Note on the e-text: this Renascence Editions text was provided by Ben R. Schneider, Lawrence University, Wisconsin. It is in the public domain. "Florio's Translation of Montaigne's Essays was first published in 1603. In 'The World's Classics' the first volume was published in 1904, and reprinted in 1910 and 1924." Content unique to this presentation is copyright © 1998 The University of Oregon. For nonprofit and educational uses only.
F ALL the follies of the world, the most universall, and of most men received, is the care of reputation and study of glorie, to which we are so wedded that we neglect and cast-off riches, friends, repose, life and health (goods effectuall and substantiall), to follow that vaine image, and idlie-simple voice, which hath neither body nor hold-fast.La fama, ch'invaghisce a un dolce suonoAnd of mens unreasonable humours, it seemeth that the best philosophers doe most slowly and more unwillingly cleare themselves of this than of another: it is the most peevish, the most froward, and the most opinative. Quia etiam bene proficientes animos tentare non cessat (Cic. Pro Arc. Po.). 'Because it ceaseth not to tempt even those Mindes that profit best.' There are not many whereof reason doth so evidently condemne the vanitie, but it is so deeply rooted in us, as I wot not whether any man could ever clearely discharge himselfe of it. When you have alleaged all the reasons you can, and beleeved all to disavow and reject her, she produceth, contrarie to your discourses, so intestine inclination, that you have small hold against her. For (as Cicero saith), 'Even those that appugne her, will neverthelesse have the bookes they write against her to beare their names upon their fronts, endeavouring to make themselves glorious by despising of glorie.' All other things fall within the compasse of commerce: we lend our goods, we employ our lives, if our friends stand in need of us: But seldome shall we see a man communicate his honour, share his reputation, and impart his glorie unto others. Catulus Luctatius in the warres against the Cymbres, having done the utmost of his endeavours to stay his souldiers that fled before their enemies, put himselfe amongst the runawaies, and dissembled to bee a coward, that so they might rather seeme to follow their Captaine than flie from the enemie: This was a neglecting and leaving off his reputatation, to conceale the shame and reproach of other. When Charles the fifth passed into Provence, the yeare a thousand five hundred thirtie seven, some are of opinion that Anthony de Leva, seeing the Emperor his master resolutely obstinate to undertake that voyage, and deeming it wonderfully glorious, maintained neverthelesse the contrarie, and discounselled him from it, to the end that all the honour and glorie of this counsell might be attributed unto his Master; and that it might he said, his good advice and foresight to have beene such; that contrarie to all mens opinions, he had achieved so glorious an enterprise: Which was, to honour and magnifie him at his owne charges. Thracian Ambassadors comforting Archileonida, the mother of Brasidas, for the death of her son, and highly extolling and commending him, said he had not left his equall behind him. She refused this private commendation and particular praise, assigning it to the publike state. 'Doe not tell me that (quoth she), for knowe the Cittie of Sparta hath many greater and more valiant Citizens than he was.' At the battell of Crecy, Edward the blacke Prince of Wales, being yet very young, had the leading of the vant-gard: The greatest and chiefe violence of the fight was in his quarter: The Lord and Captaine that accompanied him, perceiving the great danger, sent unto King Edward, the Princes Father, to come and help them: which when he heard, he enquired what plight his sonne was in, and how he did, and hearing that he was living and on horse-backe, 'I should (quoth he) offer him great wrong to goe now, and deprive him of the honour of this combats victorie, which he already hath so long sustained; what danger soever there be in it, it shall wholly be his:' and would neither go nor send unto him: knowing that if he had gone or sent, it would have beene said that without his ayd all had beene lost, and that the advantage of this exploit would have beene ascribed unto him. Semper enim quod postremum adjectum est, id rem totam videtur traxisse. 'For evermore that which was last added, seemes to have drawne on the whole matter.' In Rome many thought, and it was commonly spoken, that the chiefest glorious deeds of Scipio were partly due unto Lælius, who notwithstanding did ever advance the greatnesse, further the glorie, and second the renowne of Scipio, without any respect of his owne. And Theopompus King of Sparta, to one who told him that the commonwealth should subsist and continue still, forsomuch as he could command so well: 'No,' said he, 'it is rather because the people know so well how to obey.' As the women who succeeded in the Peeredomes of France had (notwithstanding their sex) right to assist and privilege to plead in cases appertaining to the jurisdictions of Peeres: so the Ecclesiasticall Peeres, notwithstanding their profession and function, were bound to assist our Kings in their warres, not only with their friends, servants, and tenants, but in their owne person. The Bishop of Beauvais, being with Philip Augustus in the battell of Bovines, did very couragiously take part with him in the effect: but thought hee should not be partaker of the fruit and glorie of that bludy and violent exercise.He overcame and forced that day many of the enemies to yeeld whom he delivered unto the first gentleman hee met withall to rifle, to take them prisoners, or at their pleasure to dispose of them. Which he also did with William Earle of Salisbury, whom he delivered unto the Lord John of Nesle with a semblable subtletie of conscience unto this other. He desired to fell and strike downe a man, but not to wound or hurt him, and therefore never fought but with a great club. A man in my time being accused to the King to have laid violent hands upon a priest, denied it very stoutly, forsomuch as he had only thumped and trampled him with his feet.
Gli superbi mortali, et par si bella,
E un echo, un sogn o, anzi d'un sogno un ombra,
Ch'ad ogni vento si dilegua e sgombra. -- Tass. Gior. can. 14.
Faine that enveagl's high aspiring men
With her harmonious sound, and seemes so faire,
An Eccho is, a dreame, dreames shadow rather,
Which flies and fleets as any winde doth gather.