by Lucius Junius Brutus

19 November 2004

From a letter to a friend by Erasmus of Rotterdam (1517):

At the present moment I could almost wish to be young again, for no other reason but this, that I anticipate the near approach of a golden age, so clearly do we see the minds of princes, as if changed by inspiration, devoting all their energies to the pursuit of peace. The chief movers in this matter are Pope Leo and Francis, King of France.

There is nothing this king does not do or does not suffer in his desire to avert war and consolidate peace; submitting, of his own accord, to conditions which might be deemed unfair, if he preferred to have regard to his own greatness and dignity rather than to the general advantage of the world; and exhibiting in this, as in everything else, a magnanimous and truly royal character. Therefore, when I see that the highest sovereigns of Europe - Francis of France, Charles the King Catholic, Henry of England, and the Emperor Maximilian -- have set all their warlike preparations aside and established peace upon solid and, as I trust, adamantine foundations, I am led to a confident hope that not only morality and Christian piety, but also a genuine and purer literature, may come to renewed life or greater splendour; especially as this object is pursued with equal zeal in various regions of the world - at Rome by Pope Leo, in Spain by the Cardinal of Toledo, in England by Henry, eighth of the name, himself not unskilled in letters, and among ourselves by our young King Charles. In France, King Francis, who seems as it were born for this object, invites and entices from all countries men that excel in merit or in learning. Among the Germans the same object is pursued by many of their excellent princes and bishops, and especially by Maximilian Caesar, whose old age, weary of so many wars, has determined to seek rest in the employments of peace, a resolution more becoming to his own years, while it is fortunate for the Christian world. To the piety of these princes it is due, that we see everywhere, as if upon a given signal, MEN OF GENIUS ARE ARISING AND CONSPIRING TOGETHER TO RESTORE THE BEST literature.

Polite letters, which were almost extinct, are now cultivated and embraced by Scots, by Danes, and by Irishmen. Medicine has a host of champions; at Rome, Nicolas of Leonice; at Venice, Ambrosius Leo of Nola; in France, William Cop and John Ruelle; and in England, Thomas Linacre. The Imperial Law is restored at Paris by William Bude, in Germany by Udalric Zasy; and mathematics at Basel by Henry of Glaris.

In the theological sphere there was no little to be done, because this science has been hitherto mainly professed by those who are most pertinacious in their abhorrence of the better literature, and are the more successful in defending their own ignorance as they do it under pretext of piety, the unlearned vulgar being induced to believe that violence is offered to religion if anyone begins an assault upon their barbarism. FOR IN THE PRESENCE OF AN IGNORANT MOB THEY ARE ALWAYS READY TO SCREAM AND EXCITE THEIR FOLLOWERS TO STONE-THROWING, IF THEY SEE ANY RISK OF NOT BEING THOUGHT OMNISCIENT. But even here I am confident of success if the knowledge of the three languages continues to be received in schools, as it has now begun. For the most learned and least churlish men of the profession do in some measure assist and favour the new system; and in this matter we are especially indebted to the vigorous exertions of James Lefevre of Etaples, whom you resemble not only in name but in a number of accomplishments.

Why should I say more? Everything promises me the happiest success. But one doubt still possesses my mind. I am afraid that, under cover of a revival of ancient literature, paganism may attempt to rear its head- as there are some among Christians that acknowledge Christ in name but breathe inwardly a heathen spirit - OR , ON THE OTHER HAND, THAT THE RESTORATION OF HEBREW LEARNING MAY GIVE OCCASION TO A REVIVAL OF JUDAISM. THIS WOULD BE A PLAGUE AS MUCH OPPOSED TO THE DOCTRINE OF CHRIST AS ANYTHING THAT COULD HAPPEN. SOME BOOKS HAVE LATELY COME OUT WITH A STRONG FLAVOUR OF JUDAISM. I see how Paul exerted himself to defend Christ against Judaism, and I am aware that some persons are secretly sliding in that direction. I hear also that some are intent upon other schemes, which do nothing for the knowledge of Christ, but only cloud men's eyes with smoke. So much the more do I wish you to undertake this province.

"Polite letters, which were almost extinct"-

Today, it is the polite peoples, which are almost extinct!

WE must be the "undertakers."

Lucius Junius Brutus - (a Golden Age to end a Gulden Age)


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