Sivut kuvina
PDF
ePub

recites not only his excellence in learning, classical and theological, but what he had done to make his monastery at Canterbury a real house of studies. He decorated the library over the Priests' Chapel, adding to the books, and assigned it "for the use of those specially given to%tudy, which he encouraged and cherished with wonderful watchfulness and affection." The eastern cloister also he fitted with glass and new desks, "called carrels," for the use of the studious brethren.1

After the sojourn of the two Canterbury monks in Italy, they returned to their home at Christchurch. Selling, however, did not remain there long, for on October 3, 1469, we find him setting out again for Rome' in company with another monk, Reginald Goldstone, also an Oxford student. This visit was on business connected with his monastery, and did not apparently keep him long away from England, for there is evidence that sometime before the election of Selling to the Priorship at Canterbury, which was in 1472, he was again at his monastery. Characteristically, his letter introducing William Worcester, the antiquary, to a merchant of Lucca who had a copy of Livy's Decades for sale, manifests his great and continued interest in classical literature.8

At Canterbury, Selling must have established the teaching of Greek on systematic lines, and it is certainly

1 B. Mus. Arundel MS. 68, f. 4. The Obit in Christchurch MS. D. 12, says: "Sacrse Theologia? Doctor. Hie in divinis agendis multum devotus et lingua Groeca et Latina valde eruditus. . . . O quam laudabiliter se habuit opera merito laudanda manifesto declarant."

* In the Canterbury Registers (Reg. R.) there is a record which evidently relates to Selling's previous stay in Rome as a student. On October 3, 1469, the date of Selling's second departure for Rome, the Prior and convent of Christchurch granted a letter to Pietro dei Milleni, a citizen of Rome, making him a confrater of the monastery in return for the kindness shown to Dr. William Selling, when in the Eternal City. This letter, doubtless, Selling carried with him in 1469.

* The Old English Bible and other Essays, p. 306.

from this monastic school as a centre that the study spread to other parts of England. William Worcester, keenly alive to the classical revival, as his note-books show, tells us of "certain Greek terminations as taught by Doctor Selling of Christchurch, Canterbury," and likewise sets down the pronunciation of the Greek vowels with examples evidently on the same authority.1

Selling's long priorship, extending from 1472 to 1495, would have enabled him to consolidate the work of this literary renaissance which he had so much at heart.8 The most celebrated of all his pupils was, of course, Linacre. Born, according to Caius, at Canterbury, he received his first instruction in the monastic school there, and his first lessons in the classics and Greek from Selling himself. Probably through the personal interest taken in this youth of great promise by Prior Selling, he was sent to Oxford about 1480. Those who have seriously examined the matter believe that the first years of his Oxford life were spent by Linacre at the Canterbury College, which was connected with Christchurch monastery, and which, though primarily intended for monks, also afforded a place of quiet study to others who were able to obtain admission.8 Thus, in later years, Sir Thomas More, no

1 B. Mus. Cotton MS. Julius F. vii., f. 11S.

* One of Prior Selling's first acts of administration was apparently to procure a master for the grammar school at Canterbury. He writes to the Archbishop: "Also please it your good faderhood to have in knowledge that according to your commandment, I have provided for a schoolmaster for your gramerscole in Canterbury, the which hath lately taught gramer at Wynchester and atte Seynt Antonyes in London. That, as I trust to God, shall so guide him that it shall be worship and pleasure to your Lordship and profit and encreas to them that he shall have in governance."—Hist. MSS. Com. 9th Report, App. p. 105.

* I. Noble Johnson, Life of Linacre, p. II. Among the great benefactors to Canterbury College, Oxford, was Doctor Thomas Chaundeler, Warden of New College. In 1473, the year after the election of Prior Selling, the Chapter of Christchurch, Canterbury, passed a resolution that,

[ocr errors]

doubt through his father's connection with the monastery of Christchurch, Canterbury, of which house he was a "confrater," became a student at the monks' college at Oxford. In later years Sir Thomas himself, when Chancellor of England, perpetuated the memory of his life-long connection with the monks of Canterbury by enrolling his name also on the fraternity lists of that house.

Linacre, in 1484, became a Fellow of All Souls' College, but evidently he did not lose touch with his old friends at Canterbury, for, in i486, Prior Selling being appointed one of the ambassadors of Henry VII. to the Pope, he invited his former pupil to accompany him to Italy, in order to profit by the teaching of the great humanist masters at the universities there. Prior Selling took him probably as far as Florence, and introduced him to his own old master and friend, Angelo Politian, who was then engaged in instructing the children of Lorenzo de Medici. Through Selling's interest, Linacre was permitted to share in their lessons, and there are letters showing that the younger son, when in after years he became Pope, as Leo X., was not unmindful of his early companionship with the English scholar.1 From Politian, Linacre acquired a purity of style in Latin which makes him celebrated even among the celebrated men of his time. Greek he learnt from Demetrius Chalcocondylas, who was then, like Politian, engaged in teaching the children of Lorenzo de Medici.2

From Florence, Linacre passed on to Rome, where he

in memory of his great benefits to them, his name should be mentioned daily in the conventual mass at Canterbury, and that at dinner each day at Oxford he should be named as founder.

1 Galeni, De Temperamentis libri ires, Thoma Linacro interpretante, is dedicated to Pope Leo X., with a letter from Linacre dated 1521. "The widow's mite was approved by Him whose vicar on earth" Pope Leo is, so this book is only intended to recall common studies, though in itself of little interest to one having the care of the world.

* G. Lilii, Elogia, ed. P. Jovii, p. 91.

gained many friends among the great humanists of the day. One day, when examining the manuscripts of the Vatican Library for classics, and engaged in reading the Phtedo of Plato, Hermolaus Barbarus came up and politely expressed his belief that the youth had no claim, as he had himself, to the title Barbarus, if it were lawful to judge from his choice of a book. Linacre at once, from the happy compliment, recognised the speaker, and this chance interview led to a life-long friendship between the Englishman and one of the great masters of classical literature.1

After Linacre had been in Italy for a year or more, a youth whom he had known at Oxford, William Grocyn, was induced to come and share with him the benefit of the training in literature then to be obtained only in Italy. On his return in 1492, Grocyn became lecturer at Exeter College, Oxford, and among his pupils in Greek were Sir Thomas More" and Erasmus. He was a graduate in theology, and was chosen by Dean Colet to give lectures at St. Paul's and subsequently appointed by Archbishop Warham, Master or Guardian of the collegiate church of Maidstone." Erasmus describes him as " a man of most rigidly upright life, almost superstitiously observant of ecclesiastical custom, versed in every nicety of scholastic theology, by nature of the most acute judgment, and, in a word, fully instructed in every kind of learning."4

1 Ibid., lxiii. p. 145.

1 Sir Thomas More writing to Colet says: "I pass my time here (at Oxford) with Grocyn, Linacre, and our (George) Lilly: the first as you know the only master of my life, when you are absent; the second, the director of my studies; the third, my dearest companion in all the affairs of life" (J. Stapleton, Trts Thomce, p. 165). Another constant companion of More at Oxford was Cuthbert Tunstall, one of the most learned men of his day, afterwards in succession Bishop of London and Durham. Tunstall dedicated to More his tract De arte supputandi, which he printed at Paris in 1529.

* Reg. Warham, in Knight's Erasmus, p. 22 note.

* Encyclop. Brit, sub nomine.

Linacre, after a distinguished course in the medical schools of Padua, returned to Oxford, and in 1501 became tutor to Prince Arthur. On the accession of Henry VIII. he was appointed physician to the court, and could count all the distinguished men of the day, Wolsey, Wasrham, Fox, and the rest, among his patients; and Erasmus, Sir Thomas More, and Queen Mary among his pupils in letters. In his early life, entering the clerical state, he had held ecclesiastical preferment; in advanced years he received priest's orders, and devoted the evening of his life to a pious preparation for his end.1 Grocyn and Linacre are usually regarded as the pioneers of the revival of letters. But, as already pointed out, the first to cross the Alps from England in search for the new light, to convey it back to England, and to hand it on to Grocyn and Linacre, were William Selling, and his companion, William Hadley. Thus, the real pioneers in the English renaissance were the two monks of Christchurch, and, some years after, the two ecclesiastics, Grocyn and Linacre.

Selling, even after his election to the priorship of Canterbury, continued to occupy a distinguished place both in the political world and in the world of letters. He was chosen, though only the fifth member of the embassy sent by Henry VII. on his accession to the Pope, to act as orator, and in that capacity delivered a Latin oration before the Pope and Cardinals.2

He was also and subsequently sent with others by Henry on an embassy to the French king, in which he also fulfilled the function of spokesman, making what is described as "a most elegant oration."

1 Ibid.

* Ugo Balzani, Un' ambasciata inglese a Roma, Societa Romana di storia patria, iii. p. 175 seqq. Of this an epitome is given in Bacon's Henry VII., p. 95. Count Ugo Balzani says: "II prior di Canterbury sembra essere veramente stato l'anima dell' ambasciata." Burchardus, Rerum Urbanarum Commentarii (ed. Thuasne), i. p. 257, gives a full account of the reception of this embassy in Rome and by the Pope.

« EdellinenJatka »