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The LIFE of Erasmus. - Desiderius Erasmus, The Colloquies vol. 1 
The Colloquies of Erasmus. Translated by Nathan Bailey. Edited with Notes, by the Rev. E. Johnson, M.A. (London: Reeves and Turner, 1878). Vol. 1.
Part of: The Colloquies 2 vols.
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The LIFE ofErasmus.
DESIDERIUS Erasmus, surnamed Roterodamus, was born at Roterdam, a Town of Holland, on the Vigil of Simon and Jude, or October the 20th or 28th, 1465, according to his Epitaph at Basil; or according to the Account of his life, Erasmo Auctore, circa annum, &c. about the Year 1467, which agrees with the Inscription of his Statute at Roterdam, which being the Place of his Nativity, may be suppos’d to be the most authentick. His Mother’s Name was Margaret, the Daughter of one Peter, a Physician of Sevenbergen. His Father’s Name was Gerard, who carried on a private Correspondence with her, upon Promise of Marriage; and as it should seem from the Life which has Erasmus’s Name before it, was actually contracted to her, which seems plainly to be insinuated by these Words; Sunt qui intercessisse verba ferunt: However, it is not to be denied that Erasmus was born out of Wedlock, and on that Account, Father Theophilus Ragnaud, has this pleasant Passage concerning him: If one may be allow’d to droll upon a Man, that droll’d upon all the World, Erasmus, tho’ he was not the Son of a King, yet he was the Son of a crown’d Head, meaning a Priest. But in this he appears to have been mistaken, in that his Father was not in Orders when he begat him. His Father Gerard was the Son of one Elias, by his Mother Catherine, who both liv’d to a very advanc’d Age; Catherine living to the Age of 95. Gerard had nine Brethren by the same Father and Mother, without one Sister coming between them; he himself was the youngest of the ten, and liv’d to see two of his Brothers at Dort in Holland, near 90 Years of Age each. All his Brothers were married but himself; and according to the Superstition of those Times, the old People had a mind to consecrate him to God, being a tenth Child, and his Brothers lik’d the Motion well enough, because by that Means they thought they should have a sure Friend, where they might eat and drink, and be merry upon Occasion. They being all very pressing upon him to turn Ecclesiastick, (which was a Course of Life that he had no Inclination to,) Gerard finding himself beset on all Sides, and by their universal Consent excluded from Matrimony, resolving not to be prevail’d upon by any Importunities, as desperate Persons do, fled from them, and left a Letter for his Parents and Brothers upon the Road, acquainting them with the Reason of his Elopement, bidding them an eternal Farewell, telling them he would never see them more. He prosecuted his Journey to Rome, leaving Margaret, his Spouse that was to be, big with Child of Erasmus. Gerard being arriv’d at Rome, betook himself to get his Living by his Pen, (by transcribing Books) being an excellent Penman; and there being at that Time a great deal of that Sort of Business to do (for as the Life that is said to be Erasmo Auctore has it, tum nondum ars typographorum erat, i. e. The Art of Printing was not then found out; which was a Mistake, for it had been found out twenty–four Years before, in the Year 1442. But perhaps the Meaning may be, tho’ it was found out, it was not then commonly used) he got Money plentifully, and for some Time, as young Fellows us’d to do, liv’d at large; but afterwards apply’d himself in good Earnest to his Studies, made a considerable Progress in the Latin and Greek Tongues, which was very much facilitated by his Employment of transcribing Authors, which could not but strongly impress them on his Memory; and he had also another great Advantage, in that a great many learned Men then flourish’d at Rome, and he heard particularly one Guarinus. But to return to Erasmus, his Mother Margaret being delivered of him, he was after his Father called Gerard, which in the German Tongue, signifies Amiable; and as it was the Custom among learned Men in those Times, (who affected to give their Names either in Latin or Greek,) it was turn’d into Desiderius (Didier) in Latin, and into Erasmus [Ἐράσμιος] in Greek, which has the same Signification. He was at first brought up by his Grandmother, till Gerard’s Parents coming to the Knowledge that he was at Rome, wrote to him, sending him Word, that the young Gentlewoman whom he courted for a Wife was dead; which he giving Credit to, in a melancholy Fit, took Orders, being made a Presbyter, and apply’d his Mind seriously to the Study of Religion. But upon his Return into his own Country, he found that they had impos’d upon him. Having taken Orders, it was too late to think of Marriage; he therefore quitted all further Pretensions to her, nor would she after this, be induced to marry. Gerard took Care to have his Son Erasmus liberally educated, and put him to School when he was scarce four Years old. (They have in Holland, an ill–grounded Tradition; that Erasmus, when he was young, was a dull Boy, and slow at Learning; but Monsieur Bayle has sufficiently refuted that Error, tho’ were it true, it were no more Dishonour to him, than it was to Thomas Aquinas, Suarez, and others.) He was a Chorister at Utrecht, till he was nine Years old, and afterwards was sent to Daventer, his Mother also going thither to take Care of him. That School was but barbarous, the most that was minded, was Matins, Even–Song, &c. till Alexander Hegius of Westphalia, and Zinthius, began to introduce something of better Literature. (This Alexander Hegius, was an intimate Friend to the learned Rodolphus Agricola, who was the first that brought the Greek Tongue over the Mountains of Germany, and was newly returned out of Italy, having learned the Greek Tongue of him.) Erasmus took his first Taste of solid Learning from some of his Playfellows, who being older than himself, were under the Instruction of Zinthius: And afterwards he sometimes heard Hegius; but that was only upon holy Days, on which he read publickly, and so rose to be in the third Class, and made a very good Proficiency: He is said to have had so happy a Memory, as to be able to repeat all Terence and Horace by Heart. The Plague at that Time raging violently at Daventer, carry’d off his Mother, when Erasmus was about thirteen Years of Age; which Contagion increasing more and more every Day, having swept away the whole Family where he boarded, he returned Home. His Father Gerard hearing of the Death of his Wife, was so concern’d at it, that he grew melancholy upon it, fell sick, and died soon after, neither of them being much above forty Years of Age. He assign’d to his Son Erasmus three Guardians, whom he esteem’d as trusty Friends, the Principal of whom was Peter Winkel, the Schoolmaster of Goude. The Substance that he left for his Education, had been sufficient for that Purpose, if his Guardians had discharg’d their Trust faithfully. By them he was remov’d to Boisleduc, tho’ he was at that Time fit to have gone to the University. But the Trustees were against sending him to the University, because they had design’d him for a Monastick Life. Here he liv’d (or, as he himself says, rather lost three Years) in a Franciscan Convent, where one Rombold taught Humanity, who was exceedingly taken with the pregnant Parts of the Youth, and began to sollicit him to take the Habit upon him, and become one of their Order. Erasmus excused himself, alledging the Rawness and Unexperiencedness of his Age. The Plague spreading in these Parts, and after he had struggled a whole Year with an Ague, he went Home to his Guardians, having by this Time furnished himself with an indifferent good Style, by daily reading the best Authors. One of his Guardians was carried off by the Plague; the other two not having manag’d his Fortune with the greatest Care, began to contrive how they might fix him in some Monastery. Erasmus still languishing under this Indisposition, tho’ he had no Aversion to the Severities of a pious Life, yet he had an Aversion for a Monastery, and therefore desired Time to consider of the Matter. In the mean Time his Guardians employ’d Persons to sollicit him, by fair Speeches, and the Menaces of what he must expect, if he did not comply, to bring him over. In this Interim they found out a Place for him in Sion, a College of Canons Regulars near Delft, which was the principal House belonging to that Chapter. When the Day came that Erasmus was to give his final Answer, he fairly told them, he neither knew what the World was, nor what a Monastery was, nor yet, what himself was, and that he thought it more advisable for him to pass a few Years more at School, till he came to know himself better. Peter Winkel perceiving that he was unmoveable in this Resolution, fell into a Rage, telling him, he had taken a great deal of Pains to a fine Purpose indeed, who had by earnest Sollicitations, provided a good Preferment for an obstinate Boy, that did not understand his own Interest: And having given him some hard Words, told him, that from that Time he threw up his Guardianship, and now he might look to himself. Erasmus presently reply’d, that he took him at his first Word; that he was now of that Age, that he thought himself capable of taking Care of himself. When his Guardian saw that threatening would not do any Thing with him, he set his Brother Guardian, who was his Tutor, to see what he could do with him: Thus was Erasmus surrounded by them and their Agents on all Hands. He had also a Companion that was treacherous to him, and his old Companion his Ague stuck close to him; but all these would not make a monastick Life go down with him; till at last, by meer Accident, he went to pay a Visit at a Monastery of the same Order at Emaus or Steyn near Goude, where he found one Cornelius, who had been his Chamber–fellow at Daventer. He had not yet taken the Habit, but had travelled to Italy, and came back without making any great Improvements in Learning. This Cornelius, with all the Eloquence he was Master of, was continually setting out the Advantages of a religious Life, the Conveniency of noble Libraries, Retirement from the Hurry of the World, and heavenly Company, and the like. Some intic’d him on one Hand, others urg’d him on the other, his Ague stuck close to him, so that at last he was induc’d to pitch upon this Convent. And after his Admission he was fed up with great Promises to engage him to take upon him the holy Cloth. Altho’ he was but young, he soon perceived how vastly short all Things there fell of answering his Expectations; however, he set the whole Brotherhood to applying their Minds to Study. Before he professed himself he would have quitted the Monastery; but his own Modesty, the ill Usage he was treated with, and the Necessities of his Circumstances, overcame him, so that he did profess himself. Not long after this, by the means of Gulielmus Hermannus of Buda, his intimate Associate, he had the Honour to be known to Henry a Bergis Bishop of Cambray, who was then in Hopes of obtaining a Cardinal’s Hat, which he had obtained, had not Money been wanting: In order to sollicit this Affair for him, he had Occasion for one that was Master of the Latin Tongue; therefore being recommended by the Bishop of Utrecht, he was sent for by him; he had also the Recommendation of the Prior, and General, and was entertained in the Bishop’s Family, but still wore the Habit of his Order: But the Bishop, disappointed in his Hope of wearing the Cardinal’s Hat, Erasmus finding his Patron fickle and wavering in his Affections, prevail’d with him to send him to Paris, to prosecute his Studies there. He did so, and promised him a yearly Allowance, but it was never paid him, according to the Custom of great Men. He was admitted of Montague College there, but by Reason of ill Diet and a damp Chamber, he contracted an Indisposition of Body, upon which he return’d to the Bishop, who entertain’d him again courteously and honourably: Having recover’d his Health, he return’d into Holland, with a Design to settle there; but being again invited, he went back to Paris. But having no Patron to support him, he rather made a Shift to live (to use his own Expression) than to study there; and undertook the Tuition of an English Gentleman’s two Sons. And the Plague returning there periodically for many Years, he was obliged every Year to return into his own Country. At length it raging all the Year long, he retir’d to Louvain.
After this he visited England, going along with a young Gentleman, to whom he was Tutor, who, as he says himself, was rather his Friend than his Patron. In England he was received with universal Respect; and, as he tells us himself in his Life, he won the Affections of all good Men in our Island. During his Residence here, he was intimately acquainted with Sir Thomas More, William Warham, Archbishop of Canterbury, John Colet, Dean of St. Pauls, the Founder of St. Paul’s School, a Man remarkable for the Regularity of his Life, great Learning and Magnificence; with Hugh Latimer Bishop of Winchester, Linacre, Grocinus, and many other honourable and learned Persons, and passed some Years at Cambridge, and is said to have taught there; but whether this was after his first or second Time of visiting England, I do not determine: However, not meeting with the Preferment he expected, he went away hence to make a Journey to Italy, in the Company of the Sons of Baptista Boetius, a Genoese, Royal Professor of Physick in England; which Country, at that Time, could boast of a Set of learned Men, not much inferior to the Augustan Age: But as he was going to France, it was his ill Fortune, at Dover, to be stripp’d of all he had; this he seems to hint at in his Colloquy, intitled, the Religious Pilgrimage: But yet he was so far from revenging the Injury, by reflecting upon the Nation, that he immediately published a Book in Praise of the King and Country; which Piece of Generosity gained him no small Respect in England. And it appears by several of his Epistles, that he honoured England next to the Place of his Nativity.
It appears by Epist. 10. Lib. 16. that when he was in England Learning flourished very much here, in that he writes, Apud Anglos triumphant bonæ Literæ, recta Studia; and in Epist. 12. Lib. 16. he makes no Scruple to equal it to Italy itself; and Epist. 26. Lib. 6. commends the English Nobility for their great Application to all useful Learning, and entertaining themselves at Table with learned Discourses, when the Table–Talk of Churchmen was nothing but Ribaldry and Profaneness. In Epist. 10. Lib. 5, which he addresses to Andrelinus, he invites him to come into England, recommending it as worth his While, were it upon no other Account, than to see the charming Beauties with which this Island abounded; and in a very pleasant Manner describes to him the Complaisance and innocent Freedom of the English Ladies, telling him, that when he came into a Gentleman’s House he was allowed to salute the Ladies, and also to do the same at taking Leave: And tho’ he seems to talk very feelingly on the Subject, yet makes no Reflections upon the Virtue of English Women. But to return to him; as to his Voyage to Italy, he prosecuted his Journey to Turin, and took the Degree of Doctor of Divinity in that University; he dwelt a whole year in Bolognia, and there obtain’d a Dispensation from Pope Julian to put off his Canon’s Habit, but upon Condition not to put off the Habit of Priest; and after that went to Venice, where was the Printing–House of the famous Manutius Aldus, and there he published his Book of Adagies, and staying some Time there, wrote several Treatises, and had the Conversation of many eminent and learned Men. From thence he went to Padua, where at that Time Alexander the Son of James King of Scotland, and Bishop of St. Andrews in Scotland, studied, who chose Erasmus for his Tutor in Rhetorick, and went to Seana, and thence to Rome, where his great Merits had made his Presence expected long before. At Rome he gained the Friendship and Esteem of the most considerable Persons in the City, was offered the Dignity of a Penitentiary, if he would have remained there: But he returned back to the Archbishop, and not long after went with him again to Italy, and travelling farther into the Country, went to Cuma, and visited the Cave of Sybilla. After the Death of the Archbishop he began to think of returning to his own Country, and coming over the Rhetian Alps, went to Argentorat, and thence by the Way of the Rhine into Holland, having in his Way visited his Friends at Antwerp and Louvain; but Henry VIII. coming to the Crown of England, his Friends here, with many Invitations and great Promises, prevailed upon him to come over to England again, where it was his Purpose to have settled for the remaining Part of his Life, had he found Things according to the Expectation they had given him: But how it came about is uncertain, whether Erasmus was wanting in making his Court aright to Cardinal Wolsey, who at that Time manag’d all Things at his Pleasure; or, whether it were that the Cardinal look’d with a jealous Eye upon him, because of his intimate Friendship with William Warham, Archbishop of Canterbury, who had taken him into his Favour, between whom and Wolsey there was continual Clashing, (the Cardinal after he had been made the Pope’s Legate, pretending a Power in the Archbishoprick of Canterbury.) On this Disappointment he left England, and went to Flanders; Archbishop Warham had indeed shewed his Esteem for him, in giving him the Living of Aldington. In short, Erasmus takes Notice of the Friendship between himself and Warham in the Colloquy called, The Religious Pilgrimage.
As to his Familiarity with Sir Thomas More, there are several Stories related, and especially one concerning the Disputes that had been between them about Transubstantiation, or the real Presence of Christ in the consecrated Wafer, of which Sir Thomas was a strenuous Maintainer, and Erasmus an Opponent; of which, when Erasmus saw he was too strongly byassed to be convinced by Arguments, he at last made use of the following facetious Retortion on him. It seems in their Disputes concerning the real Presence of Christ in the Sacrament, which were in Latin, Sir Thomas had frequently used this Expression, and laid the Stress of his Proof upon the Force of Believing, Crede quod edis et edis, i. e. Believe you eat [Christ] and you do eat him; therefore Erasmus answers him, Crede quod habes et habes, Believe that you have [your Horse] and you have him. It seems, at Erasmus’s going away, Sir Thomas had lent him his Horse to carry him to the Sea–side or Dover; but he either carried him with him over Sea to Holland, or sent him not back to Sir Thomas, at least for some Time; upon which Sir Thomas writing to Erasmus about his Horse, Erasmus is said to have written back to him as follows.
Being arriv’d at Flanders by the Interest of Sylvagius Chancellor to Charles of Austria, afterwards Emperor of Germany, known by the name of Charles V. he was made one of his Counsellors.
In the mean Time Johannes Frobenius, a famous Printer, having printed many of his Works at Basil in Switzerland, and being much taken with the Elegancy of his Printing, and the Neatness of his Edition, he went thither, pretending that he undertook that Journey for the Performance of some Vow he had made; he was kindly entertain’d by him, and publish’d several Books there, and dedicated this his Book of Colloquies to Frobenius’s Son, and resided till the Mass had been put down there by the Reformers. When he left that Place, he retir’d to Friburg in Alsace. Before his going to Friburg, he visited the low Countries to settle certain Affairs there. And was at Cologn at the Time that the Assembly was at Worms, which being dissolv’d, he went again to Basil, either, as some say, for the Recovery of his Health, or, as others, for the publishing of several Books. He receiv’d the Bounty and Munificence of several Kings, Princes, and Popes, and was honourably entertain’d by many of the chief Cities which he pass’d through. And by his Procurement, a College of three Languages was instituted at Louvain, at the Charge of Hieronimus Buslidius, Governour of Aria, out of certain Monies he at his Death bequeath’d to the use of studious and learned Men. An Account of which coming to the Ears of Francis King of France, he invited him by Letters to Paris, in order, by his Advice to erect the like College there. But certain Affairs happening, his Journey thither was hindred. He went to Friburg in Alsace, where he bought him an House, and liv’d seven Years in great Esteem and Reputation, both with the chief Magistrates and Citizens of the Place, and all Persons of any Note in the University. But his Distemper, which was the Gout, coming rudely upon him, he, thinking the Change of Air would afford him Relief, sold his House, and went again to Basil, to the House of Frobenius; but he had not been there above nine Months before his Gout violently assaulted him, and his strength having gradually decay’d, he was seized with a Dysentery, under which having laboured for a Month, it at last overcame him, and he died at the House of Jerome Frobenius, the son of John the famous Printer, the 12th of July 1536, about Midnight, being about seventy Years of Age: After his last retreat to Basil, he went seldom abroad; and for some of the last Months stirred not out of his Chamber. He retained a sound Mind, even to the last Moments of his Life; and, as a certain Author saith, bid Farewell to the World, and passed into the State of another Life, after the Manner of a Protestant, without the Papistical Ceremonies of Rosaries, Crosses, Confession, Absolution, or receiving the transubstantiated Wafer, and in one Word, not desiring to have any of the Romish Superstitions administered, but according to the true Tenor of the Gospel, taking Sanctuary in nothing but the Mercies of God in Christ. And finding himself near Death, he gave many Testimonies of Piety and Christian Hope in God’s Mercy, and oftentimes cry’d out in the German Language, Liever Godt, i. e. dear God; often repeating, O Jesus have Mercy on me! O Lord, deliver me! Lord, put an End to my Misery! Lord, have Mercy upon me.
In his last Will, he made the celebrated Lawyer Bonifacius Amerbachius his Executor, bequeathing the greatest Part of his Substance to charitable Uses; as for the Maintenance of such as were poor and disabled through Age or Sickness; for the Marrying of poor young Virgins, to keep them from Temptations to Unchastity; for the maintaining hopeful Students in the University, and such like charitable Uses. In the overseeing of his Will, he join’d with Amerbachius, two others, Jerome Frobenius, and Nicholas Episcopius, who were his intimate Friends, and whom a certain Author says, had then espoused the Reformation began by Luther and other Reformers. The city of Basil still pays Erasmus the Respect which is due to the Memory of so eminent a Person; they not only call’d one of the Colleges there after his Name, but shew the House where he died to Strangers, with as much Veneration as the People of Roterdam do the House where he was born.
I shall not here pretend to give a Catalogue of all Erasmus’s genuine Pieces, which they shew at Basil: As to his Colloquies and Moriæ Encomium, they have seen more Editions than any other of his Works; and Moreri says, that a Bookseller at Paris, who thoroughly understood his Trade, sold twenty four thousand of them at one Impression, by getting it whisper’d to his Customers, that the Book was prohibited, and would suddenly be call’d in.
He was buried at Basil, in the Cathedral Church, on the left Side near the Choir, in a Marble Tomb; on the fore Side of which was this Inscription:
DESID. ERASMO ROTERODAMO.
Viro omnibus modis maximo;
Cujus incomparabilem in omni disciplinarum genere eruditionem, pari conjunctam prudentia,
Posteri et admirabuntur et prædicabunt.
BONIFACIUS AMERBACHIUS, HIERONYMUS FROBENIUS, NICHOLAS EPISCOPIUS Hæredes,
Et nuncupati supremæ suæ voluntatis vindices Patrono optimo,
non Memoriæ, quam immortalem sibi Editis Lucubrationibus comparavit, iis, tantisper dum orbis Terrarum stabit, superfuturo, ac eruditis ubique gentium colloquuturo: sed Corporis Mortalis, quo reconditum sit ergo, hoc saxum posuere.
Mortuus est IV. Eidus Julias jam septuagenarius, Anno à Christo nato, M. D. XXXVI.
Upon the upper Part of the Tomb is a quadrangular Base, upon which stands the Effigies of the Deity of Terminus, which Erasmus chose for the Impress of his Seal, and on the Front of that Base is this Inscription.
DES. ERASMUM ROTERODAMUM Amici sub hoc saxo condebant,
IV. eid. Julias M. D. XXXVI.
In the Year 1549, a wooden Statue, in Honour of so great a Man, was erected in the Market–place at Roterdam; and in the Year 1557, a Stone one was erected in the Stead of it; but this having been defaced by the Spaniards in the Year 1572, as soon as the Country had recovered its Liberty it was restored again. But in the Year 1622, instead of it, a very compleat one of Brass eight Foot high with the Pedestal, was erected, which is now standing on the Bridge at Roterdam, and likely long to remain there, on the Foot of which is the following Inscription.
DESIDERIO ERASMO MAGNO,
Scientiarum atque Literaturæ politioris vindici et instauratori: Viro sæculi sui Primario, civi omnium præstantissimo, ac nominis immortalitatem scriptis æviternis jure consecuto, S. P. Q. ROTERODAMUS.
Ne quod tantis apud se suosque posteros virtutibus præmium deesset, Statuam hanc ex ære publico erigendam curaverunt.
On the right Side are these Verses of Nicholas Heinsius.
On the left Side, and behind, there is an Inscription in the Dutch Language, much to the Purport of the first Inscription. On the House where Erasmus was born, formerly was this Inscription.
Hæc est parva Domus, magnus quâ natus Erasmus.
The same House being rebuilt and enlarged, has the following Inscription.
As for his Stature, he was neither very low nor very tall, his Body well set, proportioned and handsome, neither fat nor lean, but of a nice and tender Constitution, and easily put out of Order with the least Deviation from his ordinary Way of Living; he had from his Childhood so great an Aversion to eating of Fish, that he never attempted it without the Danger of his Life, and therefore obtain’d a Dispensation from the Pope from eating Fish in Lent, as appears by the Story of Eras, (as he stiles himself) in the Colloquy call’d Ichthyophagia. He was of a fair and pale Complexion, had a high Forehead, his Hair, in his younger Years, inclining to yellow, his Nose pretty long, a little thick at the End, his Mouth something large, but not ill made, his Eyes grey but lively, his Countenance chearful and pleasant, his Voice small, but musical, his Speech distinct and plain, pleasant and jocose, his Gaite handsome and grave; he had a most happy Memory and acute Wit, he was very constant to his Friend, and exceeding liberal to those that were under Necessity, especially to studious and hopeful Youths, and to such as were destitute in their Journey: In his Conversation he was very pleasant and affable, free from peevish and morose Humours, but very witty and satyrical. It is related, that when Erasmus was told, that Luther had married and gotten the famous Catharine Bora with Child, he should in a jesting Manner say, that, if according to the popular Tradition, Antichrist was to be begotten between a Monk and a Nun, the World was in a fair Way now to have a Litter of Antichrists.
I shall conclude with the Character given of Erasmus by Mr. Thomas Brown, who comparing him with Lucian, says, That whereas Erasmus had translated Part of his Dialogues into Latin, he had made Lucian the Pattern of his Colloquies, and had copied his Graces with that Success, that it is difficult to say which of the two was the Original.
That both of them had an equal Aversion to austere, sullen, designing Knaves, of what Complexion, Magnitude, or Party soever. That both of them were Men of Wit and Satyr, but that Erasmus, according to the Genius of his Country, had more of the Humourist in him than Lucian, and in all Parts of Learning was infinitely his Superior. That Lucian liv’d in an Age, when Fiction and Fable had usurp’d the Name of Religion, and Morality was debauch’d by a Set of sowr Scoundrels, Men of Beard and Grimace, but scandalously lewd and ignorant, who yet had the Impudence to preach up Virtue, and stile themselves Philosophers, perpetually clashing with one another about the Precedence of their several Founders, the Merits of their different Sects, and if it is possible, about Trifles of less Importance; yet all agreeing in a different Way, to dupe and amuse the poor People by the fantastick Singularity of their Habits, the unintelligible Jargon of their Schools, and their Pretentions to a severe and mortified Life. This motly Herd of Jugglers Lucian in a great Measure help’d to chase out of the World, by exposing them in their proper Colours.
But in a few Generations after him, a new Generation sprung up in the World, well known by the Name of Monks and Friars, differing from the former in Religion, Garb, and a few other Circumstances, but in the main, the same individual Imposters; the same everlasting Cobweb–Spinners as to their nonsensical Controversies, the same abandon’d Rakehells as to their Morals; but as for the mysterious Arts of heaping up Wealth, and picking the Peoples Pockets, as much superior to their Predecessors the Pagan Philosophers, as an overgrown Favourite that cheats a whole Kingdom, is to a common Malefactor.
These were the sanctified Cheats, whose Follies and Vices Erasmus has so effectually lash’d, that some Countries have entirely turn’d these Drones out of their Cells, and in other Places where they are still kept, they are grown contemptible to the highest Degree, and oblig’d to be always upon their Guard.