Michel de Montaigne

From Quotes
Love, while you are able to love.
A. Frieligrath
Jump to: navigation, search
Michel de Montaigne

Michel Eyquem de Montaigne (28 February 1533 - 13 September 1592) was an influential French Renaissance writer, generally considered to be the inventor of the personal essay.

Essais

Written between 1571 and 1592, these were published in various editions between 1580 and 1595

  • Que sais-je?
    • Translation: "What know I?" or "What do I know?"
    • The notion of skepticism is most clearly understood by asking this question.
    • Book II, ch. 12
  • Je veux qu'on me voit en ma façon simple, naturelle, et ordinaire, sans étude et artifice; car c'est moi que je peins...Je suis moi-même la matière de mon livre.
    • Translation: I want to be seen here in my simple, natural, ordinary fashion, without straining or artifice; for it is myself that I portray...I am myself the matter of my book.
    • Book I (1580), To the Reader
  • Certes, c'est un subject merveilleusement vain, divers, et ondoyant, que l'homme. Il est malaisé d'y fonder jugement constant et uniforme.
    • Translation: Truly man is a marvellously vain, diverse, and undulating object. It is hard to found any constant and uniform judgement on him.
    • Book I, ch. 1
  • As for extraordinary things, all the provision in the world would not suffice.
    • Book I, ch. 14
  • In my opinion, every rich man is a miser.
    • Book I, ch. 14
  • Things are not bad in themselves, but our cowardice makes them so.
    • Book I, ch. 14
  • C'est de quoi j'ai le plus de peur que la peur.
    • Translation: The thing I fear most is fear.
    • Book I, ch, 18
  • Je veux que la mort me trouve plantant mes choux.
    • Translation: I want death to find me planting my cabbages.
    • Book I, ch. 20
  • All the opinions in the world point out that pleasure is our aim.
    • Book I, ch. 20
  • He who would teach men to die would teach them to live.
    • Book I, ch. 20
  • The day of your birth leads you to death as well as to life.
    • Book I, ch. 20
  • Live as long as you please, you will strike nothing off the time you will have to spend dead.
    • Book I, ch. 20
  • Wherever your life ends, it is all there. The advantage of living is not measured by length, but by use; some men have lived long, and lived little; attend to it while you are in it. It lies in your will, not in the number of years, for you to have lived enough.
    • Book I, ch. 20
  • All of the days go toward death and the last one arrives there.
    • Book I, ch. 20
  • We must not attach knowledge to the mind, we have to incorporate it there.
    • Book I, ch. 25
  • Every other knowledge is harmful to he who does not have knowledge of goodness.
    • Book I, ch. 25
  • Un peu de chaque chose, et rien du tout, a la française.
    • Translation: A little of everything, but nothing of everything, after the French manner.
    • On the education of children; Book I, Chapter 26
  • I do not speak the minds of others except to speak my own mind better.
    • Variant: I quote others only in order the better to express myself.
    • Book I, ch. 26
  • Since I would rather make of him an able man than a learned man, I would also urge that care be taken to choose a guide with a well-made rather than a well-filled head.
    • Book I, ch. 26
  • Parce que c'était lui; parce que c'était moi.
    • Translation: If you press me to say why I loved him, I can say no more than it was because he was he, and I was I.
    • Variants: If a man urge me to tell wherefore I loved him, I feel it cannot be expressed but by answering: Because it was he, because it was myself.
      If a man should importune me to give a reason why I loved him, I find it could no otherwise be expressed, than by making answer: because it was he, because it was I.
    • Book I, ch. 28
  • Nothing is so firmly believed as that which we least know.
    • Variant: Nothing is so firmly believed as what is least known.
    • Book I, ch. 32
  • L'homme d'entendement n'a rien perdu, s'il a soimême.
    • Translation: A man of understanding has lost nothing, if he has himself.
    • Book I, ch. 39
  • La plus grande chose du monde, c'est de savoir être à soi.
    • Translation: The greatest thing in the world is to know how to belong to oneself.
    • Book I, ch. 39
  • There is as much difference between us and ourselves as between us and others.
    • Book II (1580), ch. 1
  • C'est une épineuse entreprise, et plus qu'il ne semble, de suivre une allure si vagabonde que celle de nôtre esprit; de pénétrer les profondeurs opaques de ses replis internes; de choisir et arrêter tant de menus de ses agitations.
    • Translation: It is a thorny undertaking, and more so than it seems, to follow a movement so wandering as that of our mind, to penetrate the opaque depths of its innermost folds, to pick out and immobilize the innumerable flutterings that agitate it.
    • Book II, ch. 6
  • Mon métier et mon art, c'est vivre.
    • Translation: My trade and my art is living.
    • Book II, ch. 6
  • The easy, gentle, and sloping path...is not the path of true virtue. It demands a rough and thorny road.
    • Book II, ch. 11
  • When I play with my cat, who knows if I am not a pastime to her more than she is to me?
    • Book II, ch. 12
  • The souls of emperors and cobblers are cast in the same mold...The same reason that makes us wrangle with a neighbor creates a war betwixt princes.
    • Book II, ch. 12
  • L'homme est bien insensé. Il ne saurait forger un ciron, et forge des Dieux à douzaines.
    • Translation: Man is certainly crazy. He could not make a mite, and he makes gods by the dozen.
    • Book II, ch. 12
  • Quelle vérité que ces montagnes bornent, qui est mensonge qui se tient au delà?
    • Translation: What of a truth that is bounded by these mountains and is falsehood to the world that lives beyond?
    • Book II, ch. 12
  • Ceux qui ont apparié notre vie à un songe ont eu de la raison...Nous veillons dormants et veillants dormons.
    • Translation: Those who have compared our life to a dream were right... We sleeping wake, and waking sleep.
    • Book II, ch. 12
  • How many valiant men we have seen to survive their own reputation!
    • Book II, ch. 16
  • A man may be humble through vainglory.
    • Book II, ch. 17
  • I find that the best goodness I have has some tincture of vice.
    • Book II, ch. 20
  • Saying is one thing and doing is another.
    • Book II, ch. 31
  • There were never in the world two opinions alike, any more than two hairs or two grains. Their most universal quality is diversity.
    • Book II, ch. 37
  • I will follow the good side right to the fire, but not into it if I can help it.
    • Book III (1595), ch. 1
  • I speak the truth, not my fill of it, but as much as I dare speak; and I dare to do so a little more as I grow old.
    • Book III, ch. 2
  • Few men have been admired by their own households.
    • Book III, ch. 2
  • Chaque homme porte la forme, entière de l'humaîne condition.
    • Translation: Every man bears the whole stamp of the human condition.
    • Book III, ch. 2
  • It (marriage) happens as with cages: the birds without despair to get in, and those within despair of getting out.
    • Book III, ch. 5
  • Not because Socrates said so, but because it is in truth my own disposition — and perchance to some excess — I look upon all men as my compatriots, and embrace a Pole as a Frenchman, making less account of the national than of the universal and common bond.
    • Book III, ch. 9
  • There is no man so good that if he placed all his actions and thoughts under the scrutiny of the laws, he would not deserve hanging ten times in his life.
    • Book III, ch. 9
  • A man must be a little mad if he does not want to be even more stupid.
    • Book III, ch. 9
  • I have seen no more evident monstrosity and miracle in the world than myself.
    • Book III, ch. 11
  • It is more of a job to interpret the interpretations than to interpret the things, and there are more books about books than about any other subject: we do nothing but write glosses about each other.
    • Book III, ch. 13
  • For truth itself does not have the privilege to be employed at any time and in every way; its use, noble as it is, has its circumscriptions and limits.
    • Book III, ch. 13
  • Si, avons nous beau monter sur des échasses, car sur des échasses encore faut-il marcher de nos jambes. Et au plus élevé trône du monde, si ne sommes assis que sur notre cul.
    • Translation: No matter that we may mount on stilts, we still must walk on our own legs. And on the highest throne in the world, we still sit only on our own bottom.
    • Book III, ch. 13
  • Let us give Nature a chance; she knows her business better than we do.
    • Book III, ch. 13

Attributed

Most quotations of Montaigne come from the Essais but the following have not yet been given definite citation.

  • A good marriage would be between a blind wife and a deaf husband.
  • A wise man sees as much as he ought, not as much as he can.
  • Age imprints more wrinkles in the mind than it does on the face.
  • Book III, ch. 2
  • Ambition is not a vice of little people.
  • An untempted woman cannot boast of her chastity.
  • Confidence in another man's virtue is no light evidence of a man's own, and God willingly favors such a confidence.
    • Variant: Confidence in the goodness of another is good proof of one's own goodness.
  • Book I, ch. 14
  • Courtesy is a science of the highest importance. It is, like grace and beauty in the body, which charm at first sight, and lead on to further intimacy and friendship, opening a door that we may derive instruction from the example of others, and at the same time enabling us to benefit them by our example, if there be anything in our character worthy of imitation.
  • Covetousness is both the beginning and the end of the devil's alphabet— the first vice in corrupt nature that moves, and the last which dies.
  • Death, they say, acquits us of all obligations.
  • Book I, ch. 7
  • Don't discuss yourself, for you are bound to lose; if you belittle yourself, you are believed; if you praise yourself, you are disbelieved.
  • Book III, ch. 8
  • Even from their infancy we frame them to the sports of love: their instruction, behavior, attire, grace, learning and all their words azimuth only at love, respects only affection. Their nurses and their keepers imprint no other thing in them.
  • Experience teaches that a strong memory is generally joined to a weak judgment.
  • Book I, ch. 9
  • Fame and tranquility can never be bedfellows.
  • Book I, ch. 39
  • Fashion is the science of appearances, and it inspires one with the desire to seem rather than to be.
  • Fortune, seeing that she could not make fools wise, has made them lucky.
  • Hath God obliged himself not to exceed the bounds of our knowledge?
  • He who establishes his argument by noise and command shows that his reason is weak.
  • He who fears he shall suffer, already suffers what he fears.
  • He who is not sure of his memory, should not undertake the trade of lying.
    • Variant: He who is not very strong in memory should not meddle with lying.
  • How many things we held yesterday as articles of faith which today we tell as fables.
  • I care not so much what I am to others as what I am to myself. I will be rich by myself, and not by borrowing.
  • Book II, ch. 16
  • I do myself a greater injury in lying than I do him of whom I tell a lie.
  • Book II, ch. 17
  • I know well what I am fleeing from but not what I am in search of.
  • Book III, ch. 9
  • I prefer the company of peasants because they have not been educated sufficiently to reason incorrectly.
  • If you don't know how to die, don't worry; Nature will tell you what to do on the spot, fully and adequately. She will do this job perfectly for you; don't bother your head about it.
  • In plain truth, lying is an accursed vice. We are not men, nor have any other tie upon another, but by our word.
  • In true education, anything that comes to our hand is as good as a book: the prank of a page-boy, the blunder of a servant, a bit of table talk— they are all part of the curriculum.
  • It is good to rub and polish our brain against that of others.
  • Book I, ch. 26
  • It is not death, it is dying that alarms me.
  • Book II, ch. 13
  • It is the mind that maketh good or ill, That maketh wretch or happy, rich or poor.
  • It should be noted that children at play are not playing about; their games should be seen as their most serious-minded activity.
    • Variants: It should be noted that the games of children are not games, and must be considered as their most serious actions.
      For truly it is to be noted, that children's plays are not sports, and should be deemed as their most serious actions.
  • Book I, ch. 23
  • Labour not after riches first, and think thou afterwards wilt enjoy them. He who neglecteth the present moment, throweth away all that he hath. As the arrow passeth through the heart, while the warrior knew not that it was coming; so shall his life be taken away before he knoweth that he hath it.
  • Lend yourself to others, but give yourself to yourself.
  • Let us not be ashamed to speak what we shame not to think.
  • Book III, ch. 5
  • Love to his soul gave eyes; he knew things are not as they seem. The dream is his real life; the world around him is the dream.
  • Make your educational laws strict and your criminal ones can be gentle; but if you leave youth its liberty you will have to dig dungeons for ages.
  • Marriage is like a cage; one sees the birds outside desperate to get in, and those inside equally desperate to get out.
  • Book III, ch. 5
  • Marriage, a market which has nothing free but the entrance.
  • My life has been full of terrible misfortunes most of which never happened.
  • No man is exempt from saying silly things; the mischief is to say them deliberately.
  • No wind serves him who addresses his voyage to no certain port.
  • Book II, ch. 1
  • Not being able to govern events, I govern myself.
  • Book II, ch. 17
  • Nothing prints more lively in our minds than something we wish to forget.
  • Book II, ch. 12
  • Of all our infirmities, the most savage is to despise our being.
    • Variant: Of all the infirmities we have, 'tis the most savage to despise our being." (Charles Cotton translation)
  • Book III, ch. 13
  • Once conform, once do what others do because they do it, and a kind of lethargy steals over all the finer senses of the soul.
  • Rejoice in the things that are present; all else is beyond thee.
  • So it is with minds. Unless you keep them busy with some definite subject that will bridle and control them, they throw themselves in disorder hither and yon in the vague field of imagination. ..And there is no mad or idle fancy that they do no bring forth in the agitation.
  • Book I, ch. 8
  • The art of dining well is no slight art, the pleasure not a slight pleasure.
  • The ceaseless labour of your life is to build the house of death.
  • Book I, ch. 20
  • The entire lower world was created in the likeness of the higher world. All that exists in the higher world appears like an image in this lower world; yet all this is but One.
  • The most manifest sign of wisdom is a continual cheerfulness; her state is like that in the regions above the moon, always clear and serene.
    • Variant: The most certain sign of wisdom is cheerfulness.
  • Book I, ch. 26
  • The most profound joy has more of gravity than of gaiety in it.
  • The strangest, most generous, and proudest of all virtues is true courage.
  • The value of life lies not in the length of days, but in the use we make of them... Whether you find satisfaction in life depends not on your tale of years, but on your will.
  • Book I, ch. 20
  • The way of the world is to make laws, but follow custom.
  • The world is all a carcass and vanity, The shadow of a shadow, a play And in one word, just nothing.
  • The world is but a perpetual see-saw.
  • The worst of my actions or conditions seem not so ugly unto me as I find it both ugly and base not to dare to avouch for them.
  • There are some defeats more triumphant than victories.
  • There is a plague on Man, the opinion that he knows something.
  • There is a sort of gratification in doing good which makes us rejoice in ourselves.
  • book III, ch. 2
  • There is little less trouble in governing a private family than a whole kingdom.
    • Variant: There is not much less vexation in the government of a private family than in the managing of an entire state.
  • Book I, ch. 39
  • There is no conversation more boring than the one where everybody agrees.
  • There is no passion so contagious as that of fear.
  • There is no pleasure to me without communication: there is not so much as a sprightly thought comes into my mind that it does not grieve me to have produced alone, and that I have no one to tell it to.
  • There is nothing more notable in Socrates than that he found time, when he was an old man, to learn music and dancing, and thought it time well spent.
  • Book III, ch. 13
  • Those that will combat use and custom by the strict rules of grammar do but jest.
  • 'Tis the sharpness of our mind that gives the edge to our pains and pleasures.
  • Book I, ch. 14
  • Valor is stability, not of legs and arms, but of courage and the soul.
  • We can be knowledgeable with other men's knowledge, but we cannot be wise with other men's wisdom.
  • Book I, ch. 25
  • We only labor to stuff the memory, and leave the conscience and the understanding unfurnished and void.
  • Book I, ch. 25
  • When I am attacked by gloomy thoughts, nothing helps me so much as running to my books. They quickly absorb me and banish the clouds from my mind.
  • Who does not in some sort live to others, does not live much to himself.
  • Book III, ch. 10
  • Wonder is the foundation of all philosophy, research is the means of all learning, and ignorance is the end.
  • Writing does not cause misery. It is born of misery.

External links

Wikipedia
Wikipedia has an article about: