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|Quotations by Michel de Montaigne|
|Degrees of wit - There are as many and innumerable degrees of wit, as there are cubits between this and heaven.|
We are richer than we think we are - We are all of us richer than we think we are; but we are taught to borrow and to beg, and brought up more to make use of what is another's than our own. Man can in nothing fix and conform himself to his mere necessity. Of pleasure, wealth and power he grasps at more than he can hold; his greediness is incapable of moderation.
Why do we not value men . . . - We commend a horse for his strength, and sureness of foot, and not for his rich caparisons; a greyhound for his share of heels, not for his fine collar; a hawk for her wing, not for her jesses and bells. Why, in like manner, do we not value a man for what is properly his own? He has a great train, a beautiful palace, so much credit, so many thousand pounds a year, and all these are about him, but not in him.
Run to my books - To divert myself from a troublesome fancy, it is but to run to my books: they presently fix me to them, and drive the other out of my thoughts, and do not mutiny to see that I have only recourse to them for want of other more real, natural, and lively conveniences: they always receive me with the same kindness.
Books are pleasant, but . . . - Books are pleasant, but if by being over-studious we impair our health and spoil our good humor, two of the best things we have, let us give it over. I, for my part, am one of those who think no fruit derived from them can recompense so great a loss.
There is no man so good . . . - There is no man so good, that so squares all his thoughts and actions to the laws, that he is not faulty enough to deserve hanging ten times in his life. Nay, and such a one, too, as it were great pity to make away, and very unjust to punish. And such a one there may be, as has no way offended the laws, who nevertheless would not deserve the character of a virtuous man, and that philosophy would justly condemn to be whipped; so unequal and perplexed is this relation.
A tutor should not continually thunder instruction - A tutor should not be continually thundering instruction into the ears of his pupil, as if he were pouring it through a funnel, but, after having put the lad, like a young horse, on a trot, before him, to observe his paces, and see what he is able to perform, should, according to the extent of his capacity, induce him to taste, to distinguish, and to find out things for himself; sometimes opening the way, at other times leaving it for him to open; and by abating or increasing his own pace, accommodate his precepts to the capacity of his pupil.
A tongue that was once got the knack of lying - After a tongue has once got the knack of lying, it is not to be imagined how impossible almost it is to reclaim it. Whence it comes to pass, that we see some men, who are otherwise very honest, so subject to this vice.
Age imprints more wrinkles in the mind - Age imprints more wrinkles in the mind, than it does in the face, and souls are never, or very rarely seen, that in growing old do not smell sour and musty. Man moves all together, both towards his perfection and decay.
Ambition is a contrary humor to solitude - Ambition is, of all other, the most contrary humor to solitude; and glory and repose are so inconsistent that they cannot possibly inhabit one and the same place; and for so much as I understand, those have only their arms and legs disengaged from the crowd, their mind and intention remain engaged behind more than ever.
Arts and sciences are not cast in a mold - Arts and sciences are not cast in a mould, but are found and perfected by degrees, by often handling and polishing, as bears leisurely lick their cubs into shape.
As soon as a woman becomes ours - As soon as a woman becomes ours, we are no longer theirs.
Beauty is the true prerogative of women - Beauty is the true prerogative of women, and so peculiarly their own, that our sex, though naturally requiring another sort of feature, is never in its luster but when puerile and beardless, confused and mixed with theirs.
Confidence in another's virtue - Confidence in another man's virtue is no slight evidence of a man's own.
Courtesy is a science of the highest importance - Courtesy is a science of the highest importance. It is, like grace and beauty in the body, which charm at first sight, and lead on to further intimacy and friendship, opening a door that we may derive instruction from the example of others, and at the same time enabling us to benefit them by our example, if there be anything in our character worthy of imitation.
Courtesy, that begets liking and inclination to love - Courtesy, like grace and beauty, that which begets liking and inclination to love one another at the first sight, and in the very beginning of our acquaintance and familiarity; and, consequently, that which first opens the door for us to better ourselves by the example of others, if there be anything in the society worth notice.
Custom is a violent and treacherous school mistress. - Custom is a violent and treacherous school mistress. She, by little and little, slyly and unperceived, slips in the foot of her authority; but having by this gentle and humble beginning, with the benefit of time, fixed and established it, she then unmasks a furious and tyrannic countenance, against which we have no more the courage or the power so much as to lift up our eyes.
Eloquence is an engine invented . . . - Eloquence is an engine invented to manage and wield at will the fierce democracy, and, like medicine to the sick, is only employed in the paroxysms of a disordered state.
Every period of life has its peculiar prejudices - Every period of life has its peculiar prejudices; whoever saw old age, that did not applaud the past, and condemn the present times?
Study is apt to enervate and relax courage - Examples teach us that in military affairs, and all others of a like nature, study is apt to enervate and relax the courage of man, rather than to give strength and energy to the mind.
Fear sometimes adds wings to the heels - Fear sometimes adds wings to the heels, and sometimes nails them to the ground, and fetters them from moving.
Gentleness and repose are paramount . . . - Gentleness and repose are paramount to everything else in woman.
He that had never seen a river - He that had never seen a river imagined the first he met with to be the sea; and the greatest things that have fallen within our knowledge we conclude the extremes that nature makes of the kind.
He who establishes his argument by noise - He who establishes his argument by noise and command shows that reason is weak.
Dreams are interpreters of our inclinations - I believe it to be true that dreams are the true interpreters of our inclinations; but there is art required to sort and understand them.
Care not what I am in the opinion of others - I care not so much what I am in the opinion of others as what I am in my own; I would be rich of myself and not by borrowing.
I love a friendship that flatters itself - I love a friendship that flatters itself in the sharpness and vigor of its communications.
To better express myself - I quote others only in order the better to express myself.
Study of self - I study myself more than any other subject; it is my metaphysic, it is my physic.
If love and ambition should be equal - If love and ambition should be in equal balance, and come to jostle with equal force, I make no doubt but that the last would win the prize.
Little souls that truckle under weight - It is for little souls, that truckle under the weight of affairs, not to know how clearly to disengage themselves, and not to know how to lay them aside and take them up again.
It is fruition, not possession that renders. . . - It is fruition, and not possession, that renders us happy.
The boundary of life - It is indeed the boundary of life, beyond which we are not to pass; which the law of nature has pitched for a limit not to be exceeded.
The trade of lying - It is not without good reason said, that he who has not a good memory should never take upon him the trade of lying.
Rule of rules, and law of all laws - It is the rule of rules, and the general law of all laws, that every person should observe those of the place where he is.
Knowledge is an excellent drug - Knowledge is an excellent drug; but no drug has virtue enough to preserve itself from corruption and decay, if the vessel be tainted and impure therein it is put to keep.
Learning is not to be tacked to the mind - Learning is not to be tacked to the mind, but we must fuse and blend them together, not merely giving the mind a slight tincture, but a thorough and perfect dye. And if we perceive no evident change and improvement, it would be better to leave it alone: learning is a dangerous weapon, and apt to wound its master if it be wielded by a feeble hand, and by one not well acquainted with its use.
Life is neither good nor evil - Life in itself is neither good nor evil, it is the scene of good or evil, as you make it.
The eyes of lovers - Lovers are angry, reconciled, entreat, thank, appoint, and finally speak all things, by their eyes.
Lying is a disgraceful vice - Lying is a disgraceful vice, and one that Plutarch paints in most disgraceful colors, when he says that it is “affording testimony that one first despises God, and then fears men.” It is not possible more happily to describe its horrible, disgusting, and abandoned nature; for can we imagine anything more vile than to be cowards with regard to men, and brave with regard to God.
Man is certainly stark mad - Man is certainly stark mad; he cannot make a flea, and yet he will be making gods by dozens.
Torment by the opinions they have of things - Men are tormented by the opinions they have of things, and not the things themselves.
Entertaining ourselves alone - Nature has presented us with a large faculty of entertaining ourselves alone, and often calls us to it, to teach us that we owe ourselves in part to society, but chiefly and mostly to ourselves.
Obstinacy and heat in argument - Obstinacy and heat in argument are surest proofs of folly. Is there anything so stubborn, obstinate, disdainful, contemplative, grave, or serious, as an ass?
Fear of losing their estates, of banishment. . . - Such as are in immediate fear of losing their estates, of banishment, or of slavery, live in perpetual anguish, and lose all appetite and repose; such as are actually poor slaves and exiles oftentimes live as merrily as men in a better condition; and so many people who, impatient of the perpetual alarms of fear, have hanged and drowned themselves give us sufficiently to understand that it is more importunate and insupportable than death itself.
The height and value of virtue - The height and value of true virtue consists in the facility, utility, and pleasure of its exercise; so far from difficulty, that boys, as well as men, and the innocent as well as the subtle, may make it their own; and it is by order and good conduct, and not by force, that it is to be acquired.
Lack of wealth is easily repaired - The lack of wealth is easily repaired; but the poverty of the soul is irreparable.
Marriage has this peculiarity - The land of marriage has this peculiarity: that strangers are desirous of inhabiting it, while its natural inhabitants would willingly be banished from thence.
The laws of conscience - The laws of conscience, which we pretend to be derived from nature, proceed from custom.
Continual cheerfulness; sign of wisdom - The most manifest sign of wisdom is a continual cheerfulness; her state is like that of things in the regions above the moon, always clear and serene.
Most regular and perfect soul - The most regular and most perfect soul in the world has but too much to do to keep itself upright from being overthrown by its own weakness.
Premeditation of death/liberty - The premeditation of death is the premeditation of liberty; he who has learnt to die has forgot to serve.
Borrowed books - The reason why borrowed books are so seldom returned to their owners is that it is much easier to retain the books than what is in them.
Virtue of the soul - The virtue of the soul does not consist in flying high, but walking orderly; its grandeur does not exercise itself in grandeur, but in mediocrity.
Anger transports men from right judgments - There is no passion that so much transports men from their right judgments as anger. No one would demur upon punishing a judge with death who should condemn a criminal upon the account of his own choler; why then should fathers and pedants be any more allowed to whip and chastise children in their anger? It is then no longer correction but revenge. Chastisement is instead of physic to children; and should we suffer a physician who should be animated against and enraged at his patient?
The benefis of fortune - Whatever the benefits of fortune are, they yet require a palate fit to relish and taste them; it is fruition, and not possession, that renders us happy.
Life measured by use, not length - Wherever your life ends, it is all there. The advantage of living is not measured by length, but by use; some men have lived long, and lived little; attend to it while you are in it. It lies in your will, not in the number of years, for you to have lived enough.
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