ESSAYS OF MONTAIGNE
THUS we see that, in the gift of eloquence, some have facility and readiness, and, as they say, the tongue so well oiled, that they are ready at every turn; others, less ready, never say any thing they have not thought out and elaborated. As rules are given to ladies for pursuing those games and bodily exercises which give advantage to their finest points, so, if I had to advise on similar lines in respect to these two different merits of eloquence, to which it would seem, in our time, that preachers and lawyers principally lay claim, the unready man would make the better preacher, it seems to me, and the other the better lawyer; for the reason that the profession of the former gives him as much leisure as he desires to prepare himself, and, moreover, his discourse flows smoothly on, without interruption; whereas the exigencies of the advocate’s profession force him to enter the lists at any moment; and the unforeseen rejoinders of his opponent throw him out of his stride; so that he must needs take a new start on the instant. And yet, at the interview between Pope Clement and King Francis at Marseilles it happened, quite contrariwise, that Monsieur Poyet, a man who had passed his whole life at the bar and had a great reputation, having it in charge to make the harangue to the Pope, when he had long meditated upon it, — indeed, it was said that he had brought it from Paris all prepared, — the Pope, fearing lest something might be said to him which would offend the ambassadors of the other princes, who were in attendance upon him, sent to the king the argument which seemed to him most suited to the time and place. But it, by chance, was altogether different from that over which Monsieur Poyet had laboured; so that his harangue became useless, and it was necessary for him to compose another at once. But as he felt that he was incapable of doing this, Monsieur le Cardinal du Bellay had to undertake the duty. (b) The lawer’s art is more difficult than the preacher’s, and yet we
- Never were all graces given to any man. — La Boëtie.
- Le boute-hors si aisé.
- See du Bellay, IV.