The agreeable eye

an eudæmonistarchives

Montaigne 1.10

As we advise ladies to take up those games and bodily exercises which will show off their particular beauty to the best advantage, so I would give the same advice with regard to those advantages in eloquence (33) […] I know by experience that natural disposition which is impatience of earnest and laborious premeditation, and which will produce nothing good unless allowed to run merrily and free. We say of a work that it smell of the oil and the lamp, to account for a certain roughness and awkwardness which results from a too laborious handling (34).

One wonders what ladies advised at the start of the essay are told they smell of when they choose to pursue ‘games and bodily exercises’ that do not show their particular beauty to the best advantage, for one does not imagine that they often had the opportunity to ‘to run merrily and free’.1

  1. I always read ‘particular beauty’ as ‘peculiar beauty’ – no matter what the context. []


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