ESSAYS OF MONTAIGNE
than I. The occasion, the company, the very sound of my voice, draws from my mind more than I find there when I sound it and use it when alone. Thus my spoken words are worth more than my written ones, if there can be a choice where there is nothing of value. (c) This also happens to me, that I do not find myself where I seek for myself, and I find myself more by chance than by my judgement’s investigation. I may have thrown off some subtle conceit in writing (I mean one that is pointless to others, but in my eyes well-sharpened; let us be permitted such sincerities; every one says such things according as he can); I have lost it so completely that I do not know what I meant to say; and sometimes an outsider has discovered the meaning before I have. If I should erase every thing where this happens to me, I should destroy all. Chance, at another time, will throw a light on it for me clearer than that of noon-day, and will make me wonder at my hesitation.
In writing of “prognostications” Montaigne foreruns Bacon in the belief that (in Bacon’s words), “They ought all to be despised, and ought to serve but for winter talk by the fireside.”
The story of the Marquis de Salluce was the occasion of this Essay, and was originally almost the whole of it; the page that precedes it only gives the reasons why it seemed to Montaigne remarkable; and the verses of Horace brought the Essay to a close in 1580.
In 1588 the next sentence (dropped in 1595) was: “I should much prefer to manage my affairs by the cast of dice than by such dreams”; and it was followed by the paragraph beginning: “I see some who annotate their almanacs.” After the sentence, “There would be more certainty …” came the remark (afterward somewhat changed): “I have seen sometimes to their hurt …” Then came immediately: “The Demon of Socrates,” and the Essay ended as now.
In 1595 the Latin quotations of the first page were, all but one, added; also two immediately following the Horace quotation, and the paragraph about the Tuscans and that about Plato. A line or two after, another Latin citation. Again a line or two, and the story of Diagoras and the saying of Cicero were inserted. Before “The demon of Socrates” pushed in the books of Joachim and Leon and the remarks that follow.