Page:EB1911 - Volume 05.djvu/459

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metropolis of Calvinism, received a constant succession of visitors. The continental tour of the young Englishman of birth was not complete without a visit to Geneva. It was there that Casaubon made the acquaintance of young Henry Wotton, the poet and diplomatist, who lodged in his house and borrowed his money. Of more consequence to Isaac Casaubon was the acquaintance of Richard Thomson ("Dutch" Thomson), fellow of Clare College, Cambridge; for it was through Thomson that the attention of Joseph Scaliger, settled in 1593 at Leiden, was directed to Casaubon. Scaliger and Casaubon first exchanged letters in 1594. Their intercourse, which was wholly by letter, for they never met, passes through the stages of civility, admiration, esteem, regard and culminates in a tone of the tenderest, affection and mutual confidence. Influential French men of letters, the Protestant Jacques Bongars, the Catholic Jacques de Thou, and the Catholic convert Philippe Canaye, sieur du Fresne, aided him by presents of books and encouragement, and endeavoured to get him invited, in some capacity, to France.

This was effected in 1596, in which year Casaubon accepted an invitation to the university of Montpellier, with the title of conseiller du roi and professeur stipendié aux langues et bonnes lettres. In Montpellier he never took root. He held the professorship there only three years, with several prolonged absences. The hopes raised by his brilliant reception were disappointed; he was badly treated by the authorities, by whom his salary was only paid very irregularly, and, finally, not at all. He was not, at any time, insensible to the attractions of teaching, and his lectures at Montpellier were followed not only by the students, but by men of mature age and position. But the love of knowledge was gradually growing upon him, and he began to perceive that editing Greek books was an employment more congenial to his peculiar powers than teaching. At Geneva he had first tried his hand on some notes on Diogenes Laërtius, on Theocritus and the New Testament, the last undertaken at his father's request. His début as an editor had been a complete Strabo (1587), of which he was so ashamed afterwards that he apologized for its crudity to Scaliger, calling it "a miscarriage." This was followed by the text of Polyaenus, an editio princeps, 1589; a text of Aristotle, 1590; and a few notes contributed to Estienne's editions of Dionysius of Halicarnassus and Pliny's Epistolae. It is not till we come to his edition of Theophrastus's Characteres (1592), that we have a specimen of that peculiar style of illustrative commentary, at once apposite and profuse, which distinguishes Casaubon among annotators. At the time of his removal to Montpellier he was engaged upon what is the capital work of his life, his edition of, and commentary on, Athenaeus.

In 1598 we find Casaubon at Lyons, superintending the passage of his Athenaeus through the press, for which he had been unable to find facilities at Montpellier. Here he lived in the house of Méric de Vicq, surintendant de la justice, a Catholic, but a man of acquirements, whose connexions were with the circle of liberal Catholics in Paris. In the suite of De Vicq Casaubon made a flying visit to Paris, and was presented to Henry IV. The king was very gracious, and said something about employing Casaubon's services in the "restoration" of the fallen university of Paris. Full of hope he returned to Montpellier. In January 1599, he received a summons to repair to Paris. But the terms of the letter missive were so vague that, though it bore the sign manual, Casaubon hesitated to act upon it. However, he resigned his chair at Montpellier, but instead of hastening to Paris, he lingered more than a year at Lyons, in De Vicq's house, where he hoped to meet the king, who was expected to visit the south. Nothing more was heard about the professorship, but instead he was summoned by De Vicq, who was then in Paris, to come to him in all haste on an affair of importance. The business proved to be the Fontainebleau Conference. Casaubon allowed himself to be persuaded to sit as one of the referees who were to adjudicate on the challenge sent to Du Plessis Mornay by Cardinal Duperron. By so doing he placed himself in a false position, as Scaliger said: "Non debebat Casaubon interesse colloquio Plessiaeano; erat asinus inter simias, doctus inter imperitos" (Scaligerana 2a). The issue was so contrived that the Protestant party could not but be pronounced to be in the wrong. By concurring in the decision, which was unfavourable to Du Plessis Mornay, Casaubon lent the prestige of his name to a court whose verdict would without him have been worthless, and confirmed the suspicions already current among the Reformed churches that, like his friend and patron, Canaye du Fresne, he was meditating abjuration. From this time forward he became the object of the hopes and fears of the two religious parties; the Catholics lavishing promises, and plying him with arguments; the Reformed ministers insinuating that he was preparing to forsake a losing cause, and only higgling about his price. We now know enough of Casaubon's mental history to know how erroneous were these computations of his motives. But, at the time, it was not possible for the immediate parties to the bitter controversy to understand the intermediate position between Genevan Calvinism and Ultramontanism to which Casaubon's reading of the fathers had conducted him.

Meantime the efforts of De Thou and the liberal Catholics to retain him in Paris were successful. The king repeated his invitation to Casaubon to settle in the capital, and assigned him a pension. No more was said about the university. The recent reform of the university of Paris had closed its doors to all but Catholics; and though the chairs of the Collège de France were not governed by the statutes of the university, public opinion ran so violently against heresy, that Henry IV. dared not appoint a Calvinist to a chair, even if he had desired to do so. But it was designed that Casaubon should succeed to the post of sub-librarian of the royal library when it should become vacant, and a patent of the reversion was made out in his favour. In November 1604, Jean Gosselin died in extreme old age; and Casaubon succeeded him as sub-librarian, with a salary of 400 livres in addition to his pension.

In Paris Casaubon remained till 1610. These ten years were the brightest period of his life. He had attained the reputation of being, after Scaliger, the most learned man of the age,—an age in which learning formed the sole standard of literary merit. He was placed above penury, though not in easy circumstances. He had such facilities for religious worship as a Huguenot could have, though he had to go out of the city to Hablon, and afterwards to Charenton, for them. He enjoyed the society of men of learning, or of men who took an interest in learned publications. He had the best opportunities of seeing men of letters from foreign countries as they passed through Paris. Above all, he had ample facilities for using Greek books, both printed and in MS., the want of which he had felt painfully at Geneva and Montpellier, and which no other place but Paris could at that period have supplied.

In spite of all these advantages we find Casaubon restless, and ever framing schemes for leaving Paris, and settling elsewhere. It was known that he was open to offers, and offers came to him from various quarters,—from Nîmes, from Heidelberg, from Sedan. His friends Lect and Giovanni Diodati wished, rather than hoped, to get him back to Geneva. The causes of Casaubon's discomfort in Paris were various, but the principal source of uneasiness lay in his religion. The life of any Huguenot in Paris was hardly secure at that time, for it was doubtful if the police of the city was strong enough to protect them against any sudden uprising of the fanatical mob, always ready to re-enact the St Bartholomew. But Casaubon was exposed to persecution of another sort. Ever since the Fontainebleau Conference an impression prevailed that he was wavering. It was known that he rejected the outré anti-popery opinions current in the Reformed churches; that he read the fathers, and wished for a church after the pattern of the primitive ages. He was given to understand that he could have a professorship only by recantation. When it was found that he could not be bought, he was plied by controversy. Henry IV., who liked Casaubon personally, made a point of getting him to follow his own example. By the king's orders Duperron was untiring in his efforts to convert him. Casaubon's knowledge of the fathers was that of a scholar, Duperron's that of an adroit polemist; and the