Volltext: A history of caricature and grotesque in literature and art

and Art. 
Re_formation, and 'he was the acquaintance and friend of thofe to whom 
the Reformation owed a great part of its fuccefs. In 1497, when the 
" Ship of Fools" of Sebaftian Brandt was in the tirit full flufh of its 
popularity, Erafmus came to England, and was fo well received, that 
from that time forward his literary life feemed more identified with our 
ifland than with any other country. His name is {till a fort of houfehold 
word in our univerhties, efpecially in that of Cambridge. He made here 
the friendly acquaintance of the great Sir Thomas More, himfelf a lover 
of mirth, and one of thofe whofe names are celebrated for having kept a 
court fool. In the earlier years of the fixteenth century, Erafmus vifited 
Italy, and paH'ed two or three years there. He returned thence to Eng- 
land, as appears, early in the year 1508. It is not eafy to decide whether 
his experience of fociety in Italy had convinced him more than ever 
that folly was the prefiding genius of mankind, or what other feeling 
influenced him, but one of the firit refults of his voyage was the Mwplag 
 (Marie Encomium), or " Praife of Folly." Erafmus dedicated 
this little jocular treatife to Sir Thomas More as a fort of pun upon his 
name, although he protefts that there was a great eontraft between the 
two characters. Erafmus takes much the fame view of folly as Brandt, 
Geiler, Badius, and the others, and under this name he writes a bold 
fatire on the whole frame of contemporary fociety. The fatire is placed 
in the mouth of Folly herfelf (the Mere F olie of the jocular clubs), who 
delivers from her pulpit a declamation in which the fets forth her qualities 
and praifes. She boafts of the greatneis of her origin, claims as her 
kindred the fophitts, rhetoricians, and many of the pretentious fcholars 
and wife men, and defcribes her birth and education. She claims divine 
affinity, and boaiis of her influence over the world, and of the beneiicent 
manner in which it was exercifed. All the world, the pretends, was 
ruled under her aufpices, and it was only in her prefence that mankind 
was really happy. Hence the happieft ages of man are infancy, before 
wifdom has come to interfere, and old age, when it has paifed away. 
Therefore, [he fays, if men would remain faithful to her, and avoid 
wifdom altogether, they would pafs a life of perpetual youth. In this 
long difcourfe of the iniluence of folly, written by a man of the known 
G G fentiments


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