« ElőzőTovább »
son. A copy of Florio's translation, the only book known to have been owned by Shakespeare, is in the British Museum. A monument to him was inaugurated at Bordeaux in 1858.
Montaigne's Preface to the first edition of the Essays is as characteristic as any other part of them.
MONTAIGNE UPON HIMSELF.
This, Reader, is altogether without guile. It tells thee at the entrance of it that I had no view in publishing it but what was domestic and private. I have had no regard in it either to thy service or my own glory; my abilities are not equal to the execution of such a design. I have devoted it to the peculiar benefit of my kindred and friends; to the end that, that when they have lost me -- which they will do very soon - they may see there what are some of my qualities and humors, and consequently that their remembrance of me may be preserved more lively and entire. Had I wished to court the favor of the public, I should have adorned myself with borrowed beauties; but I am desirous to appear in my plain, natural, ordinary dress, without study or artifice, for it is my own dear self that I paint. My faults will appear to the life, together with my imperfections, and my native form, as far as a respect to the public has permitted me.
And if I had dwelt in those nations which are said to live still under the sweet liberty of the primitive laws of nature, I assure thee I should gladly have drawn my own portrait at full-length, and quite naked. Thus, Reader, I am myself the subject of my own Book: a subject too vain and frivolous to take up even thy spare time. Adieu, therefore.- Preface to Essays.
There is not a man whom it would so ill-become to boast of memory as myself; for I own that I have scarce any, and I do not think that in the world there is another that is so defective as mine. My other faculties are all mean and common; but in this respect I think myself so singular and rare as to deserve a more than ordinary character.
Besides the inconvenience I naturally suffer from this defect of memory, (for, in truth, the necessary use of it considered, Plato might well call it a great and powerful goddess), in my country when they would signify that a man is void of sense, they say that he has no memory; and when I complain of the defect of mine they reprove me and do not think I am in earnest in accusing myself for a fool; for they do not discern the difference betwixt memory and understanding, in which they make me worse than I really am.
It is not without reason said that he who has not a good memory should never offer to tell lies. I know very well that the grammarians distinguish between an “ untruth and a
“lie.” They say that to tell an untruth is to tell a thing that is false, which we ourselves, however, believe to be true; and that the Latin mentire (that is, contra mentem ire) means to go and act against the conscience; and that, therefore, this only touches those who speak contrary to what they know. these do either wholly invent a story out of their own heads, or else mar and disguise one that has a real foundation. When they disguise and alter, by often telling the same story, they can scarce avoid contradicting themselves, by reason that the real fact having first taken possession in the memory, and being there imprinted by the way of knowledge and science, it will ever be ready to present itself to the imagination, and to destroy falsehood, which cannot have no sure and settled a footing there as certainty; and because the circumstances which they first heard, evermore running in their minds, make them forget those that are forged or foisted in.- Essay on Liars.
OF THE INCONVENIENCE OF GREATNESS.
I disrelish all dominion, whether active or passive.
The most painful and difficult employment in the world, in my opinion, is worthily to discharge the office of a king. I excuse more of their mistakes than men commonly do, in consideration of the intolerable weight of their function, which does astonish me. 'Tis a pity a man should be so potent that all things must give way to him. Fortune therein sets you too remote from society, and places you in too great a solitude. The easiness and mean facility of making all things bow under you is an enemy to all sorts of pleas
This is to slide, not to go; this is to sleep, not to live. Conceive man accompanied with omnipotency; you throw him into an abyss: he must beg disturbance and opposition as an alms. His being and his good is indigence. Their good qualities are dead and lost; for they are not to be perceived but by comparison, and we put them out of it: they have little knowledge of the true praise, having their ears deafened with so continual and uniform an approbation. Have they to do with the meanest of all their subjects, they have no means to take any advantage of him; if he say, 'tis because he is my king, he thinks he has said enough to express that he therefore suffered himself to be overcome. This quality stifles and consumes the other true and essential qualities. They are involved in the royalty, and leave them nothing to recommend themselves withal, but actions that directly concern themselves, and that merely respect the function of their place. 'Tis so much to be a king thať he only is so by being so; the strange lustre that environs him conceals and shrouds him from us: our sight is there repelled and dissipated, being stopped and filled by this prevailing light. The senate awarded the prize of eloquence to Tiberius: he refused it, supposing that, though it had been just, he could derive no advantage from a judgment so partial, and that was so little free to judge. As we give them all advantages of honor, so do we soothe and authorize all their vices and defects, not only by approbation, but by imitation, also. Every one of Alexander's followers carried their heads on one side, as he did, and the flatterers of Dionysius ran against one another in his presence, stumbled at, and overturned whatever was under foot, to show that they were as purblind as he. Natural imperfections have sometimes also served to recommend a man to favor. I have seen deafness affected: and, because the master hated his wife, Plutarch has seen his courtiers repudiate theirs, whom they loved; and, which is yet more, uncleanness and all manner of dissoluteness has been in fashion; as also disloyalty, blasphemies, cruelty, heresy, superstition, ir-religion, effeminacy, and worse, if worse there be. And by an example yet more dangerous than that of Mithridates' flatterers, who, by how much their master pretended to the honor of a good physician, came to him to have incision and cauteries made in their limbs; for these others suffered the soul, a more delicate and noble part, to be cauterized.
But to end where I began: the Emperor Adrian, disputing with the philosopher Favorinus about the interpretation of some word, Favorinus soon yielded him the victory; for which his friends rebuked him. — “ You talk simply," said he; “would you not have him wiser than I, who commands thirty legions?” Augustus wrote
, verses against Asinius Pollio, “and I,” said Pollio,“ say nothing, for it is not prudence to write in contest with him who has power to proscribe:” and he had reason, for Dionysius, because he could not equal Philoxenus in poesy, and Plato in discourse, condemned one to the quarries, and sent the other to be sold for a slave into the island of Ægina.
23 ONTALEMBERT, CHARLES FORCES DE TRY
ON, a French historian, orator and publicist;
born at London, May 29, 1810; died at Paris, March 13, 1870. He was of mingled Scottish and French descent. His father fought under Condé, and afterward served in the British army. On his return to France after the downfall of Napoleon, he was created a peer, and was made Ambassador to Sweden in 1826. Montalembert completed his education at the University of Paris, and on his father's death succeeded to his title. He was not yet old enough to take his seat in the Chamber of Peers, and his first appearance before that body was when, having joined Lacordaire, De Lamennais, and others in their efforts to establish a school independent of State and University, he defended himself with eloquence against the charge of unlicensed teaching. He submitted to the papal disapproval of their efforts, and applied himself to complete his Life of Saint Eliccbcth of Hungary, which appeared in 1836. Faithful to the Roman Church, Montalembert was, for many years, a leader in the struggle against governmental monopoly in education, and wrote numerous pamphlets in furtherance of his views. On the downfall of Louis Philippe, he became a member of the Assembly, and strove to harmonize his loyalty to the Church with his adherence to the Republic. He accepted the Empire as well, but could not refrain from assailing the repressive policy of Louis Napoleon, and exposed himself to repeated prosecutions by his pamphlets. His parliamentary career ended in 1857, and in him the Assembly lost one of its most brilliant orators.
Montalembert's activity was not all expended upon pamphlets and contributions to reviews. He was the author of several works, the greatest of which, after his Life of Saint Elizabeth of Hungary, are The Monks of the West, from St. Benoît to St. Bernard (1860-67); The Political Future of England (1855), an enthusiastic eulogy of the institutions of that country; A Nation in Mourning: Poland in 1861, and A Free Church in a Free State (1863).
U OF LL UB.