ESSAYS OF MONTAIGNE
that promise; he does n’t remember his friends; he did not remember to do this, or to say that, or to hold his tongue about the other, for my sake.” Certainly, I can easily forget; but to be indifferent about the service my friend has asked of me, that I am not. Let them be content with my misfortune, without distorting it into a sort of ill-will, and of a kind so foreign to my disposition. I thus somewhat console myself: in the first place (c) because it is an evil from which I have mainly derived the argument for ridding myself of a worse evil that would easily have taken root in me — namely, ambition; for it is an infirmity unendurable: for him who involves himself in public affairs; also, as many like examples of nature’s action show us, it has fairly strengthened other faculties in me in proportion to its own weakness; and I might otherwise readily let my intelligence follow indolently in another’s footsteps, as all the world does, without exerting its own power, if foreign ideas and opinions had presented themselves to me through the medium of the memory; also, (b) my speech is consequently the briefer, for the storehouse of memory is easily better supplied with matter than is that of invention. (c) If my memory had held good, I should have deafened all my friends with my chatter, as subjects that arouse the faculty, such as it is, that I have, of handling and making use of them, and warm me up and excite me in conversation. (b) This is lamentable. I have tested it by the case of some of my personal friends: as memory presents the thing to their minds completely and [as it were] before their eyes, they carry their tale so far back, and load it down with so many idle details, that, if the story be a good one, they stifle its goodness; if it be not so, you curse their good fortune in their memory or their ill-fortune in their judgement. (c) It is a difficult thing to stop in talk, and cut it short when one has got started; and there is nothing in which a horse’s strength is more manifest than in making a clean, quick stop. Even with pertinent talkers, I find some who would, but can not, stay their course: while they are seeking the effective way to conclude, they go trifling along and dragging the matter out, like men staggering from weakness. Above all, old men
- Lack of memory.