His purse was ever open to relieve their poverty. "Had I found such a patron in my youth," Erasmus wrote long after, "I too might have been counted among the fortunate ones." It was with Grocyn that Erasmus on a second visit to England rowed up the river to Warham's board at Lambeth, and in spite of an unpromising beginning the acquaintance turned out wonderfully well. The Primate loved him, Erasmus wrote home, as if he were his father or his brother, and his generosity surpassed that of all his friends. He offered him a sinecure, and when he declined it he bestowed on him a pension of a hundred crowns a year. When Erasmus wandered to Paris it was Warham's invitation which recalled him to England. When the rest of his patrons left him to starve on the sour beer of Cambridge it was Warham who sent him fifty angels. "I wish there were thirty legions of them," the Primate puns in his good-humoured way.
Real however as this progress was, the group of scholars who represented the New Learning in England still remained a little one through the reign of Henry the Seventh. But a "New Order," to use their own enthusiastic term, dawned on them with the accession of his son. Henry the Eighth had hardly completed his eighteenth year when he mounted the throne, but the beauty of his person, his vigour and skill in arms, seemed matched by a frank and generous temper and a nobleness of political aims. He gave promise of a more popular system of government by checking at once the extortion which had been practised under colour of enforcing forgotten laws, and by bringing his father's financial ministers, Empson and Dudley, to trial on a charge of treason. No accession ever excited higher expectations among a people than that of Henry the Eighth. Pole, his bitterest enemy, confessed at a later time, that the King was of a temper at the beginning of his reign "from which all excellent things might have been hoped." Already in stature and strength a King among his fellows, taller than any, bigger than any, a mighty wrestler, a mighty hunter, an archer of the best, a knight who bore down rider after rider in the tourney, the young monarch combined with his bodily lordliness a largeness and versatility of mind which was to be the special characteristic of the age that had begun.
His sympathies were known to be heartily with the New Learning; for Henry was not only himself a fair scholar, but even in boyhood had roused by his wit and attainments the wonder of Erasmus. The great scholar hurried back to England to pour out his exultation in the "Praise of Folly," a song of triumph over the old world of ignorance and bigotry which was to vanish away before the light and knowledge of the new reign. Folly, in his amusing little book, mounts a pulpit in cap and bells and pelts with her satire the absurdities of the world around her, the superstition of the monk, the pedantry of the grammarian, the dogmatism of the doctors of tne schools, the selfishness and tyranny of kings.
The irony of Erasmus was backed by the earnest effort of Colet. Four years before he had been called from Oxford to the Deanery of St. Paul's, when he became the great preacher of his day, the predecessor of Latimer in his simplicity, his directness, and his force. He seized the opportunity to commence the work of educational reform by the foundation of his own Grammar School, beside St. Paul's. The bent of its founder's mind was shown by the image of the ChMd Jesus over the master's chair, with the words "Hear ye Him "graven beneath it. " Lift up your little white hands for me," wrote the Dean to his scholars, in words which show the tenderness that lay beneath the stern outer seeming of the man, - " for me which prayeth for you to God".
All the educational designs of the reformers were carried out in the new foundation. The old methods of instruction were superseded by fresh grammars composed by Erasmus and other scholars for its use. Lilly, an Oxford student who had studied Greek in the East, was placed at its head. The injunctions of the founder aimed at the union of rational religion with sound learning, at the exclusion of the scholastic logic, and at the steady diffusion of the two classical literatures. The more bigoted of the clergy were quick to take alarm. "No wonder," More wrote to the Dean, "your school raises a storm, for it is like the wooden horse in which armed Greeks were hidden for the ruin of barbarous Troy." But the cry of alarm passed helplessly away. Not only did the study of Greek creep gradually into the schools which existed, but the example of Colet was followed by a crowd of imitators. More grammar schools, it has been said, were founded in the latter years of Henry than in the three centuries before. The impulse grew only stronger as the direct influence of the New Learning passed away.
The grammar schools of Edward the Sixth and of Elizabeth, in a word the system of middle-class education which by the close of the century had changed the very face of England, were amongst the results of Colet's foundation of St. Paul's. But the " armed Greeks" of More's apologue found a yet wider field in the reform of the higher education of the country. On the Universities the influence of the New Learning was like a passing from death to life. Erasmus gives us a picture of what happened at Cambridge, where he was himself for a time a teacher of Greek. " Scarcely thirty years ago nothing was taught here but the Parva Logicalia, Alexander, antiquated exercises from Aristotle, and the Qucestiones of Scotus. As time went on better studies were added, mathematics, a new, or at any rate a renovated, Aristotle, and a knowledge of Greek literature. What has been the result? The University is now so flourishing that it can compete with the best universities of the age." Latimer and Croke returned from Italy and carried on the work of Erasmus at Cambridge, where Fisher, Bishop of Rochester, himself one of the foremost scholars of the new movement, lent it his powerful support. At Oxford the Revival met with a fiercer opposition.