ESSAYS OF MONTAIGNE
WHETHER THE COMMANDANT OF A BESIEGED STRONGHOLD SHOULD GO FORTH TO PARLEY
This is one of the Essays that show Montaigne’s interest in military affairs. They are found only in the first Book, though traces of the essayist’s familiarity with the life of a soldier are to be found throughout. Their subject-matter is now without interest for us. Our sieges and parleyings are of a different character from those of the sixteenth century. But Montaigne’s treatment of these subjects is of importance to the student of his character, from its unconscious self-revelation.
Another point of interest may be found in the sentence in which Montaigne asserts, or at least suggests, that the civilization “among those nations whom we so unhesitatingly call Barbarians” may be in some respects equal to our own. The thought is like a forerunner of the later Essay “‘Of Cannibals.”
In this Essay there is only one openly personal remark — the last sentence, added (as before) in 1588. Montaigne made many additions in 1588 and 1595, doubling the Essay in length.
LUCIUS MARCIUS, the Roman legate during the war against Perseus, King of Macedon, wishing to gain the time required to put the Roman army in condition, scattered suggestions of future agreement, whereby the king was thrown off his guard and agreed to a truce for several days, thus affording his enemy an opportunity and leisure to prepare himself; as a result the king was utterly overthrown. But the elders of the Senate, mindful of the customs of their fathers, denounced this device as contrary to their former practice, (c) which was, they said, to fight with valour, not with cunning, nor by surprises and night attacks; nor by counterfeited retreats and unexpected returns; never entering into a war until they had proclaimed it, and often not until they had
- Entregets d’accord. See Livy, XLII, 43.
- The following passage, down to the line from the Æneid, “Dolus an,” etc., was substituted in the edition of 1595 for the following reading of 1580-1588: Si est-ce que le Senat Romain, à qui le seul advantage de la vertu sembloit moyen juste pour acquerir la victoire, trouva cette pratique laide et deshonneste, n’ayant encores ouy sonner à ses oreilles cette belle sentence: —