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THE TRANSLATORS PREFACE TO THE READER.
My design in attempting this translation, was to present my country with a true copy of a very brave original. How far I have succeeded in that design is left to every one to judge ; and I expect to be the more gently censured, for having my self so modest an opinion of my own performance, as to confess that the author has suffered by me, as well as the former translator : though I hope, and dare affirm, that the misinterpretations I shall be found guilty of, are neither so numerous nor so gross. I cannot discern my own errours, it were unpardonable in me if I could, and did not mend them; but I can see his (except when we are both mistaken) and those I have corrected; but am not so ill natur'd as to show where. In truth, both Mr. Florio, and I are to be excused, where we miss of the sence of the author, whose language is such in many places, as grammar cannot reconcile, which renders it the hardest book to make a justifiable version of that I yet ever saw in that, or any other language I understand : insomuch, that though I do think, and am pretty confident, I understand French as well as many men, I have yet sometimes been forc'd to grope at his meaning. Peradventure the greatest critick would in some places have found
my author abstruse enough. Yet are not these mistakes I speak of either so many, or of so great importance, as to cast any scandalous blemish upon the book, but such as few readers can discover, and they that do, will I hope easily excuse.
The errours of the press, I must in part take upon my self, living at so remote a distance from it, and supplying it with a slubber'd copy from an illiterate amanuensis ; the last of which is provided against in the quires that must succeed.
To the Right Honourable
Marquess, Earl, and Viscount Hallifax, Baron of Eland, Lord
Privy Seal, and one of His Majesty's Most Honourable
MY LORD, If I have set down, the only opportunity I ever had of kissing your Lordship's hands, amongst the happy encounters of my life, and take this occasion, so many years after, to tell you so, your Lordship will not, I hope, think your self injur'd by such a declaration from a man that honours you ; nor condemn my ambition, when I publish to the world, that I am not altogether unknown to you. Your Lordship, peradventure, may have forgot a conversation so little worthy your remembrance : but the memory
your Lordship's obliging fashion to me all that time, can never die with me: and though my acknowledgment arrives thus late at you, I have never left it at home when I went abroad into the best company. My Lord, I cannot, I would not flatter you, I do not think your Lordship capable of being flatter'd, neither am I inclin'd to do it to those that are : but I cannot forbear to say, that I then receiv'd such an impression of your vertue, and noble nature, as will stay with me for ever. This will either excuse the liberty I presume to take in this dedication, or, at least, make it no wonder; and I am so confident in your Lordship's generosity, that I assure my self you will not deny your protection to a man whose greatest publick crime is that of an ill writer. A better book (if there be a better of the kind in the original I mean) had been a present more fitly suited to your Lordship's quality and merit, and to my devotion. I could heartily wish it such : but as it is, I lay it at your Lordship's feet, together with
Advertisement.-Since the death of the ingenious translator of these Essays, an imperfect transcript of the following letter was intended for the press, but having the good fortune to meet with a more correct copy, I thought myself under a necessity of publishing it with this third edition, not only to do justice to his memory, but to the great person he chose for his patron.
This for Charles Cotton Esq.; at his house at Berisford.
To be left at Ashburne in Darby-shire. SIR,
I HAVE too long delay'd my thanks to you for giving me such an obliging evidence of your remembrance : that alone would have been a welcome present, but when join'd with the book in the world I am the best entertain'd with, it raiseth a strong desire in me to be better known, where I am sure to be so much pleased. I have till now thought wit could not be translated, and do still retain so much of that opinion, that I believe it impossible, except by one whose genius cometh up to that of the author. You have so kept the original strength of his thought, that it almost tempts a man to believe the transmigration of souls, and that his being us'd to hills, is come into the moor-lands to reward us here in England, for doing him more right than his country will afford him. He hath by your means mended his first edition : to transplant and make him ours, is not only a valuable acquisition to us, but a just censure of the critical impertinence of those French scribblers who have taken pains to make little cavils and exceptions, to lessen the reputation of this great man, whom nature hath made too big to confine himself to the exactness of a studied stile. He let his mind have its full flight, and sheweth by a generous kind of negligence that he did not write for praise, but to give to the world a true picture of himself and of mankind. He scorned affected periods, or to please the mistaken reader with an empty chime of words. He hath no affectation to set himself out, and dependeth wholly upon the natural force of what is his own, and the excellent application of what he borroweth.
You see, sir, I have kindness enough for Monsieur de Montaigne to be your rival, but no body can now pretend to be in equal competition with you : I do willingly yield, which is no small matter for a man to do to a more prosperous lover; and if you will repay this piece of justice with another, pray believe, that he who can translate such an author without doing himn wrong, must not only make me glad but proud of being his
Very humble Servant,