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The Essays of Montaigne, V7 by Michel de Montaigne

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This etext was produced by David Widger

[NOTE: There is a short list of bookmarks, or pointers, at the end of the
file for those who may wish to sample the author's ideas before making an
entire meal of them. D.W.]


Translated by Charles Cotton

Edited by William Carew Hazilitt



XXXIX. A consideration upon Cicero.
XL. That the relish of good and evil depends in a great measure
upon opinion.
XLI. Not to communicate a man's honour.
XLII. Of the inequality amongst us.
XLIII. Of sumptuary laws.
XLIV. Of sleep.
XLV. Of the battle of Dreux.
XLVI. Of names.
XLVII. Of the uncertainty of our judgment.



One word more by way of comparison betwixt these two. There are to be
gathered out of the writings of Cicero and the younger Pliny (but little,
in my opinion, resembling his uncle in his humours) infinite testimonies
of a beyond measure ambitious nature; and amongst others, this for one,
that they both, in the sight of all the world, solicit the historians of
their time not to forget them in their memoirs; and fortune, as if in
spite, has made the vanity of those requests live upon record down to
this age of ours, while she has long since consigned the histories
themselves to oblivion. But this exceeds all meanness of spirit in
persons of such a quality as they were, to think to derive any great
renown from babbling and prating; even to the publishing of their private
letters to their friends, and so withal, that though some of them were
never sent, the opportunity being lost, they nevertheless presented them
to the light, with this worthy excuse that they were unwilling to lose
their labours and lucubrations. Was it not very well becoming two
consuls of Rome, sovereign magistrates of the republic that commanded the
world, to spend their leisure in contriving quaint and elegant missives,
thence to gain the reputation of being versed in their own mother-
tongues? What could a pitiful schoolmaster have done worse, whose trade
it was thereby to get his living? If the acts of Xenophon and Caesar had
not far transcended their eloquence, I scarce believe they would ever
have taken the pains to have written them; they made it their business to
recommend not their speaking, but their doing. And could the perfection
of eloquence have added a lustre suitable to a great personage, certainly
Scipio and Laelius had never resigned the honour of their comedies, with
all the luxuriances and elegances of the Latin tongue, to an African
slave; for that the work was theirs, its beauty and excellence
sufficiently declare; Terence himself confesses as much, and I should
take it ill from any one that would dispossess me of that belief.

'Tis a kind of mockery and offence to extol a man for qualities
misbecoming his condition, though otherwise commendable in themselves,
but such as ought not, however, to be his chief talent; as if a man
should commend a king for being a good painter, a good architect, a good
marksman, or a good runner at the ring: commendations that add no honour,
unless mentioned altogether and in the train of those that are properly
applicable to him, namely, justice and the science of governing and
conducting his people both in peace and war. At this rate, agriculture
was an honour to Cyrus, and eloquence and the knowledge of letters to
Charlemagne. I have in my time known some, who by writing acquired both
their titles and fortune, disown their apprenticeship, corrupt their
style, and affect ignorance in so vulgar a quality (which also our nation
holds to be rarely seen in very learned hands), and to seek a reputation
by better qualities. Demosthenes' companions in the embassy to Philip,
extolling that prince as handsome, eloquent, and a stout drinker,
Demosthenes said that those were commendations more proper for a woman,
an advocate, or a sponge, than for a king':

"Imperet bellante prior, jacentem
Lenis in hostem."

["In the fight, overthrow your enemy, but be merciful to him when
fallen.--"Horace, Carm. Saec., v. 51.]

'Tis not his profession to know either how to hunt or to dance well;

"Orabunt causas alii, coelique meatus
Describent radio, et fulgentia sidera dicent;
Hic regere imperio populos sciat."

["Let others plead at the bar, or describe the spheres, and point
out the glittering stars; let this man learn to rule the nations."
--AEneid, vi. 849.]

Plutarch says, moreover, that to appear so excellent in these less
necessary qualities is to produce witness against a man's self, that he
has spent his time and applied his study ill, which ought to have been
employed in the acquisition of more necessary and more useful things.
So that Philip, king of Macedon, having heard that great Alexander his
son sing once at a feast to the wonder of the best musicians there: "Art
thou not ashamed," said he to him, "to sing so well?" And to the same
Philip a musician, with whom he was disputing about some things
concerning his art: "Heaven forbid, sir," said he, "that so great a
misfortune should ever befall you as to understand these things better
than I." A king should be able to answer as Iphicrates did the orator,
who pressed upon him in his invective after this manner: "And what art
thou that thou bravest it at this rate? art thou a man at arms, art thou
an archer, art thou a pikeman?"--"I am none of all this; but I know how
to command all these." And Antisthenes took it for an argument of little
value in Ismenias that he was commended for playing excellently well upon
a flute.

I know very well, that when I hear any one dwell upon the language of my
essays, I had rather a great deal he would say nothing: 'tis not so much
to elevate the style as to depress the sense, and so much the more
offensively as they do it obliquely; and yet I am much deceived if many
other writers deliver more worth noting as to the matter, and, how well
or ill soever, if any other writer has sown things much more materials or
at all events more downright, upon his paper than myself. To bring the
more in, I only muster up the heads; should I annex the sequel, I should
trebly multiply the volume. And how many stories have I scattered up and
down in this book that I only touch upon, which, should any one more
curiously search into, they would find matter enough to produce infinite
essays. Neither those stories nor my quotations always serve simply for
example, authority, or ornament; I do not only regard them for the use I
make of them: they carry sometimes besides what I apply them to, the seed
of a more rich and a bolder matter, and sometimes, collaterally, a more
delicate sound both to myself who will say no more about it in this
place, and to others who shall be of my humour.

But returning to the speaking virtue: I find no great choice betwixt not
knowing to speak anything but ill, and not knowing to speak anything but

"Non est ornamentum virile concimitas."

["A carefully arranged dress is no manly ornament."
--Seneca, Ep., 115.]

The sages tell us that, as to what concerns knowledge, 'tis nothing but
philosophy; and as to what concerns effects, nothing but virtue, which is
generally proper to all degrees and to all orders.

There is something like this in these two other philosophers, for they
also promise eternity to the letters they write to their friends; but
'tis after another manner, and by accommodating themselves, for a good
end, to the vanity of another; for they write to them that if the concern
of making themselves known to future ages, and the thirst of glory, do
yet detain them in the management of public affairs, and make them fear
the solitude and retirement to which they would persuade them, let them
never trouble themselves more about it, forasmuch as they shall have
credit enough with posterity to ensure them that were there nothing else
but the letters thus written to them, those letters will render their
names as known and famous as their own public actions could do. And
besides this difference, these are not idle and empty letters, that
contain nothing but a fine jingle of well-chosen words and delicate
couched phrases, but rather replete and abounding with grand discourses
of reason, by which a man may render himself not more eloquent, but more
wise, and that instruct us not to speak, but to do well. Away with that
eloquence that enchants us with itself, and not with actual things!
unless you will allow that of Cicero to be of so supreme a perfection as
to form a complete body of itself.

I shall farther add one story we read of him to this purpose, wherein his
nature will much more manifestly be laid open to us. He was to make an
oration in public, and found himself a little straitened for time to make
himself ready at his ease; when Eros, one of his slaves, brought him word
that the audience was deferred till the next day, at which he was so
ravished with joy that he enfranchised him for the good news.

Upon this subject of letters, I will add this more to what has been
already said, that it is a kind of writing wherein my friends think I can
do something; and I am willing to confess I should rather have chosen to
publish my whimsies that way than any other, had I had to whom to write;
but I wanted such a settled intercourse, as I once had, to attract me to
it, to raise my fancy, and to support me. For to traffic with the wind,
as some others have done, and to forge vain names to direct my letters
to, in a serious subject, I could never do it but in a dream, being a
sworn enemy to all manner of falsification. I should have been more
diligent and more confident had I had a judicious and indulgent friend
whom to address, than thus to expose myself to the various judgments of a
whole people, and I am deceived if I had not succeeded better. I have
naturally a humorous and familiar style; but it is a style of my own, not
proper for public business, but, like the language I speak, too compact,
irregular, abrupt, and singular; and as to letters of ceremony that have
no other substance than a fine contexture of courteous words, I am wholly
to seek. I have neither faculty nor relish for those tedious tenders of
service and affection; I believe little in them from others, and I should
not forgive myself should I say to others more than I myself believe.
'Tis, doubtless, very remote from the present practice; for there never
was so abject and servile prostitution of offers: life, soul, devotion,
adoration, vassal, slave, and I cannot tell what, as now; all which
expressions are so commonly and so indifferently posted to and fro by
every one and to every one, that when they would profess a greater and
more respectful inclination upon more just occasions, they have not
wherewithal to express it. I mortally hate all air of flattery, which is
the cause that I naturally fall into a shy, rough, and crude way of
speaking, that, to such as do not know me, may seem a little to relish of
disdain. I honour those most to whom I show the least honour, and where
my soul moves with the greatest cheerfulness, I easily forget the
ceremonies of look and gesture, and offer myself faintly and bluntly to
them to whom I am the most devoted: methinks they should read it in my
heart, and that the expression of my words does but injure the love I
have conceived within. To welcome, take leave, give thanks, accost,
offer my service, and such verbal formalities as the ceremonious laws of
our modern civility enjoin, I know no man so stupidly unprovided of
language as myself; and I have never been employed in writing letters of
favour and recommendation, that he, in whose behalf it was written, did
not think my mediation cold and imperfect. The Italians are great
printers of letters; I do believe I have at least an hundred several
volumes of them; of all which those of Annibale Caro seem to me to be the
best. If all the paper I have scribbled to the ladies at the time when
my hand was really prompted by my passion, were now in being, there
might, peradventure, be found a page worthy to be communicated to our
young inamoratos, that are besotted with that fury. I always write my
letters post-haste--so precipitately, that though I write intolerably
ill, I rather choose to do it myself, than to employ another; for I can
find none able to follow me: and I never transcribe any. I have
accustomed the great ones who know me to endure my blots and dashes, and
upon paper without fold or margin. Those that cost me the most pains,
are the worst; when I once begin to draw it in by head and shoulders,
'tis a sign that I am not there. I fall too without premeditation or
design; the first word begets the second, and so to the end of the
chapter. The letters of this age consist more in fine edges and prefaces
than in matter. Just as I had rather write two letters than close and
fold up one, and always assign that employment to some other, so, when
the real business of my letter is dispatched, I would with all my heart
transfer it to another hand to add those long harangues, offers, and
prayers, that we place at the bottom, and should be glad that some new
custom would discharge us of that trouble; as also of superscribing them
with a long legend of qualities and titles, which for fear of mistakes,
I have often not written at all, and especially to men of the long robe
and finance; there are so many new offices, such a dispensation and
ordering of titles of honour, that 'tis hard to set them forth aright
yet, being so dearly bought, they are neither to be altered nor forgotten
without offence. I find it equally in bad taste to encumber the fronts
and inscriptions of the books we commit to the press with such.



Men (says an ancient Greek sentence)--[Manual of Epictetus, c. 10.]--
are tormented with the opinions they have of things and not by the things
themselves. It were a great victory obtained for the relief of our
miserable human condition, could this proposition be established for
certain and true throughout. For if evils have no admission into us but
by the judgment we ourselves make of them, it should seem that it is,
then, in our own power to despise them or to turn them to good. If
things surrender themselves to our mercy, why do we not convert and
accommodate them to our advantage? If what we call evil and torment is
neither evil nor torment of itself, but only that our fancy gives it that
quality, it is in us to change it, and it being in our own choice, if
there be no constraint upon us, we must certainly be very strange fools
to take arms for that side which is most offensive to us, and to give
sickness, want, and contempt a bitter and nauseous taste, if it be in our
power to give them a pleasant relish, and if, fortune simply providing
the matter, 'tis for us to give it the form. Now, that what we call evil
is not so of itself, or at least to that degree that we make it, and that
it depends upon us to give it another taste and complexion (for all comes
to one), let us examine how that can be maintained.

If the original being of those things we fear had power to lodge itself
in us by its own authority, it would then lodge itself alike, and in like
manner, in all; for men are all of the same kind, and saving in greater
and less proportions, are all provided with the same utensils and
instruments to conceive and to judge; but the diversity of opinions we
have of those things clearly evidences that they only enter us by
composition; one person, peradventure, admits them in their true being,
but a thousand others give them a new and contrary being in them. We
hold death, poverty, and pain for our principal enemies; now, this death,
which some repute the most dreadful of all dreadful things, who does not
know that others call it the only secure harbour from the storms and
tempests of life, the sovereign good of nature, the sole support of
liberty, and the common and prompt remedy of all evils? And as the one
expect it with fear and trembling, the others support it with greater
ease than life. That one complains of its facility:

"Mors! utinam pavidos vitae subducere nolles.
Sed virtus to sola daret!"

["O death! wouldst that thou might spare the coward, but that
valour alone should pay thee tribute."--Lucan, iv. 580.]

Now, let us leave these boastful courages. Theodorus answered
Lysimachus, who threatened to kill him, "Thou wilt do a brave feat," said
he, "to attain the force of a cantharides." The majority of philosophers
are observed to have either purposely anticipated, or hastened and
assisted their own death. How many ordinary people do we see led to
execution, and that not to a simple death, but mixed with shame and
sometimes with grievous torments, appear with such assurance, whether
through firm courage or natural simplicity, that a man can discover no
change from their ordinary condition; settling their domestic affairs,
commending themselves to their friends, singing, preaching, and
addressing the people, nay, sometimes sallying into jests, and drinking
to their companions, quite as well as Socrates?

One that they were leading to the gallows told them they must not take
him through such a street, lest a merchant who lived there should arrest
him by the way for an old debt. Another told the hangman he must not
touch his neck for fear of making him laugh, he was so ticklish. Another
answered his confessor, who promised him he should that day sup with our
Lord, "Do you go then," said he, "in my room [place]; for I for my part
keep fast to-day." Another having called for drink, and the hangman
having drunk first, said he would not drink after him, for fear of
catching some evil disease. Everybody has heard the tale of the Picard,
to whom, being upon the ladder, they presented a common wench, telling
him (as our law does some times permit) that if he would marry her they
would save his life; he, having a while considered her and perceiving
that she halted: "Come, tie up, tie up," said he, she limps." And they
tell another story of the same kind of a fellow in Denmark, who being
condemned to lose his head, and the like condition being proposed to him
upon the scaffold, refused it, by reason the girl they offered him had
hollow cheeks and too sharp a nose. A servant at Toulouse being accused
of heresy, for the sum of his belief referred himself to that of his
master, a young student, prisoner with him, choosing rather to die than
suffer himself to be persuaded that his master could err. We read that
of the inhabitants of Arras, when Louis XI. took that city, a great many
let themselves be hanged rather than they would say, "God save the King."
And amongst that mean-souled race of men, the buffoons, there have been
some who would not leave their fooling at the very moment of death. One
that the hang man was turning off the ladder cried: Launch the galley,"
an ordinary saying of his. Another, whom at the point of death his
friends had laid upon a bed of straw before the fire, the physician
asking him where his pain lay: "Betwixt the bench and the fire," said he,
and the priest, to give him extreme unction, groping for his feet which
his pain had made him pull up to him: "You will find them," said he, "at
the end of my legs." To one who being present exhorted him to recommend
himself to God: "Why, who goes thither?" said he; and the other
replying: "It will presently be yourself, if it be His good pleasure."
"Shall I be sure to be there by to-morrow night?" said he. "Do, but
recommend yourself to Him," said the other, "and you will soon be there."
"I were best then," said he, "to carry my recommendations myself."

In the kingdom of Narsingah to this day the wives of their priests are
buried alive with the bodies of their husbands; all other wives are burnt
at their husbands' funerals, which they not only firmly but cheerfully
undergo. At the death of their king, his wives and concubines, his
favourites, all his officers, and domestic servants, who make up a whole
people, present themselves so gaily to the fire where his body is burnt,
that they seem to take it for a singular honour to accompany their master
in death. During our late wars of Milan, where there happened so many
takings and retakings of towns, the people, impatient of so many changes
of fortune, took such a resolution to die, that I have heard my father
say he there saw a list taken of five-and-twenty masters of families who
made themselves away in one week's time: an incident somewhat resembling
that of the Xanthians, who being besieged by Brutus, fell--men, women,
and children--into such a furious appetite of dying, that nothing can be
done to evade death which they did not to avoid life; insomuch that
Brutus had much difficulty in saving a very small number.--["Only fifty
were saved."--Plutarch, Life of Brutus, c. 8.]

Every opinion is of force enough to cause itself to be espoused at the
expense of life. The first article of that valiant oath that Greece took
and observed in the Median war, was that every one should sooner exchange
life for death, than their own laws for those of Persia. What a world of
people do we see in the wars betwixt the Turks and the Greeks, rather
embrace a cruel death than uncircumcise themselves to admit of baptism?
An example of which no sort of religion is incapable.

The kings of Castile having banished the Jews out of their dominions,
John, King of Portugal, in consideration of eight crowns a head, sold
them a retreat into his for a certain limited time, upon condition that
the time fixed coming to expire they should begone, and he to furnish
them with shipping to transport them into Africa. The day comes, which
once lapsed they were given to understand that such as were afterward
found in the kingdom should remain slaves; vessels were very slenderly
provided; and those who embarked in them were rudely and villainously
used by the passengers, who, besides other indignities, kept them
cruising upon the sea, one while forwards and another backwards, till
they had spent all their provisions, and were constrained to buy of them
at so dear a rate and so long withal, that they set them not on shore
till they were all stripped to the very shirts. The news of this inhuman
usage being brought to those who remained behind, the greater part of
them resolved upon slavery and some made a show of changing religion.
Emmanuel, the successor of John, being come to the crown, first set them
at liberty, and afterwards altering his mind, ordered them to depart his
country, assigning three ports for their passage. He hoped, says Bishop
Osorius, no contemptible Latin historian of these later times, that the
favour of the liberty he had given them having failed of converting them
to Christianity, yet the difficulty of committing themselves to the mercy
of the mariners and of abandoning a country they were now habituated to
and were grown very rich in, to go and expose themselves in strange and
unknown regions, would certainly do it. But finding himself deceived in
his expectation, and that they were all resolved upon the voyage, he cut
off two of the three ports he had promised them, to the end that the
length and incommodity of the passage might reduce some, or that he might
have opportunity, by crowding them all into one place, the more
conveniently to execute what he had designed, which was to force all the
children under fourteen years of age from the arms of their fathers and
mothers, to transport them from their sight and conversation, into a
place where they might be instructed and brought up in our religion. He
says that this produced a most horrid spectacle the natural affection
betwixt the parents and their children, and moreover their zeal to their
ancient belief, contending against this violent decree, fathers and
mothers were commonly seen making themselves away, and by a yet much more
rigorous example, precipitating out of love and compassion their young
children into wells and pits, to avoid the severity of this law. As to
the remainder of them, the time that had been prefixed being expired,
for want of means to transport them they again returned into slavery.
Some also turned Christians, upon whose faith, as also that of their
posterity, even to this day, which is a hundred years since, few
Portuguese can yet rely; though custom and length of time are much more
powerful counsellors in such changes than all other constraints whatever.
In the town of Castelnaudari, fifty heretic Albigeois at one time
suffered themselves to be burned alive in one fire rather than they would
renounce their opinions.

"Quoties non modo ductores nostri, sed universi etiam exercitus,
ad non dubiam mortem concurrerunt?"

["How often have not only our leaders, but whole armies, run to a
certain and manifest death."--Cicero, Tusc. Quaes., i. 37.]

I have seen an intimate friend of mine run headlong upon death with a
real affection, and that was rooted in his heart by divers plausible
arguments which he would never permit me to dispossess him of, and upon
the first honourable occasion that offered itself to him, precipitate
himself into it, without any manner of visible reason, with an obstinate
and ardent desire of dying. We have several examples in our own times of
persons, even young children, who for fear of some little inconvenience
have despatched themselves. And what shall we not fear, says one of the
ancients--[Seneca, Ep., 70.]--to this purpose, if we dread that which
cowardice itself has chosen for its refuge?

Should I here produce a long catalogue of those, of all sexes and
conditions and sects, even in the most happy ages, who have either with
great constancy looked death in the face, or voluntarily sought it, and
sought it not only to avoid the evils of this life, but some purely to
avoid the satiety of living, and others for the hope of a better
condition elsewhere, I should never have done. Nay, the number is so
infinite that in truth I should have a better bargain on't to reckon up
those who have feared it. This one therefore shall serve for all:
Pyrrho the philosopher being one day in a boat in a very great tempest,
shewed to those he saw the most affrighted about him, and encouraged
them, by the example of a hog that was there, nothing at all concerned at
the storm. Shall we then dare to say that this advantage of reason, of
which we so much boast, and upon the account of which we think ourselves
masters and emperors over the rest of all creation, was given us for a
torment? To what end serves the knowledge of things if it renders us
more unmanly? if we thereby lose the tranquillity and repose we should
enjoy without it? and if it put us into a worse condition than Pyrrho's
hog? Shall we employ the understanding that was conferred upon us for
our greatest good to our own ruin; setting ourselves against the design
of nature and the universal order of things, which intend that every one
should make use of the faculties, members, and means he has to his own
best advantage?

But it may, peradventure, be objected against me: Your rule is true
enough as to what concerns death; but what will you say of indigence?
What will you, moreover, say of pain, which Aristippus, Hieronimus, and
most of the sages have reputed the worst of evils; and those who have
denied it by word of mouth have, however, confessed it in effect?
Posidonius being extremely tormented with a sharp and painful disease,
Pompeius came to visit him, excusing himself that he had taken so
unseasonable a time to come to hear him discourse of philosophy.
"The gods forbid," said Posidonius to him, "that pain should ever have
the power to hinder me from talking," and thereupon fell immediately upon
a discourse of the contempt of pain : but, in the meantime, his own
infirmity was playing his part, and plagued him to purpose; to which he
cried out, "Thou mayest work thy will, pain, and torment me with all the
power thou hast, but thou shalt never make me say that thou art an evil."
This story that they make such a clutter withal, what has it to do,
I fain would know, with the contempt of pain? He only fights it with
words, and in the meantime, if the shootings and dolours he felt did not
move him, why did he interrupt his discourse? Why did he fancy he did so
great a thing in forbearing to confess it an evil? All does not here
consist in the imagination; our fancies may work upon other things: but
here is the certain science that is playing its part, of which our senses
themselves are judges:

"Qui nisi sunt veri, ratio quoque falsa sit omnis."

["Which, if they be not true, all reasoning may also be false.
--"Lucretius, iv. 486.]

Shall we persuade our skins that the jerks of a whip agreeably tickle us,
or our taste that a potion of aloes is vin de Graves? Pyrrho's hog is
here in the same predicament with us; he is not afraid of death, 'tis
true, but if you beat him he will cry out to some purpose. Shall we
force the general law of nature, which in every living creature under
heaven is seen to tremble under pain? The very trees seem to groan under
the blows they receive. Death is only felt by reason, forasmuch as it is
the motion of an instant;

"Aut fuit, aut veniet; nihil est praesentis in illa."

["Death has been, or will come: there is nothing of the present in
it."--Estienne de la Boetie, Satires.]

"Morsque minus poenae, quam mora mortis, habet;"

["The delay of death is more painful than death itself."
--Ovid, Ep. Ariadne to Theseus, v. 42.]

a thousand beasts, a thousand men, are sooner dead than threatened. That
also which we principally pretend to fear in death is pain, its ordinary
forerunner: yet, if we may believe a holy father:

"Malam mortem non facit, nisi quod sequitur mortem."

["That which follows death makes death bad."
--St. Augustin, De Civit. Dei, i. ii.]

And I should yet say, more probably, that neither that which goes before
nor that which follows after is at all of the appurtenances of death.

We excuse ourselves falsely: and I find by experience that it is rather
the impatience of the imagination of death that makes us impatient of
pain, and that we find it doubly grievous as it threatens us with death.
But reason accusing our cowardice for fearing a thing so sudden, so
inevitable, and so insensible, we take the other as the more excusable
pretence. All ills that carry no other danger along with them but simply
the evils themselves, we treat as things of no danger: the toothache or
the gout, painful as they are, yet being not reputed mortal, who reckons
them in the catalogue of diseases?

But let us presuppose that in death we principally regard the pain; as
also there is nothing to be feared in poverty but the miseries it brings
along with it of thirst, hunger, cold, heat, watching, and the other
inconveniences it makes us suffer, still we have nothing to do with
anything but pain. I will grant, and very willingly, that it is the
worst incident of our being (for I am the man upon earth who the most
hates and avoids it, considering that hitherto, I thank God, I have had
so little traffic with it), but still it is in us, if not to annihilate,
at least to lessen it by patience; and though the body and the reason
should mutiny, to maintain the soul, nevertheless, in good condition.
Were it not so, who had ever given reputation to virtue; valour, force,
magnanimity, and resolution? where were their parts to be played if
there were no pain to be defied?

"Avida est periculi virtus."

["Courage is greedy of danger."--Seneca, De Providentia, c. 4]

Were there no lying upon the hard ground, no enduring, armed at all
points, the meridional heats, no feeding upon the flesh of horses and
asses, no seeing a man's self hacked and hewed to pieces, no suffering a
bullet to be pulled out from amongst the shattered bones, no sewing up,
cauterising and searching of wounds, by what means were the advantage we
covet to have over the vulgar to be acquired? 'Tis far from flying evil
and pain, what the sages say, that of actions equally good, a man should
most covet to perform that wherein there is greater labour and pain.

"Non est enim hilaritate, nec lascivia, nec risu, aut joco
comite levitatis, sed saepe etiam tristes firmitate et
constantia sunt beati."

["For men are not only happy by mirth and wantonness, by laughter
and jesting, the companion of levity, but ofttimes the serious sort
reap felicity from their firmness and constancy."
--Cicero, De Finib. ii. 10.]

And for this reason it has ever been impossible to persuade our
forefathers but that the victories obtained by dint of force and the
hazard of war were not more honourable than those performed in great
security by stratagem or practice:

"Laetius est, quoties magno sibi constat honestum."

[" A good deed is all the more a satisfaction by how much the more
it has cost us"--Lucan, ix. 404.]

Besides, this ought to be our comfort, that naturally, if the pain be
violent, 'tis but short; and if long, nothing violent:

"Si gravis, brevis;
Si longus, levis."

Thou wilt not feel it long if thou feelest it too much; it will either
put an end to itself or to thee; it comes to the same thing; if thou
canst not support it, it will export thee:

["Remember that the greatest pains are terminated by death; that
slighter pains have long intermissions of repose, and that we are
masters of the more moderate sort: so that, if they be tolerable,
we bear them; if not, we can go out of life, as from a theatre, when
it does not please us"--Cicero, De Finib. i. 15.]

That which makes us suffer pain with so much impatience is the not being
accustomed to repose our chiefest contentment in the soul; that we do not
enough rely upon her who is the sole and sovereign mistress of our
condition. The body, saving in the greater or less proportion, has but
one and the same bent and bias; whereas the soul is variable into all
sorts of forms; and subject to herself and to her own empire, all things
whatsoever, both the senses of the body and all other accidents: and
therefore it is that we ought to study her, to inquire into her, and to
rouse up all her powerful faculties. There is neither reason, force, nor
prescription that can anything prevail against her inclination and
choice. Of so many thousands of biases that she has at her disposal, let
us give her one proper to our repose and conversation, and then we shall
not only be sheltered and secured from all manner of injury and offence,
but moreover gratified and obliged, if she will, with evils and offences.
She makes her profit indifferently of all things; error, dreams, serve
her to good use, as loyal matter to lodge us in safety and contentment.
'Tis plain enough to be seen that 'tis the sharpness of our mind that
gives the edge to our pains and pleasures: beasts that have no such
thing, leave to their bodies their own free and natural sentiments, and
consequently in every kind very near the same, as appears by the
resembling application of their motions. If we would not disturb in our
members the jurisdiction that appertains to them in this, 'tis to be
believed it would be the better for us, and that nature has given them a
just and moderate temper both to pleasure and pain; neither can it fail
of being just, being equal and common. But seeing we have enfranchised
ourselves from her rules to give ourselves up to the rambling liberty of
our own fancies, let us at least help to incline them to the most
agreeable side. Plato fears our too vehemently engaging ourselves with
pain and pleasure, forasmuch as these too much knit and ally the soul to
the body; whereas I rather, quite contrary, by reason it too much
separates and disunites them. As an enemy is made more fierce by our
flight, so pain grows proud to see us truckle under her. She will
surrender upon much better terms to them who make head against her: a man
must oppose and stoutly set himself against her. In retiring and giving
ground, we invite and pull upon ourselves the ruin that threatens us. As
the body is more firm in an encounter, the more stiffly and obstinately
it applies itself to it, so is it with the soul.

But let us come to examples, which are the proper game of folks of such
feeble force as myself; where we shall find that it is with pain as with
stones, that receive a brighter or a duller lustre according to the foil
they are set in, and that it has no more room in us than we are pleased
to allow it:

"Tantum doluerunt, quantum doloribus se inseruerunt."

["They suffered so much the more, by how much more they gave way to
suffering."--St. Augustin, De Civit. Dei, i. 10.]

We are more sensible of one little touch of a surgeon's lancet than of
twenty wounds with a sword in the heat of fight. The pains of
childbearing, said by the physicians and by God himself to be great, and
which we pass through with so many ceremonies--there are whole nations
that make nothing of them. I set aside the Lacedaemonian women, but what
else do you find in the Swiss among our foot-soldiers, if not that, as
they trot after their husbands, you see them to-day carry the child at
their necks that they carried yesterday in their bellies? The
counterfeit Egyptians we have amongst us go themselves to wash theirs,
so soon as they come into the world, and bathe in the first river they
meet. Besides so many wenches as daily drop their children by stealth,
as they conceived them, that fair and noble wife of Sabinus, a patrician
of Rome, for another's interest, endured alone, without help, without
crying out, or so much as a groan, the bearing of twins.--[Plutarch, On
Love, c. 34.]--A poor simple boy of Lacedaemon having stolen a fox (for
they more fear the shame of stupidity in stealing than we do the
punishment of the knavery), and having got it under his coat, rather
endured the tearing out of his bowels than he would discover his theft.
And another offering incense at a sacrifice, suffered himself to be
burned to the bone by a coal that fell into his sleeve, rather than
disturb the ceremony. And there have been a great number, for a sole
trial of virtue, following their institutions, who have at seven years
old endured to be whipped to death without changing their countenance.
And Cicero has seen them fight in parties, with fists, feet, and teeth,
till they have fainted and sunk down, rather than confess themselves

["Custom could never conquer nature; she is ever invincible; but we
have infected the mind with shadows, delights, negligence, sloth;
we have grown effeminate through opinions and corrupt morality."
--Cicero, Tusc. Quaes., v. 27.]

Every one knows the story of Scaevola, that having slipped into the
enemy's camp to kill their general, and having missed his blow, to repair
his fault, by a more strange invention and to deliver his country, he
boldly confessed to Porsenna, who was the king he had a purpose to kill,
not only his design, but moreover added that there were then in the camp
a great number of Romans, his accomplices in the enterprise, as good men
as he; and to show what a one he himself was, having caused a pan of
burning coals to be brought, he saw and endured his arm to broil and
roast, till the king himself, conceiving horror at the sight, commanded
the pan to be taken away. What would you say of him that would not
vouchsafe to respite his reading in a book whilst he was under incision?
And of the other that persisted to mock and laugh in contempt of the
pains inflicted upon him; so that the provoked cruelty of the
executioners that had him in handling, and all the inventions of tortures
redoubled upon him, one after another, spent in vain, gave him the
bucklers? But he was a philosopher. But what! a gladiator of Caesar's
endured, laughing all the while, his wounds to be searched, lanced, and
laid open:

["What ordinary gladiator ever groaned? Which of them ever changed
countenance? Which of them not only stood or fell indecorously?
Which, when he had fallen and was commanded to receive the stroke of
the sword, contracted his neck."--Cicero, Tusc. Quaes., ii. 17.]

Let us bring in the women too. Who has not heard at Paris of her that
caused her face to be flayed only for the fresher complexion of a new
skin? There are who have drawn good and sound teeth to make their voices
more soft and sweet, or to place the other teeth in better order. How
many examples of the contempt of pain have we in that sex? What can they
not do, what do they fear to do, for never so little hope of an addition
to their beauty?

"Vallere queis cura est albos a stirpe capillos,
Et faciem, dempta pelle, referre novam."

["Who carefully pluck out their grey hairs by the roots, and renew
their faces by peeling off the old skin."--Tibullus, i. 8, 45.]

I have seen some of them swallow sand, ashes, and do their utmost to
destroy their stomachs to get pale complexions. To make a fine Spanish
body, what racks will they not endure of girding and bracing, till they
have notches in their sides cut into the very quick, and sometimes to

It is an ordinary thing with several nations at this day to wound
themselves in good earnest to gain credit to what they profess; of which
our king, relates notable examples of what he has seen in Poland and done
towards himself.--[Henry III.]--But besides this, which I know to have
been imitated by some in France, when I came from that famous assembly of
the Estates at Blois, I had a little before seen a maid in Picardy, who
to manifest the ardour of her promises, as also her constancy, give
herself, with a bodkin she wore in her hair, four or five good lusty
stabs in the arm, till the blood gushed out to some purpose. The Turks
give themselves great scars in honour of their mistresses, and to the end
they may the longer remain, they presently clap fire to the wound, where
they hold it an incredible time to stop the blood and form the cicatrice;
people that have been eyewitnesses of it have both written and sworn it
to me. But for ten aspers--[A Turkish coin worth about a penny]--there
are there every day fellows to be found that will give themselves a good
deep slash in the arms or thighs. I am willing, however, to have the
testimonies nearest to us when we have most need of them; for Christendom
furnishes us with enough. After the example of our blessed Guide there
have been many who have crucified themselves. We learn by testimony very
worthy of belief, that King St. Louis wore a hair-shirt till in his old
age his confessor gave him a dispensation to leave it off; and that every
Friday he caused his shoulders to be drubbed by his priest with five
small chains of iron which were always carried about amongst his night
accoutrements for that purpose.

William, our last Duke of Guienne, the father of that Eleanor who
transmitted that duchy to the houses of France and England, continually
for the last ten or twelve years of his life wore a suit of armour under
a religious habit by way of penance. Foulke, Count of Anjou, went as far
as Jerusalem, there to cause himself to be whipped by two of his
servants, with a rope about his neck, before the sepulchre of our Lord.
But do we not, moreover, every Good Friday, in various places, see great
numbers of men and women beat and whip themselves till they lacerate and
cut the flesh to the very bones? I have often seen it, and 'tis without
any enchantment; and it was said there were some amongst them (for they
go disguised) who for money undertook by this means to save harmless the
religion of others, by a contempt of pain, so much the greater, as the
incentives of devotion are more effectual than those of avarice.
Q. Maximus buried his son when he was a consul, and M. Cato his when
praetor elect, and L. Paulus both his, within a few days one after
another, with such a countenance as expressed no manner of grief. I said
once merrily of a certain person, that he had disappointed the divine
justice; for the violent death of three grown-up children of his being
one day sent him, for a severe scourge, as it is to be supposed, he was
so far from being afflicted at the accident, that he rather took it for a
particular grace and favour of heaven. I do not follow these monstrous
humours, though I lost two or three at nurse, if not without grief, at
least without repining, and yet there is hardly any accident that pierces
nearer to the quick. I see a great many other occasions of sorrow, that
should they happen to me I should hardly feel; and have despised some,
when they have befallen me, to which the world has given so terrible a
figure that I should blush to boast of my constancy:

"Ex quo intelligitur, non in natura, sed in opinione,
esse aegritudinem."

["By which one may understand that grief is not in nature, but in
opinion."--Cicero, Tusc. Quaes., iii. 28.]

Opinion is a powerful party, bold, and without measure. Who ever so
greedily hunted after security and repose as Alexander and Caesar did
after disturbance and difficulties? Teres, the father of Sitalces, was
wont to say that when he had no wars, he fancied there was no difference
betwixt him and his groom." Cato the consul, to secure some cities of
Spain from revolt, only interdicting the inhabitants from wearing arms, a
great many killed themselves:

"Ferox gens, nullam vitam rati sine armis esse."

["A fierce people, who thought there was no life without war."
--Livy, xxxiv. 17.]

How many do we know who have forsaken the calm and sweetness of a quiet
life at home amongst their acquaintance, to seek out the horror of
unhabitable deserts; and having precipitated themselves into so abject a
condition as to become the scorn and contempt of the world, have hugged
themselves with the conceit, even to affectation. Cardinal Borromeo, who
died lately at Milan, amidst all the jollity that the air of Italy, his
youth, birth, and great riches, invited him to, kept himself in so
austere a way of living, that the same robe he wore in summer served him
for winter too; he had only straw for his bed, and his hours of leisure
from affairs he continually spent in study upon his knees, having a
little bread and a glass of water set by his book, which was all the
provision of his repast, and all the time he spent in eating.

I know some who consentingly have acquired both profit and advancement
from cuckoldom, of which the bare name only affrights so many people.

If the sight be not the most necessary of all our senses, 'tis at least
the most pleasant; but the most pleasant and most useful of all our
members seem to be those of generation; and yet a great many have
conceived a mortal hatred against them only for this, that they were too
pleasant, and have deprived themselves of them only for their value:
as much thought he of his eyes that put them out. The generality and
more solid sort of men look upon abundance of children as a great
blessing; I, and some others, think it as great a benefit to be without
them. And when you ask Thales why he does not marry, he tells you,
because he has no mind to leave any posterity behind him.

That our opinion gives the value to things is very manifest in the great
number of those which we do, not so much prizing them, as ourselves, and
never considering either their virtues or their use, but only how dear
they cost us, as though that were a part of their substance; and we only
repute for value in them, not what they bring to us, but what we add to
them. By which I understand that we are great economisers of our
expense: as it weighs, it serves for so much as it weighs. Our opinion
will never suffer it to want of its value: the price gives value to the
diamond; difficulty to virtue; suffering to devotion; and griping to
physic. A certain person, to be poor, threw his crowns into the same sea
to which so many come, in all parts of the world, to fish for riches.
Epicurus says that to be rich is no relief, but only an alteration, of
affairs. In truth, it is not want, but rather abundance, that creates
avarice. I will deliver my own experience concerning this affair.

I have since my emergence from childhood lived in three sorts of
conditions. The first, which continued for some twenty years, I passed
over without any other means but what were casual and depending upon the
allowance and assistance of others, without stint, but without certain
revenue. I then spent my money so much the more cheerfully, and with so
much the less care how it went, as it wholly depended upon my
overconfidence of fortune. I never lived more at my ease; I never had
the repulse of finding the purse of any of my friends shut against me,
having enjoined myself this necessity above all other necessities
whatever, by no means to fail of payment at the appointed time, which
also they have a thousand times respited, seeing how careful I was to
satisfy them; so that I practised at once a thrifty, and withal a kind of
alluring, honesty. I naturally feel a kind of pleasure in paying, as if
I eased my shoulders of a troublesome weight and freed myself from an
image of slavery; as also that I find a ravishing kind of satisfaction in
pleasing another and doing a just action. I except payments where the
trouble of bargaining and reckoning is required; and in such cases; where
I can meet with nobody to ease me of that charge, I delay them, how
scandalously and injuriously soever, all I possibly can, for fear of the
wranglings for which both my humour and way of speaking are so totally
improper and unfit. There is nothing I hate so much as driving a
bargain; 'tis a mere traffic of cozenage and impudence, where, after an
hour's cheapening and hesitating, both parties abandon their word and
oath for five sols' abatement. Yet I always borrowed at great
disadvantage; for, wanting the confidence to speak to the person myself,
I committed my request to the persuasion of a letter, which usually is no
very successful advocate, and is of very great advantage to him who has a
mind to deny. I, in those days, more jocundly and freely referred the
conduct of my affairs to the stars, than I have since done to my own
providence and judgment. Most good managers look upon it as a horrible
thing to live always thus in uncertainty, and do not consider, in the
first place, that the greatest part of the world live so: how many worthy
men have wholly abandoned their own certainties, and yet daily do it, to
the winds, to trust to the inconstant favour of princes and of fortune?
Caesar ran above a million of gold, more than he was worth, in debt to
become Caesar; and how many merchants have begun their traffic by the
sale of their farms, which they sent into the Indies,

"Tot per impotentia freta."

["Through so many ungovernable seas."--Catullus, iv. 18.]

In so great a siccity of devotion as we see in these days, we have a
thousand and a thousand colleges that pass it over commodiously enough,
expecting every day their dinner from the liberality of Heaven.
Secondly, they do not take notice that this certitude upon which they so
much rely is not much less uncertain and hazardous than hazard itself.
I see misery as near beyond two thousand crowns a year as if it stood
close by me; for besides that it is in the power of chance to make a
hundred breaches to poverty through the greatest strength of our riches--
there being very often no mean betwixt the highest and the lowest

"Fortuna vitrea est: turn, quum splendet, frangitur,"

["Fortune is glass: in its greatest brightness it breaks."
--Ex Mim. P. Syrus.]

and to turn all our barricadoes and bulwarks topsy-turvy, I find that, by
divers causes, indigence is as frequently seen to inhabit with those who
have estates as with those that have none; and that, peradventure, it is
then far less grievous when alone than when accompanied with riches.
These flow more from good management than from revenue;

"Faber est suae quisque fortunae"

["Every one is the maker of his own fortune."
--Sallust, De Repub. Ord., i. I.]

and an uneasy, necessitous, busy, rich man seems to me more miserable
than he that is simply poor.

"In divitiis mopes, quod genus egestatis gravissimum est."

["Poor in the midst of riches, which is the sorest kind of poverty."
--Seneca, Ep., 74.]

The greatest and most wealthy princes are by poverty and want driven to
the most extreme necessity; for can there be any more extreme than to
become tyrants and unjust usurpers of their subjects' goods and estates?

My second condition of life was to have money of my own, wherein I so
ordered the matter that I had soon laid up a very notable sum out of a
mean fortune, considering with myself that that only was to be reputed
having which a man reserves from his ordinary expense, and that a man
cannot absolutely rely upon revenue he hopes to receive, how clear soever
the hope may be. For what, said I, if I should be surprised by such or
such an accident? And after such-like vain and vicious imaginations,
would very learnedly, by this hoarding of money, provide against all
inconveniences; and could, moreover, answer such as objected to me that
the number of these was too infinite, that if I could not lay up for all,
I could, however, do it at least for some and for many. Yet was not this
done without a great deal of solicitude and anxiety of mind; I kept it
very close, and though I dare talk so boldly of myself, never spoke of my
money, but falsely, as others do, who being rich, pretend to be poor, and
being poor, pretend to be rich, dispensing their consciences from ever
telling sincerely what they have: a ridiculous and shameful prudence.
Was I going a journey? Methought I was never enough provided: and the
more I loaded myself with money, the more also was I loaded with fear,
one while of the danger of the roads, another of the fidelity of him who
had the charge of my baggage, of whom, as some others that I know, I was
never sufficiently secure if I had him not always in my eye. If I
chanced to leave my cash-box behind me, O, what strange suspicions and
anxiety of mind did I enter into, and, which was worse, without daring to
acquaint anybody with it. My mind was eternally taken up with such
things as these, so that, all things considered, there is more trouble in
keeping money than in getting it. And if I did not altogether so much as
I say, or was not really so scandalously solicitous of my money as I have
made myself out to be, yet it cost me something at least to restrain
myself from being so. I reaped little or no advantage by what I had, and
my expenses seemed nothing less to me for having the more to spend; for,
as Bion said, the hairy men are as angry as the bald to be pulled; and
after you are once accustomed to it and have once set your heart upon
your heap, it is no more at your service; you cannot find in your heart
to break it: 'tis a building that you will fancy must of necessity all
tumble down to ruin if you stir but the least pebble; necessity must
first take you by the throat before you can prevail upon yourself to
touch it; and I would sooner have pawned anything I had, or sold a horse,
and with much less constraint upon myself, than have made the least
breach in that beloved purse I had so carefully laid by. But the danger
was that a man cannot easily prescribe certain limits to this desire
(they are hard to find in things that a man conceives to be good), and to
stint this good husbandry so that it may not degenerate into avarice: men
still are intent upon adding to the heap and increasing the stock from
sum to sum, till at last they vilely deprive themselves of the enjoyment
of their own proper goods, and throw all into reserve, without making any
use of them at all. According to this rule, they are the richest people
in the world who are set to guard the walls and gates of a wealthy city.
All moneyed men I conclude to be covetous. Plato places corporal or
human goods in this order: health, beauty, strength, riches; and riches,
says he, are not blind, but very clear-sighted, when illuminated by
prudence. Dionysius the son did a very handsome act upon this subject;
he was informed that one of the Syracusans had hid a treasure in the
earth, and thereupon sent to the man to bring it to him, which he
accordingly did, privately reserving a small part of it only to himself,
with which he went to another city, where being cured of his appetite of
hoarding, he began to live at a more liberal rate; which Dionysius
hearing, caused the rest of his treasure to be restored to him, saying,
that since he had learned to use it, he very willingly returned it back
to him.

I continued some years in this hoarding humour, when I know not what good
demon fortunately put me out of it, as he did the Syracusan, and made me
throw abroad all my reserve at random, the pleasure of a certain journey
I took at very great expense having made me spurn this fond love of money
underfoot; by which means I am now fallen into a third way of living (I
speak what I think of it), doubtless much more pleasant and regular,
which is, that I live at the height of my revenue; sometimes the one,
sometimes the other may perhaps exceed, but 'tis very little and but
rarely that they differ. I live from hand to mouth, and content myself
in having sufficient for my present and ordinary expense; for as to
extraordinary occasions, all the laying up in the world would never
suffice. And 'tis the greatest folly imaginable to expect that fortune
should ever sufficiently arm us against herself; 'tis with our own arms
that we are to fight her; accidental ones will betray us in the pinch of
the business. If I lay up, 'tis for some near and contemplated purpose;
not to purchase lands, of which I have no need, but to purchase pleasure:

"Non esse cupidum, pecunia est; non esse emacem, vertigal est."

["Not to be covetous, is money; not to be acquisitive, is revenue."
--Cicero, Paradox., vi. 3.]

I neither am in any great apprehension of wanting, nor in desire of any

"Divinarum fructus est in copia; copiam declarat satietas."

["The fruit of riches is in abundance; satiety declares abundance."
--Idem, ibid., vi. 2.]

And I am very well pleased that this reformation in me has fallen out in
an age naturally inclined to avarice, and that I see myself cleared of a
folly so common to old men, and the most ridiculous of all human follies.

Feraulez, a man that had run through both fortunes, and found that the
increase of substance was no increase of appetite either to eating or
drinking, sleeping or the enjoyment of his wife, and who on the other
side felt the care of his economics lie heavy upon his shoulders, as it
does on mine, was resolved to please a poor young man, his faithful
friend, who panted after riches, and made him a gift of all his, which
were excessively great, and, moreover, of all he was in the daily way of
getting by the liberality of Cyrus, his good master, and by the war;
conditionally that he should take care handsomely to maintain and
plentifully to entertain him as his guest and friend; which being
accordingly done, they afterwards lived very happily together, both of
them equally content with the change of their condition. 'Tis an example
that I could imitate with all my heart; and I very much approve the
fortune of the aged prelate whom I see to have so absolutely stripped
himself of his purse, his revenue, and care of his expense, committing
them one while to one trusty servant, and another while to another, that
he his spun out a long succession of years, as ignorant, by this means,
of his domestic affairs as a mere stranger.

The confidence in another man's virtue is no light evidence of a man's
own, and God willingly favours such a confidence. As to what concerns
him of whom I am speaking, I see nowhere a better governed house, more
nobly and constantly maintained than his. Happy to have regulated his
affairs to so just a proportion that his estate is sufficient to do it
without his care or trouble, and without any hindrance, either in the
spending or laying it up, to his other more quiet employments, and more
suitable both to his place and liking.

Plenty, then, and indigence depend upon the opinion every one has of
them; and riches no more than glory or health have other beauty or
pleasure than he lends them by whom they are possessed.

Every one is well or ill at ease, according as he so finds himself; not
he whom the world believes, but he who believes himself to be so, is
content; and in this alone belief gives itself being and reality.
Fortune does us neither good nor hurt; she only presents us the matter
and the seed, which our soul, more powerful than she, turns and applies
as she best pleases; the sole cause and sovereign mistress of her own
happy or unhappy condition. All external accessions receive taste and
colour from the internal constitution, as clothes warm us, not with their
heat, but our own, which they are fit to cover and nourish; he who would
shield therewith a cold body, would do the same service for the cold, for
so snow and ice are preserved. And, certes, after the same manner that
study is a torment to an idle man, abstinence from wine to a drunkard,
frugality to the spendthrift, and exercise to a lazy, tender-bred fellow,
so it is of all the rest. The things are not so painful and difficult of
themselves, but our weakness or cowardice makes them so. To judge of
great, and high matters requires a suitable soul; otherwise we attribute
the vice to them which is really our own. A straight oar seems crooked
in the water it does not only import that we see the thing, but how and
after what manner we see it.

After all this, why, amongst so many discourses that by so many arguments
persuade men to despise death and to endure pain, can we not find out one
that helps us? And of so many sorts of imaginations as have so prevailed
upon others as to persuade them to do so, why does not every one apply
some one to himself, the most suitable to his own humour? If he cannot
digest a strong-working decoction to eradicate the evil, let him at least
take a lenitive to ease it:

["It is an effeminate and flimsy opinion, nor more so in pain than
in pleasure, in which, while we are at our ease, we cannot bear
without a cry the sting of a bee. The whole business is to commend
thyself."--Cicero, Tusc. Quaes., ii. 22.]

As to the rest, a man does not transgress philosophy by permitting the
acrimony of pains and human frailty to prevail so much above measure; for
they constrain her to go back to her unanswerable replies: "If it be ill
to live in necessity, at least there is no necessity upon a man to live
in necessity": "No man continues ill long but by his own fault." He who
has neither the courage to die nor the heart to live, who will neither
resist nor fly, what can we do with him?



Of all the follies of the world, that which is most universally received
is the solicitude of reputation and glory; which we are fond of to that
degree as to abandon riches, peace, life, and health, which are effectual
and substantial goods, to pursue this vain phantom and empty word, that
has neither body nor hold to be taken of it:

La fama, ch'invaghisce a un dolce suono
Gli superbi mortali, et par si bella,
E un eco, un sogno, anzi d'un sogno un'ombra,
Ch'ad ogni vento si dilegua a sgombra."

["Fame, which with alluring sound charms proud mortals, and appears
so fair, is but an echo, a dream, nay, the shadow of a dream, which
at every breath vanishes and dissolves."
--Tasso, Gerus., xiv. 63.]

And of all the irrational humours of men, it should seem that the
philosophers themselves are among the last and the most reluctant to
disengage themselves from this: 'tis the most restive and obstinate of

"Quia etiam bene proficientes animos tentare non cessat."

["Because it ceases not to assail even well-directed minds"
--St. Augustin, De Civit. Dei, v. 14.]

There is not any one of which reason so clearly accuses the vanity; but
it is so deeply rooted in us that I dare not determine whether any one
ever clearly discharged himself from it or no. After you have said all
and believed all has been said to its prejudice, it produces so intestine
an inclination in opposition to your best arguments that you have little
power to resist it; for, as Cicero says, even those who most controvert
it, would yet that the books they write about it should visit the light
under their own names, and seek to derive glory from seeming to despise
it. All other things are communicable and fall into commerce: we lend
our goods and stake our lives for the necessity and service of our
friends; but to communicate a man's honour, and to robe another with a
man's own glory, is very rarely seen.

And yet we have some examples of that kind. Catulus Luctatius in the
Cimbrian war, having done all that in him lay to make his flying soldiers
face about upon the enemy, ran himself at last away with the rest, and
counterfeited the coward, to the end his men might rather seem to follow
their captain than to fly from the enemy; which was to abandon his own
reputation in order to cover the shame of others. When Charles V. came
into Provence in the year 1537, 'tis said that Antonio de Leva, seeing
the emperor positively resolved upon this expedition, and believing it
would redound very much to his honour, did, nevertheless, very stiffly
oppose it in the council, to the end that the entire glory of that
resolution should be attributed to his master, and that it might be said
his own wisdom and foresight had been such as that, contrary to the
opinion of all, he had brought about so great an enterprise; which was to
do him honour at his own expense. The Thracian ambassadors coming to
comfort Archileonida, the mother of Brasidas, upon the death of her son,
and commending him to that height as to say he had not left his like
behind him, she rejected this private and particular commendation to
attribute it to the public: "Tell me not that," said she; "I know the
city of Sparta has many citizens both greater and of greater worth than
he." In the battle of Crecy, the Prince of Wales, being then very
young, had the vanguard committed to him: the main stress of the battle
happened to be in that place, which made the lords who were with him,
finding themselves overmatched, send to King Edward to advance to their
relief. He inquired of the condition his son was in, and being answered
that he was alive and on horseback: "I should, then, do him wrong," said
the king, "now to go and deprive him of the honour of winning this battle
he has so long and so bravely sustained; what hazard soever he runs, that
shall be entirely his own"; and, accordingly, would neither go nor send,
knowing that if he went, it would be said all had been lost without his
succour, and that the honour of the victory would be wholly attributed to

"Semper enim quod postremum adjectum est,
id rem totam videtur traxisse."

["For always that which is last added, seems to have accomplished
the whole affair."--Livy, xxvii. 45.]

Many at Rome thought, and would usually say, that the greatest of
Scipio's acts were in part due to Laelius, whose constant practice it was
still to advance and support Scipio's grandeur and renown, without any
care of his own. And Theopompus, king of Sparta, to him who told him the
republic could not miscarry since he knew so well how to command, "Tis
rather," answered he, "because the people know so well how to obey."
As women succeeding to peerages had, notwithstanding their sex, the
privilege to attend and give their votes in the trials that appertained
to the jurisdiction of peers; so the ecclesiastical peers,
notwithstanding their profession, were obliged to attend our kings in
their wars, not only with their friends and servants, but in their own
persons. As the Bishop of Beauvais did, who being with Philip Augustus
at the battle of Bouvines, had a notable share in that action; but he did
not think it fit for him to participate in the fruit and glory of that
violent and bloody trade. He with his own hand reduced several of the
enemy that day to his mercy, whom he delivered to the first gentleman he
met either to kill or receive them to quarter, referring the whole
execution to this other hand; and he did this with regard to William,
Earl of Salisbury, whom he gave up to Messire Jehan de Nesle. With a
like subtlety of conscience to that I have just named, he would kill but
not wound, and for that reason ever fought with a mace. And a certain
person of my time, being reproached by the king that he had laid hands on
a priest, stiffly and positively denied he had done any such thing: the
meaning of which was, he had cudgelled and kicked him.



Plutarch says somewhere that he does not find so great a difference
betwixt beast and beast as he does betwixt man and man; which he says in
reference to the internal qualities and perfections of the soul. And, in
truth, I find so vast a distance betwixt Epaminondas, according to my
judgment of him, and some that I know, who are yet men of good sense,
that I could willingly enhance upon Plutarch, and say that there is more
difference betwixt such and such a man than there is betwixt such a man
and such a beast:

["Ah! how much may one man surpass another!"
--Terence, Eunuchus, ii. 2.]

and that there are as many and innumerable degrees of mind as there are
cubits betwixt this and heaven. But as touching the estimate of men,
'tis strange that, ourselves excepted, no other creature is esteemed
beyond its proper qualities; we commend a horse for his strength and
sureness of foot,

Sic laudamus equum, facili cui plurima palma
Fervet, et exsultat rauco victoria circo,"

["So we praise the swift horse, for whose easy mastery many a hand
glows in applause, and victory exults in the hoarse circus.
--"Juvenal, viii. 57.]

and not for his rich caparison; a greyhound for his speed of heels, not
for his fine collar; a hawk for her wing, not for her gesses and bells.
Why, in like manner, do we not value a man for what is properly his own?
He has a great train, a beautiful palace, so much credit, so many
thousand pounds a year: all these are about him, but not in him. You
will not buy a pig in a poke: if you cheapen a horse, you will see him
stripped of his housing-cloths, you will see him naked and open to your
eye; or if he be clothed, as they anciently were wont to present them to
princes to sell, 'tis only on the less important parts, that you may not
so much consider the beauty of his colour or the breadth of his crupper,
as principally to examine his legs, eyes, and feet, which are the members
of greatest use:

"Regibus hic mos est: ubi equos mercantur, opertos
Inspiciunt; ne, si facies, ut saepe, decora
Molli fulta pede est, emptorem inducat hiantem"

["This is the custom of kings: when they buy horses, they have open
inspection, lest, if a fair head, as often chances, is supported by
a weak foot, it should tempt the gaping purchaser."
--Horace, Sat., i. 2, 86.]

why, in giving your estimate of a man, do you prize him wrapped and
muffled up in clothes? He then discovers nothing to you but such parts
as are not in the least his own, and conceals those by which alone one
may rightly judge of his value. 'Tis the price of the blade that you
inquire into, not of the scabbard: you would not peradventure bid a
farthing for him, if you saw him stripped. You are to judge him by
himself and not by what he wears; and, as one of the ancients very
pleasantly said: "Do you know why you repute him tall? You reckon withal
the height of his pattens."--[Seneca, Ep. 76.]--The pedestal is no part
of the statue. Measure him without his stilts; let him lay aside his
revenues and his titles; let him present himself in his shirt. Then
examine if his body be sound and sprightly, active and disposed to
perform its functions. What soul has he? Is she beautiful, capable, and
happily provided of all her faculties? Is she rich of what is her own,
or of what she has borrowed? Has fortune no hand in the affair? Can
she, without winking, stand the lightning of swords? is she indifferent
whether her life expire by the mouth or through the throat? Is she
settled, even and content? This is what is to be examined, and by that
you are to judge of the vast differences betwixt man and man. Is he:

"Sapiens, sibique imperiosus,
Quern neque pauperies, neque mors, neque vincula terrent;
Responsare cupidinibus, contemnere honores
Fortis; et in seipso totus teres atque rotundus,
Externi ne quid valeat per laeve morari;
In quem manca ruit semper fortuna?"

["The wise man, self-governed, whom neither poverty, nor death,
nor chains affright: who has the strength to resist his appetites
and to contemn honours: who is wholly self-contained: whom no
external objects affect: whom fortune assails in vain."
--Horace, Sat., ii. 7,]

such a man is five hundred cubits above kingdoms and duchies; he is an
absolute monarch in and to himself:

"Sapiens, . . . Pol! ipse fingit fortunam sibi;"

["The wise man is the master of his own fortune,"
--Plautus, Trin., ii. 2, 84.]

what remains for him to covet or desire?

"Nonne videmus,
Nil aliud sibi naturam latrare, nisi ut, quoi
Corpore sejunctus dolor absit, mente fruatur,
Jucundo sensu, cura semotu' metuque?"

["Do we not see that human nature asks no more for itself than
that, free from bodily pain, it may exercise its mind agreeably,
exempt from care and fear."--Lucretius, ii. 16.]

Compare with such a one the common rabble of mankind, stupid and mean-
spirited, servile, instable, and continually floating with the tempest of
various passions, that tosses and tumbles them to and fro, and all
depending upon others, and you will find a greater distance than betwixt
heaven and earth; and yet the blindness of common usage is such that we
make little or no account of it; whereas if we consider a peasant and a
king, a nobleman and a vassal, a magistrate and a private man, a rich man
and a poor, there appears a vast disparity, though they differ no more,
as a man may say, than in their breeches.

In Thrace the king was distinguished from his people after a very
pleasant and especial manner; he had a religion by himself, a god all his
own, and which his subjects were not to presume to adore, which was
Mercury, whilst, on the other hand, he disdained to have anything to do
with theirs, Mars, Bacchus, and Diana. And yet they are no other than
pictures that make no essential dissimilitude; for as you see actors in a
play representing the person of a duke or an emperor upon the stage, and
immediately after return to their true and original condition of valets
and porters, so the emperor, whose pomp and lustre so dazzle you in

"Scilicet grandes viridi cum luce smaragdi
Auto includuntur, teriturque thalassina vestis
Assidue, et Veneris sudorem exercita potat;"

["Because he wears great emeralds richly set in gold, darting green
lustre; and the sea-blue silken robe, worn with pressure, and moist
with illicit love (and absorbs the sweat of Venus)."
--Lucretius, iv. 1123.]

do but peep behind the curtain, and you will see no thing more than an
ordinary man, and peradventure more contemptible than the meanest of his

"Ille beatus introrsum est, istius bracteata felicitas est;"

["The one is happy in himself; the happiness of the other is
counterfeit."--Seneca, Ep., 115.]

cowardice, irresolution, ambition, spite, and envy agitate him as much as

"Non enim gazae, neque consularis
Submovet lictor miseros tumultus
Mentis, et curas laqueata circum
Tecta volantes."

["For not treasures, nor the consular lictor, can remove the
miserable tumults of the mind, nor cares that fly about panelled
ceilings."--Horace, Od., ii. 16, 9.]

Care and fear attack him even in the centre of his battalions:

"Re veraque metus hominum curaeque sequaces
Nec metuunt sonitus armorum, nee fera tela;
Audacterque inter reges, rerumque potentes
Versantur, neque fulgorem reverentur ab auro."

["And in truth the fears and haunting cares of men fear not the
clash of arms nor points of darts, and mingle boldly with great
kings and men in authority, nor respect the glitter of gold."
--Lucretius, ii. 47.]

Do fevers, gout, and apoplexies spare him any more than one of us? When
old age hangs heavy upon his shoulders, can the yeomen of his guard ease
him of the burden? When he is astounded with the apprehension of death,
can the gentlemen of his bedchamber comfort and assure him? When
jealousy or any other caprice swims in his brain, can our compliments and
ceremonies restore him to his good-humour? The canopy embroidered with
pearl and gold he lies under has no virtue against a violent fit of the

"Nee calidae citius decedunt corpore febres
Textilibus si in picturis, ostroque rubenti
Jactaris, quam si plebeia in veste cubandum est."

["Nor do burning fevers quit you sooner if you are stretched on a
couch of rich tapestry and in a vest of purple dye, than if you be
in a coarse blanket."--Idem, ii. 34.]

The flatterers of Alexander the Great possessed him that he was the son
of Jupiter; but being one day wounded, and observing the blood stream
from his wound: "What say you now, my masters," said he, "is not this
blood of a crimson colour and purely human? This is not of the
complexion of that which Homer makes to issue from the wounded gods."
The poet Hermodorus had written a poem in honour of Antigonus, wherein he
called him the son of the sun: "He who has the emptying of my close-
stool," said Antigonus, "knows to the contrary." He is but a man at
best, and if he be deformed or ill-qualified from his birth, the empire
of the universe cannot set him to rights:

Hunc rapiant; quidquid calcaverit hic, rosa fiat,"

["Let girls carry him off; wherever he steps let there spring up a
rose!"--Persius, Sat., ii. 38.]

what of all that, if he be a fool? even pleasure and good fortune are
not relished without vigour and understanding:

"Haec perinde sunt, ut ilius animus; qui ea possidet
Qui uti scit, ei bona; illi, qui non uritur recte, mala."

["Things are, as is the mind of their possessor; who knows how to
use them, to him they are good; to him who abuses them, ill."
--Terence, Heart., i. 3, 21.]

Whatever the benefits of fortune are, they yet require a palate to relish
them. 'Tis fruition, and not possession, that renders us happy:

["'Tis not lands, or a heap of brass and gold, that has removed
fevers from the ailing body of the owner, or cares from his mind.
The possessor must be healthy, if he thinks to make good use of his
realised wealth. To him who is covetous or timorous his house and
estate are as a picture to a blind man, or a fomentation to a
gouty."--Horace, Ep., i. 2, 47.]

He is a sot, his taste is palled and flat; he no more enjoys what he has
than one that has a cold relishes the flavour of canary, or than a horse
is sensible of his rich caparison. Plato is in the right when he tells
us that health, beauty, vigour, and riches, and all the other things
called goods, are equally evil to the unjust as good to the just, and the
evil on the contrary the same. And therefore where the body and the mind
are in disorder, to what use serve these external conveniences:
considering that the least prick with a pin, or the least passion of the
soul, is sufficient to deprive one of the pleasure of being sole monarch
of the world. At the first twitch of the gout it signifies much to be
called Sir and Your Majesty!

"Totus et argento conflatus, totus et auro;"

["Wholly made up of silver and gold."--Tibullus, i. 2, 70.]

does he not forget his palaces and girandeurs? If he be angry, can his
being a prince keep him from looking red and looking pale, and grinding
his teeth like a madman? Now, if he be a man of parts and of right
nature, royalty adds very little to his happiness;

"Si ventri bene, si lateri est, pedibusque tuffs, nil
Divitix poterunt regales addere majus;"

["If it is well with thy belly, thy side and thy feet, regal wealth
will be able to add nothing."--Horace, Ep., i. 12, 5.]

he discerns 'tis nothing but counterfeit and gullery. Nay, perhaps he
would be of King Seleucus' opinion, that he who knew the weight of a
sceptre would not stoop to pick it up, if he saw it lying before him, so
great and painful are the duties incumbent upon a good king.--[Plutarch,
If a Sage should Meddle with Affairs of Stale, c. 12.]--Assuredly it can
be no easy task to rule others, when we find it so hard a matter to
govern ourselves; and as to dominion, that seems so charming, the frailty
of human judgment and the difficulty of choice in things that are new and
doubtful considered, I am very much of opinion that it is far more easy
and pleasant to follow than to lead; and that it is a great settlement
and satisfaction of mind to have only one path to walk in, and to have
none to answer for but a man's self;

"Ut satius multo jam sit parere quietum,
Quam regere imperio res velle."

["'Tis much better quietly to obey than wish to rule."
--Lucretius, V, 1126.]

To which we may add that saying of Cyrus, that no man was fit to rule but
he who in his own worth was of greater value than those he was to govern;
but King Hiero in Xenophon says further, that in the fruition even of
pleasure itself they are in a worse condition than private men; forasmuch
as the opportunities and facility they have of commanding those things at
will takes off from the delight that ordinary folks enjoy:

"Pinguis amor, nimiumque patens, in taedia nobis
Vertitur, et, stomacho dulcis ut esca, nocet."

["Love in excess and too palpable turns to weariness, and, like
sweetmeats to the stomach, is injurious."--Ovid, Amoy., ii. 19, 25.]

Can we think that the singing boys of the choir take any great delight in
music? the satiety rather renders it troublesome and tedious to them.
Feasts, balls, masquerades and tiltings delight such as but rarely see,
and desire to see, them; but having been frequently at such
entertainments, the relish of them grows flat and insipid. Nor do women
so much delight those who make a common practice of the sport. He who
will not give himself leisure to be thirsty can never find the true
pleasure of drinking. Farces and tumbling tricks are pleasant to the
spectators, but a wearisome toil to those by whom they are performed.
And that this is so, we see that princes divert themselves sometimes in
disguising their quality, awhile to depose themselves, and to stoop to
the poor and ordinary way of living of the meanest of their people.

"Plerumque gratae divitibus vices
Mundaeque parvo sub lare pauperum
Coenae, sine aulaeis et ostro,
Soliicitam explicuere frontem."

["The rich are often pleased with variety; and the plain supper in a
poor cottage, without tapestry and purple, has relaxed the anxious
brow."--Horace, Od., iii. 29, 13.]

Nothing is so distasteful and clogging as abundance. What appetite would
not be baffled to see three hundred women at its mercy, as the grand
signor has in his seraglio? And, of his ancestors what fruition or taste
of sport did he reserve to himself, who never went hawking without seven
thousand falconers? And besides all this, I fancy that this lustre of
grandeur brings with it no little disturbance and uneasiness upon the
enjoyment of the most tempting pleasures; the great are too conspicuous
and lie too open to every one's view. Neither do I know to what end a
man should more require of them to conceal their errors, since what is
only reputed indiscretion in us, the people in them brand with the names
of tyranny and contempt of the laws, and, besides their proclivity to
vice, are apt to hold that it is a heightening of pleasure to them, to
insult over and to trample upon public observances. Plato, indeed, in
his Goygias, defines a tyrant to be one who in a city has licence to do
whatever his own will leads him to do; and by reason of this impunity,
the display and publication of their vices do ofttimes more mischief than
the vice itself. Every one fears to be pried into and overlooked; but
princes are so, even to their very gestures, looks and thoughts, the
people conceiving they have right and title to be judges of them besides
that the blemishes of the great naturally appear greater by reason of the
eminence and lustre of the place where they are seated, and that a mole
or a wart appears greater in them than a wide gash in others. And this
is the reason why the poets feign the amours of Jupiter to be performed
in the disguises of so many borrowed shapes, and that amongst the many
amorous practices they lay to his charge, there is only one, as I
remember, where he appears in his own majesty and grandeur.

But let us return to Hiero, who further complains of the inconveniences
he found in his royalty, in that he could not look abroad and travel the
world at liberty, being as it were a prisoner in the bounds and limits of
his own dominion, and that in all his actions he was evermore surrounded
with an importunate crowd. And in truth, to see our kings sit all alone
at table, environed with so many people prating about them, and so many
strangers staring upon them, as they always are, I have often been moved
rather to pity than to envy their condition. King Alfonso was wont to
say, that in this asses were in a better condition than kings, their
masters permitting them to feed at their own ease and pleasure, a favour
that kings cannot obtain of their servants. And it has never come into
my fancy that it could be of any great benefit to the life of a man of
sense to have twenty people prating about him when he is at stool; or
that the services of a man of ten thousand livres a year, or that has
taken Casale or defended Siena, should be either more commodious or more
acceptable to him, than those of a good groom of the chamber who
understands his place. The advantages of sovereignty are in a manner but
imaginary: every degree of fortune has in it some image of principality.
Caesar calls all the lords of France, having free franchise within their
own demesnes, roitelets or petty kings; and in truth, the name of sire
excepted, they go pretty far towards kingship; for do but look into the
provinces remote from court, as Brittany for example; take notice of the
train, the vassals, the officers, the employments, service, ceremony, and
state of a lord who lives retired from court in his own house, amongst
his own tenants and servants; and observe withal the flight of his
imagination; there is nothing more royal; he hears talk of his master
once a year, as of a king of Persia, without taking any further
recognition of him, than by some remote kindred his secretary keeps in
some register. And, to speak the truth, our laws are easy enough, so
easy that a gentleman of France scarce feels the weight of sovereignty
pinch his shoulders above twice in his life. Real and effectual
subjection only concerns such amongst us as voluntarily thrust their
necks under the yoke, and who design to get wealth and honours by such
services: for a man that loves his own fireside, and can govern his house
without falling by the ears with his neighbours or engaging in suits of
law, is as free as a Duke of Venice.

"Paucos servitus, plures servitutem tenent."

["Servitude enchains few, but many enchain themselves to
servitude."--Seneca, Ep., 22.]

But that which Hiero is most concerned at is, that he finds himself
stripped of all friendship, deprived of all mutual society, wherein the
true and most perfect fruition of human life consists. For what
testimony of affection and goodwill can I extract from him that owes me,
whether he will or no, all that he is able to do? Can I form any
assurance of his real respect to me, from his humble way of speaking and
submissive behaviour, when these are ceremonies it is not in his choice
to deny? The honour we receive from those that fear us is not honour;
those respects are due to royalty and not to me:

"Maximum hoc regni bonum est
Quod facta domini cogitur populus sui
Quam ferre, tam laudare."

["'Tis the greatest benefit of a kingdom that the people is forced
to commend, as well as to bear the acts of the ruler."
--Seneca, Thyestes, ii. i, 30.]

Do I not see that the wicked and the good king, he that is hated and he
that is beloved, have the one as much reverence paid him as the other?
My predecessor was, and my successor shall be, served with the same
ceremony and state. If my subjects do me no harm, 'tis no evidence of
any good affection; why should I look upon it as such, seeing it is not
in their power to do it if they would? No one follows me or obeys my
commands upon the account of any friendship, betwixt him and me; there
can be no contracting of friendship where there is so little relation and
correspondence: my own height has put me out of the familiarity of and
intelligence with men; there is too great disparity and disproportion
betwixt us. They follow me either upon the account of decency and
custom; or rather my fortune, than me, to increase their own. All they
say to me or do for me is but outward paint, appearance, their liberty
being on all parts restrained by the great power and authority I have
over them. I see nothing about me but what is dissembled and disguised.

The Emperor Julian being one day applauded by his courtiers for his exact
justice: "I should be proud of these praises," said he, "did they come
from persons that durst condemn or disapprove the contrary, in case I
should do it." All the real advantages of princes are common to them
with men of meaner condition ('tis for the gods to mount winged horses
and feed upon ambrosia): they have no other sleep, nor other appetite
than we; the steel they arm themselves withal is of no better temper than
that we also use; their crowns neither defend them from the rain nor the

Diocletian, who wore a crown so fortunate and revered, resigned it to
retire to the felicity of a private life; and some time after the
necessity of public affairs requiring that he should reassume his charge,
he made answer to those who came to court him to it: "You would not
offer," said he, "to persuade me to this, had you seen the fine order of
the trees I have planted in my orchard, and the fair melons I have sown
in my garden."

In Anacharsis' opinion, the happiest state of government would be where,
all other things being equal, precedence should be measured out by the
virtues, and repulses by the vices of men.

When King Pyrrhus prepared for his expedition into Italy, his wise
counsellor Cyneas, to make him sensible of the vanity of his ambition:
"Well, sir," said he, "to what end do you make all this mighty
preparation?"--"To make myself master of Italy," replied the king.
"And what after that is done?" said Cyneas. "I will pass over into Gaul
and Spain," said the other. "And what then?"--"I will then go to subdue
Africa; and lastly, when I have brought the whole world to my subjection,
I will sit down and rest content at my own ease."

"For God sake, sir," replied Cyneas, "tell me what hinders that you may
not, if you please, be now in the condition you speak of? Why do you not
now at this instant settle yourself in the state you seem to aim at, and
spare all the labour and hazard you interpose?"

"Nimirum, quia non cognovit, qux esset habendi
Finis, et omnino quoad crescat vera voluptas."

["Forsooth because he does not know what should be the limit of
acquisition, and altogether how far real pleasure should increase."
--Lucretius, v. 1431]

I will conclude with an old versicle, that I think very apt to the

"Mores cuique sui fingunt fortunam."

["Every man frames his own fortune."
--Cornelius Nepos, Life of Atticus]



The way by which our laws attempt to regulate idle and vain expenses in
meat and clothes, seems to be quite contrary to the end designed. The
true way would be to beget in men a contempt of silks and gold, as vain,
frivolous, and useless; whereas we augment to them the honours, and
enhance the value of such things, which, sure, is a very improper way to
create a disgust. For to enact that none but princes shall eat turbot,
shall wear velvet or gold lace, and interdict these things to the people,
what is it but to bring them into a greater esteem, and to set every one
more agog to eat and wear them? Let kings leave off these ensigns of
grandeur; they have others enough besides; those excesses are more
excusable in any other than a prince. We may learn by the example of
several nations better ways of exterior distinction of quality (which,
truly, I conceive to be very requisite in a state) enough, without
fostering to this purpose such corruption and manifest inconvenience.
'Tis strange how suddenly and with how much ease custom in these
indifferent things establishes itself and becomes authority. We had
scarce worn cloth a year, in compliance with the court, for the mourning
of Henry II., but that silks were already grown into such contempt with
every one, that a man so clad was presently concluded a citizen: silks
were divided betwixt the physicians and surgeons, and though all other
people almost went in the same habit, there was, notwithstanding, in one
thing or other, sufficient distinction of the several conditions of men.
How suddenly do greasy chamois and linen doublets become the fashion in
our armies, whilst all neatness and richness of habit fall into contempt?
Let kings but lead the dance and begin to leave off this expense, and in
a month the business will be done throughout the kingdom, without edict
or ordinance; we shall all follow. It should be rather proclaimed, on
the contrary, that no one should wear scarlet or goldsmiths' work but
courtesans and tumblers.

Zeleucus by the like invention reclaimed the corrupted manners of the
Locrians. His laws were, that no free woman should be allowed any more
than one maid to follow her, unless she was drunk: nor was to stir out of
the city by night, wear jewels of gold about her, or go in an embroidered
robe, unless she was a professed and public prostitute; that, bravos
excepted, no man was to wear a gold ring, nor be seen in one of those
effeminate robes woven in the city of Miletus. By which infamous
exceptions he discreetly diverted his citizens from superfluities and
pernicious pleasures, and it was a project of great utility to attract
then by honour and ambition to their duty and obedience.

Our kings can do what they please in such external reformations; their
own inclination stands in this case for a law:

"Quicquid principes faciunt, praecipere videntur."

["What princes themselves do, they seem to prescribe."
--Quintil., Declam., 3.]

Whatever is done at court passes for a rule through the rest of France.
Let the courtiers fall out with these abominable breeches, that discover
so much of those parts should be concealed; these great bellied doublets,
that make us look like I know not what, and are so unfit to admit of
arms; these long effeminate locks of hair; this foolish custom of kissing
what we present to our equals, and our hands in saluting them, a ceremony
in former times only due to princes. Let them not permit that a
gentleman shall appear in place of respect without his sword, unbuttoned
and untrussed, as though he came from the house of office; and that,
contrary to the custom of our forefathers and the particular privilege of
the nobles of this kingdom, we stand a long time bare to them in what
place soever, and the same to a hundred others, so many tiercelets and
quartelets of kings we have got nowadays and other like vicious
innovations: they will see them all presently vanish and cried down.
These are, 'tis true, but superficial errors; but they are of ill augury,
and enough to inform us that the whole fabric is crazy and tottering,
when we see the roughcast of our walls to cleave and split.

Plato in his Laws esteems nothing of more pestiferous consequence to his
city than to give young men the liberty of introducing any change in
their habits, gestures, dances, songs, and exercises, from one form to
another; shifting from this to that, hunting after novelties, and
applauding the inventors; by which means manners are corrupted and the
old institutions come to be nauseated and despised. In all things,
saving only in those that are evil, a change is to be feared; even the
change of seasons, winds, viands, and humours. And no laws are in their
true credit, but such to which God has given so long a continuance that
no one knows their beginning, or that there ever was any other.



Reason directs that we should always go the same way, but not always at
the same pace. And, consequently, though a wise man ought not so much to
give the reins to human passions as to let him deviate from the right
path, he may, notwithstanding, without prejudice to his duty, leave it to
them to hasten or to slacken his speed, and not fix himself like a
motionless and insensible Colossus. Could virtue itself put on flesh and
blood, I believe the pulse would beat faster going on to assault than in
going to dinner: that is to say, there is a necessity she should heat and
be moved upon this account. I have taken notice, as of an extraordinary
thing, of some great men, who in the highest enterprises and most
important affairs have kept themselves in so settled and serene a calm,
as not at all to break their sleep. Alexander the Great, on the day
assigned for that furious battle betwixt him and Darius, slept so
profoundly and so long in the morning, that Parmenio was forced to enter
his chamber, and coming to his bedside, to call him several times by his
name, the time to go to fight compelling him so to do. The Emperor Otho,
having put on a resolution to kill himself that night, after having
settled his domestic affairs, divided his money amongst his servants, and
set a good edge upon a sword he had made choice of for the purpose, and
now staying only to be satisfied whether all his friends had retired in
safety, he fell into so sound a sleep that the gentlemen of his chamber
heard him snore. The death of this emperor has in it circumstances
paralleling that of the great Cato, and particularly this just related
for Cato being ready to despatch himself, whilst he only stayed his hand
in expectation of the return of a messenger he had sent to bring him news
whether the senators he had sent away were put out from the Port of
Utica, he fell into so sound a sleep, that they heard him snore in the
next room; and the man, whom he had sent to the port, having awakened him
to let him know that the tempestuous weather had hindered the senators
from putting to sea, he despatched away another messenger, and composing
again himself in the bed, settled to sleep, and slept till by the return
of the last messenger he had certain intelligence they were gone. We may
here further compare him with Alexander in the great and dangerous storm
that threatened him by the sedition of the tribune Metellus, who,
attempting to publish a decree for the calling in of Pompey with his army
into the city at the time of Catiline's conspiracy, was only and that
stoutly opposed by Cato, so that very sharp language and bitter menaces
passed betwixt them in the senate about that affair; but it was the next
day, in the forenoon, that the controversy was to be decided, where
Metellus, besides the favour of the people and of Caesar--at that time of
Pompey's faction--was to appear accompanied with a rabble of slaves and
gladiators; and Cato only fortified with his own courage and constancy;
so that his relations, domestics, and many virtuous people of his friends
were in great apprehensions for him; and to that degree, that some there
were who passed over the whole night without sleep, eating, or drinking,
for the danger they saw him running into; his wife and sisters did
nothing but weep and torment themselves in his house; whereas, he, on the
contrary, comforted every one, and after having supped after his usual
manner, went to bed, and slept profoundly till morning, when one of his
fellow-tribunes roused him to go to the encounter. The knowledge we have
of the greatness of this man's courage by the rest of his life, may
warrant us certainly to judge that his indifference proceeded from a soul
so much elevated above such accidents, that he disdained to let it take
any more hold of his fancy than any ordinary incident.

In the naval engagement that Augustus won of Sextus Pompeius in Sicily,
just as they were to begin the fight, he was so fast asleep that his
friends were compelled to wake him to give the signal of battle: and this
was it that gave Mark Antony afterwards occasion to reproach him that he
had not the courage so much as with open eyes to behold the order of his
own squadrons, and not to have dared to present himself before the
soldiers, till first Agrippa had brought him news of the victory
obtained. But as to the young Marius, who did much worse (for the day of
his last battle against Sylla, after he had marshalled his army and given
the word and signal of battle, he laid him down under the shade of a tree
to repose himself, and fell so fast asleep that the rout and flight of
his men could hardly waken him, he having seen nothing of the fight), he
is said to have been at that time so extremely spent and worn out with
labour and want of sleep, that nature could hold out no longer. Now,
upon what has been said, the physicians may determine whether sleep be so
necessary that our lives depend upon it: for we read that King Perseus of
Macedon, being prisoner at Rome, was killed by being kept from sleep; but
Pliny instances such as have lived long without sleep. Herodotus speaks
of nations where the men sleep and wake by half-years, and they who write
the life of the sage Epimenides affirm that he slept seven-and-fifty
years together.



[December 19, 1562, in which the Catholics, under the command of the
Duc de Guise and the Constable de Montmorenci, defeated the
Protestants, commanded by the Prince de Conde. See Sismondi, Hist.
des Francais, vol. xviii., p. 354.]

Our battle of Dreux is remarkable for several extraordinary incidents;
but such as have no great kindness for M. de Guise, nor much favour his
reputation, are willing to have him thought to blame, and that his making
a halt and delaying time with the forces he commanded, whilst the
Constable, who was general of the army, was racked through and through
with the enemy's artillery, his battalion routed, and himself taken
prisoner, is not to be excused; and that he had much better have run the
hazard of charging the enemy in flank, than staying for the advantage of
falling in upon the rear, to suffer so great and so important a loss.
But, besides what the event demonstrated, he who will consider it without
passion or prejudice will easily be induced to confess that the aim and
design, not of a captain only, but of every private soldier, ought to
regard the victory in general, and that no particular occurrences, how
nearly soever they may concern his own interest, should divert him from
that pursuit. Philopoemen, in an encounter with Machanidas, having sent
before a good strong party of his archers and slingers to begin the
skirmish, and these being routed and hotly pursued by the enemy, who,
pushing on the fortune of their arms, and in that pursuit passing by the
battalion where Philopoemen was, though his soldiers were impatient to
fall on, he did not think fit to stir from his post nor to present
himself to the enemy to relieve his men, but having suffered these to be
chased and cut in pieces before his face, charged in upon the enemy's
foot when he saw them left unprotected by the horse, and notwithstanding
that they were Lacedaemonians, yet taking them in the nick, when thinking
themselves secure of the victory, they began to disorder their ranks; he
did this business with great facility, and then put himself in pursuit of
Machanidas. Which case is very like that of Monsieur de Guise.

In that bloody battle betwixt Agesilaus and the Boeotians, which
Xenophon, who was present at it, reports to be the sharpest that he had
ever seen, Agesilaus waived the advantage that fortune presented him, to
let the Boeotian battalions pass by and then to charge them in the rear,
how certain soever he might make himself of the victory, judging it would
rather be an effect of conduct than valour, to proceed that way; and
therefore, to show his prowess, rather chose with a marvellous ardour of
courage to charge them in the front; but he was well beaten and well
wounded for his pains, and constrained at last to disengage himself, and
to take the course he had at first neglected; opening his battalion to
give way to this torrent of Boeotians, and they being passed by, taking
notice that they marched in disorder, like men who thought themselves out
of danger, he pursued and charged them in flank; yet could not so prevail
as to bring it to so general a rout but that they leisurely retreated,
still facing about upon him till they had retired to safety.



What variety of herbs soever are shufed together in the dish, yet the
whole mass is swallowed up under one name of a sallet. In like manner,
under the consideration of names, I will make a hodge-podge of divers

Every nation has certain names, that, I know not why, are taken in no
good sense, as with us, John, William, Benedict. In the genealogy of
princes, also, there seem to be certain names fatally affected, as the
Ptolemies of Egypt, the Henries in England, the Charleses in France, the
Baldwins in Flanders, and the Williams of our ancient Aquitaine, from
whence, 'tis said, the name of Guyenne has its derivation; which would
seem far fetched were there not as crude derivations in Plato himself.

Item, 'tis a frivolous thing in itself, but nevertheless worthy to be
recorded for the strangeness of it, that is written by an eyewitness,
that Henry, Duke of Normandy, son of Henry II., king of England, making a
great feast in France, the concourse of nobility and gentry was so great,
that being, for sport's sake, divided into troops, according to their
names, in the first troop, which consisted of Williams, there were found
an hundred and ten knights sitting at the table of that name, without
reckoning the ordinary gentlemen and servants.

It is as pleasant to distinguish the tables by the names of the guests as
it was in the Emperor Geta to distinguish the several courses of his meat
by the first letters of the meats themselves; so that those that began
with B were served up together, as brawn, beef, bream, bustards, becca-
ficos; and so of the others. Item, there is a saying that it is a good
thing to have a good name, that is to say, credit and a good repute; but
besides this, it is really convenient to have a well-sounding name, such
as is easy of pronunciation and easy to be remembered, by reason that
kings and other great persons do by that means the more easily know and
the more hardly forget us; and indeed of our own servants we more
frequently call and employ those whose names are most ready upon the
tongue. I myself have seen Henry II., when he could not for his heart
hit of a gentleman's name of our country of Gascony, and moreover was
fain to call one of the queen's maids of honour by the general name of
her race, her own family name being so difficult to pronounce or
remember; and Socrates thinks it worthy a father's care to give fine
names to his children.

Item,'tis said that the foundation of Notre Dame la Grande at Poitiers
took its original from hence that a debauched young fellow formerly
living in that place, having got to him a wench, and, at her first coming
in, asking her name, and being answered that it was Mary, he felt himself
so suddenly pierced through with the awe of religion and the reverence to
that sacred name of the Blessed Virgin, that he not only immediately sent
the girl away, but became a reformed man and so continued the remainder
of his life; and that, in consideration of this miracle, there was
erected upon the place where this young man's house stood, first a chapel
dedicated to our Lady and afterwards the church that we now see standing
there. This vocal and auricular reproof wrought upon the conscience, and
that right into the soul; this that follows, insinuated itself merely by
the senses. Pythagoras being in company with some wild young fellows,
and perceiving that, heated with the feast, they comploted to go violate
an honest house, commanded the singing wench to alter her wanton airs;
and by a solemn, grave, and spondaic music, gently enchanted and laid
asleep their ardour.

Item, will not posterity say that our modern reformation has been
wonderfully delicate and exact, in having not only combated errors and
vices, and filled the world with devotion, humility, obedience, peace,
and all sorts of virtue; but in having proceeded so far as to quarrel
with our ancient baptismal names of Charles, Louis, Francis, to fill the
world with Methuselahs, Ezekiels, and Malachis, names of a more spiritual
sound? A gentleman, a neighbour of mine, a great admirer of antiquity,
and who was always extolling the excellences of former times in
comparison with this present age of ours, did not, amongst the rest,
forget to dwell upon the lofty and magnificent sound of the gentleman's
names of those days, Don Grumedan, Quedregan, Agesilan, which, but to
hear named he conceived to denote other kind of men than Pierre, Guillot,
and Michel.

Item, I am mightily pleased with Jacques Amyot for leaving, throughout a
whole French oration, the Latin names entire, without varying and
garbling them to give them a French cadence. It seemed a little harsh
and rough at first; but already custom, by the authority of his Plutarch,
has overcome that novelty. I have often wished that such as write
histories in Latin would leave our names as they find them and as they
are; for in making Vaudemont into Vallemontanus, and metamorphosing names
to make them suit better with the Greek or Latin, we know not where we
are, and with the persons of the men lose the benefit of the story.

To conclude, 'tis a scurvy custom and of very ill consequence that we
have in our kingdom of France to call every one by the name of his manor
or seigneury; 'tis the thing in the world that the most prejudices and
confounds families and descents. A younger brother of a good family,
having a manor left him by his father, by the name of which he has been
known and honoured, cannot handsomely leave it; ten years after his
decease it falls into the hand of a stranger, who does the same: do but
judge whereabouts we shall be concerning the knowledge of these men. We
need look no further for examples than our own royal family, where every
partition creates a new surname, whilst, in the meantime, the original of
the family is totally lost. There is so great liberty taken in these
mutations, that I have not in my time seen any one advanced by fortune to
any extraordinary condition who has not presently had genealogical titles
added to him, new and unknown to his father, and who has not been
inoculated into some illustrious stem by good luck; and the obscurest
families are the most apt for falsification. How many gentlemen have we
in France who by their own account are of royal extraction? more, I
think, than who will confess they are not. Was it not a pleasant passage
of a friend of mine? There were, several gentlemen assembled together
about the dispute of one seigneur with another; which other had, in
truth, some preeminence of titles and alliances above the ordinary
gentry. Upon the debate of this prerogative, every one, to make himself
equal to him, alleged, this one extraction, that another; this, the near
resemblance of name, that, of arms; another, an old worm-eaten patent;
the very least of them was great-grandchild to some foreign king. When
they came to sit down, to dinner, my friend, instead of taking his place
amongst them, retiring with most profound conges, entreated the company
to excuse him for having hitherto lived with them at the saucy rate of a
companion; but being now better informed of their quality, he would begin
to pay them the respect due to their birth and grandeur, and that it
would ill become him to sit down among so many princes--ending this farce
with a thousand reproaches: "Let us, in God's name, satisfy ourselves
with what our fathers were contented with, with what we are. We are
great enough, if we rightly understand how to maintain it. Let us not
disown the fortune and condition of our ancestors, and let us lay aside
these ridiculous pretences, that can never be wanting to any one that has
the impudence to allege them."

Arms have no more security than surnames. I bear azure powdered with
trefoils or, with a lion's paw of the same armed gules in fesse. What
privilege has this to continue particularly in my house? A son-in-law
will transport it into another family, or some paltry purchaser will make
them his first arms. There is nothing wherein there is more change and

But this consideration leads me, perforce, into another subject. Let us
pry a little narrowly into, and, in God's name, examine upon what
foundation we erect this glory and reputation for which the world is
turned topsy-turvy: wherein do we place this renown that we hunt after
with so much pains? It is, in the end, Peter or William that carries it,
takes it into his possession, and whom it only concerns. O what a
valiant faculty is hope, that in a mortal subject, and in a moment, makes
nothing of usurping infinity, immensity, eternity, and of supplying its
master's indigence, at its pleasure, with all things he can imagine or
desire! Nature has given us this passion for a pretty toy to play
withal. And this Peter or William, what is it but a sound, when all is
done? or three or four dashes with a pen, so easy to be varied that I
would fain know to whom is to be attributed the glory of so many
victories, to Guesquin, to Glesquin, or to Gueaquin? and yet there would
be something of greater moment in the case than in Lucian, that Sigma
should serve Tau with a process; for

"Non levia aut ludicra petuntur

["They aim at no slight or jocular rewards."--AEneid, xii. 764.]

the chase is there in very good earnest: the question is, which of these
letters is to be rewarded for so many sieges, battles, wounds,
imprisonments, and services done to the crown of France by this famous
constable? Nicholas Denisot--[Painter and poet, born at Le Mans,1515.]--
never concerned himself further than the letters of his name, of which he
has altered the whole contexture to build up by anagram the Count
d'Alsinois, whom he has handsomely endowed with the glory of his poetry
and painting. The historian Suetonius was satisfied with only the
meaning of his name, which made him cashier his father's surname, Lenis,
to leave Tranquillus successor to the reputation of his writings. Who
would believe that Captain Bayard should have no honour but what he
derives from the deeds of Peter Terrail; and that Antonio Iscalin should
suffer himself to his face to be robbed of the honour of so many
navigations and commands at sea and land by Captain Paulin and the Baron
de la Garde? Secondly, these are dashes of the pen common to a thousand
people. How many are there, in every family, of the same name and
surname? and how many more in several families, ages, and countries?
History tells us of three of the name of Socrates, of five Platos, of
eight Aristotles, of seven Xenophons, of twenty Demetrii, and of twenty
Theodores; and how many more she was not acquainted with we may imagine.
Who hinders my groom from calling himself Pompey the Great? But after
all, what virtue, what authority, or what secret springs are there that
fix upon my deceased groom, or the other Pompey, who had his head cut off
in Egypt, this glorious renown, and these so much honoured flourishes of
the pen, so as to be of any advantage to them?

"Id cinerem et manes credis curare sepultos?"

["Do you believe the dead regard such things?"--AEneid, iv. 34.]

What sense have the two companions in greatest esteem amongst me,
Epaminondas, of this fine verse that has been so many ages current in his

"Consiliis nostris laus est attrita Laconum;"

["The glory of the Spartans is extinguished by my plans.
--"Cicero, Tusc. Quaes., v. 17.]

or Africanus, of this other,

"A sole exoriente supra Maeotis Paludes
Nemo est qui factis me aequiparare queat."

["From where the sun rises over the Palus Maeotis, to where it sets,
there is no one whose acts can compare with mine"--Idem, ibid.]

Survivors indeed tickle themselves with these fine phrases, and by them
incited to jealousy and desire, inconsiderately and according to their
own fancy, attribute to the dead this their own feeling, vainly
flattering themselves that they shall one day in turn be capable of the
same character. However:

"Ad haec se
Romanus Graiusque, et Barbaras induperator
Erexit; caucus discriminis atque laboris
Inde habuit: tanto major famae sitis est, quam

["For these the Roman, the Greek, and the Barbarian commander hath
aroused himself; he has incurred thence causes of danger and toil:
so much greater is the thirst for fame than for virtue."
--Juvenal, x. 137.]



Well says this verse:

["There is everywhere much liberty of speech."--Iliad, xx. 249.]

For example:

["Hannibal conquered, but knew not how to make the best use of his
victorious venture."--Petrarch, Son., 83.]

Such as would improve this argument, and condemn the oversight of our
leaders in not pushing home the victory at Moncontour, or accuse the King
of Spain of not knowing how to make the best use of the advantage he had
against us at St. Quentin, may conclude these oversights to proceed from
a soul already drunk with success, or from a spirit which, being full and
overgorged with this beginning of good fortune, had lost the appetite of
adding to it, already having enough to do to digest what it had taken in:
he has his arms full, and can embrace no more: unworthy of the benefit
fortune has conferred upon him and the advantage she had put into his
hands: for what utility does he reap from it, if, notwithstanding, he
give his enemy respite to rally and make head against him? What hope is
there that he will dare at another time to attack an enemy reunited and
recomposed, and armed anew with anger and revenge, who did not dare to
pursue them when routed and unmanned by fear?

"Dum fortuna calet, dum conficit omnia terror."

["Whilst fortune is fresh, and terror finishes all."
--Lucan, vii. 734.]

But withal, what better opportunity can he expect than that he has lost?
'Tis not here, as in fencing, where the most hits gain the prize; for so
long as the enemy is on foot, the game is new to begin, and that is not
to be called a victory that puts not an end to the war. In the encounter
where Caesar had the worst, near the city of Oricum, he reproached
Pompey's soldiers that he had been lost had their general known how to
overcome; and afterwards clawed him in a very different fashion when it
came to his turn.

But why may not a man also argue, on the contrary, that it is the effect
of a precipitous and insatiate spirit not to know how to bound and
restrain its coveting; that it is to abuse the favours of God to exceed
the measure He has prescribed them: and that again to throw a man's self
into danger after a victory obtained is again to expose himself to the
mercy of fortune: that it is one of the greatest discretions in the rule
of war not to drive an enemy to despair? Sylla and Marius in the social
war, having defeated the Marsians, seeing yet a body of reserve that,
prompted by despair, was coming on like enraged brutes to dash in upon
them, thought it not convenient to stand their charge. Had not Monsieur
de Foix's ardour transported him so furiously to pursue the remains of
the victory of Ravenna, he had not obscured it by his own death. And yet
the recent memory of his example served to preserve Monsieur d'Anguien
from the same misfortune at the battle of Serisoles. 'Tis dangerous to
attack a man you have deprived of all means to escape but by his arms,
for necessity teaches violent resolutions:

"Gravissimi sunt morsus irritatae necessitatis."

["Irritated necessity bites deepest."--Portius Latro., Declam.]

"Vincitur haud gratis, jugulo qui provocat hostem."

["He is not readily beaten who provokes the enemy by shewing
his throat."--or: "He who presents himself to his foe, sells his
life dear."--Lucan, iv. 275.]

This was it that made Pharax withhold the King of Lacedaemon, who had won
a battle against the Mantineans, from going to charge a thousand Argians,
who had escaped in an entire body from the defeat, but rather let them
steal off at liberty that he might not encounter valour whetted and
enraged by mischance. Clodomir, king of Aquitaine, after his victory
pursuing Gondemar, king of Burgundy, beaten and making off as fast as he
could for safety, compelled him to face about and make head, wherein his
obstinacy deprived him of the fruit of his conquest, for he there lost
his life.

In like manner, if a man were to choose whether he would have his
soldiers richly and sumptuously accoutred or armed only for the necessity
of the matter in hand, this argument would step in to favour the first,
of which opinion was Sertorius, Philopcemen, Brutus, Caesar, and others,
that it is to a soldier an enflaming of courage and a spur himself in
brave attire; and withal a motive to be more obstinate in fight, having
his arms, which are in a manner his estate and whole inheritance to
defend; which is the reason, says Xenophon, why those of Asia carried
their wives and concubines, with their choicest jewels and greatest
wealth, along with them to the wars. But then these arguments would be
as ready to stand up for the other side; that a general ought rather to
lessen in his men their solicitude of preserving themselves than to
increase it; that by such means they will be in a double fear of
hazarding their persons, as it will be a double temptation to the enemy
to fight with greater resolution where so great booty and so rich spoils
are to be obtained; and this very thing has been observed in former
times, notably to encourage the Romans against the Samnites. Antiochus,
shewing Hannibal the army he had raised, wonderfully splendid and rich in
all sorts of equipage, asked him if the Romans would be satisfied with
that army? "Satisfied," replied the other, "yes, doubtless, were their
avarice never so great." Lycurgus not only forbad his soldiers all
manner of bravery in their equipage, but, moreover, to strip their
conquered enemies, because he would, as he said, that poverty and
frugality should shine with the rest of the battle.

At sieges and elsewhere, where occasion draws us near to the enemy, we
willingly suffer our men to brave, rate, and affront him with all sorts
of injurious language; and not without some colour of reason: for it is
of no little consequence to take from them all hopes of mercy and
composition, by representing to them that there is no fair quarter to be
expected from an enemy they have incensed to that degree, nor other
remedy remaining but in victory. And yet Vitellius found himself
deceived in this way of proceeding; for having to do with Otho, weaker in
the valour of his soldiers, long unaccustomed to war and effeminated with
the delights of the city, he so nettled them at last with injurious
language, reproaching them with cowardice and regret for the mistresses
and entertainments they had left behind at Rome, that by this means he
inspired them with such resolution as no exhortation had had the power to
have done, and himself made them fall upon him, with whom their own
captains before could by no means prevail. And, indeed, when they are
injuries that touch to the quick, it may very well fall out that he who
went but unwillingly to work in the behalf of his prince will fall to't
with another sort of mettle when the quarrel is his own.

Considering of how great importance is the preservation of the general of
an army, and that the universal aim of an enemy is levelled directly at
the head, upon which all the others depend, the course seems to admit of
no dispute, which we know has been taken by so many great captains, of
changing their habit and disguising their persons upon the point of going
to engage. Nevertheless, the inconvenience a man by so doing runs into
is not less than that he thinks to avoid; for the captain, by this means
being concealed from the knowledge of his own men, the courage they
should derive from his presence and example happens by degrees to cool
and to decay; and not seeing the wonted marks and ensigns of their
leader, they presently conclude him either dead, or that, despairing of
the business, he is gone to shift for himself. And experience shows us
that both these ways have been successful and otherwise. What befell
Pyrrhus in the battle he fought against the Consul Levinus in Italy will
serve us to both purposes; for though by shrouding his person under the
armour of Megacles and making him wear his own, he undoubtedly preserved
his own life, yet, by that very means, he was withal very near running
into the other mischief of losing the battle. Alexander, Caesar, and
Lucullus loved to make themselves known in a battle by rich accoutrements
and armour of a particular lustre and colour: Agis, Agesilaus, and that
great Gilippus, on the contrary, used to fight obscurely armed, and
without any imperial attendance or distinction.

Amongst other oversights Pompey is charged withal at the battle of
Pharsalia, he is condemned for making his army stand still to receive the
enemy's charge; by "reason that" (I shall here steal Plutarch's own
words, which are better than mine) "he by so doing deprived himself of
the violent impression the motion of running adds to the first shock of
arms, and hindered that clashing of the combatants against one another
which is wont to give them greater impetuosity and fury; especially when
they come to rush in with their utmost vigour, their courages increasing
by the shouts and the career; 'tis to render the soldiers' ardour, as a
man may say, more reserved and cold." This is what he says. But if
Caesar had come by the worse, why might it not as well have been urged by
another, that, on the contrary, the strongest and most steady posture of
fighting is that wherein a man stands planted firm without motion; and
that they who are steady upon the march, closing up, and reserving their
force within themselves for the push of the business, have a great
advantage against those who are disordered, and who have already spent
half their breath in running on precipitately to the charge? Besides
that an army is a body made up of so many individual members, it is
impossible for it to move in this fury with so exact a motion as not to
break the order of battle, and that the best of them are not engaged
before their fellows can come on to help them. In that unnatural battle
betwixt the two Persian brothers, the Lacedaemonian Clearchus, who
commanded the Greeks of Cyrus' party, led them on softly and without
precipitation to the charge; but, coming within fifty paces, hurried them
on full speed, hoping in so short a career both to keep their order and
to husband their breath, and at the same time to give the advantage of
impetuosity and impression both to their persons and their missile arms.
Others have regulated this question as to their armies thus if your enemy
come full drive upon you, stand firm to receive him; if he stand to
receive you, run full drive upon him.

In the expedition of the Emperor Charles V. into Provence, King Francis
was put to choose either to go meet him in Italy or to await him in his
own dominions; wherein, though he very well considered of how great
advantage it was to preserve his own territory entire and clear from the
troubles of war, to the end that, being unexhausted of its stores, it
might continually supply men and money at need; that the necessity of war
requires at every turn to spoil and lay waste the country before us,
which cannot very well be done upon one's own; to which may be added,
that the country people do not so easily digest such a havoc by those of
their own party as from an enemy, so that seditions and commotions might
by such means be kindled amongst us; that the licence of pillage and
plunder (which are not to be tolerated at home) is a great ease and
refreshment against the fatigues and sufferings of war; and that he who
has no other prospect of gain than his bare pay will hardly be kept from
running home, being but two steps from his wife and his own house; that
he who lays the cloth is ever at the charge of the feast; that there is
more alacrity in assaulting than defending; and that the shock of a
battle's loss in our own bowels is so violent as to endanger the
disjointing of the whole body, there being no passion so contagious as
that of fear, that is so easily believed, or that so suddenly diffuses
itself; and that the cities that should hear the rattle of this tempest
at their gates, that should take in their captains and soldiers yet
trembling and out of breath, would be in danger in this heat and hurry to
precipitate themselves upon some untoward resolution: notwithstanding all
this, so it was that he chose to recall the forces he had beyond the
mountains and to suffer the enemy to come to him. For he might, on the
other hand, imagine that, being at home and amongst his friends, he could
not fail of plenty of all manner of conveniences; the rivers and passes
he had at his devotion would bring him in both provisions and money in
all security, and without the trouble of convoy; that he should find his
subjects by so much the more affectionate to him, by how much their
danger was more near and pressing; that having so many cities and
barriers to secure him, it would be in his power to give the law of
battle at his own opportunity and advantage; and that, if it pleased him
to delay the time, under cover and at his ease he might see his enemy
founder and defeat himself with the difficulties he was certain to
encounter, being engaged in a hostile country, where before, behind, and
on every side war would be made upon him; no means to refresh himself or
to enlarge his quarters, should diseases infest them, or to lodge his
wounded men in safety; no money, no victuals, but at the point of the
lance; no leisure to repose and take breath; no knowledge of the ways or
country to secure him from ambushes and surprises; and in case of losing
a battle, no possible means of saving the remains. Neither is there want
of example in both these cases.

Scipio thought it much better to go and attack his enemy's territories in
Africa than to stay at home to defend his own and to fight him in Italy,
and it succeeded well with him. But, on the contrary, Hannibal in the
same war ruined himself by abandoning the conquest of a foreign country
to go and defend his own. The Athenians having left the enemy in their
own dominions to go over into Sicily, were not favoured by fortune in
their design; but Agathocles, king of Syracuse, found her favourable to
him when he went over into Africa and left the war at home.

By which examples we are wont to conclude, and with some reason, that
events, especially in war, for the most part depend upon fortune, who
will not be governed by nor submit unto human reasons and prudence,
according to the poet:

"Et male consultis pretium est: prudentia fallit
Nec fortune probat causas, sequiturque merentes,
Sed vaga per cunctos nullo discrimine fertur.
Scilicet est aliud, quod nos cogatque regatque
Majus, et in proprias ducat mortalia leges."

["And there is value in ill counsel: prudence deceives: nor does
fortune inquire into causes, nor aid the most deserving, but turns
hither and thither without discrimination. Indeed there is a
greater power which directs and rules us, and brings mortal affairs
under its own laws."--Manilius, iv. 95.]

But, to take the thing right, it should seem that our counsels and
deliberations depend as much upon fortune as anything else we do, and
that she engages also our arguments in her uncertainty and confusion.
"We argue rashly and adventurously," says Timaeus in Plato, "by reason
that, as well as ourselves, our discourses have great participation in
the temerity of chance."


"Art thou not ashamed," said he to him, "to sing so well?"
As great a benefit to be without (children)
Away with that eloquence that enchants us with itself
Because the people know so well how to obey
Blemishes of the great naturally appear greater
Change is to be feared
Cicero: on fame
Confidence in another man's virtue
Dangerous man you have deprived of all means to escape
Depend as much upon fortune as anything else we do
Fame: an echo, a dream, nay, the shadow of a dream
Far more easy and pleasant to follow than to lead
He who lays the cloth is ever at the charge of the feast
I honour those most to whom I show the least honour
In war not to drive an enemy to despair
My words does but injure the love I have conceived within.
Neither the courage to die nor the heart to live
Never spoke of my money, but falsely, as others do
No great choice betwixt not knowing to speak anything but ill
No man continues ill long but by his own fault
No necessity upon a man to live in necessity
No passion so contagious as that of fear
Not a victory that puts not an end to the war
Not want, but rather abundance, that creates avarice
Only secure harbour from the storms and tempests of life
Opinions they have of things and not by the things themselves
People conceiving they have right and title to be judges
Pyrrho's hog
Repute for value in them, not what they bring to us
Satisfaction of mind to have only one path to walk in
That which cowardice itself has chosen for its refuge
The honour we receive from those that fear us is not honour
The pedestal is no part of the statue
There is more trouble in keeping money than in getting it.
There is nothing I hate so much as driving a bargain
Thou wilt not feel it long if thou feelest it too much
Tis the sharpnss of our mind that gives the edge to our pains
Titles being so dearly bought
Twenty people prating about him when he is at stool
Valour whetted and enraged by mischance
What can they not do; what do they fear to do (for beauty)

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