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In Praise of Folly Illustrated with Many Curious Cuts   By: (1469-1536)

In Praise of Folly Illustrated with Many Curious Cuts by Desiderius Erasmus

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[Illustration: Frontispiece]

IN PRAISE OF FOLLY

By Erasmus

Illustrated with many curious CUTS, Designed, Drawn, and Etched by Hans Holbein,

WITH PORTRAIT,

LIFE OF ERASMUS,

AND HIS

Epistle addressed to Sir Thomas More.

LONDON: REEVES & TURNER, 196, STRAND, W.C.

1876.

THE LIFE OF ERASMUS.

ERASMUS, so deservedly famous for his admirable writings, the vast extent of his learning, his great candour and moderation, and for being one of the chief restorers of the Latin tongue on this side the Alps, was born at Rotterdam, on the 28th of October, in the year 1467. The anonymous author of his life commonly printed with his Colloquies (of the London edition) is pleased to tell us that de anno quo natus est apud Batavos, non constat . And if he himself wrote the life which we find before the Elzevir edition, said to be Erasmo autore , he does not particularly mention the year in which he was born, but places it circa annum 67 supra millesintum quadringentesimum . Another Latin life, which is prefixed to the above mentioned London edition, fixes it in the year 1465; as does his epitaph at Basil. But as the inscription on his statue at Rotterdam, the place of his nativity, may reasonably be supposed the most authentic, we have followed that. His mother was the daughter of a physician at Sevenbergen in Holland, with whom his father contracted an acquaintance, and had correspondence with her on promise of marriage, and was actually contracted to her. His father's name was Gerard; he was the youngest of ten brothers, without one sister coming between; for which reason his parents (according to the superstition of the times) designed to consecrate him to the church. His brothers liked the notion, because, as the church then governed all, they hoped, if he rose in his profession, to have a sure friend to advance their interest; but no importunities could prevail on Gerard to turn ecclesiastic Finding himself continually pressed upon so disagreeable a subject, and not able longer to bear it, he was forced to fly from his native country, leaving a letter for his friends, in which he acquainted them with the reason of his departure, and that he should never trouble them any more. Thus he left her who was to be his wife big with child, and made the best of his way to Rome. Being an admirable master of the pen, he made a very genteel livelihood by transcribing most authors of note (for printing was not in use). He for some time lived at large, but afterwards applied close to study, made great progress in the Greek and Latin languages, and in the civil law; for Rome at that time was full of learned men. When his friends knew he was at Rome, they sent him word that the young gentlewoman whom he had courted for a wife was dead; upon which, in a melancholy fit, he took orders, and turned his thoughts wholly to the study of divinity. He returned to his own country, and found to his grief that he had been imposed upon; but it was too late to think of marriage, so he dropped all farther pretensions to his mistress; nor would she after this unlucky adventure be induced to marry.

The son took the name of Gerard after his father, which in German signifies amiable , and (after the fashion of the learned men of that age, who affected to give their names a Greek or Latin turn) his was turned into Erasmus, which in Greek has the same signification. He was chorister of the cathedral church of Utrecht till he was nine years old; after which he was sent to Deventer to be instructed by the famous Alexander Hegius, a Westphalian. Under so able a master he proved an extraordinary proficient; and it is remarkable that he had such a strength of memory as to be able to say all Terence and Horace by heart. He was now arrived to the thirteenth year of his age, and had been continually under the watchful eye of his mother, who died of the plague then raging at Deventer. The contagion daily increasing, and having swept away the family where he boarded, he was obliged to return home... Continue reading book >>




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