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The Essays of Montaigne, Complete by Michel de Montaigne

Part 17 out of 23

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ordain and affect it in their republics, it touches not the women, where
this passion is, I know not how, much better seated:

"Saepe etiam Juno, maxima coelicolam,
Conjugis in culpa flagravit quotidiana."

["Often was Juno, greatest of the heaven-dwellers, enraged by her
husband's daily infidelities."--Idem, ibid.]

When jealousy seizes these poor souls, weak and incapable of resistance,
'tis pity to see how miserably it torments and tyrannises over them; it
insinuates itself into them under the title of friendship, but after it
has once possessed them, the same causes that served for a foundation of
good-will serve them for a foundation of mortal hatred. 'Tis, of all the
diseases of the mind, that which the most things serve for aliment and
the fewest for remedy: the virtue, health, merit, reputation of the
husband are incendiaries of their fury and ill-will:

"Nullae sunt inimicitiae, nisi amoris, acerbae."

["No enmities are bitter, save that of love."
(Or:) "No hate is implacable except the hatred of love"
--Propertius, ii. 8, 3.]

This fever defaces and corrupts all they have of beautiful and good
besides; and there is no action of a jealous woman, let her be how chaste
and how good a housewife soever, that does not relish of anger and
wrangling; 'tis a furious agitation, that rebounds them to an extremity
quite contrary to its cause. This held good with one Octavius at Rome.
Having lain with Pontia Posthumia, he augmented love with fruition, and
solicited with all importunity to marry her: unable to persuade her, this
excessive affection precipitated him to the effects of the most cruel and
mortal hatred: he killed her. In like manner, the ordinary symptoms of
this other amorous disease are intestine hatreds, private conspiracies,
and cabals:

"Notumque furens quid faemina possit,"

["And it is known what an angry woman is capable of doing."
--AEneid, V. 21.]

and a rage which so much the more frets itself, as it is compelled to
excuse itself by a pretence of good-will.

Now, the duty of chastity is of a vast extent; is it the will that we
would have them restrain? This is a very supple and active thing; a
thing very nimble, to be stayed. How? if dreams sometimes engage them so
far that they cannot deny them: it is not in them, nor, peradventure, in
chastity itself, seeing that is a female, to defend itself from lust and
desire. If we are only to trust to their will, what a case are we in,
then? Do but imagine what crowding there would be amongst men in
pursuance of the privilege to run full speed, without tongue or eyes,
into every woman's arms who would accept them. The Scythian women put
out the eyes of all their slaves and prisoners of war, that they might
have their pleasure of them, and they never the wiser. O, the furious
advantage of opportunity! Should any one ask me, what was the first
thing to be considered in love matters, I should answer that it was how
to take a fitting time; and so the second; and so the third--'tis a point
that can do everything. I have sometimes wanted fortune, but I have also
sometimes been wanting to myself in matters of attempt. God help him,
who yet makes light of this! There is greater temerity required in this
age of ours, which our young men excuse under the name of heat; but
should women examine it more strictly, they would find that it rather
proceeds from contempt. I was always superstitiously afraid of giving
offence, and have ever had a great respect for her I loved: besides, he
who in this traffic takes away the reverence, defaces at the same time
the lustre. I would in this affair have a man a little play the child,
the timorous, and the servant. If not this, I have in other bashfulness
whereof altogether in things some air of the foolish Plutarch makes
mention; and the course of my life has been divers ways hurt and
blemished with it; a quality very ill suiting my universal form: and,
indeed, what are we but sedition and discrepancy? I am as much out of
countenance to be denied as I am to deny; and it so much troubles me to
be troublesome to others that on occasion when duty compels me to try the
good-will of any one in a thing that is doubtful and that will be
chargeable to him, I do it very faintly, and very much against my will:
but if it be for my own particular (whatever Homer truly says, that
modesty is a foolish virtue in an indigent person), I commonly commit it
to a third person to blush for me, and deny those who employ me with the
same difficulty: so that it has sometimes befallen me to have had a mind
to deny, when I had not the power to do it.

'Tis folly, then, to attempt to bridle in women a desire that is so
powerful in them, and so natural to them. And when I hear them brag of
having so maidenly and so temperate a will, I laugh at them: they retire
too far back. If it be an old toothless trot, or a young dry consumptive
thing, though it be not altogether to be believed, at least they say it
with more similitude of truth. But they who still move and breathe, talk
at that ridiculous rate to their own prejudice, by reason that
inconsiderate excuses are a kind of self-accusation; like a gentleman, a
neighbour of mine, suspected to be insufficient:

"Languidior tenera cui pendens sicula beta,
Numquam se mediam sustulit ad tunicam,"

[Catullus, lxvii. 2, i.--The sense is in the context.]

who three or four days after he was married, to justify himself, went
about boldly swearing that he had ridden twenty stages the night before:
an oath that was afterwards made use of to convict him of his ignorance
in that affair, and to divorce him from his wife. Besides, it signifies
nothing, for there is neither continency nor virtue where there are no
opposing desires. It is true, they may say, but we will not yield;
saints themselves speak after that manner. I mean those who boast in
good gravity of their coldness and insensibility, and who expect to be
believed with a serious countenance; for when 'tis spoken with an
affected look, when their eyes give the lie to their tongue, and when
they talk in the cant of their profession, which always goes against the
hair, 'tis good sport. I am a great servant of liberty and plainness;
but there is no remedy; if it be not wholly simple or childish, 'tis
silly, and unbecoming ladies in this commerce, and presently runs into
impudence. Their disguises and figures only serve to cosen fools; lying
is there in its seat of honour; 'tis a by-way, that by a back-door leads
us to truth. If we cannot curb their imagination, what would we have
from them. Effects? There are enough of them that evade all foreign
communication, by which chastity may be corrupted:

"Illud saepe facit, quod sine teste facit;"

["He often does that which he does without a witness."
--Martial, vii. 62, 6.]

and those which we fear the least are, peradventure, most to be feared;
their sins that make the least noise are the worst:

"Offendor maecha simpliciore minus."

["I am less offended with a more professed strumpet."
--Idem, vi. 7,6.]

There are ways by which they may lose their virginity without
prostitution, and, which is more, without their knowledge:

"Obsterix, virginis cujusdam integritatem manu velut explorans, sive
malevolentia, sive inscitia, sive casu, dum inspicit, perdidit."

["By malevolence, or unskilfulness, or accident, the midwife,
seeking with the hand to test some maiden's virginity, has sometimes
destroyed it."--St. Augustine, De Civit. Dei, i. 18.]

Such a one, by seeking her maidenhead, has lost it; another by playing
with it has destroyed it. We cannot precisely circumscribe the actions,
we interdict them; they must guess at our meaning under general and
doubtful terms; the very idea we invent for their chastity is ridiculous:
for, amongst the greatest patterns that I have is Fatua, the wife of
Faunus: who never, after her marriage, suffered herself to be seen by any
man whatever; and the wife of Hiero, who never perceived her husband's
stinking breath, imagining that it was common to all men. They must
become insensible and invisible to satisfy us.

Now let us confess that the knot of this judgment of duty principally
lies in the will; there have been husbands who have suffered cuckoldom,
not only without reproach or taking offence at their wives, but with
singular obligation to them and great commendation of their virtue.
Such a woman has been, who prized her honour above her life, and yet has
prostituted it to the furious lust of a mortal enemy, to save her
husband's life, and who, in so doing, did that for him she would not have
done for herself! This is not the place wherein we are to multiply these
examples; they are too high and rich to be set off with so poor a foil as
I can give them here; let us reserve them for a nobler place; but for
examples of ordinary lustre, do we not every day see women amongst us who
surrender themselves for their husbands sole benefit, and by their
express order and mediation? and, of old, Phaulius the Argian, who
offered his to King Philip out of ambition; as Galba did it out of
civility, who, having entertained Maecenas at supper, and observing that
his wife and he began to cast glances at one another and to make eyes and
signs, let himself sink down upon his cushion, like one in a profound
sleep, to give opportunity to their desires: which he handsomely
confessed, for thereupon a servant having made bold to lay hands on the
plate upon the table, he frankly cried, "What, you rogue? do you not see
that I only sleep for Maecenas?" Such there may be, whose manners may be
lewd enough, whose will may be more reformed than another, who outwardly
carries herself after a more regular manner. As we see some who complain
of having vowed chastity before they knew what they did; and I have also
known others really, complain of having been given up to debauchery
before they were of the years of discretion. The vice of the parents or
the impulse of nature, which is a rough counsellor, may be the cause.

In the East Indies, though chastity is of singular reputation, yet custom
permitted a married woman to prostitute herself to any one who presented
her with an elephant, and that with glory, to have been valued at so high
a rate. Phaedo the philosopher, a man of birth, after the taking of his
country Elis, made it his trade to prostitute the beauty of his youth, so
long as it lasted, to any one that would, for money thereby to gain his
living: and Solon was the first in Greece, 'tis said, who by his laws
gave liberty to women, at the expense of their chastity, to provide for
the necessities of life; a custom that Herodotus says had been received
in many governments before his time. And besides, what fruit is there of
this painful solicitude? For what justice soever there is in this
passion, we are yet to consider whether it turns to account or no: does
any one think to curb them, with all his industry?

"Pone seram; cohibe: sed quis custodiet ipsos
Custodes? cauta est, et ab illis incipit uxor."

["Put on a lock; shut them up under a guard; but who shall guard
the guard? she knows what she is about, and begins with them."
--Juvenal, vi. 346.]

What commodity will not serve their turn, in so knowing an age?

Curiosity is vicious throughout; but 'tis pernicious here. 'Tis folly to
examine into a disease for which there is no physic that does not inflame
and make it worse; of which the shame grows still greater and more public
by jealousy, and of which the revenge more wounds our children than it
heals us. You wither and die in the search of so obscure a proof. How
miserably have they of my time arrived at that knowledge who have been so
unhappy as to have found it out? If the informer does not at the same
time apply a remedy and bring relief, 'tis an injurious information, and
that better deserves a stab than the lie. We no less laugh at him who
takes pains to prevent it, than at him who is a cuckold and knows it not.
The character of cuckold is indelible: who once has it carries it to his
grave; the punishment proclaims it more than the fault. It is to much
purpose to drag out of obscurity and doubt our private misfortunes,
thence to expose them on tragic scaffolds; and misfortunes that only hurt
us by being known; for we say a good wife or a happy marriage, not that
they are really so, but because no one says to the contrary. Men should
be so discreet as to evade this tormenting and unprofitable knowledge:
and the Romans had a custom, when returning from any expedition, to send
home before to acquaint their wives with their coming, that they might
not surprise them; and to this purpose it is that a certain nation has
introduced a custom, that the priest shall on the wedding-day open the
way to the bride, to free the husband from the doubt and curiosity of
examining in the first assault, whether she comes a virgin to his bed, or
has been at the trade before.

But the world will be talking. I know, a hundred honest men cuckolds,
honestly and not unbeseemingly; a worthy man is pitied, not disesteemed
for it. Order it so that your virtue may conquer your misfortune; that
good men may curse the occasion, and that he who wrongs you may tremble
but to think on't. And, moreover, who escapes being talked of at the
same rate, from the least even to the greatest?

"Tot qui legionibus imperitivit
Et melior quam to multis fuit, improbe, rebus."

["Many who have commanded legions, many a man much better far than
you, you rascal."--Lucretius, iii. 1039, 1041.]

Seest thou how many honest men are reproached with this in thy presence;
believe that thou art no more spared elsewhere. But, the very ladies
will be laughing too; and what are they so apt to laugh at in this
virtuous age of ours as at a peaceable and well-composed marriage? Each
amongst you has made somebody cuckold; and nature runs much in parallel,
in compensation, and turn for turn. The frequency of this accident ought
long since to have made it more easy; 'tis now passed into custom.

Miserable passion! which has this also, that it is incommunicable,

"Fors etiam nostris invidit questibus aures;"

["Fortune also refuses ear to our complaints."
--Catullus, lxvii.]

for to what friend dare you intrust your griefs, who, if he does not
laugh at them, will not make use of the occasion to get a share of the
quarry? The sharps, as well as the sweets of marriage, are kept secret
by the wise; and amongst its other troublesome conditions this to a
prating fellow, as I am, is one of the chief, that custom has rendered it
indecent and prejudicial to communicate to any one all that a man knows
and all that a man feels. To give women the same counsel against
jealousy would be so much time lost; their very being is so made up of
suspicion, vanity, and curiosity, that to cure them by any legitimate way
is not to be hoped. They often recover of this infirmity by a form of
health much more to be feared than the disease itself; for as there are
enchantments that cannot take away the evil but by throwing it upon
another, they also willingly transfer this ever to their husbands, when
they shake it off themselves. And yet I know not, to speak truth,
whether a man can suffer worse from them than their jealousy; 'tis the
most dangerous of all their conditions, as the head is of all their
members. Pittacus used to say,--[Plutarch, On Contentment, c. II.]--
that every one had his trouble, and that his was the jealous head of his
wife; but for which he should think himself perfectly happy. A mighty
inconvenience, sure, which could poison the whole life of so just, so
wise, and so valiant a man; what must we other little fellows do? The
senate of Marseilles had reason to grant him his request who begged leave
to kill himself that he might be delivered from the clamour of his wife;
for 'tis a mischief that is never removed but by removing the whole
piece; and that has no remedy but flight or patience, though both of them
very hard. He was, methinks, an understanding fellow who said, 'twas a
happy marriage betwixt a blind wife and a deaf husband.

Let us also consider whether the great and violent severity of obligation
we enjoin them does not produce two effects contrary to our design
namely, whether it does not render the pursuants more eager to attack,
and the women more easy to yield. For as to the first, by raising the
value of the place, we raise the value and the desire of the conquest.
Might it not be Venus herself, who so cunningly enhanced the price of her
merchandise, by making the laws her bawds; knowing how insipid a delight
it would be that was not heightened by fancy and hardness to achieve?
In short, 'tis all swine's flesh, varied by sauces, as Flaminius' host
said. Cupid is a roguish god, who makes it his sport to contend with
devotion and justice: 'tis his glory that his power mates all powers, and
that all other rules give place to his:

"Materiam culpae prosequiturque suae."

["And seeks out a matter (motive) for his crimes."
--Ovid, Trist., iv. I. 34.]

As to the second point; should we not be less cuckolds, if we less feared
to be so? according to the humour of women whom interdiction incites, and
who are more eager, being forbidden:

"Ubi velis, nolunt; ubi nolis, volunt ultro;
Concessa pudet ire via."

["Where thou wilt, they won't; where thou wilt not, they
spontaneously agree; they are ashamed to go in the permitted path."
--Terence, Eunuchus, act iv., sc. 8, v 43]

What better interpretation can we make of Messalina's behaviour? She,
at first, made her husband a cuckold in private, as is the common use;
but, bringing her business about with too much ease, by reason of her
husband's stupidity, she soon scorned that way, and presently fell to
making open love, to own her lovers, and to favour and entertain them in
the sight of all: she would make him know and see how she used him. This
animal, not to be roused with all this, and rendering her pleasures dull
and flat by his too stupid facility, by which he seemed to authorise and
make them lawful; what does she? Being the wife of a living and
healthful emperor, and at Rome, the theatre of the world, in the face of
the sun, and with solemn ceremony, and to Silius, who had long before
enjoyed her, she publicly marries herself one day that her husband was
gone out of the city. Does it not seem as if she was going to become
chaste by her husband's negligence? or that she sought another husband
who might sharpen her appetite by his jealousy, and who by watching
should incite her? But the first difficulty she met with was also the
last: this beast suddenly roused these sleepy, sluggish sort of men are
often the most dangerous: I have found by experience that this extreme
toleration, when it comes to dissolve, produces the most severe revenge;
for taking fire on a sudden, anger and fury being combined in one,
discharge their utmost force at the first onset,

"Irarumque omnes effundit habenas:"

["He let loose his whole fury."--AEneid, xii. 499.]

he put her to death, and with her a great number of those with whom she
had intelligence, and even one of them who could not help it, and whom
she had caused to be forced to her bed with scourges.

What Virgil says of Venus and Vulcan, Lucretius had better expressed of a
stolen enjoyment betwixt her and Mars:

"Belli fera moenera Mavors
Armipotens regit, ingremium qui saepe tuum se
Rejictt, aeterno devinctus vulnere amoris
Pascit amore avidos inhians in te, Dea, visus,
Eque tuo pendet resupini spiritus ore
Hunc tu, Diva, tuo recubantem corpore sancto
Circumfusa super, suaveis ex ore loquelas

["Mars, the god of wars, who controls the cruel tasks of war, often
reclines on thy bosom, and greedily drinks love at both his eyes,
vanquished by the eternal wound of love: and his breath, as he
reclines, hangs on thy lips; bending thy head over him as he lies
upon thy sacred person, pour forth sweet and persuasive words."
--Lucretius, i. 23.]

When I consider this rejicit, fiascit, inhians, ynolli, fovet, medullas,
labefacta, pendet, percurrit, and that noble circumfusa, mother of the
pretty infuses; I disdain those little quibbles and verbal allusions that
have since sprung up. Those worthy people stood in need of no subtlety
to disguise their meaning; their language is downright, and full of
natural and continued vigour; they are all epigram; not only the tail,
but the head, body, and feet. There is nothing forced, nothing
languishing, but everything keeps the same pace:

"Contextus totes virilis est; non sunt circa flosculos occupati."

["The whole contexture is manly; they don't occupy themselves with
little flowers of rhetoric."--Seneca, Ep., 33.]

'Tis not a soft eloquence, and without offence only; 'tis nervous and
solid, that does not so much please, as it fills and ravishes the
greatest minds. When I see these brave forms of expression, so lively,
so profound, I do not say that 'tis well said, but well thought. 'Tis
the sprightliness of the imagination that swells and elevates the words:

"Pectus est quod disertum Tacit."

["The heart makes the man eloquent."--Quintilian, x. 7.]

Our people call language, judgment, and fine words, full conceptions.
This painting is not so much carried on by dexterity of hand as by having
the object more vividly imprinted in the soul. Gallus speaks simply
because he conceives simply: Horace does not content himself with a
superficial expression; that would betray him; he sees farther and more
clearly into things; his mind breaks into and rummages all the magazine
of words and figures wherewith to express himself, and he must have them
more than ordinary, because his conception is so. Plutarch says' that he
sees the Latin tongue by the things: 'tis here the same: the sense
illuminates and produces the words, no more words of air, but of flesh
and bone; they signify more than they say. Moreover, those who are not
well skilled in a language present some image of this; for in Italy I
said whatever I had a mind to in common discourse, but in more serious
talk, I durst not have trusted myself with an idiom that I could not wind
and turn out of its ordinary pace; I would have a power of introducing
something of my own.

The handling and utterance of fine wits is that which sets off language;
not so much by innovating it, as by putting it to more vigorous and
various services, and by straining, bending, and adapting it to them.
They do not create words, but they enrich their own, and give them weight
and signification by the uses they put them to, and teach them unwonted
motions, but withal ingeniously and discreetly. And how little this
talent is given to all is manifest by the many French scribblers of this
age: they are bold and proud enough not to follow the common road, but
want of invention and discretion ruins them; there is nothing seen in
their writings but a wretched affectation of a strange new style, with
cold and absurd disguises, which, instead of elevating, depress the
matter: provided they can but trick themselves out with new words, they
care not what they signify; and to bring in a new word by the head and
shoulders, they leave the old one, very often more sinewy and significant
than the other.

There is stuff enough in our language, but there is a defect in cutting
out: for there is nothing that might not be made out of our terms of
hunting and war, which is a fruitful soil to borrow from; and forms of
speaking, like herbs, improve and grow stronger by being transplanted.
I find it sufficiently abundant, but not sufficiently pliable and
vigorous; it commonly quails under a powerful conception; if you would
maintain the dignity of your style, you will often perceive it to flag
and languish under you, and there Latin steps in to its relief, as Greek
does to others. Of some of these words I have just picked out we do not
so easily discern the energy, by reason that the frequent use of them has
in some sort abased their beauty, and rendered it common; as in our
ordinary language there are many excellent phrases and metaphors to be
met with, of which the beauty is withered by age, and the colour is
sullied by too common handling; but that nothing lessens the relish to an
understanding man, nor does it derogate from the glory of those ancient
authors who, 'tis likely, first brought those words into that lustre.

The sciences treat of things too refinedly, after an artificial, very
different from the common and natural, way. My page makes love, and
understands it; but read to him Leo Hebraeus--[Leo the Jew, Ficinus,
Cardinal Bembo, and Mario Equicola all wrote Treatises on Love.]--
and Ficinus, where they speak of love, its thoughts and actions, he
understands it not. I do not find in Aristotle most of my ordinary
motions; they are there covered and disguised in another robe for the use
of the schools. Good speed them! were I of the trade, I would as much
naturalise art as they artificialise nature. Let us let Bembo and
Equicola alone.

When I write, I can very well spare both the company and the remembrance
of books, lest they should interrupt my progress; and also, in truth, the
best authors too much humble and discourage me: I am very much of the
painter's mind, who, having represented cocks most wretchedly ill,
charged all his boys not to suffer any natural cock to come into his
shop; and had rather need to give myself a little lustre, of the
invention of Antigenides the musician, who, when he was asked to sing or
play, took care beforehand that the auditory should, either before or
after, be satiated with some other ill musicians. But I can hardly be
without Plutarch; he is so universal and so full, that upon all
occasions, and what extravagant subject soever you take in hand, he will
still be at your elbow, and hold out to you a liberal and not to be
exhausted hand of riches and embellishments. It vexes me that he is so
exposed to be the spoil of those who are conversant with him: I can
scarce cast an eye upon him but I purloin either a leg or a wing.

And also for this design of mine 'tis convenient for me for me to write
at home, in a wild country, where I have nobody to assist or relieve me;
where I hardly see a man who understands the Latin of his Paternoster,
and of French a little less. I might have made it better elsewhere, but
then the work would have been less my own; and its principal end and
perfection is to be exactly mine. I readily correct an accidental error,
of which I am full, as I run carelessly on; but for my ordinary and
constant imperfections, it were a kind of treason to put them out. When
another tells me, or that I say to myself, "Thou art too thick of
figures: this is a word of rough Gascon: that is a dangerous phrase (I do
not reject any of those that are used in the common streets of France;
they who would fight custom with grammar are triflers): this is an
ignorant discourse: this is a paradoxical discourse: that is going too
far: thou makest thyself too merry at times: men will think thou sayest a
thing in good earnest which thou only speakest in jest."--"Yes, I know,
but I correct the faults of inadvertence, not those of custom. Do I not
talk at the same rate throughout? Do I not represent myself to the life?
'Tis enough that I have done what I designed; all the world knows me in
my book, and my book in me."

Now I have an apish, imitative quality: when I used to write verses (and
I never made any but Latin), they evidently discovered the poet I had
last read, and some of my first essays have a little exotic taste: I
speak something another kind of language at Paris than I do at Montaigne.
Whoever I steadfastly look upon easily leaves some impression of his upon
me; whatever I consider I usurp, whether a foolish countenance, a
disagreeable look, or a ridiculous way of speaking; and vices most of
all, because they seize and stick to me, and will not leave hold without
shaking. I swear more by imitation than by complexion: a murderous
imitation, like that of the apes so terrible both in stature and
strength, that Alexander met with in a certain country of the Indies, and
which he would have had much ado any other way to have subdued; but they
afforded him the means by that inclination of theirs to imitate whatever
they saw done; for by that the hunters were taught to put on shoes in
their sight, and to tie them fast with many knots, and to muffle up their
heads in caps all composed of running nooses, and to seem to anoint their
eyes with glue; so did those poor beasts employ their imitation to their
own ruin they glued up their own eyes, haltered and bound themselves.
The other faculty of playing the mimic, and ingeniously acting the words
and gestures of another, purposely to make people merry and to raise
their admiration, is no more in me than in a stock. When I swear my own
oath, 'tis only, by God! of all oaths the most direct. They say that
Socrates swore by the dog; Zeno had for his oath the same interjection at
this time in use amongst the Italians, Cappari! Pythagoras swore By
water and air. I am so apt, without thinking of it, to receive these
superficial impressions, that if I have Majesty or Highness in my mouth
three days together, they come out instead of Excellency and Lordship
eight days after; and what I say to-day in sport and fooling I shall say
the same to-morrow seriously. Wherefore, in writing, I more unwillingly
undertake beaten arguments, lest I should handle them at another's
expense. Every subject is equally fertile to me: a fly will serve the
purpose, and 'tis well if this I have in hand has not been undertaken at
the recommendation of as flighty a will. I may begin, with that which
pleases me best, for the subjects are all linked to one another.

But my soul displeases me, in that it ordinarily produces its deepest and
most airy conceits and which please me best, when I least expect or study
for them, and which suddenly vanish, having at the instant, nothing to
apply them to; on horseback, at table, and in bed: but most on horseback,
where I am most given to think. My speaking is a little nicely jealous
of silence and attention: if I am talking my best, whoever interrupts me,
stops me. In travelling, the necessity of the way will often put a stop
to discourse; besides which I, for the most part, travel without company
fit for regular discourses, by which means I have all the leisure I would
to entertain myself. It falls out as it does in my dreams; whilst
dreaming I recommend them to my memory (for I am apt to dream that I
dream), but, the next morning, I may represent to myself of what
complexion they were, whether gay, or sad, or strange, but what they
were, as to the rest, the more I endeavour to retrieve them, the deeper I
plunge them in oblivion. So of thoughts that come accidentally into my
head, I have no more but a vain image remaining in my memory; only enough
to make me torment myself in their quest to no purpose.

Well, then, laying books aside, and more simply and materially speaking,
I find, after all, that Love is nothing else but the thirst of enjoying
the object desired, or Venus any other thing than the pleasure of
discharging one's vessels, just as the pleasure nature gives in
discharging other parts, that either by immoderation or indiscretion
become vicious. According to Socrates, love is the appetite of
generation by the mediation of beauty. And when I consider the
ridiculous titillation of this pleasure, the absurd, crack-brained, wild
motions with which it inspires Zeno and Cratippus, the indiscreet rage,
the countenance inflamed with fury and cruelty in the sweetest effects of
love, and then that austere air, so grave, severe, ecstatic, in so wanton
an action; that our delights and our excrements are promiscuously
shuffled together; and that the supreme pleasure brings along with it, as
in pain, fainting and complaining; I believe it to be true, as Plato
says, that the gods made man for their sport:

"Quaenam ista jocandi

["With a sportive cruelty" (Or:) "What an unkindness there is in
jesting!"--Claudian in Eutrop. i. 24.]

and that it was in mockery that nature has ordered the most agitative of
actions and the most common, to make us equal, and to put fools and wise
men, beasts and us, on a level. Even the most contemplative and prudent
man, when I imagine him in this posture, I hold him an impudent fellow to
pretend to be prudent and contemplative; they are the peacocks' feet that
abate his pride:

"Ridentem dicere verum
Quid vetat?"

["What prevents us from speaking truth with a smile?"
--Horace, Sat., i. I, 24.]

They who banish serious imaginations from their sports, do, says one,
like him who dares not adore the statue of a saint, if not covered with a
veil. We eat and drink, indeed, as beasts do; but these are not actions
that obstruct the functions of the soul, in these we maintain our
advantage over them; this other action subjects all other thought,
and by its imperious authority makes an ass of all Plato's divinity and
philosophy; and yet there is no complaint of it. In everything else a
man may keep some decorum, all other operations submit to the rules of
decency; this cannot so much as in imagination appear other than vicious
or ridiculous: find out, if you can, therein any serious and discreet
procedure. Alexander said, that he chiefly knew himself to be mortal by
this act and sleeping; sleep suffocates and suppresses the faculties of
the soul; the familiarity with women likewise dissipates and exhausts
them: doubtless 'tis a mark, not only of our original corruption, but
also of our vanity and deformity.

On the one side, nature pushes us on to it, having fixed the most noble,
useful, and pleasant of all her functions to this desire: and, on the
other side, leaves us to accuse and avoid it, as insolent and indecent,
to blush at it, and to recommend abstinence. Are we not brutes to call
that work brutish which begets us? People of so many differing religions
have concurred in several proprieties, as sacrifices, lamps, burning
incense, fasts, and offerings; and amongst others, in the condemning this
act: all opinions tend that way, besides the widespread custom of
circumcision, which may be regarded as a punishment. We have,
peradventure, reason to blame ourselves for being guilty of so foolish
a production as man, and to call the act, and the parts that are employed
in the act, shameful (mine, truly, are now shameful and pitiful). The
Essenians, of whom Pliny speaks, kept up their country for several ages
without either nurse or baby-clouts, by the arrival of strangers who,
following this pretty humour, came continually to them: a whole nation
being resolute, rather to hazard a total extermination, than to engage
themselves in female embraces, and rather to lose the succession of men,
than to beget one. 'Tis said, that Zeno never had to do with a woman but
once in his life, and then out of civility, that he might not seem too
obstinately to disdain the sex.

[Diogenes Laertius, vii. 13.--What is there said, however, is that
Zeno seldom had commerce with boys, lest he should be deemed a very

Every one avoids seeing a man born, every one runs to see him die; to
destroy him a spacious field is sought out in the face of the sun, but,
to make him, we creep into as dark and private a corner as we can: 'tis a
man's duty to withdraw himself bashfully from the light to create; but
'tis glory and the fountain of many virtues to know how to destroy what
we have made: the one is injury, the other favour: for Aristotle says
that to do any one a kindness, in a certain phrase of his country, is to
kill him. The Athenians, to couple the disgrace of these two actions,
having to purge the Isle of Delos, and to justify themselves to Apollo,
interdicted at once all births and burials in the precincts thereof:

"Nostri nosmet paenitet."

["We are ashamed of ourselves."--Terence, Phoymio, i. 3, 20.]

There are some nations that will not be seen to eat. I know a lady, and
of the best quality, who has the same opinion, that chewing disfigures
the face, and takes away much from the ladies' grace and beauty; and
therefore unwillingly appears at a public table with an appetite; and I
know a man also, who cannot endure to see another eat, nor himself to be
seen eating, and who is more shy of company when putting in than when
putting out. In the Turkish empire, there are a great number of men who,
to excel others, never suffer themselves to be seen when they make their
repast: who never have any more than one a week; who cut and mangle their
faces and limbs; who never speak to any one: fanatic people who think to
honour their nature by disnaturing themselves; who value themselves upon
their contempt of themselves, and purport to grow better by being worse.
What monstrous animal is this, that is a horror to himself, to whom his
delights are grievous, and who weds himself to misfortune? There are
people who conceal their life:

"Exilioque domos et dulcia limina mutant,"

["And change for exile their homes and pleasant abodes."
--Virgil, Georg., ii. 511.]

and withdraw them from the sight of other men; who avoid health and
cheerfulness, as dangerous and prejudicial qualities. Not only many
sects, but many peoples, curse their birth, and bless their death; and
there is a place where the sun is abominated and darkness adored. We are
only ingenious in using ourselves ill: 'tis the real quarry our
intellects fly at; and intellect, when misapplied, is a dangerous tool!

"O miseri! quorum gaudia crimen habent!"

["O wretched men, whose pleasures are a crime!"
--Pseudo Gallus, i. 180.]

Alas, poor man! thou hast enough inconveniences that are inevitable,
without increasing them by throe own invention; and art miserable enough
by nature, without being so by art; thou hast real and essential
deformities enough, without forging those that are imaginary. Dost thou
think thou art too much at ease unless half thy ease is uneasy? dost
thou find that thou hast not performed all the necessary offices that
nature has enjoined thee, and that she is idle in thee, if thou dost not
oblige thyself to other and new offices? Thou dost not stick to infringe
her universal and undoubted laws; but stickest to thy own special and
fantastic rules, and by how much more particular, uncertain, and
contradictory they are, by so much thou employest thy whole endeavour in
them: the laws of thy parish occupy and bind thee: those of God and the
world concern thee not. Run but a little over the examples of this kind;
thy life is full of them.

Whilst the verses of these two poets, treat so reservedly and discreetly
of wantonness as they do, methinks they discover it much more openly.
Ladies cover their necks with network, priests cover several sacred
things, and painters shadow their pictures to give them greater lustre:
and 'tis said that the sun and wind strike more violently by reflection
than in a direct line. The Egyptian wisely answered him who asked him
what he had under his cloak, "It is hid under my cloak," said he, "that
thou mayest not know what it is:" but there are certain other things that
people hide only to show them. Hear that one, who speaks plainer,

"Et nudum pressi corpus ad usque meum:"

["And pressed her naked body to mine" (Or:) "My body
I applied even to her naked side"--Ovid, Amor., i. 5, 24.]

methinks that he emasculates me. Let Martial turn up Venus as high as he
may, he cannot shew her so naked: he who says all that is to be said
gluts and disgusts us. He who is afraid to express himself, draws us on
to guess at more than is meant; there is treachery in this sort of
modesty, and specially when they half open, as these do, so fair a path
to imagination. Both the action and description should relish of theft.

The more respectful, more timorous, more coy, and secret love of the
Spaniards and Italians pleases me. I know not who of old wished his
throat as long as that of a crane, that he might the longer taste what he
swallowed; it had been better wished as to this quick and precipitous
pleasure, especially in such natures as mine that have the fault of being
too prompt. To stay its flight and delay it with preambles: all things--
a glance, a bow, a word, a sign, stand for favour and recompense betwixt
them. Were it not an excellent piece of thrift in him who could dine on
the steam of the roast? 'Tis a passion that mixes with very little solid
essence, far more vanity and feverish raving; and we should serve and pay
it accordingly. Let us teach the ladies to set a better value and esteem
upon themselves, to amuse and fool us: we give the last charge at the
first onset; the French impetuosity will still show itself; by spinning
out their favours, and exposing them in small parcels, even miserable old
age itself will find some little share of reward, according to its worth
and merit. He who has no fruition but in fruition, who wins nothing
unless he sweeps the stakes, who takes no pleasure in the chase but in
the quarry, ought not to introduce himself in our school: the more steps
and degrees there are, so much higher and more honourable is the
uppermost seat: we should take a pleasure in being conducted to it, as in
magnificent palaces, by various porticoes and passages, long and pleasant
galleries, and many windings. This disposition of things would turn to
our advantage; we should there longer stay and longer love; without hope
and without desire we proceed not worth a pin. Our conquest and entire
possession is what they ought infinitely to dread: when they wholly
surrender themselves up to the mercy of our fidelity and constancy they
run a mighty hazard; they are virtues very rare and hard to be found; the
ladies are no sooner ours, than we are no more theirs:

"Postquam cupidae mentis satiata libido est,
Verba nihil metuere, nihil perjuria curant;"

["When our desires are once satisfied, we care little
for oaths and promises."--Catullus, lxiv. 147.]

And Thrasonides, a young man of Greece, was so in love with his passion
that, having, gained a mistress's consent, he refused to enjoy her, that
he might not by fruition quench and stupefy the unquiet ardour of which
he was so proud, and with which he so fed himself. Dearness is a good
sauce to meat: do but observe how much the manner of salutation,
particular to our nation, has, by its facilities, made kisses, which
Socrates says are so powerful and dangerous for the stealing of hearts,
of no esteem. It is a displeasing custom and injurious for the ladies,
that they must be obliged to lend their lips to every fellow who has
three footmen at his heels, however ill-favoured he may be in himself:

"Cujus livida naribus caninis
Dependet glacies, rigetque barba . . .
Centum occurrere malo culilingis:"
Martial, vii. 94.

and we ourselves barely gain by it; for as the world is divided, for
three beautiful women we must kiss fifty ugly ones; and to a tender
stomach, like those of my age, an ill kiss overpays a good one.

In Italy they passionately court even their common women who sell
themselves for money, and justify the doing so by saying, "that there are
degrees of fruition, and that by such service they would procure for
themselves that which is most entire; the women sell nothing but their
bodies; the will is too free and too much of its own to be exposed to
sale." So that these say, 'tis the will they undertake and they have
reason. 'Tis indeed the will that we are to serve and gain by wooing.
I abhor to imagine mine, a body without affection: and this madness is,
methinks, cousin-german to that of the boy who would needs pollute the
beautiful statue of Venus made by Praxiteles; or that of the furious
Egyptian, who violated the dead carcase of a woman he was embalming:
which was the occasion of the law then made in Egypt, that the corpses of
beautiful young women, of those of good quality, should be kept three
days before they should be delivered to those whose office it was to take
care for the interment. Periander did more wonderfully, who extended his
conjugal affection (more regular and legitimate) to the enjoyment of his
wife Melissa after she was dead. Does it not seem a lunatic humour in
the Moon, seeing she could no otherwise enjoy her darling Endymion, to
lay-him for several months asleep, and to please herself with the
fruition of a boy who stirred not but in his sleep? I likewise say that
we love a body without a soul or sentiment when we love a body without
its consent and desire. All enjoyments are not alike: there are some
that are hectic and languishing: a thousand other causes besides good-
will may procure us this favour from the ladies; this is not a sufficient
testimony of affection: treachery may lurk there, as well as elsewhere:
they sometimes go to't by halves:

"Tanquam thura merumque parent
Absentem marmoreamve putes:"

["As if they are preparing frankincense and wine . . . you might
think her absent or marble."--Martial, xi. 103, 12, and 59, 8.]

I know some who had rather lend that than their coach, and who only
impart themselves that way. You are to examine whether your company
pleases them upon any other account, or, as some strong-chined groom,
for that only; in what degree of favour and esteem you are with them:

"Tibi si datur uni,
Quem lapide illa diem candidiore notat."

["Wherefore that is enough, if that day alone is given us which she
marks with a whiter stone."--Catullus, lxviii. 147.]

What if they eat your bread with the sauce of a more pleasing

"Te tenet, absentes alios suspirat amores."

["She has you in her arms; her thoughts are with
other absent lovers."--Tibullus, i. 6, 35.]

What? have we not seen one in these days of ours who made use of this act
for the purpose of a most horrid revenge, by that means to kill and
poison, as he did, a worthy lady?

Such as know Italy will not think it strange if, for this subject, I seek
not elsewhere for examples; for that nation may be called the regent of
the world in this. They have more generally handsome and fewer ugly
women than we; but for rare and excellent beauties we have as many as
they. I think the same of their intellects: of those of the common sort,
they have evidently far more brutishness is immeasurably rarer there;
but in individual characters of the highest form, we are nothing indebted
to them. If I should carry on the comparison, I might say, as touching
valour, that, on the contrary, it is, to what it is with them, common and
natural with us; but sometimes we see them possessed of it to such a
degree as surpasses the greatest examples we can produce: The marriages
of that country are defective in this; their custom commonly imposes so
rude and so slavish a law upon the women, that the most distant
acquaintance with a stranger is as capital an offence as the most
intimate; so that all approaches being rendered necessarily substantial,
and seeing that all comes to one account, they have no hard choice to
make; and when they have broken down the fence, we may safely presume
they get on fire:

"Luxuria ipsis vinculis, sicut fera bestia,
irritata, deinde emissa."

["Lust, like a wild beast, being more excited by being bound,
breaks from his chains with greater wildness."--Livy, xxxiv. 4.]

They must give them a little more rein:

"Vidi ego nuper equum, contra sua frena tenacem,
Ore reluctanti fulminis ire modo":

["I saw, the other day, a horse struggling against his bit,
rush like a thunderbolt."--Ovid, Amor., iii. 4, 13.]

the desire of company is allayed by giving it a little liberty. We are
pretty much in the same case they are extreme in constraint, we in
licence. 'Tis a good custom we have in France that our sons are received
into the best families, there to be entertained and bred up pages, as in
a school of nobility; and 'tis looked upon as a discourtesy and an
affront to refuse this to a gentleman. I have taken notice (for, so many
families, so many differing forms) that the ladies who have been
strictest with their maids have had no better luck than those who allowed
them a greater liberty. There should be moderation in these things; one
must leave a great deal of their conduct to their own discretion; for,
when all comes to all, no discipline can curb them throughout. But it is
true withal that she who comes off with flying colours from a school of
liberty, brings with her whereon to repose more confidence than she who
comes away sound from a severe and strict school.

Our fathers dressed up their daughters' looks in bashfulness and fear
(their courage and desires being the same); we ours in confidence and
assurance; we understand nothing of the matter; we must leave it to the
Sarmatian women, who may not lie with a man till with their own hands
they have first killed another in battle. For me, who have no other
title left me to these things but by the ears, 'tis sufficient if,
according to the privilege of my age, they retain me for one of their
counsel. I advise them then, and us men too, to abstinence; but if the
age we live in will not endure it, at least modesty and discretion. For,
as in the story of Aristippus, who, speaking to some young men who
blushed to see him go into a scandalous house, said "the vice is in not
coming out, not in going in," let her who has no care of her conscience
have yet some regard to her reputation; and though she be rotten within,
let her carry a fair outside at least.

I commend a gradation and delay in bestowing their favours: Plato
'declares that, in all sorts of love, facility and promptness are
forbidden to the defendant. 'Tis a sign of eagerness which they ought to
disguise with all the art they have, so rashly, wholly, and hand-over-
hand to surrender themselves. In carrying themselves orderly and
measuredly in the granting their last favours, they much more allure our
desires and hide their own. Let them still fly before us, even those who
have most mind to be overtaken: they better conquer us by flying, as the
Scythians did. To say the truth, according to the law that nature has
imposed upon them, it is not properly for them either to will or desire;
their part is to suffer, obey, and consent and for this it is that nature
has given them a perpetual capacity, which in us is but at times and
uncertain; they are always fit for the encounter, that they may be always
ready when we are so "Pati natee."-["Born to suffer."-Seneca, Ep., 95.]--
And whereas she has ordered that our appetites shall be manifest by a
prominent demonstration, she would have theirs to be hidden and concealed
within, and has furnished them with parts improper for ostentation, and
simply defensive. Such proceedings as this that follows must be left to
the Amazonian licence: Alexander marching his army through Hyrcania,
Thalestris, Queen of the Amazons, came with three hundred light horse of
her own-sex, well mounted, and armed, having left the remainder of a very
great, army that followed her behind the neighbouring mountains to give
him a visit; where she publicly and in plain terms told him that the fame
of his valour and victories had brought her thither to see him, and to
make him an offer of her forces to assist him in the pursuit of his
enterprises; and that, finding him so handsome, young, and vigorous, she,
who was also perfect in all those qualities, advised that they might lie
together, to the end that from the most valiant woman of the world and
the bravest man then living, there might spring some great and wonderful
issue for the time to come. Alexander returned her thanks for all the
rest; but, to give leisure for the accomplishment of her last demand,
he detained her thirteen days in that place, which were spent in royal
feasting and jollity, for the welcome of so courageous a princess.

We are, almost throughout, unjust judges of their actions, as they are of
ours. I confess the truth when it makes against me, as well as when 'tis
on my side. 'Tis an abominable intemperance that pushes them on so often
to change, and that will not let them limit their affection to any one
person whatever; as is evident in that goddess to whom are attributed so
many changes and so many lovers. But 'tis true withal that 'tis contrary
to the nature of love if it be, not violent; and contrary to the nature
of violence if it be constant. And they who wonder, exclaim, and keep
such a clutter to find out the causes of this frailty of theirs, as
unnatural and not to be believed, how comes it to pass they do not
discern how often they are themselves guilty of the same, without any
astonishment or miracle at all? It would, peradventure, be more strange
to see the passion fixed; 'tis not a simply corporeal passion. If there
be no end to avarice and ambition, there is doubtless no more in desire;
it still lives after satiety; and 'tis impossible to prescribe either
constant satisfaction or end; it ever goes beyond its possession. And by
that means inconstancy, peradventure, is in some sort more pardonable in
them than in us: they may plead, as well as we, the inclination to
variety and novelty common to us both; and secondly, without us, that
they buy a cat in a sack: Joanna, queen of Naples, caused her first
husband, Andrews, to be hanged at the bars of her window in a halter of
gold and silk woven with her own hand, because in matrimonial
performances she neither found his parts nor abilities answer the
expectation she had conceived from his stature, beauty, youth, and
activity, by which she had been caught and deceived. They may say there
is more pains required in doing than in suffering; and so they are on
their part always at least provided for necessity, whereas on our part it
may fall out otherwise. For this reason it was, that Plato wisely made a
law that before marriage, to determine of the fitness of persons, the
judges should see the young men who pretended to it stripped stark naked,
and the women but to the girdle only. When they come to try us they do
not, perhaps, find us worthy of their choice:

"Experta latus, madidoque simillima loro
Inguina, nec lassa stare coacta manu,
Deserit imbelles thalamos."

["After using every endeavour to arouse him to action,
she quits the barren couch."--Martial, vii. 58.]

'Tis not enough that a man's will be good; weakness and insufficiency
lawfully break a marriage,

"Et quaerendum aliunde foret nervosius illud,
Quod posset zonam solvere virgineam:"

["And seeks a more vigorous lover to undo her virgin zone."
--Catullus, lxvii. 27.]

why not? and according to her own standard, an amorous intelligence,
more licentious and active,

"Si blando nequeat superesse labori."

["If his strength be unequal to the pleasant task."
--Virgil, Georg., iii. 127.]

But is it not great impudence to offer our imperfections and
imbecilities, where we desire to please and leave a good opinion and
esteem of ourselves? For the little that I am able to do now:

"Ad unum
Mollis opus."

["Fit but for once."--Horace, Epod., xii. 15.]

I would not trouble a woman, that I am to reverence and fear:

"Fuge suspicari,
Cujus undenum trepidavit aetas
Claudere lustrum."

["Fear not him whose eleventh lustrum is closed."
--Horace, Od., ii. 4, 12, limits it to the eighth.]

Nature should satisfy herself in having rendered this age miserable,
without rendering it ridiculous too. I hate to see it, for one poor inch
of pitiful vigour which comes upon it but thrice a week, to strut and set
itself out with as much eagerness as if it could do mighty feats; a true
flame of flax; and laugh to see it so boil and bubble and then in a
moment so congealed and extinguished. This appetite ought to appertain
only to the flower of beautiful youth: trust not to its seconding that
indefatigable, full, constant, magnanimous ardour you think in you, for
it will certainly leave you in a pretty corner; but rather transfer it to
some tender, bashful, and ignorant boy, who yet trembles at the rod, and

"Indum sanguineo veluti violaverit ostro
Si quis ebur, vel mista rubent ubi lilia multa
Alba rosa."

["As Indian ivory streaked with crimson, or white lilies mixed
with the damask rose."--AEneid, xii. 67.]

Who can stay till the morning without dying for shame to behold the
disdain of the fair eyes of her who knows so well his fumbling

"Et taciti fecere tamen convicia vultus,"

["Though she nothing say, her looks betray her anger."
--Ovid, Amor., i. 7, 21.]

has never had the satisfaction and the glory of having cudgelled them
till they were weary, with the vigorous performance of one heroic night.
When I have observed any one to be vexed with me, I have not presently
accused her levity, but have been in doubt, if I had not reason rather to
complain of nature; she has doubtless used me very uncivilly and

"Si non longa satis, si non bene mentula crassa
Nimirum sapiunt, videntque parvam
Matronae quoque mentulam illibenter:"

[The first of these verses is the commencement of an epigram of the
Veterum Poetayurra Catalecta, and the two others are from an epigram
in the same collection (Ad Matrones). They describe untranslatably
Montaigne's charge against nature, indicated in the previous

and done me a most enormous injury. Every member I have, as much one as
another, is equally my own, and no other more properly makes me a man
than this.

I universally owe my entire picture to the public. The wisdom of my
instruction consists in liberty, in truth, in essence: disdaining to
introduce those little, feigned, common, and provincial rules into the
catalogue of its real duties; all natural, general, and constant,
of which civility and ceremony are daughters indeed, but illegitimate.
We are sure to have the vices of appearance, when we shall have had those
of essence: when we have done with these, we run full drive upon the
others, if we find it must be so; for there is danger that we shall fancy
new offices, to excuse our negligence towards the natural ones, and to
confound them: and to manifest this, is it not seen that in places where
faults are crimes, crimes are but faults; that in nations where the laws
of decency are most rare and most remiss, the primitive laws of common
reason are better observed: the innumerable multitude of so many duties
stifling and dissipating our care. The application of ourselves to light
and trivial things diverts us from those that are necessary and just.
Oh, how these superficial men take an easy and plausible way in
comparison of ours! These are shadows wherewith we palliate and pay one
another; but we do not pay, but inflame the reckoning towards that great
judge, who tucks up our rags and tatters above our shameful parts, and
suckles not to view us all over, even to our inmost and most secret
ordures: it were a useful decency of our maidenly modesty, could it keep
him from this discovery. In fine, whoever could reclaim man from so
scrupulous a verbal superstition, would do the world no great disservice.
Our life is divided betwixt folly and prudence: whoever will write of it
but what is reverend and canonical, will leave above the one-half behind.
I do not excuse myself to myself; and if I did, it should rather be for
my excuses that I would excuse myself than for any other fault; I excuse
myself of certain humours, which I think more strong in number than those
that are on my side. In consideration of which, I will further say this
(for I desire to please every one, though it will be hard to do):

"Esse unum hominem accommodatum ad tantam morum
ac sermonum et voluntatum varietatem,"

["For a man to conform to such a variety of manners,
discourses, and will."--Q. Cicero, De Pet. Consul, c. 14.]

that they ought not to condemn me for what I make authorities, received
and approved by so many ages, to utter: and that there is no reason that
for want of rhyme they should refuse me the liberty they allow even to
churchmen of our nation and time, and these amongst the most notable, of
which here are two of their brisk verses:

"Rimula, dispeream, ni monogramma tua est."

"Un vit d'amy la contente et bien traicte:"

[St. Gelais, (Euvres Poetiques), p. 99, ed. of Lyons, 1574.]

besides how many others. I love modesty; and 'tis not out of judgment
that I have chosen this scandalous way of speaking; 'tis nature that has
chosen it for me. I commend it not, no more than other forms that are
contrary to common use: but I excuse it, and by circumstances both
general and particular, alleviate its accusation.

But to proceed. Whence, too, can proceed that usurpation of sovereign
authority you take upon you over the women, who favour you at their own

"Si furtiva dedit mira munuscula nocte,"

["If, in the stealthy night, she has made strange gifts."
--Catullus, lxviii. 145.]

so that you presently assume the interest, coldness, and authority of a
husband? 'Tis a free contract why do you not then keep to it, as you
would have them do? there is no prescription upon voluntary things.
'Tis against the form, but it is true withal, that I in my time have
conducted this bargain as much as the nature of it would permit, as
conscientiously and with as much colour of justice, as any other
contract; and that I never pretended other affection than what I really
had, and have truly acquainted them with its birth, vigour, and
declination, its fits and intermissions: a man does not always hold on
at the same rate. I have been so sparing of my promises, that I think
I have been better than my word. They have found me faithful even to
service of their inconstancy, a confessed and sometimes multiplied
inconstancy. I never broke with them, whilst I had any hold at all, and
what occasion soever they have given me, never broke with them to hatred
or contempt; for such privacies, though obtained upon never so scandalous
terms, do yet oblige to some good will: I have sometimes, upon their
tricks and evasions, discovered a little indiscreet anger and impatience;
for I am naturally subject to rash emotions, which, though light and
short, often spoil my market. At any time they have consulted my
judgment, I never stuck to give them sharp and paternal counsels, and to
pinch them to the quick. If I have left them any cause to complain of
me, 'tis rather to have found in me, in comparison of the modern use, a
love foolishly conscientious than anything else. I have kept my, word in
things wherein I might easily have been dispensed; they sometimes
surrendered themselves with reputation, and upon articles that they were
willing enough should be broken by the conqueror: I have, more than once,
made pleasure in its greatest effort strike to the interest of their
honour; and where reason importuned me, have armed them against myself;
so that they ordered themselves more decorously and securely by my rules,
when they frankly referred themselves to them, than they would have done
by their own. I have ever, as much as I could, wholly taken upon myself
alone the hazard of our assignations, to acquit them; and have always
contrived our meetings after the hardest and most unusual manner, as less
suspected, and, moreover, in my opinion, more accessible. They are
chiefly more open, where they think they are most securely shut; things
least feared are least interdicted and observed; one may more boldly dare
what nobody thinks you dare, which by its difficulty becomes easy. Never
had any man his approaches more impertinently generative; this way of
loving is more according to discipline but how ridiculous it is to our
people, and how ineffectual, who better knows than I? yet I shall not
repent me of it; I have nothing there more to lose:

"Me tabula sacer
Votiva paries, indicat uvida
Suspendisse potenti
Vestimenta maris deo:"

[" The holy wall, by my votive table, shows that I have hanged up my
wet clothes in honour of the powerful god of the sea."
--Horace, Od., i. 5, 13.]

'tis now time to speak out. But as I might, per adventure, say to
another, " Thou talkest idly, my friend; the love of thy time has little
commerce with faith and integrity;"

"Haec si tu postules
Ratione certa facere, nihilo plus agas,
Quam si des operam, ut cum ratione insanias:"

["If you seek to make these things certain by reason, you will do no
more than if you should seek to be mad in your senses."
--Terence, Eun., act i., sc. i, v. 16.]

on the contrary, also, if it were for me to begin again, certainly it
should be by the same method and the same progress, how fruitless soever
it might be to me; folly and insufficiency are commendable in an
incommendable action: the farther I go from their humour in this, I
approach so much nearer to my own. As to the rest, in this traffic, I
did not suffer myself to be totally carried away; I pleased myself in it,
but did not forget myself. I retained the little sense and discretion
that nature has given me, entire for their service and my own: a little
emotion, but no dotage. My conscience, also, was engaged in it, even to
debauch and licentiousness; but, as to ingratitude, treachery, malice,
and cruelty, never. I would not purchase the pleasure of this vice at
any price, but content myself with its proper and simple cost:

"Nullum intra se vitium est."

["Nothing is a vice in itself."--Seneca, Ep., 95.]

I almost equally hate a stupid and slothful laziness, as I do a toilsome
and painful employment; this pinches, the other lays me asleep. I like
wounds as well as bruises, and cuts as well as dry blows. I found in
this commerce, when I was the most able for it, a just moderation betwixt
these extremes. Love is a sprightly, lively, and gay agitation; I was
neither troubled nor afflicted with it, but heated, and moreover,
disordered; a man must stop there; it hurts nobody but fools. A young
man asked the philosopher Panetius if it were becoming a wise man to be
in love? "Let the wise man look to that," answered he, "but let not thou
and I, who are not so, engage ourselves in so stirring and violent an
affair, that enslaves us to others, and renders us contemptible to
ourselves." He said true that we are not to intrust a thing so
precipitous in itself to a soul that has not wherewithal to withstand its
assaults and disprove practically the saying of Agesilaus, that prudence
and love cannot live together. 'Tis a vain employment, 'tis true,
unbecoming, shameful, and illegitimate; but carried on after this manner,
I look upon it as wholesome, and proper to enliven a drowsy soul and to
rouse up a heavy body; and, as an experienced physician, I would
prescribe it to a man of my form and condition, as soon as any other
recipe whatever, to rouse and keep him in vigour till well advanced in
years, and to defer the approaches of age. Whilst we are but in the
suburbs, and that the pulse yet beats:

"Dum nova canities, dum prima et recta senectus,
Dum superest lachesi quod torqueat, et pedibus me
Porto meis, nullo dextram subeunte bacillo,"

["Whilst the white hair is new, whilst old age is still straight
shouldered, whilst there still remains something for Lachesis to
spin, whilst I walk on my own legs, and need no staff to lean upon."
--Juvenal, iii. 26.]

we have need to be solicited and tickled by some such nipping incitation
as this. Do but observe what youth, vigour, and gaiety it inspired the
good Anacreon withal: and Socrates, who was then older than I, speaking
of an amorous object:

"Leaning," said he, "my shoulder to her shoulder, and my head to hers, as
we were reading together in a book, I felt, without dissembling, a sudden
sting in my shoulder like the biting of an insect, which I still felt
above five days after, and a continual itching crept into my heart." So
that merely the accidental touch, and of a shoulder, heated and altered a
soul cooled and enerved by age, and the strictest liver of all mankind.
And, pray, why not? Socrates was a man, and would neither be, nor seem,
any other thing. Philosophy does not contend against natural pleasures,
provided they be moderate, and only preaches moderation, not a total
abstinence; the power of its resistance is employed against those that
are adulterate and strange. Philosophy says that the appetites of the
body ought not to be augmented by the mind, and ingeniously warns us not
to stir up hunger by saturity; not to stuff, instead of merely filling,
the belly; to avoid all enjoyments that may bring us to want; and all
meats and drinks that bring thirst and hunger: as, in the service of
love, she prescribes us to take such an object as may simply satisfy the
body's need, and does not stir the soul, which ought only barely to
follow and assist the body, without mixing in the affair. But have I not
reason to hold that these precepts, which, indeed, in my opinion, are
somewhat over strict, only concern a body in its best plight; and that in
a body broken with age, as in a weak stomach, 'tis excusable to warm and
support it by art, and by the mediation of the fancy to restore the
appetite and cheerfulness it has lost of itself.

May we not say that there is nothing in us, during this earthly prison,
that is purely either corporeal or spiritual; and that we injuriously
break up a man alive; and that it seems but reasonable that we should
carry ourselves as favourably, at least, towards the use of pleasure as
we do towards that of pain! Pain was (for example) vehement even to
perfection in the souls of the saints by penitence: the body had there
naturally a sham by the right of union, and yet might have but little
part in the cause; and yet are they not contented that it should barely
follow and assist the afflicted soul: they have afflicted itself with
grievous and special torments, to the end that by emulation of one
another the soul and body might plunge man into misery by so much more
salutiferous as it is more severe. In like manner, is it not injustice,
in bodily pleasures, to subdue and keep under the soul, and say that it
must therein be dragged along as to some enforced and servile obligation
and necessity? 'Tis rather her part to hatch and cherish them, there to
present herself, and to invite them, the authority of ruling belonging to
her; as it is also her part, in my opinion, in pleasures that are proper
to her, to inspire and infuse into the body all the sentiment it is
capable of, and to study how to make them sweet and useful to it. For it
is good reason, as they say, that the body should not pursue its
appetites to the prejudice of the mind; but why is it not also the reason
that the mind should not pursue hers to the prejudice of the body?

I have no other passion to keep me in breath. What avarice, ambition,
quarrels, lawsuits do for others who, like me, have no particular
vocation, love would much more commodiously do; it would restore to me
vigilance, sobriety, grace, and the care of my person; it would reassure
my countenance, so that the grimaces of old age, those deformed and
dismal looks, might not come to disgrace it; would again put me upon
sound and wise studies, by which I might render myself more loved and
esteemed, clearing my mind of the despair of itself and of its use, and
redintegrating it to itself; would divert me from a thousand troublesome
thoughts, a thousand melancholic humours that idleness and the ill
posture of our health loads us withal at such an age; would warm again,
in dreams at least, the blood that nature is abandoning; would hold up
the chin, and a little stretch out the nerves, the vigour and gaiety of
life of that poor man who is going full drive towards his ruin. But I
very well understand that it is a commodity hard to recover: by weakness
and long experience our taste is become more delicate and nice; we ask
most when we bring least, and are harder to choose when we least deserve
to be accepted: and knowing ourselves for what we are, we are less
confident and more distrustful; nothing can assure us of being beloved,
considering our condition and theirs. I am out of countenance to see
myself in company with those young wanton creatures:

"Cujus in indomito constantior inguine nervus,
Quam nova collibus arbor inhaeret."

["In whose unbridled reins the vigour is more inherent than in the
young tree on the hills."--Horace, Epod., xii. 19.]

To what end should we go insinuate our misery amid their gay and
sprightly humour?

"Possint ut juvenes visere fervidi.
Multo non sine risu,
Dilapsam in cineres facem."

["As the fervid youths may behold, not without laughter, a burning
torch worn to ashes."--Horace, Od., iv. 13, 21.]

They have strength and reason on their side; let us give way; we have
nothing to do there: and these blossoms of springing beauty suffer not
themselves to be handled by such benumbed hands nor dealt with by mere
material means, for, as the old philosopher answered one who jeered him
because he could not gain the favour of a young girl he made love to:
"Friend, the hook will not stick in such soft cheese." It is a commerce
that requires relation and correspondence: the other pleasures we receive
may be acknowledged by recompenses of another nature, but this is not to
be paid but with the same kind of coin. In earnest, in this sport, the
pleasure I give more tickles my imagination than that they give me; now,
he has nothing of generosity in him who can receive pleasure where he
confers none--it must needs be a mean soul that will owe all, and can be
content to maintain relations with persons to whom he is a continual
charge; there is no beauty, grace, nor privacy so exquisite that a
gentleman ought to desire at this rate. If they can only be kind to us
out of pity, I had much rather die than live upon charity. I would have
right to ask, in the style wherein I heard them beg in Italy: "Fate ben
per voi,"--["Do good for yourself."]--or after the manner that Cyrus
exhorted his soldiers, "Who loves himself let him follow me."--"Consort
yourself," some one will say to me, "with women of your own condition,
whom like fortune will render more easy to your desire." O ridiculous
and insipid composition!

Barbam vellere mortuo leoni."

["I would not pluck the beard from a dead lion."--Martial]

Xenophon lays it for an objection and an accusation against Menon, that
he never made love to any but old women. For my part, I take more
pleasure in but seeing the just and sweet mixture of two young beauties,
or only in meditating on it in my fancy, than myself in acting second in
a pitiful and imperfect conjunction;

[Which Cotton renders, "Than to be myself an actor in the second
with a deformed creature."]

I leave that fantastic appetite to the Emperor Galba, who was only for
old curried flesh: and to this poor wretch:

"O ego Di faciant talem to cernere possim,
Caraque mutatis oscula ferre comis,
Amplectique meis corpus non pingue lacertis!"

[Ovid, who (Ex. Ponto, i. 4, 49) writes to his wife, "O would the
gods arrange that such I might see thee, and bring dear kisses to
thy changed locks, and embrace thy withered body with my arms"]

Amongst chief deformities I reckon forced and artificial beauties: Hemon,
a young boy of Chios, thinking by fine dressing to acquire the beauty
that nature had denied him, came to the philosopher Arcesilaus and asked
him if it was possible for a wise man to be in love--"Yes," replied he,
"provided it be not with a farded and adulterated beauty like thine."

[Diogenes Laertius, iv. 36. The question was whether a wise man
could love him. Cotton has "Emonez, a young courtezan of Chios."]

Ugliness of a confessed antiquity is to me less old and less ugly than
another that is polished and plastered up. Shall I speak it, without the
danger of having my throat cut? love, in my opinion, is not properly and
naturally in its season, but in the age next to childhood,

"Quem si puellarum insereres choro,
Mille sagaces falleret hospites,
Discrimen obscurum, solutis
Crinibus ambiguoque vultu:"

["Whom if thou shouldst place in a company of girls, it would
require a thousand experts to distinguish him, with his loose locks
and ambiguous countenance."--Horace, Od., ii. 5, 21.]

nor beauty neither; for whereas Homer extends it so far as to the budding
of the beard, Plato himself has remarked this as rare: and the reason why
the sophist Bion so pleasantly called the first appearing hairs of
adolescence 'Aristogitons' and 'Harmodiuses'-[Plutarch, On Love, c.34.]--
is sufficiently known. I find it in virility already in some sort a
little out of date, though not so much as in old age;

"Importunus enim transvolat aridas

["For it uncivilly passes over withered oaks."
--Horace, Od., iv. 13, 9.]

and Marguerite, Queen of Navarre, like a woman, very far extends the
advantage of women, ordaining that it is time, at thirty years old, to
convert the title of fair into that of good. The shorter authority we
give to love over our lives, 'tis so much the better for us. Do but
observe his port; 'tis a beardless boy. Who knows not how, in his school
they proceed contrary to all order; study, exercise, and usage are their
ways for insufficiency there novices rule:

"Amor ordinem nescit."

["Love ignores rules." (Or:) "Love knows no rule."
--St. Jerome, Letter to Chyomatius.]

Doubtless his conduct is much more graceful when mixed with inadvertency
and trouble; miscarriages and ill successes give him point and grace;
provided it be sharp and eager, 'tis no great matter whether it be
prudent or no: do but observe how he goes reeling, tripping, and playing:
you put him in the stocks when you guide him by art and wisdom; and he is
restrained of his divine liberty when put into those hairy and callous

As to the rest, I often hear the women set out this intelligence as
entirely spiritual, and disdain to put the interest the senses there have
into consideration; everything there serves; but I can say that I have
often seen that we have excused the weakness of their understandings in
favour of their outward beauty, but have never yet seen that in favour of
mind, how mature and full soever, any of them would hold out a hand to a
body that was never so little in decadence. Why does not some one of
them take it into her head to make that noble Socratical bargain between
body and soul, purchasing a philosophical and spiritual intelligence and
generation at the price of her thighs, which is the highest price she can
get for them? Plato ordains in his Laws that he who has performed any
signal and advantageous exploit in war may not be refused during the
whole expedition, his age or ugliness notwithstanding, a kiss or any
other amorous favour from any woman whatever. What he thinks to be so
just in recommendation of military valour, why may it not be the same in
recommendation of any other good quality? and why does not some woman
take a fancy to possess over her companions the glory of this chaste
love? I may well say chaste;

"Nam si quando ad praelia ventum est,
Ut quondam in stipulis magnus sine viribus ignis,
Incassum furit:"

["For when they sometimes engage in love's battle,
his sterile ardour lights up but as the flame of a straw."
--Virgil, Georg., iii. 98.]

the vices that are stifled in the thought are not the worst.

To conclude this notable commentary, which has escaped from me in a
torrent of babble, a torrent sometimes impetuous and hurtful,

"Ut missum sponsi furtivo munere malum
Procurrit casto virginis a gremio,
Quod miserae oblitae molli sub veste locatuat,
Dum adventu matris prosilit, excutitur,
Atque illud prono praeceps agitur decursu
Huic manat tristi conscius ore rubor."

["As when an apple, sent by a lover secretly to his mistress, falls
from the chaste virgin's bosom, where she had quite forgotten it;
when, starting at her mother's coming in, it is shaken out and rolls
over the floor before her eyes, a conscious blush covers her face."
--Catullus, lxv. 19.]

I say that males and females are cast in the same mould, and that,
education and usage excepted, the difference is not great. Plato
indifferently invites both the one and the other to the society of all
studies, exercises, and vocations, both military and civil, in his
Commonwealth; and the philosopher Antisthenes rejected all distinction
betwixt their virtue and ours. It is much more easy to accuse one sex
than to excuse the other; 'tis according to the saying,

"Le fourgon se moque de la paele."
["The Pot and the Kettle."]


A gallant man does not give over his pursuit for being refused
A lady could not boast of her chastity who was never tempted
Appetite is more sharp than one already half-glutted by the eyes
Bashfulness is an ornament to youth, but a reproach to old age
Certain other things that people hide only to show them
Chiefly knew himself to be mortal by this act
Dearness is a good sauce to meat
Each amongst you has made somebody cuckold
Eat your bread with the sauce of a more pleasing imagination
Evade this tormenting and unprofitable knowledge
Feminine polity has a mysterious procedure
Few men have made a wife of a mistress, who have not repented it
First thing to be considered in love matters: a fitting time
Friend, the hook will not stick in such soft cheese.
Give the ladies a cruel contempt of our natural furniture
Guess at our meaning under general and doubtful terms
Hate all sorts of obligation and restraint
Have ever had a great respect for her I loved
Have no other title left me to these things but by the ears
Heat and stir up their imagination, and then we find fault
Husbands hate their wives only because they themselves do wrong
I am apt to dream that I dream
I do not say that 'tis well said, but well thought
I had much rather die than live upon charity.
I was always superstitiously afraid of giving offence
If I am talking my best, whoever interrupts me, stops me
If they can only be kind to us out of pity
In everything else a man may keep some decorum
In those days, the tailor took measure of it
Inclination to variety and novelty common to us both
Inconsiderate excuses are a kind of self-accusation
Interdiction incites, and who are more eager, being forbidden
It happens, as with cages, the birds without despair to get in
Jealousy: no remedy but flight or patience
Judgment of duty principally lies in the will
Ladies are no sooner ours, than we are no more theirs
"Let a man take which course he will," said he; "he will repent."
Let us not be ashamed to speak what we are not ashamed to think
Love is the appetite of generation by the mediation of beauty
Love shamefully and dishonestly cured by marriage
Love them the less for our own faults
Love, full, lively, and sharp; a pleasure inflamed by difficulty
Man must approach his wife with prudence and temperance
Marriage rejects the company and conditions of love
Men make them (the rules) without their (women's) help
Misfortunes that only hurt us by being known
Modesty is a foolish virtue in an indigent person (Homer)
Most of my actions are guided by example, not by choice
Neither continency nor virtue where there are no opposing desire
No doing more difficult than that not doing, nor more active
O wretched men, whose pleasures are a crime
O, the furious advantage of opportunity!
Observed the laws of marriage, than I either promised or expect
One may more boldly dare what nobody thinks you dare
Order it so that your virtue may conquer your misfortune
Plato says, that the gods made man for their sport
Pleasure of telling (a pleasure little inferior to that of doing)
Priest shall on the wedding-day open the way to the bride
Prudent man, when I imagine him in this posture
Rage compelled to excuse itself by a pretence of good-will
Rather be a less while old than be old before I am really so
Represented her a little too passionate for a married Venus
Revenge more wounds our children than it heals us
Sex: To put fools and wise men, beasts and us, on a level
Sharps and sweets of marriage, are kept secret by the wise
Sins that make the least noise are the worst
Sleep suffocates and suppresses the faculties of the soul
Sufficiently covered by their virtue without any other robe
The best authors too much humble and discourage me
The impulse of nature, which is a rough counsellor
The privilege of the mind to rescue itself from old age
Their disguises and figures only serve to cosen fools
There is no allurement like modesty, if it be not rude
These sleepy, sluggish sort of men are often the most dangerous
They better conquer us by flying
They buy a cat in a sack
They err as much who too much forbear Venus
They must become insensible and invisible to satisfy us
They who would fight custom with grammar are triflers
Those which we fear the least are, peradventure, most to be fear
Those within (marriage) despair of getting out
Tis all swine's flesh, varied by sauces
To what friend dare you intrust your griefs
Twas a happy marriage betwixt a blind wife and a deaf husband
Unjust judges of their actions, as they are of ours
Very idea we invent for their chastity is ridiculous
Virtue is a pleasant and gay quality
We ask most when we bring least
We say a good marriage because no one says to the contrary.
When jealousy seizes these poor souls
When their eyes give the lie to their tongue
Who escapes being talked of at the same rate
Wisdom has its excesses, and has no less need of moderation
Would in this affair have a man a little play the servant


Translated by Charles Cotton

Edited by William Carew Hazilitt



VI. Of Coaches.
VII. Of the Inconvenience of Greatness.
VIII. Of the Art of Conference.



It is very easy to verify, that great authors, when they write of causes,
not only make use of those they think to be the true causes, but also of
those they believe not to be so, provided they have in them some beauty
and invention: they speak true and usefully enough, if it be ingeniously.
We cannot make ourselves sure of the supreme cause, and therefore crowd a
great many together, to see if it may not accidentally be amongst them:

"Namque unam dicere causam
Non satis est, verum plures, unde una tamen sit."

[Lucretius, vi. 704.--The sense is in the preceding passage.]

Do you ask me, whence comes the custom of blessing those who sneeze?
We break wind three several ways; that which sallies from below is too
filthy; that which breaks out from the mouth carries with it some
reproach of gluttony; the third is sneezing, which, because it proceeds
from the head and is without offence, we give it this civil reception: do
not laugh at this distinction; they say 'tis Aristotle's.

I think I have seen in Plutarch' (who of all the authors I know, is he
who has best mixed art with nature, and judgment with knowledge), his
giving as a reason for the, rising of the stomach in those who are at
sea, that it is occasioned by fear; having first found out some reason by
which he proves that fear may produce such an effect. I, who am very
subject to it, know well that this cause concerns not me; and I know it,
not by argument, but by necessary experience. Without instancing what
has been told me, that the same thing often happens in beasts, especially
hogs, who are out of all apprehension of danger; and what an acquaintance
of mine told me of himself, that though very subject to it, the
disposition to vomit has three or four times gone off him, being very
afraid in a violent storm, as it happened to that ancient:

"Pejus vexabar, quam ut periculum mihi succurreret;"

["I was too ill to think of danger." (Or the reverse:)
"I was too frightened to be ill."--Seneca, Ep., 53. 2]

I was never afraid upon the water, nor indeed in any other peril (and I
have had enough before my eyes that would have sufficed, if death be
one), so as to be astounded to lose my judgment. Fear springs sometimes
as much from want of judgment as from want of courage. All the dangers I
have been in I have looked upon without winking, with an open, sound, and
entire sight; and, indeed, a man must have courage to fear. It formerly
served me better than other help, so to order and regulate my retreat,
that it was, if not without fear, nevertheless without affright and
astonishment; it was agitated, indeed, but not amazed or stupefied.
Great souls go yet much farther, and present to us flights, not only
steady and temperate, but moreover lofty. Let us make a relation of that
which Alcibiades reports of Socrates, his fellow in arms: "I found him,"
says he, "after the rout of our army, him and Lachez, last among those
who fled, and considered him at my leisure and in security, for I was
mounted on a good horse, and he on foot, as he had fought. I took
notice, in the first place, how much judgment and resolution he showed,
in comparison of Lachez, and then the bravery of his march, nothing
different from his ordinary gait; his sight firm and regular, considering
and judging what passed about him, looking one while upon those, and then
upon others, friends and enemies, after such a manner as encouraged
those, and signified to the others that he would sell his life dear to
any one who should attempt to take it from him, and so they came off; for
people are not willing to attack such kind of men, but pursue those they
see are in a fright." That is the testimony of this great captain, which
teaches us, what we every day experience, that nothing so much throws us
into dangers as an inconsiderate eagerness of getting ourselves clear of

"Quo timoris minus est, eo minus ferme periculi est."

["When there is least fear, there is for the most part least
danger."--Livy, xxii. 5.]

Our people are to blame who say that such an one is afraid of death, when
they would express that he thinks of it and foresees it: foresight is
equally convenient in what concerns us, whether good or ill. To consider
and judge of danger is, in some sort, the reverse to being astounded.
I do not find myself strong enough to sustain the force and impetuosity
of this passion of fear, nor of any other vehement passion whatever: if I
was once conquered and beaten down by it, I should never rise again very
sound. Whoever should once make my soul lose her footing, would never
set her upright again: she retastes and researches herself too
profoundly, and too much to the quick, and therefore would never let the
wound she had received heal and cicatrise. It has been well for me that
no sickness has yet discomposed her: at every charge made upon me, I
preserve my utmost opposition and defence; by which means the first that
should rout me would keep me from ever rallying again. I have no after-
game to play: on which side soever the inundation breaks my banks, I lie
open, and am drowned without remedy. Epicurus says, that a wise man can
never become a fool; I have an opinion reverse to this sentence, which
is, that he who has once been a very fool, will never after be very wise.
God grants me cold according to my cloth, and passions proportionable to
the means I have to withstand them: nature having laid me open on the one
side, has covered me on the other; having disarmed me of strength, she
has armed me with insensibility and an apprehension that is regular, or,
if you will, dull.

I cannot now long endure (and when I was young could much less) either
coach, litter, or boat, and hate all other riding but on horseback, both
in town and country. But I can bear a litter worse than a coach; and, by
the same reason, a rough agitation upon the water, whence fear is
produced, better than the motions of a calm. At the little jerks of
oars, stealing the vessel from under us, I find, I know not how, both my
head and my stomach disordered; neither-can I endure to sit upon a
tottering chair. When the sail or the current carries us equally, or
that we are towed, the equal agitation does not disturb me at all; 'tis
an interrupted motion that offends me, and most of all when most slow: I
cannot otherwise express it. The physicians have ordered me to squeeze
and gird myself about the bottom of the belly with a napkin to remedy
this evil; which however I have not tried, being accustomed to wrestle
with my own defects, and overcome them myself.

Would my memory serve me, I should not think my time ill spent in setting
down here the infinite variety that history presents us of the use of
chariots in the service of war: various, according to the nations and
according to the age; in my opinion, of great necessity and effect; so
that it is a wonder that we have lost all knowledge of them. I will only
say this, that very lately, in our fathers' time, the Hungarians made
very advantageous use of them against the Turks; having in every one of
them a targetter and a musketeer, and a number of harquebuses piled ready
and loaded, and all covered with a pavesade like a galliot--[Canvas
spread along the side of a ship of war, in action to screen the movements
of those on board.]--They formed the front of their battle with three
thousand such coaches, and after the cannon had played, made them all
pour in their shot upon the enemy, who had to swallow that volley before
they tasted of the rest, which was no little advance; and that done,
these chariots charged into their squadrons to break them and open a way
for the rest; besides the use they might make of them to flank the
soldiers in a place of danger when marching to the field, or to cover a
post, and fortify it in haste. In my time, a gentleman on one of our
frontiers, unwieldy of body, and finding no horse able to carry his
weight, having a quarrel, rode through the country in a chariot of this
fashion, and found great convenience in it. But let us leave these
chariots of war.

As if their effeminacy--[Which Cotton translates: "as if the
insignificancy of coaches." ]--had not been sufficiently known by better
proofs, the last kings of our first race travelled in a chariot drawn by
four oxen. Marc Antony was the first at Rome who caused himself to be
drawn in a coach by lions, and a singing wench with him.

[Cytheris, the Roman courtezan.--Plutarch's Life of Antony, c. 3.
This, was the same person who is introduced by Gallus under the name
of Lycoris. Gallus doubtless knew her personally.]

Heliogabalus did since as much, calling himself Cybele, the mother of the
gods; and also drawn by tigers, taking upon him the person of the god
Bacchus; he also sometimes harnessed two stags to his coach, another time
four dogs, and another four naked wenches, causing himself to be drawn by
them in pomp, stark naked too. The Emperor Firmus caused his chariot to
be drawn by ostriches of a prodigious size, so that it seemed rather to
fly than roll.

The strangeness of these inventions puts this other fancy in my head:
that it is a kind of pusillanimity in monarchs, and a testimony that they
do not sufficiently understand themselves what they are, when they study
to make themselves honoured and to appear great by excessive expense: it
were indeed excusable in a foreign country, but amongst their own
subjects, where they are in sovereign command, and may do what they
please, it derogates from their dignity the most supreme degree of honour
to which they can arrive: just as, methinks, it is superfluous in a
private gentleman to go finely dressed at home; his house, his
attendants, and his kitchen sufficiently answer for him. The advice that
Isocrates gives his king seems to be grounded upon reason: that he should
be splendid in plate and furniture; forasmuch as it is an expense of
duration that devolves on his successors; and that he should avoid all
magnificences that will in a short time be forgotten. I loved to go fine
when I was a younger brother, for want of other ornament; and it became
me well: there are some upon whom their rich clothes weep: We have
strange stories of the frugality of our kings about their own persons and
in their gifts: kings who were great in reputation, valour, and fortune.
Demosthenes vehemently opposes the law of his city that assigned the
public money for the pomp of their public plays and festivals: he would
that their greatness should be seen in numbers of ships well equipped,
and good armies well provided for; and there is good reason to condemn
Theophrastus, who, in his Book on Riches, establishes a contrary opinion,
and maintains that sort of expense to be the true fruit of abundance.
They are delights, says Aristotle, that a only please the baser sort of
the people, and that vanish from the memory as soon as the people are
sated with them, and for which no serious and judicious man can have any
esteem. This money would, in my opinion, be much more royally, as more
profitably, justly, and durably, laid out in ports, havens, walls, and
fortifications; in sumptuous buildings, churches, hospitals, colleges,
the reforming of streets and highways: wherein Pope Gregory XIII. will
leave a laudable memory to future times: and wherein our Queen Catherine
would to long posterity manifest her natural liberality and munificence,
did her means supply her affection. Fortune has done me a great despite
in interrupting the noble structure of the Pont-Neuf of our great city,
and depriving me of the hope of seeing it finished before I die.

Moreover, it seems to subjects, who are spectators of these triumphs,
that their own riches are exposed before them, and that they are
entertained at their own expense: for the people are apt to presume of
kings, as we do of our servants, that they are to take care to provide us
all things necessary in abundance, but not touch it themselves; and
therefore the Emperor Galba, being pleased with a musician who played to
him at supper, called for his money-box, and gave him a handful of crowns
that he took out of it, with these words: "This is not the public money,
but my own." Yet it so falls out that the people, for the most part,
have reason on their side, and that the princes feed their eyes with what
they have need of to fill their bellies.

Liberality itself is not in its true lustre in a sovereign hand: private
men have therein the most right; for, to take it exactly, a king has
nothing properly his own; he owes himself to others: authority is not
given in favour of the magistrate, but of the people; a superior is never
made so for his own profit, but for the profit of the inferior, and a
physician for the sick person, and not for himself: all magistracy, as
well as all art, has its end out of itself wherefore the tutors of young
princes, who make it their business to imprint in them this virtue of
liberality, and preach to them to deny nothing and to think nothing so
well spent as what they give (a doctrine that I have known in great
credit in my time), either have more particular regard to their own
profit than to that of their master, or ill understand to whom they
speak. It is too easy a thing to inculcate liberality on him who has as
much as he will to practise it with at the expense of others; and, the
estimate not being proportioned to the measure of the gift but to the
measure of the means of him who gives it, it comes to nothing in so
mighty hands; they find themselves prodigal before they can be reputed
liberal. And it is but a little recommendation, in comparison with other
royal virtues: and the only one, as the tyrant Dionysius said, that suits
well with tyranny itself. I should rather teach him this verse of the
ancient labourer:

["That whoever will have a good crop must sow with his hand, and not
pour out of the sack."--Plutarch, Apothegms, Whether the Ancients
were more excellent in Arms than in Learning.]

he must scatter it abroad, and not lay it on a heap in one place: and
that, seeing he is to give, or, to say better, to pay and restore to so
many people according as they have deserved, he ought to be a loyal and
discreet disposer. If the liberality of a prince be without measure or
discretion, I had rather he were covetous.

Royal virtue seems most to consist in justice; and of all the parts of
justice that best denotes a king which accompanies liberality, for this
they have particularly reserved to be performed by themselves, whereas
all other sorts of justice they remit to the administration of others.
An immoderate bounty is a very weak means to acquire for them good will;
it checks more people than it allures:

"Quo in plures usus sis, minus in multos uti possis....
Quid autem est stultius, quam, quod libenter facias,
curare ut id diutius facere non possis;"

["By how much more you use it to many, by so much less will you be
in a capacity to use it to many more. And what greater folly can
there be than to order it so that what you would willingly do, you
cannot do longer."--Cicero, De Offic., ii. 15.]

and if it be conferred without due respect of merit, it puts him out of
countenance who receives it, and is received ungraciously. Tyrants have
been sacrificed to the hatred of the people by the hands of those very
men they have unjustly advanced; such kind of men as buffoons, panders,
fiddlers, and such ragamuffins, thinking to assure to themselves the
possession of benefits unduly received, if they manifest to have him in
hatred and disdain of whom they hold them, and in this associate
themselves to the common judgment and opinion.

The subjects of a prince excessive in gifts grow excessive in asking,
and regulate their demands, not by reason, but by example. We have,
seriously, very often reason to blush at our own impudence: we are over-
paid, according to justice, when the recompense equals our service; for
do we owe nothing of natural obligation to our princes? If he bear our
charges, he does too much; 'tis enough that he contribute to them: the
overplus is called benefit, which cannot be exacted: for the very name
Liberality sounds of Liberty.

In our fashion it is never done; we never reckon what we have received;
we are only for the future liberality; wherefore, the more a prince
exhausts himself in giving, the poorer he grows in friends. How should
he satisfy immoderate desires, that still increase as they are fulfilled?
He who has his thoughts upon taking, never thinks of what he has taken;
covetousness has nothing so properly and so much its own as ingratitude.

The example of Cyrus will not do amiss in this place, to serve the kings
of these times for a touchstone to know whether their gifts are well or
ill bestowed, and to see how much better that emperor conferred them than
they do, by which means they are reduced to borrow of unknown subjects,
and rather of them whom they have wronged than of them on whom they have
conferred their benefits, and so receive aids wherein there is nothing of
gratuitous but the name. Croesus reproached him with his bounty, and
cast up to how much his treasure would amount if he had been a little
closer-handed. He had a mind to justify his liberality, and therefore
sent despatches into all parts to the grandees of his dominions whom he
had particularly advanced, entreating every one of them to supply him
with as much money as they could, for a pressing occasion, and to send
him particulars of what each could advance. When all these answers were
brought to him, every one of his friends, not thinking it enough barely
to offer him so much as he had received from his bounty, and adding to it
a great deal of his own, it appeared that the sum amounted to a great
deal more than Croesus' reckoning. Whereupon Cyrus: "I am not," said he,
"less in love with riches than other princes, but rather a better
husband; you see with how small a venture I have acquired the inestimable
treasure of so many friends, and how much more faithful treasurers they
are to me than mercenary men without obligation, without affection; and
my money better laid up than in chests, bringing upon me the hatred,
envy, and contempt of other princes."

The emperors excused the superfluity of their plays and public spectacles
by reason that their authority in some sort (at least in outward
appearance) depended upon the will of the people of Rome, who, time out
of mind, had been accustomed to be entertained and caressed with such
shows and excesses. But they were private citizens, who had nourished
this custom to gratify their fellow-citizens and companions (and chiefly
out of their own purses) by such profusion and magnificence it had quite
another taste when the masters came to imitate it:

"Pecuniarum translatio a justis dominis ad alienos
non debet liberalis videri."

["The transferring of money from the right owners to strangers
ought not to have the title of liberality."
--Cicero, De Offic., i. 14.]

Philip, seeing that his son went about by presents to gain the affection
of the Macedonians, reprimanded him in a letter after this manner: "What!
hast thou a mind that thy subjects shall look upon thee as their cash-
keeper and not as their king? Wilt thou tamper with them to win their
affections? Do it, then, by the benefits of thy virtue, and not by those
of thy chest." And yet it was, doubtless, a fine thing to bring and
plant within the amphitheatre a great number of vast trees, with all
their branches in their full verdure, representing a great shady forest,
disposed in excellent order; and, the first day, to throw into it a
thousand ostriches and a thousand stags, a thousand boars, and a thousand
fallow-deer, to be killed and disposed of by the people: the next day,
to cause a hundred great lions, a hundred leopards, and three hundred
bears to be killed in his presence; and for the third day, to make three
hundred pair of gladiators fight it out to the last, as the Emperor
Probus did. It was also very fine to see those vast amphitheatres, all
faced with marble without, curiously wrought with figures and statues,
and within glittering with rare enrichments:

"Baltheus en! gemmis, en illita porticus auro:"

["A belt glittering with jewels, and a portico overlaid with gold."
--Calpurnius, Eclog., vii. 47. A baltheus was a shoulder-belt or

all the sides of this vast space filled and environed, from the bottom to
the top, with three or four score rows of seats, all of marble also, and
covered with cushions:

"Exeat, inquit,
Si pudor est, et de pulvino surgat equestri,
Cujus res legi non sufficit;"

["Let him go out, he said, if he has any sense of shame, and rise
from the equestrian cushion, whose estate does not satisfy the law."
--Juvenal, iii. 153. The Equites were required to possess a fortune
of 400 sestertia, and they sat on the first fourteen rows behind the

where a hundred thousand men might sit at their ease: and, the place
below, where the games were played, to make it, by art, first open and
cleave in chasms, representing caves that vomited out the beasts designed
for the spectacle; and then, secondly, to be overflowed by a deep sea,
full of sea monsters, and laden with ships of war, to represent a naval
battle; and, thirdly, to make it dry and even again for the combat of the
gladiators; and, for the fourth scene, to have it strown with vermilion
grain and storax,--[A resinous gum.]--instead of sand, there to make a
solemn feast for all that infinite number of people: the last act of one
only day:

"Quoties nos descendentis arenae
Vidimus in partes, ruptaque voragine terrae
Emersisse feras, et eisdem saepe latebris
Aurea cum croceo creverunt arbuta libro!....
Nec solum nobis silvestria cernere monstra
Contigit; aequoreos ego cum certantibus ursis
Spectavi vitulos, et equorum nomine dignum,
Sen deforme pecus, quod in illo nascitur amni...."

["How often have we seen the stage of the theatre descend and part
asunder, and from a chasm in the earth wild beasts emerge, and then
presently give birth to a grove of gilded trees, that put forth
blossoms of enamelled flowers. Nor yet of sylvan marvels alone had
we sight: I saw sea-calves fight with bears, and a deformed sort of
cattle, we might call sea-horses."--Calpurnius, Eclog., vii. 64.]

Sometimes they made a high mountain advance itself, covered with fruit-
trees and other leafy trees, sending down rivulets of water from the top,
as from the mouth of a fountain: otherwhiles, a great ship was seen to
come rolling in, which opened and divided of itself, and after having
disgorged from the hold four or five hundred beasts for fight, closed
again, and vanished without help. At other times, from the floor of this
place, they made spouts of perfumed water dart their streams upward, and
so high as to sprinkle all that infinite multitude. To defend themselves
from the injuries of the weather, they had that vast place one while
covered over with purple curtains of needlework, and by-and-by with silk
of one or another colour, which they drew off or on in a moment, as they
had a mind:

"Quamvis non modico caleant spectacula sole,
Vela reducuntur, cum venit Hermogenes."

["The curtains, though the sun should scorch the spectators, are
drawn in, when Hermogenes appears."-Martial, xii. 29, 15. M.
Tigellius Hermogenes, whom Horace and others have satirised. One
editor calls him "a noted thief," another: "He was a literary
amateur of no ability, who expressed his critical opinions with too
great a freedom to please the poets of his day." D.W.]

The network also that was set before the people to defend them from the
violence of these turned-out beasts was woven of gold:

"Auro quoque torts refulgent

["The woven nets are refulgent with gold."
--Calpurnius, ubi supra.]

If there be anything excusable in such excesses as these, it is where the
novelty and invention create more wonder than the expense; even in these

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