BOOK I, CHAPTER XIV
with pain as with stones, which take on a brighter or darker hue according to the foil on which we place them, and that it fills only so much room in us as we make for it. Tantum doluerunt, says St. Augustine, quantum doloribus se inseruerunt. We feel a cut from the surgeon’s knife more than ten sword-cuts in the heat of battle. The pains of child-birth, which are considered severe by the doctors and by God himself, and which we carry through with so many observances — there are whole nations which make nothing at all of them. I say nothing of the Lacedæmonian women; but the Swiss women with our infantry — what change do you find in them, except that, trotting after their husbands, you see them to-day carrying in their arms the child that yesterday they carried in their womb? And these make-believe Egyptian women among us go themselves to wash their new-born babes, and take their own bath, in the nearest stream. (c) Besides the multitude of wenches who every day conceal their children as well at their birth as at their conception, the virtuous wife of Sabinus, a Roman patrician, endured the birth of twins alone and unaided, without a word or a groan. (a) A simple lad of Lacedæmon, having stolen a fox, and having hidden it under his cloak, (c) (for they dreaded the disgrace of their lack of skill in thieving even more than we dread the punishment), (a) endured having his bowels gnawed by it rather than betray himself. And another, while offering incense at a sacrifice, allowed himself to be burned to the bone by a coal that dropped into his sleeve. And a great many boys have been known who, at the age of seven, merely for a test of their courage, in accordance with their education, have endured being whipped to death with-
- They suffered the more, the more they gave themselves up to suffering. — De Civ. Dei, I, 10.
- See Genesis, III, 16: In sorrow thou shalt bring forth children.
- See Plutarch, Of Love, XXXIV.
- In 1580-1588: (car le larrecin y estoit action de vertu, mais par tel si qu'il estoit plus vilain qu’entre nous d’y estre surpris).
- See Plutarch, Lycurgus. Montaigne refers again to this and the following story, and comments on them, in Book II, chap. 32.
- The editions of 1580-1588 add: pour ne troubler le mystère. See Valerius Maximus, III, 3, ext. 1.