Page:Cambridge Modern History Volume 1.djvu/670

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believe Coberger's unwilling testimony; they composed as well as distributed innumerable volumes of which the purport was to teach, to explain, and to enforce the duties of religion. The first book printed by Gutenberg was the Latin Bible. We will pursue the story of its editions and translations in due course. Here it is seasonable to record that many prelates, like Dalberg at Worms and Heidelberg, were munificent patrons of the new art; that others, like Scherenberg and

Bibra, published indulgences for the benefit of those who bought and sold printed books; but that if we would measure the depth and extent of civilisation as due to the diffusion of literature through the press, we must look to the wealthy middle class and the Free Cities of Germany, to Augsburg, Nürnberg, Ratisbon, and the Rhine bishoprics.

Once more Deventer solicits our attention. Its occupation with the copying of manuscripts was to be ruined by Gutenberg's types; but so long as the Brethren lasted they did no small service to education, whether we regard its matter or its methods. To their school has been referred the illustrious Rudolf Agricola. Alexander Hegius presided over it; and among its disciples were Rudolf von Langen and Desi-derius Erasmus of Rotterdam. Agricola is often called the German Petrarch on the ground that he laboured incessantly during a short life (1443-85) to spread classical learning north of the Alps. With a passionate love of the ancients he combined deep devotion to the Sacred Scriptures; his last years were spent in religious meditation. Hegius, though an older man, looked up to him as a guide in all learning. And while it must be admitted that Hegius did not understand Greek, and was not an accomplished Latin scholar, yet, in the thirty-three years (1465-98) during which he ruled as headmaster at Deventer, he led the way to better things by his improvement of the German manuals. As is elsewhere told, he died poor, leaving only his books and his clothes. Rudolf von Langen, provost of the cathedral in Deventer, new-modelled the schools of Westphalia, drew crowds of students to Münster, and sent out teachers as far as Copenhagen, in which capital a University had been founded in 1479. He was sent on a mission to Rome in 1486, where his amazing knowledge of Latin excited the admiration of Sixtus IV. Not only the ancient classics, but their native antiquities, poetry and topography, engaged the attention of these Teutonic masters; but they were zealous above all to diffuse the knowledge of the Bible in the vernacular as in the Latin Vulgate, and are aptly termed the Christian Humanists.

None among them was more celebrated than Wimpheling. Born at Schlettstadt in 1450, living down to the tumultuous period of the Reformation, he is a fine example of the priest, scholar, teacher, journalist, and patriot, as Germans then conceived of such a figure. Strassburg was proud to own him; Reuchlin became his pupil; with equal heat and eloquence he denounced unworthy friars, the greedy