The New Student's Reference Work/Montaigne, Michel Eyquem de
Montaigne (mŏn-tān′), Michel Eyquem de, a famous French essayist, was born in 1533 in Perigord. His father had peculiar ideas of education, and put, them in practice in his son's case. He was nursed by a poor woman in a village, that he might learn simple habits of living and sympathy with the poor. That his boyhood might be made as happy as possible, he had him wakened every morning by the sound of music. As he must learn Latin, then the necessary foundation of all education, he had him taught it in the easiest way, by conversation, and until he was six he understood no other language. His father sent him to school at six, making various arrangements to carry out his plans of education. He studied law, and became a city counselor, holding the office for 13 years. His first literary work was a translation of a Spanish Natural History. On the death of his brothers he succeeded to the family estate, and here began his famous Essays, which were written simply because he felt the need of occupation. These essays, written apparently without any plan, inspired by the caprice of the moment, touching upon his daily life, habits, tastes and thoughts on all kinds of subjects, have held the attention of a large class of readers of all kinds and sorts for 300 years. The circle of admirers widens every year, and is almost equal to that composed of the followers of Shakespeare. He died in 1592. See Representative Men by Emerson and Montaigne by Collins.