monks of Cologne were disappointed. Erasmus 
did not die. His illness turned out not to be the 
plague. After four weeks' nursing at the good printer's 
house, he was well enough to be removed to his own 
lodgings within the precincts of the college. Thence 
he wrote to Beatus Ehenanus in these words : — 


a.d. 1518. 

Erasmus to Beatus Ehenanus. 

' My dear Beatus, — Who would have believed that Erasmus 
this frail delicate body, now weaker from increasing hisuineL 
age, after the toils of so many journeys, after the 
labours of so many studies, should have survived 
such an illness ? You know how hard I had been 

working at Basle just before A suspicion 

had crossed my mind that this year would prove 
fatal to me, one malady succeeded so rapidly upon 
another, and each worse than the one which pre- 
ceded it. When the disease was at its height, I 
neither felt distressed with desire of life, nor did I 
tremble at the fear of death. All my hope was in 
Christ alone, and I prayed for nothing to him except 

1 Eras. Epist. ccclvii. 


Colet, Erasmus, and More. 


a.d. 1518. 

' that he would do what he thought best for me. 
' Formerly, when a youth, I remember I used to 
' tremble at the very name of death !....' 

Had Erasmus fallen a victim to the plague and 
died at the house of Martins the printer, as the friar 
had reported, and the convivial monks had too readily 
believed, it does not seem likely that his death would 
have been as dark and godless as they fancied it 
might have been. As it was, instead of dying without 
lighted tapers and crucifix and transubstantiated 
wafer, or, in monkish jargon, l sine lux, sine crux, sine 
Deus,' their enemy still lived, and the disappointed 
monks, instead of ill-concealed rejoicings over his 
death, were obliged to content themselves for many 
years to come with muttering in quite another tone, 
' It were good for that man if he had never been 


• 1 

The sweat- 
ing sick- 

Death of 



While the plague had been raging in Germany, the 
sweating sickness had been continuing its ravages in 
England. Before More left for Calais it had struck 
down, after a few days' illness, Ammonius, with whom 
Erasmus and More had long enjoyed intimate friend- 
ship. Wolsey also had narrowly escaped with his life, 
after repeated attacks. When More returned from 
the embassy he found the sickness still raging. In 
the spring of 1518 the court was removed to Abing- 
don, to escape the contagion of the great city ; and 
whilst there, More, who now was obliged to follow 
the King wherever he might go, had to busy himself 

1 Eras. Op. iii. 1490, T). Brewer, ii. Noa. 3670, 3671, dated Sept. 1517. 

More at Court. 459 

with precautionary measures to prevent its spread in Chap. 
Oxford, where it had made its appearance. 1 

Whilst at Abingdon, he was called upon, also, to in- 
terfere with his influence to quiet a foolish excitement 
which had seized the students at Oxford. It was not 
the spread of the sweating sickness which had caused 
their alarm ; but the increasing taste for the study of 
Greek had roused the fears of divines of the old school. 
The enemies of the ' new learning ' had raised a fac- 
tion against it. The students had taken sides, calling 
themselves Greeks and Trojans, and, not content with Greeks 
wordy warfare, they had come to open and public Ja ns at 
insult. At length, the most virulent abuse had been x or ' 
poured upon the Greek language and literature, even 
from the university pulpit, by an impudent and igno- 
rant preacher. He had denounced all who favoured 
Greek studies as ' heretics ; ' in his coarse phraseology, 
those who taught the obnoxious language were ' dia- 
' bolos maximos ' and its students ' diabolos minutulos.' 

More, upon hearing what had been passing, wrote a 
letter of indignant but respectful remonstrance to the 
university authorities. 2 He and Pace interested the 
King also in the affair, and at their suggestion he took 
occasion to express his royal pleasure that the students 
' would do well to devote themselves with energy and 
' spirit to the study of Greek literature ; ' and so, says 
Erasmus, 'silence was imposed upon these brawlers.' 3 

On another occasion the King and his courtiers had 
attended Divine service. The court preacher had, like 
the Oxford divine, indulged in abuse of Greek litera- 

1 Brewer, preface, ccxi. i p. 662-667. 

2 Jortin's Life of Erasmus, App. | 3 Eras. Op. in. p. 403, b. 

460 Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

Chap, ture and the modern school of interpretation — having 
- — I. Erasmus and his New Testament in his eye. Pace 
looked at the King to see what he thought of it. The 
King answered his look with a satirical smile. After 
the sermon the divine was ordered to attend upon the 
King. It was arranged that More should reply to 
the arguments he had urged against Greek literature. 
After he had done so, the divine, instead of replying 
to his arguments, dropped down on his knees before 
the King, and simply prayed for forgiveness, urging, 
however, by way of extenuating his fault, that he was 
carried away by the spirit in his sermon when he 
poured forth all this abuse of the Greek language. 
' But,' the King here observed, ' that spirit was not 
' the spirit of Christ, but the spirit of foolishness.' He 
then asked the preacher what works of Erasmus he 
a foolish had read. He had not read any. ' Then,' said the 
at Court. King, ' you prove yourself to be a fool, for you con 
' demn what you have never read.' ' I read once,' 
replied the divine, ' a thing called the " Moria." ' . . . 
Pace here susforested that there was a decided con- 
gruity between that and the preacher. And finally 
the preacher himself relented so far as to admit : — 
' After all I am not so very hostile to Greek letters, 
' because they were derived from the Hebrew.' The 
King, wondering at the distinguished folly of the man, 
bade him retire, but with strict injunctions never 
again to preach at Court ! l 

So far, then, from More's new position having ex- 
tinguished his own opinions or changed his views, he 
had the satisfaction of being able now and then to 

1 Eras. Op. iii. p. 408. 

Colet in Retirement. 461 

advance the interests of the ' new learning,' and to Chap. 


act the part of its ' friend at court.' 1 

A.D. 1518. 


The sweating sickness continued its ravages in Eng- The 
land, striking down one here and another there with sickness. 
merciless rapidity. It was generally fatal on the first 
day. If the patient survived twenty-four hours he was 
looked upon as out of danger. But it was liable to 
recur, and sometimes attacked the same person four 
times in succession. This was the case with Cardinal 
Wolsey ; whilst several of the royal retinue were at- 
tacked and carried off at once, Wolsey's strong consti- 
tution carried him through four successive attacks. 1 

During the period of its ravages Colet was three Colet three 
times attacked by it and survived, but with a consti- attacked 
tution so shattered, and with symptoms so premonitory y lt- 
of consumptive tendencies, as to suggest to him that 
the time might not be far distant when he too must 
follow after his twenty-one brothers and sisters, and 
leave his aged mother the survivor of all her children. 

Meanwhile an accidental ray of light falls here and 
there upon the otherwise obscure life of Colet during 
these years of peril, revealing little pictures, too beauti- 
ful in their simple consistency with all else we know 
of him to be passed by unheeded. 

The first glimpse we get of Colet reveals him engaged 
in the careful and final completion of the rules and 
statutes by which his school was to be governed after 
his own death. Having spent a good part of his life 
and his fortune in the foundation of this school, as the 

1 Four Years at the Court of Henry VIII. ii. p. 127. 

A.D. 1518. 

462 Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

Chap, best means of promoting the cause which he had so 
deeply at heart, one might have expected that he would 
have tried, in fixing his statutes, to give permanence 
and perpetuity to his own views. This is what most 
people try to do by endowments of this kind. 

No sooner do most reformers clear away a little 
ground, and discover what they take to be truths, than 
they attempt, by organising a sect, founding endow- 
ments, and framing articles and trust-deeds, to secure 
the permanent tradition of their own views to posterity 
in the form in which they are apprehended by them- 
selves. Hence, in the very act of striking off the fetters 
of the past, they are often forging the fetters of the 
future. Even the Protestant Eeformers, whilst on the 
one hand bravely breaking the yoke under which their 
ancestors had lived in bondage, ended by fixing another 
on the neck of their posterity. Those who remained 
in the old bondage found themselves, as the result of 
the Eeformation, bound still tighter under Tridentine 
decrees : whilst those who had joined the exodus, and 
entered the promised land of the Eeformers, found it to 
be a land of almost narrower boundaries than the one 
they had left. Freed from Papal thraldom it might be, 
but bound down by an Augustinian theology as rigid 
and dogmatic as that from which they had escaped. 

If Colet did not do likewise, he resisted with singular 
wisdom and success a temptation which besets every 
one under his circumstances. That Colet strove to 
found no sect of his own has already been seen. If the 
movement which he had done so much to set agoing 
had produced its fruits — if a school or party had been 
the result — he had not called it, or felt it to be, in any 
way his own ; he might call it ' Erasmican ' in joke, and 
leave Erasmus indignantly to repudiate ' that name of 

Colet in Retirement. 463 

' division : ' but Erasmus expressed the view of Colet as Chap. 

. XVI. 

well as his own when he said to the abbot, ' Why should 1 

' we try to narrow what Christ intended to be broad?' A,r> ' lo18 ' 

Perfectly consistent with this feeling, Colet did not 
now show any anxiety to perpetuate his own par- 
ticular views by means of the power which, as the 
founder of the endowment, he had a perfect right to 
exercise. The truth was, I think, that he retained the 
spirit of free enquiry — the mind open to light from 
whatever direction — to the last, in full faith that the 
facts of Christianity — in so far as they are facts — 
must have everything to gain and nothing to lose from 
the discovery of other facts in other fields of knowledge. 
As I have before pointed out, the Oxford Eeformers 
felt that they were living in an age of discovery and 
progress ; they never dreamed that they had reached 
finality either in knowledge or creed ; it would have 
been a sad blow to their hopes if they had been told 
that they had. They took a humble view of their 
own attainments, and had faith in the future. 

In this spirit do we find Colet in these days of peril Colet 
from the sweating sickness, and conscious that his statutes of 
shattered health must soon give way, settling the bls sch ° o1 - 
statutes of his school with a wisdom seldom surpassed 
even in more modern times. 

First, with great practical shrewdness, instead of 
putting his school under the charge of ecclesiastics or 
clergymen, he intrusted it entirely ' to the most honest 
' and faithful fellowship of the Mercers of London ' 
As Erasmus expressed it, 'of the whole concern, he set 
' in charge, not a bishop, not a chapter, not dignitaries, 
' but married citizens of established reputation.' l Time 

1 Eras. Op. iii. p. 457, E. See also I edition of Dean Colet on the Sacvi- 
Mr. Lupton's Introduction to his I ments of the Church, yip. 19 and ^'(i. 


Colet, Erasmus, and More. 


A.D. 1518. 

had been when Colet had regarded ' marriage ' as 
almost an unholy thing. But he had seen much both 
of the church and the world since then ; and as perhaps 
his faith in Dionysian speculations had lessened, his 
English common sense had more and more asserted 
its own. He had, as already mentioned, wisely advised 
Thomas More to marry. In his ' Eight fruitful Admoni- 
' tion concerning the Order of a good Christian Man's 
' Life,' from which I have quoted before, he had said, 
' If thou intend to marry, or be married, and hast a 
' good wife, thank our Lord therefor, for she is of his 
' sending.' So now he intrusted his school to ' married 
' citizens ; ' and Erasmus adds, ' when he was asked the 
' reason, he said, that nothing indeed is certain in human 
' affairs, but that yet amongst these he had found the 
' least corruption. 1 ... He used to declare that he had 
' nowhere found less corrupt morals than among married 
' people, because natural affection, the care of their chil- 
' dren, and domestic duties, are like so many rails which 
' keep them from sliding into all kinds of vice.' 2 

In defining the duties and salaries of the masters of 
his school, he provided expressly that they might be 
married men (and those chosen by him actually were 
so) ; 3 but they were to hold their office ' in no rome of 
'continuance and perpetuity, but upon their duty in the 
' school.' The chaplain was to be ' some good, honest, 
' and virtuous man, and to help to teach in the school.' 

1 Eras. Op. iii. p. 457, E. 

2 Ibid. p. 459, A and B. 

3 William Lilly was married and 
had several children. The sur-mas- 
ter, John Eightwyse, married his 
daughter. Mr. Lupton informs me, 
that in vol. iv. of Stow's Historical 

Collections (Harleian, No. 450), fol. 
58 b, is a Latin epitaph, in ten lines, 
by Lilly on his wife. Her name is 
spelt ' Hagnes,' and (if the reading 
be correct) they appear to have had 
fifteen children. 

A.D. 1518. 

Colet in Retirement. 465 

Kespecting the children he expressed his desire Chap 
to be that they should not be received into the school 
until they could read and write fairly, and explained 
■ what they shall be taught ' in general terms ; ' for,' 
said he, ' it passeth my wit to devise and determine 
' in particular.' 

Then, last of all, he added the following clause, 
headed, ' Liberty to Declare the Statutes : ' — 

' And notwithstanding these statutes and ordinances Colet 
' before written, in which I have declared my mind and ^ve S y 
'will; yet because in time to come many things may and aiTeTthe 
' shall survive and grow by many occasions and causes statutes. 
' which at the making of this book was not possible to 
' come to mind ; in consideration of the assured truth 
' and circumspect wisdom and faithful goodness of the 
' most honest and substantial fellowship of the Mercery 
' of London, to whom I have committed all the care of 
' the school, and trusting in their fidelity and love that 
' they have to God and man and to the school ; and 
' also believing verily that they shall always dread the 
' great wrath of God : — Both all this that is said, and 
' all that is not said, ivhich hereafter shall come into my 
' mind while I live to he said, I leave it wholly to their 
' discretion and charity : I mean of the wardens and 
' assistances of the fellowship, with such other counsel 
' as they shall call unto them — good lettered and 
' learned men — they to add and diminish of this booh 
' and to supply it in every default ; and also to declare in 
' it every obscurity and darkness as time and place and 
'just occasion shall require ; calling the dreadful God 
' to look upon them in all such business, and exhorting 
' them to fear the terrible judgment of God, which 
' seeth in darkness, and shall render to every man 

H H 

466 Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

Chap. ' according to his works ; and finally, praying the 


A.D. 1518. 

' great Lord of mercy, for their faithful dealing in 
' this matter, now and always to send unto them in 
' this world much wealth and prosperity, and after 
' this life much joy and glory.' l 

This done, he wrote in the Book of Statutes the 
following memorandum : — ' This book I, John Colet, 
' delivered into the hands of Master Lilly the 18th day 
' of June 1518, that he may keep it and observe it in 
' the school.' 2 

Having completed the statutes of his school, Colet 

turned his attention to a few other final arrangements, 

including; certain reforms in the church of St. Paul's. 3 

coiet pre- He had already prepared a simple tomb for himself at 

tomb at the side of the choir of the great cathedral with which 

St. Paul's. j^ g i a ] 30urs h a( j "k ee n so closely connected, and the 

simple inscription, ' Johannes Coletus,' was already 
carved on the plain monumental stone which was to 
cover his grave. Thus he was ready to depart when- 
ever the summons should arrive. But the pale mes- 
senger came not yet. 

Meanwhile Colet retained his interest in passing- 
events. If he seemed to take little part in public 
affairs, it was not owing to his want of interest in them. 
It would almost seem that he sympathised much during 
this quiet season with Luther's attack upon Indul- 
gences, and was a reader of those of his works — chiefly 
pamphlets — which had reached England. This, how- 
ever, rests only upon the remark of Erasmus, that he 

1 Knight's Life of Colet. Miscel- 
lanies, No. v. 

2 The original of this book with 

3 Knight, p. 227. He drew up 
a body of statutes, which, however, 
were never accepted by the chapter. 

Oolet's signature is still preserved — Milman's Annals of St. Paul's, 
at the Mercers' Hall. I p. 124. 

Colet in Retirement. 467 

was in the habit of reading heretical books, declaring Chap. 


that he often got more good from them than from 

the Schoolmen ; 1 and the further statement made inci- A ' D ' 
dentally by Erasmus to Luther, that there were in 
England some men in the highest position who thought 
well of his works. 2 His close retirement may be 
accounted for as well by his shattered health as by 
the circumstance that Bishop Eitzjames still lived in 
his grey hairs to harass him. 

It was probably to secure a safe retreat in emergency 
beyond the jurisdiction of this bigoted bishop that 
Colet was building his ' nest,' as he called it, within 
the precincts of the Charterhouse — not in London, but 
at Sheen, near Eichmond. Whether he ever really 
entered this ' nest,' so long in course of preparation, 
does not appear. Eerhaps there was no need for it. 

Little as of late he had mixed himself up with public 
affairs, he was still looked up to by those who, through 
the report of Erasmus, recognised his almost apostolic 
piety and wisdom. Thus, in his quiet retirement, he re- 
ceived a letter from Marquard von Hatstein, one of the Colet 
canons of Maintz, a connection of Ulrich von Hutten's, 3 letter from 
mentioned by Erasmus as ' a most excellent young JJ^Hat! 1 
* man ; ' 4 one of the little group of men who, under the stein - 
lead of the Archbishop of Maintz, had boldly taken the 
side of Eeuchlin against his persecutors — a letter which 
shows so true an appreciation of Colet's character and 
relation to the movement which was now known as 
' Erasmian,' that it must have been exceedingly grate- 
ful to the feelino-s of Colet, now that he had set his 

1 Eras. Op. iii. p. 460, A. 4 Strausz. Leipzig, 1858, vol. i. 

- Ibid. p. 445, B. p. 123. 

3 Ibid. p. 751, E. 

H H ; 1 


Colet, Erasmus, and More. 


A.D. 1518. 

house in order, and was ready to leave in other hands 
the work which he himself had commenced. 

Marquarol von TIatstein to John Colet. 1 

' I have often thought with admiration of your 
blessedness, who born to wealth and of so illustrious 
a family have added to these gifts of fortune man- 
ners and intellectual culture abundantly correspond- 
ing therewith. For such is your learning, piety, and 
manner of life, such lastly your Christian constancy, 
that notwithstanding all these gifts of fortune, you 
seem to care for little but that you may run in the 
path of Christ in so noble a spirit, that you are not 
surpassed by any even of those who call themselves 
" mendicants." For they in many things simulate and 
dissimulate for the sake of sensual pleasures. 

' When recently the trumpet of cruel war sounded 
so terribly, how did you hold up against it the image 
of Christ ! the olive-branch of peace ! You exhorted 
us to tolerance, to concord, to the yielding up of our 
goods for the good of a brother, instead of invading 
one another's rights. You told us that there was no 
cause of war between Christians, who are bound to- 
gether by holy ties in a love more than fraternal. 
And many other things of a like nature did you urge, 
with so great authority, that I may truly say that the 
virtue of Christ thus set forth by Colet was seen from 
afar. And thus did you discomfit the dark designs 
of your enemies. Men raging against the truth, you 
conquered with the mildness of an apostle. You 
opposed your gentleness to their insane violence. 

1 Epistolce aliquot Eruditorum, tyc. Appended to Apologia Erasmi^ 
£c. Basil 1520, pp. 139, 140. 

1 This letter possibly may not case with these letters — the year 
have reached England before Colet's \ not being often added by the writer 
death ; but it is most likely that | himself at the time, but by some 
the date is wrong, as so often is the \ copyist subsequently. 

a.d. 1518. 

Colet in Retirement. 469 

* Through your innocence you escaped from any harm, Chap - 

* even though by their numbers (for there is always 
' the most abundant crop of what is bad) they were 
' able to override your better opinion. With a skill 
' like that with which Homer published the praises of 
' Achilles, Erasmus has studiously held up to the ad- 
' miration of the world and of posterity the name of 
' England, and especially of Colet, whom he has so 
' described that there is not a good man of any nation 
' who does not honour } t ou. I seem to myself to see 
' that each of you owes much to the other, but which 
' of the two owes most to the other I am doubtful. 
' For he must have received good from you : seeing 
' that you are hardry likely to have been magnified by 
' his colouring pen. You, however, if I may freely say 
< what I think, do seem to owe some thanks to him for 
' making publicly known those virtues which before 
4 were unknown to us. Still I fancy you are not the 
' less victor in the matter of benefits conferred, since 
' you have blessed Erasmus, a stranger to England, 
' otherwise an incomparable man, with so many friends 
* — Mountjoy, More, Linacre, Tunstal, &c 

' Having commenced my theological studies, I have 

* learned from the conversation and writings of Erasmus 

* to regard you as my exemplar. I wish I could really 
' follow you as closely as I long to do. I long, not 
' only to improve myself in letters, but to lead a holier 
' life. Farewell in Christ, VI. Cal. Maii, Anno MDXX.' 
(should be probably 1519). 1 

470 Colet Erasmus, and More. 



MONKS (1519). 

Erasmus was as much hated by the monks in England 
as by the monks at Cologne ; but they found their at- 
tempts to stir up ill-feeling against him checkmated 
by the influence of More and his friends. 

More's father was known to be a good Catholic, and 

probably to belong, as an old man with conservative 

tendencies was likely to do, to the orthodox party. 

He himself was now too near the royal ear to be a 

harmless adherent of the new learning — as they had 

learned to their cost before now. He was so popular, 

too, with all parties ! If only he could be detached 

from Erasmus and brought over to their own side, 

what a triumph it would be ! 

More re- So an anonymous letter was written by a monk to 

fettOTfrom More, expressing great solicitude for his welfare, and 

a monk. f ears } es t he should be corrupted by too great intimacy 

with Erasmus ; lest he should be led astray, by too 

great love of his writings, into the adoption of his 

new and foreign doctrines ! 

The good monk was particularly shocked at the 
hints thrown out by Erasmus in his writings, that, 
after all, the holy doctors and fathers of the Church 
were fallible. 

He took up the vulgar objections which the letter of 
Dorpius, and a still more recent attack upon Erasmus, 
by an Englishman named Edward Lee, had put into 
every one's mouth, and tried to persuade More to be 
wise in time, lest he should become infected with the 
Erasmian poison. 

More and the Monks. 


More's letter in reply to the over-anxious monk has 
been preserved. 1 

He indignantly repelled the insinuation that he was 
in danger of contamination from his intimacy with 
Erasmus, whose New Testament the very Pope had 
sanctioned, who lived in the nearest intimacy with 
such men as Colet, Fisher, and Warham ; to say 
nothing of Mountjo}^, Tunstal, Pace, and Grocyn. 
Those who knew Erasmus best, loved him most. 

Then turning to the charge made against Erasmus, 
that he denied the infallibility of the fathers, More 
wrote : — 

' Do you deny that they ever made mistakes ? I put 
' it to you — when Augustine thought that Jerome had 
' mistranslated a passage, and Jerome defended what he 
' had done, was not one of the two mistaken ? When 
' Augustine asserted that the Septuagint is to be taken 
' as an indubitably faithful translation, and Jerome 
' denied it, and asserted that its translators had fallen 
' into errors, was not one of the two mistaken ? When 
' Augustine, in support of his view, adduced the story 
' of the wonderful agreement of the different transla- 
' tions produced by the inspired translators writing in 
' separate cells, and Jerome laughed at the story as 
' absurd, was not one of the two mistaken ? When Je- 
' rome, writing on the Epistle to the Galatians, trans- 
' lated its meaning to be that Peter was blamed by 
' Paul for dissimulating, and Augustine denied it, was 
' not one of them mistaken ? . . . Augustine asserts 


a.d. 1519. 
His reply. 

1 ' Epistola clarissimi viri Thornse 
' Mori, qua refellit rabiosarn maledi- 
' centiani monachi cujusdam juxta 
' indocti atque arrogantis. — Epi- 

stola aliquot Eruditorum Virorum, 
Sfc. Basileaj, m.dxx. pp. 92-188. 
Also Jortin's Life of Erasmus, Ap- 


Colet, Erasmus, and More. 


A.D. 1519. 

Alludes to 
by tooth 
and nail 
to Augus- 

But his 
own view 
not Pela- 

' that demons and angels also have material and sub- 
' stantial bodies. I doubt not that even you deny this ! 
' He asserts that infants dying without baptism are 
' consigned to physical torments in eternal punish- 
' ment — how many are there who believe this now ? 
' unless it be that Luther, clinging by tooth and nail to 
' the doctrine of Augustine, should be induced to revive 
' this antiquated notion. . . .' 1 

I have quoted this passage fromMore's letter because 
it shows clearly, not only how fully More had adopted 
the position taken up by Erasmus, but also how fully his 
eyes were open to the fact, that the rising reformer of 
Wittemberg did ' cling by tooth and nail to the doctrine 
' of Augustine,' and was likely, by doing so, to be led 
astray into some of the harsh views, and, as he thought, 
obvious errors of that Holy Father. 

At the same time the following passage may be 
quoted as proof that, in rejecting the Augustinian 
creed, More and his friends did not run into the other 
extreme of Pelagianism. 

He had told the monk at the beginning of his letter, 
that after he had shown how safe was the ground upon 
which Erasmus and he were walking in the valley, he 
would turn round and assail the lofty but tottering 
citadel, from which the monk looked down upon them 
with so proud a sense of security. So after he had 
disposed of the monk's arguments, he began : — 

' Into what factions — into how many sects is the 
' order cut up ! Then, what tumults, what tragedies 
' arise about little differences in the colour or mode of 
' girding the monastic habit, or some matter of ceremony 
' which, if not altogether despicable, is at all events not 

1 ' Nisi quod Lutherus fertur Au- I ' antiquatam sententiam rursus in- 
'• gustini doctrinam mordicus tenens I ' staurare.' — p. 99. 

A.D. 1519. 

Move's Letter to a Monk. 473 

4 so important as towarrant the banishment of all charity. Chap. 

, xvi. 

' How many, too, are there (and this is surely worst 

' of all) who, relying on the assurances of their monastic 

' profession, inwardly raise their crests so high that they 

' seem to themselves to move in the heavens, and re- 

' clining among the solar rays, to look down from on 

' high upon the people creeping on the ground like 

' ants, looking down thus, not only on the ungodly, 

* but also upon all who are without the circle of the 
' enclosure of their order, so that for the most part 

' nothing is holy but what they do themselves 

' They make more of things which appertain specially 

* to the religious order, than of those valueless and very 
' humble things which are in no way peculiar to them 
' but entirely common to all Christian people, such as 
' the vulgar virtues — faith, hope, charity, the fear of 
' God, humility, and others of the kind. Nor, indeed, 
' is this a new thing. Nay, it is what Christ long 
' ago denounced to his chosen people, " Ye make 
'"the word of God of none effect through your tradi- 
' tions." .... 

' There are multitudes enough who would be afraid 
' that the devil would come upon them and take them 
' alive to hell, if, forsooth, they were to set aside their 
' usual garb, whom nothing can move when they are 
' grasping at money. 

' Are there only a few, think you, who would deem 
' it a crime to be expiated with many tears, if they were 
' to omit a line in their hourly prayers, and yet have no 
' fearful scruple at all, when they profane themselves 
' by the worst and most infamous lies ? . . . . Indeed, 
' I once knew a man devoted to the religious life — one More re- 
' of that class who would nowadays be thought " most anecdote. 
' " religious." This man, by no means a novice, but 


Colet, Erasmus, and More. 


A.D. 1519. 

one who had passed many years in what they call 
regular observances, and had advanced so far in them 
that he was even set over a convent — but, nevertheless, 
more careless of the precepts of God than of monastic 
rites — slid down from one crime to another, till at 
length he went so far as to meditate the most atrocious 
of all crimes — a crime execrable beyond belief — and 
what is more, not a simple crime, but one pregnant 
with manifold guilt, for he even purposed to add 
sacrilege to murders and parricide. When this man 
thought himself insufficient without accomplices for 
the perpetration of so many crimes, he associated 
with himself some ruffians and cutpurses. They com- 
mitted the most horrible crimes which I ever heard 
of. They were all of them thrown together into 
prison. I do not wish to give the details, and I ab- 
stain from the names of the criminals, lest I should 
renew anything of past hatred to an innocent order. 

' But to proceed to narrate the circumstances on 
account of which I have mentioned this affair. I 
heard from those wicked assassins that, when they 
came to that religious man in his chamber, they had 
not spoken of the crime ; but being introduced into 
his private chapel, they appeased the sacred Virgin 
by a salutation on their bent knees according to 
custom. This being properly accomplished, they at 
length rose purely and piously to perpetrate their 
crime ! . . . . 

' Now, I have not mentioned this with the view 
either to defame the religion of the monks with these 
crimes, since the same soil may bring forth useful 
herbs and pestiferous weeds, or to condemn the rites 
of those who occasionally salute the sacred Virgin, 

Move's Letter to a Monk. 475 

' than which nothing is more beneficial ; but because Chap. 

° . XVI. 

' people trust so much in such things that under the 

' very security which they thus feel they give them- 
' selves up to crime. 

' From reflections such as these you may learn the 
' lesson which the occasion suggests. That you should 
' not grow too proud of your own sect — nothing could 
' be more fatal. Nor trust in private observances. 
' That you should place your hopes rather in the Chris- 
' tian faith than in your own ; and not trust in those 
' things which you can do for yourself, but in those 
' which you cannot do without Gods help. You can 
' fast by yourself, you can keep vigils by yourself, you 
4 can say prayers by yourself — and you can do these 
' things by the devil ! But, verily, Christian faith, 
' which Christ Jesus truly said to be in spirit ; Chris- 
' tian hope, which, despairing of its own merits, confides 
' only in the mercy of God ; Christian charity, which 
' is not puffed up, is not made angry, does not seek its 
' own glory, — none, indeed, can attain these except 
' by the grace and gracious help of God alone. 

' By how much the more you place your trust in 
' those virtues which are common to Christendom, 
' by so much the less will you have faith in private 
' ceremonies, whether those of your order or your 
' own ; and by how much the less you trust in them 
' by so much the more will they be useful. For then 
' at last God will esteem you a faithful servant, when 
' you shall count yourself good for nothing.' 

That these passages prove that More and his friends 
had not set aside monasticism, or even Mariolatry, as 
altogether wrong, cannot be too clearly recognised. 
In an age of transition it is the direction of the thoughts 

A.D. 1519. 

A.D. 1519. 

476 Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

Chap, and aims of men which constitutes the radical difference 


or agreement between them, rather than the exact dis- 
tance that each may have travelled on the same road. 
Luther himself had not yet in his hatred of ceremonies 
travelled so far as the Oxford Keformers, though in 
after years he went farther, because he travelled faster 
than they did. Upon these questions they were very 
much practically at one. And if here and there the 
three friends observed in Luther an impetuosity which 
carried him into extremes, much as they might differ 
from some of his statements, and the tone he some- 
times adopted, their respect for his moral earnestness, 
and their perception of the amount of exasperation to 
which his hot nature was exposed, made them readily 
pardon what they could not approve. They had as 
yet little idea — though More's letter showed that they 
had some — much less than Luther himself had — how 
practically important was the difference between them. 
For the moment their two orbits seemed almost to 
coincide. They seemed even to be approaching each 
other. They seemed to meet in their common hatred 
of the formalism of the monks, in their common 
attempt to grasp at the spirit — the reality — of reli- 
gion through its forms and shadows. They had little 
idea that they were crossing each other's path, and 
that ere long, as each pursued his course, the diver- 
gence would become wider and wider. 



In the summer of 1518 Melanchthon had joined 
Luther at Wittemberg. During the remainder of that 
year the controversy on Indulgences was going on. 

The Oxford and Wittemberg Reformers. 477 


A.D. 1519. 

Eome had taken the matter up. Luther had appeared 
before the Papal legate Cajetan, and from his harsh 
demand of simple recantation, had shrunk with horror 
and fled back into Saxony. The legate had threatened 
that Eome would never let the matter drop, and urged 
the Elector of Saxony to send Luther to Eome. But Luther 
he had made common cause with the poor monk, and by the 
refused to banish him. Leo X. was afraid to quarrel g^ny. 
with Frederic of Saxony, and under the auspices of 
Miltitz, aided by the moderation of Luther and the 
firmness of his protector, a little oil was thrown on the 
troubled waters. But in the spring of 1519, when the 
Papal tenths came to be exacted, murmurs were heard 
again on all sides. Hutten commenced his series of 
satirical pamphlets, and it became evident that the 
storm was not permanently laid, the lull might last 
for a while, but fresh tempests were ahead. 1 

It was during this interval of uncertainty that the 
first intercourse took place between Erasmus and the 
Wittemberg Eeformers. 

Letters had already passed between Melanchthon Meian- 
and Erasmus ; they had been known to one another opinion of 
by name for some years, and were on the best of Erasmus - 
terms. Thus Melanchthon, in writing to a friend of 
his in January 1519, spoke of Erasmus as ' the first to 
' call back theology to her fountain-head,' 2 and of 
Luther as belonging to the same school. He freely 
admitted how much greater was the learning of 
Erasmus than that of Luther, and when in March he 
received from Froben a copy of the ' Method of True 

1 For the ahove particulars see 
Ranke's History of the Reformation, 
bk. ii. c. iii. 

2 Melanchthonis Epistolce : Bret- 
schneider, i. p. 68, and p. 66. 


Colet. Erasmus, and More. 


A.D. 1519. 

opinion of 
Mel an - 

What he 
says of 
Luther to 

' Theology,' told Spalatin that ' this illustrious man 
' seemed to have touched upon many points in the 
' same strain as Luther, for in these things,' he said, 
' they agreed ; ' adding, that Erasmus was ' freer than 
' Luther, because he had the assistance of real and 
' sacred learning ; ' and he mentioned this as an 
illustration of what he had just been saying, ' that 
' every good man thought well of their cause.' 1 

Erasmus, on his side, also spoke in the highest 
possible terms of Melanchthon. He had great hopes 
from his youth that he might long survive himself, 
and if he did, he predicted that his name would 
throw that of Erasmus into the shade. 2 

Whilst, however, Erasmus thus freely acknowledged 
the friendship and merits of Melanchthon, he was 
careful not to commit himself to an approval of all 
that Luther was doing. And surely it was wise ; for 
that his strong Ausmstinian tendencies were well 
known to the Oxford Eeformers, has already been 
seen in More's letter to the anonymous monk. 

On April 2, 1519, in reply to a letter from Melan- 
chthon 3 mentioning Luther's desire of his approval, 
Erasmus wrote, that ' while every one of his friends 
' honoured Luther's private life, as to his doctrine there 
' were different opinions. He himself had not read 
' Luther's books. Luther had censured some things 
' deservedly, but he wished that he had done so as 
' happily as he had freely.' At the end of this letter 
he expressed his affectionate anxiety lest Melanchthon 
should be wearing himself out by too hard study. 4 

1 March 1519, Bretschneider, i. 
p. 75. 

2 Erasmus to CEcolarnpadius, 
1518, Epist. cccliv. 

3 Dated January 5, from Wittem- 
berg. Bretschneider, i. p. 59. 

4 Epist. ccccxi. 

The Oxford and Wittemberg Reformers. 479 
On March 28, Luther had written a letter to Erasmus, Chap. 


which probably crossed this on the way between 1 

Wittemberg and Louvain. It was a letter in which AD * 1519 ' 
he had not made the slightest allusion to any difference writes to 
of opinion between himself and Erasmus. On the Erasmus - 
contrary, he had spoken as though he held Erasmus 
in the greatest possible honour. He had spoken of his 
having a place, and 'reigning' in the hearts of all who 
really loved literature. He had been reading the new 
preface to the ' Enchiridion,' and from it and from his 
friend Fabricius Capito he had learned that Erasmus 
had not only heard but approved of what he had done 
respecting indulgences. And with much genuine humi- 
lity he had begged Erasmus to acknowledge him, how- 
ever ignorant and unknown to fame, buried as it were 
in his cell, as a brother in Christ, by whom he himself 
was held in the greatest affection and regard. 1 

To this Erasmus, on May 30, replied, in a letter in Erasmus 
which he did address Luther as a 'brother in Christ.' Luther* 
He said he had not yet read the books which had 
created so much clamour, and therefore could not judge 
of them. He had looked into his Commentaries on the 
Psalms, was much pleased with them, and hoped they 
would prove useful. Some of the best men in England, 
even some at Louvain, thought well of him and his 
writings. As to himself, he devoted himself, as he had 
done all along, to the revival of good literature [in- 
cluding first and foremost the Scriptures]. And it 
seemed to him, he said, that more good would come 
of courteous modesty than of impetuosity. It was by 
this that Christ drew the world under his influence. 

1 Luther's Briefe. De "Wette, vol. i. Epist. cxxx. p. 249. 

a.d. 1519. 

480 Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

Chap. It was thus that Paul abrogated that Judaical law, 
treating it all as typical. It were better to exclaim 
against abuses of pontifical authority than against the 
Popes themselves. i May the Lord Jesus daily impart 
' to you abundantly ' (he concluded) ' of his own 
' Spirit to his own glory and the public good.' l 

Thus he seems to have said the same things to both 
Melanchthon and Luther. 

In the same strain, also, he wrote to others about 


what To the exasperated monks, who charged him with 

Sy^about aiding and abetting Luther in writing the books 

Luther to which had caused such a tumult, he replied that, as 

others. L 

he had not read them, he could not even express a 
decided opinion upon them. 2 

To Cardinal Wolsey he wrote, that he had only read 
a few pages of Luther's books, not because he disliked 
them, but because he was so closely occupied with his 
own. Luther's life was such that even his enemies 
could not find anything to slander. Germany had 
young men of learning and eloquence who would, he 
foretold, bring her great glory. Eobanus, Hutten, 
and Beatus Rhenanus were the only ones he knew 
personally. If these German students were too free 
in their criticisms, it should be remembered to what 
constant exasperation they had been submitted in all 
manner of ways, both public and private. 3 

To Hutten, who was perhaps the most hot-headed 
of these German young men, and whose satire had 
already proved itself more trenchant and bitter than 
any in which Erasmus had ever indulged, he urged 

1 Louvain, May 30, 1519. Eras. I - Eras. Op. iii. p. 444, E and F. 
Epist. ccccxsvii. i 3 Epist. cccxvii. May 8, 1519. 

Perseverance of Erasmus. 481 

moderation, and said that for himself he had rather Chap. 

spend a month m trying to explain St. Paul or the 

Gospels than waste a day in quarrelling. 1 

Erasmus was, in fact, working hard at his ' Para- Erasmus 

° is writing 

* phrases.' That on the Epistle to the Eomans had his ' Para- 
been already printed in 1517, in the very best type of 
Thierry Martins, and forming a small and very readable 
octavo volume. Those on the next seven epistles 2 now 
followed in quick succession in the spring of 1519. 
How fully the heart of Erasmus was in his work is 
incidentally shown by the fact that, being obliged to 
write a pamphlet in defence of a former publication of 
his, he cut it short by saying that he had rather be 
working at the Paraphrase on the ' Galatians,' which 
he was just completing. 3 And Erasmus was preparing, 
in addition to these Paraphrases on the Epistles, others, 
at Colet's desire, more lengthy, on the Gospels. Here 
was work enough surely on hand to excuse him from 
entering into the Lutheran controversy — work pre- 
cisely of that kind, moreover, which he had told Luther 
that he was devoting himself to. It was the work 
which, when he was longing for rest, and his zeal for the 
moment was threatening to flag, Colet had urged him to 
go on with through good and evil fortune ; and which 
he himself, in his letter to Servatius, had said he was 
determined to work at to the day of his death. It is 
clear that lie was in earnest when he told Hutten that 
he ' had rather spend a month in expounding St. Paul 
' than waste a day in quarrelling.' 

It seems to me, therefore, that the attitude of 

1 Epist. ccccxiii. Ap. 23, 1519. I edition of the Five Epistles, 1520. 

2 Eras.Epist.Laurentio: Louvain, 3 Apologia pro Declamatione de 
Feb. 1519, prefixed to the Basle I Laude Matrimonii: Basil. 1519. 

I I 

482 Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

Chap. Erasmus towards Luther was that, not of a coward, 


but of a man who knew wjiat he was about. 

A.D. 1519. 


On January 12, 1519, Maximilian had died. It is 
not within the scope of this history to trace the steps 
and countersteps, the plots and counterplots, the 
bribery and treachery — the Machiavellian means and 
devices — in which nearly every sovereign in Europe 
was implicated, to the detriment of both conscience 
and exchequer, and which ended in placing Charles V., 
Election of then absent in Spain, at the head of the German 

Charles V. . TTT . , , „ , 

empire. With the accession of the new emperor 
commenced a new political era, which belongs to the 
history of the Protestant Reformation, and not to 
that of the Oxford Eeformers. 

Erasmus was too hard at work at his Paraphrases 
to admit of his meddling in politics, even though he 
himself had an hooorary connection with the court of 
the prince who was the successful candidate, and had 
written his ' Christian Prince' expressly for his benefit. 

Colet was living in retirement, suffering from shat- 
tered health, too closely watched by the restless eye 
of his bishop to take any part in public affairs. 1 

Even More, though now a constant attendant upon 
Henry VIII., was probably not initiated into conti- 
nental secrets, and even had he shared all the counsels 
of Wolsey, any part which he might play would be 
purely executive, and belong rather to the history of 

1 Colet seems even to have re- | 1512, 1513, 1515, 1516, and 1517. 
tired from the office of preacher Brewer, ii. pp. 1445-1474. In 1518 
before the King on Good Friday, the sermon was preached by the 
which he had filled in 1510, 1511, I Dean of Sarum, p. 1477. 

A.L.. 1510. 

Election of Charles V. 483 

his own political career than to that of the fellow- work Chap 

. . XVI 

of the three friends. He probably had little or nothing 
really to do with Wolsey's plottings to secure the empire 
for his master, in order that he might, on the death of 
Leo X., secure the Papal chair for himself. But there 
was one circumstance connected with the election of the 
Emperor of too much significance to be passed over in 
this history without distinct mention — the part which 
Duke Frederic of Saxony played in it ; and this shall 
simply be alluded to in the words of Erasmus himself. 
'The Duke Frederic of Saxony has written twice Noble 
to me in reply to my letter. Luther is supported ™"J" ct 
solelv by his protection. He says that he has acted Elector of 

<J •> ± «/ Saxony. 

thus for the sake rather of the cause than of the 
person [of Luther]. He adds that he will not lend 
himself to the oppression of innocence in his dominions 
by the malice of those who seek their own, and not 
the things of Christ.' And Erasmus goes on to say, 
that ' when the imperial crown was offered to Frederic 
of Saxony by all [the electors], with great magnani- 
mity he had refused it, the very day before Charles 
was elected. And ' (he writes) ' Charles never would 
have worn the imperial title had it not been declined 
by Frederic, whose glory in refusing the honour was 
greater than if he had accepted it. When he was 
asked who he thought should be elected, he said that 
no one seemed to him able to bear the weight of so 
great a name but Charles. In the same noble spirit 
he firmly refused the 30,000 florins offered him by 
our people [i.e. the agents of Charles]. When he was 
urged that at least he would allow 10,000 florins to 
be given to his servants, " They may take them " 
(he said) " if they like, but no one shall remain my 

A.n. 1519. 

484 Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

Chap. ' " servant another day who accepts a single piece of 
' " gold." : * The next day ' (continues Erasmus) ' he 
' took horse and departed, lest they should continue 
' to bother him. This was related to me as entirely 
' reliable, by the Bishop of Liege, who was present at 
' the Imperial Diet.' l 

Well did the conduct of the Elector of Saxony merit 
the admiration of Erasmus. Would that Charles V. had 
merited as fully the patronage of the wise Elector ! 

It was a significant fact that, after all the bribery 
and wholesale corruption by which this election was 
marked, the only prince who in the event had a chance 
of success, other than Charles, was the one man who 
was superior to corruption, and would not allow even 
his servants to be bribed, who did not covet the imperial 
dignity for himself, but firmly refused it when offered 
to him — the protector of Luther against the Pope and 
the empire — the hope and strength of the Protestant 
Eevolution which was now so rapidly approaching. 


While the election of the Emperor was proceeding 
the famous disputation at Leipzig took place, which 
commenced between Carlstadt and Eck, upon the 
question of grace and free-will, and was continued 
between Eck and Luther on the primacy of the Pope — 
that remarkable occasion on which, after pressing Eck 
into a declaration that all the Greek and other Christians 
who did not acknowledge the primacy of the Pope, 
were heretics and lost, Luther himself was finally driven 
to assert, probably as much to his own surprise as to 
that of his auditors, ' that among the articles on which 

1 Epist. cccclxxiv. Erasmus to Fisher : Louvain, Oct. 17, 1519. 

The Hussites of Bohemia. 


* the Council of Constance grounded its condemnation 
' of John Huss, were some fundamentally Christian 
: and evangelical.' 

Well might Duke George mutter in astonishment 
' a plague upon it.'' A few months later Luther him- 
self, after pondering the matter over and over with 
his New Testament and Melanchthon, was obliged to 
exclaim, ' I taught Huss's opinions without knowing 
' them, and so did Staupitz : we are all of us Hussites 
' without knowing it ! Paul and Augustine are Hussites ! 
' I do not know what to think for amazement.' l 

Meanwhile, before Luther had come to the conclu- 
sion that he himself, with St. Augustine, was a Hussite, 
Erasmus had been in correspondence with Johannes 
Schlechta, a Bohemian, 2 on the religious dissensions 
which existed in Bohemia and Moravia, and with 
special reference to the Hussite sect of the ' PyghardsJ 
or United Brethren. 3 Schlechta had informed Erasmus 


A.D. 1519 

finds he is 
a Hussite. 


to Eras- 

1 Ranke, bk. ii. c. iii. De Wette, 
i. No. ccviii. p. 425. That Luther 
had found a point of unison between 
himself and the Hussites, not only 
in their common opposition to 
Papal authority, but also in their 
common adoption of the severest 
views of St. Augustine, see ' As- 
' sertio omnium articulorum M. 
' Lutheri per Bullam Leonis X. no- 
•' vissimam damnatorum.' Mense 
Martio m.dxxi. Leaves Kk, ii. and 
iii. 'Habes, miserande Papa, quid 
'hie oggannias. Unde et hunc 
' articulum necesse est revocare, 
' male enim dixi quod liberum ar- 
'bitrium ante gratiam sit res de 
'solo titulo, sed simpliciter debui 
' dicere, lib. arb. est figmentum in 
' rebus, seu titulus sine re. Quia 

'nulli est in manu sua quippiam 
1 cogitare mali aut boni, sed omnia 
' (ut Viglephi articulus Constantice 
1 damnatus recte docet) de neces- 
sitate absoluta eveniunt.' These 
articles were condemned as a part 
of the heresy of John Huss, of 
whom Luther in the same treatise 
had said : — ' Et in faciem tuam 
' sanctissime Yicarie Dei, tibi libere 
' dico, omnia damnata Joannis Huss 
' esse evangelica et Christiana,' &c. 
{Ibid, leaf Hh, iii.) 

2 See Epist. ccccxii. Louvain, 
April 23, 1519. 

3 History of the Protestant 
Church of the United Brethren. 
By the Rev. John Holmes. Lon- 
don, 1825, vol. i. chaps, i. and ii. 


Colet, Erasmus, and More. 


A.D. 1519. 


of Bohe- 

that, setting aside Jews and unbelieving philosophers 
who denied the immortality of the soul, the people 
were divided into three sects : — First, the Papal 
party, including most of the magistrates and nobility. 
Secondly, a party to which he himself belonged, who 
acknowledged the Papacy, but differed from other 
good Catholics in dispensing the Sacrament in both 
kinds to the laity, and in chanting the Epistle and 
Gospel at mass, not in Latin, but in the vulgar tongue ; 
to which customs they most pertinaciously adhered, 
on the ground that they were confirmed and approved 
in the Council of Basle (1431). 1 Thirdly, the sect of 
the ' Pyghards ' [or ' United Brethren '], who since 
the times of John Zisca 2 had maintained their ground 
through much bloodshed and violence. These, he 
said, regarded the Pope and clergy as manifest ; Anti- 
' christs ; ' the Pope himself sometimes as the ' Beast,' 
and sometimes as the ' Harlot ' of the Apocalypse. 
They chose rude and ignorant and even married lay- 
men as their priests and bishops. They called each 
other. ' brothers and sisters.' They acknowledged no 
writings as of authority but the Old and New Testa- 
ments. Fathers and Schoolmen they counted nothing 
by. Their priests used no vestments, and no forms of 
prayer but ' the Lord's Prayer.' They thought lightly 
of the sacraments ; used no salt or holy water — only 

1 This middle party were called 
' Calixtines.' See introduction to 
Holmes's History, vol. i. p. 21, 
where the facts mentioned in this 
letter are detailed, very much in ac- 
cordance with Schlechta's account. 

2 John Zisca was a Hussite. 
He died in 1424, nine years after 

the death of Huss, and on his 
monument was inscribed, ' Here 
1 lies John Zisca, who having de- 
fended his country against the 
1 encroachments of Papal tyranny, 
1 rests in this hallowed place in 
1 spite of the Pope.'— Ibid. p. 20. 

A.D. 1519. 

The Hussites of Bohemia. 487 

pure water — in baptism, and rejected extreme unction. Chap. 
They saw only simple bread and wine, no divinity, in 
the Sacrament of the Altar, and regarded these only 
as signs representing and commemorative of the death 
of Christ, who they said was in heaven. The suffrages 
of the saints and prayers for the dead they held to 
be vain and absurd, and also auricular confession and 
penance. Vigils and fasts they looked upon as hypo- 
critical. The festivals of the Virgin, Apostles, and 
Saints, they said, were invented by the idle ; Sunday, 
Christmas, Good Friday, and Pentecost they observed. 
Other pernicious dogmas of theirs were not worthy 
of mention to Erasmus. If, however (his Bohemian 
friend added), the first two of these three sects could 
but be united, then perhaps this vicious sect, now much 
on the increase, owing to recent ecclesiastical scandals, 
might, by the aid of the King, be either exterminated 
or forced into a better form of creed and religion. 
Erasmus, he concluded, had now the whole circum- 
stances of these Bohemian divisions before him. 1 

Here, then, Erasmus was brought into direct 
contact with the opinions of the very sect to which 
Luther was gradually approaching, but had not yet 
discovered his proximity. 

The reply of Erasmus may be regarded, therefore, 
as evidence of his views, not only on the opinions 
and practices of the Hussites of Bohemia, but also as 
foreshadowing what would be his views with regard 
to the opinions and practices of Luther and the 
Protestant Eeformers so soon as they should publicly 
profess themselves Hussites. 

1 Epist. cccclxiii. Dated Oct. 10, 1519. 

488 Colet, Erasmus, and J fore. 

Chap. ' You point out,' (Erasmus wrote) ' that Bohemia 

1 ' and Moravia are divided up into three sects. I wish, 

a.d. 1519. c m y ^ ear Schiechta that some pious hand could unite 

Eeply of ■ L 

Erasmus. ' the three into one ! 

The second party (Erasmus said) erred, in his opinion, 
more in scornfully rej ecting the j udgment and custom of 
the Eoman Church than in thinking it right to take the 
Eucharist in both kinds, which was not an unreasonable 
practice in itself, though it might be better to avoid 
singularity on such a point. As to the ' Pyghards,' he 
did not see why it followed that the Pope was Anti 
christ, because there had been some bad popes, or that 
the Eoman Church was the ' harlot,' because she had 
often had wicked cardinals or bishops. Still, however 
bad the ' Pyghards ' might be, he would not advise a 
resort to violence. It would be a dangerous precedent. 
As to their electing their own priests and bishops, that 
was not opposed to primitive practice. St. Nicholas 
and St. Ambrose were thus elected, and in ancient times 
even kings were elected by the people. If they were 
in the habit of electing ignorant and unlearned men, 
that did not matter much, if only their holy life out- 
weighed their ignorance. He did not see why they 
were to be blamed for calling one another ' brothers 
' and sisters.' He wished the practice could obtain 
amongst all Christians, if only the fact were consistent 
with the words. In thinking less highly of the Doctors 
than of the Scriptures — that is, in preferring God to 
man — they were in the right ; but altogether to reject 
them was as bad as altogether to accept them. Christ 
and the Apostles officiated in their everyday dress ; but 
it is impious to condemn what was instituted, not with- 
out good reason, by the fathers. Vigils and fasts, in 

A.D. 1519 

Erasmus on the Hussites. 489 

moderation, he did not see why they rejected, seeing Chap. 
that they were commended by the Apostles ; but he 
had rather that men were exhorted than compelled to 
observe them. Their views about festivals were not very 
different from Jerome's. Nowadays the number of 
festivals had become enormous, and on no days were 
more crimes committed. Moreover, the labourer was 
robbed by so many festivals of his regular earnings. 

As to the cure for these diseases of Bohemia : he 
desired unity, and expressed his views how unity could 
be best attained. 

' In my opinion ' (he wrote) ' many might be recon- Erasmus 
' ciled to the Church of Eome if, instead of everything church ( 
' being defined, we were contented with what is evi- f hou i d be , 

° broad and 

' dently set forth in the Scriptures or necessary to tolerant. 

' salvation. And these things ore few in number, and 

' the fewer the easier for many to accept. Nowadays 

4 out of one article we make six hundred, some of which 

' are such that men might be ignorant of them or doubt 

' them without injury to piety. It is in human nature 

' to cling by tooth and nail to what has once been 

' denned. The sum of the philosophy of Christ ' (he 

continued) ' lies in this — that we should know that all 

' our hope is placed in God, who freely gives us all things 

' through his son Jesus ; that by his death we are re- 

' deemed ; that we are united to his body in baptism 

' in order that, dead to the desires of the world, we may 

' so follow his teaching and example as not only not to 

' admit of evil, but also to deserve well of all ; that if 

' adversity comes upon us we should bear it in the hope 

' of the future reward which is in store for all good men 

' at the advent of Christ. Thus we should always be 

4 progressing from virtue to virtue, and whilst assuming 


Colet, Erasmus, and More. 


A.D. 1519. 

nothing to ourselves, ascribe all that is good to God. 
If there should be anyone who would inquire into the 
Divine nature, or the nature {hypostasis) of Christ, or 
abstruse points about the sacraments, let him do so ; 
only let him not try to force his views upon others. In 
the same way as very verbose instruments lead to con- 
troversies, so too many definitions lead to differences. 
Nor should we be ashamed to reply on some questions : 
" God knows how this should be so, it is enough 
" for me to believe that it is." I know that the pure 
blood and body of Christ are to be taken purely by 
the pure, and that he wished it to be a most sacred 
sign and pledge both of his love to us and of the fel- 
lowship of Christians amongst themselves. Let me, 
therefore, examine myself whether there be anything 
in me inconsistent with Christ, whether there be any 
difference between me and my neighbour. As to the 
rest, how the same body can exist in so small a form 
and in so many places at once, in my opinion such 
questions can hardly tend to the increase of piety. I 
know that I shall rise again, for this was promised to 
all by Christ, who was the first who rose from the dead. 
As to the questions, with what body, and how it can 
be the same after having gone through so many 
changes, though I do not disapprove of these things 
being inquired into in moderation on suitable occa- 
sions, yet it conduces very little to piety to spend too 
much labour upon them. Nowadays men's minds 
are diverted, by these and other innumerable sub- 
tleties, from things of vital importance. Lastly it 
would tend greatly to the establishment of concord, 
if secular princes, and especially the Eoman Pontiff, 
would abstain from all tyranny and avarice. For 

A.D. 1519. 

Erasmus on the Hussites. 491 

' men easily revolt when they see preparations for en- Chap. 
' slaving them, when they see that they are not to be 
4 invited to piety but caught for plunder. If they saw 
' that we were innocent and desirous to do them good, 
' they would very readily accept our faith.' l 

It will be seen that the point of this letter turns not 
directly upon the difference which Luther had discerned 
between himself and Erasmus (viz. that the one re- 
jected and the other accepted the doctrinal system of 
St. Augustine), but rather upon questions involving the 
duty and object of ' the Church.' From More's delinea- 
tion of the Church of Utopia, it has been seen that the 
notion of the Oxford Eeformers was that the Church 
was intended to be broad and tolerant, not to define 
doctrine and enforce dogmas, but to afford a practical 
bond of union whereby Christians might be kept united 
in one Christian brotherhood, in spite of their differ- 
ences in minor matters of creed. In full accordance 
with this view, Erasmus had blamed Schlechta and his 
party, in this letter, not for holding their peculiar views 
respecting the ' Supper,' but for making them a ground 
for separation from their fellow-Christians. So also he 
blamed Schlechta (himself a dissenter from Home) for 
his harsh feelings towards the 'Pyghards' and his wish 
' to exterminate ' them. So, too, whilst sympathising 
strongly with the poor ' Pyghards ' in many of the points 
in which they differed from the Church of Eome, he 
blamed them for jumping to the conclusion that the 
Church was 'Antichrist,' and for flying into extremes. 
So, too, he blamed the Church herself, as he always had 
blamed her, for so narrowing her boundaries as to 

1 Epist. cccclxxviii. Dated Nov. I and these quotations are somewhat 
1, 1519. The letter is a long one, I abridged in translation. 


Colet, Erasmus, and More. 


a.d. 1519. 

shut out these ultra-dissenters of Bohemia from her 

Now it is obvious that at the foundation of the posi- 
tion here assumed by Erasmus, and elsewhere by the 
Oxford Eeformers, lay the conviction that many points 
of doctrine were in their nature uncertain and unsettled 
— that many attempted definitions of doctrine, on such 
subjects as those involved in the Athanasian Creed, in 
the Augustinian system, and in scholastic additions to 
it, were, after all, and in spite of all the ecclesiastical 
authority in the world, just as unsettled and uncertain 
as ever ; in fact, mere hypotheses, which in their 
nature never can be verified. 

Here again, therefore, was indirectly involved the 
point at issue between Erasmus and Luther ; between 
the oxford ^ Oxford and the Wittemberg Eeformers. For the 

Heiormers o 

and those latter in accepting the Augustinian system still adhered, 
in spirit, to the scholastic or dogmatic system of 
theology. To treat questions such as those above 
mentioned as open and unsettled seemed to them to be 
playing the part of the sceptic. Luther was honestly 
and naturally shocked when he found Erasmus hinting 
that the doctrine of 'original sin' was in some measure 
analogous to the epicycles of the astrologer. He was 
equally shocked again when Erasmus, a few years after, 
treated the question of the Freedom of the Will as one 
insoluble in its nature, involving the old philosophical 
questions between free-will and fate. 1 And why was 

The point 
at issue 

who held 
by the Au- 

1 Luther replied : — ' Absint a 
' nobis Christianis Sceptici. . . . 
' Nihil apud Christianos notius et 
' celebratius, quam assertio. Tolle 
' assertiones et Christianissimuni 
' tulisti. . . . Spiritus Sanctus non 

1 est scepticus, nee dubiaaut opinio- 
' nes in cordibus nostris scripsit, sed 
' assertiones, ipsa vita, et omni ex- 
' perientia, certiores et firmiores.' 
— Be Servo Arbitrio Mar. Lutheri. 
Wittembergse, 1526, pp. 7-12. 

The Oxford and Wittemberg Reformers. 493 
he shocked ? Because the Augustinian system which Chap. 

. XVI. 

he had adopted, treated these questions as finally con- L 

eluded. And how were they concluded? By the A ' D ' ' ' 
judgment of the church based upon a verbally inspired 
and infallible Bible. 

Luther did not indeed assert so strongly the verbal 
inspiration of the Bible, much less of the Vulgate version, 
as Dr. Eck and other Auo-ustinian theologians had done ; 
yet his standing-point obliged him practically to assume 
the truth of this doctrine, as it obliged his successors 
more and more strongly to assert it as the years rolled 
on. And so, whilst rejecting, even more thoroughly 
than Erasmus ever did, the ecclesiastical authority of 
the Church of Eome, yet it is curious to observe that, in 
doing so, Luther did not reject the notion of ecclesi- 
astical authority in itself, but rather, amidst many in- 
consistencies, set up the authority of what he considered 
to be the true church against that of the church which 
he regarded as the false one. As a consistent Augus- 
tinian he was driven to assume, in replying to the 
Wittemberg prophets on the one hand and the scepticism 
of Erasmus on the other, that there is a true church 
somewhere, and that somewhere in the true church 
there is an authority capable of establishing theological 
hypotheses. He was not willing that the Scriptures 
should be left simply to the private judgment of each 
individual for himself. He even allowed himself to 
claim for the public ministers of his own church — ' the 
' leaders of the people and the preachers of the word ' — 
authority ' not only for themselves but also for others, 
' and for the salvation of others, to judge with the 
' greatest certainty the spirit and dogmas of all men.' * 

1 ' Ideo alterum est judicium l ' ipsis, sed et pro aliis et propter 
' externum, quo non raodo pro nobis | ' aliorum salutem, certissime judi- 


Colet, Erasmus, and More. 


a.d. 1519. 

The power 
of St. 

Not that Luther always consistently upheld this doc- 
trine any more than Erasmus consistently upheld its 
opposite. Luther was often to be found asserting and 
using the right of private judgment against the autho- 
rity of Eome, as Erasmus was often found upholding 
the authority of the Catholic Church and her autho- 
rised councils against the rival authority of Luther's 
schismatic and unauthorised church. In times of 
transition, men are inconsistent ; and regard must be 
had rather to the direction in which they are moving 
than the precise point to which at any particular 
moment they may have attained. And what I wish to 
impress upon the reader is this — that not only Luther, 
but all other Eeformers, from Wickliffe down to the 
modern Evangelicals, who have adopted the Augus- 
tinian system and founded their reform upon it, have 
practically assumed as the basis of their theology, 
first, the plenary inspiration of each text contained in 
the Scriptures ; and, secondly, the existence of an eccle- 
siastical authority of some kind capable of establishing 
theological hypotheses ; so that, in this respect, Luther 
and other Augustinian reformers, instead of advancing 
beyond the Oxford Eeformers, have lagged far behind, 
seeing that they have contentedly remained under 
a yoke from which the Oxford Eeformers had been 
labouring for twenty years to set men free. 

In saying this I am far from overlooking the fact, 
that the Protestant Eeformers, in reverting to a purer 
form of Augustinian doctrine than that held by the 
Schoolmen, did practically by it bring Christianity to 

' camusspiritus et dogmata omnium. 
' Hoc judicium est publici ministerii 
' in verbo et officii externi, et 
' maxime pertinet ad duces et 

' praecones verbi &c.' — De Servo 
Arbitrio Mar. Lutheri. Wittem- 
bergsB, 1526, p. 82. 

trine of Predestination. Chap. x. 
Scholastic Doctrine of Predestina- 
tion. And see the particular in- 
stance there given on the suhj ect of 
infants dying in original sin, p. 307. 
' Being by nature reprobate, and 
' not being included within the 
' remedial decree of predestination, 
' they were . . . [according to the 
' pure Augustinian doctrine] . . . 
' subject to the sentence of eternal 

' schoolman [Aquinas] could not 
' expressly contradict this position, 
' but what he could not contradict 
' he could explain. Augustine had 
' laid down that the punishment of 
' such children was the mildest of 
' all punishment in hell.' . . . 
Aquinas ' laid down the further 
' hypothesis, that this punishment 
' was not pain of body or mind, but 
' want of the Divine vision. 1 

a.v. 1519. 

The Oxford and Wittemberg Reformers. 495 

bear upon men with a power and a life which contrasted Chap. 
strangely with the cold dead religion of the Thomists 
and Scotists. I am as far also from underrating the 
force and the fire of St. Augustine. What, indeed, must 
not that force and that fire have been to have made it 
possible for him to bind the conscience of Western 
Christendom for fourteen centuries by the chains of his 
dogmatic theology ! And when it is considered, on the 
one hand, that the greatest of the Schoolmen were so 
loyal to St. Augustine, that some of their subtlest dis- 
tinctions were resorted to expressly to mitigate the 
harshness of the rigid results of his system, and thus 
were attempts, not to get from under its yoke, but to 
make it bear 'able ; l and, on the other hand, that the chief 
reactions against scholastic formalism — those of Wick- 
liffe, Huss, Luther, Calvin, the Portroyalists, the Puri- 
tans, the modern Evangelicals — were Augustinian 
reactions ; so far from zmder-estimating the power of 
the man whose influence was so diverse and so vast, 
it may well become an object of ever-increasing 
astonishment to the student of Ecclesiastical History. 
At the same time, these considerations must raise 
also our estimate of the need and the value of the firm 
stand taken 350 years ago by the Oxford Eeformers 

1 See Mozley's Augustinian Doc- I ' punishment. . . . The Augustinian 

A.D. 1519. 

496 Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

Chap. against this dogmatic power so long dominant in the 
realm of religious thought. It has been seen in every 
page of this history, that they had taken their stand- 
point, so to speak, behind that of St. Augustine ; 
behind even the schism between Eastern and Western 
Christendom ; behind those patristic hypotheses which 
grew up into the scholastic theology ; behind that 
notion of Church authority by which these hypotheses 
obtained a fictitious verification ; behind the theory 
of ' plenary inspiration,' without which the Scriptures 
could not have been converted, as they were, into a 
mass of raw material for the manufacture of any 
quantity of hypotheses — behind all these — on the 
foundation of fact which underlies them all. 

The essential difference between the standpoints of 
the Protestant and Oxford Eeformers Luther had been 
the first to perceive. And the correctness of this first 
impression of Luther's has been singularly confirmed 
by the history of the three-and-a-half centuries of 
Protestant ascendency in Western Christendom. The 
Protestant movement, whilst accomplishing by one re- 
volutionary blow many objects which the Oxford Ee- 
formers were striving and striving in vain to compass 
by constitutional means, has been so far antagonistic to 
their work in other directions as to throw it back — not 
to say to wipe it out of remembrance — so that in this 
nineteenth century those Christians who have desired, 
as they did, to rest their faith upon honest facts, and not 
upon dogmas — upon evidence, and not upon authority 
— instead of taking up. the work where the Oxford 
Eeformers left it, have had to begin it again at the 
beginning, as Colet did at Oxford in 1496. They have 
had, like the Oxford Eeformers, to combat at the outset 

Move's Domestic Life. 497 

the theory of ' plenary inspiration,' and the tendency Chap. 

inherited along with it from St. Augustine, by both 1 

Schoolmen and Protestant Eeformers, to build up a AD - 15 19 - 
theology, as I have said, upon unverified hypotheses, 
and to narrow the boundaries of Christian fellowship 
by the imposition of dogmatic creeds so manufactured. 
They have had to meet the same arguments and the 
same blind opposition ; to bear the same taunts of 
heresy and unsoundness from ascendant orthodox 
schools ; to be pointed at by their fellow-Christians 
as insidious enemies of the Christian faith, because 
they have striven to present it before the eyes of a 
scientific age, as what they think it really is — not a 
system of unverified hypotheses, but a faith in facts 
which it would be unscientific even in a disciple of 
the positive philosophy to pass by unexplored. 


By the aid of a letter from Erasmus to Ulrich 
Hutten, 1 written in July 1519, one more lingering- 
look may be taken at the beautiful picture of domestic 
happiness presented by More's home. This history 
would be incomplete without it. 

The ' young More,' with whom Colet and Erasmus More 
had fallen in love twenty years ago, was now past yea rs old. 
forty. 2 The four motherless children, Margaret, Eliza- 
beth, Cicely, and John, awhile ago nestling round 
their widowed father's knee, as the dark shadow of 
sorrow passed over the once bright home in Bucklers- 
bury, were now from ten to thirteen years old. The 
good stepmother, Alice Middleton, is said to have ruled 

1 Epist. ccccxlvii. 2 See note on the date, More's birth, Appendix C. 

K K 


Colet, Erasmus, and More. 


A.D. 1519. 

His first 

His second 

her household well, and her daughter had taken a 
place in the family circle as one of More's children. 
There was a marked absence of jarring or quarrelling, 1 
which in such a household bore witness to the good- 
nature of the mistress. She could not, indeed, fill 
altogether the void left in More's heart by the loss of 
his first wife — the gentle girl brought up in country 
retirement with her parents and sisters, whom he had 
delighted to educate to his own tastes, in letters and 
in music, in the fond hope that she would be to him 
a lifelong companion, 2 and respecting whom, soon 
after his second marriage, in composing the epitaph 
for the family tomb, in which she was already laid, 
he had written this simple line : — 

' Cara Thornse jacet hie Joanna uxorcula Mori ! ' 3 

The ' dame Alice,' though somewhat older than her 
husband and matronly in her habits, ' nee bella nee 
' puella,' as he was fond of jokingly telling her, out 
of deference to More's musical tastes, had learned to 
sing and to play on the harp ; 4 but, after all, she was 
more of the housekeeper than of the wife. It was 

1 Eras. Op. iii. p. 475, E. 

2 Ibid. 0. and D. One is tempted 
to think that More intended to 
describe his first wife in the epi- 
gram, ' Ad Candidum qualis uxor 
'deligenda,' very freely translated 
into English verse by Archdeacon 

Wrangham as follows : — 

# * * # # 

Far from her lips' soft door 
Be noise or silence stern, 

And hers be learning's store, 
Or hers the power to learn. 

With books she'll time beguile, 
And make true bliss her own, 

Unbuoyed by Fortune's smile, 
Unbroken by her frown. 

So still thy heart's delight, 
And partner of thy way, 

She'll guide thy children right, 
When myriads go astray. 

So left all meaner things, 
Thou'lt on her breast recline, 

While to her lyre she sings 
Strains, Philomel, like thine ; 

While still thy raptured gaze 
Is on her accents hung, 

As words of honied grace 

Steal from her honied tongue. 

Quoted from Philomorus, p. 42. 

3 More's English Works, p. 1420. 

4 Eras. Op. iii. p. 475, D and E. 

Mores Domestic Life. 499 

not to her but to his daughter Margaret that his Chap. 

& . & XVI. 
heart now clung with fondest affection. 

More himself, Erasmus described to Hutten as 
humorous without being foolish, simple in his dress 
and habits, and, with all his popularity and success, 
neither proud nor boastful, but accessible, obliging, and 
kind to his neighbours. 1 Fond of liberty and ease he 
might be, but no one could be more active or more 
patient than he when occasion required it. 2 No one 
was less influenced by current opinion, and yet no man 
had more common sense. 3 Averse as he was to all 
superstition, and having shown in his ' Utopia ' what 
were regarded in some quarters as freethinking ten- 
dencies, he had to share with Colet the sneers of the 
* orthodox,' yet a tone of unaffected piety pervaded 
his life. He had stated times for devotion, and when More's 
he prayed, it was not as a matter of form, but from true pie y ' 
his heart. When, too, as he often did, he talked to 
his intimate friends of the life to come, Erasmus tells 
Hutten that he evidently spoke from his heart, and 
not without the brightest hope. 4 

He was careful to cultivate in his children not only T }\* 

* children s 

a filial regard to himself, but also feelings of mutual animals, 
interest and intimacy. He made himself one of them, 
and took evidently as much pleasure as they did in 
their birds and animals — the monkey, the rabbits, the 
fox, the ferret, and the weasel. 5 Thus when Erasmus 
was a guest at his house, More would take him into 
the garden to see the children's rabbit hutches, or to 

1 Eras. Op. iii. p. 476, D, &c. ' Ibid. p. 477, B. 

2 Ibid. p. 474, B. ' Ibid. p. 474, E and F. 

3 Ibid. p. 474, E. 


Colet, Erasmus, and More. 


A.D. 1519. 



in his 

Letter to 
his chil- 
dren in 

watch the sly ways of the monkey ; which on one 
occasion so amused Erasmus by the clever way in 
which it prevented the weasel from making an assault 
upon the rabbits through an aperture between the 
boards at the back of the hutch, that he rewarded 
the animal by making it famous all over Europe, 
telling the story in one of his ' Colloquies.' 1 Where- 
upon so important a member of the household did 
this monkey become, that when Hans Holbein some 
years afterwards painted his famous picture of the 
household of Sir Thomas More, its portrait was taken 
along with the rest, and there to this day it may be 
seen nestling in the folds of dame Alice's robes. 

If More thus took an interest in the children's 
animals, so they were trained to take an interest in his 
pictures, his cabinet of coins and curiosities, and his 
literary pursuits. He did everything he could to allure 
his children on in acquiring knowledge. If an astro- 
nomer came in his way he would get him to stay awhile 
in his house,to teach them all about the stars and planets. 2 
And it surely must have been More's children whom 
Erasmus speaks of as learning the Greek alphabet by 
shooting with their bows and arrows at the letters. 3 

Unhappily of late More had been long and frequently 
absent from home. Still, even when away upon an 
embassy, trudging on horseback dreary stages along the 
muddy roads, we find him on the saddle composing 
a metrical letter in Latin to his ' sweetest children, 
' Margaret, Elizabeth, Cicely, and John,' which, when a 
second edition of his ' Epigrams ' was called for, was 
added at the end of the volume and printed with the 

Colloquy entitled Amicitia. 
Stapleton's Tres Thomce, 1 ^. 257. 

Eras. Op. i. p. 511, E. 

Mores Domestic Life. 


rest by the o-reat printer of Basle l — a letter in which Chap. 
. . . . XVI. 
he expresses his delight in their companionship, and 1 

reminds them how gentle and tender a father he has A ' D " 1519 ' 

been to them, in these loving words : — 

Kisses enough I have given you forsooth, but stripes hardly ever, 
If I have flogged you at all it has been with the tail of a peacock ! 

Manners matured in youth, minds cultured in arts and in know- 

Tongues that can speak your thoughts in graceful and elegant 
language : — 

These bind my heart to yours with so many ties of affection 

That now I love you far more than if you were merely my 

Go on (for you can !), my children, in winning your father's affection, 
So that as now your goodness has made me to feel as though 

I really had loved you before, you may on some future occasion, 

Make me to love you so much that my present love may seem 
nothing ! 

What a picture lies here, even in these roughly 
translated lines, of the gentle relation which during 
years of early sorrow had grown up between the 
widowed father and the motherless children ! 

It is a companion-picture to that which Erasmus 
drew in colours so glowing, of More's home at 
Chelsea many years after this, when his children were 
older and he himself Lord Chancellor. What a gleam 
of light too does it throw into the future, upon that 
last farewell embrace between Sir Thomas More and 

1 Mori Epigrammata : Basle, 
1520, p. 110. The first edition 
was printed at Basle along with 

the Utopia in 1518, and does not 
contain these verses. 

502 ColeL Erasmus, and More. 

Chap. Margaret Eoper upon the Tower-wharf, when even 

a.i». 1519. 

stern soldiers wept to behold their ' fatherly and 
1 daughterly affection ! ' 

More's This was the man whom Henry VIII. had at last 

character. , , . , . . , . , , , 

succeeded m drawing into his court ; who reluctantly, 
this summer of 1519, 1 in order that he might fulfil his 
duties to the King, had laid aside his post of under- 
sheriff in the city and his private practice at the bar ; 
' who now,' to quote the words of Eoper, * was often 
' sent for by the King into his traverse, where sometimes 
' in matters of astronomy, geometry, divinity, and such 
4 other faculties, and sometimes of his worldly affairs, 
1 he would sit and confer with him. And otherwhiles 
' in the night would he have him up into the leads 
' there to consider with him the diversities, courses, 
4 motions, and operations of the stars and planets. 

' And because he was of a pleasant disposition, it 
' pleased the King and Queen after the Council had 
' supped for their pleasure commonly to call for him 
' to be merry with them. Till he,' continues Eoper, 
' perceiving them so much in his talk to delight that 
' he could not once in a month get leave to go home 
' to his wife and his children (whose company he most 
' desired), and to be absent from court two days 
' together but that he should be thither sent for 
' again ; much misliking this restraint of his liberty, 
' began thereupon somewhat to dissemble his nature, 
' and so by little and little from his former mirth to 
' disuse himself.' 2 

This was the man who, after 'trying as hard to 

1 Mackintosh's Life of Sir Thomas j ~ Roper, p. 12. 
More, p. 73, quoting ' City Records.' I 

A.D. 1519. 

Death of Colet. 503 

' keep out of court as most men try to get into it,' Chap. 
had accepted office on the noble understanding that 
he was ' first to look unto God, and after God to the 
' King,' and who under the most difficult circum- 
stances, and in times most perilous, whatever may 
have been his faults and errors, still 

Reverenced his conscience as his King, 

and died at last upon the scaffold, a martyr to 
integrity ! 


Erasmus was working hard at his Paraphrases at Death of 
Louvain, when the news reached him that Colet was et ' 
dead! On the 11th September Pace had written to 
Wolsey that ' the Dean of Paul's had lain continually 
' since Thursday in extremis, but was not yet dead.' l 
He had died on the 16th of September 1519. 

When Erasmus heard of it, he could not refrain from The grief 
weeping. ' For thirty years I have not felt the death of ^' a n s " 
' a friend so bitterly,' 2 he wrote to Lupset, a young dis- he anng 
ciple of Colet's. ' I seem,' he wrote to Pace, ' as though 
' only half of me were alive, Colet being dead. What His 
' a man has England and what a friend have /lost ! ' of Colors 
To another Englishman he wrote, ' What avail these character - 
' sobs and lamentations ? They cannot bring him back 
1 again. In a little while we shall follow him. In the 
' meantime we should rejoice for Colet. He now is 
' safely enjoying Christ, whom he always had upon 
' his lips and at his heart.' 3 To Tunstal, ' I should 
' be inconsolable for the death of Colet did I not know 

1 Ellis, Original Letters, 3rd I ~ Epist. cccclxvii. 
series, letter lxxx. I 3 Ibid, cccclxx. 

A.D. 1519. 

504 Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

Chap. ' that my tears would avail nothing for him and for 
' me ; ' ] and to Bishop Fisher, ' I have written this 
' weeping for Colet's death. . . . I know it is all right 
' with him who, escaped from this evil and wretched 
' world, is in present enjoyment of that Christ whom 
' he so loved when alive. I cannot help mourning in 
' the public name the loss of so rare an example of 
' Christian piety, so remarkable a preacher of Christian 
' truth ! ' 2 And, in again writing to Lupset, a month 
or two afterwards, a long letter, pouring his troubles, 
on account of a bitter controversy which Edward Lee 
had raised up against him, into the ears of Lupset, 
instead of, as had hitherto been his wont, into the 
ears of Colet, he exclaimed in conclusion, ' true 
• theologian ! wonderful preacher of evangelical 
' doctrine ! With what earnest zeal did he drink in the 
' philosophy of Christ ! How eagerly did he imbibe 
1 the spirit and feelings of St. Paul ! How did the 
' purity of his whole life correspond to his heavenly 
1 doctrine ! How many years following the example of 
' St. Paul, did he teach the people without reward ! ' 3 
' You would not hesitate,' finally wrote Erasmus to Jus- 
tus Jonas, ' to inscribe the name of this man in the 
' roll of the saints although uncanonised by the Pope.' 
More's < ]? or generations,' wrote More, ' we have not had 

estimate ° , 

of Colet's ' amongst us any one man more learned or holy ! 4 
The inscription on the leaden plate laid on the coffin 
of Dean Colet 5 bore witness that he died ' to the great 

1 Epist. cccclxxi. 

2 Ibid, cccclxxiv. 

3 Eras. Op. iii. Epist. cccclxxxi., 
and Epistolce aliquot Eruditorum 

' quo uno viro neque doctior neque 
' sanctior apud nos aliquot retro 
' seculis quisque fait.' 

5 Ashrnolean MSS. Oxford 77- 

Virorum : Basil. 1520, p. 46. j 141 a. I have to thank Mr. Coxe 

4 Ibid. p. 122. ' Ooletum nomino, I for the following copy of the 

Conclusion. 505 

* griel of the whole people, by whom, for his integrity Chap. 

4 of life and divine gift of preaching, he was the most - — ~ 

' beloved of all his time ; ' and his remains were laid in AI '' 
the tomb prepared by himself in St. Paul's Cathedral. 


With the death of Colet this history of the Oxford ^ 
Eeformers mav fitly end. Erasmus and More, it is work of 

,. , J . J n , . , the Oxford 

true, lived on sixteen years alter this, and retained Reformers 
their love for one another to the last. But even their pushed. 
future history was no longer, to the same extent as it 
had been, a joint history. Erasmus never again 
visited England, and if they did meet during those 
long years, it was a chance meeting only, on some 
occasion when More was sent on an embassy, and 
their intercourse could not be intimate. 

The fellow-work of the Oxford Eeformers was to a 
great extent accomplished when Colet died. From 
its small beginnings during their college intercourse 
at Oxford it had risen into prominence and made its 
power felt throughout Europe. But now for three 
hundred years it was to stop and, as it were, to 
be submerged under a new wave of the great tide of 
human progress. For, as has been said, the Pro- The 

-,-, (. , . Protestant 

testant Jxelormation was m many respects a new Refonna- 
movement, and not altogether a continuation of that ^° f " a "IT 

o movement 

of the Oxford Eeformers. un 4 e j' 

theirs was 

inscription : ' Joannes Coletus, | ' omnium sui temporis fuit chariss., merged 

Henrici Coleti iterum preetoris 
1 Londini Alius, et hujus templi 
' decanus, magno totius populi mce- 
' rore, cui, ob vitaa integritatem et 

1 decessit anno a Christo nato 1519 
' et inclyti regis Henrici Octavi 11, 
' mensis Septembris 16. Is in cceme- 
' terio Scholam condidit acmagistris 

divinum concionandi munus, ' perpetua stipendia contulit.' 

506 Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

Chap. As yet the ' tragedy of Luther ' had appeared only 

— _ like the little cloud no bigger than a man's hand 

rising above the horizon. But scarcely had a year 

passed from Colet's death before the whole heavens 

were overcast by it, and Christendom was suddenly 

involved, by the madness of her rulers, in all the 

terrors of a religious convulsion, which threatened 

to shake social and civil, as well as ecclesiastical, 

institutions to their foundations. 

com-e tUie How Erasmus and More met the storm — how far 

of the they stood their ground, or were carried awav by 

survivors ^ . . . 

could not natural fears and disappointment from their former 
fellow- standing-point — is well worthy of careful inquiry ; 
the past. but it must not be attempted here. In the meantime, 
the subsequent course of the two survivors could 
not alter the spirit and aim of the fellow-work to 
which for so many years past the three friends had 
been devoting their lives. 

Their fellow-work had been to urge, at a critical 

period in the history of Christendom, the necessity 

of that thorough and comprehensive reform which 

the carrying out of Christianity into practice in the 

affairs of nations and of men would involve. 

Nature Believing Christianity to be true, they had faith 

Reform that it would work. Deeply imbued with the spirit 

the Oxford of Christianity as the true religion of the heart, they 

erf ™ 1 " na ^ demanded, not so much the reform of particular 

ecclesiastical abuses, as that the whole Church and 

the lives of Christians should be reanimated by the 

Religious Christian spirit. Instead of contenting themselves 

Reform. . x . ° 

with urging the correction of particular theological 
errors, and so tinkering the scholastic creed, they had 
sought to let in the light, and to draw men's atten- 

Conclusion. 507 

tion from dogmas to the facts which lay at their Chap. 

. . XVI. 

root. Having faith in free inquiry, they had de- 

manded freedom of thought, tolerance, education. 

Believing that Christianity had to do with secular Political 
as well as with religious affairs, they had urged the 
necessity, not only of religious but also of political re- 
form. And here again, instead of attacking particular 
abuses, they had gone to the root of the matter, and 
laid down the golden rule as the true basis of political 
society. They not only had censured the tyranny, 
vices, and selfishness of princes, but denied the divine 
right of kings, assuming the principle that they reign 
by the consent and for the good of the nations whom 
they govern. Instead of simply asserting the rights of 
the people against their rulers in particular acts of 
oppression, they had advocated, on Christian and 
natural grounds, the equal rights of rich and poor, 
and insisted that the good of the whole people as one 
community should be the object of all legislation. 

Believing lastly in the Christian as well as in the inter- 
natural brotherhood of nations, they had not only con- Reform. 
demned the selfish wars of princes, but also claimed 
that the golden rule, instead of the Machiavellian 
code, should be regarded as the true basis of interna- 
tional politics. 

Such was the broad and distinctively Christian 
Reform urged by the Oxford Reformers during the 
years of their fellow-work. 

And if ever any reformers had a fair chance of Their de- 

. . mand for 

a hearing in influential quarters, surely it was they. Reform, 
They had direct access to the ears of Leo X., of Henry listened 
VIII., of Charles V., of Francis I. : not to mention mul- t0 ' refuse 

A.D. 1519. 

508 Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

c« AP - titudes of minor potentates, lay and ecclesiastical, as 
well as ambassadors and statesmen, whose influence 
upon the politics of Europe was scarcely less than 
that of princes. But though they were courted and 
patronised by the potentates of Europe, their reform 
toas refused. 

The destinies of Christendom, by a remarkable 
concurrence of circumstances, were thrown very 
much into the hands of the young Emperor Charles 
V. ; and, unfortunately for Christendom, Charles V. 
turned out to be the opposite of the ' Christian 
Prince ' which Erasmus had done his best to induce 
him to become. Leo X. also had bitterly disap- 
pointed the hopes of Erasmus. When the time for 
final decision came, in the Diet of Worms the 
Emperor and the Pope were found banded together 
in the determination to refuse reform. 
Eeform of In the meantime the leadership of the Eeform 
movement had passed into other and sterner hands. 
Luther, concentrating his energies upon a narrower 
point, had already, in making his attack upon the 
abuse of Indulgences, raised a definite quarrel with 
the Pope. Within fifteen months of the death of 
Colet, he had astonished Europe by defiantly burn- 
ing the Bull issued against him from Eome. And 
summoned by the Emperor to Worms, to answer for 
his life, he still more startled the world by boldly 
demanding, in the name of the German nation from 
the Emperor and Princes, that Germany should 
throw off the Papal yoke from her neck. For this 
was practically what Luther did at Worms. 1 

1 Luther in his famous speech at j trinal and devotional works, and 
the Diet, after alluding to his doc- I offering to retract whatever in them 

Conclusion. 509 

The Emperor and Princes had to make up their Chap. 
minds, whether they would side with the Pope or with 

the nation, and they decided to side with the Pope. L " ' , ' 
They thought they were siding with the stronger party, battle-cry 

• i • mi • ~t r* *^ vLlQ U16L 

but they were grievously mistaken. Their defiance of Worms. 
of Luther was engrossed on parchment. Luther's de- 
fiance of them, and assertion of the rights of conscience 
against Pope and Emperor, rang through the ages. 
It stands out even now as a watershed in history 
dividing the old era from the new. 

In the history of the next three centuries, it is The re- 
impossible not to trace the onward swell, as it were, Reform 
of a great revolutionary wave, which, commencing f° llowe( ! 

c J o by a period 

with the Peasant War and the Sack of Eome, swept of Revoiu- 
on through the Eevolt of the Netherlands, the Thirty 
Years' War, the Puritan Eevolution in England, and 
the foundation of the great American Eepublic, until 
it culminated and broke in the French Eevolution. 
It is impossible not to see, in the whole course of the 
events of this remarkable period, an onward move- 
ment as irresistible and certain in its ultimate pro- 
gress as that of the great geological changes which 
have passed over the physical world. 

It is in vain to speculate upon what might have 
been the result of the concession of broad measures 

was contrary to Scripture, emphati- 
cally refused to retract what he had 
written against the Papacy, on the 
ground that were he to do so, it 

at the very idea of the absurdity 
of its being thought possible, that 
he could retract anything on this 
point: — 'Good God, what a great 

would be ' like throwing both doors ' cloak of wickedness and tyranny 
' and windows right open ' to Rome ' should I be ! ' See Forstermann's 
to the injury of the German nation. I TJrkundenbuch zur Geschichte der 
And in his German speech he added evangelischen Kirchen-Reformation, 
an exclamation, most characteristic, vol. i. p. 70: Hamburg, 1842. 

A.D. 1519. 

-510 Colet, Erasmus, and More. 

Chap, of reform whilst yet there was time ; but in view of 

XVI. . 

the bloodshed and misery, which, humanly speaking, 
might have been spared, who can fail to be impressed 
with the terrible responsibility, in the eye of History, 
resting upon those by whom, in the sixteenth century, 
the reform was refused ? They were utterly power- 
less, indeed, to stop the ultimate flow of the tide, but 
they had the terrible power to turn, what might 
otherwise have been a steady and peaceful stream, 
into a turbulent and devastating flood. They had the 
terrible power, and they used it, of involving their 
own and ten succeeding generations in the turmoils 
of revolution. 


37, 38 OF THIS WORK. 

Fol. 4 b. ' Quapropter concludit Paulus justificatos ex fide, 
et soli deo confidentes per Jesum reconciliatos esse deo, 
restitutosque ad gratiam ; ut apud deum stent et maneant 
ipsi filii dei, et filiorum dei certain gloriam expectent. Pro 
qua adipiscenda interim ferenda sunt omnia patienter : ut 
firmitas spei declaretur. Qua3 quidem non falletur. Siqui- 
dem ex dei amore et gratia erga nos ingenti reconciliati 
sumus, alioquin ejus filius pro nobis etiam impiis et con- 
trariis deo non interiisset. Quod si alienatos a se dilexit, 
quanto magis reconciliatos et diligit et dilectos conservabit. 
Quamobrem firma et stabili spe ac letitia esse debemus, 
confidereque deo indubitanter per Jesum Christum ; per 
quem unum hominem est ad deum reconciliatio. Nam ab 
illo ipso primo homine, et difndentia, impietateque, et scelere 
ejusdem, totum humanum genus deperiit. 

/. 5 b. ' Sed hie notandum est, quod hec gracia nichil est 
aliud, quam dei amor erga homines ; eos videlicet, quos 
vult amare, amandoque inspirare spiritu suo sancto, qui ipse 
est amor, et dei amor, qui (ut apud Joannem evangelistam 
ait salvator) ubi vult spirat. Amati autem et inspirati a 
deo vocati sunt, ut, accepto amore, am autem deum red- 
ament et eundem amorem desiderent et expectent. Hec 
exspectacio et spes, ex amore est. Amor vero noster est, 
quia ille nos amat, non (ut scribit Joannes in secunda 
epistola) quasi nos prius dilexerimus deum : sed quia ipse 
prior dilexit nos, eciam nullo amore dignos, siquidem im- 
pios et iniquos, jure ad sempiternum interitum destinatos. 
Sed quosdam, quos ille novit et voluit, deus dilexit, dili- 
gendo vocavit, vocando justificavit, justificando magnificavit. 

512 Appendix A. 

' Hec in deo graciosa dileccio et caritas erga homines, ipsa 
' vocacio et justificacio et magnificacio est : nee quicquid 
' aliud tot verbis dicimus quam unum quiddam, scilicet 
' amorem dei erga homines eos quos vult amare. Item cum 
' homines gracia attractos, vocatos, justificatos, et magnifi- 
' catos dicimus, nichil sigmficauius aliud, quam homines 
' amantem deum redamare. 

/. 18. . . . ' aperte videas providente et dirigente deo res 
' duci, atque ut ille velit in humanis fieri ; non ex vi quidem 
' aliqua illata, quum nichil est remotius a vi quam divina 
' actio : sed cum hominis natura voluntate et arbitrio, divina 
' providentia et voluntate latenter et suaviter et quasi natu- 
' raliter comitante, atque una et simul cum eo incedente tarn 
' mirabiliter, ut et quicquid velis egerisque agnoscatur a deo, 
' et quod ille agnoverit statuitque fore simul id necessario 

ff. 79, 80. ' Hominis anima constat intellectu et voluntate. 
' Intellectu sapimus. Voluntate possumus. Intellectus sa- 
' pientia, fides est. Voluntatis potentia, charitas. Christus 
' autem dei virtus, i.e. potentia, est, et dei sapientia. Per 
' christum illuminantur mentes ad fidem : qui illuminat 
' omnem hominem venientem in hunc mundum, et dat 
' potestatem filios dei fieri, iis qui credunt in nomine ejus. 
' Per christum etiam incenduntur voluntates in charitatem : 
' ut deum, homines, et proximum ament : in quibus est com- 
' pletio legis. A deo ergo solo per christum et sapimus et 
' possumus ; eo quod in christo sumus. Homines autem ex 
{ se intellectum habent cgecuni, et voluntatem depravatam 
' in tenebrisque ambulant et nesciunt quid faciunt. . . . 

' Christus autem (ut modo dixi) dei virtus, et dei sapientia 
' est. Qui sunt calidis radiis illius divinitatis acciti ut illi in 
' societate adhereant, hii quidem sunt tercii [1. Jews; 2. 
' Gentiles ; 3. Christians], illi quos Paulus vocatos et electos 
' in illam gloriam, appellat : quorum mentes presentia divini- 
' tatis illustrantur ; voluntates corriguntur ; qui fide cernunt 
' clare sapientiam christi, et amore ejusdem potentiam fortiter 
' apprehendunt.' 



(a) ' Deus autem ipse animi instar totus in toto est, et 
' totus in qualibet parte : verumtamen non omnes partes simi- 
' liter deificat (dei enim animare deificare est), sed varie, vide- 
' licet, ut convenit ad construetionem ejus, quod est in eo 
' unum, expluribus. Hoc compositum eciam exdeo et homi- 
' nibus, modo templum dei, modo ecclesia, modo domus, 
' modo civitas, modo regnum, a dei prophetis appellatur. . . . 
' In quo quum Corinthei erant, ut videri voluerunt et pro- 
1 fessi sunt : sapienter sane Paulus animadvertens si quid 
' laude dignum in illis erat, inde exorditur, et gracias agit 
' de eo quod pros se ferunt boni, quodque adhuc fidei et ec- 
' clesise fundamentum tenent ; ut hoc leni et molli principio 
' alliciat eos in lectionem reliquas epistola?, faciatque quod re- 
' prehendit in moribus eorum facilius audiant. Nam si sta- 
' tim in initio asperior fuisset graviusque accusasset, profecto 
' teneros adhuc animos et novellos in religione, presertim in 
' gente ilia Greca, arrogante et superba, ac prona in dedigna- 
' tionem, a se et suis exhortationibus discussisset. Prudenter 
' igitur et caute agendum fuit pro racione personarum, loco- 
' rum et temporum : in quibus observandis fuit Paulus certe 
' unus omnium consideratissimus, qui proposito fini ita novit 
' media accommodare : ut quum nihil aliud quesierat nisi gloriam 
' Jesu christi in terris, et amplificationem fidei ac charitatis, 
' homo divina usus solertia nihil nee egit nee omisit unquam 
' apud aliquos, quod ejusmodi propositum vel impediret vel 
' retardaret. Itaque jam necessario correcturus quamplurima 
' per literas in Corinthiis, qui, post ejus ab eis discessum, 
' obliqua acciderant, acceptiore utitur principio et quasi quen- 
{ dam aditum facit ad reliqua, quas non nihil amara cogitur 

L L 

514 Appendix B. 

1 adhibere, ut salutaris medicine poculuin, modo ejus os sac- 
'charo illiniatur, Corinthii libenter admittant et hauriant. 
' Quanquam vero Corinthii omnes qui fuerunt ex ecclesia 
' christum professi sunt, in illiusque doctrina et nomine glo- 
' riati sunt : tamen super hoc fundamento nonnullorum erant 
' malae et pravas edificationes partim ignorantia partim malicia 
' superintroductag. Fuerunt enim quidam parum modesti, 
' idemque non parum arrogantes, qui deo et christo et christi 
' apostolis non nihil posthabitis, ceperunt de lucro suo cogi- 
' tare, ac freti sapientia seculari, quas semper plurimum potuit 
' apud Grecos, in plebe sibi authoritatem quasrere, simulque 
' opinionem apostolorum, maxime Pauli, derogare ; cujus 
' tamen adhuc apud Corinthios (ut debuit) nomen plurimum 
' valuit. At illi nescio qui invidi et impatientes laudis 
' Pauli, et suam laudem ac gloriam amantes, attentaverunt 
' aliquid institutionis in ecclesia, ut eis venerat in mentem, 
' utque sua sapientia et opibus probare potuerint, voluerunt- 
' que in populo videri multa scire et posse ac quid ex- 
' poscit Christiana religio nihil ignorare, facileque quid 
' venerat in dubium posse solvere et sententiam ferre. 
' Qua insolentia nimirum in molli adhuc et nascente 
' ecclesia molliti sunt multa, multa passi eciam sunt quas 
' ab institutis Pauli abhorruere. Item magna pars populi 
'jamdudum et vix a mundo tracti in earn religionem quas 
' mundi contemptum edocet et imperat, facile retrospexit ad 
' mundanos mores : et oculos in opes, potentiam, et sapientiam 
' secularem conjecit. Unde nihil reluctati sunt, quin qui 
' opibus valuerunt apud eos iidem authoritate valeant. Immo 
' ab illis illecti prompti illorum nomina sectati sunt, quo fac- 
' turn fuit ut partes nascerentur et factiones ac constitutiones 
' sibi diversorum capitum : ut quaeque conventicula suum 
' caput sequeretur. Ex quo dissidio contentiosas altercationes 
' proruperunt et omnia simul misere corruerunt in deterius. 
' Quam calamitatem Corinthiensis ecclesiaa quorundam impro- 
' bitate inductam, illius primus parens Paulus molestissime 
' tulit, non tarn quod conati sunt infringere suam authorita- 
' tern, quam quod sub malis suasoribus qui bene ceperint 
' navigare in christi archa periclitarentur. Itaque quantum 
{ est ausus et licuit insectatur eos qui volunt videri sapientes, 
' quique in Christiana republica plus suis ingeniis quam ex 

Appendix B. 515 

' deo moliuntur. Quod tamen facit ubique modestissime, 
4 homo piissimus, magis querens reformationem malorum 
' quam aliquorum repreliensionem. Itaque docet omnem et 
4 sapientiam et potentiam a deo esse hominibus per Jesum 
' christum, qui dei sui patris etemi virtus et sapientia est, 
' cujus virtute sapiat oportet et possit quisque qui vere sapiat 

* aliquid et recte possit ; horninum autem sapientiam inanem 
1 et falsam affirmat : Item potentiam vel quanqn unique quan- 
4 dam enervationem et infirmitatem : atque hec utraque 
' deo odiosa et detsstabilis, ut nihil possit fieri nee stultius 

* nee impotentius, neque vero quod magis deo displiceat, 

* quam quempiam suis ipsius viribus conari aliquid in ecclesia 
' Christiana : quam totam suum solius opus esse vult deus ; 
' atque quenquam in eo ex se solo suoque spiritu sapere, ut 
4 nulla sit in hominibus prorsus neque quod possunt boni- 
4 tate, neque quod sapiunt fide, neque denique quod sunt qui- 
' dem spe, nisi ex deo in christo gloriatio, per quern sumus in 
' ipso, et in deo, a quo sane solo possumus et sapimus, et sumus 
' denique quicquid sumus. Hoc in tota hac epistola contendit 

* Paulus asserere : verum maxime et apertissime in prima 
' parte : in qua nititur eradicare et funditus tollere falsam 
' illam opinionem, qua homines suis viribus se aliquid posse 
4 arbitrantur, qua sibi confisi, turn deo diffidunt, turn deum 
' negligunt. Quaa horninum arrogantia et opinio de seipsis, 
1 fons est malorum et pestis, ut impossibile sit earn societatem 
1 sanam et incolumem esse, in qua possunt aliquid, qui suis 
4 se viribus aliquid posse arbitrantur. Secundum vero Pauli 
' doctrinam, quas est christi doctrina et evangeliis consona (si- 
4 quidem unus est author et idem spiritus) nihil quisquam ad 
' se ipsum, sed duntaxat ad deum spectare debet, ei se subji- 
4 cere to turn, illi soli servire, postremo ab illo expectare omnia 
4 et ex illo solo pendere : ut quicquid in Christiana repub- 
' lica (quas dei est civitas) vel vere sentiat, vel recte agat ab 
' illo id totum credat proficisci, et acceptum deum referat.' 
— Leaf a 4, et seq. 

(b) ' Quod si quando voluerit quempiam preditum sapi- 
' entia seculari, cujusmodi Paulus et ejus discipulus Diony- 
' sius Areopagita ac nonnulli alii veritates sapientiaa suas, et 
' accipere et ad alios deferre : profecto hi nuriciaturi aliis quod 
' a deo didicerint, dedita opera nihil magis curaverunt quam ut 


516 Appendix B. 

1 ex seculo nihil sapere viderentur ; existim antes indignum 
' esse ut cum divinis revelatis humana racio commisceatur : 
' nolentes eciam id committere quo putetur veritati credi 
' magis suasion e hominum quam virtute dei. 

' Hinc Paulus in docta et erudita Grecia nihil veritus est, 
' ex se videri stultus et inipotens, ac profiteri se nihil scire nisi 
' Jesum christum et eundem crucifixum : nee posse quicquam 
' nisi per eundem ut per stulticiam predicationis salvos faciat 
- credentes et ratiocinantes confundet.' — Leaf 3, 4. 

(c) ' Idem etiam potentes non sua quidem potentia et vir- 
' tute, sed solius dei per Jesum christum dominum nostrum, in 
' quo illud venerandum et adorandum miraculum, quod deus 
' ipse coierit cum humana natura ; quod quiddam compositum 
' ex deo et homine (quod Greci vocant " Theantropon ") hie 
' vixit in terris, et pro hominum salute versatus est cum ho- 
1 minibus, ut eos deo patri suo revocatos reconciliaret : quod 
' idem preestitit in probatione et ostensione virtutis defen- 
'sioneque justicias usque ad mortem, mortem autem crucis : 
' quod deinde victa morte, fugato diabolo, redempto humano 
* genere, utliberam habeatpotestatem, omnino sine adversarii 
' querela, eligendi ad se quos velit, ut quos velit vocet, quos 
' vocet justificet. Quod (inquam) sic victa et prostrata morte, 
' mortisque authore, ex morte idem resurrexit vivens, ac 
' vivum se multis ostendit, multisque argumentis compro- 
' bavit. Quod turn postremo cernentibus discipulis sursum 
' ut erat deus et homo ascendit ad patrem, illic ex celo 
1 progressum sui inchoati operis in terris, et perfectionem 
' despecturus, ac quantum sibi videbitur continuo adjuturus. 
{ Quod deinde post haec tandem opportuno tempore, rebus 
' maturis, contrariis deo rationibus discussis, longe et a 
' creaturis suis exterminatis injusticia videlicet et ignorantia, 
' in quarum profligatione nunc quotidie dei et sapientia et 
' virtus in suis ministris operatur, operabiturque usque in 
' finem. Quod turn (inquam) post satis longum conflictum 
' et utrinque pugnam inter lucem et tenebras, deo et angelis 
' spectantibus, tandem ille idem dux et dominus exercituum, 
' qui, hie primus, bellum induxit adversariis et cum hostibus 
' manum ipse conseruit, patientia et morte vincens, in sub- 
' sidium suorum prelucens et prepotens, rediet, ut fugata 
' malitia et stultitia, illustret et bona faciet omnia : utque 

Appendix B. 517 

postremo, resuscitans mortuos, ipsam mortem superet 
sua immortalitate, et absorbeat, ac victuros secum rapiat in 
celum, morituros a se longe in sempiternam mortem dis- 
cutiat in tenebras illas exteriores, ut per ipsum in reformato 
mundo sola vita deinceps in perpetuum sapientia et justitia 
regnet.' — Leafb. 5. 

(d) ' Quamobrem non ab re quidem videtur factum fuisse a 
deo, ut illo vulgo hominum et quasi fasce in fundo residente 
longe a claritate posthabita, qui in tarn altam obscuritatem 
non fuerint delapsi, prius et facilius a divino lumine attinge- 
rentur, qui fuerunt qui minus in vallem mundi miserique 
descenderunt, qui altius multo extantes quam alii, merito 
priores exorto justicias sole illuminati fuerunt ; qui supra 
multitudinem varietatem et pugnam hujus humilis mundi, 
simplices, sui similes, et quieti, extiterunt, tanto propiores 
deo quanto remotius a deo distaverint. Quod si deus ipse 
est ipsa nobilitas, sapientia, et potentia ; quis non videt 
Petrum, Joannem, Jacobum, et id genus reliquos, etiam an- 
tequam Veritas dei illuxerat in terras, tanto aliis sapientia et 
viribus prasstitisse, quanto magis abfuerint ab illorum stultitia 
et impotentia, ut nihil sit mirum, si deus, cujus est bonis 
suis, meliores eligere et accommodare, eos habitos stultos et 
impotentes delegerit, quando quidem revera universi mundi 
nobiliores fuerunt, a vilitateque mundi magis sejuncti, 
altiusque extantes : ut quemadmodum id terras quod altius 
eminet, exorto sole facilius et citius radiis tangitur ; ita 
similiter fuit necesse prodeunte luce quas illuminaret omnem 
hominem venientem in hunc mundum, prius irradiaret eos 
qui magis in hominibus eminuerint et quasi montes ad 
hominum valles extiterint. Ad alios autem qui sunt in imo 
in regione frigoris, nebulosa sapientia obducti, et tardius 
penetrant divini radii, et illic difficilius illuminant et citius 
destituunt, nisi forte vehementius incumbentes rarifecerint 
nubem et lenifecerint hominem ut abjectis omnibus qua3 
habet, evolet in christum. Quod si fecerit, turn emergit in 
conditionem et statum Petri ac talium parvulorum quos 
dudum contempserit, ut per earn viam ascendat ad veritatem 
qui ipse est christus qui dixit, " Nisi conversi fueritis et effi- 
" ciamini sicut parvuli non intrabitis in regnum caslorum." 
Qui parvuli, sine dubio, sunt majores illis qui magni in 

518 Appendix B. 

mundo imputantur, ac ideo jure a deo ad sua mysteria ante- 
positi.' — Leafh. 8. 

(e) ' Angustis sane et minutis sunt animis qui hoc non 
vident, quique sentiunt de secularibus rebus contendendum 
esse, et in hisce jus quaarendum suum ; qui ignorant quas sit 
divina justitia, quas injustitia ; quique etiam homunciones, 
quorum stultitia haud scio ridenda ne sit magis quam de- 
flenda, sed certe deflenda ; quoniam ex ea ecclesia calamita- 
tem sentit, ac pasne eversionem. Sed illi homunciones per- 
diti (quibus hoc nostrum seculum plenum est) in quibusque 
sunt etiam qui minime debent esse ecclesiastici viri, et qui 
habentur in ecclesia primarii. Illi (inquam) ignari penitus 
evangelical et apostolicaa doctrinae, ignari divinaa justitias, 
ignari christians veritatis, soliti sunt dicere causam dei, jus 
ecclesia?, patrimonium christi, bona sacerdotii, defendi a se 
oportere et sine peccato non posse non defendi. angustia ! 
cascitas ! miseria istorum, qui quum ineunt rationem 
perdendi omnia, non solum hsec secularia, sed ilia quoque 
etiam sempiterna ; quumque ipsa perdunt, putant se tamen 
eadem acquirere, defendere et conservare ; qui ipso rerum 
exitu ubique in ecclesia homines, ipsis piscibus oculis 
durioribus, non cernunt quas contentionibus judiciisque dis- 
pendia religionis, diminutio auctoritatis, negligentia christi, 
blasphemia dei, sequitur. Ea etiam ipsa denique, quas ipsi 
vocant " bona ecclesiae," quasque putant se suis litigationibus 
vel tenere vel recuperare ; quaa quotidie paulatim et latenter 
turn amittnnt, turn a?gre custodiunt, siquidem magis vi 
quam hominum liberalitate et charitate, quo nihil ecclesia 
indignius esse potest. In qua procul dubio eadem debet esse 
ratio conservandi quas data fuerint quondam, quaa fuerit 
comparandi. Amor dei et proximi, desiderium celestium, 
contemptus mundanorum, vera pietas, religio, charitas, 
benignitas erga homines, simplicitas, patientia, tolerantia 
malorum, studium semper bene faciendi vel omnibus homi- 
nibus ut [in constanti] bono malum vincant, hominum am- 
inos conscitavit ubique tandem ut de ecclesia christi bene 
opinarentur, ei faveant, earn ament, in earn benefici et 
liberales sint, darentque incessanter, datisque etiam data 
accumulent, quum viderant in ecclesiasticis viris nullam 
avaritiam, nullum abusum liberalitatis suas. Quod si qui 

Appendix B. 519 

1 supremam partem teneant in Christiana ecclesia (id est 
' sacerdotes) virtutem (quae acquisivit omnia) perpetuo 
' tenuissent adhucve tenerent ; profecto si staret causa, effectus 
1 sequeretur, vel auctus vel conservatus, hominesque ecclesi- 
' astici non solum quieti possiderent sua ; sed plura etiam 
' acciperent possidenda. Sed quum aquae (ut ait David) 
' intraverant usque animos nostros, quumque cupiditatis et 
' avaritias fluctibas obruimur, nee illud audimus, Divitiae si 
' affluant, nolite cor apponere, quumque neglecta ilia virtute 
' et justitia et studio conservandi amplificandique regni dei in 
' terris, quod sacerdotio nee exposcenti nee expectanti ejusmodi 
' acquisivit omnia, animos suos (proh nephas !) in illos ap- 
1 pendices et pendulas divitias converterint, quod onus est 
' potius ecclesia3 quam ornamentum, tunc ita illo retrospectu 
' canes illi et sues ad vomitum, et ad volutabrum luti, infir- 
' maverunt se amissa pulchra et placida conservatrice rerum 
' virtute ; ut quum vident recidere a se quotidie quod virtus 
' comparavit, impotentes dimicant et turpiter sane confligunt 
' inter se et cum laicis cum sui nominis infamia et ignominia 
' religionis, et ejus rei etiam quam maxime quaerunt indies 
' majore dispendio ac perditione non videntes caeci, si qui 
' [ ] acquisierit aliquid necessario ejus contrarium idem 

' auferre oportere. Contemptus mundi mundanarumque 
' rerum quern docuit christus comparavit omnia ; contra 
' earundem amor amittet et perdet omnia. Quis non videt 
' quum virtute praestitimus, nos tunc bona mundi jure exigere 
' non potuisse nisi quatenus tenuiter ad victum vestitumque 
' pertineat quo jubet Paulus contenti simus. Quis (inquam) 
' non videt multo minus nunc nos exigere debere, quum 
' omnis virtutis expertes sumus, quumque ab ipsis laicis nihil 
' fere nisi tonsa coma, et corona, capitio, et demissa toga, 
' differimus, nisi hoc dicat quispiam (deridens nos), quum 
' nunc sumus relapsi in mundum, quae sunt mundi et partem 
' nostram in mundo nos expostulare posse ; ut non amplius 
' dicamus, Dominus pars hasreditatis nostrae ; sed nobis 
' dicatur, Mercedem vestram recepistis. bone deus, quam 
' puderet nos hujus descensus in mundum, si essemus 
' memores amoris dei erga nos, exempli christi, dignitatis 
' religionis Christianas, professionis et nominis nostri.' — 
Leaf A. 3-5. 

520 Appendix B. 

(/) ' Hie obstupesco et exclamo illud Pauli mei, " altitudo 
' " divitiarum sapiential et scientias dei." sapientia admir- 
' abiliter bona hominibus et misericors, ut jure tua pia benig- 
' nitas altitudo divitiarum potest appellari, qui commendans 
' charitatem tuam in nobis voluisti in nos tarn esse liberalis 
' ut temetipsum dares pro nobis, ut tibe et deo nos reddere- 
' mur. pia, benigna, benefica sapientia, O os, verbum, 
' et Veritas dei in homine, verbum veridicum et verificans, qui 
' voluisti nos docere humanitus ut nos divinitus sapiamus, 
' qui voluisti esse in homine ut nos in deo essemus. Qui 
' denique voluisti in homine humiliari usque ad mortem, 
' mortem autem crucis, ut nos exaltaremur usque ad vitam, 
' vitam autem dei.' 



The following correspondence in ' Notes and Queries ' (Oct. 
1868) may be considered, I think, to set at rest the date of 
Sir Thomas More's birth. 

No. 1 (Oct. 17, 1868). 

; Some months ago I found the following entries, relating 
to a family of the name of More, on two blank leaves of 
a MS. in the Gale collection, in the library of Trinity 
College, Cambridge. The class mark of the volume is 
" 0. 2. 21." Its contents are very miscellaneous. Among 
other things is a copy of the poem of Walter de Bibles- 
worth, printed by Mr. Thomas Wright in his volume of 
Vocabularies from the Arundel MS. The date of this is 
early fourteenth century. The names of former possessors 
of the volume are " Le : Fludd" and " G. Carew;" the 
latter being probably Sir George Carew, afterwards Earl of 
Totness. The entries which I have copied are on the last 
leaf and the last leaf but one of the volume. I have added 
the dates in square brackets, and expanded the contractions : 

' " M d quod die dominica in vigilia Sancti Marce Evange- 
" liste Anno Regni Regis Edwardi quarti post conquestum 
" Anglie quartodecimo Johannes More Gent, maritatus fuit 
" Agneti filie Thome Graunger in parochia sancti Egidij 
" extra Crepylgate london. [24 April, 1474.] 

' " M ed quod die sabbati in vigilia sancti gregorij pape 
" inter horam primam & horam secundam post Meridiem 
" eiusdem diei Anno Regni Regis Edwardi quarti post con- 
" questum Anglie xv° nata fuit Johanna More filia Johannis 
"More Gent. [11 March, 1474-5.] 

' " M d quod die veneris proximo post Festum purificacionis 
' " beate Marie virginis videlicet septimo die Februarij inter 

522 Appendix C. 

" horam secundam et horam terciam in Mane natus fuit 
" Thomas More films Johannis More Gent. Anno Regni 
" Regis Edwardi quarti post conquestum Anglie decimo 
" septimo. [7 Feb. 1477-8.] 

' " M d quod die dominica videlicet vltimo die Januarij 
" inter horam septimam et horam octauam ante Meridiem 
" Anno regni Regis Edwardi quarti decimo octauo nata 
" fuit Agatha filia Johannis More Gentilinan. [31 Jan. 
" 1478-9.] 

' " M d quod die Martis videlicet vj t0 die Junij inter horam 
" decimam & horam vndecimam ante Meridiem natus fuit 
"Johannes More filius Johannis More Gent. Anno regni 
" Regis Edwardi quarti vicesimo. [6 June, 1480.] 

' " Me d quod die lune viz. tercio die Septembris inter 
" horam secundam & horam terciam in Mane natus fuit 
" Edwardus Moore filius Johannis More Gent. Anno regni 
" regis Edwardi iiij u post conquestum xxj°. [3 Sept. 

'"M d quod die dominica videlicet xxij° die Septembris 
" anno regni regis Edwardi iiij 11 xxij inter horam quartam 
" & quintam in Mane nata fuit Elizabeth More filia Johan- 
" nis More Gent." [22 Sept. 1482.] 

' It will be seen that these entries record the marriage of a 
John More, gent., in the parish church of St. Giles, Cripple- 
gate, and the births of his six children, Johanna, Thomas, 
Agatha, John, Edward, and Elizabeth. 

' Now it is known that Sir Thomas More was born, his 
biographers vaguely say, about 1480 in Milk Street, Cheap- 
side, which is in the parish of St. Giles, Cripplegate ; that he 
was the son of Sir John More, afterwards Lord Chief Justice, 
who, at the time of his son's birth, was a barrister, and 
would be described as " John More, gent." ; and that he had 
two sisters, Jane or Joane (Wordsworth's Eccl. Biog. ii. 49), 
married to Richard Stafferton, and Elizabeth, wife to John 
Rastall the printer, and mother of Sir William Rastall 
(born 1508), afterwards Lord Chief Justice of the Queen's 

' The third entry above given records the birth of Thomas, 
son of John More, who had been married in the church of 
St. Giles, Cripplegate, and may be presumed to have lived 

Appendix C. 523 

in the parish. The date of his birth is Feb. 7, 1477-8 ; that 
is, according to modern reckoning, 1478, and therefore 
" about 1480." Oddly enough, the day of the week in this 
entry is wrong. It is Friday, which in 1477-8 was Feb. 6. 
But Thomas was born between two and three in the morn- 
ing of Saturday, Feb. 7. The confusion is obvious and 

' The second and last entries record the births of his sisters 
Johanna and Elizabeth. The former of these names ap- 
pears to have been a favourite in the family of Sir John 
More, and was the name of his grandmother, the daughter 
of John Leycester. 

' I may add, that the entries are all in a contemporary 
hand, and their formal character favours the supposition 
that they were made by some one familiar with legal docu- 
ments, and probably by a lawyer. 

' This remarkable series of coincidences led me at first to 
believe that I had discovered the entry of the birth of Sir 
Thomas More. But, upon investigation, I was met by a 
difficulty which at present I have been unable to solve. In 
the life of the Chancellor by Cresacre More, his great- 
grandson, the name of Sir Thomas More's mother is said to 
have been " Handcombe of Holliwell in Bedfordshire." This 
fact is not mentioned by Roper, who lived many years in 
his house, and married his favourite daughter, or by any 
other of his biographers. The question, therefore, is whether 
the authority of Cresacre More on this point is to be 
admitted as absolute. He was not born till nearly forty 
years after Sir Thomas More's death, and his book was not 
written till between eighty and ninety years after it. We 
must take into consideration these facts in estimating the 
amount of weight to be attached to his evidence as to the 
name of his great-great-grandmother. 

' Were there then two John Mores of the rank of gentle- 
men, both apparently lawyers, living at the same time, in 
the same parish, and both having three children bearing 
the same names ; or was John More, who married Agnes 
Graunger, the future Chief Justice and father of the future 
Chancellor ? To these questions, in the absence of Cresacre 
More's statement, the accumulation of coincidences would 

524 Appendix C. 

' have made it easy to give a very positive answer. Is his 
' authority to be weighed against them ? 

' Stapylton's assertion that Sir Thomas More had no 
' brothers presents no difficulty, as they may have died in 
' infancy. The entries which I have quoted would explain 
' why he was called Thomas, after his maternal grandfather. 

' If any heraldic readers of " Notes and Queries " could 
' find what are the arms quartered with those of More upon 
' the Chancellor's tomb at Chelsea, they would probably throw 
' some light upon the question. Mr. Hunter describes them 
' as " three bezants on a chevron between three unicorns' 
' " heads." 

' William Aldis Wright. 

' Trinity College, Cambridge.' 

No. 2 (Oct. 31, 1868). 

' There can, I think, be no reasonable doubt that Mr. 
Wright's discovery has set at rest the perplexing question 
of the true date of Sir Thomas More's birth. In the note in 
the Appendix to my " Oxford Reformers " I was obliged to 
leave the question undecided, whilst inclined to believe that 
the weight of evidence preponderated in favour of the re- 
ceived date — 1480. What appeared almost incontrovertible 
evidence in favour of 1480 was the evidence of the pictures 
of Sir Thomas More's family by Holbein. The most cer- 
tainly authentic of these is the original pen-and-ink sketch 
in the Basle Museum. Upon Mechel's engraving of this 
(dated 1787), Sir Thomas's age is marked " 50," and at the 
bottom of the picture is the inscription, " Johannes Holbein 
" ad Vivum delin. : Londini : 1530." This seemed to be 
almost conclusive evidence that he was born in 1480. If 
Sir Thomas was born in Feb. 1478, according to the newly 
discovered entries, and was fifty when the picture was 
sketched by Holbein, the sketch obviously cannot have been 
made in 1530, but two or three years earlier. 

' Now if it may be supposed that the sketch was made 
during the summer or autumn of 1527, I think it will be 
found that all other chronological difficulties will vanish 
before the newly discovered date. 

Appendix C. 525 

' 1. More himself would be in his fiftieth year in 1527. 

' 2. Ann Cresacre, marked on the sketch as " 15," would 
' have only recently completed her fifteenth year, as, accord- 
' ing to her tombstone, she was in her sixty-sixth year in 
' Dec. 1577 ; and according to the inscription on the Burford 
' picture she was born in 3 Henry VIII. 

' 3. Margaret Roper, marked on the sketch " 22," would 
' be born in 1505 or 1506, and this would allow of More's 
' marriage having taken place in 20 Henry VII. 1505, as 
' stated on the Burford picture. 

' 4. Sir Thomas would be forty-one in July, 1519, and this 
' accords with Erasmus's statement in his letter to Hutten 
' of that date (Epist. ccccxlvii.) — " ipse novi hominem, non 
' '•' majorem annis viginti tribus, nam nunc non multwm 
' " excessit quadragesimiim." He would be only one year past 
' forty. Erasmus first became acquainted with More pro- 
' bably in the course of 1498, when (being born in February) 
' he was in his twentieth year. The "viginti tribus " must 
' in any case be an error. 

' 5. John More, jun., marked " 19 " in the sketch, would 
' be " more or less than thirteen " as reported by Erasmus in 
1521. (Epist. dcv.) 

' 6. More's epigram, which speaks of " quinque lustra " 
' (i.e. twenty-five years), having passed since he was " quater 
' " quatuor" (sixteen), and thus makes him forty-one when 
^he wrote it, would (if he was born in 1478) give 1519 as the 
' date of the epigram ; and this corresponds with the fact, 
' that the Basle edition of 1518 (Mori Epigrammata, Froben) 
' did not contain it, while it was inserted in the second 
< edition of 1520. 

' 7. There is a passage in More's " History of Richard 
' " III.," in which the writer speaks of having himself over- 
' heard a conversation which took place in 1483. 

' Mr. Gairdner, in his " Letters, &c. of Richard III. and 
' " Henry VII." (vol. ii. preface, p. xxi), rightly points out 
' that, if born in 1480, More, being then only three years old, 
' could not have remembered overhearing a conversation. 
' But if born in Feb. 1478, he would be in his sixth year, 
' and could easily do so. 

' On the whole, therefore, the newly discovered date dis- 

526 Appendix C. 

' pels all the apparent difficulties with which the received 
' date is beset, if only it may be assumed that the true date 
' of the Basle sketch was 1527, and not (as inscribed upon 
' Mechel's engraving and upon the English pictures of the 
' family of Sir Thomas More) 1530. 

'Since I published my "Oxford Reformers" I have 
' obtained a photograph of the Basle sketch itself, which dis- 
' pels this difficulty also, as it bears upon it no date at all. 

' The date, 1530, on the pictures appears to rest upon 
1 no good authority. Holbein, in fact, had left England 
' the year before. I therefore have little doubt that the 
' remarkable document discovered by Mr. Wright is perfectly 
' genuine. 

' Should the arms quartered with those of More upon the 
' Chancellor's tomb at Chelsea prove to be the arms of 
' " Graunger," the evidence would indeed be complete. 

' Hitchin. ' Frederic Seebohm.' 

No. 3 (Oct. 31, 1868). 

' Mr. Wright will find the lineage of Sir Thomas More and 
' his father discussed at some length in my " Judges of Eng- 
' "land," vol. v. pp. 190-206 ; and I have very little doubt 
' that the John More whose marriage is recorded in the first 
' entry was the person who afterwards became a Judge (not 
' Chief Justice, as Mr. Wright by mistake calls him), and 
' that Thomas More, whose birth is recorded in the third 
' entry, was the illustrious Lord Chancellor. The only diffi- 
' culty arises from John More's wife being named " Agnes 
' "daughter of Thomas Graunger;" but this difficulty is 
' easily discarded, since Cresacre More, who wrote between 
' eighty and ninety years after the Chancellor's death, is the 
' only author who gives another name, and his other bio- 
' grapher, who wrote immediately after his death, gives the 
' lady no name at all. 

' John More married three times ; and he must have been 
• a very young man on his first marriage with Agnes Graunger 
: (supposing that to be the name of his first wife), by whom 
■ only he had children. 

' I have stated in my account that there were two John 

Appendix C. 527 

' Mores who were contemporaries at a period considerably 
' earlier, one of Lincoln's Inn and the other of the Middle 
' Temple. Of the lineage of the latter there is no account ; 
'but of the former I have stated my conviction that he was 
' the father of the John More whose marriage is here recorded, 
' and consequently the grandfather of Sir Thomas More ; and 
' thus, as both the John Mores had originally filled dependent 
' employment in Lincoln's Inn, the modest description of his 
' origin given by Sir Thomas in his epitaph, " familia non 
' " celebri, sed honesta natus," is at once accounted for. 

' Edward Foss.' 

No. 4 (Oct. 31, 1868). 

' Permit me to set your correspondent right in a minor 
' particular, which he looks to as confirming his theory, though 
' I trust he may be able to substantiate it otherwise. Mr. 

'Wright says — "Milk Street, Cheapside is in the 

' " parish of St. Giles, Cripplegate : " it is not so, as several 
' parishes intervene ; Milk Street is within the walls, where- 
' as St. Giles's is without. Mr. Wright might have seen this 
' by the wording of his first quotation : — " in parochia Egidij 
' " extra Crepylgate ; " the word " extra " implies beyond the 
' walls. Milk Street is in the ward of Cripplegate Within, 
' not in the parish of St. Giles Without, Cripplegate — a dis- 
' tinction not obvious to strangers. 

' A great part of the district now called Cripplegate With- 
1 out was originally moor or fen : we have a Moorfields, 
' now fields no more; and a "More" or Moor Lane. I cannot 
' suppose the latter to have been named after the author of 
' " Utopia ; " but as he really emanated from this locality, pos- 
' sibly his family was named from the neighbouring moor. 
' The Chancellor bore for his crest " a Moor's head affrontee 
' " sable.' I would not wish to affront his memory by adding 
' more, but your readers will find something on this subject 
' ante, 3rd S. xii. 199, 238. < A. H.' 

528 Appendix C . 

No. 5 (Nov. 5, 1868). 

' I am indebted to your correspondents, Mr. Foss and A. H., 
' for their corrections of two inaccuracies in my paper on Sir 
'Thomas More. Fortunately, neither of these affects the 
' strength of my case. It is sufficient that Milk Street and 
' the church of St. Giles', Cripplegate, are so near as to render 
' it probable that a resident in the one might be married at 
' the other. If, therefore, for " the same parish " I substitute 
' " the same ward," my case remains substantially as strong 
' as before. My mistake arose from not observing that the 
' map in Strype's edition of Stow's Survey, which I consulted, 
' was a map of Cripplegate Ward, and not of the parish of 
' St. Giles'. 

' Before writing to you, I had, of course, consulted Mr. 
' Foss's Judges of England, but found nothing there bearing 
*-upon the point on which I wanted assistance, viz., the name 
' and arms of Sir Thomas More's mother. 

' William Alms Wright. 

' Trinity College, Cambridge.' 

Appendix D. 


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