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Montaigne's Essays


Translation by John Florio (1553-1625)

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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 Risa 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. Send comments and corrections to the Publisher, rbear[at]uoregon.edu.



Florio's Preface

To the curteous Reader

Dedicatory Poems

The Author to the Reader

By divers Meanes men come unto a like End 
Of Sadnesse or Sorrowe 
Our Affections are transported beyond our selves
IV. xx How the Soule dischargeth her Passions upon false objects, when the true faile it
Whether the Captaine of a Place Besieged ought to sallie forth to Parlie 
That the Houre of Parlies is dangerous
That our Intention judgeth our Actions
Of Idlenesse
Of Lyers
Of Readie or Slow Speech
Of Prognostications
Of Constancie
Of Ceremonies in the enterview of Kings
Men are punished by too-much opiniating themselves in a place without reason
Of the punishment of Cowardise
A tricke of certaine Ambassadors
Of Feare
That we should not judge of our Happinesse untill after our Death 
That to Philosophise is to learn how to die
On the force of Imagination
The profit of one man is the dammage of another
Of customs, and how a received law should not easily be changed
Divers events from one selfsame counsell
Of Pedantisme
Of the Institution and Education of Children; to the Ladie Diana of Foix
It is follie to referre Truth or Falsehood to our sufficiencie
Of Friendship
Nine and twentie Sonnets of Steven de la Boetie, to the Lady of Grammont
Of Moderation
Of the Caniballes
That a Man ought soberly to meddle with judging of Divine Lawes
To avoid Voluptuousnesse in regard of Life
That Fortune is oftentimes met withall in pursuit of Reason
Of a Defect in our Policies
Of the Use of Apparell
Of Cato the younger
How we weepe and laugh at one selfe-same thing
Of Solitarinesse
A consideration upon Cicero
That the taste of Goods or Evils doth greatly depend on the opinion we have of them
That a Man should not communicate his Glorie
Of the Inequalitie that is betweene us
Of Sumptuarie Lawes, or Lawes for moderating of Expenses
Of Sleeping
Of the Battell of Dreux
Of Names
Of the uncertaintie of our Judgement
Of Steeds, called in French Destriers
Of ancient Customes
Of Democritus and Heraclitus
Of the Vanitie of Words
Of the Parcimonie of our Forefathers
Of a saying of Cæsar
Of vaine Subtlities, or subtill Devices
Of Smels and Odors
Of Praiers and Orisons
Of Age


xx Florio's Preface

 Of the inconstancie of our Actions
Of Drunkennesse
A Custome of the Ile of Cea
To-morrow is a New Day
Of Conscience 
Of Exercise or Practice
Of the Recompenses or Rewards of Honour 
Of the Affections of Fathers to their Children: To the Lady of Estissac
Of the Parthians Armes 
Of Bookes
Of Crueltie
An Apologie of Raymond Sebond 
Of Judging of others' Death
How that our Spirit hindereth itself 
That our Desires are encreased by Difficultie
Of Glory
Of Presumption
Of giving the Lie
Of the Liberty of Conscience
We taste nothing purely
Against Idlenesse, or doing Nothing
Of Running Posts, or Couriers 
Of Bad Meanes emploied to a Good End
Of the Roman Greatnesse
How a Man should not Counterfeit to be Sicke
Of Thumbs 
Cowardize the Mother of Cruelty
All Things have their Season
Of Vertue
Of a Monstrous Child 
Of Anger and Choler
A Defence of Seneca and Plutarke
The Historie of Spurina
Observations concerning the meanes to warre after the maner of Julius Cæsar
Of Three Good Women
Of the Worthiest and Most Excellent Men
Of the Resemblance betweene Children and Fathers


xx Florio's Preface

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


To the Right Ho-
norable my best-best Benefactors, and most-honored
Ladies, Lucie, Countesse of Bedford;
and hir best-most loved-loving Mother, Ladie Anne Harrington.
Strange it may seeme to some, whose seeming is mis-seeming, in one worthlesse patronage to joyne two so severallie all-worthy Ladies. But to any in the right, it would be judged wrong, to disjoyne them in ought, who were neerer in kinde, then ever in kindnesse. None dearer (dearest Ladies) I have seene, and all may say, to your Honorable husbands then you, to you then your Honorable husbands; and then to other, then eyther is to th' other. So as were I to name but the one, I should surely intend the other: but intending this Dedication to two,I could not but name both. To my last Birth, which I held masculine, (as are all mens conceipts that are thier owne, though but by their collecting; and this was to Montaigne like Bacchus, closed in, or loosed from his great Iupiters thigh) I the indulgent father invited two right Honorable Godfathers, with the One of your Noble Ladyshippes to witnesse. So to this defective edition (since all translations are reputed femalls, delivered at second hand; and I in this serve but as Vulcan, to hatchet this Minerva from that Iupiters bigge braine) I yet at least a fondling foster-father, having transported it from France to England; put it in English clothes; taught it to talke our tongue (though many-times with a jerke of the French Iargon) wouldset it forth to the best service I might; and to better I might not, then You that deserve the best. Yet hath it this above your other servants: it may not onely serve you two, to repeate in true English what you reade in fine French, but many thousands more, to tell them in their owne, what they would be taught in an other language. How nobly it is descended, let the father in the ninth Chapter of his third booke by letters testimoniall of the Romane Senate and Citty beare record: How rightly it is his, and his beloved, let him by his discourse in the eigh'th of his second, written to the Lady of Estissac (as if it were to you concerning your sweete heire, most motherly- affected Lady Harrington) and by his acknowledgement in this first to all Readers give evidence, first that ir is de bonne foy, then more than that, c'est moy: how worthily qualified, embellished, furnished it is, let his faire-spoken, and fine-witted Daughter by alliance passe her verdict, which shee need not recant. Heere-hence to offer it into your service, let me for him but do and say, as he did for his other-selfe, his peerlesse paire Steven de Boetie, in the 28. of the first, and thinke hee speakes to praise-surmounting Countesse of Bedford, what hee there speakes to the Lady of Grammont, Countesse of Guissen: Since as his Maister-Poet saide,
-----mutato nomine, de te
Fabula narratur: -- Hor. ser. lib. i. Sat. i. 69.

 Do you but change the name,
Of you is saide the same:

    So do hir attributes accord to your demerites; wherof to runne a long-breathed careere, both so faire and large a field might envite mee, and my in-burning spirits would encite mee, if I were not held-in by your sweete reining hand (who have ever helde this desire, sooner to exceede what you are thought, then be thought what you are notor should I not prejudice my premonstration your assured advantage, When your value shall come to the weighing. And yet what are you not that may excell? What weight would you not elevate in truest ballance of best judgements? More to be followed by glorie, since you fly-it; which yet many good follow: Most to be praised, for refusing all praises; which yet will presse on vertue; will she, nill she. In which matter of fame (and that exceeding good) wel may you (I doubt not) use the word, which my Authour heere (I feare) usurpeth:
-----Viresque acquirit eundo. -- Virg. Æn. 1. 4, 175.
   The further that she goeth,
The more in strength she groweth:
    Since (as in the originall) if of his vertue or glory, more of yours, his Arch-Poet might verifie.
Ingrediturque solo, & caput inter nubila condit: --- 177.
She (great and good) on earth doth move,
Yet veiles hir head in heaven above:
    But being by your limit-lesse moderation lockt in limits (who more desire, nothing may be said, than too much) though I can never say too much; as he of Carthage, so I of your praise-worthinnesse, were better to say nothing, then too little. For this in hand (if it may be so honored to kisse your Honors gracious hand) if any grace or good be either afforded to it, or deserved by it, all that by the father, foster-father, and all that are of kinne or kinde unto it, must be to your Honor, grace, and goodnesse imputed and ascribed. For (that I may discharge me of all this, and charge you with your owne; pardon Madame my plainenesse) when I with one Chapter found my selfe over-charged, whereto the charge or choise of an Honorable person, and by me not-to-be-denied Denefactor (Noble and vertuous Sir Edward Wotton) had engaged me, (which I finished in your owne house) your Honor having dayned to read it, without pitty of my failing, my fainting, my labouring, my languishing, my gasping for some breath O could so Honourable, be so pitty-lesse? Madame, now doe I flatter you?) Yet commaunded me on: (and let me die outright, ere I doe not that commaund.) I say not you tooke pleasure at shore (as those in this Author) to see me sea-tosst, wether-beaten, shippe-wrackt, almost drowned (Mon. lib. iii.c. 1). Nor say I like this mans Indian King, you checkt with a sower-sterne countenance the yerneful complaint of your drooping, neere-dying subject (Lib. iii, c. 6). Nor say I (as he alleadgeth out of others) like an ironically modest Virgin, you enduced, yea commaunded, yea delighted to see mee strive for life, yet fall out of breath (Lib. ii. c. 23). Unmercifull you were, but not so cruell. (Madame, now do I flatter you?) Yet this I may and must say, like in this French-mans report, our third in name, but fist and chiefe in fame, K. Edward, you would not succour your blacke, not sonne, but servaunt, but bade him fight and conquere, or die (Lib. i. c. 41): Like the Spartane imperious Mother, a shield indeede you gave mee, but with this Word. Aut cum hoc; aut in hoc (Giou. Imp. Mar Pes.). I must needes say while this was in dooing, to put and keep mee in hart like a captived Canniball fattend against my death, you often cryed Coraggio, and called ca ca, and applauded as I passt, and if not set mee in, yet set mee on, even with a Syrens ô treslo¨able Ulisse (Mont. li. ii. c. 16). O Madame who then spake faire? As for mee, I onely say, as this mans embossed Hart out of hart (Lib. ii. c. 11), I sweat, I wept, and I went-on, til now I stand at bay: howsoever, I hope that may yet save me, which from others strangles others, I meane the coller you have put about my neck with your inscription, Noli me cædere, nam sum Dianæ. Yet nor can you denie, nor I desseble, how at first I pleaded this Authors tedious difficultie, my selfe-knowne insufficiencie, and other more leisurefull abilitie. But no excuse would serve him, that must serve without excuse. Little power had I to performe, but lesse to refuse what you impos'de: for his length gave you time: for his hardnesse you advised help: my weaknesse you might bidde doe it's best: others strength you would not seeke-for-further. Yet did your honoured name r'ally to my succour the forces of two deare friends, both devoted to your service, both obliged to your vertues: The one Maister Theodoro Diodati, as in name, so indeede Gods-gift to me, my bonus genius, and sent me as the good Angel to Raimond in Tasso (Tas. Gior. can. 7) for my assistant to combat this great Argante: Who as he is happy in you, and you in him, that like Aristotle to Alexander, he may in all good learning, and doeth with all industrious attention, instruct, direct, adorne that noble, hopefull, and much-promising spirit of your beloved brother and house-heire Maister Iohn Harrington: So was he to me in this inextricable laberinth like Ariadnes threed: in this rockie-rough Ocean, a guide- fish to the Whale; in these darke-uncouth wayes, a cleare relucent light. Had not he beene, I had not bin able to wade through: and had he not dissolved these knottes, none had, few could. The other (my onelie dearest and in love-sypathising friend, Maister Doctor Guinne, of whome I may justly say what my Authour saith of his second-selfe Steven de Boetie ( Lib. i. c. 27; Lib. iii. c. 9): for, he could not better pourtray him for him selfe, then he hath lively delineated him for me) willing to doe me ease, and as willing to doe your Honour service, as you know him a scholler (and pitty is it the World knowes not his worth better; for as the Prince of Italian poets saide of Valerius Corvinus, Non so se migior Duce o Calliero (Pet. triu. fam. cap. i ver. 99), so may I truely say of him. Non so se meglior Oratore e Poeta, o Philospho e Medico). So Scholler-like did he undertake what Latine prose; Greeke, Latine, Italian or French Poesie should crosse my way (which as Bugge-beares affrighted my unacquaintance with them) to ridde them all afore me, and for the most part drawne them from their dennes: Wherein what indefatigable paines he hath undergone, and how successefully overgone, I referre to your Honor, I remit to the learned; for, who but he could have quoted so divers Authors, and noted so severall places? So was hee to mee in this bundle of riddles an understanding Oedipus, in this perilous-crook't passage a monster-quelling Theseus or Hercules: With these two supporters of knowledge and friendship, if I upheld and armed have passt the pikes, the honor be all yours, since all by yours was done for your Honor. That all this is thus, the reply of that friend upon my answer to your ho: invitation in a sonet of the like, (but not same) terminations may signifie and testifie to all the world. Then let none say I flatter, when I forbeare not to tell all. Yet more I must needs say, if Poets be inspired by their muse, if souldiers take corage by the eie or memory of their mistrisses (as both have made some long believe) having already said, as Petrark to his mistris,
In questo stato son Donna ver vui, --- Petr. p. 1, son. 107.

By you, or for you, Madame, thus am I.

I now rather averre as the Lyricke to his Melpomene.
Quod spiro, & placeo, si placeo, tuum est.
That I doe breath and please, if please I doe,
It is your grace, such grace proceed's from you.
    For, besides your owne inexplicable bounty first- mover of my good, La quale ritogli me peregrino errante, e fra gli scoglii e l'onde agitato, al furor do Fortuna, e benignamente guidi in porto di salute e pace (Tasso Gior. can. i. st. 4), Your noblest Earles beneficence, fore-running all as farre in curtesie as pedegree, and bearing not onely in his heart or hand, but even in aspect and due respect the native magnanimity of Bedford, and magnificent francke-Nature of the RUSSELS, hath so kindly bedewed my earth when it was sunburnt, so gently thawed it when it was frost-bound, as (were there anie good in me) I were more sencelesse then earth, if I returned not some fruite in good measure. this may be thought too much for no better a deserver than I am: Yet more must I acknowledge joyned to this: for as to all, that professe any learning, & do you (but small) steade therein, you and your husbands hand (most bounteous Ladie Harrington) have beene still open, & your hospitable house, my retreate in storms, my reliefe in neede, Yea, your hearts ever enlarged: so for an instance, in doing wel by me (the meanest) as if honorable father and mother with their noblest sonne and daughter should contend in that praise-worthy emulation of well doing, you seemed even to strive, who should excel each other, who should best entertaine, cherish and foster mee: And as if this river of benignitie did runne in a blood, your worthie Sonne in-law, and vertuous Daughter Chichester with like- sweete liquor have supplied my drie cisterns. So as to the name and house of Bedford and Harrington, without prophanenesse, let me vow but one worde of the Pastorall, ILLIUS ARAM, and with that word my selfe Your Honorable Ladiships in humble Hartie service,

To the Right Ho-

norable, Lucie Countesse of Bedford.

Relucent lustre of our English Dames,
    In one comprising all most priz'de of all,
    Whom Vertue hirs, and bounty hirs do call,
    Whose vertue honor, beauty love enflames,
Whose value wonder writes, silence proclaimes,
    Though, as your owne, you know th'originall
    Of this, whose grace must by translation fall;
    Yet since this, as your owne, your Honor claimes,
Yours be the honour; and if any good
    Be done by it, we give all thanks and praise
    For it to you, but who enough can give?
Aye-honor'd be your Honorable Blood;
    Rise may your Honor, which your merites raise:
    Live may you long, your Honor you out-live.

To the noble-minded Ladie, Anne Harrington

If Mothers love exceeding others love,
    If Honours heart excelling all mens hearts,
    If bounties hand with all her beauteous parts,
    Poets, or Painters would to pourtray prove,
Should they seeke earth below, or heav'n above,
    Home, Court or Countrie, forraine moulds or marts,
    For Maister point, or modell of their artes,
    For life, then here, they neede no further move:
For Honour, Bountie, Love, when all is done,
    (Detract they not) what should they adde, or faine,
    But onely write, Lady A N N E   H A R R I N G T O N.
Her picture lost, would Nature second her,
    She could not, or she must make her againe.
    So vowes he, that himselfe doth hers averre.
Il Candido.

To the curteous Reader.

    Shall I apologize translation? Why but some holde (as for their free-hold that such conversion is the subversion of Universities. God holde with them, and withholde them from impeach or empaire. It were an ill turne, the turning of Bookes should be the overturning of Libraries. Yea but my olde fellow Nolano tolde me, and taught publikely, that from translation all Science had it's of-spring. Likely, since even Philosophie, Grammar, Rhethorike, Logike, Arithmetike, Geometrie, Astronomy, Musike, and all the Mathematikes yet holde their name of the Greekes: and the Greekes drew their baptizing water from the conduit-pipes of the Egiptians, and they from the well-springs of the Hebrews or Chaldees. And can the wel-springs be so sweete and deepe; and will the well-drawne water be so sower and smell? And were their Countries so ennobled, advantaged, and embellished by such deriving; and doth it drive our noblest Colonies upon the rockes of ruine? And did they well? and prooved they well? and must we proove ill that doe so? Why but Learning would not be made common. Yea but Learning cannot be too common and the commoner the better. Why but who is not jealous, his Mistresse should be so prostitute? Yea but this Mistresse is like ayre, fire, water, the more breathed the clearer; the more extended the warmer; the more drawne the sweeter. It were inhumanitie to coope her up, and worthy forfeiture close to conceale her. Why but Schollers should have some privilege of preheminence. So have they: they onely are worthy Translators. Why but the vulgar should not knowe at all. No, they can not for all this; nor even Schollers for much more: I would, both could and knew much more than either doth or can. Why but all would not be knowne of all. No nor can: much more we know not than we know: all know something, none know all: would all know all? they must breake ere they be so bigge. God only; men farre from God. Why but pearles should not be cast to swine: yet are rings put in their noses; and a swine should know his stie, and will know his meate and his medicine, and as much beside, as any swine doth suppose it to be Marjoram. Why, but it is not wel Divinite should be a childes or old wives, a coblers, or clothiers tale or table-talke. There is use, and abuse: use none too much: abuse none too little. Why but let Learning be wrapt in a learned mantle. Yea but to be unwrapt by a leaned nurse: yea, to be lapt up againe. Yea, and unlapt againe. Else, hold we ignorance the mother of devotion; praying and preaching in an unknowne tongue: as sory a mother, as a seely daughter: a good minde perhaps, but surely an ill manner. If the best be meete for us, why should the best be barrd? Why but the best wrote best in a tongue more unknowne: Nay in a tongue more known to them that wrote, and not unknowne of them to whom they wrote. Why but more honour to him that speakes more learned. Yea such perhaps, as Quintillians Orator: a learned man I warrant him, for I understand him never a word. Why but let men write for the most honour of the Writer. Nay, for most profit of the Reader: and so haply, most honour. If to write obscurely be perplexedly offensive,as Augustus well judged: for our owne not to write in our owne but unintelligible, is haply to fewer and more criticall, but surely without honor, without profit, if he goe not, or send not an interpreter; who else what is he but a Translator? Obscure be he that loves obscuritie. And therefore willingly I take his worde, though wittingly I doe mistake it, Translata proficit. Why but who ever did well in it? Nay, who ever did well without it? If nothing can be now sayd, but hath beene saide before (as hee sayde well) if there be no new thing under the Sunne. What is that that hath beene? That that shall be: (as he sayde that was wisest) What doe the best then, but gleane after others harvest? borrow their colors, inherite their possessions? What doe they but translate? perhaps, usurpe? at least, collect? if with acknowledgement, it is well; if by stealth, it is too bad: in this, our conscience is our accuser; posteritie our judge: in that our studie is our advocate, and you Readers our jurie. Why but whom can I name, that bare a great name for it? nay who else, but either in parte of Plato and Aristotle out of many; Tullie, Plutarch, Plinie out of Plato, Aristotle and many; or of purpose, as all since havemade most know the Greeke, and almost the Latinr, even translated their whole treatises? Why Cardan maintaineth, neither Homers verse can be well exprest in Latine, nor Virgils in Greeke, nor Petrarch in either. Suppose Homertooke nothing out of any, for we heare of none good before him, and there must be a first; yet Homer by Virgil is often so translated as Scaliger conceives there is the armour of Hercules most puissant on the backe of Bacchus most delicate: and Petrarch, if well tracked, would be found in their footsteps, whose verie garbage lesse Poets are noted to have gathered. Why but that Scaliger thinkes that Ficinus by his rusticall simplicitie translated Plato, as if an Owle should represent an Eagle, or some tara-rag PLayer should act the princely Telephus with a voyce, as rag'd as his clothes, a grace as bad as his voyce. If the famous Ficinus were so faulty, who may hope to scape foot-free? But for him and us all let me confesse, as he heere censureth; and let cofession make halfe amends, that every language hath it's Genius and inseparable forme; without Pythagoras his Metempsychosis it can not rightly be translated. The Tuscan altiloquence, the Venus of the French, the sharpe state of the Spanish, the strong signifacncy of the Dutch cannot from heere be drawne to life. The sense many keepe forme; the sentence is disfigured; the fineness, fitnesse, featenesse diminished: as much as artes nature is short of natures arte, a picture of a body, a shadow of a substance. Why then belike I have done Montaigne as Terence by Menander, made of good French no good English. If I have done no worse, and it be no worse taken, it is well. As he, if no Poet, yet am I no theefe, since I say of whom I had it, rather to imitate his and his authors negligence, then any backbiters obscure diligence. His horse I set before you; perhaps without his trappings; and his meat without sause. Indeede in this specially finde I fault with my maister, that as Crassus and Antonius in Tullie, the one seemed to contemne, the other not to know the Greeks, whereas the one so spake Greeke as he seemed to know no other tongue: the other in his travells to Athens and Rhodes had long conversed with the learned Græcians: So he, writing of himselfe, and the worst rather than the best, disclaimeth all memorie, authorities, or borrowing of the ancient or moderne; whereas in course of his discourse he seemes acquainted not onely with all, but no other but authours; and could out of question like Cyrus or Cæsar call any of his armie by name and condition. And I would for us all he had in this whole body done as much, as in most of that of other languages my peerelesse deere-deerest and never sufficiently commended friend hath done for mine and your ease and inteligence. Why then againe, as Terence, I have had helpe. Yea, and thanke them for it, and thinke you neede not be displeased by them that may please you in a better matter. Why but Essayes are but mens school-themes pieced together; you might as wel say, several texts. Al is in the choise & handling. Yea mary; but Montaigne, had he wit, it was but a French wit ferdillant, legier, and extravagant. Now say you English wits by the staydest censure of as learned a wit as is among you. The counsel of that judicious worthy Counsellor (honorable Sir Edward Wotton) would not have embarked me to this discovery, had not his wisedome knowne it worth my paines, and your persusing. And should or would any dog-tooth'de course of his discourses, or webbe of his Essayes, or entitling of his chapters, he holdeth a disjoynted, broken and gadding stile; and that many times they answere not his titles, and have no coherence together, to such I will say little, for they deserve but little; but if they lift, else let them chuse, I send them to the ninth chapter of the third books, folio 956, where himselfe preventeth their carping, and foreseeing their critikisme answereth them for me at full. Yet are there herein errors. If of matter, the Authours; if of omission, the printers: him I would not amend, but send him to you as I found him: this I could not attend; but where I now finde faults, let me pray and entreate you for your owne sake to correct as you reade; to amend as you list. But some errors are mine, and mine are by more then translation. Are they in Grammar, or Orthographie? as easie for you to right, as me to be wrong; or in construction, as mis-attributing him, her, or it, to thingsalive, or dead, or newter; you may soone know my meaning, and eftsoones use your mending: or are they in some uncouth termes; as entraine, conscientious, endeare, tarnish, comporte, efface, facilitate, ammusing, debauching, regret, effort, emotion, and such like; if you like them not, take others more commonly set to make such likely French words familiar with our English, which well may beare them. If any be capitall in sense mistaking, be I admonished, and they shall be recanted: Howsoever, the falsenesse of the French prints, the diversities of copies, editions and volumes (some whereof have more or lesse then others), and I in London having followed some, and in the countrie others; now those in folio, now those in octavo, yet in this last survay reconciled all; therefore or blame not rashly, or condemne not fondly the multitude of them set for your further ease in a Table (at the end of the booke) which ere you beginne to reade, I entreate you to peruse: this Printers want a diligent Corrector, my many employments, and the distance between me, and my friends I should conferre-with, may extenuate, if not excuse, even more errors. In summe, if any think he could do better, let him trie; then will he better thinke of what is done. Seven or eight of great wit and worth have assayed, but found these Essayes no attempt for French apprentises or Littletonians. If this doone it may please you, as I wish it may, and I hope it shall, I with you shall be pleased: though not, yet still I am the same resolute

Al mio amato Istruttore Mr. Giovanni Florio.

Florio che fai? Vai cosi ardito di Monte?
    Al monte piu scoscese che Parnasso,
    Ardente piu che Mingibello?
    Plino qui muore prima, che qui monte.
Se'l Pegaso non hai, che cavi'l fonte,
    Ritirati dal preiglioso passo.
    L'hai fatto pur', andand' hor' alt' hor baffo:
    Ti so ben dir', tu sei Bellerophonte.
Tre corpi di Chimera di Montagna
    Hai trapassato, scosso, rinversato.
    Del' honorat' impres' anch' io mi glorio.
Premiar' to potess' io d'or' di Spagna,
    Di piu che Bianco-fior' saresti ornato.
        Ma del' hono' ti basti, che sei Florio.
Il Candido.

A reply upon Maister Florio's answere to the Lady of Bedfords
Invitation to this worke, in a Sonnet of like terminations. Anno. 1599.

 Thee to excite from Epileptic fits,
    Whose lethargie like frost benumming bindes
    Obstupefying sence with sencelesse kindes,
    Attend the vertue of Minervas wittes;
Colde sides are spurrd, hot muthes held-in with bittes;
    Say No, and grow more rude, then rudest hindes;
    Say No, and blow more rough, then roughest windes.
    Who never shootes, the marke he never hitt's.
To take such taske, a pleasure is no paine;
    Vertue and Honor (which immortalize)
    Not stepdame Iuno (who would wish thee slaine)
Calls thee to this thrice-honorable prize;
    Montaigne, no cragg'd Mountaine, but faire plaine.
    And who would resty rest, when SHEE bids rise?

Il Candido

To my deere friend M. Iohn Florio,
concerning his translation of Montaigne.

Bookes the amasse of humors, swolne with ease,
The Griefe of peace, the maladie of rest,
So stuffe the world, falne into this disease,
As it receives more than it can digest:
And doe so evercharge, as they confound
The apetite of skill with idle store:
There being no end of words, nor any bound
Set to conceipt, the Ocean without shore.
As if man labor'd with himself to be
As infinite in words, as in intents,
And draws his manifold incertaintie
In ev'ry figure, passion represents;
That these innumerable visages,
And strange shapes of opinions and discourse
Shadowed in leaves, may be the witnesses
Rather of our defects, then of our force.
And this proud frame of our presumption,
This Babel of our skill, this Towre of wit,
Seemes onely chekt with the confusion
Of our mistakings, that dissolveth it.
And well may make us of our knowledge doubt,
Seeing what uncertainties we build upon,
To be as weake within booke or without;
Or els that truth hath other shapes then one.
    But yet although we labor with this store
And with the presse of writings seeme opprest,
And have too many bookes, yet want we more,
Feeling great dearth and scarsenesse of the best;
Which cast in choiser shapes have bin produc'd,
To give the best proportions to the minde
To our confusion, and have introduc'd
The likeliest images frailtie can finde.
And wherein most the skill-desiring soule
Takes her delight, the best of all delight,
And where her motions evenest come to rowle
About this doubtful center of the right.
    Which to discover this great Potentate,
This Prince Montaigne (if he be not more)
Hath more adventur'd of his owne estate
Than ever man did of himselfe before:
And hath made such bolde sallies out upon
Custome, the mightie tyrant of the earth,
In whose Seraglio of subjection
We all seeme bred-up, from our tender birth;
As I admire his powres, and out of love,
Here at his gate do stand, and glad I stand
So neere to him whom I do so much love,
T'applaude his happie setling in our land:
And safe transpassage by his studious care
Who both of him and us doth merit much,
Having as sumptuously, as he is rare
plac'd him in the best lodging of our speach.
And made him now as free, as if borne here,
And as well ours as theirs, who may be proud
That he is theirs, though he he be every where
To have the franchise of his worth allow'd.
    It being the portion of a happie Pen,
Not to b'invassal'd to one Monarchie,
But dwells with all the better world of men
Whose spirits are all of one communitie.
Whom neither Ocean, Desarts, Rockes nor Sands
Can keepe from th'intertraffique of the minde,
But that it vents her treasure in all lands,
And doth a most secure commercement finde.
    Wrap Excellencie up never so much,
In Hierogliphicques, Ciphers, Caracters,
And let her speake nver so strange a speach,
Her Genius yet finds apt decipherers:
And never was she borne to dye obscure,
But guided by the Starres of her owne grace,
Makes her owne fortune, and is aever sure
In mans best hold, to hold the strongest place.
And let the Critic say the worst he can,
He cannot say but that Montaige yet,
Yeeldes most rich pieces and extracts of man;
Though in a troubled frame confus'dly set.
Which yet h'is blest that he hath ever seene,
And therefore as a guest in gratefulnesse,
For the great good the house yeelds him within
Might spare to taxe th'unapt convayances.
But this breath hurts not, for both worke and frame,
Whilst England English speakes, is of that store
And that choyse stuffe, as that without the same
The richest librarie can be but poore.
And they unblest who letters do professe
And have him not: whose owne fate beates their want
With more sound blowes, then Alcibiades
Did his pedante that did Homer want.


To the Right Ho-
norable and all praise-worthie Ladies,
Elizabeth Countesse of Rutland, and Ladie Penelope Rich

    Give me leave 


READER, loe here a well-meaning Booke. It doth at the first entrance forewarne thee, that in contriving the same I have proposed unto my selfe no other than a familiar and private end: I have no respect or consideration at all, either to thy service, or to my glory: my forces are not capable of any such desseigne. I have vowed the same to the particular commodity of my kinsfolk and friends: to the end, that losing me (which they are likely to do ere long), they may therein find some lineaments of my conditions and humours, and by that meanes reserve more whole, and more lively foster the knowledge and acquaintance they have had of me. Had my intention beene to forestal and purchase the world's opinion and favour, I would surely have adorned myselfe more quaintly, or kept a more grave and solemne march. I desire thereun to be delineated in mine own genuine, simple and ordinarie fashion, without contention, art or study; for it is myselfe I pourtray. My imperfections shall thus be read to the life, and my naturall forme discerned, so farre-forth as publike reverence hath permitted me. For if my fortune had beene to have lived among those nations which yet are said to live under the sweet liberty of Nature's first and uncorrupted lawes, I assure thee, I would most willingly have pourtrayed myselfe fully and naked. Thus, gentle Reader, myselfe am the groundworke of my booke: it is then no reason thou shouldest employ thy time about so frivolous and vaine a subject. Therefore farewell,
    The First of March, 1580.
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