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Title: The Essays of Montaigne, Complete
Author: Michel de Montaigne
Release Date: October 26, 2004 [EBook #3600]
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*** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK THE ESSAYS OF MONTAIGNE, COMPLETE ***
Produced by David Widger
ESSAYS OF MICHEL DE MONTAIGNE
Translated by Charles Cotton
Edited by William Carew Hazilitt
CONTENTS OF VOLUME 1.
The Life of Montaigne
The Letters of Montaigne
The present publication is intended to supply a recognised deficiency in
our literature--a library edition of the Essays of Montaigne. This great
French writer deserves to be regarded as a classic, not only in the land
of his birth, but in all countries and in all literatures. His Essays,
which are at once the most celebrated and the most permanent of his
productions, form a magazine out of which such minds as those of Bacon
and Shakespeare did not disdain to help themselves; and, indeed, as
Hallam observes, the Frenchman’s literary importance largely results from
the share which his mind had in influencing other minds, coeval and
subsequent. But, at the same time, estimating the value and rank of the
essayist, we are not to leave out of the account the drawbacks and the
circumstances of the period: the imperfect state of education, the
comparative scarcity of books, and the limited opportunities of
intellectual intercourse. Montaigne freely borrowed of others, and he
has found men willing to borrow of him as freely. We need not wonder at
the reputation which he with seeming facility achieved. He was, without
being aware of it, the leader of a new school in letters and morals. His
book was different from all others which were at that date in the world.
It diverted the ancient currents of thought into new channels. It told
its readers, with unexampled frankness, what its writer’s opinion was
allowed any longer to stand sponsor for what he never wrote; and
reluctant, on the other hand, to suppress the intruding matter entirely,
where it appeared to possess a value of its own.
Nor is redundancy or paraphrase the only form of transgression in Cotton,
for there are places in his author which he thought proper to omit, and
it is hardly necessary to say that the restoration of all such matter to
the text was considered essential to its integrity and completeness.
My warmest thanks are due to my father, Mr Registrar Hazlitt, the author
of the well-known and excellent edition of Montaigne published in 1842,
for the important assistance which he has rendered to me in verifying and
retranslating the quotations, which were in a most corrupt state, and of
which Cotton’s English versions were singularly loose and inexact, and
for the zeal with which he has co-operated with me in collating the
English text, line for line and word for word, with the best French
By the favour of Mr F. W. Cosens, I have had by me, while at work on this
subject, the copy of Cotgrave’s Dictionary, folio, 1650, which belonged
to Cotton. It has his autograph and copious MSS. notes, nor is it too
much to presume that it is the very book employed by him in his
W. C. H.
KENSINGTON, November 1877.
BOOK THE FIRST.
I. That men by various ways arrive at the same end.
II. Of Sorrow.
III. That our affections carry themselves beyond us.
IV. That the soul discharges her passions upon false objects, where
the true are wanting.
V. Whether the governor of a place besieged ought himself to go out
VI. That the hour of parley is dangerous.
VII. That the intention is judge of our actions
VIII. Of idleness.
IX. Of liars.
X. Of quick or slow speech.
XI. Of prognostications.
XII. Of constancy.
XIII. The ceremony of the interview of princes.
XIV. That men are justly punished for being obstinate in the defence
of a fort that is not in reason to be defended.
XV. Of the punishment of cowardice.
XVI. A proceeding of some ambassadors.
XVII. Of fear.
XVIII. That men are not to judge of our happiness till after death.
XIX. That to study philosophy is to learn to die.
XX. Of the force of imagination.
XXI. That the profit of one man is the damage of another.
XXII. Of custom, and that we should not easily change a law received.
XXIII. Various events from the same counsel.
XXIV. Of pedantry.
XXV. Of the education of children.
XXVI. That it is folly to measure truth and error by our own capacity.
XXVII. Of friendship.
XXVIII. Nine-and-twenty sonnets of Estienne de la Boetie.
XXIX. Of moderation.
XXX. Of cannibals.
XXXI. That a man is soberly to judge of the divine ordinances.
XXXII. That we are to avoid pleasures, even at the expense of
XXXIII. That fortune is oftentimes observed to act by the rule of reason.
XXXIV. Of one defect in our government.
XXXV. Of the custom of wearing clothes.
XXXVI. Of Cato the Younger.
XXXVII. That we laugh and cry for the same thing.
XXXVIII. Of solitude.
XXXIX. A consideration upon Cicero.
XL. That the relish of good and evil depends in a great measure upon
the opinion we have of them.
XLI. Not to communicate a man’s honour.
XLII. Of the inequality amongst us.
XLIII. Of sumptuary laws.
XLIV. Of sleep.
XLV. Of the battle of Dreux.
XLVI. Of names.
XLVII. Of the uncertainty of our judgment.
XLVIII. Of war-horses, or destriers.
XLIX. Of ancient customs.
L. Of Democritus and Heraclitus.
LI. Of the vanity of words.
LII. Of the parsimony of the Ancients.
LIII. Of a saying of Caesar.
LIV. Of vain subtleties.
LV. Of smells.
LVI. Of prayers.
LVII. Of age.
THE LIFE OF MONTAIGNE
[This is translated freely from that prefixed to the ’variorum’ Paris
edition, 1854, 4 vols. 8vo. This biography is the more desirable that
it contains all really interesting and important matter in the journal of
the Tour in Germany and Italy, which, as it was merely written under
Montaigne’s dictation, is in the third person, is scarcely worth
publication, as a whole, in an English dress.]
The author of the Essays was born, as he informs us himself, between
eleven and twelve o’clock in the day, the last of February 1533, at the
chateau of St. Michel de Montaigne. His father, Pierre Eyquem, esquire,
was successively first Jurat of the town of Bordeaux (1530), Under-Mayor
1536, Jurat for the second time in 1540, Procureur in 1546, and at
length Mayor from 1553 to 1556. He was a man of austere probity, who had
”a particular regard for honour and for propriety in his person and
attire . . . a mighty good faith in his speech, and a conscience and
a religious feeling inclining to superstition, rather than to the other
extreme.”[Essays, ii. 2.] Pierre Eyquem bestowed great care on the
education of his children, especially on the practical side of it. To
associate closely his son Michel with the people, and attach him to those
who stand in need of assistance, he caused him to be held at the font by
persons of meanest position; subsequently he put him out to nurse with a
poor villager, and then, at a later period, made him accustom himself to
the most common sort of living, taking care, nevertheless, to cultivate
his mind, and superintend its development without the exercise of undue
rigour or constraint. Michel, who gives us the minutest account of his
earliest years, charmingly narrates how they used to awake him by the
sound of some agreeable music, and how he learned Latin, without
suffering the rod or shedding a tear, before beginning French, thanks to
the German teacher whom his father had placed near him, and who never
addressed him except in the language of Virgil and Cicero. The study of
Greek took precedence. At six years of age young Montaigne went to the
College of Guienne at Bordeaux, where he had as preceptors the most
eminent scholars of the sixteenth century, Nicolas Grouchy, Guerente,
Muret, and Buchanan. At thirteen he had passed through all the classes,
and as he was destined for the law he left school to study that science.