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.
HIS discourse shall passe single, for I leave it to Physitians to treat of. I saw two dayes since a child whom two men and a nurse (which named themselves to be his father, his uncle, and his aunt) carried about with intent to get some money with the sight of him, by reason of his strangenesse. In all the rest he was as other children are: he stood upon his feete, went and prattled in a manner as all others of his age. He would never take nourishment but by his nurses breast; and what in my presence was offred to be put in his mouth he chewed a little and put it all out againe. His puling differed somewhat from others: he was just fourteene monthes olde. Under his paps he was fastned and joyned to another childe, but had no head, and who had the conduite of his backe stopped; the rest whole. One of his armes was shorter than the other, and was by accident broken at their birth. They were joyned face to face, and as if a little child would embrace another somewhat bigger. The joyning and space whereat they were closed together was but foure inches broad, or thereabouts; in such sort that if you thrust up the imperfect childe you might see under the others navill; and the seame was betweene the paps and his navill. The navill of the imperfect one could not be seene, but all the rest of his belly might. Thus, what of the imperfect one was not joyned, as armes, buttocks, thighes, and legges, did hang and shake upon the other, whose length reached to the middle-leg of the other perfect. His nurse told me he made water by both privities. The members of the little one were nourished, living, and in the same state as the others, except only they were lesse and thinner. This double body nd these different members, having reference to one onely head, might serve for a favorable prognostication to our King to maintaine the factions and different parties of this our kingdome under a unitie of the lawes. But least the successe should prove it contrary, it is not amisse to let him runne his course; for in things already past there need no divination. Vt quum facta sun t, tum ad conjecturam aliquid interpretatione revocantur: (Cic. Divin. ii.) 'So as when they are done they then by some construction should be revoked to conjecture.' As it is reported of Epimenides, who ever devined backward. I come now from seeing of a shepherd at Medoc, of thirtie yeares of age or thereabouts, who had no signe at all of genitorie parts, but where they should be are three little holes by which his water doth continually tril from him. This poore man hath a beard, and desireth still to be fumbling of women. Those which we call monsters are not so with God, who in the immensitie of his work seeth the infinite of formes therein contained. And it may be thought that any figure doth amaze us, hath relation unto some other figure of the same kinde, although unknown unto man. From out his all-seeing wisdome proceedeth nothing but good, common, regular, and orderly; but we neither see the sorting, nor conceive the relation. Quod crebro videt, non miratur, etiam si, cur fiat, nescit. Quod an te non vidit, id, si evenerit, ostentum esse censet (CIC. Div. 1. II.). 'That which he often seeth he doth not wonder at, though he know not why it is done; but if that happen which he never saw before, he thinkes it some portentous wonder.' We call that against nature which commeth against custome. There is nothing, whatsoever it be, that is not according to hir. Let therefore this universall and naturall reason chase from us the error, and expell the astonishment which noveltie breedeth and strangenes causeth in us.