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happy in its consequences, remains robe mentioned. The en.largcd oonceptions acquired by the study of the Greek and Roman Writers seem to have restored to the human mind a free exertion of' its native operations, and to have communicated a cer-tain spirit of enterprist in examining every subject: and at length to have released the intellesictual capacity of mankind from that habitual subjection, and that servility to system, which had hitherto prevented it from advancing any new principle, or adopting 'any new opinion.' Hence, under the cdncurrent affistanceof a preparation of circumstances, all centering in the same period, 'arose the reformation of religion. But this defection from the catholic communion, 'alienated the thoughts of the learned from those pursuits by which it was produced; and diverted the studies of the most accomplished-scholars, to inquiries into the practioes and maxims of the primitive ages, the nature of civil and ecclesiastical jurisdiction, the authority of. scripture and tradition, of popes, cou-ncils, and schoolrnen: topics, which men were not yet qualified to treat with any degree of penetration, and on which the ideas of the times unenlightened by philosophy, or warped by prejudice and' passion, were not calculated to throw just and rational illustrations. When the bends of spiritual unity were once broken, this separation from an established faith ended in a variety of subordinate secte, each of which called forth its respective champions into the field of religious contention. The several 'princes of Christendom were politically concerned in these dispu-tes z and the courts in which poets and orators- had been recent-ly caressed and rewarded, were now filled with that most de_plorable species of philosophers, polemical metaphysicians. The public entry of Luther into Worms, when he had been summoned before the diet of that city, was equally splendid with that of the emperor Charles the fifth '*. Rome in re
* Luther, Qp. ii. 412. 414..
turn, roused from her deep repose off ten centuries, was compelled to vindicate her insulted doctrines with reasoning and argument. The profound investigations of Aquinas once more triumphed over the graces of the Ciceronianurbanity 3 and endless volumes were written on the expediency of auricular confession, and the existence of purgatory. Thus the cause of polite literature was for awhile abandoned; while the noblest abilities of Europe were wasted in theological speculation, and absorbed in the abyss of controversy. Yet it must not be forgotten, that wit and raillery, drawn from the sources of elegant erudition, were sometimes applied, and with the greatest success, in this important dispute." The lively colloquies of Erasrnus, which exposed the superstitious practices of the papists, with much humour, and in pure Latinity, made more protestants than the ten tomes of John Calvin. A work of ridicule was now a new attempt 2 and it should be here observed, to the honour of Erasmus, that he was the first of the literary reformers who trieda that species of composition, at least with any degree of popularity. The polite scholars of Italy had no notion that the German theologists were capable of making their readerslaugh: they were now convinced of their mistake, and soon found that the German pleasantry prepared the way for a revolution, which proved of the most serious consequence to Italy. _
Another great temporary check given to the general state of letters in England at this period, was the dissolution of the monasteries. Many of the abuses in civil society are attended with some advantages, In the beginnings of reformation, the loss of these advantages is always felt very sensibly: while the benefit arifing from the change is the flow effect of time, and net immediately perceived or enjoyed. Scarce any institution car-'r be imagined less 'favorable
-to the interests of mankind than the monastic. Yet theseseminaries, although they were in a general view the nun
and patrons of literature; men 'of public spirit, and liberal views. By their connections with parliament, and the free quent embaflies to foreign courts in which they were em- ployed, they became acquainted with the world, and the improvements of life: and, knowing where to chuse proper objects, and having no other use for the superfluities of their ' vast revenues, encouraged in their respective circles many learned young men. It appears to have been custdmary for the governors of the most considerable convents, especially those that were. honoured with the mitre, to receive into their own private lodgings the sons of the principal families of the neighbourhood for education. About the year 1450, Thomas Bromele, abbot of the mitred monastery of Hyde near Winchester, entertained in his own abbatial house within that monastery, eight young gentlemen, or gentiles puerz', who were placed there for'the purpose of literary instruction, and constantly dined at the abbot's table. I will not scruple to give the original wortis,-si which are more particular and expressive, of the obscure record which preserves this curious anecdote of monastic life. " Pro octo gentilibus " pueris apud dominum abbatcm studii causa perhendinan" tibus, et ad mensam domini victitantibus, cum garcioni." bus suis ipsos comitantibus', hoc anno, xviil. ixs. Capi." endo pro . . ."" This, by the way, was more extraordinary, as William of Wykeham's celebrated seminary was so near. And this seems to have been an established practice of the _abbot of Glastonbury; " whose apartment in the 'F abbey was a kind of well-disciplincd court, where the ** sons of noblemen and younggentlemen were wont to be 5' sent for virtuous education, who returned thence home " excellently accomplished Richard Whiting, the last
abbot of Glastonbury, who was cruelly executed by the king, during the course of his government, educated near * three hundre'd ingenuous youths, who constituted a part of
his family: betide many others whom he liberally supported X
at the universities P. Whitgift, the most excellent and learn'ed archbishop of Canterbury in the reign of queen Elizabeth, was educated under Robert Whitgift his uncle, abbot of the Augustine monastery of black canons at Wellhow in Lincolnshire: who, " says Strype, had several other young " gentlemen under his care for education '." That, at the restoration of literature, many of these dignitaries were emi
nently learned, and even zealous promoters of the new im- *
provements, I could bring various instances. Hugh Farringdon, the last abbot of Reading, was a polite scholar, as his Latin epistles addressed to the university of Oxford abunda'ntly testify '.- Nor was he less a patron of critical studies. Leonard Coate, a popular phisslological writer in the reign of Henry the eighth, both in Latin and English, and a great traveller, highly celebrated by the judicious Leland for his elegant accomplishments in letters, and' honoured with the affectionate correspondence of Erasmus, dedicates to this abbot, his ARTE on CRAFTE or RHETORICKE, printed in the year 1524, at that time a work of an unusual nature '. Wakefield abovementioned, a very capital Greek and oriental scholar, in his Drscounsa on THE EXCELLENCY AND UTILITY or THE 'ran LANGU-AGES, written in the year 1524, celebrates William Fryssell, prior of the cathedral Benedictine
rager of critical literature '. Robert Shirwoode, an Eng_ lishman, but a professor of Greek and Hebrew at Louvaine,
P Reyner, Aros-roLA'r. BENEDICT. Tract. i. sect. ii. p. 224.. Sanders de ScmsM. pag, 176.
'1 Strype" WHITGlFT, b. i. ch. i. p. 3.
' Registr. Univ. Oxon. F. F. fol. 101.
' Cited above, p. '34. ,