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.
THERS fashion man, I repeat him; and represent a particular one, but ill made; and whom were I to forme a new, he should be far other than he is; but he is now made. And though the lines of my picture change and vary, yet loose they not themselves. Th e world runnes all on wheeles. All things therein moove without intermission; yea, the earth, the rockes of Caucasus, and the Pyramides of Ægypt, both with the publike and their own motion. Constancy it selfe is nothing but a languishing and wavering dance. I cannot settle my object; it goeth so unquietly and staggering, with a naturall drunkennesse; I take it in this plight as it is at the instant I ammuse my selfe about it, I describe not th' essence but the passage; not a passage from age to age, or as the people reckon, from seaven yeares to seaven, but from day to day, from minute to minute. My history must be fitted to the present. I may soone change, not onely fortune, but intention. It is a counter-roule of divers and variable accidents or irresolute imaginations, and sometimes contrary; whether it be that my selfe am other, or that I apprehend subjects by other circumstances and considerations. Howsoever, I may perhaps gaine-say my selfe, but truth (as Demades said) I never gaine-say. Were my mind setled, I would not essay, but resolve my selfe: It is still a Prentise and a probationer. I propose a meane life and without luster; 'Tis all one. They fasten all Morall Philosophy as well to a popular and private life as to one of richer stuffe. Every man beareth the whole stampe of humane condition. Authors communicate themselves unto the world by some speciall and strange marke; I the first, by my generall disposition; as Michel de Montaigne, not as a Grammarian, or a Poet or a Lawyer. If the world complaine I speake too much of my selfe. I complaine it speakes no more of it selfe. But is it reason, that being so private in use, I should pretend to make my selfe publike in knowledge? Or is it reason I should produce into the world, where fashion and arte have such sway and command, the raw and simple effects of nature, and of a nature as yet exceeding weak? To write bookes without learning is it not to make a wall without stone or such like thing? Conceits of musicke are directed by arte, mine by hap. Yet have I this according to learning, that never man handled subject he understood or knew better then I doe this I have undertaken, being therein the cunningest man alive.
Secondly, that never man waded further into his matter, nor more distinctly sifted the parts and dependances of it, nor arrived more exactly and fully to the end he proposed unto himselfe. To finish the same, I have neede of naught but faithfulnesse; which is therein as sincere and pure as may be found. I speake truth, not my belly-full, but as much as I dare; and I dare the more the more I grow into yeares, for it seemeth, custome alloweth old age more liberty to babbel, and indiscretion to talke of it selfe. It cannot herein be, as in trades, where the Crafts-man and his worke doe often differ. Being a man of so sound and honest conversation, writ he so foolishly? Are such learned writings come from a man of so weake a conversation? who hath but an ordinary conceit, and writeth excellently, one may say his capacitie is borrowed, not of himselfe. A skilfull man is not skilfull in all things; But a sufficient man is sufficient every where, even unto ignorance. Here my books and my selfe march together, and keepe one pace. Else-where one may commend or condemne the worke without the worke-man, heere not; who toucheth one toucheth the other. He who shall judge of it without knowing him shal wrong himself more then me, he that knows it hath wholly satisfied mee. Happie beyond my merite, if I get this onely portion of publike approbation, as I may cause men of understanding to thinke I had beene able to make use and benefit of learning, had I beene endowed with any, and deserved better helpe of memorie; excuse wee here what I often say that I seldome repent my selfe, and that my conscience is contented with it selfe; not of an Angels or a horses conscience, but as of a mans conscience. Adding ever this clause, not of ceremonie, but of true and essentiall submission; that I speake enquiring and doubting, meerely and simply referring my selfe, from resolution, unto common and lawfull opinions. I teach not; I report: No vice is absolutely vice, which offendeth not, and a sound judgement accuseth not: For, the deformitie and incommoditie thereof is so palpable, as peradventure they have reason who say it is chiefly produced by sottishnesse and brought forth by ignorance; so hard is it to imagine one should know it without hating it. Malice sucks up the greatest part of her owne venome, and therewith impoysoneth herselfe. Vice leaveth, as an ulcer in the flesh, a repentance in the soule, which still scratcheth and bloodieth it selfe. For reason effaceth other griefes and sorrowes, but engendereth those of repentance: the more yrkesome because inward: as the colde and heate of agues is more offensive then that which comes outward. I account vices (but each according to their measure) not onely those which reason disalowes and nature condemnes, but such as mans opinion hath forged as false and erroneous, if lawes and custome authorize the same. In like manner there is no goodnesse but gladdeth an honest disposition. There is truely I wot not what kinde or congratulation of well doing which rejoyceth in ourselves, and a generous jollitie that accompanieth a good conscience. A minde couragiously vicious may happily furnish it selfe with security, but shee cannot be fraught with this selfe-[joying] delight and satisfaction. It is no smal pleasure for one to feele himselfe preserved from the contagion of an age so infected as ours, and to say to himselfe; could a man enter and see even into my soule, yet shold he not finde me guilty either of the affliction or ruine of any body, nor culpable of envie or revenge, nor of publike offence against the lawes, nor tainted with innovation, trouble or sedition; nor spotted with falsifying of my word: and although the libertie of times slowed and taught it every man, yet could I never be induced to touch the goods or dive into the purse of any French man, and have alwayes lived upon mine own as wel in time of war as peace: nor did I ever make use of any poore mans labor without reward. These testimonies of an unspotted conscience are very pleasing, which naturall joy is a great benefit unto us: and the onely payment never faileth us. To ground the recompence of vertuous actions upon the approbation of others is to undertake a most uncertaine or troubled foundation, namely in an age so corrupt and times so ignorant as this is: the vulgar peoples good opinion is is injurious. Whom trust you in seeing what is commendable? God keepe me from being an honest man, according to the description I dayly see made of honour, each one by himselfe. Quæ fuerant vitia, mores sunt. 'What earst were vices are now growne fashions.' Some of my friends have sometimes attempted to schoole me roundly, and sift me plainly, either of their owne motion, or envited by me, as to an office, which to a well composed minde, both in profit and lovingnesse, exceedeth all the duties of sincere amity. Such have I ever entertained with open armes of curtesie and kinde acknowledgement. But now to speake from my conscience I often found so much false measure in their reproaches and praises, that I had not greatly erred if I had rather erred then done well after their fashion. Such as we especially, who live a private life not exposed to any gaze but our owne, ought in our hearts establish a touch-stone, and there to touch our deedes and try our actions; and accordingly, now cherish and now chastise ourselves. I have my owne lawes and tribunall, to judge of mee, whither I addresse my selfe more then any where els. I restraine my actions according to other, but extend them according to my selfe. None but yourse lf knows rightly whether you be demiss and cruel, or loyal and devout. Others see you not, but ghesse you by uncertaine conjectures. They see not so much your nature as your arte. Adhere not then to their opinion, but hold unto your owne. Tuo tibi judicio est utendum, Virtutis et viciorum grave ipsius conscientiæ pondus est: qua sublata jacent omnia: (Cic. Nat. Deor. iii.) 'You must use your owne judgement. The weight of the very conscience of vice and vertues is heavy: take that away and al is downe.' But whereas it is said that repentance neerely followeth sin, seemeth not to imply sinne placed in his rich aray, which lodgeth in us as in his proper mansion. One may disavow and disclaime vices that surprise us, and whereto our passions transport us; but those which by long habite are rooted in a strong and ankred in a powerfull will, are not subject to contradiction. Repentance is but a denying of our will, and an opposition of our fantasies which diverts us here and there. It makes some disavow his former vertue and continencie.Quæ mens est hodie, cur eadem non puero fuit,That is an exquisite life which even in his owne private keepeth it selfe in awe and order. Every one may play the jugler and represent an honest man upon the stage; but within, and in bosome, where all things are lawfull, where all is concealed; to keepe a due rule or formall decorum, that's the point. The next degree is to be so in ones owne home, and in his ordinary actions, whereof we are to give accoumpt to nobody, wherein is no study, nor art; and therefore Bias describing the perfect state of a family whereof (saith he) the maister be such inwardly by himselfe, as he is outwardly, for feare of the lawes, and respect of mens speaches. And it was a worthy saying of Iulius Drusus to those worke-men, which for three thousand crownes offered so to reforme his house that his neighbours should no more over looke into it. I will give you sixe thousand (said he) and contrive it so that on all sides every man may looke into it. The custome of Agesilaus is remembred with honour, who in his travaile was wont to take up his lodging in churches, that the people and Gods themselves might pry into his private actions. Some have beene admirable to the world, in whom nor his wife, nor his servants ever noted anything remarkeable. 'Few men have beene admired of their familiars. No man hath beene a Prophet, not onely in his house, but in his owne country,' saith the experience of histories. Even so in things of nought. And in this base example is the image of greatnesse discerned. In my climate of Gascoigne they deeme it a jest to see mee in print. The further the knowledge which is taken of mee is from my home, of so much more woorth am I. In Guienne I pay Printers, in other places they pay mee. Upon this accident they ground, who living and present keepe close-lurking, to purchase credit when they shall be dead and absent. I had rather have lesse. And I cast not my selfe into the world, but for the portion I draw from it. That done I quit it. The people attend on such a man with wonderment, from a publike act, unto his owne doores; together with his roabes hee leaves of his part: falling so much the lower by how much higher hee was mounted. View him within, there all is turbulent, disordered and vile. And were order and formality found in him, a lively, impartiall and well sorted judgement is required to perceive and fully to discerne him in these base and private actions. Considering that order is but a dumpish and drowsie vertue: to gaine a Battaile, perfourme an Ambassage, and governe a people, are noble and woorthy actions; to chide, laugh, sell, pay, love, hate, and mildely and justly to converse both with his owne and with himselfe; not to relent, and not gaine-say himselfe, are thinges more rare, more difficult and lesse remarkeable.
Vel cur his animis incolumes non redeunt genæ? --Hor. Car. iv. Od. x. 7.
Why was not in a youth same mind as now?
Or why beares not this mind a youthfull brow?
Retired lives sustaine that way, whatever some say, offices as much more crabbed and extended than other lives doe. And private men (saith Aristotle) serve vertue more hardly and more highly attend her, then those which are magistrates or placed in authority. Wee prepare ourselves unto eminent occasions, more for glory then for conscience. The nearest way to come unto glory were to doe that for conscience which wee doe for glory. And me seemeth the vertue of Alexander representeth much lesse vigor in her large Theater then that of Socrates in his base and obscure exercitation. I easily conceive Socrates in the roome of Alexander; Alexander in that of Socrates I cannot. If any aske the one what hee can do, he will answer, 'Conquer the world': let the same question bee demanded of the other, he will say, 'Leade my life conformably to its naturall condition'; A science much more generous, more important, and more lawfull.
The woorth of the minde consisteth not in going high, but in marching orderly. Her greatnesse is not exercised in greatnesse; in mediocritye it is. As those which judge and touch us inwardely make no great accoumpt of the brightnesse of our publique actions, and see they are but streakes and poyntes of cleare Water surging from a bottome otherwise slimie and full of mud: So those who judge us by this gay outward apparance conclude the same of our inward constitution, and cannot couple popular faculties as theirs are, unto these other faculties, which amaze them so farre from their levell. So do we attribute savage shapes and ougly formes unto divels. As who doeth not ascribe high-raised eye-browes, open nostrils, a sterne frightfull visage and a huge body unto Tamberlaine, as is the forme or shape of the imagination we have fore-conceived by the bruite of his name? had any heretofore shewed me Erasmus, I could hardly had bin induced to think but whatsover he had said to his boy or hostes, had been Adages and Apothegmes. We imagine much more fitly an Artificer upon his close stoole or on his wife, then a great judge, reverend for his carriage and regardfull for his sufficiencie; we think, that from those high thrones they should not abase themselves so low, as to live. As vitious mindes are often incited to do well by some strange impulsion, so are vertuous spirits mooved to do ill. They must then be judged by their settled estate, when they are neare themselves, and as we say, at home, if at any time they be so; or when they are nearest unto rest, and in their naturall seate. Naturall inclinations are by institution helped and strengthned, but they neither change nor exceed. A thousand natures in my time have a thwart, a contrary discipline escaped toward vertue or toward vice.Sic ubi desuetæ silvis in carcere clausæThese originall qualities are not grubd out, they are but covered and hidden. The Latine tongue is to me in a manner naturall; I understand it better then French: but it is now fortie yeares I have not made use of it to speake, nor much to write; yet in some extreame emotions and suddaine passions, whe rein I have twice or thrice falne, since my yeares of discretion, and namely once, when my father being in perfect health, fell all along upon me in a swoune, I have ever, even from my very hart uttered my first words in latine: nature rushing and by force expressing it selfe, against so long a custome; the like example is alleadged of divers others. Those which in my time have attempted to correct the passions of the world by new opinions, reforme the vices of apparance; those of essence they leave untouched if they encrease them not. And their encrease is much to be feared. We willingly protract al other well- doing upon these externall reformations of lesse cost and of greater merit; whereby we satisfie good cheape, other naturall consubstantiall and intestine vices. Looke a little into the course of our experience. There is no man (if he listen to himselfe) that doth not discover in himselfe a peculiar forme of his, a swaying forme, which wrestleth against the institution, and against the tempests of passions, which are contrary unto him. As for me, I feele not my selfe much agitated by a shocke; I commonly finde my selfe in mine owne place, as are sluggish and lumpish bodies. If I am not close and neare unto my selfe, I am never farre-offe; My debauches or excesses transport me not much. There is nothing extreame and strange; yet have I sound fits and vigorous lusts. The true condemnation, and which toucheth the common fashion of our men, is that their very retreate is full of corruption and filth. The Idea of their amendment blurred and deformed; their repentance crazed and faultie very neere as much as their sinne. Some, either because they are so fast and naturally joyned unto vice, or through long custome have lost all sense of its uglinesse. To others (of whose ranke I am) vice is burthenous, but they counter-ballance it with pleasure or other occasions, and suffer it, and at a certaine rate lend themselves unto it though basely and viciously. Yet might happily so remote a disposition of measure bee imagined, where with justice, the pleasure might excuse the offence, as we say of profit. Not onely being accidentall, and out of sinne, as in thefts, but even in the very exercise of it, as in the acquaintance or copulation with women; where the provocation is so violent, and as they say, sometime unresistible. In a towne of a kinsman of mine, the other day, being in Armignac, I saw a country man, commonly sirnamed the Theefe, who himselfe reported his life to have beene thus. Being borne a begger, and perceiving that to get his bread by the sweate of his browe and labour of his bands, would never sufficiently arme him against penury, he resolved to become a Theefe; and that trade had employed all his youth safely, by meanes of his bodily strength: for he ever made up Harvest and Vintage in other mens grounds: but so farre off, and in so great heapes, that it was beyond imagination one man should in one night carry away so much upon his shoulders: and was so carefull to equall the pray and disperce the mischiefe he did, that the spoile was of lesse import to every particular man.
Mansuevere feræ, et vultus posuere minaces,
Atque hominem didicere pati, si torrida parvus
Venit in ora cruor, redeunt rabiesque furorque,
Admonitæque tument gustato sanguine fauces,
Fervet, et a trepido vix abstinet ira magistro. -- Lucan. iv. 237.
So when wilde beasts, disused from the wood,
Fierce lookes laid-downe, grow tame, closde in a cage,
Taught to beare man, if then a little blood
Touch their hot lips, furie returnes and rage;
Their jawes by taste admonisht swell with vaines,
Rage boyles, and from faint keeper scarse abstaines.
Hee is now in old yeares indifferently rich; for a man of his condition (Godamercy his trade) which he is not ashamed to confesse openly. And to reconcile himselfe with God, he affirmeth; to be dayly ready, with his gettings, and other good turnes, to satisfie the posterity of those hee hath heretofore wronged or robbed; which if himselfe bee not of abilitie to performe (for hee cannot do all at once) hee will charge his heires withall, according to the knowledge he hath of the wrongs by him done to every man. By this description, bee it true or false, he respecteth theft, as a dishonest and unlawfull action, and hateth the same: yet lesse then pinching want: He repents but simply; for in regard it was so counterballanced and recompenced, he repenteth not. That is not that habit which incorporates us unto vice, and confirmeth our understanding in it; nor is it that boysterous winde, which by violent blastes dazeleth and troubleth our mindes, and at that time confoundes and overwhelmes both us, our judgement, and all into the power of vice. What I doe is ordinarily full and compleate, and I march (as wee say) all in one pace: I have not many motions, that hide themselves and slinke away from my reason, or which very neare are not guided by the consent of all my partes, without division, or intestine sedicion: my judgement hath the whole blame or commendation; and the blame it hath once, it hath ever: for almost from it's birth it hath beene one of the same inclination, course and force. And in matters of generall opinions, even from my infancy, I ranged my selfe to the point I was to hold. Some sinnes there are outrageous, violent and suddaine; leave we them.
But those other sinnes, so often reassumed, determined and advised upon, whether they be of complexion, or of profession and calling, I cannot conceive how they should so long be settled in one same courage, unlesse the reason and conscience of the sinner were thereunto inwardly privie and constantly willing. And how to imagine or fashion the repentance thereof, which, he vanteth, doth some times visit him, seemeth somewhat hard unto me. I am not of Pythagoras Sect, that men take a new soule, when to receive Oracles they approach the images of Gods, unlesse he would say with all, that it must be a strange one, new, and lent him for the time: our owne, giving so little signe of purification, and cleanesse worthie of that office. They doe altogether against the Stoycall precepts, which appoint us to correct the imperfections and vices we finde in our selves, but withall forbid us to disturbe the quiet of our minde. They make us beleeve they feele great remorse, and are inwardly much displeased w ith sinne; but of amendment, correction or intermission, they shew us none. Surely there can be no perfect health, where the disease is not perfectly remooved. Were repentance put in the scale of the ballance, it would weigh downe sinne. I find no humour so easie to be counterfeited as Devotion: If one conforme not his life and conditions to it, her essence is abstruse and concealed, her apparance gentle and stately. For my part, I may in generall wish to be other then I am; I may condemne and mislike my universall forme, I may beseech God to grant me an undefiled reformation, and excuse my naturall weakenesse: but meeseemeth I ought not to tearme this repentance, no more then the displeasure of being neither Angell nor Cato. My actions are squared to what I am and confirmed to my condition. I cannot doe better: And repentance doth not properly concern what is not in our power; sorrow doth. I may imagine infinite dispositions of a higher pitch, and better governed then myne, yet doe I nothing better my faculties; no more then mine arme becommeth stronger, or my wit more excellent, by conceiving some others to be so. If to suppose and wish a more nobler working then ours, might produce the repentance of our owne, wee should then repent us of our most innocent actions: for so much as we judge that in a more excellent nature, they had beene directed with greater perfection and dignity; and our selves would doe the like. When I consult with my age of my youthes proceedings, I finde that commonly (according to my opinion), I managed them in order. This is all my resistance is able to performe. I flatter not myselfe: in like circumstances, I should ever be the same. It is not a spot, but a whole dye that staynes me. I acknowledge no repentance, this is superficiall, meane, and ceremonious. It must touch me on all sides before I can terme it repentance. It must pinch my entrailes, and afflict them as deepely a nd throughly as God himselfe beholds mee. When in negotiating, many good fortunes have slipt me for want of good discretion, yet did my projects make good choice, according to the occurrences presented unto them. Their manner is ever to take the easier and surer side. I finde that in my former deliberations, I proceeded, after my rules, discreetely for the subjects state propounded to mee; and in like occasions, would proceede alike a hundred yeares hence. I respect not what now it is, but what it was, when I consulted of it. The consequence of all dessignes consists in the seasons; occasions passe, and matters change uncessantly. I have in my time runne into some grosse, absurde, and important errors; not for want of good advise, but of good happe. There are secret and indivinable parts in the objects men doe handle, especially in the nature of men and mute conditions without shew, and sometimes unknowne of the very possessors, produced and stirred up by suddaine occasions. If my wit could neyther finde nor presage them, I am not offended with it; the function thereof is contained within it's owne limits. If the successe beare me, and favour the side I refused, there is no remedy; I fall not out with my selfe: I accuse my fortune, not my endevour: that's not called repentance. Phocion had given the Athenians some counsell, which was not followed: the matter, against his opinion, succeeding happily: 'How now, Phocion (quoth one), art thou pleased the matter hath thrived so well?' 'Yea (said hee) and I am glad of it; yet repent not the advise I gave.'
When any of my friends come to me for counsell, I bestow it francklie and clearelie, not (as well-nigh all the world doth) wavering at the hazard of the matter, whereby the contrary of my meaning may happen that so they may justly finde fault with my advise for which I care not greatly. For they shall doe me wrong, and it became not mee to refuse them that dutie. I have no body to blame for my faults or misfortunes but my self. For in effect I seldome use the advise of other unlesse it be for complement sake, and where I have need of instruction or knowledge of the fact. Marry in things wherein nought but judgement is to be employed; strange reasons may serve to sustaine, but not to divert me. I lend a favourable and courteous care unto them all. But (to my remembrance) I never beleeved any but mine owne. With me they are but Flyes and Moathes, which distract my wil. I little regard mine owne opinions, other mens I esteeme as little: Fortune payes mee accordingly. If I take no counsell I give as little. I am not much sought after for it, and lesse credited when I give it: Neither know I any enterprise, either private or publike, that my advise hath directed and brought to conclusion. Even those whom fortune had some-way tyde thereunto, have more willingly admitted the direction of others conceits then mine. As one that am as jealous of the rights of my quiet, as of those of my autthority; I would rather have it thus.
Where leaving me, they jumpe with my profession, which is wholly to settle and containe me in my selfe. It is a pleasure unto mee to bee disinteressed of other mens affayres, and disingaged from their contentions. When sutes or businesses bee over-past, howsoever it bee, I greeve little at them. For, the imagination that they must necessarily happen so, puts mee out of paine; Behould them in the course of the Universe, and enchained in Stoycall causes, Your fantazie cannot by wish or imagination remoove one point of them, but the whole order of things must reverse both what is past and what is to come. Moreover, I hate that accidentall repentance which olde age brings with it. Hee that in ancient times said be was beholden to yeares because they had ridde him of voluptuousnesse, was not of mine opinion. I shall never give impuissance thankes for any good it can do me : Nec tam aversa unquam videbitur ab opere suo providential ut debilitas inter optima inventa sit: 'Nor shall fore-sight ever bee seene so averse from hir owne worke, that weakenesse bee found to bee one of the best things.' Our appetites are rare in olde-age: the blowe overpassed, a deepe saciety seazeth upon us: therein see no conscience. Fretting care and weakenesse imprint in us an effeminate and drowzie vertue. Wee must not suffer our selves so fully to bee carried into naturall alterations as to corrupt or adulterate our judgement by them. Youth and pleasure have not heretofore prevailed so much over me, but I could ever (even in the midst of sensualities) discerne the ugly face of sinne: nor can the distaste which yeares mee from discerning that of voluptuousnesse in in vice. Now I am no longer in it, I judge of it as if I were still there. I who lively and attentively examine my reason, finde it to be the same that possessed me in my most dissolute and licentious age; unlesse, perhaps, they being enfeebled and empayred by yeares, doe make some difference: And finde, that what delight it refuseth to affoorde me in regarde of my bodilie health, it would no more denie mee, then in times past, for the health of my soule. To see it out of combate, I holde it not the more couragious. My temptations are so mortified and crazed as they are not worthy of it's oppositions: holding but my hand before me, I becalme them. Should one present that former concupiscence unto it, I feare it would be of lesse power to sustaine it than heretofore it hath beene. I see in it, by it selfe no increase of judgement, nor accesse of brightnesse; what it now judgeth, it did then. Wherefore if there be any amendment, 'tis but diseased. Oh miserable kinde of remedie to bee beholden unto sicknesse for our health. It is not for our mishap, but for the good successe of our judgement to performe this office. Crosses and afflictions make me doe nothing but curse them. They are for people that cannot bee awaked but by the whip, the course of my reason is the nimbler in prosperity. It is much more distracted and busied in the digesting of mischiefes than of delights. I see much clearer in faire weather. Health forewarneth me as with more pleasure, so to better purpose than sicknesse. I approached the nearest I could unto amendment and regularity, when I should have enjoyed the same; I should be ashamed and vexed that the misery and mishap of my old age could exceede the health, attention, and vigor of my youth: and that I should be esteemed, not for what I have beene, but for what I am leaft to be. The happy life (in my opinion), not (as said Antisthenes) the happy death, is it that makes mans happinesse in this world.
I have not preposterously busied my selfe to tie the taile of a Philosopher unto the head and bodie of a varlet: nor that this paultrie end should disavow and belie the fairest, soundest, and longest part of my life. I will present my selfe and make a generall muster of my whole, every where uniformally. Were I to live againe it should be as I have already lived. I neither deplore what is past, nor dread what is to come: and if I be not deceived, the inward parts have neerely resembled the outward. It is one of the chiefest points wherein I am beholden to fortune, that in the course of my bodies estate, each thing hath beene carried in season. I have seene the leaves, the blossomes, and the fruit; and now see the drooping and withering of it. Happily, because naturally. I beare my present miseries the more gently because they are in season, and with greater favour make me remember the long bappinesse of my former life. In like manner my discretion may well bee of like proportion in the one and the other time: but sure it was of much more performance, and had a better grace, being fresh, jolly, and full of spirit, then now that it is worne, decrepite, and toylesome.
I therefore renounce these casuall and dolourous reformations. God must touch our heartes; our conscience must amende of it selfe, and not by re-inforcement of our reason, nor by the enfeebling of our appetites. Voluptuousnesse in it selfe is neither pale nor discoloured to bee discerned by bleare and troubled eyes. Wee should affect temperance and chastity for it selfe, and for Gods cause, who hath ordained them unto us: that which Catars bestow upon us, and which I am beholden to my chollicke, is for neither temperance nor chastitie: A man cannot boast of contemning or combating sensuality if hee see her not, or know not her grace, her force, and most attractive beauties. I know them both, and therefore may speake it. But mee thinks our soules in age are subject unto more importunate diseases and imperfections then they are in youth. I said so, being young, when my beardlesse chinne was upbraided me; and I say it againe now that my gray beard gives me authority. We entitle wisdome, the frowardnesse of our humours, and the distaste of present things; but in truth wee abandon not vices so much as we change them; and in mine opinion for the worse. Besides a sillie and ruinous pride, combersome tattle, wayward and unsotiable humours, superstition, and a ridiculous carking for wealth, when the use of it is well-nigh lost, I finde the more envie, injustice, and leaudnesse in it. It sets more wrinckles in our minds then on our foreheads: nor are there any spirits, or very rare ones, which in growing old taste not sowrely and mustily. Man marcheth entirely towards his increase and decrease. View but the wisedome of Socrates, and divers circumstances of his condemnation. I dare say he something lent himselfe unto it by prevarication of purpose: being so neere, and at the age of seventy, to endure the benumming of his spirits richest pace and the dimming of his accustomed brightnesse, What Metamorphoses have I seene it daily make in divers of mine acquaintances? It is a powerfull maladie which naturally and imperceptibly glideth into us: There is required great provision of study, heed, and precaution to avoid the imperfections wherewith it chargeth us; or at least to weaken their further progresse. I finde that notwithstanding all my entrenchings, by little and little it getteth ground upon me: I hold out as long as I can, but know not whither at length it will bring me. Happe what happe will, I am pleased the world know from what height I tumbled.