ESSAYS OF MONTAIGNE
fore him, in order to judge of his paces, and to determine how far he must hold himself back to accommodate himself to his powers. For lack of this proportion we mar all. And to learn how to attain it, and how to conduct oneself therein with due measure, is one of the most difficult tasks that I know; and it is a high and very strong character that knows how to stoop to his childish ways and to guide them. I walk more steadily and more sure-footedly up hill than down. Those who, as our custom is, undertake to direct several minds of such diverse measure and structure with the same lessons and similar rules of conduct — it is no wonder if, among a whole multitude of children, they find only two or three who produce any sound fruit from their teaching.
(a) Let him not demand an account of the words of the lesson simply, but of its meaning and substance; and let him judge of the benefit that he has derived, by the evidence, not of his memory, but of his life. What he shall learn, make him look at it in a hundred aspects and apply it to as many different subjects, to see if he has fully apprehended it and made it his own, (c) taking guidance for his progress from the pedagogic method of Plato. (a) It is evidence of indigestibleness and indigestion to throw up food as it has been swallowed: the stomach has not done its work if it has not changed the condition and character of what was given it to cook.
(b) Our minds act only from belief in others, tied and constrained by liking for another’s opinions, enslaved and imprisoned under the authority of their instruction. We have been so subjected to trammels that we can no longer move freely; our energy and independence are lost;
- That is, his pupil’s.
- In the early editions, this sentence, immediately following that preceding the interpolation of the Édition Municipale, was separated from it by a semi-colon only.
- The pupil.
- In the early editions, mais de son jugement.
- The tutor’s.
- The original addition of 1588 began with these sentences, which were stricken out in 1595: On me cherche reputation que de science. Quand ils disent: “C'est un homme sçavant,” il leur semble tout dire.