Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Erasmus, the Muses, & Preceptorial Maxims

[Desiderius Erasmus to Christian*]

Epistle 46

Paris, [1496][College Montaigu, University of Paris]

Avoid nocturnal lucubrations and studies at unseasonable times. They exhaust the mind and seriously affect the health. The dawn, beloved of the Muses, is the fit time for study. After dinner either play, or walk, or take part in cheerful conversation. Possibly even among these amusements some room may be found for improvement. Take as much food as is required, not for your pleasure, but for your health. Before supper take a short walk, and after supper do the same. Before going to bed read something exquisite and worth remembering, of which you will be thinking when overcome by sleep, and for which you will ask yourself again when you wake. Let this maxim of Pliny rest always in your mind: All your time is lost which you do not impart to study. Remember that nothing is more fugitive than youth, which, when once it has flown away, never returns. But I am beginning to preach, after promising to be nothing but a guide. Follow, sweetest Christian, the plan I have traced, or any better that you can. Farewell.

*Christian, a young pupil at the University of Paris.

- from The Epistles of Erasmus, From the Earliest Letters to His Fifty-First Year, Arranged in Order of Time; translated from the Latin with notes and commentary by Francis Morgan Nichols (London: Longman's Green & Co., 1901) p.110.

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