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- In The Blue Pike, Complete - 5/20 -
intellect blinds him," observed the abbot. "His learning would throw the doors wide open to heresy. The Scriptures are true. On them Tungern and Kollin, whom you mention, rely. In the original Hebrew text they will be given up to every one who wishes to seek an interpretation----"
"Then a new bridge will be built for truth," declared the little Thuringian with flashing eyes.
"The Cologne theologians hold a different opinion," replied the abbot.
"Because the Grand Inquisitor and his followers--Tungern, Kollin, and whatever the rest may be called--are concerned about some thing very different from the noblest daughter of Heaven," said Lienhard Groland, and the other gentlemen assented. "You yourself, my lord abbot, admitted to me on the ride here that it angered you, too, to see the Cologne Dominicans pursue the noble scholar 'with such fierce hatred and bitter stings.'"--[Virgil, Aeneid, xi. 837.]
"Because conflict between Christians always gives me pain," replied the abbot.
But here Dr. Eberbach impetuously broke in upon the conversation:
"For the sake of a fair woman Ilion suffered unspeakable tortures. But to us a single song of Homer is worth more than all these Hebrew writings. And yet a Trojan war of the intellect has been kindled concerning them. Here freedom of investigation, yonder with Hoogstraten and Tungern, fettering of the mind. Among us, the ardent yearning to hold aloft the new light which the revival of learning is kindling, yonder superior force is struggling to extinguish it. Here the rule of the thinking mind, in whose scales reason and counter-argument decide the matter; among the Cologne people it is the Grand Inquisitor's jailers, chains, dungeons, and the stake."
"They will not go so far," replied the abbot soothingly. "True, both the front and the back stairs are open to the Dominicans in Rome."
"Yet where should humanism find more zealous friends than in that very place, among the heads of the Church?" asked Dr. Peutinger. "From the Tiber, I hope----"
Here he paused, for the new guest who had just entered the room attracted his attention also. The landlord of The Blue Pike respectfully preceded him and ushered him directly to the Nuremberg party, while he requested the Dominican monks who accompanied him to wait.
The late arrival was Prof. Arnold von Tungern, dean of the theological faculty at the University of Cologne. This gentleman had just been mentioned with the greatest aversion at the table he was now approaching, and his arrogant manner did little to lessen it.
Nevertheless, his position compelled the Nuremberg dignitaries to invite him to share their meal, which was now drawing to a close. The Cologne theologian accepted the courtesy with a patronizing gesture, as if it were a matter of course. Nay, after he had taken his seat, he ordered the landlord, as if he were the master, to see that this and that thing in the kitchen was not forgotten.
Unwelcome as his presence doubtless was to his table companions, as sympathizers with Reuchlin and other innovators, well as he doubtless remembered their scornful attacks upon his Latin--he was a man to maintain his place. So, with boastful self-conceit, allowing no one else an opportunity to speak, he at once began to complain of the fatigues of the journey and to mention, with tiresome detail, the eminent persons whom he had met and who had treated him like a valued friend. The vein on the little doctor's high forehead swelled with wrath as he listened to this boastful chatter, which did not cease until the first dish was served. To brave him, Eberbach turned the conversation to humanism, its redeeming power over minds, and its despicable foes. His scornful jests buzzed around his enemy like a swarm of gnats; but Arnold von Tungern pretended not to hear them. Only now and then a tremor of the mouth, as he slowly chewed his food, or a slight raising of the eye-brows, betrayed that one shaft or another had not wholly missed its mark.
The older gentlemen had sometimes interrupted the Thuringian, to try to change the conversation, but always in vain, and the guest from Cologne vouchsafed them only curt, dry answers.
Not until a pause occurred between two courses did von Tungern alter his manner. Then, like an inquisitor who has succeeded in convicting the person accused, he leaned back in his chair with a satisfied, long-drawn "So-o," wiped his moist chin, and began:
"You have showed me your state of mind plainly enough, my young Herr Doctor. Your name is Eberbach, if I am not mistaken. We will remember it at a fitting opportunity. But, pugnaciously as your loud voice summons to the strife, it will never destroy the sacred and venerable things which are worthy to endure. Thanks to the foundation of rock which supports them, and the watchfulness of their defenders, they will stand firmer than the walls of Jericho, whose fate you doubtless wish to bestow upon them. But you, my valued friends"--here he turned to the envoys--"who stand at the head of communities whose greatness is founded upon their ancient order and system, beware of opening your ears and your gates to the siren song and fierce outcries of the innovators and agitators."
"Thanks for the counsel," replied Wilibald Pirckheimer, with repellent coldness; but Arnold von Tungern pretended to consider the humanist's reply an assent, and, nodding approvingly, continued:
"How could you help exclaiming, with us and the pagan Ovid, 'We praise the ancients!' And this is merely saying that what time has tested and made venerable is the best."--[Ovid. Fast., 1, 225.]
Here Doctor Peutinger tried to interrupt him, but the other cut him short with an arrogant wave of the hand, and in an instructive tone began again:
"The honourable Council of Nuremberg--so I am informed--set a praiseworthy example several years ago. There was a youthful member of one of your patrician families--an Ebner, I believe, or a Stromer or Tucher. He had imbibed in Padua mistaken ideas which, unhappily, are held in high esteem by many from whom we should expect more discernment. So it chanced that when he returned home he ventured to contract a formal betrothal with an honourable maiden of noble lineage, against the explicit desire of her distinguished parents. The rebellious youth was therefore summoned before a court of justice, and, on account of his reckless offence and wanton violation of custom and law, banished from the city and sentenced to pay a fine----"
"A punishment which I endured calmly, Herr Professor," interrupted Lienhard Groland, "for I myself was that 'rebellious youth.' Besides, it was by no means the teachings of humanism which led me to an act that you, learned sir, doubtless regard with sterner eyes than the Christian charity which your clerical garb made me expect would permit."
These words fell, with the winning earnestness peculiar to him, from the lips of the young man who, at a time when he cared for no other woman than his new-made bride, had seen in the poor, endangered rope-dancer a human being worthy of aid. Only his fiery dark eyes met the professor's sternly enough.
The latter was still seeking a fitting reply, when the folding doors of the room were thrown wide open, and a belated party of travellers entered. They came opportunely, for they afforded a timely excuse to withhold an answer without attracting notice; yet at the head of the new guests of The Blue Pike was his Cologne colleague Conrad Kollin, who was followed, as he himself had been, by a number of Dominican friars.
Tungern, of course, went to greet him, and this made it easy to part from his table companions in a manner that aroused no comment; for while Kollin was surrounded and respectfully welcomed by the Dominican friars and many other travellers, the humanists left the house.
Dietel did not lose sight of the envoys. After whispering together a short time they had risen and gone out. At the door the Abbot of St. AEgidius left them to greet Professor Kollin, and, with the easy kindness characteristic of him, to say that the room had become too warm for the other gentlemen. They presented their compliments to the distinguished citizen of Cologne, and placed their table at the service of the newcomer.
Dietel's sharp ears had enabled him to catch these words; but then he was obliged to move again, a table had to be set outside the house for the Nuremberg travellers and their companions, and jugs of wine must be filled for them.
Then he was called back to the taproom. While the landlord of The Pike was serving a fresh meal to Professor Kollin at the table vacated by the Nuremberg dignitaries, and Arnold von Tungern was emptying the full vials of his wrath upon the little doctor and the whole body of humanists, the Nuremberg travellers and their guests were now conversing freely, as if relieved from a nightmare, upon the topics which most deeply interested them.
Dietel would far rather have served the Cologne theologians, whom he regarded as the appointed defenders of the true faith, than the insignificant folk at the other tables who had just finished their meal.
How unmannerly their behaviour was! Better wine had been served before dessert, and they now shouted and sang so loudly and so out of tune that the air played by the strolling musicians could scarcely be distinguished. Many a table, too, groaned under blows from the clinched fist of some excited reveller. Every one seemed animated by a single desire-to drink again and again.
Now the last pieces of bread and the cloths were removed from the tables. The carousers no longer needed Dietel. He could leave the task of filling the jugs to his young assistants.
What were the envoys outside doing? They were well off. In here the atmosphere was stifling from the fumes emanating from the throng of people, the wine, and the food. It seemed to draw all the flies from far and near. Whence did they come? They seemed to have increased by thousands since the early morning, when the room was empty. The outside air appeared delightful to breathe. He longed to fill his lungs again with the pure wind of heaven, and at the same time catch a few words of the conversation between the envoys to the Reichstag.
So Dietel hobbled to the open window, where the strollers were resting.
Cyriax was lying on the floor asleep, with the brandy bottle in his arms. Two of his companions, with their mouths wide open, were snoring at his side. Raban, who begged for blood-money, was counting the copper coins which he had received. Red-haired Gitta was sewing another patch of
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