ESSAYS OF MONTAIGNE
poisoit moins. Quand il a eu loi, à son chois (sa pensée desbrouillée et desbandée, son corps se trouvant en son deu), de le faire lors premierement tenter, sesir et surprendre à la connoissance d’autruy, il s’est gueri tout net à l’endroit de ce subjet. A qui on a esté une fois capable, on n’est plus incapable, sinon par juste foiblesse.
(a) Ce malheur n’est à craindre qu’aux entreprinses, où nostre ame se trouve outre mesure tendue de desir et de respect, et notamment si les commoditez se rencontrent improveues et pressantes. On n’a pas moien de se ravoir de ce trouble. J’en scay, à qui il a servy d’y apporter le corps mesme, commencé à ressasier d’ailleurs, (c) pour endormir l’ardeur de cette fureur, et qui par l’aage se trouve moins impuissant de ce qu’il est moins puissant.
I know another to whom it was of service to be assured by a friend that he was supplied with a counter-battery of enchantments certain to shield him. It is worth while for me to tell how this came about. A count, highly esteemed, with whom I was very intimate, was marrying a fair lady who had been sought in marriage by one who was present at the nuptial feast; this caused great anxiety to his friends, and especially to an old lady, his kinswoman, who presided over the festivities and gave them at her house, and who was fearful of these enchantments — as she gave me to understand. I begged her to rely on me. I had by good luck, in my boxes, a certain small flat piece of gold on which were engraved some celestial signs, as a charm against sunstroke, and as a remedy for headache by placing it just on the suture of the skull; and, to keep it in place, it was sewn to a ribbon intended to be tied under the chin; an effect of the imagination akin to that of which we are talking. Jacques Pelletier, when staying at my house, had given me this odd present. I bethought myself now to make some use of it, and I told the count that he might have bad luck, like others, there being men in the company who would desire to give him
- This impuissant — puissant is a typical example of a characteristic peculiarity of Montaigne’s style.
- Jacques Pelletier of Mans (1517-1582), whom Sainte-Beuve speaks of as mathematicien, physicien, médécin, grammairien, et avec tout cela versificateur habile.