BOOK I, CHAPTER XIV
— (c) there being often no mean between the highest and the lowest fortune, —
Fortuna vitrea est; tunc, cum splendet frangitur;
(b) and to turn topsy-turvy all our dikes and defences, I think that, from divers causes, indigence is as commonly seen to be domiciled with those who have wealth as with those who have none; and that perhaps it is somewhat less troublesome when it is alone than when it is in the company of riches, (c) which come rather from good management than from income: Faber est suæ quisque fortunæ. (b) And an uneasy, timid rich man, full of affairs, seems to me more miserable than the man who is simply poor. (c) Im divitiis inopes, quod genus egestatis gravissimum est. The greatest and wealthiest princes are, by poverty and dearth, commonly driven to extreme need. For is there any more extreme than to become consequently tyrants and unjust usurpers of the property of their subjects?
(b) My second condition was to have money, to which I so clung that I soon laid by a notable hoard, considering my position, deeming that a man has only so much as he possesses beyond his expenses and his ordinary outgo; and that he cannot rely upon the money which he is still only in hopes of receiving, however well-founded his hopes may be. For, I said to myself, what if I should be taken unaware by such or such an accident? And as the result of these futile and fallacious imaginings, I exerted my ingenuity to provide by these superfluous savings for all emergencies; and I could still reply to him who declared that the number of emergencies was too infinite, that, if it would not suffice for all, it would for some, aye, for many. This did not go on without painful solicitude. (c) I kept it secret; and I, who dare to talk so much about myself, spoke of my money only with
- Fortune is as glass: when it is brilliant, it is fragile. — This sentence is from Publius Syrus; but Montaigne found it in the Politiques of Justus Lipsius, V, 18.
- Each man is the forger of his own fortune. — Sallust, De Republica Ordinanda, I, 1.
- Poor amid riches, which is the hardest kind of poverty. — Seneca, Epistle 74.