Thomas More Handout

Thomas More as described by his friend, Erasmus

Of Thomas More himselfErasmushas left us a wonderful portrait in his famous letter to Ulrich von Hutten dated 23 July, 1519 (Epp. 447). The description is too long to give in full, but some extracts must be made.

To begin then with what is leastknownto you, in stature he is not tall, though not remarkably short. His limbs are formed with such perfect symmetry as to leave nothing to be desired. His complexion is white, his face rather than pale and though by no means ruddy, a faint flush of pink appears beneath the whiteness of his skin. His hair is dark brown or brownish black. The eyes are grayish blue, with some spots, a kind which betokens singular talent, and among the Englishis considered attractive, whereasGermansgenerally prefer black. It is said that none are so free ofvice. His countenance is in harmony with hischaracter, being always expressive of an amiablejoyousness, and even an incipient laughter and, to speakcandidly, it is better framed forgladnessthan for gravity or dignity, though without any approach to folly or buffoonery. The right shoulder is a little higher than the left, especially when he walks. This is not a defect of birth, but the result ofhabitsuch as we often contract. In the rest of hisperson there is nothing to offend . . .He seems born and framed for friendship, and is a most faithful and enduring friend . . .When he finds any sincere and according to his heart, he so delights in theirsocietyand conversation as to place in it the principal charm of life . . .In a word, if you want a perfect model of friendship, you will find it in no one better than in More . . .Inhuman affairs there is nothing from which he does not extract enjoyment, even from things that are most serious. If he converses with the learned and judicious, he delights in their talent, if with theignorantand foolish, he enjoys their stupidity. He is not even offended by professional jesters. With a wonderful dexterity he accommodates himself to every disposition. As a rule, in talking withwomen, even with his own wife, he is full of jokes and banter. No one is less led by the opinions of the crowd, yet no one departs less fromcommon sense. . .

Paul The Apostle