BOOK I, CHAPTER XIV
they go masked) that there are among them those who, for money, undertake thereby to warrant another’s religion by a contempt of pain so much the greater as the spurs of piety are more potent than those of avarice. (c) Quintus Maximus buried his son, of consular rank, Marcus Cato his, pretor elect, and Lucius Paulus his two within a few days of each other, with serene countenance and giving no sign of grief. I once said of some one, in jest, that he had cheated divine justice; for the deaths by violence of three noble sons having been sent in one day, by way, as may be believed, of a severe chastisement, it lacked little that he received it as a blessing. I have lost, but in infancy, two or three children, if not without regret, at least without distress; nevertheless there are few misfortunes which touch men so to the quick. I see a good many other common occasions for sorrow which I should scarcely feel, should they come to me; and I have scorned, when they have come, some of those to which the world ascribes so baleful an aspect that I could not dare to boast publicly of this without blushing. Ex quo intelligitur non in natura, sed in opinione esse ægritudinem.
(b) Opinion is a powerful auxiliary, confident and not to be measured. Who ever sought safety and repose with such longing as Alexander and Cæsar had for disquietude and difficulties? Teres, father of Sitalces, was wont to say that, when he was not making war, it seemed to him that there was no difference between him and his groom. (c) Cato, when consul, in order to make sure of certain cities in Spain, having merely forbidden their inhabitants to bear arms, a
- See Cicero, Tusc. Disp., III, 28.
- This “some one”’ was Gaston de Foix, comte de Gurson and de Fleix, marquis de Trans. One of his sons was the husband of the Diane de Foix to whom the essay, “De I’Institution des Enfans” (Book I, chap. 26) was dedicated. Montaigne wrote in his Ephemerides: Julius 29, 1587, le côte de Gurson, le côte de Fleix, & le chevalier, trois freres mes bôs Srs & amis, furent tués à Môcrabeau en Agenois en un côbat fort aspre pour la service du roi de Navarre.
- In 1595 this passage was made to read: qu’il ne la prinst à faveur et gratification singuliere du Ciel. Je n’ensuis ces humeurs monstreuses.
- So it is evident that the scourge of discomfort is not in nature, but in the mind. — Cicero, Tusc. Disp., III, 28.
- See Plutarch, Apothegms of Kings, etc.