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.
T IS a pleasant imagination to conceive a spirit iustly ballanced betweene two equall desires. For, it is not to be doubted, that he shall never be reso lved upon any match: forsomuch as the application and choise brings all the inequality of prise: And who should place us betweene a bottle of wine and a gammon of bacon, with an equall appetite to eat and drinke, doubtlesse there were noe remedy, but to die of thirst and of hunger. To provide against this inconvenient, when the Stoikes were demanded whence the election of two indifferent things commeth into our soule (and which causeth that from out a great number of Crownes or Angells we rather take one then another, when there is no reason to induce us to preferre any one before others) they answer, that this motion of the soule is extraorainarie and irregular comming into us by a strange, accidentall and casuall impulsion. In my opinion, it might rather be said that nothing is presented unto us, wherein there is not some difference, how light so ever it bee: And that either to the sight, or to the feeling, there is ever some choice, which tempteth and drawes us to it, though imperceptible and not to bee distinguished. In like manner, hee that shall presuppose a twine-thrid equally strong all through, it is impossible by all possibility that it should break, for, where would you have the flaw or breaking to beginne? And at once to break in all places together is not in nature. The Geometricall propositions which, by the certainty of their demonstrations, conclude the contained greater then the containing, and the centre as great as his circumference; and that finde two lines uncessantly approaching one unto another, which yet can never meete and joyne together; and the Philosophers stone, and quadrature of the circle, where the reason and the effects are so opposite: might peradventure draw thence some argument to salve and helpe this bold speech of Plinie: Solum certum, nihil esse certi, et homine nihil miserius aut superbius: (1 PLIN. Nat. Hist. 1. ii. 7.) 'This only is sure, that there is nothing sure; and nothing more miserable, and yet more arrogant then man.'