Montaigne Sentence Examples
They are also the direct antitheses to the scepticism of Montaigne and Pascal, to the materialism of Gassendi and Hobbes, and to the superstitious anthropomorphism which defaced the reawakening sciences of nature.
And the doctrine found acceptance among some whom it enabled to get rid of the difficulties raised by Montaigne and those who allowed more difference between animal and animal than between the higher animals and man.
Ideas as well as learning are largely Montaigne's.
But he was not a blind follower of the system; he wished for unlimited freedom of trade in many,cases; and he was in advance of his more eminent contemporary Montaigne in perceiving that the gain of one nation is not necessarily the loss of another.
But the gossip, not discouraged by Terence, lived and throve; it crops up in Cicero and Quintilian, and the ascription of the plays to Scipio had the honour to be accepted by Montaigne and rejected by Diderot.Advertisement
Montaigne said of him,"I give the palm to Jacques Amyot over all our French writers, not only for the simplicity and purity of his language in which he surpasses all others, nor for his constancy to so long an undertaking, nor for his profound learning.
Thus he tells us that Montaigne is the first French author whom an English gentleman is ashamed not to have read.
The patronymic of the Montaigne family, who derived their title from the château at which the essayist was born and which had been bought by his grandfather, was Eyquem.
Malvezin (Michel de Montaigne, son origine et sa famille, 1875) proved the existence of a family of Eyquems or Ayquems before the marriage of Eleanor of Aquitaine to Henry II.
Montaigne is not far from Bordeaux, with which the Eyquem family had for some time been connected.Advertisement
Pierre Eyquem, Montaigne's father, had been engaged in commerce (a herring-merchant Scaliger calls him, and his grandfather Ramon had certainly followed that trade), had filled many municipal offices in Bordeaux, and had served under Francis I.
Montaigne was not only put out to nurse with a peasant woman, but had his sponsors from the same class, and was accustomed to associate with it.
These details of his education (which, like most else that is known about him, come from his own mouth) are not only interesting in themselves, but remind the reader how, not far from the same time, Rabelais, the other leading writer of French during the Renaissance, was exercising himself, though not being exercised, in plans of education almost as fantastic. At six years old Montaigne was sent to the college de Guienne at Bordeaux, then at the height of its reputation.
At thirteen Montaigne left the college de Guienne and began to study law, it is not known where, but probably at Toulouse.
Finally, in 1571, as he tells us in an inscription still extant, he retired to Montaigne to take up his abode there, having given up his magistracy the year before.Advertisement
On first coming to live at Montaigne he edited the works of his deceased friend Etienne de la Boetie, who had been the comrade of his youth, who died early, and who, with poems of real promise, had composed a declamatory and school-boyish theme on republicanism, entitled the Contr' un, which is one of the most over-estimated books in literature.
Garrulous after a fashion as Montaigne is, he gives us no clear idea of any original or definite impulse leading him to write the famous Essays.
They contain, as at present published, no fewer than ninety-three essays, besides an exceedingly long apology for the already mentioned Raymund Sabunde, in which some have seen the kernel of Montaigne's philosophy.
Late in the 18th century a journal was found in the château of Montaigne giving an account of this journey, and it was published in 1774; part of it is written in Italian and part dictated in French, the latter being for the most part the work of a secretary or servant.
Montaigne was not altogether delighted at his election to the mayoralty, which promised him two years of responsible if not very hard work.Advertisement
It was his business, if not exactly his duty, to preside at the formal election of his successor, the marechal de Matignon; but there was a severe pestilence in Bordeaux, and Montaigne writes to the jurats of that town, in one of the few undoubtedly authentic letters which we possess, to the effect that he will leave them to judge whether his presence at the election is so necessary as to make it worth his while to expose himself to the danger of going into the town in its then condition, "which is specially dangerous for men coming from a good air, as he does."
However this may be, Montaigne had difficulty enough during this turbulent period, all the more so from his neighbourhood to the chief haunts and possessions of Henry of Navarre, who actually visited him at Montaigne in 1584.
Montaigne is one of the few great writers who have not only perfected but have also invented a literary kind.
In matter of style and language Montaigne's position is equally important, but the ways which led him to it are more clearly traceable.
Montaigne, however, followed with the perfect independence that characterized him.Advertisement
But the principal characteristic of Montaigne's prose style is its remarkable ease and flexibility.
A few years after Montaigne's death a great revolution, as is generally known, passed over France.
During this revolution only two writers of older date held their ground, and those two were Rabelais and Montaigne - Montaigne being of his nature more generally readable than Rabelais.
It would be impossible, however, for the stoutest defender of the importance of form in literature to assign the chief part in Montaigne's influence to style.
Like all the greatest writers except Shakespeare, Montaigne thoroughly and completely exhibits the intellectual and moral complexion of his own time.
Rabelais, who died when Montaigne was still in early manhood, exhibits the earlier and rising spirit, though he needs to be completed on the poetical side.
With Montaigne begins the age of disenchantment.
The predisposing circumstances which affected Montaigne were thus likely to incline him to scepticism, to ethical musings on the vanity of life and the like.
This was a decidedly complicated one, and neglect of it has led some readers to adopt a more positive idea of Montaigne's scepticism than is fully justified by all the facts.
Montaigne is far too much occupied about all sorts of the minutest details of human life to make it for a moment admissible that he regarded that life as a whole but as smoke and vapour.
Perhaps the only actual parallel to Montaigne in literature is Lamb.
The positiveness of the French disposition is already noticeable in Rabelais; it becomes more noticeable still in Montaigne.
Montaigne did not very long survive the completion of his book.
She lived far into the 17th century, and became a character and something of a laughing-stock to the new generation; but her services to Montaigne's literary memory were, as will be seen, great.
The latter, indeed, was more than a friend, he was a disciple; and Montaigne, just as he had constituted Mlle de Gournay his "fille d'alliance," bestowed on Charron the rather curious compliment of desiring that he should take the arms of the family of Montaigne.
But family affection, except towards his father, was by no means Montaigne's strongest point.
When Henry of Navarre came to the throne of France, he wished Montaigne, whom he had again visited in 1587, to come to court, but the essayist refused.
Montaigne's widow survived him, and his daughter left posterity which became merged in the noble houses of Segur and Lur-Saluces.
Mme de Montaigne gave her a copy of the edition of 1588 annotated copiously; at the same time, apparently, she bestowed another copy, also annotated by the author, on the convent of the Feuillants in Bordeaux, to which the church in which his remains lay was attached.
The editions of Montaigne in France and elsewhere, and the works upon him during the past three centuries, are innumerable.
The most recent books of importance are P. Bonnefon's Montaigne, l'homme et l'ceuzre (1893) and P. Stapfer's Montaigne (1895) in the Grands ecrivains, the latter a book of remarkable excellence.
Edme Champion's Introduction aux essais may also be noticed, and Professor Dowden's Montaigne (1905), which has an excellent bibliography.
In England Montaigne was early popular.
An English biography of Montaigne by Bayle St John appeared in 1858, and Walter Pater's unfinished Gaston de Latour borrows from Montaigne and his story.
It is more easily matched in the unsystematic utterances of a man of the world like Montaigne.
More inclined than Montaigne to give a religious turn to his reflections was his friend Pierre Charron (1541-1603), who in his book De la sagesse systematized in somewhat scholastic fashion the train of thought which we find in the Essais.
The island was variously identified with America, Scandinavia, the Canaries and even Palestine; ethnologists saw in its inhabitants the ancestors of the Guanchos, the Basques or the ancient Italians; and even in the 17th and 18th centuries the credibility of the whole legend was seriously debated, and sometimes admitted, even by Montaigne, Buffon and Voltaire.
He delivered a course of sermons at Angers, and in the next year passed to Bordeaux, where he formed a famous friendship with Montaigne.
At the death of Montaigne, in 1592, Charron was requested in his will to bear the Montaigne arms.
Usually, and so far correctly, it is coupled with the Essays of Montaigne, to which the author is under very extensive obligations.
Equally sceptical with Montaigne, and decidedly more cynical, he is distinguished by a deeper and sterner tone.
During this journey, the duration of which cannot be precisely stated, Hobbes acquired some knowledge of French and Italian, and also made the important discovery that the scholastic philosophy which he had learned in Oxford was almost universally neglected in favour of the scientific and critical methods of Galileo, Kepler and Montaigne.
Nevertheless he has a distinguished place in the story of precocious children, and in the much more limited chapter of children whose precocity has been followed by great performance at maturity, though he never became what is called a learned man, perhaps did not know Greek, and was pretty certainly indebted for most of his miscellaneous reading to Montaigne.
He has been represented as a determined apologist of intellectual orthodoxy animated by an almost fanatical "hatred of reason," and possessed with a purpose to overthrow the appeal to reason; as a sceptic and pessimist of a far deeper dye than Montaigne, anxious chiefly to show how any positive decision on matters beyond the range of experience is impossible; as a nervous believer clinging to conclusions which his clearer and better sense showed to be indefensible; as an almost ferocious ascetic and paradoxer affecting the credo quia impossibile in intellectual matters and the odi quia amabile in matters moral and sensuous; as a wanderer in the regions of doubt and belief, alternately bringing a vast though vague power of thought and an unequalled power of expression to the expression of ideas incompatible and irreconcilable.
The influence exercised on him by Montaigne is the one fact regarding him which has not been and can hardly be exaggerated, and his well-known Eatretion with Sacy on the subject (the restoration of which to its proper form is one of the most valuable results of modern criticism) leaves no doubt possible as to the source of his "Pyrrhonian" method.
To speak of Montaigne is to speak of the best as well as the first of essayists.
In 1812 he gained a prize from the Academy with an eloge on Montaigne.
Many distinguished Portuguese teachers returned from abroad to assist the king at the same time, among them Ayres Barbosa from Salamanca, Andre de Gouveia of the Parisian college of St Barbe, whom Montaigne dubbed " the greatest principal of France," Achilles Estago and Diogo de Teive.
It was evidently in common use in the latter half of the 16th century as it is used by De Mornay in De la verite de la religion chretienne (1581) and by Montaigne.
His literary taste was conventional, including the standard British writers, with a preference for Shakespeare among the poets, Berkeley among the philosophers, and Montaigne (in Cotton's translation) among the essayists.
On the other hand, they would certainly lose their hold on the laity, unless some kind of change were made; for many of the Church's rules were obsolete, and others far too severe to impose on the France of Montaigne or even the Spain of Cervantes.
The patronymic of the Montaigne family, who derived their title from the chÃ¢teau at which the essayist was born and which had been bought by his grandfather, was Eyquem.
Late in the 18th century a journal was found in the chÃ¢teau of Montaigne giving an account of this journey, and it was published in 1774; part of it is written in Italian and part dictated in French, the latter being for the most part the work of a secretary or servant.
Montaigne visited most of the famous cities of the north and centre, staying five months at Rome, where he had an audience of the pope and was made a Roman citizen, and finally establishing himself at the baths of Lucca for nearly as long a time.
All the great prose writers of France could not fail to be influenced by the racy phrase, the quaint and picturesque vocabulary, and the unconstrained constructions of Montaigne.
There are differences between them, arising naturally enough from differences of temperament and experience; but both agree in their attitude - an attitude which is sceptical without being negative and humorous without being satiric. There is hardly any writer in whom the human comedy is treated with such completeness as it is in Montaigne.
A dozen generations of men have rejoiced in the gentle irony with which Montaigne handles the ludicrum humani saeculi, in the quaint felicity of his selection of examples, and in the real though sometimes fantastic wisdom of his comment on his selections.
When Mlle de Gournay heard of the death of Montaigne she undertook with her mother a visit of ceremony and condolence to the widow, which had important results for literature.
In Captain Keller's library she found excellent books, Lamb's "Tales from Shakespeare," and better still Montaigne.