Chapter 4How the Soule dischargeth her Passions upon false objects, when the true faile it
A Gentleman of ours exceedingly subject to the gout, being instantly solicited by his Physitions, to leave all manner of salt-meats, was wont to answer pleasantly, that when the fits or pangs of the disease tooke him, hee would have some body to quarell with; and that crying and cursing, now against Bolonie-sausage, and sometimes by railing against salt neats-tongues, and gammons of bakon, he found some ease. But in good earnest even as the arme being lifted up to strike, if the stroke hit not, but fall void, wee feele some paine in it, and many times strike it out of joynt; and that to yeeld our sight pleasant, it must not be lost and dispiersed in the vast ayre, but ought rather to have a limited bound to sustaine it by a reasonable distance.
Ventus ut amittit vires, nisi robore densæ
Occurrant silvæ, spatio diffasus inani.
As windes in emptie ayre diffus’d, strength lose,
Unlesse thick-old-growne woods their strength oppose.
So seemes it that the soule moved and tossed, if she have not some hold to take, loseth it selfe in it selfe, and must ever be stored with some object, on which it light and worke. Plutarke saith fitly of those affectionate themselves to Monkies and little Dogges, that the loving part which is in us, for want of a lawful hold, rather than it will be idle, doth forge a false and frivolous hold unto itselfe. And wee see that the soule in her passions doth rather deceive itselfe, by framing a false and fantasticall subject unto itselfe, yea against her owne conceit, than not to worke upon something.
So doth their owne rage transport beasts to set upon the stone or weapon that hath hurt them; yea and sometimes with irefull teeth to revenge themselves against themselves, for the hurt or smart they feele.
Pannonis haud aliter post utum sævior ursa
Cui jaculum parva Lybis amentavit habena,
Se rotat in vulnus, telumque irata receptum
Impetit, et secum fugientem circuit hastam
Even so the wound-enraged Austrian beare,
On whom a Moore hath thir’ld his slinged speare,
Wheeles on her wound, and raging bites the dart,
Circling that flies with her, and cannot part.
What causes doe wee not invent, for the crosses that happen unto us? bee it right, or wrong: what take we not hold of, to have something to strive withall? It is not the golden locks thou tearest, nor the whitenesse of the breast, which thou through vexation so cruelly dost smite, that have by meanes of an unluckie bullet, lost thy deere-beloved brother: on something else shouldest thou wreake thyselfe. Livius speaking of the Romane army in Spaine, after the losse of two great Captaines that were brethren. Flere omnes repente, & offensare capita: They all wept and often beat their heades. It is an ordidarie custome: And the philosopher Byon was very pleasant with the king, that for griefe tore his haire, when he said, Doth this man thinke, that baldnesse will asswage his griefe? who hath not seene some to chew and swallow cardes, aw wel-nigh choake themselves with bales of dice, only to be revenged for the losse of some money? Xerxes whipped the Sea, and writ a cartell of defiance to the hill Athos: And Cyrus for many daies together ammused his whole armie to be revenged of the river Gyndus, for the feare be tooke passing over the same: And Caligula caused a verie faire house to be defaced, for the pleasure his mother had received in the same.
When I was young, my countrimen were wont to say, That one of our neigbbour-Kings, having received a blow at Gods hand, sware to be revenged on him, and ordained, that for ten yeares space no man should pray unto him, nor speak of him, nor (so long as he were in authority), beleeve in him. By which report, they doe not so much publish the sottishnesse, as the ambitious glorie, peculiar unto that nation of whom it was spoken. They are vices that ever goe together: But in truth such actions enclime rather unto selfe-conceit, than to fondnes.
Augustus Cæsar having beene beaten by a tempest on the sea, defied the God Neptune, and in the celebration of the Circensian games, that so he might be avenged on him, he caused his image to be removed from out the place, where it stood amongst the other Gods; wherein he is also less excusable, than the former, and lesse than hee was afterward, when having lost a battel, under Quintilius Varus in Germanie, all in a rage and desperate, he went up and downe beating his bead against the walls, mainly crying out: Oh! Varro, restore me my Souldiers againe: For, those exceed, all follie (forsomuch as impietie is joyned unto it that will wreake themselves against God, or fortune, as if she had eares subject to our batterie: In imitation of the Thracians, who when it lightens or thunders, begin with a Titanian revenge to shoot against heaven, thinking by shooting of arrowes to draw God to some reason. Now, as saith that ancient Poet in Plutarch,
Point ne se faut corroucer aux affaires,
Il ne leur chaut de toutes noz coleres.
We ought not angry be at what God dooth,
For he cares not who beares an angry tooth.
But we shall never raile enough against the disorder and unrulinesse of our minde.
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- MainThat the Soul Expends Its Passions upon False Objects, Where the True Are Wanting
- OriginalComme l’ame descharge ses passions sur des objects faux, quand les vrais luy defaillent
- CottonThat the Soul Expends Its Passions upon False Objects, Where the True Are Wanting
PDFs courtesy of HyperEssays.net. Scans of the 1588 French edition of the Essays (Bibliothèque municipale de Bordeaux, S 1238 Res. C) courtesy of Bibliothèque nationale de France.
Cite this page
- APAMontaigne, M. de (2021, April 23). How the Soule dischargeth her Passions upon false objects, when the true faile it. https://hyperessays.net
- CHICAGOMontaigne, Michel de. “How the Soule dischargeth her Passions upon false objects, when the true faile it.” Translated by John Florio, April 23, 2021. https://hyperessays.net
- MLAMontaigne, Michel de, How the Soule dischargeth her Passions upon false objects, when the true faile it. Translated by John Florio, 23 Apr., 2021, hyperessays.net
Translation by John Florio (1603, Public domain). • Last modified on April 23, 2021.