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the efforts of his simple will. Then came a hundred times repeated, such words as' Rome,'' Romans,'' Roman mouth/ •Roman eloquence,' &c" But what, asks Erasmus, were all these to Julius, bishop of the Christian religion, Christ's vicegerent, successor of Peter and Paul? What are these to cardinals and bishops who are in the places of the other apostles?
"The orator's design," he continues, " was to represent to us Jesus Christ, at first in the agony of His Passion, and then in the glory of His triumph. To do this, he recalled the memory of Curtius and Decius, who had given themselves to the gods for the salvation of the Republic He reminded us of Cecrops, of Menelaus, of Iphigenia, and of other noble victims who had valued their lives less than the honour and welfare of their country. Public gratitude (he continued, in tears and in most lugubrious tones) had always surrounded these noble and generous characters with its homage, sometimes raising gilded statues to their memory in the forum; sometimes decreeing them even divine honours, whilst Jesus Christ, for all His benefits, had received no other reward but death. The orator then went on to compare our Saviour, who had deserved so well of His country, to Phocion and to Socrates, who were compelled to drink hemlock though accused of no crime; to Epaminondas, driven to defend himself against envy roused by his noble deeds; to Scipio and to Aristides, whom the Athenians were tired of hearing called the 'Just one,' &c
"I ask, can anything be imagined colder and more inept? Yet, over all his efforts, the preacher sweated blood and water to rival Cicero. In brief, my Roman preacher spoke Roman so well that I heard nothing about the death of Christ.1 If Cicero had lived in our days," asks Erasmus, "would he not think the name of God the Father as elegant as Jupiter the Almighty? Would he think it less elegant to speak of Jesus Christ than of Romulus, or of Scipio Africanus, of Quintus Curtius, or of Marcus Decius? Would he think the name of the Catholic Church less illustrious than that of 'Conscript Fathers,' 'Quirites,' or ' Senate and people of Rome'? He would speak to us of faith in Christ, of the Holy Ghost, or the Holy Trinity ?" &c' /At considerable length Erasmus pours out the vials of his scorn upon those who act so foolishly under the influence of the false classical spirit. He points out the danger to be avoided. People, he says, go into raptures over pagan antiquities, and laugh at others who are enthusiastic about Christian archaeology. "We kiss, venerate, almost adore a piece of antiquity," he says, " and mock at relics of the Apostles. If any one finds something from the twelve tables, who does not consider it worthy of the most holy place? And the laws written by the finger of God, who venerates, who kisses them? How delighted we are with a medal stamped with the head of Hercules, or of Mercury, or of Fortune, or of Victory, or of Alexander the Great, or one of the Caesars,' and we deride those who treasure the wood of the cross or images of the Virgin and saints as superstitious." If in dealing with his subject
1 Pp- 832-33
1 P- 837.
J A case in point was the finding of the celebrated statue of the Laocoon on January 14, 15o6. This discovery was accidentally made in a vineyard, near Santa Maria Maggiore, and no statue ever produced so general and so profound an emotion as the uncovering of this work of art did upon the learned world of Rome. The whole city flocked out to see it, and the road to the vineyard was blocked day and night by the crowds of cardinals and people waiting to look at it. "One would have said," writes a contemporary, "that it was a Jubilee." And even to-day the visitor to the Ara Coeli may read on the tomb of Felice de Fredis, the happy owner of the vineyard, the promise of "immortality," ob propria* virtutes et repertum Laocohonlis divinum simulachrum (I. KWciki, Jules II., p. 115). It is not at all improbable that in the above passage Erasmus was actually thinking of the delirium caused by the finding of this statue. • Ibid., p. 838.
Erasmus may appear to exaggerate the evil he condemns, this much is clear, that his advocacy of letters and learning, however strenuous and enthusiastic, was tempered by a sense of the paramount importance of the Christian spirit in the pursuit of science.
CHAPTER VII.THE LUTHERAN INVASION.
It is not uncommonly asserted that the religious changes in England, although for convenience sake, dated from the rejection of Papal supremacy, were in reality the outcome of long-continued and ever-increasing dissatisfaction with the then existing ecclesiastical system. The Pope's refusal to grant Henry his wished-for divorce from Katherine, we are told, was a mere incident, which at most, precipitated by a short while what had long been inevitable.1 Those who take this view are bound to believe that the Church in England in the early sixteenth century was honeycombed by disbelief in the traditional teachings, and that men were only too ready to welcome emancipation. What then is the evidence for this picture of the religious state of men's minds in England on the eve of the Reformation?
It is, indeed, not improbable that up and down the country there were, at this period, some dissatisfied spirits; some who would eagerly seize any opportunity to free themselves from the restraints which no longer appealed to their consciences, and from teachings they had come to consider as mere ecclesiastical formalism. A Venetian traveller of intelligence and observation, who visited the country at the beginning of the century, whilst struck with the Catholic practices and with the general manifestations of English piety he witnessed, understood that there were "many who have various opinions concerning religion."1 But so far as there is evidence at all, it points to the fact, that of religious unrest, in any real sense, there could have been very little in the country generally. It is, of course, impossible to suppose that any measurable proportion of the people could have openly rejected the teaching of the Church or have been even crypto-Lollards, without there being satisfactory evidence of the fact forthcoming at the present day.
1 For example, the Rev. W. H. Hutton states in the Guardian, Janu'vy 2S, l899, as the result of his mature studies upon the Reformation period, that "the so-called divorce question had very little indeed to do with the Reformation." Mr. James Gairdner, who speaks with all the authority of a full and complete knowledge of the State papers of this period, in a letter to a subsequent number of the Guardian, says, "When a gentleman of Mr. Mutton's attainments is able seriously to tell us this, I think it is really time to ask people to put two and two together, and say whether the sum can be anything but four. It may be disagreeable to trace the Reformation to such a very ignoble origin, but facts, as the Scottish poet says, are fellows you can't coerce . . . and won't bear to be disputed." What "we call the Reformation in England . . . was the result of
The similarity of the doctrines held by the English Reformers of the sixteenth century with many of those taught by the followers of Wycliffe has, indeed, led some writers to assume a direct connection between them which certainly did not exist in fact. So far as England at least is concerned, there is no justification for assuming for the
Henry VIII.'s quarrel with the Court of Rome oa the subject of his divorce, and the same results could not possibly have come about in any other way." When "Henry VIII. found himself disappointed in the expectation, which he had ardently cherished for a while, that he could manage, by hook or by crook, to obtain from the See of Rome something like an ecclesiastical licence for bigamy," he took matters into his own hands, "and self-willed as he was, never did self-will lead him into such a tremendous and dangerous undertaking as in throwing off the Pope. How much this was resented among the people, what secret communications there were between leading noblemen with the imperial ambassador, strongly urging the emperor to invade England, and deliver the people from a tyranny from which they were unable to free themselves, we know in these days as we did not know before." 1 Camden Society, p. 163.