Michel de Montaigne

We'll have a bit of Michel's biographical information here one day!

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The clearest sign of wisdom is continued cheerfulness.

The active pursuit of truth is our proper business.  We have no excuse for conducting it badly or unfittingly.  But failing to capture our prey is another matter.  For we are born to quest after it; to possess it belongs to a greater power.  Truth is not, as Democritus said, hidden in the depths of the abyss, but situated rather at an infinite height in the divine understanding.  The world is but a school of inquiry.
Pythagoras used to say that life resembles the Olympic Games:  a few people strain their muscles to carry off a prize; others bring trinkets to sell to the crowd for gain; and some there are, and not the worst, who seek no other profit than to look at the show and see how and why everything is done; spectators of the lives of other people in order to judge and regulate their own.

Truth must be loved for its own sake.  Those who speak the truth because they are in some way compelled to or for their own advantage, and who are not afraid to tell a lie when it is of no importance to anyone, is not truthful enough.  My soul naturally shuns a lie, and hates even the thought of one.  I feel an inward shame and a sharp remorse if an untruth happens to escape me--as sometimes it does if the occasion is unexpected, and I am taken unawares.

We are all of us richer than we think we are.


A person must live in the world and
make the best of it, such as it is.


Those who do not live in some degree for others, hardly live for themselves.


If you press me to say why I loved him,
I can say no more than because he was he, and I was I. 


The Ancient Mariner said to Neptune during a great storm,
"O God, you will save me if you wish, but I am going to go on holding my tiller straight."



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.


Of all our infirmities, the most savage is to despise our being.


Not being able to govern events, I govern myself.


The value of life lies not in the length of days, but in the use
we make of them; one may live long yet live very little.

We undo ourselves by impatience.  Misfortunes have their life
and their limits, their sickness and their health.

He who fears he shall suffer, already suffers what he fears.

Obstinacy and heat in sticking to one's opinions is the surest proof of stupidity.
Is there anything so cocksure, so immovable, so disdainful,
so contemplative, so solemn and serious as an ass?


The greatest thing in the world is to know how to be one's own self.


There is nothing more remarkable in the life of Socrates
than that he found time in his old age to learn to dance and play on instruments,
and thought it was time well spent.


There is no greater enemy to those who would please than expectation. 



The great and glorious masterpiece of humans is
to know how to live to purpose. 

Those who fear they shall suffer already suffer what they fear.

My life has been full of terrible misfortunes,
most of which never happened. 


One never speaks of oneself without losing something.
What one says in his or her disfavor is always believed,
but when one commends oneself, one arouses mistrust.


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There is indeed a certain sense of gratification when we do a good deed
that gives us inward satisfaction, and a generous pride that accompanies
a good conscience.  A resolutely wicked soul may perhaps arm itself with
some assurance, but it cannot provide itself with this contentment and
satisfaction. . . . These testimonies of a good conscience are pleasant;
and such a natural pleasure is very beneficial to us;
it is the only payment that can never fail.

Greatness of soul consists not so much in soaring high and in pressing forward,
as in knowing how to adapt and limit oneself.


There are few people who would dare to publish to the world
the prayers they make to almighty God.


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