Thursday, October 27, 2005

courage to make a martyr

Pip Wilson has this quote in his Book of Days. I can't find independent confirmation of it, so maybe it's apocryphal. It's nonetheless something that Erasmus might well have said. See the Wikipedia paragraph about him, Erasmus, and Luther below. I'm blogging the quote now because it resonates with the poem of Yevgeny Yevtushenko in a post of mine earlier this week. The quote:
Even if Luther had spoken everything in the most unobjectionable manner, I had no inclination to die for the sake of truth. Every man has not the courage to make a martyr; and I am afraid, if I were put to the trial, I should imitate St Peter.
Erasmus of Rotterdam, born on October 27, 1466 (?)

About Erasmus and Luther, Wikipedia says:
Martin Luther's movement began in the year following the publication of [his new Latin translation of] the New Testament, and tested Erasmus's character. The issue between European society and the Roman Church had become so clear that few could escape the summons to join the debate. Erasmus, at the height of his literary fame, was inevitably called upon to take sides, but partisanship was foreign to his nature and his habits. In all his criticism of clerical follies and abuses he had always protested that he was not attacking church institutions themselves and had no enmity toward churchmen. The world had laughed at his satire, but few had interfered with his activities. He believed that his work so far had commended itself to the best minds and also to the dominant powers in the religious world.

Wilson's entry for today (Oct 27) also has this nice map showing the voyages of Captain Cook, who was born on this day. It was John Montagu,Fourth Earl of Sandwich (1718-1792) who sponsored Cook. I've written about him before; most interesting gent. Cook named the islands we now call Hawaii after him (maybe I should say 'named' since most would say they weren't his to name).

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