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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
From the ‘Colloquies’
By Desiderius Erasmus (c. 1467–1536)
 
Colloquy of ‘The Shipwreck’

SOME were spewing, some were praying. I remember one Englishman there. What mountains of gold did he promise to our Lady of Walsingham if he ever got safe ashore again! One made a vow to deposit a relic of the Cross in this place; another to put a relic of it in that;—some promised to turn monks; one vowed a pilgrimage, barefooted and bareheaded, in a coat of mail, and begging his bread all the way, to St. James of Compostella. I could not but laugh at one fellow there. He vowed as loud as he could bellow to the St. Christopher in the great church at Paris (that the saint might be sure to hear him) a wax candle as big as the saint himself. Now, you must know that the Paris St. Christopher is enormous, and rather a mountain than a statue. He was so loud, and went over and over with it so often, that a friend of his gave him a touch on the elbow: “Take care what you promise,” said he; “if you should sell yourself, you could not buy such a candle.” “Hold your tongue, you fool,” says the other (softly, so that St. Christopher might not hear). “Let me but set foot on land once more, and St. Christopher has good luck if he get even a tallow candle from me.”  1
 
  Adolphus—To which of the two saints did you pray?  2
  Antony—To not one of them all, I assure you. I don’t like your way of bargaining with the saints: “Do this and I’ll do that. Here is so much for so much. Save me, and I will give you a taper or go on a pilgrimage.” Just think of it! I should certainly have prayed to St. Peter if to any saint, for he stands at the door of heaven, and so would be likeliest to hear. But before he could go to the Almighty and tell him my condition, I might be fifty fathoms under water.  3
  Adolphus—What did you do, then?  4
  Antony—I went straight to God himself, and said my prayer to him. The saints neither hear so readily nor give so willingly.  5
 
Colloquy of ‘The Religious Pilgrimage’

  JUST before the chapel stood a little house, which the officer told us was conveyed thither through the air after a wonderful manner…. Upon strict observation of everything, I asked the officer how many years it might be since that little house was brought thither. He told me that it had been there for some ages. “And yet methinks,” said I, “the walls do not seem to be of that antiquity:” and he did not much deny it. “Nor these pillars,” said I. “No, sir,” said he. “Then,” said I, “methinks that straw, those reeds, and the whole thatch of it, look as if they had not been so long laid.” “’Tis very right,” said he. “And what do you think,” said I, “of those crossbeams and rafters? They cannot be near so old.” He confessed they were not. At last, when I had questioned him as to every part of this poor cottage, said I:—“How do you know that this is the house that was brought so far in the air so many years ago?” At that he laughed at us scornfully, as at people invincibly ignorant.
  6
 
  I had rather lose all Duns Scotus, and twenty more such as he, than one Cicero or Plutarch. Not that I am wholly against them, either: but from the reading of the one I find myself to become honester and better; whereas I rise from the other extremely dull, indifferent to virtue, but violently bent on cavil and contention.  7
 
  [The seventh Colloquy is leveled mainly against monastic vows. The ninth is entitled ‘A Pleasant and Profitable Colloquy between two Franciscan Monks and a German Tavern-keeper.’ The eleventh is entitled ‘A Pleasant Relation of John Reuchlin’s Ghost, appearing to a Franciscan in a Dream.’ The twenty-first is entitled ‘Hell Broke Loose. The Divisions of Christian Princes are the Scandal of their Profession. The Furies Strike the Fire and the Monks Blow the Coal.’]  8
 
  NOTE.—The above extracts are made from Sir Roger L’Estrange’s English Translation of Erasmus’s ‘Colloquies,’ London, 1725.  9
 
 
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