I do not know whether it may have the same operation upon other men that it has upon me, but when I hear our architects thunder out their bombast words of pilasters, architraves, and cornices, of the Corinthian and Doric orders, and suchlike jargon, my imagination is presently possessed with the palace of Apollidon; when, after all, I find them but the paltry pieces of my own kitchen door. Of such dealers nothing should be bought till after they are dead. How much Montaigne’s attitude towards vanity reflects the new biblical exegeses of the Reformation is difficult, if not impossible, to determine. I have seen elsewhere houses in ruins, and statues both of gods and men: Dost thou not see that this world we live in keeps all its sight confined within, and its eyes open to contemplate itself? On the contrary, I make it my business to bring vanity itself in repute, and folly too, if it produce me any pleasure; and let myself follow my own natural inclinations, without carrying too strict a hand upon them. To give them quite over, is very easy for me to do:

He left his money in the hands of a banker with this condition — that if his children were fools, he should then give it to them; if wise, he should then distribute it to the most foolish of the people; as if fools, for being less capable of living without riches, were more capable of using them. My house, as one that has ever been open and free to all comers, and civil to all for I could never persuade myself to make it a garrison of war, war being a thing that I prefer to see as remote as may be , has sufficiently merited popular kindness, and so that it would be a hard matter justly to insult over me upon my own dunghill; and I look upon it as a wonderful and exemplary thing that it yet continues a virgin from blood and plunder during so long a storm, and so many neighbouring revolutions and tumults. I content myself with enjoying the world without bustle; only-to live an excusable life, and such as may neither be a burden to myself nor to any other. In travelling, it pleases me that I may stay where I like, without inconvenience, and that I have a place wherein commodiously to divert myself. Journeys do me no harm but only by their expense, which is great, and more than I am well able to bear, being always wont to travel with not only a necessary, but a handsome equipage; I must make them so much shorter and fewer; I spend therein but the froth, and what I have reserved for such uses, delaying and deferring my motion till that be ready. My imagination suggests to me one that is easy, and, since we must die, to be desired.

So Many Books: In Which Montaigne Reveals His Lack of Ambition and His Bovine Desires

First, because I conceive that a man having once parted with his labours to montaignez world, he has no further right to them; let him do better if he can, in some new undertaking, but not adulterate what he has already sold. There are pieces in Plutarch where he forgets his theme; where the proposition of his argument is only found by incidence, stuffed and half stifled in foreign matter.


She whom you have but just now illicitly embraced will presently, even in your hearing, more loudly inveigh against the same fault in her companion than a Portia would do; 73 and men there are who will condemn others to death for crimes that they themselves do not repute so much as faults.

Essy man must be a little mad if he does not want to be even more stupid, say the precepts of our masters, and even more so their examples. I should willingly follow the example of the philosopher Bion: When Thetis, says Aristotle, flatters Jupiter, when the Lacedaemonians flatter the Athenians, they do not put them in mind of the good they have done them, which is always odious, but of the benefits they have received from them.

montaignes essay on vanity

Nay, of my own inclination, I pay more service to the vankty they can no longer help themselves, and therefore, methinks, the more require my assistance: I see, and am vexed to see, in several families I know, Monsieur about noon come home all jaded and ruffled about his affairs, when Madame is still dressing her hair and tricking up herself, forsooth, in her closet: There is no so good man, who so squares all his thoughts and actions to the laws, that he is not faulty enough to deserve hanging ten times in his life; and he may well be such a one, as it were great injustice and great harm to punish and ruin: Montaines is a style that is completely internal, malleable and self-justifying.

To whom do they not, at last, become vannity and insupportable?

montaignes essay on vanity

In the age of rediscovered classical knowledge, spiritual kinship was to be found in either Greece or Rome.

I hate the morsels that necessity carves me; any commodity upon which I had vanitu to depend would have me by the throat. I seek out change indiscriminately and tumultuously. If they unfortunately happen to thwart and contradict one another, so as to produce two parts, of doubtful and difficult choice, I will willingly choose to withdraw and escape the tempest; in the meantime nature or the hazards of war may lend me a helping hand.

The Vanity of Words | Essay as I might

I am not much taken with the sweetness of a native air: Crates did worse, who threw himself into the liberty of poverty, only to rid himself of the inconveniences and cares of his house.

The human mind loves the bondage of words and is apt, when freed from one form of their tyranny, to set up another more oppressive than the last. Throughout the voluminous collection, Montaigne is frequently unserious and pathologically self-aware——ever ready to undermine himself at the moment he appears pedagogical, or didactic.


Montaigne catalogues his thoughts at the very moment at which they occur in attempt to clarify them——before he can distrust them, before he can become ashamed of himself——just as Hamlet uses the artifice of the play to produce a renewed moment in which to hold a sense of resolve muddled by prolonged contemplation.

I never read this following story that I am not offended at it with a personal and natural resentment: At the very beginning of my fevers and sicknesses that cast me down, whilst still entire, and but little, disordered in health, I reconcile myself to Almighty God by the last Christian, offices, and find myself by so doing less oppressed and more easy, and have got, methinks, so much the better of my disease.

montaignes essay on vanity

I am a Frenchman only through this great city, great in people, great in the felicity of her situation; but, above all, great and incomparable in variety and diversity of commodities: And besides, traveling does no harm except to the wallet. When I consider my affairs at distance and in gross, I find, because perhaps my memory is none of the best, that they have gone on hitherto improving beyond my reason or expectation; my revenue seems greater than it is; its prosperity betrays me: Commentaries are copyrighted, but may be used with proper attribution.

Of the vanity of words

There is not only consolation to be extracted from this universal combination of ills and ,ontaignes, but, moreover, some hopes of the continuation of our state, forasmuch as, naturally, nothing falls where all falls: No man, so far as in me lie, shall have a clearer, a more quiet and free fruition of his estate than I.

The groans of the stone are grown so familiar to my people, that nobody takes any notice of them. Never did any man more fully and feebly suffer himself to be governed by a third person than I should do, had I any one to whom to entrust myself.

Is it by nature, or through error of fancy, that the sight of places which we know to have been frequented and inhabited by persons whose memories are recommended in story, moves us in some sort more than to hear a recital of their — acts or to read their writings? Aristotle boasts somewhere in his writings that he affected it: I fortify myself both in courage, which is the strongest assistant, and also in fortune, therein wherewith to satisfy myself, though everything else should forsake me.

Still, this hyperbole is fun, and lists need to be made. By esay to use this website, you agree to their use.