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All his wealth he distributed to pious uses ; of which I have said somewhat already, and shall say more anon.
16. & He had an uncle that was a very old ill-conditioned man, with whom he did not agree.
The difference betweene them was not about a trifle, but so vast a sum of mony, that a son might almost have fought with his father about it. Colet being to dine with the Reverend Father in God William archbishop of Canterbury, took me in the boat with him from St. Paul's to Lambeth. All the way he read the Remedy of Anger in my Enchiridion, , but did not tell me wherefore he read it. When we sat down, it chanced that Colet sat over against his uncle ; and there he was very sad, neither speaking a word, nor eating a bit. Now the archbishop had an excellent faculty in such a case (to make every one merry at his table), ordering his discourse according to each man's peculiar temper; so he began to compare our several ages, and then those who sat musing before, fell to chatting : and the uncle (as old men are wont to do) began to brag, that tho he were so far stricken in years, he felt no decay of his strength. After dinner they two had some discourse betwixt themselves ; but what I cannot tell. When Colet and I were come back to the boat, he told me that he saw I was a happy man.— I answered, that I wondered why he should call me happy, who thought my self the unhappiest person in the world. Whereupon he told me, that he had been that day so angry with his uncle, that he had almost resolved (breaking all bonds of Christian modesty and natural affection to his kindred) to have sued him openly at law; that for this reason he took my Enchiridion in his hand along with him, to read the remedy against anger, and that the reading of it had done him much good; that by that prattle in dinner-time, the bitterness and heat of each was so far allayed, as that when the archbishop stept aside, and they talkt together privately, the whole difference was composed. In a word, Colet did daily so endeavour to conquer all his passions, and subdue the haughtiness of his mind by reason, that he would take it well to be admonished even by a child.
17. Lasciviousness, sleep, and luxury he chased away by abstaining constantly from supper, by continual sobriety, indefatigable study, and holy conferences. But yet when there was occasion, either to discourse with fair ladies, or jest with witty persons, or
6 Lib. xxiii. epist. 5. p. 1206, a.
? The archbishop.] Warham.
feast with pleasant, a man might easily perceive some footsteps of his nature, which made him for the most part keep from the society of all lay-people ; but especially from banquets, to which when he must needs come, he commonly took with him me or some learned friend, with whom he discoursed in Latin, that he might avoid idle talk. His custom was to eat only of one dish, to content himself with one glass of beer or ale, or two at the most. And tho he was delighted with good wine, yet he drank very little of it; always suspecting his own sanguine complection and inclination, and being very wary of all those things by which he might offend any person whatsoever.
18. In all my life I never saw a more happy wit, and thence it came that he was exceedingly pleased with such wits as were like himself: but at all times when he might chuse his discourse, it was of such things as prepared him for the immortality of a life to come. And when at any time he refreshed himself with pleasant stories, he did not fail to make use of his philosophy in them. He was much pleased with the purity and simplicity of nature in little children (to the imitation of whom we are called by our blessed Saviour) being wont to compare them to angels.
19. Now for the second particular, his opinions; he much differed in them from the vulgar. The Scotists (of whose acuteness most men have a high conceit) he esteemed heavy fellows, and any thing rather than ingenious. And yet he had a worse opinion of Thomas Aquinas (for what reason I know not) than of Scotus. For when I sometimes commended Thomas to him as no contemptible author (among the moderns) because he seemed to have read both Scriptures and Fathers (as I guessed by his Catena Aurea) and to have somewhat of affection in his writings; Colet seemed not to mind me two or three times, and said nothing. But when at another discourse I spoke the same again with more vehemency, he looked stedfastly upon me, to see whether I were in jest or in earnest; and when he saw I spoke seriously, he replied thus in a passion, “Why do you commend this man to me? who if he had not been very arrogant would never so rashly (and yet so magisterially) have presumed to define all points of religion ; and if he had not savoured too much of the spirit of the world, he would not have polluted all the doctrine of Christ with so much of his own profane philosophy.” I wondered at the enthusiastick posture of the man, and after that set upon reading Aquinas's works more attentively; and I must needs confess that my opinion of him abated much.
20. No man was more a friend to true Christian piety, yet he had little or no kindness for monks, or rather I should
for those who are now (for the most part falsly) so called; and therefore while he lived he gave them but little, and when he died nothing ; not that he hated the profession, but because he saw they did not live according to it. Yet his desire was to have disingaged himself from the world, and betaken himself to a monastry, if he could any where have found a society that was truly and unanimously resolved upon an evangelical life. And when I went into Italy, he charged me to seek for such an one, telling me that he had found some monks there who were really prudent and pious ; commending also some Germans, among whom he thought that the footsteps of the good old religion did still remain.
21. Though he lived very chastly himself, yet he had a very charitable opinion of those priests and monks, who had no other crime but venery. Not that he did not heartily abhor the sin, but because he found such men far less mischievous than others (if compared) who were haughty, envious, backbiters, hypocrites, vain, unlearned, wholly given to the getting of mony and honour. Yet these had a mighty opinion of themselves ; whereas others, by acknowledging their infirmity, were made more humble and modest. He said, that to be covetous and proud, was more abominable in a priest than to have an hundred concubines': not that he thought incontinence to be a light sin, but covetousness and pride to be at a greater distance from true piety. And he was not more averse to any sort of men, than such bishops who were wolves instead of shepherds; and commended themselves by external service of God, ceremonies, benedictions and indulgences to the people, while with all their hearts they served the world, that is, glory and gain. He was not much displeased with them who would not have images (either painted or carved, gold or silver) worshipped in churches; nor with them, who doubted whether a notorious wicked priest could consecrate the sacrament,
hundred concubines.] The nature of the relation, at th time, between the priests and these concubines, the reader will find explained in a note given below in this collection, from Henry Wharton, in the Life of Thomas Rogers.
Hereby not favouring their error, but expressing his indignation against such clergymen, who by an open bad life gave occasion to this suspicion.
22. He said, That the colleges in England, which are large and stately, hinder good literature, and are receptacles of idle people ; nor did he much regard the publick schools, because their ambition and gain did corrupt the sincerity of all old discipline. As he did much approve of secret confession“ (professing that he never had so much comfort from any thing as that) so he much condemned anxiety in it, and repetition. Whereas it is the custom in England for priests to consecrate the host, and receive it almost every day; he was content to sacrifice on Sundays and holidays, or some few days beside ; either to gain more time for his sacred studys, and fit himself the better for his pulpit-employments, and the business of his cathedral; or because he found that his devotion had a greater edg, when it was sharpened with intervals : and yet he would not condemn them who were minded to come to the Lord's table every day. Though he was a very learned man himself, yet he did not prize that anxious and laborious sort of wisdom, which is fully attained by knowledg of several sciences, and reading a multitude of books ; saying oft, that the native sound constitution of men's parts, and the sincerity of their wit, was lost thereby; and that they rather got a learned sort of madness, than any true incentive to Christian innocence, simplicity, and charity.
23. He attributed very much to the epistles of the holy apostles ; but when he compared them with that wonderful majesty which is to be found in our Saviour's own sayings and sermons, he thought them somewhat dry. He had very ingeniously reduced almost all the sayings of Christ to ternaries, and intended to write a book of them. He wondred that Roman priests should be forced to say so many prayers every day; nay though they are much employed, whether at home or in a journey ; but he much approved of the performing divine service magnificently. He dissented from innumerable opinions now commonly received in the schools, in which he would sometimes tell his mind to his
• Secret confession.] See what is said below by bishop Latimer, in the Life of Thomas Bilney, of what he learnt, from having been asked while he was yet “as obstinate a papist as any was in England,” to hear Bilney's confession. See Index, under Confession, private. VOL. I.
friends, but say nothing to others, lest he should incur a double inconvenience, viz. lose his own credit, and do them no good, perhaps harm. There was no book so heretical that he was not willing to read over attentively, professing that sometimes he advantaged himself more by such than by their works who determine every question which they handle in such a manner, that they often flatter their leaders, and sometimes themselves.
24. He endured not that any one should, in speaking fluently, be guided altogether by the precepts of grammar (that, he said, oft hindered one from speaking well) but by his reading the best authors. Which opinion brought its own punishment along with it; for tho he had eloquence both by nature and education, and had wonderful store of matter in his head when he began to make a speech, yet he oft tripped in those things which criticks are wont to take notice of. And thereupon I suppose he abstained from writing books, which I wish he had not done; for I heartily desire the meditations or works of this man, in what language soever they are penned.
25. And now, lest you should think any thing wanting to the complete piety of Dr. Colet, in the last place hear his afflictions. He never agreed well with his bishop', who (to say nothing of his manners) was a superstitious and stubborn Scotist, and thereupon thought himself half a god. Of which sort of men, though I know some whom I will not call knaves, yet I never saw one whom I thought I might truly term a Christian. Neither was the doctor acceptable to most of his own college, because he was very tenacious of regular discipline; and the prebends complained that he used them as if they were monks ; and so indeed that college was anciently, and in old records is called the Eastern Monastry; as West-monasterium means the Western Monastry.
26. But when the old bishop's (for he was fourscore years of age) hatred grew too high to be smothered, the fire broke out ; and adjoining two other bishops, as wise and virulent as himself, he began to trouble Dr. Colet, exhibiting articles against him to the archbishop of Canterbury, taken out of his sermons. 1. That he said, images were not to be worshipped. 2. That preaching upon that passage in the gospel, Feed, feed, feed my sheep, he expounded the first by good example, the second by sound doctrine, (as other
5 His bishop.] Richard Fitz James, bishop of London, who had previously filled the sees of Rochester and Chichester.