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PAGE 3

Of Vanity
by [?]

“Aut verberatae grandine vineae,
Fundusque mendax, arbore nunc aquas
Culpante, nunc torrentia agros
Sidera, nunc hyemes iniquas.”

[“Or hail-smitten vines and the deceptive farm; now trees damaged by the rains, or years of dearth, now summer’s heat burning up the petals, now destructive winters.”–Horatius, Od., iii. I, 29.]

and that God scarce in six months sends a season wherein your bailiff can do his business as he should; but that if it serves the vines, it spoils the meadows:

“Aut nimiis torret fervoribus aetherius sol,
Aut subiti perimunt imbres, gelidoeque pruinae,
Flabraque ventorum violento turbine vexant;”

[“Either the scorching sun burns up your fields, or sudden rains or frosts destroy your harvests, or a violent wind carries away all before it.”–Lucretius, V. 216.]

to which may be added the new and neat-made shoe of the man of old, that hurts your foot,

[Leclerc maliciously suggests that this is a sly hit at Montaigne’s wife, the man of old being the person mentioned in Plutarch’s Life of Paulus Emilius, c. 3, who, when his friends reproached him for repudiating his wife, whose various merits they extolled, pointed to his shoe, and said, “That looks a nice well-made shoe to you; but I alone know where it pinches.”]

and that a stranger does not understand how much it costs you, and what you contribute to maintain that show of order that is seen in your family, and that peradventure you buy too dear.

I came late to the government of a house: they whom nature sent into the world before me long eased me of that trouble; so that I had already taken another bent more suitable to my humour. Yet, for so much as I have seen, ’tis an employment more troublesome than hard; whoever is capable of anything else, will easily do this. Had I a mind to be rich, that way would seem too long; I had served my kings, a more profitable traffic than any other. Since I pretend to nothing but the reputation of having got nothing or dissipated nothing, conformably to the rest of my life, improper either to do good or ill of any moment, and that I only desire to pass on, I can do it, thanks be to God, without any great endeavour. At the worst, evermore prevent poverty by lessening your expense; ’tis that which I make my great concern, and doubt not but to do it before I shall be compelled. As to the rest, I have sufficiently settled my thoughts to live upon less than I have, and live contentedly:

“Non aestimatione census, verum victu atque cultu,
terminantur pecunix modus.”

[“‘Tis not by the value of possessions, but by our daily subsistence and tillage, that our riches are truly estimated.” –Cicero, Paradox, vi. 3.]

My real need does not so wholly take up all I have, that Fortune has not whereon to fasten her teeth without biting to the quick. My presence, heedless and ignorant as it is, does me great service in my domestic affairs; I employ myself in them, but it goes against the hair, finding that I have this in my house, that though I burn my candle at one end by myself, the other is not spared.

Journeys do me no harm but only by their expense, which is great, and more than I am well able to bear, being always wont to travel with not only a necessary, but a handsome equipage; I must make them so much shorter and fewer; I spend therein but the froth, and what I have reserved for such uses, delaying and deferring my motion till that be ready. I will not that the pleasure of going abroad spoil the pleasure of being retired at home; on the contrary, I intend they shall nourish and favour one another. Fortune has assisted me in this, that since my principal profession in this life was to live at ease, and rather idly than busily, she has deprived me of the necessity of growing rich to provide for the multitude of my heirs. If there be not enough for one, of that whereof I had so plentifully enough, at his peril be it: his imprudence will not deserve that I should wish him any more. And every one, according to the example of Phocion, provides sufficiently for his children who so provides for them as to leave them as much as was left him. I should by no means like Crates’ way. He left his money in the hands of a banker with this condition–that if his children were fools, he should then give it to them; if wise, he should then distribute it to the most foolish of the people; as if fools, for being less capable of living without riches, were more capable of using them.