ESSAYS OF MONTAIGNE
paces into the open fields. By no means so fortunate was the ensign of Captain Juille, when St. Pol was taken from us by the Comte de Bures and Monsieur du Reu; for being so beside himself with fright as to throw himself with his standard out of the city through a loop-hole, he was cut to pieces by the besiegers. And in the same siege, that was a memorable fear which so seized and contracted and froze the heart of a gentleman, that he fell stark dead in the breach, without a wound.
(b) Similar fear sometimes impels a whole multitude. In one of the encounters of Germanicus with the Germans, two large bodies took, from fright, opposite roads: one fled in the direction from which the other came. (a) Sometimes it gives wings to our heels, as in the first two cases; sometimes it stays our feet and hobbles them, as we read of the Emperor Theophilus, who, in a battle he lost against the Agarenes, was so astounded and stupefied that he could not decide to fly (b) (adeo pavor etiam auxilia formidat) (a) till Manuel, one of the principal officers of his army, having pulled and shaken him as if to wake him from a deep sleep, said to him: “If you don’t come with me, I shall kill you; for it is better that you should lose your life than that, being a prisoner, you should destroy the Empire.”
(c) Fear shows its supreme force when, in its own service, it gives to us the courage which it has stolen from our duty and our honour. In the first regular battle that the Romans lost against Hannibal, under the Consul Sempronius, a body of fully ten thousand foot, seized with panic, and seeing nowhere else to force a passage for their cowardice, rushed at the main body of the enemy, which they cut
- See du Bellay, VIII, for this and the following episode.
- See Tacitus, Annals, I, 63.
- So greatly does fear dread even assistance. — Quintus Curtius, III, 2.
- See the Annals of Zonaras. This chronicler died in 1130. His work was published at Basle in 1557, but Montaigne used a French translation published in 1560. The essay ended here in 1580 to 1588.
- Juste. Montaigne uses the word several times, as here, in the Latin sense. It was the battle of Trebia, in 218 b.c., which Livy describes in Book XXI, 56. Montaigne refers to it again in the Essay, “Of the Custom of wearing Clothes,” Book I, chap. 36.