Our judgments are yet sick, and obey the humour of our depraved manners. I observe most of the wits of these times pretend to ingenuity by endeavouring to blemish and to darken the glory of the bravest and most generous actions of former ages, putting one vile interpretation or another upon them, and forging and supposing vain causes and motives for those noble things they did. A mighty subtility indeed! Give me the greatest and most unblemished action that ever the day beheld, and I will contrive a hundred plausible drifts and ends to obscure it.
Michel de Montaigne: Essays. Cottons 3d ed., ch. xxxvi.
There is no small degree of malicious craft in fixing upon a season to give a mark of enmity and ill will: a word, a look, which at one time would make no impression, at another time wounds the heart; and, like a shaft flying with the winds, pierces deep, which, with its own natural force, would scarcely have reached the object aimed at.