TO THE READER
THIS is an honest book, reader. It gives you to know, at the outset, that I have proposed to myself only an intimate and private end; I have not considered what would be serviceable for you or for my renown; my powers are not equal to such a design. I have devoted these pages to the particular pleasure of my kinsmen and friends; to the end that, when they have lost me (which they must do ere long), they may find herein some touches of my qualities and moods, and that, by this means, they may cherish more completely and more vividly the knowledge they have had of me. Had I purposed to seek public favour, I should have better adorned myself, and presented myself in a studied attitude. I desire to be seen in my simple, natural, everyday guise, without effort and artifice; for it is my own self that I portray. My imperfections will be seen herein to the life, and my personal nature, so far as respect for the public has permitted this. I assure you that, had I been living among those nations which are said still to dwell under the benign license of the primal laws of nature, I should very readily have painted myself quite completely, and quite naked. Since, reader, I am thus, myself, the subject of my book, it is not reasonable that you should employ your leisure on so trivial and empty a matter.
So, farewell. From Montaigne, this first March, 1580.
- Ma forme naifve.
- Other dates are affixed to different editions.