Thursday, November 15, 2007

Erasmus's Judicious Apology

[Desiderious Erasmus to William Blount, Lord Mountjoy]

Epistle 76

My greetings to you, well-named Monjoie. I ought to beg pardon, but I prefer to make a defence. I acknowledge the trespass I have committed in cheating you of your lessons to-day, but necessity and not my will has been the cause. I am compelled to provide their burden of letters for two messengers at the same time. Beware how you shift the position, and object that my plea of necessity is false; for then the status of the plaintiff and defendant will be changed, and the subject will cease to be judicial, and be conjectural, or a matter of definition, the question being, what is necessity. But look what a clever defendant you have. I plead before I am summoned; and, with no prosecutor, and myself both defendant and judge, I am sure of acquittal. Farewell, and remain in favour with the Muses.

[Paris, 1498]
-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.167.

No comments: