ESSAYS OF MONTAIGNE
they shall increase. (c) Divitiarum fructus est in copia, copiam declarat satietas. (b) And I am especially pleased that this change for the better came to me at an age that is naturally predisposed to avarice, and that I find myself quit of that malady so common to the old, and the most absurd of all human foibles.
(c) Feraulez, who had known both sorts of fortune, and had found that increase of possessions was not increase of appetite for drinking, eating, sleeping, and embracing his wife, and who, on the other hand, felt the urgency of household cares as a burden on his shoulders, as it is on mine, took it into his head to gratify a poor young man, his faithful friend, who was longing for wealth, and made him a present of all his riches, exceedingly great, and also of all that he was in the way of accumulating every day through the liberality of Cyrus, his kind master, and through war: on condition that this young man should undertake to maintain and support him honourably, as his guest and his friend. They thus lived from that time very happily, and both equally glad of the change in their condition. That is a course which I should very heartily imitate. And I praise highly the fortune of an elderly prelate whom I know to have resigned his purse so completely, as to both receipts and expenditures, sometimes to one chosen servant, sometimes to another, that he has glided through many years in as great ignorance of his household affairs of that nature as any stranger. Confidence in another’s goodness is no slight testimony of one’s own goodness, therefore God freely favours it. And respecting him, I know of no household more worthily or more consistently managed than his. Happy is he who has regulated his needs so accurately that his means can supply them without his being anxious or kept busied about them, whilst the spending or collecting of them does not interrupt other occupations that he follows, more suitable, more tranquil, and more after his own heart.
(b) Affluence, then, and indigence, depend on each man’s
- The fruit of riches is abundance; contentment indicates abundance. — Cicero, Paradoxa, VI, 2.
- See Xenophon, Cyropædeia, VIII, 3.35—50.
- That is, the “elderly prelate.”