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A Book of Colloquies had appeared, the material of which was collected partly from domestic talks, partly from my papers; but with a mixture of certain trivialities, not only without sense, but also in bad Latin,—perfect solecisms. This trash was received with wonderful applause; for in these matters too Fortune has her sport. I was compelled therefore to lay hands on these trumperies. At length, having applied somewhat greater care, I added considerable matter, so that the book might be of fair size, and in fact might appear worthy even of the honour of being dedicated to John Erasmius, son of Froben, a boy then six years old, but of extraordinary natural ability. This was done in the year 1522. But the nature of this work is such, that it receives addition as often as it is revised. Accordingly I frequently made an addition for the sake of the studious, and of John Froben; but so tempered the subject-matters, that besides the pleasure of reading, and their use in polishing the style, they might also contain that which would conduce to the formation of character. Even while the book I have referred to contained nothing but mere rubbish, it was read with wonderful favour by all. But when it had gained a richer utility, it could not escape [Greek: tôn sykophantôn dêgmata]. A certain divine of Louvain, frightfully blear of eye, but still more of mind, saw in it four heretical passages. There was also another incident connected with this work worth relating. It was lately printed at Paris with certain passages corrected, that is to say, corrupted, which appeared to attack monks, vows, pilgrimages, indulgences, and other things of that kind which, if held in great esteem among the people, would be a source of more plentiful profit to gentlemen of that order. But he did this so stupidly, so clumsily, that you would swear he had been some street buffoon: although the author of so silly a piece is said to be a certain divine of the Dominican order, by nation a Saxon. Of what avail is it to add his name and surname, which he himself does not desire to have suppressed? A monster like him knows not what shame is; he would rather look for praise from his villany. This rogue added a new Preface in my name, in which he represented three men sweating at the instruction of one boy: Capito, who taught him Hebrew, Beatus Greek, and me, Latin. He represents me as inferior to each of the others alike in learning and in piety; intimating that there is in the Colloquies a sprinkling of certain matters which savour of Luther's dogmas. And here I know that some will chuckle, when they read that Capito is favoured by such a hater of Luther with the designation of an excellent and most accomplished man. These and many things of the like kind he represents me as saying, taking the pattern of his effrontery from a letter of Jerome, who complains that his rivals had circulated a forged letter under his name amongst a synod of bishops in Africa; in which he was made to confess that, deceived by certain Jews, he had falsely translated the Old Testament from the Hebrew. And they would have succeeded in persuading the bishops that the letter was Jerome's, had they been able in any tolerable degree, to imitate Jerome's style. Although Jerome speaks of this deed as one of extreme and incurable roguery, our Phormio takes peculiar delight in this, which is more rascally than any notorious book. But his malicious will was wanting in power to carry out what he had intended. He could not come up to Erasmus' style, unpolished though it be: for he thus closes his flowery preface: Thus age has admonished, piety has bidden me, while life is still spared in my burdensome age, to cleanse my writings, lest those who follow my mournful funeral should transcribe my departed soul!

Such being the man's style throughout, he has nevertheless not shrunk from interweaving his flowers with my crowns; either pleasing himself in a most senseless manner, or having a very ill opinion of the judgment of divines. For these things were composed for their benefit, all of whom he supposes to be such blockheads that they will not instantly detect the patch-work he has so awkwardly sewn together. So abjectly does he everywhere flatter France, Paris, the theologians, the Sorbonne, the Colleges, no beggar could be more cringing. Accordingly, if anything uncomplimentary seems to be said against the French, he transfers it to the British; or against Paris, he turns it off to London. He added some odious sayings as if coming from me, with the view of stirring up hatred against me amongst those by whom he is grieved to know me beloved. It is needless to dwell upon the matter. Throughout he curtails, makes additions, alterations after his fashion, like a sow smeared with mud, rolling herself in a strange garden, bespattering, disturbing, rooting up everything. Meanwhile, he does not perceive that the points made by me are quite lost. For example, when to one who says, 'From a Dutchman you are turned into a Gaul,'11Gallus: meaning also a Cock. the answer is made, 'What? was I a Capon then, when I went hence?': he alters 'From a Dutchman you are turned into a Briton. What? was I a Saxon, then, when I went hence?' Again, when the same speaker had said, 'Your garb shows that you are changed from a Batavian into a Gaul,' he puts 'Briton' for 'Gaul'; and when the speaker had replied, 'I had rather that metamorphosis, than into a Hen,' alluding to 'Cock:' he changed 'Hen' into 'Bohemian.' Presently, when there is a joke, 'that he pronounces Latin in French style,' he changes 'French' into 'British,' and yet allows the following to stand, 'Then you will never make good verses, because you have lost your quantities'; and this does not apply to the British. Again, when my text reads, 'What has happened to the Gauls' (cocks) 'that they should wage war with the Eagle?' he thus spoils the joke, 'What has happened to the pards, that they should go to war with the lilies? as if lilies were in the habit of going forth to war. Occasionally he does not perceive that what follows his alterations does not hang together with them. As in the very passage I had written, 'Is Paris free from the plague?' he alters, 'Is London free22Immunis instead of immune agreeing with Londinum. from the plague?' Again, in another place, where one says, 'Why are we afraid to cut up this capon?' he changes 'capon' into 'hare'; yet makes no alteration in what follows, 'Do you prefer wing or leg?' Forsooth, although he so kindly favours the Dominican interest that he desired to sit among the famous Commissaries: nevertheless he bears with equal mind a cruel attack on Scotus. For he made no change in what one says in my text, 'I would sooner let the whole of Scotus perish than the books of one Cicero.' But as these things are full of folly, so very many of the contents bear an equal malice joined to folly. A speaker in my text rallies his comrade, who, although of abandoned life, nevertheless puts faith in indulgentiary bulls. My Corrector makes the former confess that he, along with his master Luther, was of opinion that the Pope's indulgences were of no value; presently he represents the same speaker as recanting and professing penitence for his error. And these he wants to appear my corrections. O wondrous Atlases of faith! This is just as if one should feign, by means of morsels dipped in blood, a wound in the human body, and presently, by removing what he had supplied, should cure the wound. In my text a boy says, 'that the confession which is made to God is the best;' he made a correction, asserting 'that the confession which is made to the priest is the best.' _Thus did he take care for imperilled confession. I have referred to this one matter for the sake of example, although he frequently indulges in tricks of this kind. And these answer to the palinode (recantation) which he promises in my name in his forged preface. As if it were any man's business to sing a palinode for another's error; or as if anything that is said in that work of mine under any character whatever, were my own opinion. For it does not at all trouble me, that he represents a man not yet sixty, as burdened with old age. Formerly, it was a capital offence to publish anything under another man's name; now, to scatter rascalities of this kind amongst the public, under the pretended name of the very man who is slandered, is the sport of divines. For he wishes to appear a divine when his matter cries out that he does not grasp a straw of theological science. I have no doubt but that yonder thief imposed with his lies upon his starved printer; for I do not think there is a man so mad as to be willing knowingly to print such ignorant trash. I ceased to wonder at the incorrigible effrontery of the fellow, after I learnt that he was a chick who once upon a time fell out of a nest at Berne, entirely [Greek: hek kakistou korakost kakiston hôon]. This I am astonished at, if the report is true: that there are among the Parisian divines those who pride themselves on having at length secured a man who by the thunderbolt of his eloquence is to break asunder the whole party of Luther and restore the church to its pristine tranquility. For he wrote also against Luther as I hear. And then the divines complain that they are slandered by me, who aid their studies in so many night-watches; while they themselves willingly embrace monsters of this description, who bring more dishonour to the order of divines and even of monks, than any foe, however foul-mouthed, can do. He who has audacity for such an act as this, will not hesitate to employ fire or poison. And these things are printed at Paris, where it is unlawful to print even the Gospel, unless approved by the opinion of the faculty.

This last work of the Colloquies, with the addition of an appendix, is issued in the month of September, 1524._

* * * * *

From a letter of Erasmus dated 5th Oct. 1532, we gather some further particulars about the obnoxious person above referred to. His name was Lambert Campester. Subsequently to his exploit at Paris in printing a garbled edition of the Colloquies, he "fled to Leyden; and pretending to be a great friend of Erasmus, found a patron, from whom having soon stolen 300 crowns, fled, was taken in his flight amongst some girls, and would have been nailed to a cross, had not his sacred Dominican cowl saved him. He, I say, many other offences and crimes having been proved against him, is at length in a certain town of Germany, called, I think, Zorst, in the Duchy of Juliers,—his cowl thrown aside, teaching the Gospel, that is, mere sedition. The Duke begged them to turn the fellow out. They answered that they could not do without their preacher. And this sort of plague spreads from day to day."

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