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their bone, and thereafter no one ever, dared to meddle with Colet. This is Erasmus's version of an incident which, especially 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 defensire, the king had convinced him. But with reference to this second sermon, if ever it was preached, Erasmus is silent.?
Henry VIII. may have convinced Colet by royal argument that in this, his second campaign, he was acting strictly on the defensive; but events soon proved that he was indulging an ambitious dream, which he was stubbornly bent on pursuing, in spite of the counsel of the best of his advisers, and no matter what burdens it might entail upon the nation. He was not deterred by Colet's preaching. Ile was not deterred by the news of troubles a-head on his Scotch frontiers. He was not deterred by the news of the election of Leo X. -a friend of Erasmus's, and known to be anxious for peace-to the Papal chair. He was not deterred by the news of the destruction of a portion of his fleet, and the loss of his best Admiral, Lord Howard, under the most painful circumstances. Even the intelligence that his treacherous father-in-law, Ferdinand, to secure his own ends, had made a year's truce with France, and thus deserted his ally, was not sufficient to restore him to reason. In spite of all he persisted in setting sail for Calais, to commence the attack on France in his own person.
Te need not follow the details of the campaign here. Suffice it to say, that like the first game of a child, it was carelessly, blunderingly played, not, however, without buoyant spirit and that air of exaggerated grandeur which betokens the inexperienced hand. A few towns were taken, under the selfish advice of Maximilian, who was glad enough to turn the lavish purse and ardent ambition of his young ally to his own advantage. But the power of France was not crippled by the invasion of a remote corner of her shores. More time was spent in tournaments and banquets than in actual fighting. It was emphatically "playing at war.”
In the mean time, it will be remembered that it was during the king's absence that the Scotch invaded England, and were repulsed on the bloody field of Flodden. It may well be supposed that these erents were not without passing influence on the minds of the Oxford Reformers. Colet's hatred of these useless wars was not likely to be lessened by the results of this last campaign. Erasmus and More
(1) Fras., Justo Jono., op. iii. 461, A, E. (2) Knight's Life of Colet, p. 207, noto quoted from Antiq. Britain, Sub. Wil . Warhamn, edit. Han., p. 306.
shared that hatred ; and with every fresh turn in the mazes of continental policy and intrigue it was deepened, until at length it found vent in language as remarkable for its boldness as Colet's had already been.
5. ERASMUS LEAVES CAMBRIDGE, AND MEDITATES LEAVING
ENGLAND (1513-14). 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. 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. Every one who cared for the advance of learning they had found 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 maintenance for Erasmus 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 tentmaking, the price he had to pay for that leisure which he was bent upon devoting to his real work. This work was his fellow work with Colet. Not alone the aid he was able to give to his friend, by taking up the cudgels for him at the University, and finding him teachers and schoolbooks for his school, 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 labouring hard to produce an edition of the New Testament in the original Greek, with a new and free translation of his own; and simultaneously with this a corrected 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,”? and in July, 1512, that he has finished collating the New Testament, and is attacking St. Jerome.3
To Ammonius, in the camp, during the French campaign 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
(1) Compendium, Vita Eras., Eras. op. i., preface. (2) Brewer, i., 1847.
(3) Brewer, 4336. Eras., Epist. cxv. The allusion to the “ De Copia" (printed in May, 1512,) fixes the date.
has been waging no less fierce a warfare with the blunders of Jerome."! 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 out of the students. All these years he had been, in spite of all his efforts, and notwithstanding an annual stipend secured upon a living in Kent, through the kindness of Lord Mountjoy, to a great extent dependent on his friends, obliged most unwillingly to beg, till he had become thoroughly ashamed of begging. And now this autumn of 1513 had brought matters to a crisis. At Michaelmas the University had agreed to pay him thirty nobles, and on the 1st of September 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.*
On the 28th of November 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 of the men were there, there was no large company. 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.
The result was that in the winter of 1513-14 Erasmus finally left Cambridge. The disbanding of disaffected and demoralised soldiers had so increased the number of robbers on the public roads, that travelling in the winter months was considered 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 ;”? 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 growing brighter and stronger
(1) Brewer, 4576. See also Brewer, 2013, which belongs to the same autumn.
(5) Brewer, i., 2001, under date 1511. The allusion to the King of Scots, as well as the passage quoted fix the date 1513. See also No. 4576.
(6) Brewer, 2001.
every day.”! 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 admi of their caring much at the moment about Erasmus and his literary projects.
No wonder, therefore, that when his friends at the Court of the Netherlands urged his acceptance of an honorary place in the Privy Council of Prince Charles, which would not interfere with his literary labours, together with a pension which would furnish him with 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 (with some abridgment) as follows:
“Ile gracefully acknowledged his great kindness 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 ?
“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. Consider also by 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 offscouring3 of mankind 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
“It is much more glorious to found cities than to destroy them. In our times it is the people who build 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 hurly-burly 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 à prince, much more should it be so among Christians, with whom royalty is an administration, not a dominion. .
“Let the abbot call to mind all that Christ and his apostles said about
(1) Brewer, 1849. Notes of a speech in this Parliament.
peace, and the tolerance of evil ; surely he would bring all his influence to bear upon Prince Charles and the Emperor in favour of a Christian peace among Christian princes."?
In writing to Prince de Vere on the same subject, Erasmus had espressed 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. Whether safely or not, he had certainly now dared to speak his mind pretty fully in the letter to the Abbot of St. Bertin. And Erasmus had other opportunities of speaking out his mind about the war.
There was a rumour afloat that a Papal ambassador had arrived in England—a Cardinal in disguise. It happened that Erasmus was invited to dine with his friend Ammonius. He went as a man goes to the house of an intimate friend, without ceremony, and expecting to dine with him alone. IIe 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 curiosity. 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 precedence. Erasmus chatted with Ammonius as though they had been alone, and, amongst other things, happened 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, "did not take me into his councils; but if he had, I should not have advised him to propose a peace.” “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 in the mean time, 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 treer the hands of the soldiery may be tied at once. I should propose a truce of three years, in order that the terms might be arranged of a rally permanent treaty of peace.” Ammonius assented, 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-by, as though he meant to have a straightforward answer. “ His spirit is
(1) Eras., Epist. cxliv., and published among “Auctarium Selectarum Aliquot Epistolarum Erasmi," &c. Basil, 1518, p. 62. · (2) Epist. cxliii.