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THE “Essays of Montaigne," the first edition of which appeared at Bordeaux in 1580, make, in several respects, an2 epoch in literature, less on account of their real importance, or the novel truths they contain, than of their influence upon the taste and the opinions of Europe. They are the first provocatio ad populum, the first appeal from the porch and the academy, to the haunts of busy and of idle men; the first book that taught the unlearned reader to observe and reflect for himself on questions of moral philosophy. In an age when every topic of this nature was treated systematically and in 3 a didactic form, he broke out4 without connexion of chapters, with all the digressions that levity and garrulous egotism could suggest, with a very delightful, but, at that time, most unusual rapidity of transition from seriousness to gaiety.5 It would be to anticipate much of wható will demand attention in the ensuing century were we to mention here the conspicuous writers who, more or less directly, and with 8 more or less of close imitation, may be classed in the school of Montaigne ; it embraces, in fact, a large proportion 10 of French and English literature, 11 and especially of that which has borrowed his title of
1 Michel de Montaigne; the because') était alors plus rare. celebrated French writer, born in sur un sujet qui. 1533, and died 1592.
7 were we to,' que de. Re? Leave out this article, here. member that the use of que, in In the same way, we say, faire such cases, is quite idiomatic; as école, faire image, &c. &c.
c'est se tromper que de croire, it
is a mistake to believe.' See page 4 Montaigne lança dans le monde 87, note 1, and page 66, note 9. un livre (see page 14, note 5). 8 et par suite de (and see page 25,
dont les différents chapitres note 16). n'ont entre eux aucune liaison ; un 9.close,' here, heureuse. livre rempli de toutes les digressions une portion considérable. que peut suggérer (see page 6, note 11 des littératures française et 3) un esprit léger, vaniteux et anglaise (or, as some grammarians jaseur ; un livre remarquable enfin will have it, contrary to general par la rapidité de transition du custom, de la littérature française sérieux au plaisant, variété (see et de la littérature anglaise—what page 27, note 3) d'autant plus an awkward phrase !) piquante qu'elle (lit., 'the more
“Essays.” No prose writer of the sixteenth century has been so generally read, nor probably given so much delight. Whatever may be our estimate of Montaigne as a philosopher,2 a name which he was far from arrogating, there will be but one opinion of the felicity and brightness of his genius.
It is a striking proof of these qualities, that we cannot help believing him to have struck out all his thoughts by a spontaneous effort of his mind, and to have fallen afterwards 3 upon his quotations and examples by happy accident.4 I have little doubt but that the process was different, and that, either by dint of memory, though he absolutely disclaims the possessing a good one, or by the usual method of common-placing," he had made his reading instrumental to excite his owns ingenious and fearless understanding.
His quotations, though they perhaps make more than one half of his “Essays,” seem parts of himself
, are like limbs of his own mind, which could not be separated without laceration. But over all11 is spread a charm of a fascinating simplicity, and an apparent abandonment of the whole man to the easy inspiration of genius, combined with a good nature,12 though rather too Epicurean prosateur.
that his was not good.' 2 See page 134, note 3. Turn, ?'or;' see page 66, note 15. "Whatever idea we may make to usual ;' see page 45, note 11. ourselves of the merit of M
of common-placing,' consistant à a philosopher ;' see p. 128, note 8. faire des extraits et à prendre des
3 To strike out,' faire jaillir. notes. But we had better turn so :-'A 8 il avait puisé dans ses lectures striking proof of these qualities, is, les textes et les sujets sur lesquels (see page 39, note 5) that one (on) s'exerçait son. cannot help (s'empêcher de, in this 9 than ;' see page 60, note 6. sense) believing (infinit., in French) —'one,' here, la. that all his thoughts have struck 10 parts of himself;' faire corps -or, broken-out (ont jailli) spon
avec lui. taneously from his mind, and that
t'ensemble. he has fallen (see page 116, note 11) 12 une bonhomie. This is another only (see page 5, note 12) after- of those expressions, mentioned at wards.'
page 133, note 3, and which have 4 See page 22, note ?, as well as passed current in England with a
wrong spelling. I have seen this 3 11 est peu douteux pour moi qu'il word repeatedly spelt bonhommie, a da procéder différemment. with two m's instead of one m
6 Turn, though he pretends only, in books, newspapers, &c.
page 25, note 16
and destitute of moral energy, which, for that very reason, made him a favourite with men of similar dispositions, for whom courts, and camps, and country mansions, were the proper soil.?
Montaigne is superior to any of the ancients in liveliness, in that careless and rapid style, where one thought springs naturally, but not consecutively, from another by analogical rather than deductive connexion, so that, while the reader seems to be following a train 4 of arguments, he is imperceptibly hurried to a distance by some contingent association.5 .. He sometimes makes a show of coming back from his excursions ;6 but he has generally exhausted himself before he does so. This is what men love to practise (not advantageously for their severe studies) in their own thoughts;? they love to follow the casual associations that lead them through pleasant labyrinths, as one riding along the high road is glad to deviate a little into the woods, though it may sometimes happen that he will lose his way, and find himself far remote from his inn.9 And such is the conversational style 10 of lively and eloquent old men. We converse with Montaigne, or rather hear him talk : it is almost impossible to read his “ Essays” without thinking 11 that he speaks to us; we see his cheerful brow, his sparkling This mistake has probably arisen enchaînement régulier, et se lient par from the fact that bonhomme analogie, plutôt que par conséquence (page 66, note 19) is spelt with a logique. double m.
The chance of these une série. blunders still increasing is very 5 entrainé au loin par quelques great: now that French is learnt rapports
accidentels. everywhere in England, what with paraît quelquefois (page 19, the many worthless books, and bad note 5) vouloir revenir à son sujet. teachers, the matter becomes a 7 Telle est la marche que les homserious one, as nothing less than mes se plaisent à suivre avec leurs the formation of an Anglo-French pensées (il est vrai que ce n'est pas
à dialect, of a hybrid language-if so l'avantage de leurs études plus it may be called-must finally be graves). the result.
8 semblables au voyageur chemii mais qui.
nant sur une grande route, qui se 2 ne pouvait manquer de plaire plait à. aux hommes d'une disposition sem- 9 mais à qui il arrive quelquefois blable, aux hôtes des cours, des de se perdre et de s'égarer loin de camps et des châteaux.
son gite. 3 les pensées jaillissent naturelle- 10 Simply, la conversation, ment les unes des autres, mais sans sans se figurer.
eye, his negligent but gentlemanly demeanour; picture him in his arm-chair, with his few books round the room, and Plutarch on the table.—(HALLAM, Introduction to the Literature of Europe.)
THE VICAR OF WAKEFIELD AND HIS FAMILY.
I was ever 3 of opinion that the honest man, who married and brought up 4 a large family, did more service than he who 6 continued single, and only talked of population. From this motive, I had scarce taken orders a year before I 8 began to think seriously of matrimony, and chose my wife as she did her wedding-gown—not for a fine glossy surface, but such qualities as would wear well.9 To do her justice,10 she was a good-natured, notable woman, 11 and as for education, there were few country ladies who could show more. She could read any English book without much spelling ;13 but for pickling, preserving, 14 and cookery, none could excel her. She prided herself
1 cette aisance de manières, ce les ordres que je; or, again, il y laisser-aller dans lequel on récon- avait à peine un an que j'avais nait encore l'homme du monde.
pris—que j'étais dans les ordres, 2 entouré de quelques livres fa- lorsque je. voris, et son Plutarque.
non sur le brillant de l'étoffe, 3 Translate, “I have ever been.' mais sur les qualités qui garantis4 Use the present (as at page saient le bon user. 123, note 7). —' large;' see page 10 'to do justice to one,' rendre note 19.
justice à quelqu'un. 5 'to do more service,' être plus 11 elle était une excellente nature, utile.
et laborieuse ; or, elle avait un ex6 See page 88, note 14.
cellent naturel et de l'activité. ? et se contenté de disserter sur la 12 Translate, 'show more of it population (or, de parler popula- than she.' tion;-in the same way we say, 13 assez couramment, toute espèce without any preposition or article, de livre anglais (or, quelque livre parler musique, littérature, théâtres, anglais que ce fût-see page 47, &c. &c.)
end of note and page 22, un an, tout au plus, après avoir note 12). pris les ordres, je; or, à peine 14 les conserves au vinaigre (or, avais-je (page 32, note ?). pris les simply, here, as the context is ordres depuis un an que je; or, à plain, les conserves), les confitures. peine étais-je depuis un an dans
also upon being an excellent contriver in housekeeping ;1 though I could never find a that we grew richer with all her contrivances.
However, we loved each other 3 tenderly, and our fondness increased as we grew old. There was, in fact, nothing that could4 make us angry with 5 the world or each other.6 We had an elegant house, situate in a fine country, and a good neighbourhood. The year was spent 8 in moral or rural amusements, in visiting our rich neighbours, and relieving such as 10 were poor.
were poor. We had no revolutions to fear, nor fatigues to undergo ; all our adventures were by theil fireside, and all our migrations 12 from the blue bed to the brown.13
As we lived 14 near the road, we often had the traveller or stranger to visit us, to taste our gooseberry-wine, for which we had great reputation; and I profess, 16 with the veracity of an historian, that I never knew one of them 17 find fault with it.18 Our cousins, too, even to the fortieth remove,19 all remembered their affinity, without any help from 20 the herald's office 21 and came very frequently to
1 Elle se piquait d'être une 14 Remember that 'to live,' in femme de ménage des plus habiles. the sense of' to dwell,' is demeurer, 2 Translate, 'I have
not vivre (page 61, note 12). found ;-' to find, in this sense, 15 Translate, the traveller and s'apercevoir.
the stranger often came (page 19, See page 38, note 11.
note 5) to taste.' 4 See page 35, note 14, and page 16 oto profess,' in this sense, af22, note 12
firmer. nous donner de l'humeur contre. 17 'I never knew ; translate, 6 Repeat the preposition, and 'never I saw.'—-saw one of them, see page 10, note 3.
un seul. 7 When country'means the re- y trouver à redire; or, y trouverse of town,' being taken in the ver le mot à dire. sense of the Latin rus, ruris, the 19 degré. Either leave out 'all,' French for it is rather campagne which is not necessary here, or
put it after the verb. 8 See page 8, note 6, and page sans avoir besoin de recourir à. 104, note 12
21 l'Herald's Office. We must 9'à jouir des plaisirs de l'âme et keep the English expression here : des champs.
there is nothing of the kind in 10 Translate, those who.' France; if, however, we must give
a nearly equivalent French ex12 voyages.
pression, we may say, 13 de la chambre bleue à la cun registre (or, à aucune table) chambre brune.