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Montaigne's Essays: Book III

Florio's Epistle Dedicatorie.

Note on the e-text: this Renascence Editions text was provided by Professor Emeritus 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." Additional material was supplied by R.S. Bear from the Everyman's Library edition of 1910. Content unique to this presentation is copyright © 1999 The University of Oregon. For nonprofit and educational uses only.



xx Florio's Preface to Book III 

Of Profit and Honesty
Of Repenting
Of Three Commerces or Societies
Of Diverting and Diversions
Upon some Verses of Virgil
Of Coaches
Of the Incommoditie of Greatnesse
Of the Art of Conferring 
Of Vanitie
How one ought to governe his Will
Of the Lame or Crippel
Of Phisiognomy
Of Experience


The Epistle Dedicatorie.

To the right Honorable
and all-vertue-accomplished
Ladies, Ladie Elizabeth Grey,
wife to the right Honorable Earle of Shrewsburie.
Ladie Marie Nevill, daughter to the right Honorable
Lord high Treasurer of England;
wife to Sir Henrie Nevill of Abergevenny.

Your Honorable Ladieships excelling in Musike, as in all other admirable qualities, can tell me of a French branle (as I take it) wherein one man, like Mercurie betweene the the radiant orbes of Venus and the Moone, leadeth a daunce to two women. In resemblance whereof; though much I want the eloquence of Mercurie to move you, much more his abilitie to guide you, most of all his nobilitie to comfort you, yet, as for your exercise, or more perfection, sometime you practise with meaner than a teacher, or a teacher much meaner than your selves: vouchsafe me your unworthie, but herein happy teacher, joyntly to usher you to this French motion. French hath long time beene termed the language of Ladies: So doth it grace your tongues; so doe your tongues grace it; as if written by men it may have a good garbe, spoken by you it hath a double grace: for so have I heard some of you speake it, as no man, few women, could come-neare their sweete-relisht ayre of it. That as Tullie averred of his Roman Ladies for Latine, so not onely for our mother-tongue, but also for the principall, Italian and French, not onely our princely Mother of Majestie, Magnificence, omnisufficiencie, but (for instance) would I honor now by these my laboures) are the purest, finest, and clearest speakers. So as where I have cause to love those languages above all, because they are my living, I never like or love them so well, as when I heare you reade or speake them. Whereby as Virgil in his yong Euryalus conceited vertue more gracious, because it came from a faire-gracious bodie; so prize I more these glorious gemmes of your languages and knowledge, because they are set in the pure golde of your Nobilitie, and worne on the faire front or bright bosome of your beauties. Resplendent is the Sunne at the lowest; relucent the moone at the least, rising, or sitting; but most radiant, reviving, influent, when they are at highest. Learning and languages in any place will shew some sparkes of light, but most life and lustre in illustrious pallaces, to cheere, grace, and cleare their owners and their neighbours. This state heareth well, that some learned are ennobled: much better may it heare, that our Nobles are many learned. Be nobilitie a succour to learning, as learning is an honor to nobilitie. A rich coyne is nobilitie, but without stampe of language scarce-currant out of our owne countrie; and in our country for no trade or traffike with Strangers. We have seene (with some shame and sorrowe) some of our golden-fleece Knights and Colossian Courtiers, when forrain Princes come in presence, perhaps beare the presence, but scarce the sense, lesse the speach, least of all the sociablenesse of a man, unlesse by signes and noddes, or Noes, or Ouyes; yea be faine to intreate their Mistresses speake for them, but find tongue enough to faine a treatie to their Mistresses. Yet as the supreme Mistresse and glorious Lady of us all, and all excellence hath often excellently spoken for all: so (to my joy and glory) some of you, Ladies, have I heard, not only entertaine, but satisfie best spoken strangers with their applause and admiration. Herein now could I beate, and lawes would breake the legges of that dog-Satyrist, who causelesse barks, bites, and is bitter, even to deprave that untaintable Cornelia whom Princes of her time, and all men of good minds did honor ever since. Noe do I well brooke in that behalfe even this Satyrizing censor of my prototype, that he after him in this your part affordes you small share of Rhethorique, Logique, Law; whose tongue to him Rhethorique, reason Logique, and commandement Law ( Mont. lib. c. 3). Your other perfections ô let him not draw downe to imperfection. If you by them may rule Regents; more may you do it, if you have more perfections. In Poesie, in Historie, yea in Philosophy if you have good allowance, why should you have any limites? And if you meane to make your selves by them, what meanes are there to them, but the languages, you have learn't? Be you (as he there often scoffeth) capsula totæ, All hid, all cabinets (which I the rather heere expound, because I there omit) but so hidde, as much more good is in you than knowne of you; such Cabinets if Natures treasures, Vertues jewelles, learnings modelles, as all the Muses and Graces can scarce shew the like. What neede you to enquire but what you neede? You are rich and may require such ornaments as fitte your state. Preheminence it is, it is not superfluitie: for as a man excelleth a beast that hee can speake, a man excelles a man that hee can speake much better: So to a woman in naturall guiftes if man must yeelde prioritie, in artificiall complements if she come neare him, shee may goe farre afore him. Nor is it curiositie; it is due care. Woulde not your noble Husbandes, even in house-affaires, dislike to speake to you, or you to them, by a trouchman? How then would you like it in strange matters to talke with a Stranger by an interpreter? How can you knowe his sufficiencie? How dare you trust his faithfulnesse? Tenne to one he knowes not, or shoulde not knowe what he speakes-of: or more, or lesse, or worse hee expresseth, one or both. And why should men, more then you, talke with the dead, the truest, and take counsell of Bookes, the best Counsellours? Wittes you have as good, if not better; wordes (they say) you have more; why should you then not understand as much? If tongue be a womans armes, why should you not arme you with best choice thereof? Olde Ennius could bragge hee had three hartes, because hee knew three tongues. And may not you Ladies boast as much, whose tongues can speake as many, and be as hartie with one head, one hart, one tongue? So hath the loving care, and carefull love of your right Honorable and most prudent Parents (thrice-honored Lady Grey) as well in language for more knowledge, more knowledge for all vertue, as in high linage for rich dowrie, rich dowrie for great match provided for you. An acte most worthie their Progenitors, the olde Worthies of SHREVVSBVRIE, to make you so well worthie by your match to inherite a house no lesse ancient; the ancient house of KENT. Whereof to wish you answerable joy, to the honor of both Houses, demerite of your selves, comfort of all your friendes, let me but adde my wish: God give my wish effect, and your selves shall wish no better. And so to you (my in-hart-honoured, since best-deserving Ladie NEVILL) I knowe not, if native inclination, proceeding from a Father, in wisedome none greater; a Mother, in goodnesse none better; or informing instruction, applied by his prudent direction, used by her kind discretion, received by your quicke ingenuitie, or confirming example of both them above all example, and your noble husband excellently qualified, exquisitely languaged, and your as learned as well graced brothers; or all these in concourse have made-uppe such accomplishment, as againe I knowe not, if you, or wee all, owe more to them for you. This I knowe and acknowledge, as to your right Honorable Father, this ages Cato, our Englands Hospitalis, I owe and vow all service for many-many favours hee hath done me, more hee may, and to those other for some other: So to your Ladieship for all, who not onely with them, but many more, have not onely wrought me credite to give countenance, but brought mee kindenesse to afforde commoditie. As therefore of aught else I ever may, so of this I have heere done, your Ladieship may challenge no small parte, since no small parte thereof was done under your Fathers roofe, under your regiment. Wherefore to both your Honors (renowmed GREY and NEVILL) as to Iuno in Greece, or Vesta in new Rome on the Altare of your vertues, I consecrate without idolatrie, prophanenesse, or blasphemie, both the incense of Praise and Thankes, and the  never-failing fire of and ever-faithfull affection, which the Vestall Virgins of pure thoughts shall still-still keepe alive, that while I live, and when I die, I may be as I am Your Honors servant in true hart, IOHN FLORIO.

To the Right Ho-
norable Ladie Elizabeth Grey.

Of Honorable TALBOT honor'd-farre,
    The forecast and the fortune, by his W
    Montaigne here descrives; what by his S
    What by his wit; this, as the guiding starre;
That, as th'Ætolian blast, in peace, or warre,
    At sea, or land, as cause did use afforde,
VANT LE VENT, to tackle his sailes a borde,
    So as his course no orethwart crosse might barre;
But he would sweetly saile before the wind;
    For Princes service, Countries good, his fame.
    Heire-Daughter of that prudent-constant kinde,
Joyning thereto of G
REY as great a name,
    Of both chiefe glories shrining in your minde,
    Honor him, that your Honor doth proclaime.
                                                         Il Candido.

To the Right Noble
and vertuous Ladie Marie Nevill.

If ornaments to men, to Ladies more,
    If to meane persons, more to noble minde,
    Study and languages have beene assignde;
    How should we then admire, applaude, adore
You Madame, so adorn'd, as few before?
    As if your Fathers, Husbands, Brothers kinde
    You were to equall or excell inclinde:
    Such knowledge keeping keyes of vertues store.
Though this you know no better in your owne,
    Then it you knew in French, or had it beene,
    In Tuscane writ, as well you had it knowne;
Though lesser grace in this, than that, be seene;
    Yet, as your owne, since you love publike-weale,
    Take well, we unknowne goods to all reveale.
                                                         Il Candido.

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