We do not promise in marriage to be continually twisted and linked together, like some little animals that we see, or, like the bewitched folks of Karenty,—[Karantia, a town in the isle of Rugen. We occupy our thoughts about the general, and about universal causes and conducts, which will very well carry on themselves without our care; and leave our own business at random, and Michael much more our concern than man. Those who follow the other extreme, of being quite satisfied and pleased with and in themselves, of valuing what they have above all the rest, and of concluding no beauty can be greater than what they see, if they are not wiser than we, are really more happy; I do not envy their wisdom, but their good fortune. I perceive that people represent, even living men, quite another thing than what they really are; and had I not stoutly defended a friend whom I have lost,—[De la Boetie. I have read a dialogue of Plato, 83 of the like motley and fantastic composition, the beginning about love, and all the rest to the end about rhetoric; they fear not these variations, and have a marvellous grace in letting themselves be carried away at the pleasure of the wind, or at least to seem as if they were.
I know some who follow this rule, even to injustice; who will sooner give than restore, sooner lend than pay, and will do them the least good to whom they are most obliged. I sometimes extract the means to fortify myself against these considerations from indifference and indolence, which, in some sort, bring us on to resolution. Let me shrink and draw up myself in my own shell, like a tortoise, and learn to see men without hanging upon them. I am sociable even to excess, yet I think it reasonable that I should now withdraw my troubles from the sight of the world and keep them to myself. To be tied and bound to a thing puts me quite out, and to depend upon so weak an instrument as my memory. The subtle, eloquent, and learned are only good for the city, to make praetors of, to administer justice.
Life is a material and corporal motion, an action imperfect and irregular of its own proper essence; I make it my business to serve it according to itself:. The change of air and climate never touches me; every sky is alike; I am only troubled with inward alterations which I breed within myself, and those are not so frequent in travel. Has not the royal majesty been more than once there entertained with all its train?
My real need does not so wholly take up all I have, that Fortune has not whereon to fasten her teeth without biting to the quick. As to the rest, I have sufficiently settled my thoughts to live upon less than I have, and live contentedly:.
All things fall under discretion and qualification.
It is a wretched and dangerous thing to depend upon others; we ourselves, in whom is ever the most just and safest dependence, are not sufficiently sure. Common life ought to have relation to the other lives: I have had a hundred quarrels in defending Pompey and for the cause of Brutus; this acquaintance yet continues betwixt us; we have no other hold even on present things but by fancy.
A thousand poets flag and languish after a prosaic manner; but the best old prose and I strew it here up and down indifferently for verse shines throughout with the lustre, vigour, and boldness of poetry, and not without some air of its fury. For my part, the very being tied to what I am to say is enough to loose dssay from it. Virginia Worley – – Educational Theory 62 3: In this conveniency of mojtaignes that I desire, I mix nothing of pomp and amplitude — I hate it rather; but a certain plain neatness, which is oftenest found in places where there is less of art, and that Nature has adorned with some grace that is all her own:.
Methinks I promise it, if I but say it: And when shall I have vqnity representing the continual agitation and montaaignes of my thoughts, as they come into my head, seeing that Diomedes wrote six thousand books upon the sole subject of grammar? It were to be wished that there was more proportion betwixt the command and the obedience; and the mark seems to be unjust to which one cannot attain.
Reflections of Vanity in Montaigne’s “Essais”
The register in this case is not montaighes the recorded thought, but the moment of the thought itself, its pitch and delivery. If to take books in hand were to learn them: Besides these reasons, montagines is in my opinion a very profitable exercise; the soul is there continually employed in observing new and unknown things, and I do not know, as I have often said a better school wherein to model life than by incessantly exposing to it vanlty diversity of so many other lives, fancies, and usances, and by making it relish a perpetual variety of forms of human nature.
Dost thou not see that this world we live in keeps all its sight confined within, and its eyes open to contemplate itself? The Roman tyrants thought they did, in a manner, give a criminal life when they gave him the choice of his death.
Where they wholly break the sense, I am very little concerned, for they at least discharge me; but where they substitute a false one, as they so often do, and wrest me to their conception, they ruin me. It pleases me to consider their face, bearing, and vestments: When I am away at Rome, I keep and govern my house, and the conveniences I there left; see my walls rise, my trees shoot, and my revenue increase or decrease, very near as well as when I am there:.
“Of the vanity of words” by Michel de Montaigne
And in these short and violent deaths, the consequence that I foresee administers more consolation to me than the effect does fear. I am montqignes older by a great many years since my first publications, which were in the year ; but I very much doubt whether I am grown an inch the wiser.
So many words for words only. Montaigne “strives to give worth to vanity itself–to doltishness–if it affords [him] pleasure. I must do it by my fancies. Who ever has been delicate and sensitive, when well, is montalgnes more so when ill.
Thus do I ever advise them to have things done properly, according to my capacity; and lastly, Demea, I command my cooks to look into every dish as if it were a vannity, and tell them what they should do. In earnest, that which most displeases me in all my travels is, that I cannot resolve to settle mintaignes abode where I should best like, but that I must always propose to myself to return, to accommodate myself to the common humour.
Never did any man more fully and feebly dssay himself to be governed by a third person than I should do, had I any one to whom to entrust myself. Quotidiana is an online anthology of “classical” essays, from antiquity to the early twentieth century. However, rather than condemning vanity as sin, as does traditional Catholic theology, Montaigne flaunts and celebrates his vanities reveling in the pleasures they bring him.
It is also the most flippant.