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tural facility of her own progress: 'tis the nursing-mother of all humane pleasures, who, in rendring them just, renders them also pure and permanent; in moderating them, keeps them in breath and appetite ; in interdicting those which she herself refuses, whets our desire to those that she allows; and, like a kind and liberal mother, abundantly allows all that nature requires, even to satiety, if not to lassitude; unless we will declaim, that the regimen of health, which stops the toper's hand before he has drank himself drunk, or the glutton's before he hath eaten to a surfeit, is an enemy to pleasure. If the ordinary fortune fail, and that she meet with an indocile disposition, she passes that disciple by, and takes another, not so fickle and unsteady as the other, which she forms wholly her own. She can be rich, be potent, and wise, and knows how to lie upon soft down, and perfum'd quilts too: she loves life, beauty, glory, and health ; but her proper and peculiar office is to know regularly how to make use of all these good things, and how to part with them without concern; an office much more noble than troublesome, and without which the whole course of life is unnatural, turbulent, and deform'd; and there it is, indeed, that men may justly represent those monsters upon rocks and precipices. If this pupil shall happen to be of so cross and contrary a disposition, that he had rather hear a tale of a tub, than the true narrative of some noble expedition, or some wise and learned discourse; who, at the beat of drum, that excites the youthful ardour of his companions, leaves that to follow another that calls to a morrice, or the bears, and who would not wish, and find it more delightful, and more pleasing, to return all dust and sweat victorious from a battel, than from tennis, or from a ball, with the prize of those exercises; I see no other remedy, but* that he be bound apprentice in some good town to learn to make mince pyes, though he were the son of a duke; according to Plato's precept, That children are to be plac'd out, and dispos’d of, not according to the wealth, qualities, or condition of the father, but according to the faculties and the capacity of their own soul.”
Our author had a very high, and, in some respects, peculiar idea of an exquisite friendship, and such a one he represents to have subsisted between himself and De Boetie. His opinion as to the communication of secrets is exceedingly subtile and refined.
* In M. Neufchateau's edition, the following words are added in this place:
“ That his tutor in good time strangle him, if he is without witnesses; or that, &c.” “This remarkable passage,” observes the editor, “is not found in any edition of the Essays, but it is in the hand-writing of Montaigne, in the copy which he corrected. The remedy pointed out by this philosopher is one of those acts of rigour which the public interest or reasons of state sometimes command and always justify!" What it is to have a minister of the interior for a commentator!”
“Common friendships will admit of division; one may love the beauty of this, the good humour of that person, the liberty of a third, the paternal affection of a fourth, the fraternal love of a fifth, and so of the rest. But this friendship that possesses the whole soul, and there rules and sways with an absolute soveraignty, can possibly admit of no rival. If two at the same time should call to you for succour, to which of them would you run? Should they require of you contrary offices, how could you serve them both? Should one commit a thing to your secrecy, that it were of importance to the other to know, how would you disengage yourself? A singular and particular friendship disunites and dissolves all obligations whatsoever. The secret I have sworn not to reveal to any other, I may without perjury communicate to him who is not another, but myself. 'Tis miracle enough, certainly, for a man to double himself, and those that talk of tripling, talk they know not of what. Nothing is extream, that has its like; and who shall presuppose, that of two, I love one, as much as the other, that they love one another too, and love me as much as I love them, does multiply in friendship, the most single and united of all things, and wherein moreover, one alone is the hardest thing in the world to find."
The following passage informs us of a species of wet-nurses unknown in this country, except in the story-books of our childhood; and to us it brought with it so pleasant a recollection of that time, that we shall take leave to quote it.
“ And that which I was saying of goats, was upon this account; that it is ordinary, all about where I live, to see the country-women, when they want suck of their own, to call goats to their assistance. And I have, at this hour, two footmen that never sucked woman's milk more than eight days after they were born. These goats are immediately taught to come to suckle the little children, well knowing their voices when they cry, and come running to them; when, if any other than that they are acquainted with be presented to them, they refuse to let it suck, and the child, to another goat, will do the same. I saw one the other day, from whom they had taken away the goat that used to nourish it, by reason the father had only borrowed it of a neighbour; that would not touch any other they could bring, and doubtless died of hunger."
Montaigne adopted the opinions of no one; he formed his own from observation, and they are frequently of an extraordinary cast. He is continually meditating upon death ; and would, he says, rather die on horseback than in a bed; rather in a strange place than his own house.
“ Let us,” he says, "live and be merry amongst our friends ; let us go die and be sullen amongst strangers.”
"A man may find those for his money that will shift his pillow, and rub his feet, and will trouble him no more than he would have
them, who will present him with an indifferent countenance, and suffer him to govern himself, and to complain according to his own method.”
The succeeding paragraph contains some very excellent observations.
“ I wean myself daily by my reason from this childish and inhumane humour, of desiring by our sufferings to move the compassion and mourning of our friends. We stretch our inconveniencies beyond their just extent when we extract tears from them, and the constancy which we commend in every one, in supporting his own adverse fortune, we accuse and reproach in our friends when the case is our own; we are not satisfied that they should be sensible of our condition only, unless they be moreover afflicted. A man should publish and communicate his joy, but as much as he can conceal and smother his grief: he that makes himself lamented without reason, is a man not to be lamented when there shall be real cause. To be always complaining, is the way never to be lamented; by making himself always in so pitiful a taking, he is never commiserated by any. He that makes himself dead when he is alive, is subject to be thought likely to live when he is dying. I have seen some, who have taken it ill when they have been told that they looked well, and that their pulse was temperate, contain their smiles, because they betrayed a recovery, and
angry at their health, because it was not to be lamented; and, which is a great deal more, they were not women neither.”
Montaigne abounds with shrewd remarks and pithy sentences, written with the brevity and point of proverbs. A few which occur to us we have thrown together.
Montaigne would have philosophy instilled early into the youthful mind. “ They begin,” says he, “ to teach us to live when we have almost done living.”
"A man cannot so soon get his lesson by heart, as he may practice it: he will repeat it in his actions."
“ The premeditation of death, is the premeditation of liberty; who has learnt to die, has forgot to serve."
“Whosoever despises his own life, is always master of that of another man.”
“ Nothing noble can be performed without danger."
Of a mob, he says;
“ There is nothing so little to be expected or hoped for from this many-headed monster, when so incensed, as humanity and goodnature: it is much more capable of reverence than fear."
“ All other knowledge is hurtful to him, who has not the science of honesty and good-nature."
“ Knowledge is an excellent drug, but no drug has virtue enough
to preserve itself from corruption and decay, if the vessel be tainted and impure wherein it is put to keep.”
“ I do not think that we are so unhappy as we are vain, or have so much malice as folly.”
“ A word ill taken obliterates ten years' merit—the last action carries it—not the best and most frequent offices, but the most recent and present do the work.” The following is a singular, and not very amiable opinion.
approve of a man that is the less fond of his child for having a scald bead or being crooked; and not only when he is ill-natured, but also when he is unhappy and imperfect in his limbs, (for God himself has abated that from his value and real estimation), provided he carry himself in this coldness of affection with moderation and exact justice.”
Nothing but the Essays themselves of our old confabulator, can convey an adequate idea of their unrestrained vivacity, energy, and fancy, of their boldness and attractive simplicity. He says rightly, that it is the only book in the world of its kind. All the world, however, may know his book in him, and him in his book. The character of each is the same; and we shall, therefore, make a short summary of one to serve for both. It requires more courage to tittle-tattle of a man's foibles, vanities, and little imperfections, than to expose heinous defects or wicked inclinations; as the man, who shrinks from small inconveniences, will yet rush into “ the pelting, pitiless storm,” with a feeling of exultation. The former is a confession of weakness; in the latter there is an audacity and semblance of manliness. For the one he might be mocked and ridiculed; for the other he would be feared and scorned, which is the more tolerable of the two. In the latter there is a conscious power and daring, which is some sort of compensation for the risk; for the former he runs a chance of gaining nothing but contempt. The little vanities and oddities disclosed by Montaigne are, however, accompanied by too many amiable qualities to excite
any thing of this feeling. The President Bouhier says of him : '“ It is true, that he sometimes avows his defects; but if we pay attention to them, we shall find they are only those which philosophers, or people of fashion, are not ashamed to assume, or imperfections which turn upon indifferent things.”* Montaigne had a natural and invincible repugnance to falsehood; and, as he assures us, that he has painted himself as he was, whole and entire, it is fair to consider, that he had no great vices to confess. At the same time, there are things in his book which cannot
* Malebranche says nearly the same thing of him,
be justified. His singular education, and early intimacy with the writers of antiquity, tinged his mind with that bold and paradoxical spirit, which is so continually displayed in his dis
He formed a strict alliance and friendship with the ancient worthies. Rome, in the time of her free and fourishing estate, (for he loved her neither in her birth nor decay), became to him “ a passion and a feeling.” He paid more homage to the dead than the living. He entered the lists more cbivalrously for the defence of Pompey, or in the cause of Brutus, than of either of the religious factions which distracted his own country. These early attachments never left him, and it was with singular satisfaction that he had the honor of Roman Citizenship conferred upon him, during one of his visits to Rome. The elements were strangely compounded in him—there was an odd mixture of philosophical thought and trifling speculation, of acute reasoning and inconclusiveness—of force of mind and erratic and ungoverned fancy. He was, at the same time, idle and impatient—thoughtful and gay, and by turns reflected upon and laughed at himself and all the world. Fond of travelling, he was as difficult to be moved in the first instance, as to be stopped when once in motion. Of a frank and courteous deportment, of a hospitable disposition, and an amiable tempera despiser of ceremony, and eminently sociable—he appears to have been, in general, as sluggish in his feelings as he was cold in the constitution of his mind : but, for the memory of his father he cherished a deep and lasting veneration and regard ; and for his friend, De Boetie, he felt as sacred a friendship as ever had birth in the human heart. Himself hating to be obliged to any other, or by any other, than himself; he was, nevertheless, ready enough to confer an obligation, more especially if it did not call upon him for any great care or trouble, to which he most assuredly had a mortal aversion. In fact, his whole study was to be careless, easy, and contented, and he made haste to seize pleasure lest it should take wing and fly. But he was, upon the whole, a kind-hearted and amiable man, and of a large and capacious soul, superior to most of the prejudices of his age, although he doubtless had some peculiar to himself. To him all men were compatriots—the universal tie, superior to all national ties whatever--and the relations of friendship to those of kindred. He was nice, even to superstition, in keeping his promises.
“ The knot,” says he," that binds me by the laws of courtesie, pinches me more than that of legal constraint, and I am much more at ease when bound by a scrivener, than by myself. Is it not reason that my conscience should be much more engaged when men simply rely upon it? In a bond, my faith owes nothing, because it has nothing lent it. Let them trust to the security they have taken without me; I