Friday, September 28, 2018

I have gathered a posie of other men's flowers and nothing but the thread which binds them is my own

--- Michel de Montaigne, frontispiece of The Art of Botanical Illustration (Hardcover, 1989) by Lys de Bray

I haven't been able to find thesource for this translation.

Here is the version from Essays of Michel de Montaigne, Chapter XII, Of Physiognomy, translated by Charles Cotton, edited by William Carew Hazlitt (1877) on

Besides, the method of arguing, of which Socrates here makes use, is it not equally admirable both in simplicity and vehemence?  Truly it is much more easy to speak like Aristotle and to live like Caesar than to speak and live as Socrates did; there lies the extreme degree of perfection and difficulty; art cannot reach it.  Now, our faculties are not so trained up; we do not try, we do not know them; we invest ourselves with those of others, and let our own lie idle; as some one may say of me, that I have here only made a nosegay of foreign flowers, having furnished nothing of my own but the thread to tie them.
Certainly I have so far yielded to public opinion, that those borrowed ornaments accompany me; but I do not mean that they shall cover me and hide me; that is quite contrary to my design, who desire to make a show of nothing but what is my own, and what is my own by nature; and had I taken my own advice, I had at all hazards spoken purely alone, I more and more load myself every day, beyond my purpose and first method, upon the account of idleness and the humour of the age.  If it misbecome me, as I believe it does, ‘tis no matter; it may be of use to some others.