Page:Cambridge Modern History Volume 1.djvu/635

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in order to enquire, rather more briefly, into the records of the movement in Germany and Switzerland.

The Council of Basel (1431) had in one respect a remarkable and far-reaching influence on literature. A Dominican, John of Ragusa, afterwards Cardinal, who figured there, left in the Dominican convent of the city a collection of books which in later years acquired a peculiar importance. They included three manuscripts of parts of the New Testament in Greek: and others were subsequently added to their number by purchase by the brethren of the House. These manuscripts were not only the first Greek books to which Johann Reuchlin had access, but were in after years wellnigh the sole authorities used by Erasmus for the constitution of the first published text of the Greek Testament. Few cities outside Italy could at that time have supplied even such facilities as this to an intending editor of the Sacred Text; and we may be grateful for the accident on which their presence at Basel depended. Another of this Cardinal's books, which since his day has found a home at Eton College, is still the only known source of a tract of some celebrity, current under the name of Athanasius.

It seems not unfair to say that Germany-the country which in the middle of the fifteenth century gave to the cause of enlightenment its mightiest weapon, in the shape of the printing press-did little more for that cause, at least of her own initiative, in the course of that century. To the learning of the next her contributions were enormous; but for the moment she is conspicuous not by bringing to light her own hidden treasures but by parting with them to strangers. The number of ancient texts, both classical and patristic, which were exported from German Abbeys to Italy was very large: and scarcely less remarkable was the number and quality of those which remained undiscovered, until native scholars of a later generation scented them out. Yet there were German book-collectors before 1450: and to cue of them it may be well to devote a few words. In the letters of Poggio and his contemporaries there is not unfrequent mention of one Nicholas of Trier as a successful collector and discoverer. It is a probability, and indeed it has been accounted nearer a certainty, that he is identical with Nicholas of Cusa, afterwards Cardinal, who became famous as a politician, as a mathematician and reformer of the Calendar, and as a writer against Islam. Cusanus died in 1464, and bequeathed to a hospital he had founded at Cues on the Mosel, his native town, the books brought together by him during his residence in Italy and his journeys to the Greek lands. At Cues a good many of them still remain. The collection has, to some extent, suffered from an exchange of old lamps for new, which was effected in the last century to the advantage of the Harleian Library: but the books which are now at the Hospital of St Nicholas at Cues are both individually and collectively worthy of notice.

Two Graeco-Latin Psalters, of the eighth and ninth centuries, three