The Philosophy of Natural Magic, by Henry Cornelius Agrippa, L. W. de Laurence ed. , at sacred-texts.com
Here was a vast theme for the oratory of a youth of twenty-three, and it was one also that enabled him to display the whole range of his learning. The newly recovered treasures of Greek literature; the study of Plato, that had lately been revived by Marsilius Ficinus in Italy; the study of Aristotle, urged and helped in France by Faber Stapulensis (d’Etapies), appeared to bring the fullest confirmation of the principles of the Cabala to men ignorant, as all were then, of the Greek source of more than half the later mysticism of the Hebrews, which attributed to itself an origin so ancient. That he had acquired so early in his life Hebrew and Greek lore, that he was deeply read in studies which were admired from afar only by so many scholars of his day, and, thus prepared, that he discussed mysteries about which men in all ages feel instinctive curiosity, and men in that age reasoned eagerly, would alone account sufficiently for the attention paid to the young German by the university of Dole. Moreover, while fulfilling his own private purpose, he appeared also to the loyalty of the Burgundians, by delivering his orations to all corners gratuitously, for the honor of the Princess Margaret, their ruler, and opening them with her panegyric. The young orator being also remarkable for an effective manner of delivery, the grave and learned men who came to his prelections honored him by diligent attendance. The exposition was made from the pulpit of the gymnasium, before the parliament and magistracy of Dole, the professors and the readers of the university. Simon Vernet, vice-chancellor of the university, dean of the church, and doctor in each faculty, was not once absent. The worthy vice-chancellor, or dean, appears,
indeed, to have taken an especial interest in the fame of their visitor. He had himself a taste for public declamation, and to a friend who was urging on Cornelius that he should seek durable fame rather by written than by spoken words, expressed a contrary desire on his behalf. He preferred orator to author. When Cornelius had complied with the request of another friend, who wished to translate into the vernacular his panegyric upon Margaret, praising his oratory for the perfect fitness of each word employed in it, and its complete freedom from verbiage, and desiring that through a translation the illustrious princess might be informed how famously Cornelius had spoken in her honor, and so be the more disposed to reward him with her favor, the translation came back with a note, saying that the vice-chancellor had been its censor and corrector. Vernet was diligent, in fact, on the young scholar's behalf, and his interests were seconded by the Archbishop of Besancon. Not a syllable was whispered about heresy. The friend who urged Cornelius, in spite of the dean's contrary counsel, to become an author, gave a familiar example from his own experience of the vanity of spoken words. He had declaimed publicly from memory, and without one hitch, upwards of two thousand two hundred verses of his own composition, yet, because they were not printed, earned only a temporary local fame. Of the value of the written word evidence very soon afterwards was enclosed to Cornelius by that other friend who had translated his oration. Zealous to do good service, he had caused a copy of the panegyric to proceed, by way of Lyons, on the road to royal notice, and delighted the aspirant after patronage by enclosing to him flatteries from John Perreal, a royal chamberlain, probably the same learned Frenchman who became known twenty or
more years later as Johannis Perellus, translated into Latin Gaza on the Attic Months, and wrote a book about the Epacts of the Moon.
To the youth flushed with triumph as a scholar there came also reminders of the military life he was so ready to forsake. A correspondent sent him news of a defeat of the Venetians by the French, near Agnadello, the first fruits of the discreditable league of Cambray. The French, it will be remembered, won this victory while Maximilian, their new ally, was still perplexed by the dissatisfaction of his subjects evidenced during the late diet at Worms. Agrippa's friend wished to have in return for his news any knowledge that his relation to the emperor might give him of intentions that might be disclosed at an approaching diet. His real intentions were to break a pledge by marching against the Venetians; his fate, to retire ere long, defeated, from before the walls of Padua. He was renewing with his enemy, the King of France, the treaty of Cambray, and sending a messenger to Spire to burn the book in which he had recorded all the injuries and insults suffered by his family, or empire, at the hands of France. Cornelius cared little for France or Padua; his hopes as a scholar were with Margaret at Ghent, though she, too, being another member of the league, could have employed him as a soldier. Other hopes, as a man, he was directing towards a younger and a fairer mistress. He desired not only to prosper but to marry.
The little university of Dole favored the young man heartily. His prelections had excited great attention, and procured for him the admiration of the neighborhood. From the university they won for him at once the degree of doctor of divinity, together with a stipend.