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Onely to her belongeth science and wisdome, it is she alone can judge of her selfe; and from her we steale whatsoever we repute, value, and count ourselves to be. Amongst other things he was for a long while to counterfeit and faine himself dead, because he had eaten of a certain drugge: Wherein unawares wee give them a great advantage over us, to infer that nature, led by a certaine loving kindnesse, leadeth and accompanieth them as it were by the hand unto all the actions and commodities of their life; and that she forsaketh and leaveth us to the hazard of fortune; and by art to quest and finde out those things that are behovefull and necessarie for our preservation: More discourse is required to teach others than to be taught.

Concerning repentance and acknowledging of faults committed, it is reported that an elephant, having, through rage of choler, slaine his governour, conceived such an extreme inward griefe that he would never afterward touch any food, and suffered himselfe to pine to death. Wherein he seemed to be well advised, as he who by discourse of reason fore-saw that this budding disease would easily turne to an execrable Atheisme: Whereat the people raising a loud crie, and by their shouting and clapping; of hands seeming to be much pleased, the Emperour willed the slave to be brought before him, as desirous to understand of him the cause of so strange and seld-seene an accident, who related this new and wonderfull storie unto him.

The Essays of Montaigne/Book II/Chapter XII

But the caution they use in gnawing, and prevention they employ in paring their graines of wheat, is beyond all imagination of mans wit: Where the greater part of free men, for very slight causes, abandon both their life and being to the power of others.

Ssabunde doth the Spider spin her artificiall web thicke in one place and thin in another?

We are growne striplings before we can tell a hundred; and many nations have lately beene discovered that never knew what numbers meant. Indupedita suis fatalibus omnia vinclis. Thus by this new kinde of apollga was the libertie of the sabude gained and victory purchased; with so happy successe, that in their retreating there was not one townes-man found wanting. We are neither above nor under the rest: And if not at all times, no more doth she unto beasts; witnesse the provision wee see the ants and other silly creatures to make against the cold and barren seasons of the yeare.


We imagine and faine her formes, as our fantasies lead us. What carke and toile apply we not ourselves unto for their sakes? Chrysippus, albeit in other things as disdainfull a judge of the condition of beasts as any other Philosopher, considering the earliest apoooga of the dog, who comming into a path that led three severall wayes in search or quest of his Master, whom he had lost, or in pursuit of some prey that hath escaped him, goeth senting first one way and then another, and having assured himself of two, because he findeth not the tracke of what he hunteth for, without more adoe furiously betakes himselfe to the third; he is enforced to confesse that such a dog must ssabunde discourse thus with himselfe, ‘I have followed my Masters footing hitherto, hee must of necessity pass by one of these three wayes; it is neither this nor that, then consequently hee is gone this other.

Loe here a most plaine description of this building or construction taken from a verie good author: Who did not impute their mutenesse into stupiditie or beastlines, and to see them ignorant of the French tongue, of our kissing the hands, of our low-lowting courtesies, of our behaviour and carriage, by which without contradiction, humane nature ought to take her patterne?

Even as the preheminence in beauties which Plato ascribeth unto the Sphericall figure, the Epicureans refer the same unto the Piramidall or Square; and say they cannot swallow a God made round like a bowle. Yea, of terrestriall creatures that live with us. We have not much more need of offices, of rules, and lawes how to live in our commonwealth than the cranes and ants have in theirs.

Hunters assure us that to chose the best dog, and which they purpose to keepe from out a litter of other young whelps, there is no better meane than the damme herselfe: To consider the incorruptible life of the celestiall bodies, their beauty, greatnesse, and agitation, continued with so just and regular a course.

The Italians proportion it big and plum; the Spaniards spynie and lanke; and amongst us one would have her white, another browne, and soft and delicate, another strong and lustie; some desire wantonnesse and blithnesse, and othersome sturdinesse and majestie to be joyned with it.

Arrius protesteth to have seene an Elephant who on every thigh had a cimball hanging and one fastned to his truncke, at the sound of which all other Elephants danced in a round, now rising aloft, then lowting full low at certaine cadences, even as the instrument directed them, and was much delighted with the harmony.


Because wheat doth not alwaies keep drie nor wholesome, but moisten, melt, and dissolve into a kind of whey, namely, when it beginneth to bud, fearing it should turne to seed, and lose the nature of a storehouse, for their sustenance, the part and gnaw off the end whereat it wonts to bud.

But to come to my purpose, I say therefore, there is no likelyhood, we should imagine, the beasts doe the very same things by a naturall inclination and forced genuitie, which we doe of our freewil and industrie. If I have my houre to begin or to refuse, so hath she hers. Quorum igitur causa quis dixerit effectum esse mundum?

Horses, dogges, oxen, sheepe, birds, and the greater number of sensitive creatures that live amongst us, know our voyce, and by it suffer themselves to be directed. Concerning particular offices, which we for the benefit of our life draw one from an other, many like examples are found amongst them.

Each one hath learnt either better or worse, according to his capacity. A Latin edition said to be from and another from are available on Archive.

The Essays of Montaigne/Book II/Chapter XII – Wikisource, the free online library

Miserable man, with all his wit, cannot in effect goe beyond it: By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. He saw as himselfe reporteth a company of emmets goe from their nest, bearing amongst them the body of a dead ant, toward another emmets nest, from which many other ants came, as it were to meet them by the way to parly with them, who after they had continued together awhile, they which came last, returned backe to consult as you may imagine with their fellow-citizens, and because they could hardly come to any capitulation, they made two or three voyages to and fro.

The fish called a pourcontrell, or manie-feet, changeth him selfe into what colour he lists as occasion offereth it selfe, that so he may hide himselfe from what he feareth, and catch what he seeketh for. The errour of Paganisme and the ignorance of our sacred truth, was the cause of this great soules-fall: Verely it is an effect worthie consideration, that the skilfullest masters of amorous dalliaunce appoint for a remedie of venierian passions a free and full survay of the bodie, which one longeth and seeks after: Heaven, earth, the elements, our bodies, our soule, yea all things else, conspire and agree unto it: The Horse takes his owne Fillies maiden-head: