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ment for their Denial : For I presuppose, that their Intentions, their Desire and Will, which are Things wherein their Honour is not at all concerned, forasmuch as nothing of it appears externally, are much better regulated than the Effects.
Quæ quia non liceat, non facit, illa facit Y.
She, who sins not, 'cause it unlawful is,
In being therefore Chaste, has done amiss. The Offence both towards God, and in the Conscience, would be as great to defire, as to do it: And, besides, they are Actions fo private and secret of themselves, as would be very easily kept from the Knowledge of others wherein the Honour consists; if they had no other Respect to their Duty, and to the Affection they bear to Chastity for its own Sake : Every Woman of Honour rather chuses to wound her Honour, than her Conscience.
C H A P. XVII.
HERE is another Sort of Glory, which is the
having too good an Opinion of our own Merit. 'Tis an inconsiderate Affection, with which we fatter ourselves, and that represents us to ourselves other than what we truly are : Like the Passion of Love, that lends Beauties and Graces to the Object of it; and makes those who are caught with it, by a depraved and corrupt Judgment, consider the Thing they love other and more perfect than it is.
I would not, nevertheless, that a Man, for fear of failing in this point, should mistake himself, or think himself less than he is; the Judgment ought, in all Things,
y Ovid. Amor. lib. iii. El. 4. v. 4.
to keep its Prerogative : 'Tis all the Reason in the World he fhould discern, in himself, as well as in
The Fear of others, what Truth fets before him; if he
being guilty of be Cæfar, let him boldly think himself the Presumption greatest Captain in the World. We are no- cught not to thing but Ceremony; Ceremony carries us give us too away, and we leave the Substance of Things ; nion of our we hold by the Branches, and quit the Trunk. selves
, nor to
Ille velut fidis arcana sodalibus olim
His Secrets to his Books he did commend,
The Old Man's Life his Verses do explain.
be. 2 Hor. lib. ii. Sat. 1. v. 30, 36.
be. * Nec id Rutilio, et Scauro citra fidem, aut obtre&tationi fuit : “ Nor were Rutilius or Scaurus misbelieved or con .
demned for so doing.'
I remember then, that, from my Infancy, there was Montaigne's
observed in me I know not what kind of particular Ges- Carriage and Gesture, that seemed to relish zure a plain of foolish Pride. I will say this, in the first Token of his
Place, that it is not unlikely, that there are
Qualities and Propensions so proper and incorporated into us, that we have not the Means to feel and know them : And of such natural Inclinacions the Body is apt to retain a certain Bent, without our Knowledge or Consent. It was quaint Affectation, Confederate of Beauty, that made Alexander carry his Head on one Side, and Alcibiades to lisp ; Julius • Cæfar scratched his Head with one Finger, which is the Mark of a Man porfeffed with uneasy Thoughts; and Cicero, as I remember, was wont to turn up his Nose, a Sign of a Man given to Scoffing : Such Motions, as these, may, imperceptibly, happen in us. There are other artificial ones, which I meddle not with; as Salutations and Congees, by which Men, for the most part, unjustly acquire the Reputation of being humble and courteous; or, perhaps, humble out of Pride. I am prodigal enough of my Hat, especially in Summer, and never am so saluted, but I pay it again, from Persons of what Quality soever, unless they be in my Pay. I should be glad, that some Princes, whom I know, would be more sparing of that Ceremony, and beftow that Courtesy where it is more due; for, being so indiscreetly profule of it, 'tis thrown away to no Purpose, if it be without Respect of Persons : Amongst irregular Countenances, let us not forget that severe one of the Emperor Constantius, who always, in Public, held his Head upright and straight, without bending or turning it on either Side, not so much as to look upon those who faluted him on one Side, planting his Body in a stiff immoveable Posture, without suffering it to yield to the Motion of his Coach; not daring so much as to spit, blow his Nose, or wipe his
Face • Tacit. in Vita Agricolæ, c.1.
6 Plutarch in the Life of Cæfar, · Ammian. Marcell. lib. xxi. c. 14.
Face before People. I know not whether the Gestures that were observed in me, were of this first Quality, and whether I had really any secret Propension to this Vice, as it might well be ; and I cannot be responsible for the Swing of the Body.
But, as to the Motions of the Soul, I must here confefs what I am sensible of there. This Va- Presumption nity consists of two Parts, the setting too divided into great a Value upon ourselves, and too little two parts. a Value upon others.
As to the one, methinks these Considerations ought, in the first place, to be of some Weight. I
Montaigne feel myself importuned by an Error of the apt to underSoul, that displeases me, both as it is unjust, value his Perand the more, as it is troublesome : 1 at- fon and Poffef
fions. tempt to correct it, but I cannot root it out; which is, that I lessen the just Value of Things that I possess, and over-value others, because they are foreign, absent, and none of mine : This Humour spreads very far : As the Prerogative of the Authority makes Husbands to look upon their own Wives with a vicious Disdain, and many Fathers their Children, so do I: And, betwixt two equal Merits, I should always be swayed against my own : Not so much that the Jealousy of my Preferment, and the bettering of my Affairs does trouble my Judgment, and hinders me from fatisfying myself, as because Dominion, of itself, begets a Contempt of what is our own, and over which we have an absolute Command. Foreign Governments, Manners, and Languages insinuate themselves into my Esteem ; and I am very sensible, that Latin allures me, by the Favour of its Dignity, to value it above its Due, as happens to Children, and the common Sort of People. The Economy, House, and Horse of my Neighbour, though no better than my own, I prize above my own, because they are not mine : Besides that, I am very ignorant in my own Affairs; I admire at the Assurance that every one has of himself: Whereas there is not, almost, any Thing that I am sure I know, or that I dare be responsible to myself that I can VOL. II.
do: I have not my Means of doing any Thing stated and ready, and am only instructed after the Effect, being as doubtful of my own Force, as I am of another's ; whence it comes to pass, that, if I happen to do any Thing commendable, l attribute it more to my Fortune than Industry ; forasmuch as I design every Thing, by Chance, and in Fear. I have this also in general, that, of all the Opinions Antiquity has held of Men in gross, I most willingly embrace, and most adhere to thofe that most contemn, vilify, and annihilate us. Methinks Philofophy has never fo fair a Game to play, as when it falls upon our Vanity and Presumption; when it discovers Man's Irresolution, Weakness, and Ignorance. I look upon the too good Opinion, that Man has of himself, to be the Nursing Mother of the falsest Opinions, both public and private. Those People who ride aftride upon
the Epicycle of Mercury, who see so far into the Heavens, are worse to me than Pickpockets : For, in my Study, the Subject of which is Man, finding so great a Variety of Judgments, fo profound a Labyrinth of Difficulties one apon another ; so great a Diversity and Uncertainty, even in the School of Wifdom itself; you may judge, seeing those People could not be certain of the Knowledge of themselves, and their own Condition, which is continually before their Eyes, and within them ; seeing they do not know, how that moves, which they themselves move, nor how to give us a Description of the Springs they themfelves govern and make Use of; how can I believe them about the Ebbing and Flowing of the Nile ? • The Curio“sity of knowing Things has been given to Man for a • Scourge,' says the Holy Scripture. But, to return to what concerns myself, I think it very hard, that any other should have a meaner Opinion of himself; nay, that any other should have a meaner Opinion of me, than I have of myself. I look upon myself as one of the common Sort, saving in what I am obliged for to myself ; guilty of the meaneft and most popular Defects, but not disowned or excused ; and do not value myself upon any other Account, than because I know my own Value.