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60

ESSAYS OF MONTAIGNE

done, and go forth to meet the person who is coming to visit him, however great a man he may be; and that it is more respectful and civil to wait at home to receive him, were it only for fear of missing him on the road; and that it is enough to accompany him on his departure. (b) For my own part, I often forget both one and the other of these idle civilities, as in my own house I do away with all ceremony so far as I can. If some one should take offence, what matters it to me? It is better to offend him once than myself every day: that would be a never-ending subjection. To what end do we shun the servitude of courts, if we bring it into our own lair?[1]

(a) It is also a common rule in all gatherings that it is for the inferior persons to be first at the place appointed, since it is more fitting that the greater should be waited for. And yet at the interview which was arranged between Pope Clement[2] and King Francis at Marseilles, the king, having ordered the necessary preparations, left the city and gave the Pope two or three days of leisure, to make his entry and recreate himself before meeting him. And in like manner, at the entry of the same Pope and the emperor[3] into Bologna, the emperor gave the Pope opportunity to be there first, and arrived after him. It is, they say, a common ceremonial at the conferences of princes, that the greatest should arrive before the others at the place assigned, even before him in whose country the meeting is held; and they look at it in this way:[4] that it is because this arrangement testifies that the inferiors go to find the greatest, and seek him, not he them.

(c) Not only every country, but every city and every profession has its special code of manners. I was trained carefully enough in my childhood, and have lived in sufficiently good society, not to be ignorant of the laws of our French manners; and I might teach them. I like to follow them, but not so slavishly that my life is constrained by them.

  1. Si on en traine jusques en sa taniere.
  2. Clement VII. The same interview was referred to in chap. 10, supra, page 48. See du Bellay, IV.
  3. Charles V. It was in 1532. See Guicciardini, XIX, 6.
  4. Le prennent de ce biais.