The Life of the Truly Eminent and Learned Hugo Grotius
by Jean Levesque de Burigny
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[403] Ep. 1594. p. 743.

[404] Ep. 632. p. 946.

[405] Ep. 1611. p. 717.

[406] Bougeant, l. 8. p. 542.

[407] Ep. 1661. p. 721.

XI. It was the adventurer Cerisante who brought Grotius Queen Christina's letters, ordering him to lay before the Queen of France Sweden's grounds of complaint against Denmark. He had had interest to get himself nominated Agent of the crown of Sweden at Paris, with orders however to do nothing but in concert with the Ambassador[408]. Some years before, the continual jars between Grotius and the French Ministers made the Regents of Sweden[409] hesitate whether it would not be proper to recall Grotius: he himself had wrote to the High Chancellor[410], that, to obviate all difficulties raised against him, it would perhaps be more proper to have only an Agent at Paris. It is pretended that the inclination which he was suspected to have for the Roman Catholics contributed to set the Swedes against him; and Crusius wrote from Bremen, November 27, 1642[411], "It is publicly reported that Grotius is become a Papist, and has lost all credit in Sweden." He was not consulted in the nomination of Cerisante; accordingly it gave him much uneasiness, which he did not dissemble[412]: he regarded this Agent as a spy sent to observe his conduct, and his mission as a proof that the Ministry were not satisfied with him: this greatly contributed to increase the disgust he had taken to his embassy, which he had already hinted in confidence to some of his friends. February 16, 1641, he wrote a letter of compliment to Lewis Camerarius[413] on his being recalled from his embassy to Holland, and assures him that it would give him great pleasure to live in such quiet. He writes to his brother, November 1, 1641[414], "If they threatened to recall me from my embassy I should not be sorry: it is not a lucrative thing. I am surfeited with honours; old age comes on, and will soon demand ease." A year after, he writes to him[415], "I am come to the age at which many wise men have voluntarily renounced places of honour. I love quiet, and would be glad to devote the remainder of my life to the service of God and of posterity. If I had not some hope of contributing to a general peace, I should have retired before now."

The headstrong and forward temper of the person who was appointed his coadjutor crowned all his uneasiness. In effect, no body could be more the reverse of Grotius than Cerisante. The Memoirs of the Duke of Guise have placed this man in a very ridiculous light: his family indeed complain that the duke of Guise did not do him justice; but we know from others that he was as vain as he was inconsiderate. He was the son of Duncan, Minister of Saumur, and being perfect master of the Belles Lettres, he had been nominated Governor to the Marquis de Foix, who afterwards made him Lieutenant-Colonel of the regiment of Navarre; but a quarrel with the Duke of Candale in the beginning of Anne of Austria's regency obliged him to quit the kingdom. He retired into Sweden, in hopes that the Queen, who loved men of wit, would make his fortune. He was not disappointed: she gave him a commission to levy a regiment, which he never raised; and sent him into France with the titles of Colonel and Agent of Sweden.

He soon laid aside that regard for Grotius which was recommended to him; and gave on all occasions proofs of his rash and vain-glorious humour. Grotius tells us that he sent very false intelligence to Sweden, which he affirmed that he had from the first hand: in short, he was guilty of so many extravagancies, that Queen Christina, being informed how little he was esteemed, and that she was in some sort censured on his account, dismissed him her service; but it was not till after Grotius's departure from Paris.

It will readily be judged that a man of this character could ill agree with Grotius: accordingly they were soon at great variance. Their misunderstanding was quickly known. Sarrau wrote to Salmasius, June 1, 1644[416], "Duncan the Swedish Agent at this Court gives the Ambassador much uneasiness." Grotius's patience being therefore worn out, he wrote to Sweden, desiring the Queen to recall him: his request was granted with great readiness. As she did not dignify to him where he must go[417], he wrote to Baron Oxenstiern, the Swedish Plenipotentiary to the peace of Munster and Osnabrug, and son of the High Chancellor, desiring him to inform him of the Queen's intentions, if he knew them; or to advise him whither he ought to go, to Osnabrug or elsewhere; and in fine, to send him a safe-conduct from the Ambassadors of the Emperor and the King of Spain, and even, if he could, from the Elector of Cologn. Grotius was strongly persuaded that they would employ him elsewhere[418]. He demanded an audience of Queen Anne, whom he informed of his being recalled. The Queen of Sweden wrote to the French Queen a letter highly to Grotius's honour[419], in which she said that she would never forget his great services. She wrote also to himself[420], signifying to him her satisfaction with his fidelity and prudence, and making him the fairest promises: which confutes what we find in the Menagiana[421], that Queen Christina began her reign with recalling Grotius; since it is beyond doubt that it was Grotius himself who asked to be recalled. But we must not expect great exactness in this kind of works, compiled for the most part by persons who relate ill what they heard, and are not always acquainted with the matters of which they write.

Before we consider Grotius returned to a private station, we shall observe that he always supported with great firmness the rights and honours belonging to the rank of Ambassador, not from vanity, but because he thought it his duty to prevent a dignity conferred on him from being depreciated. He imagined[422], that the Dutch, from ill-will to him, had entered into a kind of conspiracy not to treat him as Ambassador, and to make him be considered as a simple Resident[423]; and afterwards to make a crime of his weakness in giving up any part of his right. They denied him the title of Excellency when speaking to him of private business, under pretext that his embassy was not concerned: but he shewed this to be a very bad reason, since the greatest Noblemen in Sweden treated him as Ambassador even in private letters: he therefore burnt all those letters which did not give him the proper titles, without answering them; and even would not receive in his house such persons as denied him the honours due to the Ambassadors of crowned heads.


[408] Ep. 716. p. 970.

[409] Puffendorf, l. 13. n. 77.

[410] Ep. 690. p. 284.

[411] Inter Vossianas Ep. 656.

[412] Ep. 1689, p. 731.

[413] Ep. 1477. p. 668.

[414] Ep. 572. p. 928.

[415] Ep. 620. p. 942.

[416] Ep. 83. p. 84. Sarravii.

[417] Ep. 1743. p. 746.

[418] Ep. 1745. p. 746.

[419] Ep. 1757. p. 749.

[420] Ep. 1753. p. 748.

[421] Tom. 2. p. 298.

[422] Ep. 532. p. 912.

[423] Ep. 542. p. 918.

XII. When the news of Grotius's recall was known at Paris, it was publicly said that he was going to Sweden to complain of his collegue. Sarrau writes thus to Salmasius, March 15, 1645[424]. "Grotius is preparing to set out for Sweden after Easter, to complain of the injury done to him by appointing for his successor a young man who was his rival. He must however obey; and return into a private station: but this Colossus, though thrown down, will be always great; this statue will still be very high without its base." Whilst Grotius waited for Baron Oxenstiern's answer, he wrote to Spiringius, the Swedish Agent in Holland, asking him, in case he should not receive a favourable letter from Osnabrug, to send him a ship of war to some French port, on board of which he might embark for Gottenburg; or, if that could not be done, to obtain a passport to go from Holland to Gottenburg; but on condition that no mention should be made of what passed in his youth; otherwise, he declared, he would take another rout. It is probable he obtained such a passport as he desired; for embarking at Dieppe[425], he went to Holland, where he was extremely well received. The Burgomasters of Amsterdam paid him all honour, and he was entertained at the public expence. He had also reason to be satisfied with the town of Rotterdam: not but there were at this time some mean souls in Holland, who wanted to make the States of Holland, then assembled, deny him a passage through the Province: but this shameful step served only to draw upon them the public indignation. The City of Amsterdam fitted out a vessel to carry him to Hamburg, where he was May 16, 1645, on which day he writes to his brother[426] that the wind had been against them; that he had been eight days by the way; and that Schrasvius, the Dutch Resident at Hamburg, came to visit him, and had a conversation with him full of friendship. He was resolved to set out next day for Lubeck, and hoped to find at that town, or at least at Wismar, a vessel that might carry him to Calmar, where he believed the High Chancellor to be with the French and Dutch Ambassadors. In this letter he asked his brother to give him only the title of Counsellor to her Swedish Majesty. He speaks much of the honourable reception which the Magistrates of Lubeck gave him[427]. "You cannot believe, he writes to his brother, how many friends I have found." He was in the end of March at Wismar[428], where Count Wrangel, Admiral of the Swedish fleet, gave him a splendid entertainment, and afterwards sent a man of war with him to Calmar[429]. The High Chancellor was not there, but at Suderacher, four leagues distant, negotiating a peace between Sweden and Denmark. Grotius wrote to him immediately, and received a speedy answer: on the 8th of June the High Chancellor sent a Gentleman with his coach to bring him to Suderacher, where he remained a fortnight[430] with the Chancellor and, the other Ambassadors, who treated him with great honours: returning to Calmar, he went by land to Stockholm. Queen Christina was then at Upsal: but, as soon as she heard of Grotius's arrival in her capital, she came back to see so great a man: a desire to be acquainted with such as distinguished themselves in the republic of letters is well known to have been one of her favourite passions. On the morrow of his arrival[431], she gave him a long audience, with which he appears, by a letter written to his brother July 15, 1645, to be well satisfied. "I am now at Stockholm, says he, and have seen the Queen. She makes me great promises. I do not know yet what she will do with me. The Senators seem well satisfied with all that I have done."

Christina gave him several audiences; made him dine with her; and he appeared to be abundantly pleased with the honours he received: but as he saw they were in no haste to do any thing for him, and only rewarded him with compliments, he grew uneasy, and asked permission to retire. He was confirmed in this resolution by finding the Court filled with persons who had conceived a jealousy against him; besides, the air of Sweden did not agree with him. The Queen several times refused to grant him his dismission, and signified to him that if he would continue in her service in quality of Counsellor of State, and bring his family into Sweden, he should have no reason to repent it: but he excused himself on account of his own health, which was much altered, and of his wife's health, who could not bear the cold air of that kingdom. He asked a passport, which they delayed granting. In the mean time he grew so uneasy at Stockholm, that he resolved to be gone without a passport. Leaving that city therefore, he went to a seaport two leagues distant, in order to embark for Lubeck. The Queen being informed of his departure, sent a Gentleman to inform him that she wanted to see him once more; otherwise she should think that he was displeased with her: he returned therefore to Stockholm, and explained himself to the Queen, who seemed satisfied with his reasons, and made him a present in money amounting to twelve or thirteen thousand Imperials[432], about ten thousand French Crowns, adding to it some silver plate, that was not finished sooner: which, he was assured, delayed the granting of his passport. It was afterwards issued, and the Queen gave him a vessel, on board which he embarked the 12th of August for Lubeck.

The Menagiana contains an anecdote relating to the last audience that Grotius had of Queen Christina, which we shall relate rather to throw contempt on this kind of works, than to give weight to it. When Grotius, it tells us, had his audience of leave of Queen Christina, she said some sharp things to him; on which he immediately left her, saying only, Madam, I remain your most humble servant. The Queen was afterwards vexed at it, and could not help observing, that he ought not to have gone away without taking leave of her. Marigny said to her, Madam, he did take leave of you. You do not know what you say, replied the Queen; if he had, I should have known it. Madam, added Marigny, what I say is true; I was there; when they say in France, on going away, I remain your most humble servant, it is taking leave of a person. The Queen sustained this; and sending for Grotius, made him a present of copper to the amount of forty thousand livres.


[424] Ep. Sarr. p. 116.

[425] Le Clerc, l. 12. t. 2. Latin Life of Grotius. Barleus, in Vicquefort's Letters, Ep. 79. p. 416. Vind. Grotii, p. 472.

[426] Ep. 760. p. 749.

[427] Ep. 761. p. 749.

[428] Ep. 1762. p. 749.

[429] Ep. 1793. p. 749.

[430] Ep. 1764, p. 750.

[431] Ep. 1765. p. 750.

[432] Vind. Grot. p. 478.

XIII. Grotius's departure from Stockholm gave rise to several very uncertain reports. Vondel, a famous Dutch Poet, and a friend of that learned man, pretends that he designed to go to Osnabrug[433], where the peace was negotiating; others assure[434], that he was desirous of retiring to Holland, where the Republican party was beginning to gain the ascendant. A modern author has advanced[435], that he resolved to go into Poland, in hopes that the King would send him Ambassador to the court of France: but it is more probable, that, disgusted with negotiations and business, he only sought a place of retreat, where he might complete his imaginary project of forming a coalition of Christians, and prepare for his latter end.

The vessel was scarce sailed for Lubeck, when she was overtaken by a violent storm, which obliged her to put in, on the 17th of August, fourteen miles from Dantzick. Grotius set out in an open waggon for Lubeck, and arrived at Rostock[436] on the 26th of August very ill. Nobody knew him: his great weakness determined him to call a physician: his name was Stochman, who, on feeling Grotius's pulse, said his indisposition proceeded from weakness and fatigue; and that with rest and some restoratives he might recover: but next day he changed his tone; on seeing his weakness increase, with a cold sweat, and other symptoms of nature being spent, he judged that his end was near. Grotius then asked for a clergyman. John Quistorpius was brought, who, in a letter to Calovius, gives us the particulars of Grotius's last moments. We cannot do better than copy it.

"You are desirous of hearing from me how that Phoenix of Literature, Hugo Grotius, behaved in his last moments, and I am going to tell you. He embarked at Stockholm for Lubeck; and after having been tossed for three days by a violent tempest, he was shipwrecked and got to shore on the coast of Pomerania, from whence he came to our town of Rostock, distant above sixty miles, in an open waggon, through wind and rain. He lodged with Balleman; and sent for M. Stochman, the physician, who observing that he was extremely weakened by years, by what he suffered at sea, and the inconveniences attending the journey, judged that he could not live long. The second day after Grotius's arrival in this town, that is, on the 18th of August, O.S. he sent for me about nine at night. I went, and found him almost at the point of death. I said there was nothing I desired more than to have seen him in health, that I might have the pleasure of his conversation. He answered, God had ordered it otherwise. I desired him to prepare himself for a happier life, to acknowledge that he was a sinner, and to repent of his faults: and happening to mention the publican, who acknowledged that he was a sinner, and asked God's mercy, he answered: I am that publican. I went on, and told him, that he must have recourse to Jesus Christ, without whom there is no salvation. He replied, I place all my hope in Jesus Christ. I began to repeat aloud in German the prayer which begins Herr Jesu[437]; he followed me, in a very low voice, with his hands clasped. When I had done, I asked him, if he understood me. He answered, I understand you very well. I continued to repeat to him those passages of the word of God which are commonly offered to the remembrance of dying persons, and asking him if he understood me, he answered, I heard your voice, but did not understand what you said. These were his last words: soon after he expired, just at midnight. His body was delivered to the Physicians; who took out his bowels. I easily obtained leave to bury them in our principal Church, which is dedicated to the Virgin."

Thus died this celebrated man, on the 28th of August at night, or rather in the morning of the 29th, 1645. A number of falshoods were published on occasion of his death. Du Maurier relates[438], that a Roman Catholic Priest, and Ministers of different persuasions, hearing that Grotius was dying, came to him to dispose him to die in their communion: that he made them no answer, but, I don't understand you; and on their silence said to them, Exhort me to die like a Christian.

Quistorpius's relation, ill understood, has given rise to several groundless stories. M. Arnaud[439] assures us that he had the particulars of Grotius's death from one of his Secretaries, who told him, that when he was at Rostock a Lutheran Minister came to see him in his illness, and speaking to him of religion, Grotius answered, I don't understand you; willing to let him know that his conversation was not agreeable. M. Jurieu[440] maintains, that he died without making any profession of religion, and that he answered those who exhorted him to prepare for death in these words, I don't understand you: turning his back to them.

If we may believe the Menagiana, the Minister who came to wait upon him at his death, said to him what was very poor; and Grotius, to gain time, and let him know that he could well dispense with his exhortations, said to him, I am Grotius. To which the Minister answered, What! are you the great Grotius? M. Le Clerc[441] mentions his having seen in an English book that Grotius said when dying, "By undertaking many things I have accomplished nothing."

Not even so much as the cause of his death has escaped without misrepresentations. M. Le Clerc informs us, that some of his enemies spread a report, that he was killed by lightning: and not long ago, he adds, a learned man of my acquaintance asked me by letter if it was true.

Patin[442] writes, that it was suspected he had been poisoned. "We hear, says he, that Grotius is dead at Rostock, on his return from Sweden, of a fever, not without suspicion of being poisoned by the Lutherans, on account of what he says about Antichrist in favour of the Pope: but I do not think that poisoning is used in that country."

They carried their wickedness to such a height as to accuse Queen Christina of shortening that great man's days. The new Memoirs of the Abbe d'Artigny[443] acquaint us, that Antony Argoud, Dean of the Cathedral of Vienne, haranguing Queen Christina the 13th of August, 1656, pleased her so much, that she gave him broad hints that she would do great things for him if he would attend her in quality of first Chaplain. The Queen had in her retinue Lesseins, one of the Gentlemen of the King's Bedchamber, who was ordered to accompany that Princess from Marseilles to Lions. Argoud telling him of the Queen's proposals, he diverted him from accepting them by painting out Christina as an inconstant and capricious Princess. "He forgot nothing to set him against her, even to telling him that Grotius would have been still alive, if he had had nothing to fear from the jealousy of the Swedes; but that the ill treatment of the Queen brought that great man to his grave." It is very possible that not having been treated by the Queen so well as he expected, it chagrined him much: but whatever is not conformable to Quistorpius's letter, against which nothing solid can be advanced, ought to be rejected as apocryphal. His corpse was carried to Delft, and deposited in the tomb of his ancestors. He wrote this modest Epitaph for himself[444]:

Grotius hic Hugo est, Batavum captivus et exul, Legatus regni, Suecia magna, tui.

Grotius had the precaution to make his will at Paris on the 27th of March, 1645, a little before his departure. He had a very agreeable person, a good complexion, an aquiline nose, sparkling eyes, a serene and smiling countenance. He was not tall, but very strong, and well built.


[433] Vind. Grot. p. 478.

[434] Menagiana.

[435] Hist. du Socinianisme, c. 42. p. 831.

[436] Observat. Hallen. 15. t. 7. p. 341.

[437] It is a prayer addressed to Jesus Christ, and suited to the condition of a dying person who builds his hope on the Mediator. M. Le Clerc has recited it at large in the Sentimens de quelques Theologiens de Hollande, 17 Lettre, p. 397.

[438] Memoirs, p. 431.

[439] Sentimens des Theologiens de Hollande, p. 395.

[440] Esprit de M. Arnaud, t. 2. p. 308.

[441] Sentimens des Theologiens de Hollande, Lettre 17. p. 402.

[442] T. 1. Lettre 7.

[443] T. 1. p. 340.

[444] Ep. 536. p. 915.


However much Grotius was employed in the business of his embassy, he still found time for study, which was one of the greatest pleasures of his life. He has even been accused of applying too much to literature for an Ambassador[445]; but his letters testify that he did not go to study till he had finished what his duty to the crown of Sweden required of him, and spent in it the time only which other Ministers give to their pleasures, to conversations often useless, and visits sometimes unnecessary.

Eight days after making his entry into Paris in quality of Ambassador, he wrote to Salmasius, March 9, 1635[446], informing him of the happy change in his affairs. He acquaints him, that when he shall be a little used to business, he hopes to have leisure enough to continue the cultivation of learning. "How desirous soever I may be of serving the public in this respect, he says, I know not where I ought to begin. My Commentaries on the Evangelists would be apt to expose me to hatred in the present age, when every one maintains his opinions with obstinacy. The History of the Low-Countries, tho' written with great simplicity, will find malevolent readers. Shall I return again to trifles, such as are not unworthy men of learning, and turn into Latin the Epigrams collected by Planudas? One thing hinders me: I know you have made several corrections in the Manuscripts, and I am unwilling to translate from a faulty copy. Yet I cannot expect that you should interrupt your studies, to send me the corrections you have made."

"My greatest relief from the languors of the Court, he writes to Schmalz[447], is the conversation of men of learning, to whom I chearfully give all the time that I can spare from business."


[445] Du Maurier, p. 418. & 423. Wiquefort Ambas. l. 1. p. 95.

[446] Ep. 368. p. 134.

[447] Ep. 373. p. 136.

II. Neither his serious studies, nor his public occupations, ever made him relinquish the Muses: Amidst his embarrassments and anxiety in the beginning of his embassy, he put his tragedy of Joseph to the press[448], which had all the success that could be hoped for; and wrote several Latin Epigrams. June 26, 1637[449], he sent some to his brother that were just finished; observing to him that he would possibly one day add to them a Greek translation in verse of the Latin verses in Suetonius; and a Latin translation of Euripides's Iphigenia in Tauris.

He wrote to Gronovius, February 17, 1638[450], that he unbended himself at times, after his weightier business, in the company of the Muses. "However much I am busied, he writes to Freinshemius[451], I still preserve my affection for the Muses, and look upon them as the most agreeable of all Amusements."


[448] Ep. 378. p. 138 & 339, p. 851.

[449] Ep. 402 p. 869.

[450] Ep. 915. p. 402.

[451] Ep. 909. p. 435.

III. He made Tacitus his particular study, and, writes to Vossius, July 6, 1635[452], to inform himself, whether a new edition of that celebrated Historian, was any where printing, because he had a mind to communicate his notes to the Editors[453]. "They are neither," says he, "political dissertations, nor a commentary; but corrections which may be useful. I call them, to speak modestly, conjectures[454], tho' I am persuaded most of them will appear to be well grounded." However, as they filled but a few sheets[455], he did not think proper to print them, at Paris; but sent them, in 1640, to his brother, who communicating them to the Elzevirs, they were published the same year in their edition of Tacitus[456], and have been several times reprinted.


[452] Ep. 430. p. 159.

[453] Ep. 573. p. 225.

[454] Ep. 402. p. 869.

[455] Ep. 444. p. 897.

[456] Fabricius, Biblioth.

IV. The learned Gronovius, intending to publish an edition of Statius, requested Grotius to send him his remarks on that Poet: this he complied with, in a letter of the 28th of October, 1636[457], containing the several corrections he had made in the margin of this author, whom he had often read with pleasure and application. The edition of Statius was published: and Gronovius, without receiving Grotius's letter[458], had made most of the remarks that were sent to him: Grotius, however, suspected[459] Gronovius had perhaps been persuaded to pretend that he did not receive his letter, that he might be under no obligation of commending a man, whose name was odious to those in power.


[457] Ep. 673. p. 274.

[458] Ep. 808. p. 357.

[459] Ep. 406. p. 871.

V. Grotius also wrote notes on Lucan, which he offered to any bookseller who would make use of them. He wrote to his brother[460], to enquire when any new edition of that Poet should be printed, that he might contribute to make it better by communicating his remarks. They are to be found in some of the editions printed in Holland, and are very highly commended by Vossius[461], who says the learned world is much obliged to their author.

A letter from Grotius to his brother[462] informs us, that the latter part of the notes of Lucan were by William Grotius.


[460] Ep. 859. p. 377. & 402. p. 869.

[461] Praes. Vir. Epist. p. 377.

[462] Ep. 128. p. 792.

VI. A work, which he had much at heart, was the collection of Greek Epigrams, known by the name of Anthologia: he was long about it, and thought to publish it soon after his return to Paris in quality of Ambassador. As he knew that Salmasius had made this collection his particular study, he requests him, June 11, 1635[463], to communicate to him the corrections he had made in the Greek text, either by the assistance of manuscripts, or from his own conjectures. He gives a long account of his design to Gerard Vossius, in a letter of the 20th of December, 1635. "When I was here a private man, says he, in order to be useful to the lovers of learning, after translating Stobaeus and the Maxims of the Comic and Tragic Poets, I also translated the Collection of Greek Epigrams by Planudas; adding several Epigrams which are not in Henry Stephens's edition: on coming here Ambassador, I thought I should do well to finish what I had begun; and knowing that the great Salmasius had collated these Epigrams with ancient manuscripts, I prevailed on him to communicate to me his remarks; and I had the satisfaction to find my conjectures confirmed by the authority of manuscripts. The whole is now ready to be printed in the same form as Stobaeus and the Extracts from the Greek Tragedies and Comedies. When I think of a Bookseller, Blaeu first occurs to me: he loves me and all my friends: but one thing vexes me; if I give him my manuscript, I shall not know when it will be published: besides, I doubt whether he has any one that can correct the Greek proofs, and make the Indexes which are necessary for rendering the book useful to youth. If I could be assured of this, I would readily give him the preference. I shall afterwards think of publishing more considerable works." New reflections on Blaeu's dilatoriness set him against him, especially as he was not satisfied with his Greek types[464]: he therefore wrote to his brother, to consult with Vossius what he ought to do. "I would not, he adds, have recourse to the Elzevirs, not so much on account of this book, as of some others which I am preparing for the press, and which will not be to their taste." It is unlucky for the republic of letters, that Grotius was obstinately bent on printing his Anthologia in Holland; Morelle would gladly have printed it at Paris[465]; Cramoisi would not have refused it. Grotius writes to his brother, June 26th, 1637, "I am deliberating, whether to make use of Cramoisi, the eminent Bookseller; but I have some reason to question the abilities of his corrector." He once thought to send it to England[466]; but he was diverted from this by reflecting, that Franciscus Junius, who resided in that country, printed his works out of the kingdom. The answers he received concerning the printing of the Anthologia not satisfying him, he wrote to his brother, April 20, 1639[467], "If my Anthologia cannot be printed, or not printed correctly, I would have it sent back to me; Cramoisi, the richest Bookseller in this country, will undertake it." He was kept in hopes of its appearing in Holland; but the printing of it was put off from time to time: he wrote to several of his friends about it; however no progress was made. Isaac Vossius, son of the famous Gerard, who inherited his father's sentiments for Grotius, making an offer of his service for his literary commissions, Grotius thanked him most affectionately, in a letter of the 12th of November, 1644[468], in which he says a great deal about his Anthologia. "I cannot sufficiently thank you for the kind offer of your good services in relation to the printing of my works. No body can be of more use to me than you: for who has more friendship for me, or better understands those matters? I would have the Anthologia printed directly; and have desired my brother to shew you my Prolegomena, and inform you in what manner I would have the Indexes made. I shall repeat it, for fear that I have not sufficiently explained myself in what I wrote to my brother. I would first have an Index of the Poets, expressing exactly from what places the Epigrams are taken. There must also be another Index of the persons who are the subject of the Epigrams, and of those to whom they are addressed: there should be a third, which may be called Chorographical, containing the mountains, rivers, towns, baths, bridges, and other public works mentioned in the Epigrams. There must be an Historical one for the great actions which have happened in war or peace. To the two last Indexes I would have the names of the authors added, who have mentioned such of those actions as are least known; as Strabo, Pausanias, Procopius, and others. After these Indexes there must be another, comprehending the natural history, morality, and other particulars omitted in the preceding ones. This work may be useful; but I would not, however, charge any one with it, who could employ his time better. If, without losing too much time, you could do it yourself, it would give me the highest satisfaction, not only on my own account, but on the reader's, to whom these Indexes would render the edition much more useful: for it is proper to observe, that these Epigrams contain what is most important in history, from the time of Plato to that of Justinian, and even later."

This was the subject of the Preface, or Prolegomena, that was to be prefixed to the work, and which, with his usual modesty, he says will not be wholly useless[469].

The Anthologia appears to have been put to press in Jan. 1645, under the inspection of Isaac Vossius: for, on the 21st of that month, Grotius writes thus to him. "I have seen a proof of the Anthologia, and like the type very well. I would absolutely have it printed in quarto, like Stobaeus, and the Extracts from the Tragic and Comic Poets: but if it will make too large a volume, it may be divided into two, and the Greek and Latin printed to face one another."

Grotius left France a little after the date of this letter; and his death, which soon followed, was no doubt the greatest obstacle to the publication of the Anthologia, the printing of which Blaeu discontinued. Grotius's copy falling into Le Clerc's hands, he gave hopes that he would publish it with considerable additions. He has a great deal about it in his Bibliotheque Choisie[470]. "Those who shall read Grotius's version, says he, will equally admire the happy genius, and the uncommon patience of that excellent man, who translated the whole book in the same number of verses as in the original, which he very often equals, and sometimes even surpasses. There will be an excellent Preface by Grotius, treating of the Anthologia and his version of it."

Unhappily M. le Clerc did not fulfil the engagement he entered into with the public. Father Berthier, a famous Jesuit, who, to solid piety joins extensive learning, has lately given us, in the Memoirs de Trevoux, a very curious article relating to Grotius's Anthologia. It is entitled, An Account of a Manuscript version of the Greek Anthologia by Grotius. He tells us, that the original, in Grotius's own hand, is in the library of the Jesuits College at Paris, where it was deposited in the year 1665 by Edmund le Mercier, Grotius's Secretary. This work, the learned Jesuit observes, is valuable on three accounts. First, because the Latin verses are excellent, and of the same measure with the Greek; so that if the text be Elegiac verses, or pure Hexameters, or Iambics of six feet, or Anacreontics, the version is always of the same species of poetry. Secondly, he has every where confined himself to the number of verses in the original, being never more laconic nor more prolix; which discovers a very ready genius, and a singular patience. Thirdly, he corrects the text from time to time by short notes placed in the margin.

Father Berthier gives afterwards Grotius's translation of several Epigrams; which makes it earnestly to be wished, that the learned Jesuit would publish the whole work: but the present prevailing taste for trifles gives us ground to apprehend, that the booksellers of France dare not undertake this work, which deserves so well to be transmitted to posterity.

Besides the Epigrams that are to be found in all the editions, Grotius's manuscript contains, first, those which were collected by Henry Stephens, and are placed at the end of his edition of the Anthologia. 2dly, A very large number of inscriptions from Gruter. 3dly, A collection made by Grotius himself from manuscripts.

A note at the beginning of this valuable manuscript informs us, that the version of the seven books of the Anthologia was begun by Grotius in September, 1630, and finished before next September: which shews the wonderful ease with which this great author wrote.


[463] Ep. 418. p. 153.

[464] Ep. 368. p. 859.

[465] Ep. 612. p. 244, 692. p. 285. & 402. p. 869.

[466] Ep. 964. p. 432.

[467] Ep. 505. p. 885.

[468] Ep. 1698. p. 733.

[469] Ep. 486. p. 896. & 369. p. 860.

[470] Fabric. Bibl. Gr. l. 3. c. 28. p. 707. tom. 2

VII. He was so sensible of his obligations to Sweden, that, as a public testimony of his gratitude, he undertook to throw light on the History of the Goths, in hopes of doing honour to the Swedes, who regarded them as their ancestors. He wrote to Rome to[471] get what was wanting in Heschelius's Greek edition of Procopius communicated to him, and obtained it by the recommendation of Messieurs du Puis; as we learn from a letter to the celebrated Nicholas Peyresc, dated April 8, 1636, in which he adds, "I have translated the History of the Goths and Vandals by Procopius, in honour of a nation who adopted me after being thrice sold by my Country."

He communicated this project to Schmalz, July 24, 1636[472], "The time, says he, which I am not obliged to spend in public business, I devote to an enquiry into the antiquities of Sweden. Be so kind to send me, for this work, a Swedish Dictionary, a New Testament in Swedish, and the ancient inscriptions in that language, which are to be met with on tombs, or in other places. I have seen a Latin translation of the Swedish laws, which I should be glad to see again if possible. If you can procure me all these, I shall think myself highly obliged by you; and I hope you will not find me ungrateful."

He explains his project more at large in a long letter to Oxenstiern, Aug. 28, 1636[473]. "Your Sublimity, he writes to him, shews me so much favour, and you interest yourself so much in what concerns me, that I think it my duty to give you an account, not only of my negotiations, but of my leisure hours. As I intend to devote the time that is not employed in the affairs with which I am charged, to the honour of a kingdom which has loaded me with honours, I had begun to read all that has been written on the great Gustavus in Latin, Italian, German, and French: but soon perceiving that these writers did not know the intentions of the ministry, were unacquainted with the places of which they speak, and were ignorant of the art of war, I concluded that it was impossible, with such materials, to complete a work that might deserve the approbation of posterity. This has made me turn again to antiquities. Of all the Ancients Procopius has best handled the History of the Goths and Vandals: he was an able man, was Secretary to Belisarius, had been on the spot, and speaks not only of what happened in his own time, but also of the facts which happened before his time. The Latin version is very faulty, imperfect, and inelegant: I have made a new translation from the Greek Edition of Heschelius; with the assistance of two manuscripts in the King's library, which enabled me to make several corrections in the text; others I made by conjecture. I intend to extract all that has relation to this subject from the Secret History of Procopius, printed by Alemannus at Rome, and from Agathias. Being informed, that the manuscript of the History of the Goths and Vandals, in the Vatican library, was more complete than what Heschelius followed, I have asked my friends at Rome to fill up the gaps in the printed copies: which I hope they will do. That nothing may be omitted, which has a relation to the antiquities of Scandinavia, I intend to add what is contained in Strabo, Pliny, Tacitus, Ptolemaeus, and those who have written since, as Helmoldus, Eginhart, Adam of Bremen, and others. I shall farther add the Gothics of Jornandes, the Epistle of Sidonius Apollinaris on the manners of Theodoric King of the Wisigoths; the Panegyric of Ennodius of Pavia in honour of Theodoric King of the Ostrogoths and Italy; the Laws of the Ostrogoths, Westrogoths, and Lombards, with the Book of Paulus Diaconus, who was himself a Lombard, and makes his nation come from Scandinavia. We shall add, at the end, the appellative names contained in the laws, with their original and explication. I would beg of your Sublimity, that being now returned to Sweden, you will give orders for communicating to me the old inscriptions, the ancient laws, and, in fine, whatever is not printed and may contribute to throw light on the antiquities of Sweden; that the work which I am about may be the more perfect. I earnestly intreat your Sublimity to be assured, that I will do all that depends on me, not only to procure the advantage of Sweden, but also to contribute to her glory."

Schmalz going to Rome about this time with Reigersberg, son to Grotius's wife's brother[474], Grotius took that opportunity of renewing his acquaintance with Holstenius, his ancient friend, who resided at Rome; and to ask of him what was wanting in the printed editions of Procopius. On receiving these valuable additions[475], he communicates the good news to the High Chancellor, whom he entertains with a further account of his work, in a letter dated June 25th, 1637[476]. "Your Sublimity, he says, will pardon me, if, having little public business on my hands, I give you an account how I employ my time. I send you a pretty long Preface, in which I inscribe the new translation of Procopius, which differs greatly from the old one, to your Sublimity, who have deserved so well of Sweden, and to whom I am under so great obligations. The work itself will include the authors who have written of the antiquities of the Goths, Vandals, Wisigoths, and Lombards. Two reasons induced me to make the Preface so long: the first, that I was obliged to answer Cluverius, who, either from envy, or hired by the Danes, first sought to darken our glory; but I have confuted him by such clear evidence, that I think no person of sense will now attempt to repeat the same falsities. The other was, that, the testimonies in favour of a nation being liable to suspicion when built only on the assertions of the natives, I have collected the authorities of foreigners, who have spoken honourably of the Swedes and of the nations sprung from them."

Thus in appears that his design was to dedicate this work to the High Chancellor[477], who heard with infinite pleasure of this new occupation of Grotius. He liked the Preface much; spoke of it with the highest esteem[478], and wrote to Grotius[479], thanking him in his own name and in the name of the whole nation, and pressing him to publish the work.

However he was in no hurry[480], because he wanted to exhaust the subject, and to make all proper enquiries for enabling him to treat it thoroughly. He imagined he should find in Gallia Narbonensis, and the neighbouring places, several things that might contribute to embellish his work; and that the French, from envy to the Swedes, hindered his friends from communicating them.

This work was finished before Grotius died; but it was not printed till after his death: and whether it was that the intended Dedication to the High Chancellor was never written, or was suppressed, it is not now to be found. The title of the work is: Historia Gothorum, Vandalorum, & Longobardorum, ab Hugone Grotio partim versa, partim in ordinem digesta: praemissa sunt ejusdem Prolegomena; ubi Regum Gothorum ordo e Chronologia, cum elogiis; accedunt nomina appellativa & verba Gothica, Vandalica, Longobardica, cum explicatione. Auctorum omnium ordinem tabula centenorum indicat. Amstelodami, apud Ludovicum Elzevirium, 1655.

At the head of this work is a very learned Preface, in which the author acquaints us, that he revised the Gothics and Vandalics of Procopius by the Greek manuscripts; that he new-translated them because there were many things omitted in the old translations, which were otherwise badly done; and that, by the assistance of the Vatican manuscripts, he filled up large gaps. There follows a geographical description of the ancient country of the Goths, a character of the people, much in their favour; a catalogue of their Kings; a chronological table of the time when they lived; a list of the Lombard Kings, and another of the Kings of the Vandals; the testimonies of the Ancients in favour of the people of Sweden and the nations which derive their origin from the Swedes.

After the translation of all that Procopius has concerning the Goths and Vandals there follows an Index, with this title: Nomina appellativa & verba Gothica, Vandalica, & Longobardica, quae in hoc volumine reperiuntur. It appears from the author's researches, that almost all the appellative names of the Lombards had, like those of the Greeks, some signification. This collection concludes with the following pieces: Jornandes De Getarum sive Gothorum origine & rebus gestis; the Chronicle of St. Isidorus, and Paulus Wanefridus De Gestis Longobardorum. The Prolegomena acquaint us, that Grotius intended to expound the ancient laws of the Goths and Vandals: but unhappily death prevented his executing this design, for which no one was better qualified.


[471] Ep. 572. p. 225.

[472] Ep. 622. p. 250.

[473] Ep. 641. p. 259.

[474] Ep, 645. p. 263.

[475] Ep. 676. p. 275.

[476] Ep. 780. p. 331.

[477] Ep. 825. p. 360.

[478] Ep. 408, p. 871.

[479] Ep. 410, p. 872.

[480] Ep. 1667, p. 727.

VIII. The nomination of Grotius, when very young, to be Historiographer of the States, led him to enquire particularly into the troubles of the Low Countries and their consequences with regard to the Seven Provinces. He was employed about this in the year 1614, as appears by a letter, written on the 8th of February, to the President de Thou. He informs him[481], that love to his Country had engaged him in a work very like his, but as much inferior as Holland is to France. "I own, indeed, the work is above my abilities, but I shall not publish it till years and judgment enable me to mend it." Communicating this work to Heinsius, with whom he was then very intimate, that learned youth wanted words to express his admiration. Balzac informs us of these particulars in a letter to Chapelin, dated Sept. 20, 1640, in which he mentions a letter from Heinsius concerning this History when Grotius was very young.

An author, more fond of his works than Grotius, would have made haste to publish this, which appears to have been finished in 1636; for that year he wrote to Martinus Opitius[482], "My Belgic annals are transcribing." He writes to his brother the year following[483], "My Annals and my History of the Low Countries are transcribed: but I think I must still keep them a while." He consulted several of his friends on this subject, and among others Gerard Vossius.

The sudden deaths of many of his acquaintance leading him to reflect on the uncertainty of life, he wrote to his brother, May 21, 1639[484], "I would have my works printed before my death, that I may be useful to those that shall come after me; and would therefore have my Annals correctly printed as soon as possible; but I would not have them printed by those, who, from a party spirit, would tell what was in them before they were published, and thereby prevent perhaps their ever appearing. I therefore beg of you to find out some honest man to whom I may intrust my copy."

In the mean time he was still revising them; and near two years after he wrote to his brother, March 23, 1641[485], "Till I put the last hand to my History, I would not have any one see it: you must therefore find a handsome excuse to those who ask you for it. Read it, however, yourself, and send me your remarks." Grotius had not the satisfaction to see his History printed: it was not published till twelve years after his death, by his two sons Cornelius and Peter, who dedicated it, in 1657, to the States of Holland and West-Friesland.

This work is divided into two parts, Annals and History, in imitation of Tacitus. The Annals begin with the year 1566, and contain five books: there are eighteen of the History, which begins with the year 1588, that is, when Prince Maurice had the greatest influence in the affairs of the United Provinces, and concludes with the year 1609, when the twelve years truce was made. Had his love to truth and honesty been less, he had a fine opportunity of revenging himself on Prince Maurice. But he every where does him justice[486], and even speaks of him as if he had been always satisfied with his conduct to him.

M. Baillet thinks very advantageously and at the same time very justly of this work. "That great man (says he, speaking of Grotius[487]) has discovered in this work all the capacity, accuracy, judgment, solidity, industry, perspicuity, honesty, and integrity, of a true historian. His impartiality would almost make him pass for a foreigner, who had no interest in what he relates: he appears a Dutchman, only by his thorough knowledge of the causes, motives, ends, and other circumstances of the subject he has undertaken to handle."

The only thing for which he can be censured, is the stiffness of the style, by affecting to make it resemble that of Tacitus, which renders it obscure and unnatural. We are assured, that the eminent Advocate-general, Jerom Bignon, took notice of this fault to Grotius, with whom he was very intimate; and that learned man, yielding to his friend's advice, promised to do his work over again, and had even begun it, but could not finish it; and his sons published it as it was at first.

Peter Grotius tells us this History was his father's favourite work. Grotius intended to dedicate it to the Queen of Sweden. Dec. 5, 1637, he writes to the High Chancellor[488], "I have written a great part of the History of the Low Countries: what I have done till the truce in 1609 is ready to appear with some advantage. I purpose to dedicate it to our Queen, unless your Sublimity determine otherwise. Of all the histories of our time, it appears to me the most useful. It presents us with the speedy rise of a republic, whose forces in its weak beginning were scarce able to defend its small frontier; and which afterwards carried its arms to the extremity of the globe: we no where find the art of besieging or defending towns brought to such a height; in fine, we see her Mistress of the Sea after her marine had been long neglected."

It should not be forgot, that the celebrated[489] Peyresc was of great use to Grotius in compiling this work: he communicated to him several important papers, and procured him the memoirs collected by Antonius Querengius, who purposed to write the History of the famous Alexander Farnese, Duke of Parma. Grotius's History was translated into French by M. L'Heritier, father of Mademoiselle L'Heritier, famous for her writings: but it deserves a new translator to turn it into better French.


[481] Ep. 24. p. 8.

[482] Ep. 595. p. 236.

[483] Ep. 402. p. 869.

[484] Ep. 454. p. 883.

[485] Ep. 539. p. 916.

[486] Parhasiana, t. 1. p. 161.

[487] Preface de l'Hist. de Hollande.

[488] Ep. 873. p. 384.

[489] Vie par Gassendi, l. 3. p. 182.

IX. It was during his embassy that Grotius revised and enlarged his book Of the Truth of the Christian religion. He had written a treatise on this subject in Dutch whilst a prisoner; and turning it afterwards into Latin, it had prodigious success. In the year 1637 it had been translated into all languages[490], French, German, English, and even Greek. The universal approbation this book met with, did not hinder Grotius's enemies from doing all they could to depreciate it. They said it contained the venom of Socinianism. Voetius, among others, distinguished himself by his rage against it. "It is surprising, says Grotius in a letter to his brother, October 22, 1637, that Voetius should think he sees what the Doctors of the Sorbonne, who examined the book, before it was printed, could not find in it. Doth Cardinal Barbarinus, who recommended this work[491], and constantly carries it with him, favour Socinianism? The Bishops of England have caused it to be translated into their language; the Ministers of Charenton have approved of it; a Lutheran has translated it; will he say these are all favourers of Socinianism?"

After this letter was written, Grotius learnt[492] that his book had been translated into Swedish. He justifies himself again in a long letter written to Reigersberg December 19, 1637[493], "I have often doubted which was best, to answer the censures of fools and knaves, or resting in a good conscience to despise them. I have constantly done the last; but your example makes me at present prefer the first: you have defended me with so much friendship and steadiness, that if I should sit still, I might justly be accused of indolence. My book of the Christian Religion is read with applause by pious and learned men, not only in the languages in which I composed it, but also in Swedish, French, German, and English. Those who think it their interest that I should not pass for a good Christian, seek every pretext to hurt me: they censure me for making use of Castellio's version; but it is very certain that I had not seen it when I wrote my book. I translated myself from the Hebrew and Greek all the passages of Scripture I employed. They say I have interpreted something in the fifth Chapter of St. Mathew in the same manner as Socinus. These simple people know not that my explanation is the same with what almost all the Greeks and Latins of greatest abilities and piety have adopted. How many things are there in the same Chapter of St. Matthew, which I have explained quite different from Socinus?"

The great argument of those who wanted to hinder the success of his[494] book was, that the author sufficiently shewed his inclination to Socinianism by his silence concerning the Trinity. He opens his mind about this matter to his brother, September 25, 1638, "The book of the truth of the Christian Religion will live and flourish in spite of the envy of my enemies. It was not proper for me to speak directly of the Trinity; and such as have heretofore brought their arguments to prove it from natural reason or the authority of Plato, have done more hurt than service to Christianity." The men who since Grotius's time have acquired the greatest reputation in France by writing for the truth of the Christian Religion, such as Abbadie and Houteville, have followed his example, and avoided the discussion of questions which suppose the Divinity of the Scriptures.

Grotius had the satisfaction to find the Roman Catholics very well pleased with this treatise: he writes to his brother[495], December 4, 1638, "My book of the Truth of the Christian Religion, which the Voetians look upon as Socinian, is so far from being Socinian here, that Roman-Catholic Monks are translating it into Persian, in order to make use of it in converting the Mahometans. I have not attempted a direct proof of the Trinity (he writes to Gerard Vossius[496]) for I always remembered what I heard Junius your father-in-law say, who was a great man, that Du Plessis, and those who, like him, in their disputes with Atheists, Pagans, Jews, and Mahometans, endeavoured to establish the Trinity by arguments drawn from the light of nature, and by passages from Plato often misapplied, acted very imprudently, because they ought first to have convinced them of the truth of the Scriptures, which alone contain the doctrines which God has been pleased to reveal."

A new edition of the book on the truth of the Christian Religion, with considerable additions, was published in 1639, which Grotius dedicated to his illustrious friend Jerom Bignon; and this great Magistrate, in returning him his thanks[497], gives the most favourable testimony to the work. He says,[498] that tho' the subject had already been well handled by several learned men, none of them had acquitted himself so well, nor discovered so great knowledge of the learned languages, and so much erudition, as Grotius. He admires the order and conciseness of the work, and congratulates himself on living in Grotius's time, and sharing in the friendship of so great a man. Some time after the publication of this work, an Englishman[499] who had lived long in Turky, came to see Grotius, and acquaint him that he had translated it into the Turkish language, thinking no book more proper for instructing Christians who live in Turky, and converting the Mahometans. He promised to use his endeavours to get it printed in the Turkish language in England.

Besides the translations already mentioned, and which came to Grotius's knowledge, there were others in Greek, in Chinese, in Flemish, in Danish, in the language of Malacca, and five French translations. An Arabic translation of it by the learned Pococke was printed at London in 1660. We are assured[500] that there have been three translations of it into Arabic, which gave occasion to Spon and Vehler to say that Grotius copied an Arabic treatise, taking the very version of his book for an ancient work: in fine, it had such a great run, that the history of it makes the subject of a treatise[501].

This work of Grotius has been equally esteemed by dispassionate Protestants and Roman Catholics. "Few pieces, says[502] Colomiers, have succeeded better than the treatise On the Truth of the Christian Religion. It is an excellent book, and ought to be the Vade mecum of every Christian. I have read it several times, and always with new pleasure."

"Grotius's book, says the Abbe Houteville[503], is the first in which we find these great characteristics, just reasoning, accuracy, and strength; he is extremely concise, but even this brevity will please us when we find it comprehends so many things without confounding them, or lessening their evidence or force: it is no wonder the book should be translated into so many languages."


[490] Ep. 411. p. 872.

[491] Ep. 181. p. 808. Ep. Coleri 37.

[492] Ep. 412. p. 873.

[493] Ep. 880. p. 387.

[494] Ep. 439. p. 880.

[495] Ep. 444. p. 881.

[496] Ep. 1096.

[497] Ep. 1232. p. 557.

[498] Ep. praes. vir. 451. p. 728.

[499] Ep. 534. p. 914.

[500] Fabric. Delect. Argum. c. 30. p. 551.

[501] Joannis Christophori Lockeri Dissertatio Epistolica, Historiam libelli Grotiani De Veritate Religionis Christianae complectens, 1725, in quarto; see also the Journal des Scavans de Pan. 1724.

[502] Colomiers, p. 586.

[503] Preface.

X. In the midst of his greatest occupations and most serious studies, Grotius still found time to study Civil Law. Blaeu printed, in 1643, his Remarks on Justinian's Laws. They are chiefly philological notes, drawn from the Poets and Philosophers[504], serving to illustrate some passages of the Corpus Juris[505]. "This book, the author modestly tells us, is not of much use to those who frequent the bar: but it is entertaining: and though I set no great value on it, I think it is better to publish it, than suffer it to be lost. It will possibly give pleasure to men of learning[506], and some such in this place are not dissatisfied with it, because they love to see Grammar and History united with Law[507]."

What we cannot sufficiently admire in a man of so great learning, and so much business as Grotius, is, that he should make the Holy Scriptures his favourite study in every period of his life. They were his consolation in prison; he always devoted a part of the day to them: and they were his principal study during a great part of his embassy. His Commentary on the Evangelists was finished in 1637; but before he printed it[508], he wanted to see the Aristarchus Sacer which Heinsius was going to put to press. This was a Commentary on the New Testament, which Grotius imagined to be much in the manner of his, and which piqued his curiosity the more as Heinsius was Grotius's rival in literature, and his secret enemy. Heinsius's credit with the Elzevirs, who were his booksellers[509], was one of the reasons which hindered Grotius from employing them. "We must not think of the Elzevirs, he writes in confidence to Vossius[510], on account of that man who has so much credit with them, and bears us ill-will. I should be glad to know whereabouts are his notes on the sacred books, and when they will be published, for I postpone till then the revisal of mine." There was at that time in Holland a Jew very famous for his learning, Manassah Ben-Israel. Grotius consulted him sometimes, and always with profit. In a letter to him without date he tells him, "The answer you have given to my difficulties about some places of the law of Moses and the historical books of Scripture, has yielded me great pleasure; and I do not think any one would have given an answer more solid. I have read many Interpreters; but I see that you know them better than I, and that you have read many more, and are master of them. I return you therefore my sincere thanks; and encouraged by this favour shall take the liberty to apply to you when I have any difficulty, being ever ready to return you the like, when it lies in my power. Your books, which I have mentioned to several persons here, are read with pleasure and profit: I would therefore beg and conjure you to employ the leisure you may have in explaining the obscurities of the Law, which will be a signal service to all men of learning."

This was not a compliment void of truth, but his real sentiment of this learned Jew: he speaks in the same manner in a private letter to Gerard Vossius[511]. "I have written again, he says, to Manassah, and beg of you to deliver to him my letter. I esteem very highly not only his erudition, but also his judgment. He treads successfully in the steps of Abenezra, Maimonides, and Abrabanel. I have made his works known here, and they are much read and valued."

Grotius foresaw that his Commentary on the New Testament would occasion him some disputes. "I am at a loss, says he, to Vossius, what to do with my Notes on the New Testament. I shall easily find a bookseller here; but I am afraid of meeting with some difficulties from the Divines, who will have nothing of this kind published without their approbation: and for my own part, I cannot submit in every thing to either of the two parties, nor can I be silent when I have something that may be of use to deliver. I shall see how to remedy this inconveniency. I have no hopes, says he to his brother[512], that the Divines of the Sorbonne will give their approbation to my Notes, especially since they censured Milletiere. It remains to be considered whether I shall print them in my own house without approbation, of which there have been examples."

Heinsius's work, which was expected with so much impatience, had no success[513]. Salmasius (his declared enemy indeed) said publicly, he was ready to shew, that, abstracting what he had borrowed, there would not remain one remark of importance: and it was held in no higher esteem by others of the first rank in learning[514]. Cardinal Richelieu, being informed that Grotius leaned more to the sentiments of the Roman Catholics, than to those of the Ministers of Charenton, gave orders[515] that his work should be printed without being obliged to pass the censors. He kept measures however with Heinsius; and desired his brother William Grotius to tell him[516], that he had always said there were several things in his Notes which pleased him much; and that he had made the same remarks in some places that Heinsius had done, by mere chance.

As Grotius had a very great esteem for the learned Father Petau, he communicated to him his works. On sending him his Notes on the Old Testament, he desired him to hint what alterations he thought necessary.

When his Commentary on the Evangelists was printed at Amsterdam[517], he sent a copy to Father Petau, desiring him to read it, if he had time, and acquaint him what ought to be omitted, added, or changed, that the second edition might appear with more advantage. "The booksellers of Amsterdam offer to print what I have written on the Old Testament: but I chose rather to have it printed here, that I may see the last proofs. I shall expect your remarks, or those of the persons to whom you have communicated what I have written on the first part of the Old Testament. I would have come for them myself had I not been confined by sore eyes. I have a high sense of your goodness, he writes again to Petau[518], in taking the trouble to revise my Annotations on the Old Testament, in giving them to those who have time to examine them more strictly, and in contributing by your recommendation to the success of the work. As I have now an opportunity of putting them to press, I must beg of you to return them as soon as may be with your remarks. When the rest is transcribed, relying on your goodness I shall take the liberty to interrupt your occupations, however important and useful, by sending it."

The Dutch Booksellers[519] had prefixed to Grotius's Commentary on the New Testament his head, with a high elogium annexed to it; which vexed him much. He wrote very seriously to his brother that it was the more improper, as this effect of vanity was prefixed to a book designed to inspire humility; that he had tore out the picture in his own copies, and desired that he would endeavour to get the same done to all the rest, because it concerned his reputation; and he chose rather to suppress his Preface, than publish it with this picture. A short advertisement before his Notes on the New Testament acquaints us that he began them when a prisoner, that he finished them when a private man, and printed them when Ambassador. Though this work was far advanced before he was employed by the Court of Sweden, it is evident from his letters that he made many additions and amendments to it during his embassy.

He met with new difficulties after Cardinal Richelieu's death from the Chancellor Seguier, who never loved him. "The Chancellor of France, he writes to his brother, August 27, 1644[520], will not grant a privilege for printing my Commentary on the Old Testament, though very able Doctors have assured him that it contains nothing contrary to the doctrine of the Roman Catholics; but he refuses to give any even for good books, if the authors are not of his communion."

Cramoisi however printed it, but he was afraid of being a loser by the great expence of a handsome edition in folio if he did not obtain a privilege, because the Dutch, who could print it much cheaper, would bring it into France, and undersell him.

The refusal of a privilege[521] did not hinder another Paris bookseller from undertaking an edition of the Notes on the New Testament, which Grotius calls his favourite work[522].

M. Simon, whose opinion is not always agreeable to the strictest justice, judges very favourably, however, of Grotius: "His Notes, says he, are esteemed by every body; and stand in no need of a particular recommendation from us. We shall only observe that he abounds too much in quotations from the Poets, and many profane authors; in which he seems rather to affect appearing a man of learning and erudition, than a man of judgment and a critic. Had he avoided this fault, his Notes would have been much shorter, and not less excellent. They are chiefly valuable for his frequent collation of the ancient Greek translation of the bible with the Hebrew text, and his freedom from prejudice in favour of the Masoretic version: though he generally chuses the best explanation of the text, he sometimes multiplies the various readings without necessity. After all (adds the author of the Critical history) though I blame Grotius for quoting too frequently the profane authors, these quotations contain some very good things, serving to explain the difficulties in Scripture. I could only have wished, that, agreeable to the rules of criticism, he had not adduced the testimonies of profane authors, and especially the Poets, except in places that required those elucidations."

M. Le Clerc, after examining this judgment, speaks thus of Grotius[523]: "If you desire to know what is chiefly valuable in Grotius's Notes on the Old Testament, and not to be found elsewhere, it is first his explanation of an infinite number of passages of Scripture by the assistance of Pagan antiquity. Secondly, an admirable knowledge of the different manners of speaking used in Scripture, which he so happily compares with one another, that no interpreter ancient or modern has thrown so much light on them; and in fine, an extraordinary penetration in discovering the true sense of the prophecies."

M. Fabricius[524] tells us, that one thing which highly recommends Grotius's Commentary on the New Testament is the design, which he happily executed, of proving the truth of the Christian Religion by the Scripture itself.

Before we conclude this article we must take notice that it has been pretended by some learned men, who otherwise do him justice, that Grotius is frequently mistaken in his quotations from the Rabbis, because he took them at second-hand. Esdras Edzardi, well skilled in these matters, made a small collection of his mistakes, which he shewed to Morhof[525].


[504] Ep. 1520. p. 689.

[505] Ep. 639. p. 948.

[506] Ep. 640. p. 949.

[507] Ep. 648. p. 952.

[508] Ep. 859. p. 377. & 964. p. 432.

[509] Ep. 1056. p. 476.

[510] Ep. 1056. p. 476.

[511] Ep. 1256. p. 570. & 1315. p. 596.

[512] Ep. 503. p. 884.

[513] Ep. 507. p. 884.

[514] Ep. 465. p. 886.

[515] Ep. 476. p. 890.

[516] Ep. 481. p. 891.

[517] Ep. 1531. p. 693.

[518] Ep. 1534. p. 694.

[519] Ep. 570. p. 928.

[520] Ep. 720. p. 970.

[521] Ep. 740. p. 976.

[522] Ep. 1253. p. 553.

[523] Sentimens des Theolog. p. 388.

[524] Delect. Argum. c. 2. p. 40.

[525] Polihistor. t. 3. l. 5. p. 54. Vind. Grot. 463.

XII. This deep study of the Holy Scriptures led Grotius to examine a question which made much noise at that time. Some Protestant Synods had ventured to decide that the Pope was Antichrist; and this extravagance, gravely delivered by the Ministers, was regarded by the zealous Schismatics as a fundamental truth. Grotius undertook to overturn such an absurd opinion, that stirred up an irreconcileable enmity between the Roman Catholics and the Protestants, and of consequence was a very great obstacle to their reunion, which was the sole object of his desires. He entered therefore upon the consideration of the passages of Scripture relating to Antichrist, and employed his Sundays in it[526].

It was this work that raised him up most enemies. We see by the letters he wrote to his brother that his best friends were afraid lest they should be suspected of having some hand in the publication of the books in which he treated of Antichrist. "If you are afraid of incurring ill-will, he writes to his brother[527], you may easily find people that are far from a factious spirit who will take care of the impression. Nothing has incensed Princes against those who separated from the Church of Rome more than the injurious names with which the Protestants load their adversaries; and nothing is a greater hindrance to that reunion which we are all obliged to labour after in consequence of Christ's precept and the profession we make of our faith in the Creed. Perhaps the Turk, who threatens Italy, will force us to it. In order to arrive at it we must first remove whatever obstructs a mutual quiet hearing. I hope I shall find assistance in this pious design. I shall not cease to labour in it, and shall rejoice to die employed in so good a work."

Reigersberg, Blaeu, Vossius himself, however much devoted to Grotius, beheld with concern[528] the printing of this book, because they did not doubt but it would increase the number of his enemies. Grotius informs his brother of the uneasiness which Vossius gave him on this subject[529]: "Among those who wish this work destroyed, says he, I am astonished and grieved to see Vossius. Whence could he have this idea? I imagine somebody has told him, that it would injure the fortune of his children if he approved of such books; and that, on the contrary, he would find favour by hurting me. We must, therefore, have recourse to Corcellius or Corvinus." He elsewhere complains of the too great timidity of this old friend[530], who at bottom approved of Grotius's sentiments, but durst not own them publicly because he was not so independent as Grotius.

The treatise on Antichrist made much noise among all the declared enemies of the Romish Church[531]. Michael Gettichius wrote to Ruarus, that he had only glanced over Grotius's book on Antichrist; but as far as he could judge by the first reading, that learned man, who was possessed of such an excellent genius, and such singular erudition, had no other intention than to engage the Learned in a further enquiry concerning Antichrist; and to determine them to attack with greater strength the Romish Antichrist; or, if he wrote seriously, he wanted to cut out a path for going over, without dishonour, to the Papists. Ruarus answers this letter, Dec. 16, 1642, from Dantzic. "I have always, he says, looked on Grotius as a very honest, and at the same time a very learned man. I am persuaded that love of peace engaged him in this work. I don't deny but he has gone too far; the love of antiquity perhaps seduced him: no Remonstrant, that I know of, has as yet answered him; but he has been confuted by some learned Calvinists, particularly Desmarets, Minister of Boisleduc, who has written against him with much bitterness."

Grotius's work was printed in 1640, with this title: Commentatio ad loca quaedam Novi Testamenti, quae de Antichristo agunt aut agere putantur, expendenda, eruditis.

It contains an explanation of the second chapter of the second epistle of St. Paul to the Thessalonians, in which he undertakes to prove, that the Man of Sin, there mentioned, is the Emperor Caius Caligula, who wanted to place his statue in the temple of Jerusalem, as may be seen in Philo; and was desirous to be thought a God, as Philo and Josephus relate. He afterwards explains the eighteenth verse of the second chapter of the first epistle of St. John. You know that Antichrist is come, and that there are many Antichrists. He thinks the Antichrist already come was Barchochebas, and that the other Antichrists are Simon the Magician and Dosithaeus.

The beast, in the thirteenth chapter of the Revelation, is, according to him, Rome pagan; the power, which is given to it for forty-two months, signifies Domitian's persecution, which lasted three years and a half. The beast that ascended out of the bottomless pit, mentioned chap. xi. ver. 7. is magic, and Apollonius Thyanaeus: in fine, he finds the famous number 666, mentioned in the last verse of the thirteenth chapter of the Apocalypse, in Trajan's name, who was called Ulpius, of which the numeral letters form the number 666.

The Reformed were strangely scandalized at this work. Samuel Desmarets answered it with great bitterness, which drew another piece from Grotius in defence of the former, with this title: Appendix ad interpretationem locorum Novi Testamenti, quae de Antichristo agunt, aut agere putantur, in qua via sternitur ad Christianorum concordiam. Desmarets is never mentioned in it but under the name of Borboritus. It has been observed, that Grotius was guilty of a slight inaccuracy in this treatise: he says the Emperor Barbarossa's enemies ascribed to him the pretended book De tribus Impostoribus: he confounds the grandson with the grandfather, for it was Frederic II. against whom this calumny was advanced, as appears from the letters of Peter Desvignes, his Secretary and Chancellor, and as Grotius himself remarks in his observations on Campanella's philosophy.

He printed at the same time his treatise Of Faith and Works against Desmarets, and against the error of the inadmissibility of grace, under the title of Explicatio trium illustrissimorum locorum Novi Testamenti, Capitis I. Pauli ad Ephesios posterioris, Capitis II. Jacobi Commatis XIV. & sequentium, Capitis III. Epistolae I. Johannis, in quibus agitur de fide & operibus. This work shews, that faith is not sufficient for Justification; and that if those who have faith live in sin, they are hated by God.

Via ad pacem ecclesiasticam was printed in 1642: it contains the Consultation of Cassander presented to the Emperors Ferdinand I. and Maximilian II. accompanied with remarks by Grotius. He expected that these works, which were compiled solely with a view to promote union among Christians, would procure him many enemies; and he adopted, on this occasion, what was said in 1557 by an author who laboured in the same design, That for persons to endeavour to make mankind live in peace, was commendable; that they might indeed expect a recompence from the blessed Peace-maker, but they had great reason to apprehend the same fate with those, who, attempting to part two combatants, receive blows from both. "Perhaps, by writing to reconcile such as entertain very opposite sentiments, I shall offend both parties: but if it should so happen, I shall comfort myself with the example of him who said, If I please men I am not the servant of Christ."

Grotius, content with gratifying his pacific desires, expected his reward from posterity; which he clearly intimates in some verses written by him on this subject

Accipe sed placidis, quae si non optima, certe, Expressit nobis non mala pacis amor. Et tibi dic, nostro labor hic si displicet aevo, A grata pretium posteritate feret.

Rivetus, the Clergyman, treated Grotius with as much indignity, as if he had attempted to destroy the foundations or Christianity. Grotius answered him in a tract, entitled: Animadversiones in animadversiones Andreae Riveti.

This work was followed by two others on the same subject: Votum pro pace ecclesiastica, contra examen Andreae Riveti, and Rivetiani Apologetici Discussio: this last did not appear till after the author's death.

He wrote, in 1638, a small piece, entitled: De Canae administratione ubi Pastores non sunt, item an semper communicandum per symbola. The design of this pernicious work is to shew, that Laymen, in the absence of Priests, and in cases of necessity, may do their office.

Rigaut had already maintained this error, and been smartly attacked by M. De l'Aubepine, Bishop of Orleans: all the defenders of the hierarchy were scandalized at it, and Father Petau, among the Roman Catholics, and Dodwell, among the English Clergy, have refuted it.

In the tract, An semper communicandum per symbola, the Arminians endeavour to maintain, that we are not obliged to communicate with such as require subscriptions to which we cannot assent without acting against our consciences. Grotius's design was to shew, that the Arminians might dispense with communicating with the Contra-Remonstrants, if these insisted on retractions.

Another theological work of Grotius (of whose publication we cannot fix the time) is entitled: Dissertatio historica ac politica de dogmatis & ritibus & gubernatione Ecclesiae Christianae, de dogmatis quae reipublicae noxia sunt, aut dicuntur. In this piece he treats of the end of the priesthood, and the duties of the Priests: he places what relates to the distinction and unity of the three Persons, the two Natures, and their properties, among the points of which we may be ignorant without ceasing to be good Christians. It is probable this piece was written before those concerning Antichrist, the author appearing in it less favourably disposed towards the Roman Catholics and the Pope.

It is apparent that Grotius had not sufficiently examined this subject, since he speaks of it in a manner so heterodox. He would not have held a language so opposite to Christianity, at, or after the time of his dispute with Rivetus.


[526] Ep. 416. p. 874.

[527] Ep. 477. p. 890.

[528] Ep. 480. p. 891. & 482. p. 891.

[529] Ep. 485. p. 892.

[530] Ep. 445. p. 895. 507. p. 901. 511. p. 902. & 514. p. 904.

[531] Ep 61. p. 276. & 89. p. 415.

XIII. Grotius, even whilst engaged in the dispute against the zealous Protestant Ministers, undertook to clear up the origin of the Americans; which enquiry involved him in a controversy that gave him much uneasiness. John de Laet of Antwerp, who had much studied these matters, printed Grotius's work, with Notes, under this title: Joannis de Laet Antverpiani Notae ad dissertationem Hugonis Grotii de Origine gentium Americanarum, & Observationes aliquot ad meliorem indaginem difficillimae illius questionis. Amstelodami apud Ludovicum Elzevirium, anno 1643[532].

Grotius first confutes those, who think that the people of America came from Great Tartary, because they had no horses before the Spanish conquest, and that it is impossible the Scythians, who abounded in horses, should bring none with them; besides the Tartars were never seamen. His opinion is, that North-America was peopled by persons from Norway, from whence they passed into Iceland, afterwards into Greenland, from thence to Friseland, then to Estotiland, a part of the American continent, to which the fishers of Friseland had penetrated two centuries before the Spaniards discovered the New World. He pretends, that the names of those countries end with the same syllables as those of the Norwegians; that the Mexicans and their neighbours assured the Spaniards they came from the North; and that the country which the Norwegians inhabited, after quitting Estotiland, has retained almost the name of Norway; that there is yet a town in it called Norembega; in fine, that there are many words in the American language, which have a relation to the German and Norwegian; and that the Americans still preserve the customs of the country from whence they are originally sprung. As to the people of Jucatan, and the neighbourhood, Grotius makes them come from Ethiopia by the way of the Ocean. He grounds this opinion on the practice of circumcision among these nations of America, which was also used by the Ethiopians. He pretends that the Peruvians are descended from the Chinese, because the wrecks of Chinese vessels have been found, he says, on the coasts of the Pacific Ocean, and they worship the sun: besides, the Peruvians, he adds, write from the top to the bottom of the page like the Chinese.

Laet easily shewed that Grotius's conjectures were ill founded, and that he had even advanced several facts which were not strictly true: he denied the existence of the city of Norembega, and maintained that Jucatan is too distant from Africa for the Ethiopians to penetrate into America, it being at least two months sail from Ethiopia to Jucatan. He refutes the pretended traces of Christianity, which Grotius said were found in that part of America before the discovery of the Spaniards, supporting his confutation on the authority of Spanish writers; in fine, he denies that any Chinese wrecks have been found on the coasts of the Pacific Ocean, and censures, as a very great inaccuracy in Grotius, what he advances concerning the Peruvian manner of writing.

After doing justice to the excellent judgment and profound erudition of Grotius, he ventures to assert, that he found nothing in his Dissertation that could satisfy a man moderately acquainted with the History of America; and approves of what was observed by Joseph Acosta, that it was easier to confute what was written on the origin of the Americans, than to know what to hold; because there were no monuments among them, nor any books of Europeans to throw light on this matter: and hence concludes, that it is rashness to promise truth on such an obscure subject.

Laet's answer vexed Grotius: he replied to it in a second Dissertation, entitled, Adversus obtrectatorem, opaca quem bonum facit barba. Printed at Paris by Cramoisi, in 1643. Laet answered in a piece, printed in 1644, by Lewis Elzevir, in which he inserts Grotius's second Dissertation. There is nothing new in these two last books: and it were to be wished that they had been written with less bitterness. It has been[533] observed, that Grotius's system is not new; and that it had been already advanced by Myl, whom Grotius does not once quote.


[532] This work was printed at Paris the same year.

[533] Hornius, de Orig. Gent. Amer. l. 1. c. 2. p. 17.

XIV. It now remains to give some account of the other works of Grotius, which hitherto we have not had occasion to mention. In 1629, he printed at William Blaeu's the History of the Siege of Grolla: Grollae obsidio cum annexis anni 1627. This piece would have been brought into his History[534] if he could have continued it. He speaks of it with great modesty[535] in his letters to his brother. "I don't expect, he says, much honour from such a small tract."

He published, in 1631, An Introduction to the Laws of Holland, in Dutch. Simon Groenovegius de Madin, a Lawyer, wrote Notes on this work, which Grotius thought well done and very useful; and sent the author a letter of thanks[536].

He left several manuscripts prepared for the press, which were published after his death.

Lewis Elzevir printed, in 1652, a small collection in twelves with this title: Hugonis Grotii quaedam hactenus inedita, aliaque ex Belgice editis Latine versa, argumenti Theologici, Juridici, Politici. It contains, among other Dissertations, Remarks on the Philosophy or rather on the Politics of Campanella; and a tract entitled: Hugonis Grotii Responsio ad quaedam ab utroque judicum consessu objecta, ubi multa disputantur de Jure Summarum Potestatum in Hollandia, Westfrisi[^ae], & Magistratuum in oppidis. The disputes of the Province of Holland with the States-General probably gave occasion to this treatise. Grotius intended to publish the Golden verses of Pythagoras[537], with a translation by himself: but what he could not do in his life-time was done in England after his death, in the year 1654[538].

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