Montaigne again

By John Hertz:  The other day I brought you something by Montaigne. Here’s another one (Essays, Bk. III ch. 13 “On experience”; Screech tr. 2003).

Truth itself is not privileged to be used all the time and in all circumstances: noble though its employment is….  you [could] release truth … not merely unprofitably but detrimentally….  No one will ever convince me that an upright rebuke may not be offered offensively nor that considerations of matter should not often give way to those of manner [p. 1223].

But wait, there’s more.

A king is not to be believed if he boasts of his steadfastness [against] the enemy if, for his profit and improvement, he cannot tolerate the freedom of [one] who loves him to use words which have no other power than to make his ears smart, any remaining effects of them being in his own hands.

Now there is no category of [persons] who has greater need of such true and frank counsels than kings do.  They sustain a life lived in public and have to remain acceptable to the opinions of a great many on-lookers: yet, since it is customary not to tell them anything which makes them change their ways, they discover that they have, quite unawares, begun to be hated and loathed by their subjects for reasons which they could often have avoided … if only they had been warned in time and corrected [p. 1224].

Various comments come to mind, but I omit them.  Even I do that sometimes.

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