Erasmus, letter 161 (to Antony of Luxembourg; July 18, 1501; tr. Francis Morgan Nichols):
I am not unaware, that I have pursued a kind of study which some think strange, others endless, others unprofitable, others even impious; so they seem to the crowd of those who are professors of learning. But I am all the more encouraged, as I am sure of two facts, that the best things have never found favour with the crowd, and that this kind of study is most approved by the smallest number, but the most learned.
The Latin, from Opus Epistolarum Des. Erasmi Roterodami
, ed. P.S. Allen, tom. I: 1484-1514
(Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1906; rpt. 1992), p. 370:
Neque vero me clam est, hoc quod sum sequutus studiorum genus aliis alienum, aliis infinitum, aliis infrugiferum, aliis etiam parum pium videri; nempe vulgo omnium qui nunc literas profitentur. At ego tanto magis accendor, cum vtrunque cognitum habeam, neque vulgo vnquam optima placuisse, et hoc studii genus paucissimis quidem, sed tamen eruditissimis, probari maxime.