Front Page Titles (by Subject) XXXIII: To Henry IV. - Life and Letters of Montaigne with Notes and Index, vol. 10
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XXXIII: To Henry IV. - Michel de Montaigne, Life and Letters of Montaigne with Notes and Index, vol. 10 
Life and Letters of Montaigne with Notes and Index, vol. 10, trans. Charles Cotton, revised by William Carew Hazlett (New York: Edwin C. Hill, 1910).
Part of: Essays of Montaigne, in 10 vols.
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To Henry IV.
Sire,—It is to be above the weight and crowd of your great and important affairs to know how to lend yourself and attend to small matters in their turn, according to the duty of your royal authority, which exposes you at all times to every description and degree of men and employments. Yet, that your Majesty deigned to consider my letter and direct, a reply, I prefer to owe to your benignity rather than your vigor of mind. I have always looked forward to that same fortune in you which you now enjoy, and you may recollect that even when I could only make avowal of it to my heart, I did not omit to view with goodwill your successes. Now, with the greater reason and freedom I embrace them with full affection. They serve you there in effect; but they serve you here no less by reputation: the echo carries as much weight as the blow. We should not be able to derive from the justice of your case such powerful arguments for the maintenance and reduction of your subjects, as we do from the reports of the success of your undertakings; and I can assure your Majesty, that the recent changes to your advantage, which you observe hereabouts, the prosperous issue at Dieppe, have opportunely seconded the honest zeal and marvellous prudence of M. le Marechal de Matignon, from whom I flatter myself that you do not daily receive accounts of such good and signal services without remembering my assurances and expectations. I look to this coming summer, not only for fruits to nourish us, but for those of our common tranquillity, and that it will pass over our heads with the same even tenor of happiness, dissipating, like its predecessors, all the fine promises with which your adversaries sustain the spirits of their followers. The popular inclinations resemble a tidal wave; if the current once commences in your favor, it will go on of its own force to the end. I could have desired much that the private gain of the soldiers of your army, and the necessity for satisfying them, had not deprived you, especially in this principal town, of the glorious credit of treating your mutinous subjects, in the midst of victory, with greater clemency than their own protectors, and that, as distinguished from a passing and usurped repute, you could have shown them to be really your own, by the exercise of a paternal and truly royal protection. In the conduct of such affairs as you have in hand, men are obliged to have recourse to uncommon expedients. If it is always seen that where conquests by their magnitude and difficulty are not to be carried out by arms and force, the end has been accomplished by clemency and generosity, excellent lures to draw men particularly toward the just and legitimate side. If there is to be severity and punishment, they must be foregone, when the mastery has been won. A great conqueror of the passed time boasts that he gave his enemies as great an inducement to love him as his friends. And here we feel already some effect of good augury in the impression upon your rebellious towns by the comparison of their rough treatment with that of those which are under your obedience. Desiring your Majesty a happiness more tangible and less hazardous, and that you may be beloved rather than feared by your people, and holding your welfare and theirs to be of necessity attached together, I rejoice to think that the progress which you make toward victory is also one toward more practical conditions of peace.
Sire, your letter of the last of November came to my hand only just now, when the time which it pleased you to name for meeting you at Tours had already passed. I take it as a singular favor that you should have deigned to desire to see me, so useless a person, but yours more by affection than from duty. You have acted very commendably in adapting yourself, in the matter of external forms, to the height of your new fortune; but your debonnaireness and affability of your intimate relations you are equally praiseworthy in not changing. You have been pleased to take thought not only for my age, but for the desire which I have to see you, where you may be at rest from these laborious agitations. Will not that be soon at Paris, Sire? and may nothing prevent me from presenting myself there! From Montaigne, the 18th of January 1590. Your very humble and very obedient servant and subject,