This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.



they are consoled. We have borrowed from them our feu[1] Master Jehan. (a) Is it, perchance, that, as the saying goes, the delay is worth the money?

I was born between eleven o’clock and noon, on the last day of February one thousand five hundred thirty-three, as we reckon nowadays, beginning the year in January.[2] It was just fifteen days ago that I completed my thirty-ninth year; I need at least as many more. Meanwhile, to trouble oneself with thoughts of a thing so distant would be folly. But see how it is! the young and the old leave life in the same condition.[3] (c) No one goes hence otherwise than as if he were to return forthwith. (a) Moreover, there is no man so decrepit that, so long as he has Methuselah before him, he does not think that he still has twenty years in his body. Furthermore, poor fool that you are, who has fixed the limits of your life? You rely on the tales of doctors. Look rather at fact and experience. By the common run of things you have lived long already by extraordinary good fortune. You have passed the accustomed term of life; and that it is so, count up how many more of your acquaintance have died before your present age than have attained it. And even of those who have ennobled their lives by winning renown — make a list of them, and I wager that I shall find more who died before the age of thirty-five than after.[4] It is truly reasonable and pious to take example even from the human existence of Jesus Christ: now, his life ended at three-and-thirty years. The greatest man who was a mere man, Alexander, also died at the same age.[5]

  1. Feu, deceased, or, as we say, “late.” The derivation of the word is uncertain, whether from the Latin functus (deceased), or, through the Italian, from the Latin fuit (he was). According to Hatzfeld and Darmesteter, from the vulgar Latin fatutus: who has fulfilled his destiny (fatum).
  2. In 1565 Charles IX of France decreed that the year should begin on January 1, instead of at Easter; but the decree was not carried into effect until two years later.
  3. The editions of 1580-1588 add: y pensent aussi peu les uns que les autres.
  4. Montaigne reasserts this belief in the Essay “Of Age,” Book I, chap. 57.
  5. In 1580 and 1582 we have, et ce fameux Mahumet aussi.