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.
HAVE been none of the weakest in this exercise, which is proper unto men of my stature, well-trussed, short and tough, but now I have given it over: it toyles us over-much to hold out long. I was even now reading how King Cyrus, that he might more speedily receave news from al parts of his Empire (which was of exceeding great length), would needs have it tried how far a horse could in a day goe outright without baiting, at which distance he caused stations to be set up, and men to have fresh horses ready for al such as came to him. And some report this swift kind of running answereth the flight of cranes. Cæsar saith that Lucius Vibullis Rufus, making hast to bring Pompey an advertisement, rode day and night, and to make more speed shifted many horses. And himselfe (as Suetonius writeth) would up on an hyred coache runne a hundred miles a day. And sure he was a rancke-runner: for where any river hindred his way he swam it over, and never went out of his way to seek for a bridge or foard. Tiberius Nero going to visite his brother Drusus who lay sick in Germanie, having three coaches in his company, ranne two hundred miles in foure and twenty houres. In the Romane warres against King Antiochus, Titus Sempronius Gracchus (saith Titus Livius) per dispositos equos prope incredibili celeritate ab Anmphisa tertio die Pellam pervenit: 'By horse laid poste, with incredible speede within three dayes he past from Amphisa to Pella.' And viewing the place, it seemeth they were set stations for postes, and not newly appointed for that race. The invention of Cecina in sending newes to those of his house had much more speede; he carried certaine swallowes with him, and having occasion to send newes home, he let them flie toward their nests, first marking them with some colour proper to signifie what he meant, as before he had agreed upon with his friends. In the theaters of Rome the household masters carried pigeons in their bosomes, under whose wings they fastened letters, when they would send any word home, which were also taught to bring back an answer. D. Brutus used some, being besieged in Mutina, and others elsewhere. In Peru they went poste upon mens backes, who tooke theire masters upon their shoulders, sitting upon certaine beares or chaires with such agilitie that, in full running speede, the first porters, without any stay, cast their load upon other who upon the way waited for them, and so they to others. I understand that the Valachians, which are messengers unto the great Turk, use extreame diligence in their businesses forasmuch as they have authoritie to dismount the first passengers they meet upon the high-way, and give him their tyred horse. And because they shal not be weary, they are won t to swaithe themselves hard about the bodie with a broad swathe or seare-cloth, as diverse others doe with us: I cold never finde ease or good by it.