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day that Pope Leo X, having been informed of the taking of Milan, which he had most ardently desired, felt such transports of joy that he was attacked by a fever and died of it.[1] And for a more noteworthy testimony of human weakness, it has been observed that Diodorus the Dialectician died suddenly, seized by an overwhelming sense of shame, when, in his school and in public, he could not explain a proposition put before him.

(b) I am little subject to such violent emotions. My sensitiveness[2] is naturally not keen, and I harden and deaden it every day intentionally.[3]



This Essay, like the last one, begins with an addition, and includes many, some made in 1588, some in 1595. It is now nine pages long; at first, in 1580, it was only three—a mere leçon; it began with the passage concerning Bertrand du Guesclin, and ended with that about the Emperor Maximilian; just a string of anecdotes. It was probably written about 1572.

The reflections, the comments, the remarks that now accompany the stories — the note of the moralist — are what constitute the interest of these pages for us. They are somewhat incoherent, but turn for the most part on the lack of wisdom shown in dwelling in the future, in not remaining chez nous.

And we have in this connection the statement for the first time of Montaigne’s great principle—that of Socrates: “Do what is thine to do, and know thyself”; Fay tom faict et te cognoy.

An interesting paragraph is that regarding the desirableness of examining into the actions of princes after their death. We may find here a hint of one of Montaigne’s great characteristics, his reverence for laws, his obedience to legal authority, united with an independence of mind which enables him always to judge of the man apart from the office.

  1. See Guicciardini, Storia d'Italia, XIV.
  2. Apprehension. Montaigne uses this word frequently in the sense of “the action of feeling anything emotionally” — an obsolete sense of the similar English word.
  3. Je l’encrouste et espessis … par discours.
  4. Nos affections s'emportent au dela de nous.