Literary and Philosophical Essays. The Harvard Classics. 190914.
That We Should Not Judge of Our Happiness Until after Our Death
The Author to the Reader
Michel Eyquem de Montaigne
READER, loe here a well-meaning Booke. It doth at the first entrance forewarne thee, that in contriving the same I have proposed unto my selfe no other than a familiar and private end: I have no respect or consideration at all, either to thy service, or to my glory: my forces are not capable of any such desseigne. I have vowed the same to the particular commodity of my kinsfolks and friends: to the end, that losing me (which they are likely to doe ere long), they may therein find some lineaments of my conditions and humours, and by that meanes reserve more whole, and more lively foster the knowledge and acquaintance they have had of me. Had my intention beene to forestal and purchase the worlds opinion and favour, I would surely have adorned myselfe more quaintly, or kept a more grave and solemne march. I desire therein to be delineated in mine owne genuine, simple and ordinary fashion, without contention, art or study; for it is myselfe I pourtray. My imperfections shall therein be read to the life, and my naturall forme discerned, so farre-forth as public reverence hath permitted me. For if my fortune had beene to have lived among those nations which yet are said to live under the sweet liberty of Natures first and uncorrupted lawes, I assure thee, I would most willingly have pourtrayed myselfe fully and naked. Thus, gentle Reader, myselfe am the groundworke of my book: it is then no reason thou shouldest employ thy time about so frivolous and vaine a subject.