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Renascence Editions

Montaigne's Essays



Table of Contents.

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.


RY opinion is that hee conceived aright of the force of custome that first invented this tale; how a country woman having enured herselfe to cherish and beare a young calfe in her armes, which continuing, shee got such a custome, that when he grew to be a great oxe, shee carried him still in her armes. For truly Custome is a violent and deceiving schoole-mistris. She by little and little, and as it were by stealth, establisheth the foot of her authoritie in us; by which mild and gentle beginning, if once by the aid of time it have setled and planted the same in us, it will soone discover a furious and tyrannicall countenance unto us; against which we have no more the libertie to lift so much as our eies; wee may plainly see her upon every occasion to force the rules of Nature: Vsus efficacissimus rerum omnium magister: (PLIN. Epist. xx) Use is the most effectuall master of all things. I beleeve Platoes den mentioned in his common-wealth, and the Physitians that so often quit their arts reason by authoritie; and the same King who by meanes of her, ranged his stomacke to be nourished with poyson; and the mayden that Albe rt mentioneth to have accustomed her-selfe to live upon spiders: and now in the new-found world of the Indians, there were found divers populous nations, in farre differing climates, that lived upon them; made provision of then, and carefully fed them; as also of grass-hoppers, pissemires, lizards, and nightbats; and a toad was sold for six crownes in a time that all such meats were scarce amongst them, which t hey boyle, rost, bake, and dresse with divers kinds of sawces. Others have beene found to whom our usuall flesh and other meats were mortall and venomous. Consuetudinis magna est vis; Pernoctant venatores in nive, in montibus uri se patiuntur: Pugiles clæstibus contusi, ne ingemiseunt quidem. (CIC. Tusc. Qu. ii.) 'Great is the force of custome: Huntsmen wil watch all night in snow, and endure to bee scorched on the hils: Fencers brused with sand-bags or cudgels, doe not so much as groane.' These forrein examples are not strange, if wee but consider what we ordinarily finde by travell, and how custome quaileth and weakeneth our customary senses. We need not goe seeke what our neighbours report of the Cataracts of Nile; and what Philosophers deeme of the celestiall musicke, which is, that the bodies of it's circles, being solid smooth, and in their rowling motion, touching and rubbing one against another, must of necessitie produce a wonderfull harmonie: by the changes and entercaprings of which, the revolutions, motions, cadences, and carols of the asters and planets, are caused and transported. But that universally the hearing senses of these low world's creatures, dizzied and lulled asleepe, as those of the ægyptians are, by the continuation of that sound, how loud and great soever it be, cannot sensibly perceive or distinguish the same. Smiths, Millers, Forgers, Armorers, and such other, could not possibly endure the noise that commonly rings in their eares, if it did pierce them as it doth us. My perfumed Jerkin serveth for my nose to smell unto, but after I have worne it three or foure daies together, not I, but others have the benefit of it. This is more strange, that notwithstanding long intermissions, custome may joyne and establish the effect of her impression upon our senses; as they prove that dwell neere to bells or steeples. I have my longing neere unto a tower, where both evening and morning a very great bell doth chime Ave Marie and Coverfew, which jangling doth even marke the tower to shake; at first it troubled me much, but I was soone acquainted with it, so that now I am nothing offended with it, and many times it cannot waken me out of my sleeps. Plato did once chide a child for playing with nuts, who answered him, 'Thou chidest me for a small matter.' 'Custome,' replied Plato, 'is no small matter.' I finde that our greatest vices make their first habit in us from our infancie, and that our chiefe government and education lieth in our nurses hands. Some mothers thinke it good sport to see a childe wring off a chickens necke, and strive to beat a dog or cat. And some fathers are so fond-foolish, that they will conster as a good Augur or fore-boding of a martiall minde to see their sonnes misuse a poore peasant, or tug a lackey, that doth not defend himselfe; and impute it to a ready wit, when by some wily disloyaltie, or crafty deceit, they see them cousin and over-reach thei r fellowes: yet are they the true seeds or roots of cruelty, of tyranny, and of treason. In youth they bud, and afterward grow to strength, and come to perfection by meanes of custome. And it is a very dangerous institution, to excuse so base and vile inclinations, with the weaknesse of age, and lightnesse of the subject. First, it is nature that speaketh, whose voice is then shriller, purer, and more native, when it is tender, newer, and youngest. Secondly, the deformity of the crime consisteth not in the difference betweene crownes and pins; it depends of it selfe. I finde it more just to conclude thus: why should not hee as well deceive one of a crowne as he doth of a pinne? than as commonly some doe, saying, alas, it is but a pinne; I warrant you, he will not doe so with crownes. A man would carefully teach children to hate vices of their owne genuity, and so distinguish the deformity of them, that they may not only eschew them in their actions, but above all I hate them in their hearts: and what colour soever they beare, the very conceit may seeme odious unto them, I know well, that because in my youth I have ever accustomed my selfe to tread a plaine-beaten path, and have ever hated to entermeddle any manner of deceipt of cousoning-craft, even in my childish sports (for truly it is to be noted, that Childrens playes are not sports, and should be deemed as their most serious actions); there is no pastime so slight, that inwardlie I have not a naturall propension and serious care, yea extreme contradiction, not to use any deceipt. I shuffle and handle the cards as earnestly for counters, and keepe as strict an accompt, as if they were double duckets, when playing with my wife or children, it is indifferent to mee whether I win or lose, as I doe when I play in good earnest. How and wheresoever it be, mine owne eies will suffice to keepe me in office; none else doe watch mee so narrowly; not that I respect more . It is not long since in mine owne house, I saw a little man, who at Nantes was borne without armes, and hath so well fashioned his feet to those services his hands should have done him, that in truth they have almost forgotten their naturall office. In all his discourses he nameth them his hands: he carveth any meat, he chargeth and shoots off a pistole, be threads a needle, he soweth, he writeth, puts off his cap, combeth his head, plaieth at cards and dice; shuffleth and handleth them with as great dexteritie as any other man that hath perfect use of his hands: the monie I have sometimes given him he hath carried away with his feet, as well as any other could doe with his hands. I saw another, being a Child, that with the bending of his feet (because he had no hands) would brandish a two-hand-sword and manage a Hol-bard, as nimbly as any man could doe with his hands: he would cast them in the aire, then receive them againe, he would throw a Dagger, and make a whip to yarke and lash, as cunningly as any Carter in France. But her effects are much better discovered in the strange impressions which it worketh in our mindes where it meetes not so much resistance. What cannot she bring to passe in our judgements and in our conceits? Is there any opinion so fantastical, or conceit so extravagant (I omit to speake of the grosse imposture of religions, wherewith so many great nations and so many worthy and sufficient men have beene besotted, and drunken: For, being a thing beyond the compasse of our humane reason, it is more excusable if a man that is not extraordinarily illuminated thereunto by divine favour, doe lose and miscarrie himselfe therein), or of other opinions, is there any so strange, that custome hath not planted and established by lawes in what regions soever it hath thought good? And this ancient exclamation is most just: Non pudet physiumc, id est speculatorem venatoremque naturæ, ab animis consuetudine imbutis quæ rere testimonium veritatis?(CIC. Nat. Deor. 1. i.) 'Is it not a shame for a naturall Philosopher, that is the watchman and hunts-man of nature, to seeke the testimonie of truth from mindes endued and double dide with custome?' I am of opinion, that no fantasie so mad can fall into humane imagination, that meetes not with the example of some publike custome, and by consequence that our reason doth not ground and bring to a stay. There are certaine people that turne their backs towards those they salute, and never looke him in the face whom they would honour or worship. 'There are others, who when the King spitteth, the most favoured Ladie in his court stretcheth forth her hand; and in another countrey, where the noblest about him, stoope to the ground to gather his ordure in some fine linnen cloth. Let us here by the way insert a tale. A French Gentleman was ever wont to blow his nose in his hand (a thing much against our fashion), maintaining his so doing; and who in wittie jesting was very famous. He asked m e on a time, what privilege this filthie excrement had, that we should have a daintie linnen cloth or handkercher to receive the same; and which is worse, so carefully fold it up, and keepe the same about us, which should be more loathsome to ones stomacke than to see it cast away, as we doe all our other excrements and filth. Mee thought he spake not altogether without reason: and custome had taken  from me the discerning of this strangenesse, which being reported of another countrie we deeme so hideous. Miracles are according to the ignorance wherein we are by nature, and not according to natures essence; use brings the sight of our judgement asleepe. The barbarous heathen are nothing more strange to us than we are to them: nor with more occasion, as every man would avow, if after he had travelled through these farre-fetcht examples, hee could stay himselfe upon the discourses and soundly conferre them. Humane reason is a tincture in like weight and measure, infused into all our opinions and customes what form soever they be of: infinite in matter: infinite in diversitie. But I will returne to my theme. There are certaine people, where, except his wife and children, no man speaketh to the King but through a trunke. Another nation, where virgins shew their secret parts openly, and married women diligently hide and cover them. To which custome, this fashion, used in other places, hath some relation: where chastitie is nothing regarded but for marriage sake; and maidens may at their pleasure lie with whom they list; and being with childe, they may without feare of accusation, spoyle and cast their chitdren with certaine medicaments, which they have only for that purpose. And in another country, if a Merchant chance to marrie, all other Merchants that are bidden to the wedding are bound to lie with the bride before her husband, and the more they are in number, the more honour and commendation is hers for constancie and capacitie; the like if a gentleman or an officer marrie; and so of all orders: except it be a day-labourer, or some other of base condition for then must the Lord or Prince lie with the bride amongst whom (notwithstanding this abusive custom) loyaltie in married women is highly regarded, and held in speciall account during the time they are married. Others there are where publike brothel-houses of men are kept, and where open mart of marriages are ever to be had: where women goe to the warres with their hushands, and have place, not onely in fight, but also in command, where they doe not onely weare jewels at their noses, in their lip and cheekes, and in their toes, but also big wedges of gold through their paps and buttocks, where when they eat they wipe their fingers on their thighs, on the bladder of their genitories, and the soles of their feet; where not children, but brethren and nephewes inherit; and in some places, the nephewes onely, except in the succession of the Prince. Where to order the communitie of goods, which amongst them is religiously observed, certaine Soveraigne Magistrats have the generall charge of husbandry and tilling of the lands, and of the distribution of the fruits, according to every mans need: where they howle and weepe at their childrens deaths, and joy and feast at their old mens decease. Where ten or twelve men be all in one bed with all their wives; where such women as lose their hushands , by any violent death, may marrie againe, others not: where the condition of women is so detested that they kill all the maiden children as soon as they are borne, and to supply their naturall need, they buy women of their neighbours. Where men may at their pleasure, without alleaging any cause, put away their wives, but they (what just reason soever they have) may never put away their husbands. Where husbands may lawfully sell their wives, if they be barren. Where they cause dead bodies first to be boyled, and then to be brayed in a morter, so long till it come to a kind of pap, which afterward they mingle with their wine, and so drinke it. Where the most desired sepulcher that some wish for, is to bee devoured of dogges, and in some places of birds. Where some thinke that blessed soules live in all liberty, in certaine pleasant fields stored with al commodities, and that from them proceeds that Eccho which we heare. Where they fight in the water, and shoot execeeding true with their bowes as they are swimming. Where in signe of subjection men must raise their shoulders and stoope with their heads, and put off their shoes when they enter their Kings houses. Where Eunuchs that have religious women in keeping, because they shall not be loved, have also their noses and lips cut off. And Priests that that they may the better acquaint themselves with their Demons, and take their Oracles, put out their eyes. Where every man makes himself a God of what be pleaseth: the hunter of a Lion or a Fox; the fisher, of a certaine kinde of Fish; and frame themselves Idols of every humane action or passion: the Sunne, the Moone, and the earth are their chiefest Gods: the forme of swearing is, to touch the ground, looking upon the Sunne, and where they eat both flesh and fish raw. Where the greatest oath is to sweare by the name of some deceased man that hath lived in good reputation in the countrie, touching his grave with the hand. Where the new-yeares gifts that Kings send unto Princes their vassals every yeare, is some fire, which when it is brought, all the old fire is cleane put out: of which new fire all the neighbouring people are bound upon paine, læse majestatis, to fetch for their uses. When the King (which often cometh to passe) wholly to give himselfe unto devotion, giveth over his charge, his next successor is bound to doe like, and convayeth the right of the Kingdome unto the third heire. Where they diversifie the forme of policie according as their affaires seeme to require; and where they depose their Kings when they thinke good, and appoint them certaine ancicnt grave men to undertake and weald the Kingdoms government, which sometimes is also committed to the communaltie. Where both men and women are equally circumcised, and alike baptised. Where the souldier, that in one or divers combats hath presented his King with seven enemies heads, is made noble. Where some live under that so rare and unsociable opinion of the mortalitie of soules. Where women are brought abed without paine or griefe. Where women on both their legs weare greaves of Copper: and if a louse bite them, they are bound by duty of magnanimitie to bite it againe: and no maid dare marrie, except she have first made offer of her Virginitie to the King. Where they salute one another laying the forefinger on the ground, and then lifting it up toward heaven: where all men beare burthens upon their head, and women on their shoulders. Where women pisse standing, and men cowring. Where in signe of true friendship they send one another some of their owne bloud, and offer incense to men which they intend to honour, as they doe to their Gods: where not only kindred and consanguinitie in the fourth degree, but in any furthest off, can by no means be tolerated in marriages: where children sucke till they be four, and sometimes twelve years old, in which place they deeme it a dismal thing to give a childe sucke the first day of his birth. Where fathers have the charge to punish their male children, and mothers only maidchildren, and whose punishment is to hang them up by the feet and so to smoke them. Where women are circumcised: where they eat all manner of herbes, without other distinction but to refuse those that have ill savour: where all things are open, and how faire and rich soever their houses be, they have neither doors nor windowes, nor any chests to locke: yet are all theeves much more severely punished there than anywhere else; where, as monkies do, they kill lice with their teeth, and thinke it a horrible matter to see them crusht between their nailes; where men as long as they live never cut their haire nor paire their nailes: another place where they onely paire the nailes of their right hand, and those of the left are never cut, but very curiously maintained: where they endeavour to cherish all the haire growing on the right side, as long as it will grow, and very often shave away that of the left side: where in some Provinces neere unto us some women cherish their haire before, and other some that behinde, and shave the contrarie: where fathers lend their children, and husbands their wives to their guests, so that they pay ready money: where men may lawfully get their mothers with childe: where fathers may he with their daughters and with their sonnes: where in solemne assemblies and banquets, without any distinction of blood or alliance, men will lend one another their children. In some places men feed upon humane flesh, and in others, where it is deemed an office of pietie in children to kill their fathers at a certaine age: in other places fathers appoint what children shall live and be preserved, and which die and be cast out, whilest they are yet in their mothers wombe: where old husbands lend their wives to young men, for what use soever they please: In other places, where al women are common without sinne or offence: yea in some places, where for a badge of honour they weare as many frienged tassels, fastened to the skirt of their garment, as they have laine with severall men. Hath not custome also made a severall common-wealth of women? hath it not taught them to manage Armies? to levie Armies, to marshall men, and to deliver battles? And that which strict-searching Philosophie could never perswade the wisest, doth she not of her owne naturall instinct teach it to the grosest headed vulgar? For we know all nations, where death is not only condemned, but cherished: where children of seven years of age, without changing of countenance, or showing any signe of dismay, endured to be whipped to death; where riches and worldly pelfe was so despised and holden so contemptible, that the miserablest and neediest wretch of a Citie would have scorned to stoope for a purse full of gold. Havo we not heard of divers most fertile regions, plenteously yeelding al maner of necessary victuals, where neverthelesse the most ordinary cates and daintiest dishes were but bread, water-cresses, and water? Did not custome worke this wonder in Chios, that during the space of seven hundred yeres it was never found or heard of that any woman or maiden had her honor or honestie called in question? And to conclude, there is nothing in mine opinion, that either she doth not, or cannot: and with reason doth Pindarus, as I have heard say, call her the Queen and Empresse of all the world. He that was met beating of his father answered, 'It was the custome of his house; that his father had so beaten his grandfather, and he his great-grandfather;' and pointing to his sonne, said, 'This child shall also beat mee when he shall come to my age.' And the father, whom the sonne haled and dragged through thicke and thinne in the street, commanded him to stay at a certaine doore: for himself had dragged his father no further: which were the bounds of the hereditarie and injurious demeanours the children of that family were wont to shew their fathers. 'By custome,' saith Aristotle, 'as often by sicknesse, doe we see women tug and teare their haires, bite their nailes, and eat cole and earth and more by custome than by nature doe men meddle and abuse themselves with men.' The laws of conscience, which we say to proceed from nature, rise and proceed of custome; every man holding in special regard and inward veneration the opinions approved, and custo mes received about him, cannot without remorse leave them, nor without applause applie himselfe unto them: when those of Creet would in former ages curse any man, they besought the Gods to engage him in some bad custome. But the chiefest effect of her power is to seize upon us, and so to entangle us, that it shall hardly lie in us to free ourselves from her hold-fast, and come into our wits againe, to discourse and reason of her ordinances; verily, because we sucke them with the milke of our birth , and forasmuch as the worlds visage presents itselfe in that estate unto our first view, it seemeth we are borne with a condition to follow that course. And the common imaginations we finde in credit about us, and by our fathers seed infused in our soule, seeme to be the generall and naturall. Whereupon it followeth, that whatsoever is beyond the compasse of custome, wee deeme likewise to bee beyond the compasse of reason, God knowes how for the most part, unreasonably. If as we, who study ourselves, have learned to doe, every man that heareth a just sentence, would presently consider, how it may in any sort belonging unto his private state, each man should finde that this is not so much a good word as a good blow to the ordinary sottishnesse of his judgment. But men receive the admonitions of truth and her precepts, as directed to the vulgar, and never to themselves; and in liew of applying them to their maners, most men most foolish ly and unprofitably apply them to their memorie. But let us returne to customes soveraignty: such as are brought up to libertie, and to command themselves, esteeme all other forme of policie as monstrous and against nature. Those that are enured to, Monarchie doe the like. And what facilitie soever fortune affoordeth them to change, even when with great difficultie they have shaken off the importunitie of a tutor, they run to plant a new one with semblable difficulties because they cannot resolve themselves to hate tutorship. It is by the meditation of custome that every man is contented with the place where nature hath setled him; and the savage people of Scotland have nought to do with Touraine; nor the Scithians with Thessalie. Darius demanded of certaine Græcians, 'For what they would take upon them the Indians custome, to eat their deceased fathers.' (For such was their maner, thinking they could not possibly give them a more noble and favourable tomb than in their owne bowels.) They answered him, 'That nothing in the world should ever bring them to embrace so inhumane a custome.' But having also attempted to perswade the Indians to leave their fashion and take the Græcians, which was to burne their corpes, they were much more astonished thereat. Every man doth so, forsomuch as custome doth so bleare us that we cannot distinguish the true visage of things.
Nil adeo magnum, nec tam mirabile quicquam
Principio, quod non minuant mirarier omnes
Paulatim . -- (LUCRET. 1. ii, 1037)

Nothing at first so wondrous is, so great,
But all, t'admire, by little slake their heat.

Having other times gone about to endeare and make some one of our observations to be of force, and which was with resolute auctoritie received in most parts about us, and not desiring, as most men doe, onely to establish the same by the force of lawes and examples, but having ever bin from her beginning, I found the foundation of it so weake that myselfe, who was to confirme it in others, had much adoe to keepe my countenance. This is the receipt by which Plato undertaketh to banish the unnaturall and preposterous loves of his time, and which hee esteemeth soveraigne and principall: To wit, that publike opinion may condemne them; that Poets, and all men else may tell horrible tales of them. A receit by meanes whereof the fairest daughters winne no more the love of their fathers, nor brethren most excellent in beautie the love of their sisters. The very fables of Thyestes, of Oedipus, and of Macareus, having with the pleasures of their songs infused this profitable opinion in the tender conceit of children. Certes, chastitie is an excellent virtue, the commoditie whereof is very well knowne; but to use it, and according to nature to prevaile with it, is as hard as it is easie, to endeare it and to prevaile with it according to custome, to lawes and precepts. The first and universall reasons are of a hard perscrutation. And our Masters passe them over in gleaning, or in not daring so much as to taste them, at first sight cast themselves headlong into the libertie or sanctuarie of custome. Those that will not suffer themselves to be drawne out of his original source, do also commit a greater error, and submit themselves to savage opinions: witnesse Chrysippus; who in so many severall places of his compositions, inserted the small accompt he made of conjunctions, how incestuous soever they were. Hee that will free himselfe from this violent prejudice of custome, shall find divers things received with an undoubted resolution, that have no other anker but the hoarie head and frowning wimples of custom, which ever attends them: which maske being pulled off, and referring all matters to truth and reason, he shall perceive his judgment, as it were overturned, and placed in a much surer state. As for example, I will then aske him, what thing can be more strange than to see a people bound to follow lawes he never understood? Being in all his domesticall affaires, as marriages, donations, testaments, purchases, and sales, necessarily bound to customary rules, which forsomuch as they were never written nor published in his owne tongue, he cannot understand, and whereof he must of necessity purchase the interpretation and use. Not according to the ingenious opinion of Isocrates, who counselled his King 'to make the Trafikes and negotiations of his subjects free, enfranchize and gameful, and their debates, controversies, and quarrels burthensome, and charged with great subsidies and impositions.' But according to a prodigious opinion, to make open sale, and trafficke of reason itselfe, and to give lawes a course of merchandize, is very strange. I commend fortune for that (as our historians report) it was a Gentleman of Gaskonie, and my Countriman, that first opposed himselfe against Charles the great, at what time he went about to establish the Latine and Imperiall lawes amongst us. What is more barbarous than to see a nation, where by lawful custome the charge of judging is sold, and judgments are paid for with readie monie; and whore justice is lawfully denied him that hath not wherewithall to pay for it; and that this merchandize hath so great credit, that in a politicall government there should be set up a fourth estate of Lawyers, breath-sellers, and pettifoggers, and joyned to the three ancient states, to wit, the Clergy, the Nobility, and the Communaltie; which fourth state having the charge of lawes, and sometimes auctoritie of goods and lives, should make a body, apart and severall from that of Nobilitie, whence double lawes must follow, those of honour and those of justice; in many things very contrarie do those as rigorously condemne a lie pocketed up, as these a lie revenged: by the law and light of armes he that putteth up an injurie shall be degraded of honour and nobilitie; and he that revengeth himselfe of it, shall by the civill Law incurre a capitall punishment. Hee that shall addresse himselfe to the lawes to have reason for some offence done unto his honour, dishonoureth himself. And who doth not so, is by the Lawes punished and chastised. And of these. so different parts, both neverthelesse having reference to one head; those having peace, these war committed to their charge; those having the gaine, these the honour; these knowledge, these vertue ; those reason, these strength; those the word, these action; those justice, these valour; those reason, these force; those a long gowne, and these a short coat, in partage and share. Touching indifferent things, as clothes and garments, whosoever will reduce them to their true end, which is the service and commodity of the bodie, whence dependeth their originall grace and comlines, for the most fantasticall to my humour that may be imagined, amongst others I will give them our square caps; that long hood of plaited velvet, that hangs over our womens head, with his parti-coloured traile, and that vaine and unprofitable modell of a member which we may not so much as name with modestie, whereof notwithstanding we make publike shew and open demonstration. Those considerations do neverthelesse never distract a man of understanding from following the common guise. Rather, on the contrary, mee seemeth that all severall, strange, and particular fashions proceed rather of follie or ambitious affectation than of true reason: and that a wise man ought inwardly to retire his minde from the common presse, and hold the same liberty and power to judge freely of all things, but for outward matters he ought absolutely to follow the fashions and forme customarily received. Publike society hath nought to do with our thoughts; but for other things, as our actions, our travel, our fortune, and our life, that must be accomodated and left to its service and common opinions: as that good and great Socrates, who refused to save his life by disobeying the magistrate, yea a magistrate most wicked and unjust. For that is the rule of rules, and generall law of lawes, for every man to observe those of the place wherein he liveth.
-- Gnom. Graec. vii.
Lawes of the native place,
To follow, is a grace.
Loe here some of another kind. There riseth a great doubt whether any so evident profit may be found in the change of a received law, of what nature soever, as there is hurt in removing the same; forsomuch as a well-setled policie may be compared to a frame or building of divers parts joyned together with such a ligament as it is impossible to stirre or displace one, but the whole body must needes be shaken, and shew a feeling of it. The Thurians Law-giver instituted that 'whosoever would goe about, either to abolish any one of the old Lawes, or attempt to establish a new, should present himself before the people with a rope about his necke, to the end, that if his invention were not approved of all men, he should presently be strangled.' And he of Lacedemon laboured all his life to get an assured promise of his citizens, that they would never infringe any one of his ordinances. That Ephore or Tribune, who so rudely cut off the two strings that Phrinis had added unto musicke, respecteth not whether musicke be better or no with them, or whether the accords of it be better filled, he hath sufficient reason to condemne them, because it is an alteration of the old forme. It is that which the old rustie sword of justice of Marseille did signify. I am distasted with noveltie, what countenance soever it shew; and I have reason so to be, for I have seene very hurtfull effects follow the same. That which so many yeares since doth so presse us, hath not yet exploited all. But some alleage, with apparance, that by accident it hath produced and engendered all, yea, both the mischiefes and ruines that since are committed without against it; it is that a man should blame and finde faulte with.
Heu patior telis vulnera facta meis. -- OVID. Epist, Phyl. 48.

Alas I suffer smart
Procured by mine owne dart.

Those which attempt to shake an estate, are commonly the first overthrowne by the fall of it: he that is first mover of the same, reapeth not alwayes the fruit of such troubles; he beats and troubleth the water for others to fish in. The contexture and combining of this monarchie and great building, having bin dismist and disolved by it, namely in her old yeares, giveth as much overture and entrance as a man will to like injuries. Royall Majestie doth more hardly fall from the top to the middle, than it tumbleth downe from the middle to the bottom. But if the inventors are more damageable, the imitators are more vicious, to cast themselves into examples, of which they have both felt and punished the horror and mischiefe. And if there be any degree of hon our, even in ill doing, these are indebted to others for the glory of the invention and courage of the first attempt. All sorts of new licentiousnesse doe haply draw out of this originall and fruitfull source, the images and patterns to trouble our commonwealth. We may reade in our very lawes, made for the remedie of the first evill, the apprentisage and excuse of all sorts of wicked enterprise: And in favour of publike vices, they are named with new and more pleasing words for their excuses, bastardizing and allaying their true titles: yet it is to reforme our consciences and our conceits, Honesta oratio est (TEREN. Andria Act. i. sc. i.) - 'It is an honest speech and well said.' But the best pretence of innovation or noveltie is most dangerous: Adeo nihil motum ex antiquo probabile est. (TIT. LIV. xxxiv. 54.) So nothing moved out of the first place is allowable.' Yet, me seemeth (if I may speake boldly) that it argueth a great selfe-love and presumption for a man to esteeme his opinions so far, that for to establish them a man must be faine to subvert a publike peace, and introduce so many inevitable mischiefes, and so horrible a corruption of manners, as civill warres and alterations of a state bring with them, in matters of such consequence, and to bring them into his owne countrie. Is it not ill husbanded to advance so many certaine and knowne vices, for to combate contested and debatable errors? Is ther e any worse kinde of vices than those which shocke a man's owne conscience and naturall knowledge? The Senate durst give this defeate in payment about the controversies betweene it and the people for the mysterie of their religion: Ad deos id magis quam ad se pertinere: ipsos visuros, ne sacra sua polluantur: (TIT. LIV. x. 6.) 'That that did rather belong to the Gods than to them, and the Gods should looke to it, that their due rites were not polluted.' Agreeing with that, which the Oracle answered those of Delphos, in the Median warre, fearing the invasions of the Persians. They demanded of that God what they should doe with the treasures consecrated to his temple, whether hide or cary them away: who answered them, that they should remove nothing, but take care of themselves, for he was able to provide for all things that were fit for him. Christian religion hath all the markes of extreme justice and profit, but none more apparent than the exact commendation of obedience due unto magistrate, and manute ntion of policies: what wonderfull example hath divine wisdome left us, which to establish the: wel-fare of humane kinde, and to conduct this glorious victorie of hers against death and sinne, would not do it but at the mercy of our politik order, and hath submitted the progresse of it, and the conduct of so high and worthie effect, to the blindnesse and injustice of our observations and customes, suffering the innocent bloud of so many her favored elect to run, and allowing a long losse of yeares for the ripening of this inestimable fruit? There is much difference betweene the cause of him that followeth the formes and lawes of his countrie, and him that undertaketh to governe and change them. The first alleageth for his excuse, simplicitie, obedicnce, and example; whatsoever he doth cannot be malice, at the most it is but ill lucke. Quis est enim, que non moveat clarissimis monumentis testata consignataque antiquitas? (CIC. Div. 1. i.)  'For who is he whom antiquitie will not move, being witnessed and si gned with former monuments?' Besides that which Isocrates saith that defect hath more part in moderation, than hath excesse. The other is in much worse case. For he that medleth with causing and changing, usurpeth the authoritie of judging: and must resolve himselfe to see the fault of what he hunteth for, and the good of what he bringeth in. This so vulgar consideration hath confirmed me in my state, and restrained my youth, that was more rash, from burthening my shoulders with so filthie a burthen, as to make my selfe respondent of so important a science. And in this to dare, what in sound judgement I durst not in the easiest of those wherein I had been instructed, and wherein the rashnesse of judging is of no prejudice. Seeming most impious to me, to goe about to subject publike constitutions and unmoveable observances, to the instabilitie of a private fantasie (private reason is but a private jurisdiction) and to undertake that on divine lawes, which no policie would tolerate in civill law. Wherein although man's reason have much more commerce, yet are they soveraignly judges of their judges: and their extreme sufficiencie serveth to expound custome and extend the use that of them is received, and not to divert and innovate the same. If at any time divine providence hath gone beyond the rules to which it hath necessary constrained us, it is not to give us a dispensation from them. They are blowes of her divine hand, which we ought not imitate, but admire: as extraordinarie examples, markes of an expresse and particular avowing of the severall kinds of wonders, which for a testimonie of her ominpotencie it offereth us, beyond our orders and forces, which it is follie and impietie to goe abont to represent, and which we onght not follow but contemplate with admiration, and meditate with astonishment. Acts of her personage, and not of ours. Cotta protesteth very opportunely; Quum de religione agitur, T. Coruncanium, P. Scipionem, P. Scævolam, Pontifices maximos, non Zenonem, aut Cleanthem, aut Chrysippum sequor: (1 CIC. De. Nat. 1. iii. c. 2.) 'When we talke of religion, I follow Titus Coruncanium, Publius Scipio, P. Scævola, and the professors of religion, not Zeno, Cleanthes, or Chrysippus.' May God know it in our present quarell, wherein are a hundred articles, yea, great and deepe articles, to be removed and alterd, although many there are who may boast to have exactly survaid the reasons and foundations of one and another faction. It is a number, if it be a number, that should have no great meane to trouble us. But whither goeth all this other throng? Under what colours doth it quarter itselfe? It followeth of theirs, as of other weake and ill applied medicines, the humors that it would have purged in us, it hath enflamed, exasperated, and sharpned, by her conflict, and still do remaine in our bodies. It could not by reason of her weaknesse purge us, but hath rather weakned us; so that we cannot now void it, and by her operation we reap nothing but long, continuall, and intestine griefes and aches, yet is it, that fortune, ever reserving her authoritie above our discourses, doth sometimes present us the urgent necessitie, that lawes must need yeeld her some place: And when a man resisteth the increase of an innovation, brought in by v iolence, to keepe himselfe each-where and altogether in rule and bridle against those that have the keyes of fields, to whom all things are lawfull, that may in any sort advance their desseigne, that have not law, nor order, but to follow their advantage, it is a dangerous obligation and prejudiciall inequalitie.
Aditum nocendi perfido prostat fides. -- SEN. Oed. act. iii. sc. 1.

Trust in th' untrustee, may
To hurt make open way .

For so much as the ordinarie discipline of an estate, th at hath his perfect health, doth not provide for these extraordinarie accidents, it presupposeth a bodie holding it selfe in his principall members and offices, and a common consent to observe and obey it. Lawfull proceeding is a cold, dull, heavie, and forced proceeding: and is not like to hold out against a licentious and unbridled proceeding. It is yet, as all men know, a reproach to those two great personages, Octavius and Cato, in their civill warres: the one of Scilla, the other of Cæsar, because they rather suffered their countrie to incur all extremities, than by her lawes to aid her, or to innovate anything. For truly in these last necessities, where nothing is left to take hold by, it were. Peradventure better to shrug the shoulders, stoope the head, and somewhat yeeld to the stroke, than beyond possibilitie to make head and resist, and be nothing the better, and give violence occasion to trample all underfoot: and better were it to force the lawes to desire but what they may, since they may not what they would. So did he that ordained them to sleepe foure and twentie houres: And he who for a time removed one day from the Calendar: And another who of the moneth of June made a second May. The Lacedemonians themselves, so strict observers of their countries ordinances, being urged by their Lawes, which precisely forbid and inhibited to chuse one man twice to be their Admirall, and on the other side their affaires necessarily requiring that Lysander should once more take that charge upon him, they created one Aracus Admirall, but instituted Lysander superintendent of all maritime causes. And with the same sutteltie, one of their Ambassadors being sent to the Athenians for to obtaine the change of some ordinance, Pericles alleaging that it was expresly forbid to remove the table wherein a law had once beene set downe, perswaded him but to turne, for that was not forbidden. It is that whereof Plutarke commendeth Philopæmen, who being borne to command, could not onely command according to the lawes, but the lawes themselves, whensoever publike necessitie required it.

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