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Greek lecture abovementioned, that he might not appear to countenance a dangerous novelty, was obliged to cover his excellent institution under the venerable mantle of the authority of the church. For as a seeming apology for what he had done, he refers to a canonical decree of pope Clement the fifth, promulged in the year 1311, at Vienne in Dauphine, which enjoined, that professors of Greek, Hebrew, and Arabic, should be instituted in the universities of Oxford, Paris, Bononia, Salamanca, and in the cout of Rome'. It was under the force of this ecclesiastical constitution, that Gregory Typhernas, one of the learned Greek exiles, had the address to claim a ftipend for teaching Greek in the university of Paris". We cannot but wonder at the strange disagreement in human affairs between cause and effect, when we consider, that this edict of pope Clement, which originated from a superstitious reverence annexed to two of these languages, because they composed part of the superscription on the cross of Christ, should have so strongly counteracted its own principles, and proved an instrument in the reformation of religion.
The university of Oxford was rent into factions on account of these bold attempts; and the advocates of the recent improvements, when the gentler weapons of persuasion could not prevail, often proceeded to blows with the rigid champions of the schools. But the facetious disposition of
t" Quem præterea in noftro Alveario ,'" debent." By Eos, he means the bishops “ collocavimus, quod SACROSANCTI CA and abbots of England, who are the per
NONES commodissime pro bonis literis, fons particularly ordered in pope Clementis “ et imprimis christianis, instituerunt ac injunction to sustain these lectures in the “ jufferunt, eum in hac universitate Ox university of Oxford. Bishop Fox, there“onienfi, perinde ac paucis aliis celeber fore, in founding a Greek lecture, would “ rimis gymnafiis, nunquam defiderari.” be understood, that he does not mean to abSTATUT. C. C. C. Oxon. ut fupr. The folve or excuse the other prelates of England words of this statute which immediately from doing their proper duty in this neceffollow, deserve notice here, and require ex sary business. At the same time a charge planation. “ Nec tamen Eos hac ratione on their negligence seems to be implied. * excusatos volumus, qui Græcam lectio 4 Naud, i. 3. p. 234. This was in 1472. s nem in eo SUIS IMPENSIS sulentare
fir Thoinas More had no small share in deciding this fingular controversy, which he treated with much ingenious ridicule". Erasmus, about the same time, was engaged in attempting these reformations at Cambridge: in which, notwithstanding the mildness of his temper and conduct, and the general lustre of his literary character, he met with the most obstinate opposition. He expounded the Greek grammar of Chryfoloras in the public schools without an audience: and having, with a view to present the Grecian literature in the most fpecious and agreeable form by a piece of pleafantry, translated Lucian's lively dialogue called ICAROMENIPPUS, he could find no student in the university capable of transcribing the Greek with the Latin'. His edition of the Greek teftament, the most commodious that had yet appeared, was absolutely proscribed at Cambridge: and a programma was issued in one of the most ample colleges, threatening a severe fine to any member of the fociety, who should be detected in having so fantastic and impious a book in his poffeffion'. One Henry Standish, a doctor in divinity and a mendicant frier, afterwards bishop of faint Asaph, was a vehement adversary of Erasmus in the promotion of this heretical literature; whom he called in a declamation, by way of reproach, Græculus ifte, which foon became a fynonymous appellation for an heretic, Yet it should be remembered, that many English prelates patronised Erasmus; and that one of our archbishops was at this time ambitious of learning Greek .
" See, among other proofs, his EpisTOLA Scholafticis quibufdam Trojanos se appellantibus, published by Hearne, 1716, 8vo.
* Erasmi Epist. Ammonio, dar. 1512. Ep. 123. Op. tom. iü. p. 110
y Ibid. Epist. 139. dat. 1512. p. 120. Henry Bullock, called Bovillus, one of Erasmus's friends, and much patronised by Wolfey, printed a Latin tranflation of Lu
cian, wigo Arfadwr, at Cambridge, 1521, quarto.
z Ibid. Epist. 148. dat. 1513. P. 126.
a See Erasmi OPERA. tom. ix. p. 1440. Even the priefts, in their confeflions of young scholars, cautioned against this growing evil. “* Cave a Græcis ne fias bæreticus.' Erasm. Adag. Op. ii. 993.
Erasm. EPIST. 301.
Even the public diversions of the court took a tincture from this growing attention to the languages, and assumed a classical air. We have before seen, that a comedy of Plautus was acted at the royal palace of Greenwich in the year
And when the French ambassadors with a most splendid suite of the French nobility were in England for the ratification of peace in the year 1514, amid the most magnificent banquets, tournaments, and masques, exhibited at the same palace, they were entertained with a Latin interlude; or, to use the words of a cotemporary writer, with such an “excellent Interlude made in Latin, that I never “ heard the like; the actors apparel being fo gorgious, and “ of such strange devices, that it passes my capacitie to relate " them."
Nor was the protection of king Henry the eighth, who notwithstanding he had attacked the opinions of Luther, yet, from his natural liveliness of temper and a love of novelty, thought favourably of the new improvements, of inconsidera able influence in supporting the restoration of the Greek language. In 1519, a preacher at the public church of the university of Oxford, harangued with much violence, and in the true spirit of the antient orthodoxy, against the doctrines inculcated by the new professors: and his arguments were canvassed among the students with the greatest animosity. But Henry, being resident at the neighbouring royal manor of Woodftock, and having received a just detail of the merits of this dispute from Pace and More, interposed his uncontrovertible authority; and transmitting a royal mandate to the university, commanded that the study of the Scriptures in their original languages should not only be permitted for the future, but received as a branch of the academical institution". Soon afterwards, one of the king's
d Erafm. EPIST. 380. tom. iii.
· Cavendith, Mem. Card. Wolsey, p. 94. edit. 1708. 8vo.
chaplains preaching at court, took an opportunity to censure the genuine interpretations of the scriptures, which the Grecian learning had introduced. The king, when the sermon was ended, to which he had listened with a smile of contempt, ordered a solemn disputation to be held, in his own presence: at which the unfortunate preacher opposed, and fir Thomas More, with his usual dexterity, defended, the utility and excellence of the Greek language. . The divine, who at least was a good courtier, instead of vindicating his opinion, instantly. fell on his knees, and begged pardon for having given any offence in the pulpit before his majesty. However, after some slight altercation, the preacher, by way of making some sort of concession in form, ingenuously declared, that he was now better reconciled to the Greek tongue, because it was derived from the Hebrew. The king, astonished at his ridiculous ignorance, dismissed the chaplain, with a charge, that he should never again presume to preach at court'. In the grammatical schools established in all the new cathedral foundations of this king, a master is appointed, with the uncommon qualification of a competent skill in both the learned languages'. In the year 1523, Ludovicus Vives, having dedicated his commentary on Austin's De Civitate Dei to Henry the eighth, was invited into England, and read lectures at Oxford in jurisprudence and humanity; which were countenanced by the presence, not only of Henry, but of queen Catharine and some of the principal nobility". At length antient absurdities universally gave way to these encouragements. Even the vernacular lan
• Ibid. p. 408.
unus [Archididascalus] “ eligatur, Latine et Græce doctus, bonæ famæ, &c." STATUT. Ecclef. Roffenf. cap. xxv. They were given Jun. 30, 1545. In the same Atatute the second master is reg uired to be only Latine do&us. All the statutes of the
new cathedrals are alike. It is remarkable, that Wolsey does not order Greek to be taught in his school at Ipswich, founded 1528. See Strype, ECCL. MEM 1. Append. xxxv. p. 94. feq..
& Twyne, APOL. lib. ii. $. 210. feq. Probaby he was patronised by Catharine as a Spaniard.
guage began to be cultivated by the more ingenious clergy. Colet, dean of faint Paul's, a divine of profound learning, with a view to adorn and improve the style of his discourses, and to acquire the graces of an elegant preacher, employed much time in reading Gower, Chaucer, and Lydgate, and other English poets, whose compofitions had embellished the popular diction". The practice of frequenting Italy, for the purpose of acquiring the last polish to a Latin style both in eloquence and poetry, still continued in vogue; and was greatly promoted by the connections, authority, and good taste, of cardinal Pole, who constantly resided at the court of Rome in a high character. At Oxford, in particular, these united, endeavours for establishing a new course of liberal and manly science, were finally consummated in the magnificent foundation of Wolsey's college, to which all the accomplished scholars of every country in Europe were invited; and for whose library, transcripts of all the valuable manuscripts which now fill the Vatican, were designed'.
But the progress of these prosperous beginnings was soon obstructed. The first obstacle I shall mention, was, indeed, but of short duration. It was however, an unfavourable circumstance, that in the midst of this career of science, Henry, . who had ever been accustomed to gratify his passions at any rate, sued for a divorce against his queen Catharine, The legality of this violent measure being agitated with much deliberation and solemnity, wholly engrossed the attention of many able 'philologists, whose genius and acquisitions were destined to, a much nobler employment;, and tended to revive for a time the.frivolous subtleties of casuistry and theology.
But another cause which suspended the progression of these letters, of much more importance and extent, ultimately, most
Erasm. EPISTOL. Jodoco Jonz.. Ibid. i Wood, Hist. Univ. Oxon, i. 249.