General Dictionary/Languet, Hubert

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LANGUET (HUBERT) born at Viteaux in Burgundy,[Notes 1] gained a great reputation by his learning and virtue in the ſixteenth Century. Having read a book of Melanchthon in Italy, it created in him ſo ſtrong a deſire to be acquainted with that great man, that he went into Germany on purpoſe to viſit him. There was the moſt intimate friendſhip between them.[1] He charmed him by his agreeable converſation; for with a strong memory he had alſo a very acute judgment.[Notes 2] He continued a long while one of the first Counſellors of Auguſtus Elector of Saxony,[Notes 3] and if we may believe Thuanus,[2] he left that Court only becauſe he was ſuſpected to be one of thoſe who adviſed Gaſper Peucer to publiſh an Expoſition of the Doctrine of the Lord’s Supper agreeable to the Geneva Confeſſion of Faith. That Hiſtorian adds, that having left the Court of Saxony he retired with the Prince of Orange, and was employed in very important affairs; but that whilſt he applied himſelf to them he fell ſick and died at Antwerp September the 50th 1581 at the age of threeſcore and three years.[Notes 4] He was very much eſteemed by Monſieur du Pleſſis Mornai.[3] He is thought to be the author of the Oration which was delivered before Charles IX. King of France, December the 23d 1570, in the name of ſeveral Princes of Germany.[4] It is to him people aſcribe the famous Treatiſe which is intitled, Vindiciæ contra Tyrannos;[5] i.e. “A Defence againſt Tyrants.” The Latin Letters which he wrote to Sir Philip Sidney were printed at Frankfort in the year 1639.[Notes 5] Those which he wrote in the ſame tongue to both the Camerarius’s, father and ſon, were publiſhed in the year 1646, and have been reprinted with ſome others[Notes 6] in the year 1685: there is a beautiful Preface[Notes 7] prefixed to them, which contains a noble Panegyric upon him.

They publiſhed at Hall in the year 1699 a large Collection of thoſe Letters, which he wrote to his maſter the Elector of Saxony[6] during the courſe of the negotiations. We muſt not omit what Thuanus relates of a converſation he had with him in the year 1579.[7]

  1. All that I have to obſerve upon this ſubject is extracted from Joachim Camerarius’s life of Melanchthon. Hunc (Langetum) lectio libri cujuſdam in Italia, ubi tum ipſe degeret, a Philippo Melanchthone compoſiti cupiditate incenderat videndi autorem illius, & ea ſtimulos perpetuo admovems perpulerat tandem ut in Germaniam veniret, & Wittembergam ſe conferret.[1] Languet arrived at Wittenberg in the year 1549,[2] and kept ſo conſtantly to Melanchthon that he never left him, except to take a journey now and then. Neque ab ipſo diſceſſit niſi interdum per intervalla quædam peregrinationum quibus miriſice delectabatur, donec Philipi Melanchthonis vita in terris duravit.[3] Languet’s converſation was admirable; he diſcourſed very pertinently on the intereſt of Princes, and was perfectly well acquainted with the hiſtory of illuſtrious Men. Erat autem Philippo grata atque jucunda multarum magnarumque rerum, quas ille tenebat, commemoratio, & oratio de Regibus Principibuſque gubernationum, & altis ſapientia, virtute, doctrina præſtantibus horum temporum.[4] i. e. “Melanchthon was very much pleaſed and delighted with his converſations, in which he gave him an account of ſeveral important affairs, which he remembered very well, and with his diſcourſes concerning Kings and Princes, and other men of thoſe times eminent for their wiſdom, virtue, and learning.” His memory never failed him with regard either to the circumſtances of times, or to proper names; and he diſcovered the inclinations of men, and foreſaw the ſucceſs of things with a wonderful ſagacity. The perſon who gives him that character had been particularly acquainted with him. Neque ego, ſays he,[5] audivi ullum alterum, qui tam prudenter & certò, & planè, dilucidè, diſertè exponeret, quicquid marrare inſtituiſſet. Non ille in hominum nominibus falli, non indiciis temporum errare, non comfundere rerum negotiorumque ſeriem. Eras autem in eo ſingularis jagacitas in notandis naturis hominum, & conjicitndo, quo quiſque ſuopte ingenio deferretur, & quæ eſſet voluntatis inclinatio. Conſiliorum etiam ſolertiſſimus, æſtimator, & eventuum futurorum proviſione admirabilis. i. e. “I never heard a man, who could expound with ſo much prudence, certainty, plainneſs, evidence, and eloquence, whatever he undertook to relate; he never miſtook the names of men; he was never wrong in the circumſtances of time; nor did he ever confound the order and ſeries of things and events. He had alſo a wonderful ſagacity to diſcover the Characters of men, and to conjecture which way men’s tempers would lead them, and what was the inclination of their minds. He judged almoſt with certainty of their deſigns, and could moſt wonderfully foreſee the event of things.”

    Let us add to this what Monſieur de la Mare relates. He obſerves that about the year 1548, a German gave Languet Melanchthon’s Common Places or Body of Divinity; that Languet having read that book four or five times over that ſame year in his travels, found all his doubts removed which had a long time perplexed his mind, and conceived an extraordinary eſteem for Melanchthon; that having conſulted the moſt conſiderable divines at Leipſick, he embraced the Proteſtant Religion; and became a pupil of Joachim Camerarius who was profeſſor of polite literature in the Univerſity of Leipſick; that he even lodged at that Profeſſor’s houſe; that ſeeing the troubles ariſing in that country he undertook a journey into Italy till ſuch time as he could ſettle in Germany when the publick tranquility ſhould be reſtored there; that he ſtudied the law a whole year at Padua, and took his Doctor’s degree there; that he went afterwards to Bologna, and that at this time, as Joachim Camerarius relates it,[6] he was ſo enchanted with the reading of a new book of Melanchthon, that he longed for nothing more paſſionately, than to return into Germany, to ſee the author of that book; which he did accordingly in the year 1549.

    I find ſomething in this account, which puzzles me; for it is not at all probable, that a man who has conceived ſuch an eſteem for Melanchthon, by reading his Body of Divinity, that he takes him for the only wiſe man in the world,[7] ſhould take a journey to Leipſick, continue there ſome time, and embrace there the Proteſtant Religion without waiting once upon that divine; and that he ſhould be impatient to make him a viſit, only upon reading at Bologna another work of that author. It is not true that Camerarius aſſerts this other work was the treatiſe de Anima (concerning the ſoul) and that it determined Languet to return into Germany. He expreſſes himſelf ſo as to hint, not a ſecond journey, but the firſt, pepulerat tandem ut in Germanian veniret. i. e. “Determined him at laſt to come into Germany.”[8] Laſtly it is very ſtrange, that if Languet had been Camerarius’s diſciple and boarder at Leipſic in the year 1548, Camerarius ſhould yet aſſert that Langius did not come into Germany till the year 1549, out of a deſire to ſee Melanchthon, occaſioned by a book he read in Italy. It is unqueſtionable that either Camerarius or Monſieur de la Mare muſt be here miſtaken. It is moſt probable that the former is in the right, for Languet himſelf relates,[9] that having read Melanchthon’s Body of Divinity in Italy in the year 1547, and not being thoroughly ſatisfied with what is there obſerved concerning the Lord’s Supper, he was determined to go and conſult the author himſelf, and ſaw him in the year 1549. Would he ſpeak thus, if he had embraced the Proteſtant Religion at Leipſick, in the year 1547, and if Camerarius had been his profeſſor and his Landlord that ſame year in the ſame city?
  2. Thuanus gives us too imperfect an account of this. The expoſition of the doctrine of the Lord’s Supper was publiſhed in the year 1573. Languet was not then at the court of Saxony, but at the Emperor’s; and he did not leave that employment till the year 1577,[10] that his Electoral Highneſs of Saxony had given him leave to retire where ever he pleaſed; and ſince that time he always kept up a great correſpondence with that Prince, though he applied himſelf to the affairs of Prince Caſimir, or to thoſe of the Prince of Orange. All this is proved by the letters publiſhed in the year 1699.
  3. This appears from the following paſſage.[11] “Du Pleſſis at his arrival at Antwerp found his wife and children ſick. And even a ſon whom God had given him in his abſence, was ſoon after ſnatched away from him. But beſides this, his intimate friend Monſieur Languet was dead: Madam du Pleſſis, though ſick herſelf, had attended him to his laſt moment. His dying words were theſe. That the only thing which grieved him was, that he had not been able to ſee Monſieur du Pleſſis again before he died, to whom he would have left his very heart, had it been in his power. That he had wiſhed to live, to ſee the world reformed; but ſince it became daily worſe and worſe, he had no longer any buſineſs in it; that the Princes of theſe times were ſtrange men; that virtue had much to ſuffer, and little to get: That he pitied Monſieur du Pleſſis very much; to whoſe ſhare a great part of the misfortunes of the time would fall, and who would ſee many unhappy days; but that he muſt take courage, for God would aſſiſt him. For the reſt he begged one thing of him, in his laſt farewell, namely that he would mention ſomething of their mutual friendſhip, in the firſt book he ſhould publiſh. Which Monſieur du Pleſſis did ſoon after in a ſhort preface to the Latin tranſlation of his treatiſe of the Truth of the Chriſtian religion.” The commendations, which he beſtows on Languet in that preface, and what others have publiſhed upon the ſame ſubject, have been carefully collected by Voetius.[12] The epitaph alone is worth a panegyrick. You will meet with it in the ſame Voetius.

    Obſerve that Languet ſhewed himſelf a very affectionate and zealous friend to Monſieur du Pleſſis, at the time of the maſſacre committed on St. Bartholomew’s day.[13]
  4. Monſieur Colomies gives a very ſtrong proof of it in his Melanges Hiſtoriques[14] or Hiſtorical Miſcellanies. He takes it from a letter of Languet to his hero Sir Philip Sidney, dated from Vienna January the firſt, 1574.
  5. What I have obſerved upon this ſubject in the firſt ſketch of this dictionary is too long to be conveniently inserted in this place; I thought it therefore more proper to refer it to the end of this work in the form of a diſſertation.

    Some perſons ſuppoſe him to be the author of the book, entitled de Furoribus Gallicis,[15] of the madneſs of the French: but without any juſt ground.[16] It was thought in his family, that he wrote the famous apology for the Prince of Orange; the reaſon of this opinion was, that he had ſent a copy of it to every one of his relations, as a work of his own compoſing. And yet Grotius ascribes[17] this apology to another French man, named Peter de Villiers.[18]
  6. Monsieur Ludovicus profeſſor in the Univerſity of Hall has given us this edition. We ſhould be ſtill more obliged to him, had he added to it an index of the principal ſubjects mentioned in them, and had he taken care to have the errors of the printers or of the tranſcribers with regard to proper names mere exactly corrected. People wonder that he prefixed no preface to this book, and that whereas the editions publiſhed in Germany are generally conſiderable by their indexes, there is none to Languet’s letters, where it was wanted more than in a great many other books; becauſe each of theſe letters contains ſeveral particular facts, which are not in the leaſt connected with any general ſubject. This work is intitled, Arcana ſæculi decimi sexti. Huberti Langueti, Legati, dum viveret, & Conſiliarii Saxonici, Epiſtolæ ſecretæ ad Principem ſuum Auguſtum Sax. Ducem & S. R. I. ſeptem virum. Ex ΑΡΧΕΙΩ Saxonico deſcriptas primus è Muſeo edit. jo. Petr. Ludovicus. i. e. “The ſecret hiſtory of the ſeventeenth century, being a collection of letters written by Hubert Languet, Embaſſador and Counſellor of the Court of Saxony, to his maſter, Auguſtus Duke of Saxony and Elector of the Empire, tranſcribed from the publick records of Saxony, and now publiſhed for the firſt time by John Peter Ludovicus.” The Abbot Nicaiſe had told me for certain, that the author’s life writen by Monſieur de la Mare would be prefixed to theſe letters; but this did not prove true. It has been publiſhed by itſelf in the ſame city of Hall, in the year 1700, in 12 mo. If I had met with it ſoon enough, this article would have been much better, more complete and more connected. Conſult Monſieur Bernard,[19] who has given a very full and accurate account of this piece; which is very well written and very curious.
  7. He got acquainted with Languet at the wells of Baden in the year 1579, and was ſo well pleaſed with this man’s behaviour, and with his agreeable and learned converſations, that he thought he ſhould never be able to part with him. Here follows the elogy he beſtows upon him; I tranſcribe it here, because neither Voetius nor Monſieur Teiſſier mention it in the leaſt. Argentinâ Badam ventum, ubi Thuanus Languetum vacuum nactus ita mordicus per triduum ei adhæſit, ut ab to divelli non poſſe putaretur. Ita candor hominis illum ceperat, inſigni probitate, judicio non ſolum in literis, ſed in publicis negotiis, quæ tota vita ſub variis Principibus magna fide geſſerat, præditi ad hæc rerum Germaniæ callentiſs. Ut Germanos ipſos res patrias ſuas doceret. Toto illo tempore cum to aſſiduus, niſi quantum aquis ſumendis impendebat, cum multa didicit, tum breviculum manu ipſius perſcriptum, quod & nunc ſervat, poſtquam binc diſceſſit, ab eo accepit, quo generalis Germaniæ ſtatus, ſicut bodie eſt, comitiorum jus, circulorum numerus, conſiliorum ordo deſcribitur.[20] i. e. “From Straſburg we came to Baden, where Thuanus meeting with Languet, who was free from all buſineſs, ſtuck ſo cloſely to him during three days, that it was imagined he could never part from him: ſo pleaſed was he with this man’s eminent probity, and with his great judgment not only in the Sciences, but alſo in publick affairs, in which he had been ingaged all his life time, having ſerved ſeveral Princes very faithfully: he was particularly ſo well acquainted with the affairs of Germany, that he could inſtruct the Germans themſelves in the affairs of their own country. Thuanus being conſtantly, with him all that time, except when he was drinking the waters, learnt a great many things from him; and when he had left that place, he received from him ſome memoirs, written in his own hand, containing an account of the preſent ſtate of Germany, of the rights of the diets, of the number of the circles, and of the order or rank of the different councils of that Country, which memoirs he ſtill keeps by him.”

    Thuanus alſo relates that Languet made him take notice of a German Lord who was at a window with his wife, and aſked him afterwards with a ſmile, If you were put to your choice, would you prefer a woman as beautiful as ſhe is, before the Archbiſhoprick of Cologne? Thuanus, who did not underſtand the deſign of this queſtion, made no anſwer to it. Whereupon Languet explained the whole myſtery to him, and told him that the German Lord was the Count of Iſemburg, who had lately reſigned the Archbiſhopric of Cologne, to marry Jane de Lignes, the Count of Aremberg’s ſiſter. He added that the ſuppreſſion of Celibacy was burthenſom to the great Proteſtant Lords in Germany; for whereas in the time of Popery they uſed to put their daughters into Nunneries, with certain hopes to ſee them ſoon raised to the dignity of Abbeſſes in ſome rich Nunnery, they were now obliged to provide huſbands for them, though they lived in a country, where people were very prolific.[21]
  1. Thuanus, lib. 74. towards the end, under the year 1581.
  2. See the remark [A].
  3. Thuanus, lib. 74. towards the end, under the year 1581.
  4. Idem, ibid.
  5. See Essais de Literat. for July 1702, pag. 23.
  6. Which he wrote to Augustus Elector of Saxony.
  7. Written by Joachim Camerarius, grandson to the author of Melanchthon’s Life.
  1. ^  Joach. Camerar. in Vita Melanch. pag. m. 333.
  2. ^  Ibid.
  3. ^  Ibid.
  4. ^  Ibid.
  5. ^  Ibid.
  6. ^  Quo tempere narrat in Philippi Melanchthonis Vitæ Joachimus Camerarius elegantis illius & multiplici cruditione referti de onima libri à Melanchtone non ita prudem ſcripti lectione Langetum tanta videndi ouctoris cupiditate incenium ſuiſſe &c. Philip. de la Mare, in Vita Langueti, pag. 10.
  7. ^  Melanchthonem ab eo tempore tante æſtimare, ut reliquos cæcutire ac proprirs affactibus indulgere judicaret, unum autem ſapere Melanchthonem. Idem, ibid. p. 9.
  8. ^  Camer. in Vita Melanchth. pag. m. 344.
  9. ^  Languet, Epiſt. 15. ad Joach. Camerar. pag. m. 27.
  10. ^  It is the 28th of thoſe which he wrote to Camerarius the ſon.
  11. ^  Vie de Du Pleſſis Mernas, pag. 56. under the year 1581.
  12. ^  Diſput. Theologic. vol. 4. pag. 238, & ſeq.
  13. ^  See the Vie de Mr. du Pleſſis, pag. 22. See alſo pag. 12.
  14. ^  Pag. 13; 14.
  15. ^  Mentioned above in quotation (44) of the article BEZA.
  16. ^  See Mr. de la Mare, in Vita Langueti, pag. 67, 68.
  17. ^  Lib. 3. Belgic. Annal.
  18. ^  La Mare, in Vita Langueti, pag. 121, 122.
  19. ^  In his Nouvelles de la Republique des Lettres, for Match, 1701, pag. 286, &c.
  20. ^  Thuan. de Vita ſua, lib. 2. towards the beginning, pag. 1176.
  21. ^  Filias omneis quibus bomines proletarii atundunt, matrimonio elocare teneantur. Idem, ibid.