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the genius of Thomas More, excited by his writings, than which as you say with truth, nothing can be at once more learned or more agreeable, is a feeling, believe me, most distinguished Huttenus, common to you with many, and reciprocal with More himself. For he too, on his part, is so delighted with the genius of your writings, that I almost envy you myself. This is in truth that Platonic wisdom, of all most amiable, which excites amongst mankind attachments far more warm than all the most lovely charms of the body. True, it is not discerned by the bodily eyes, but the mind too has its eyes, and to these as truly as to the former may that sentiment of the Greeks be applied, 'Ex TOD ὁρᾶν γίνεται ἀνθρώποις ἐρᾶν. By these it sometimes happens that those are united in the closest ties of affection, who have neither seen nor conversed with one another. And as in ordinary life it happens that different persons are captivated with different forms, for reasons which they cannot define, so too there seems to be some mysterious kindred among minds, which leads us to find the richest pleasure in some, while with others we are but little affected.
"But, with regard to your request, that I would paint as on a canvas the whole character of More, I wish that I could perform the task with an accuracy corresponding to the earnestness with which you ask it. For to me too it would be a not undelightful labour, to dwell upon the contemplation of a friend dearer to me than all besides. But in the first place, it is not in the power of every man to see at once through all the rich qualities of More. In the next place, I know not whether he could endure that he should be drawn by any artist. For I feel that to produce a picture of More is a task equal to that of painting an Alexander or an Achilles,-nor were even these heroes more worthy of immortality than this great man. Such a subject loudly calls for the hand of an Apelles :-I fear that I shall be found much more like a Fulvius or a Rutuba. Yet I will make an attempt to give you the outline rather than the portrait of the whole man, as far as a daily and domestic intercourse enabled me to observe him, or my memory retains the impressions. But should it ever happen that any embassy should bring you together, you will then find, how inefficient an artist you have chosen for this task, and I verily fear, lest you should accuse me either of envy or of blindness, when I shall seem out of so many excellencies, either from my blindness to have seen so few, or from my envy to have recorded them so sparingly.
"To begin with that part in which More is least known to you ;in stature he is not tall, yet not remarkably low. But so exact is the symmetry of all his limbs, that in this respect you have nothing to desire:-being fair, his face is rather white than pale,-but far removed from freshness of complexion, except that all over it there glistens a very slight tinge of red. His hair is of a blackish red, or rather perhaps, a reddish black: his beard thin; and his eyes grayish, speckled with a few spots, a species of eye which usually expresses the most happy genius, and in Britain is esteemed indicative of an amiable disposition, though we have a greater partiality for black eyes. The British are of opinion, that no eye is less accompanied with moral vices, than the kind I have described. His countenance is a transcript of his mind, ever
expressing an agreeable and friendly cheerfulness, and somewhat inclined to an habitual smile :-indeed, to confess the truth ingenuously, it is formed for the expression of mirth, rather than of gravity or dignity, though far as possible removed from folly or buffoonery. His right shoulder appears a little higher than his left, especially when he walks, no natural defect, but a habit, like many that are wont to cling to us. In the rest of his person there is nothing to offend the eye, his hands are indeed a little coarse, but this only from comparison with the rest of his person.
"From a boy he was always very careless of every thing connected with dress, so much so, that he does not usually much regard even those things which alone, according to Ovid, are worthy of the attention of men. What was the elegance of his youthful person, we may even now conjecture from that which still remains, though I myself knew him when he was not more than twenty-three, he is yet little more than forty. His constitution is rather happy than strong; equal to the fatigue of such labours as are becoming a citizen of rank, and subject to none or very few diseases. One may hope that he will be long lived, for his father is very far advanced in years, yet happy in a wonderfully green and vigorous old age. I have never seen a man less capricious in his choice of meats. Up to the age of manhood he preferred the use of water, his father's beverage: but, to give offence to no one, he deceived his guests by drinking out of a tin cup sometimes beer almost as weak as water, and often water itself. As it is the custom in England when they drink wine, successively to pledge one another out of the same cup, he occasionally just sipped the wine with his lips, that he might not seem to have an utter dislike for it, and that he might grow accustomed to ordinary things. He preferred beef, salt meats, bread of a secondary quality, and much fermented, to those meats which the generality of mankind delight in. In other respects he is by no means averse to any thing that affords an innocent pleasure to the body. He is very fond of juicy fruits, and considers eggs a luxury.
"His voice is neither strong, nor very weak, but easily audible; without any thing musical or soft, but articulate and distinct for he does not seem to have a natural talent for vocal music, though he takes pleasure in hearing all kinds. His pronunciation is remarkably plain and articulate, without any thing hurried or hesitating. He is fond of dressing plain, and uses neither silks, nor purples, nor gold chains, except on those occasions when he is not at liberty to go without them. He is surprisingly regardless of ceremonies, which the mass of mankind consider as the essence of good breeding: but though not ignorant of them, when he chooses to practise them, he neither exacts them from others,nor is anxious about offering them himself,as on meeting his friends either in the street or at table, but thinks it effeminate and unworthy of a man, to spend much time on trifles such as these. Formerly he was a stranger to court and to the society of Princes, and the more so, because to him tyranny was always especially hateful, as liberty was most dear. Seldom indeed is there a court, which has not much bustle and ambition, much hypocricy and profligacy, or which is totally free from every species of tyranny. Yet not even into the court of Henry the Eighth
VOL. V. PART II.
could he be dragged without much trouble, though than this Prince nothing can be wished for more courteous or more correct.
"Naturally fond of liberty and ease, he gladly enjoys retirement whenever he can, yet when occasion demands, no one is more vigilant or persevering. He seems born and fashioned for friendship, which he cultivates with sincerity, and long retains with fidelity. Nor does he dread that oxía, which meets so little favour with Hesiod. No one is denied the privilege of close intimacy with him. Far from capricious in the choice of his friendships, most obliging in improving them, most constant in retaining them. If he ever does meet with any one, whose faults he is unable to correct, he gradually drops him, gently untying the bond of friendship, not bursting it asunder. Of those whom he finds sincere, and of minds congenial with his own, he is so delighted with the society and conversation, that he seems to consider these the chief pleasure of his life, for he is an utter enemy to tennis, dice, cards, and other games, with which the generality of noblemen usually beguile the tediousness of time.
"Careless of his own concerns, he is actively diligent in looking to the affairs of his friends. But why should I add more? if any one desire a perfect model of what a true friend should be, from no one could he seek it better than from More.
"In company, so uncommon is his affability and sweetness of manners, that he never fails to impart cheerfulness to the most saddened spirit:-and dissipates the tedium of a condition the most melancholy. "From his very boyhood he took such delight in a jest, that he might seem born for pleasantry: yet in this he never either ran into buffoonery, or indulged in virulence. When a young man, he wrote farces and acted them. If ever any thing was said with humour, even if turned against himself, he loved it: to such a degree does he take pleasure in a witty remark that is smart and shews genius. Hence in his younger days he amused himself with epigrams, and with Lucian he was especially delighted: he too it was who advised me to write my Encomium Morias, that is, to dance the camel. But, in short, nothing can occur around him, whence he does not derive some pleasure, even in things the most serious. If he is among the learned and the men of talent, he is delighted with their powers;-if with the unlearned and simple, he extracts enjoyment from their folly. Even with professed jesters he is not offended, accommodating himself with wonderful versatility to the feelings of all. With ladies generally, and even with his wife, he confines himself to playfulness and merriment. You would call him a second Democritus, or rather that Pythagorean philosopher, who, in vacancy of mind sauntering through the market, contemplates the tumults of buyers and sellers. No one is less led by the opinion of the vulgar, yet no one is less deficient in common sense.
"It is a favorite amusement of his to examine the forms, the capacities, and the dispositions of different animals: hence there is scarcely any species of bird, or any other animal commonly esteemed rare, such as the monkey, the fox, the ferret, the weasel, and such like, which he does not keep and feed in his house. Besides these, if any foreign or other curiosity falls in his way, he eagerly purchases it, anc.
has his house on all sides furnished with things of this kind, so that there is in every corner some object to arrest the eyes of visitors: and thus in the gratification of others he constantly enjoys a renewal of his
"When his age permitted it, he was not indifferent to the charms of the fair sex, yet ever kept within the bounds of honour:-and so as to derive more pleasure from the favors that were offered, than those that were sought.
"Literature he had indulged in even from his earliest years: when a young man he applied himself to the study of Greek and of philosophy, and so little was he aided by his father, a man otherwise of worth and prudence, that he even deprived him of every thing that could assist him in his pursuits: and almost disinherited him, because he seemed to be deserting his paternal studies, the profession of the law. This profession, though very unfavorable to the study of true learning, is yet so valued in England, that those who have gained a name in it, are held among the highest in honor and in dignity, nor can any road be found among the English more likely to lead to fame and fortune. To this branch of learning indeed the greatest portion of their nobility owe their elevation: no one, they say, can be a master of it, unless he have toiled for many years upon it. Although therefore, his youthful mind turned with just disrelish from this study, born as he was for better things, yet, after a taste of the learning of the schools, he became such a proficient in the law, that no one was more eagerly consulted by clients; no one even of those who devoted their whole time to it, enjoyed more profitable practice-so great was the force and the rapidity of his mind. But besides this he applied with some diligence to the perusal of the volumes of the orthodox clergy. When little more than a youth, he lectured to a crowded audience on Augustine's work De Civitate Dei: nor did the clergy or the old men feel either shame or regret to learn divinity from a young man and a lay
"In the mean time he devoted his mind to the study of piety, meditating carefully upon the watchings, fastings, prayers, and other similar exercises of the church. And in this subject indeed he was much more skilled than most of those who precipitately rush into that arduous profession, without first making trial of themselves. Nor was there any obstacle to his embracing this profession, except that he could not shake off the desire he had to be married. He thought it better therefore, to be a chaste husband, than an impure clergyman. He married a lady of good family, but little accomplished, having lived with her parents and sisters in the country, and very young, that so he might be at liberty to form her to his own taste and manners. He had her instructed in literature, made her an adept in all kinds of music, and in short had so prepared her, that he could have been happy to live with her all his life, had not a premature death snatched her away. She had however given birth to several children, of whom there are yet living three girls, Margaret, Alice, and Cecilia, and one boy John. He could not, however, remain long a widower, though contrary to the advice of his friends. A few months after the funeral of his wife, he
married a widow, more to take charge of his family, than to give pleasure to himself, for she was neither very handsome, nor very young, as he is fond of saying to her in joke, but a sharp and vigilant housewife. Yet he lives with her just as cordially and affectionately, as if she was a woman of the most captivating charms. Perhaps no husband gains so much from his wife by harshness and command, as this man does by kindness and good humour. For what cannot that man obtain, who has already accomplished such a task as this: a woman already verging towards age, of a spirit by no means tame, and above all, most attentive to the household; has learnt to play on the harp, the lute, the monochord, and the flute, and daily performs at the request of her husband a prescribed lesson in these studies. With the same good humour he rules his whole family, in which no disturbance nor quarrelling ever occurs. Should any arise, he immediately restores good order and good humour. Never did he dismiss any one with a hostile feeling on either side. But indeed there seems to belong to this house a sort of fated happiness: for no one ever lived in it, who did not rise to better fortune; no one, who ever contracted one spot upon his fame.
"Then you will scarcely find one who agrees so well with his mother, as this man with a stepmother, for his father had married a second wife he regarded each of them as a mother. He lately married a third More declares he never saw a better woman. Towards his parents, his children, and his sisters, his affection is such, that he neither. annoys them with impertinent love, nor fails in one duty of regard.
"His mind is perfectly free from the sordidness of avarice. For his children he has laid by, out of his property, what he thinks will be enough for them: the rest he liberally spends. As long as he derived his support from his practice at the bar, he gave to every one upright and friendly counsel, much more considering their interest than his own: he used to persuade most of them to compromise their disputes, as, in this way, least expense would be incurred. If he did not succeed in this, he then pointed out the mode of prosecuting the cause at the least charge, for there are some men of minds so constituted that litigation is their delight. In London, his native city, he for some years. presided as a judge in civil suits, (he was under sheriff):-an office, which, while it is very little laborious (for they only sit on the morning of every Thursday) is esteemed highly honorable. In this station, no one ever decided more causes, nor ever conducted himself with more integrity, remitting in most cases that fee, which clients have, according to prescription, to pay. For before the trial comes on, the prosecutor and the defendant each puts down 3 drachmas [2s. 3d.], it is unlawful to exact more. By conduct such as this, he gained the distinguished regard of his native city.
"He had resolved to remain satisfied with this condition, which was at once accompanied with sufficient dignity, and removed from any severe or trying duties. More than once he was forced to go abroad on an embassy, in which he acted with such prudence, that the king, Henry the Eighth of the name, could not rest till he dragged him to court. For why should I not say dragged?
"Never, certainly, did a man more earnestly seek admittance to