Reference > Quotations > John Bartlett, comp. > Familiar Quotations, 10th ed. > Michel Eyquem, seigneur de Montaigne
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John Bartlett (1820–1905).  Familiar Quotations, 10th ed.  1919.
 
Michel Eyquem, seigneur de Montaigne. (1533–1592)
 
 
1
    Man in sooth is a marvellous, vain, fickle, and unstable subject. 1
          Book i. Chap. i. That Men by various Ways arrive at the same End.
2
    All passions that suffer themselves to be relished and digested are but moderate. 2
          Book i. Chap. ii. Of Sorrow.
3
    It is not without good reason said, that he who has not a good memory should never take upon him the trade of lying. 3
          Book i. Chap. ix. Of Liars.
4
    He who should teach men to die would at the same time teach them to live. 4
          Book i. Chap. xviii. That Men are not to judge of our Happiness till after Death.
5
    The laws of conscience, which we pretend to be derived from nature, proceed from custom.
          Book i. Chap. xxii. Of Custom.
6
    Accustom him to everything, that he may not be a Sir Paris, a carpet-knight, 5 but a sinewy, hardy, and vigorous young man.
          Book i. Chap. xxv. Of the Education of Children.
7
    We were halves throughout, and to that degree that methinks by outliving him I defraud him of his part.
          Book i. Chap. xxvii. Of Friendship.
8
    There are some defeats more triumphant than victories. 6
          Book i. Chap. xxx. Of Cannibals.
9
    Nothing is so firmly believed as what we least know.
          Book i. Chap. xxxi. Of Divine Ordinances.
10
    A wise man never loses anything, if he has himself.
          Book i. Chap. xxxviii. Of Solitude.
  
  
  
11
    Even opinion is of force enough to make itself to be espoused at the expense of life.
          Book i. Chap. xl. Of Good and Evil.
12
    Plato says, “’T is to no purpose for a sober man to knock at the door of the Muses;” and Aristotle says “that no excellent soul is exempt from a mixture of folly.” 7
          Book ii. Chap. ii. Of Drunkenness.
13
    For a desperate disease a desperate cure. 8
          Book ii. Chap. iii. The Custom of the Isle of Cea.
14
    And not to serve for a table-talk. 9
          Book ii. Chap. iii. The Custom of the Isle of Cea.
15
    To which we may add this other Aristotelian consideration, that he who confers a benefit on any one loves him better than he is beloved by him again. 10
          Book ii. Chap. viii. Of the Affections of Fathers.
16
    The middle sort of historians (of which the most part are) spoil all; they will chew our meat for us.
          Book ii. Chap. x. Of Books.
17
    The only good histories are those that have been written by the persons themselves who commanded in the affairs whereof they write.
          Book ii. Chap. x. Of Books.
18
    She [virtue] requires a rough and stormy passage; she will have either outward difficulties to wrestle with, 11 … or internal difficulties.
          Book ii. Chap. xi. Of Cruelty.
19
    There is, nevertheless, a certain respect and a general duty of humanity that ties us, not only to beasts that have life and sense, but even to trees and plants.
          Book ii. Chap. xi. Of Cruelty.
20
    Some impose upon the world that they believe that which they do not; others, more in number, make themselves believe that they believe, not being able to penetrate into what it is to believe.
          Book ii. Chap. xii. Apology for Raimond Sebond.
21
    When I play with my cat, who knows whether I do not make her more sport than she makes me?
          Book ii. Chap. xii. Apology for Raimond Sebond.
22
    ’T is one and the same Nature that rolls on her course, and whoever has sufficiently considered the present state of things might certainly conclude as to both the future and the past. 12
          Book ii. Chap. xii. Apology for Raimond Sebond.
23
    The souls of emperors and cobblers are cast in the same mould…. The same reason that makes us wrangle with a neighbour causes a war betwixt princes.
          Book ii. Chap. xii. Apology for Raimond Sebond.
24
    Man is certainly stark mad; he cannot make a worm, and yet he will be making gods by dozens.
          Book ii. Chap. xii. Apology for Raimond Sebond.
25
    Why may not a goose say thus: “All the parts of the universe I have an interest in: the earth serves me to walk upon, the sun to light me; the stars have their influence upon me; I have such an advantage by the winds and such by the waters; there is nothing that yon heavenly roof looks upon so favourably as me. I am the darling of Nature! Is it not man that keeps and serves me?” 13
          Book ii. Chap. xii. Apology for Raimond Sebond.
26
    Arts and sciences are not cast in a mould, but are formed and perfected by degrees, by often handling and polishing, as bears leisurely lick their cubs into form. 14
          Book ii. Chap. xii. Apology for Raimond Sebond.
27
    He that I am reading seems always to have the most force.
          Book ii. Chap. xii. Apology for Raimond Sebond.
28
    Apollo said that every one’s true worship was that which he found in use in the place where he chanced to be. 15
          Book ii. Chap. xii. Apology for Raimond Sebond.
29
    How many worthy men have we seen survive their own reputation! 16
          Book ii. Chap. xvi. Of Glory.
30
    The mariner of old said to Neptune in a great tempest, “O God! thou mayest save me if thou wilt, and if thou wilt thou mayest destroy me; but whether or no, I will steer my rudder true.” 17
          Book ii. Chap. xvi. Of Glory.
31
    One may be humble out of pride.
          Book ii. Chap. xvii. Of Presumption.
32
    I find that the best virtue I have has in it some tincture of vice.
          Book ii. Chap. xx. That we taste nothing pure.
33
    Saying is one thing, doing another.
          Book ii. Chap. xxxi. Of Anger.
34
    Is it not a noble farce, wherein kings, republics, and emperors have for so many ages played their parts, and to which the whole vast universe serves for a theatre? 18
          Book ii. Chap. xxxvi. Of the most Excellent Men.
35
    Nature forms us for ourselves, not for others; to be, not to seem.
          Book ii. Chap. xxxvii. Of the Resemblance of Children to their Brothers.
36
    There never was in the world two opinions alike, no more than two hairs or two grains; the most universal quality is diversity. 19
          Book ii. Chap. xxxvii. Of the Resemblance of Children to their Fathers.
37
    The public weal requires that men should betray and lie and massacre.
          Book iii. Chap. i. Of Profit and Honesty.
38
    Like rowers, who advance backward. 20
          Book iii. Chap. i. Of Profit and Honesty.
39
    I speak truth, not so much as I would, but as much as I dare; and I dare a little the more as I grow older.
          Book iii. Chap ii. Of Repentance.
40
    Few men have been admired by their own domestics. 21
          Book iii. Chap ii. Of Repentance.
41
    It happens as with cages: the birds without despair to get in, and those within despair of getting out. 22
          Book iii. Chap. v. Upon some Verses of Virgil.
42
    And to bring in a new word by the head and shoulders, they leave out the old one.
          Book iii. Chap. v. Upon some Verses of Virgil.
43
    All the world knows me in my book, and my book in me.
          Book iii. Chap. v. Upon some Verses of Virgil.
44
    ’T is so much to be a king, that he only is so by being so. The strange lustre that surrounds him conceals and shrouds him from us; our sight is there broken and dissipated, being stopped and filled by the prevailing light. 23
          Book iii. Chap. vii. Of the Inconveniences of Greatness.
45
    We are born to inquire after truth; it belongs to a greater power to possess it. It is not, as Democritus said, hid in the bottom of the deeps, but rather elevated to an infinite height in the divine knowledge. 24
          Book iii. Chap. viii. Of the Art of Conversation.
46
    I moreover affirm that our wisdom itself, and wisest consultations, for the most part commit themselves to the conduct of chance. 25
          Book iii. Chap. viii. Of the Art of Conversation.
47
    What if he has borrowed the matter and spoiled the form, as it oft falls out? 26
          Book iii. Chap. viii. Of the Art of Conversation.
48
    The oldest and best known evil was ever more supportable than one that was new and untried. 27
          Book iii. Chap. ix. Of Vanity.
49
    Not because Socrates said so,… I look upon all men as my compatriots.
          Book iii. Chap. ix. Of Vanity.
50
    My appetite comes to me while eating. 28
          Book iii. Chap. ix. Of Vanity.
51
    There is no man so good, who, were he to submit all his thoughts and actions to the laws, would not deserve hanging ten times in his life.
          Book iii. Chap. ix. Of Vanity.
52
    Saturninus said, “Comrades, you have lost a good captain to make him an ill general.”
          Book iii. Chap. ix. Of Vanity.
53
    A little folly is desirable in him that will not be guilty of stupidity. 29
          Book iii. Chap. ix. Of Vanity.
54
    Habit is a second nature. 30
          Book iii. Chap. x.
55
    We seek and offer ourselves to be gulled.
          Book iii. Chap. xi. Of Cripples.
56
    I have never seen a greater monster or miracle in the world than myself.
          Book iii. Chap. xi. Of Cripples.
57
    Men are most apt to believe what they least understand.
          Book iii. Chap. xi. Of Cripples.
58
    I have here only made a nosegay of culled flowers, and have brought nothing of my own but the thread that ties them together.
          Book iii. Chap. xii. Of Physiognomy.
59
    Amongst so many borrowed things, I am glad if I can steal one, disguising and altering it for some new service. 31
          Book iii. Chap. xii. Of Physiognomy.
60
    I am further of opinion that it would be better for us to have [no laws] at all than to have them in so prodigious numbers as we have.
          Book iii. Chap. xiii. Of Experience.
61
    There is more ado to interpret interpretations than to interpret the things, and more books upon books than upon all other subjects; we do nothing but comment upon one another.
          Book iii. Chap. xiii. Of Experience.
62
    For truth itself has not the privilege to be spoken at all times and in all sorts.
          Book iii. Chap. xiii. Of Experience.
63
    The diversity of physical arguments and opinions embraces all sorts of methods.
          Book iii. Chap. xiii. Of Experience.
64
    Let us a little permit Nature to take her own way; she better understands her own affairs than we.
          Book iii. Chap. xiii. Of Experience.
65
    I have ever loved to repose myself, whether sitting or lying, with my heels as high or higher than my head.
          Book iii. Chap. xiii. Of Experience.
66
    I, who have so much and so universally adored this [greek], “excellent mediocrity,” 32 of ancient times, and who have concluded the most moderate measure the most perfect, shall I pretend to an unreasonable and prodigious old age?
          Book iii. Chap. xiii. Of Experience.
 
Note 1.
See Plutarch, Quotation 76. [back]
Note 2.
See Raleigh, Quotation 3.

Curae leves loquuntur ingentes stupent (Light griefs are loquacious, but the great are dumb).—Seneca: Hippolytus, ii. 3, 607. [back]
Note 3.
See Sidney, Quotation 2.

Mendacem memorem esse oportere (To be a liar, memory is necessary).—Quintilian: iv. 2, 91. [back]
Note 4.
See Tickell, Quotation 3. [back]
Note 5.
See Burton, Quotation 24. [back]
Note 6.
See Bacon, Quotation 58. [back]
Note 7.
See Dryden, Quotation 5. [back]
Note 8.
See Shakespeare, Hamlet, Quotation 179. [back]
Note 9.
See Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice Quotation 62. [back]
Note 10.
Aristotle: Ethics, ix. 7. [back]
Note 11.
See Milton, Quotation 363. [back]
Note 12.
See Plutarch, Quotation 30. [back]
Note 13.
See Pope, Quotation 35. [back]
Note 14.
See Burton, Quotation 7. [back]
Note 15.
Xenophon: Mem. Socratis, i. 3, 1. [back]
Note 16.
See Bentley, Quotation 1. [back]
Note 17.
Seneca: Epistle 85. [back]
Note 18.
See Shakespeare, As You Like It, Quotation 36. [back]
Note 19.
See Browne, Quotation 7. [back]
Note 20.
See Burton, Quotation 9. [back]
Note 21.
See Plutarch, Quotation 161. [back]
Note 22.
See Davies, Quotation 2. [back]
Note 23.
See Tennyson, Quotation 67. [back]
Note 24.
Lactantius: Divin. Instit. iii. 28. [back]
Note 25.
Although men flatter themselves with their great actions, they are not so often the result of great design as of chance.—Francis, Duc de La Rochefoucauld: Maxim 57. [back]
Note 26.
See Churchill, Quotation 3. [back]
Note 27.
Livy, xxiii. 3. [back]
Note 28.
See Rabelais, Quotation 7. [back]
Note 29.
See Walpole, Quotation 3. [back]
Note 30.
See Shakespeare, The Two Gentlemen of Verona, Quotation 12. [back]
Note 31.
See Churchill, Quotation 3. [back]
Note 32.
See Cowper, Quotation 112. [back]
 

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