The Essays of Montaigne/Book I/Chapter XXVII

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Chapter XXVII. Of friendship.[edit]

Having considered the proceedings of a painter that serves me, I had a
mind to imitate his way. He chooses the fairest place and middle of any
wall, or panel, wherein to draw a picture, which he finishes with his
utmost care and art, and the vacuity about it he fills with grotesques,
which are odd fantastic figures without any grace but what they derive
from their variety, and the extravagance of their shapes. And in truth,
what are these things I scribble, other than grotesques and monstrous
bodies, made of various parts, without any certain figure, or any other
than accidental order, coherence, or proportion?

               "Desinit in piscem mulier formosa superne."

          ["A fair woman in her upper form terminates in a fish."
          --Horace, De Arte Poetica, v. 4.]

In this second part I go hand in hand with my painter; but fall very
short of him in the first and the better, my power of handling not being
such, that I dare to offer at a rich piece, finely polished, and set off
according to art. I have therefore thought fit to borrow one of Estienne
de la Boetie, and such a one as shall honour and adorn all the rest of my
work--namely, a discourse that he called 'Voluntary Servitude'; but,
since, those who did not know him have properly enough called it "Le
contr Un." He wrote in his youth,--["Not being as yet eighteen years
old."--Edition of 1588.] by way of essay, in honour of liberty against
tyrants; and it has since run through the hands of men of great learning
and judgment, not without singular and merited commendation; for it is
finely written, and as full as anything can possibly be. And yet one may
confidently say it is far short of what he was able to do; and if in that
more mature age, wherein I had the happiness to know him, he had taken a
design like this of mine, to commit his thoughts to writing, we should
have seen a great many rare things, and such as would have gone very near
to have rivalled the best writings of antiquity: for in natural parts
especially, I know no man comparable to him. But he has left nothing
behind him, save this treatise only (and that too by chance, for I
believe he never saw it after it first went out of his hands), and some
observations upon that edict of January--[1562, which granted to the
Huguenots the public exercise of their religion.]--made famous by our
civil-wars, which also shall elsewhere, peradventure, find a place.
These were all I could recover of his remains, I to whom with so
affectionate a remembrance, upon his death-bed, he by his last will
bequeathed his library and papers, the little book of his works only
excepted, which I committed to the press. And this particular obligation
I have to this treatise of his, that it was the occasion of my first
coming acquainted with him; for it was showed to me long before I had the
good fortune to know him; and the first knowledge of his name, proving
the first cause and foundation of a friendship, which we afterwards
improved and maintained, so long as God was pleased to continue us
together, so perfect, inviolate, and entire, that certainly the like is
hardly to be found in story, and amongst the men of this age, there is no
sign nor trace of any such thing in use; so much concurrence is required
to the building of such a one, that 'tis much, if fortune bring it but
once to pass in three ages.

There is nothing to which nature seems so much to have inclined us, as to
society; and Aristotle , says that the good legislators had more respect
to friendship than to justice. Now the most supreme point of its
perfection is this: for, generally, all those that pleasure, profit,
public or private interest create and nourish, are so much the less
beautiful and generous, and so much the less friendships, by how much
they mix another cause, and design, and fruit in friendship, than itself.
Neither do the four ancient kinds, natural, social, hospitable, venereal,
either separately or jointly, make up a true and perfect friendship.

That of children to parents is rather respect: friendship is nourished by
communication, which cannot by reason of the great disparity, be betwixt
these, but would rather perhaps offend the duties of nature; for neither
are all the secret thoughts of fathers fit to be communicated to
children, lest it beget an indecent familiarity betwixt them; nor can the
advices and reproofs, which is one of the principal offices of
friendship, be properly performed by the son to the father. There are
some countries where 'twas the custom for children to kill their fathers;
and others, where the fathers killed their children, to avoid their being
an impediment one to another in life; and naturally the expectations of
the one depend upon the ruin of the other. There have been great
philosophers who have made nothing of this tie of nature, as Aristippus
for one, who being pressed home about the affection he owed to his
children, as being come out of him, presently fell to spit, saying, that
this also came out of him, and that we also breed worms and lice; and
that other, that Plutarch endeavoured to reconcile to his brother:
"I make never the more account of him," said he, "for coming out of the
same hole." This name of brother does indeed carry with it a fine and
delectable sound, and for that reason, he and I called one another
brothers but the complication of interests, the division of estates, and
that the wealth of the one should be the property of the other, strangely
relax and weaken the fraternal tie: brothers pursuing their fortune and
advancement by the same path, 'tis hardly possible but they must of
necessity often jostle and hinder one another. Besides, why is it
necessary that the correspondence of manners, parts, and inclinations,
which begets the true and perfect friendships, should always meet in
these relations? The father and the son may be of quite contrary
humours, and so of brothers: he is my son, he is my brother; but he is
passionate, ill-natured, or a fool. And moreover, by how much these are
friendships that the law and natural obligation impose upon us, so much
less is there of our own choice and voluntary freedom; whereas that
voluntary liberty of ours has no production more promptly and; properly
its own than affection and friendship. Not that I have not in my own
person experimented all that can possibly be expected of that kind,
having had the best and most indulgent father, even to his extreme old
age, that ever was, and who was himself descended from a family for many
generations famous and exemplary for brotherly concord:

                                   "Et ipse
                    Notus in fratres animi paterni."

     ["And I myself, known for paternal love toward my brothers."
     --Horace, Ode, ii. 2, 6.]

We are not here to bring the love we bear to women, though it be an act
of our own choice, into comparison, nor rank it with the others. The
fire of this, I confess,

                   "Neque enim est dea nescia nostri
                    Qux dulcem curis miscet amaritiem,"

     ["Nor is the goddess unknown to me who mixes a sweet bitterness
     with my love."---Catullus, lxviii. 17.]

is more active, more eager, and more sharp: but withal, 'tis more
precipitant, fickle, moving, and inconstant; a fever subject to
intermissions and paroxysms, that has seized but on one part of us.
Whereas in friendship, 'tis a general and universal fire, but temperate
and equal, a constant established heat, all gentle and smooth, without
poignancy or roughness. Moreover, in love, 'tis no other than frantic
desire for that which flies from us:

              "Come segue la lepre il cacciatore
               Al freddo, al caldo, alla montagna, al lito;
               Ne piu l'estima poi the presa vede;
               E sol dietro a chi fugge affretta il piede"

     ["As the hunter pursues the hare, in cold and heat, to the mountain,
     to the shore, nor cares for it farther when he sees it taken, and
     only delights in chasing that which flees from him."--Aristo, x. 7.]

so soon as it enters unto the terms of friendship, that is to say, into a
concurrence of desires, it vanishes and is gone, fruition destroys it,
as having only a fleshly end, and such a one as is subject to satiety.
Friendship, on the contrary, is enjoyed proportionably as it is desired;
and only grows up, is nourished and improved by enjoyment, as being of
itself spiritual, and the soul growing still more refined by practice.
Under this perfect friendship, the other fleeting affections have in my
younger years found some place in me, to say nothing of him, who himself
so confesses but too much in his verses; so that I had both these
passions, but always so, that I could myself well enough distinguish
them, and never in any degree of comparison with one another; the first
maintaining its flight in so lofty and so brave a place, as with disdain
to look down, and see the other flying at a far humbler pitch below.

As concerning marriage, besides that it is a covenant, the entrance into
which only is free, but the continuance in it forced and compulsory,
having another dependence than that of our own free will, and a bargain
commonly contracted to other ends, there almost always happens a thousand
intricacies in it to unravel, enough to break the thread and to divert
the current of a lively affection: whereas friendship has no manner of
business or traffic with aught but itself. Moreover, to say truth, the
ordinary talent of women is not such as is sufficient to maintain the
conference and communication required to the support of this sacred tie;
nor do they appear to be endued with constancy of mind, to sustain the
pinch of so hard and durable a knot. And doubtless, if without this,
there could be such a free and voluntary familiarity contracted, where
not only the souls might have this entire fruition, but the bodies also
might share in the alliance, and a man be engaged throughout, the
friendship would certainly be more full and perfect; but it is without
example that this sex has ever yet arrived at such perfection; and, by
the common consent of the ancient schools, it is wholly rejected from it.

That other Grecian licence is justly abhorred by our manners, which also,
from having, according to their practice, a so necessary disparity of age
and difference of offices betwixt the lovers, answered no more to the
perfect union and harmony that we here require than the other:

         "Quis est enim iste amor amicitiae? cur neque deformem
          adolescentem quisquam amat, neque formosum senem?"

     ["For what is that friendly love? why does no one love a deformed
     youth or a comely old man?"--Cicero, Tusc. Quaes., iv. 33.]

Neither will that very picture that the Academy presents of it, as I
conceive, contradict me, when I say, that this first fury inspired by the
son of Venus into the heart of the lover, upon sight of the flower and
prime of a springing and blossoming youth, to which they allow all the
insolent and passionate efforts that an immoderate ardour can produce,
was simply founded upon external beauty, the false image of corporal
generation; for it could not ground this love upon the soul, the sight of
which as yet lay concealed, was but now springing, and not of maturity to
blossom; that this fury, if it seized upon a low spirit, the means by
which it preferred its suit were rich presents, favour in advancement to
dignities, and such trumpery, which they by no means approve; if on a
more generous soul, the pursuit was suitably generous, by philosophical
instructions, precepts to revere religion, to obey the laws, to die for
the good of one's country; by examples of valour, prudence, and justice,
the lover studying to render himself acceptable by the grace and beauty
of the soul, that of his body being long since faded and decayed, hoping
by this mental society to establish a more firm and lasting contract.
When this courtship came to effect in due season (for that which they do
not require in the lover, namely, leisure and discretion in his pursuit,
they strictly require in the person loved, forasmuch as he is to judge of
an internal beauty, of difficult knowledge and abstruse discovery), then
there sprung in the person loved the desire of a spiritual conception;
by the mediation of a spiritual beauty. This was the principal; the
corporeal, an accidental and secondary matter; quite the contrary as to
the lover. For this reason they prefer the person beloved, maintaining
that the gods in like manner preferred him too, and very much blame the
poet AEschylus for having, in the loves of Achilles and Patroclus, given
the lover's part to Achilles, who was in the first and beardless flower
of his adolescence, and the handsomest of all the Greeks. After this
general community, the sovereign, and most worthy part presiding and
governing, and performing its proper offices, they say, that thence great
utility was derived, both by private and public concerns; that it
constituted the force and power of the countries where it prevailed, and
the chiefest security of liberty and justice. Of which the healthy loves
of Harmodius and Aristogiton are instances. And therefore it is that
they called it sacred and divine, and conceive that nothing but the
violence of tyrants and the baseness of the common people are inimical to
it. Finally, all that can be said in favour of the Academy is, that it
was a love which ended in friendship, which well enough agrees with the
Stoical definition of love:

              "Amorem conatum esse amicitiae faciendae
               ex pulchritudinis specie."

     ["Love is a desire of contracting friendship arising from the beauty
     of the object."--Cicero, Tusc. Quaes., vi. 34.]

I return to my own more just and true description:

          "Omnino amicitiae, corroboratis jam confirmatisque,
          et ingeniis, et aetatibus, judicandae sunt."

     ["Those are only to be reputed friendships that are fortified and
     confirmed by judgement and the length of time."
     --Cicero, De Amicit., c. 20.]

For the rest, what we commonly call friends and friendships, are nothing
but acquaintance and familiarities, either occasionally contracted, or
upon some design, by means of which there happens some little intercourse
betwixt our souls. But in the friendship I speak of, they mix and work
themselves into one piece, with so universal a mixture, that there is no
more sign of the seam by which they were first conjoined. If a man
should importune me to give a reason why I loved him, I find it could no
otherwise be expressed, than by making answer: because it was he, because
it was I. There is, beyond all that I am able to say, I know not what
inexplicable and fated power that brought on this union. We sought one
another long before we met, and by the characters we heard of one
another, which wrought upon our affections more than, in reason, mere
reports should do; I think 'twas by some secret appointment of heaven.
We embraced in our names; and at our first meeting, which was
accidentally at a great city entertainment, we found ourselves so
mutually taken with one another, so acquainted, and so endeared betwixt
ourselves, that from thenceforward nothing was so near to us as one
another. He wrote an excellent Latin satire, since printed, wherein he
excuses the precipitation of our intelligence, so suddenly come to
perfection, saying, that destined to have so short a continuance, as
begun so late (for we were both full-grown men, and he some years the
older), there was no time to lose, nor were we tied to conform to the
example of those slow and regular friendships, that require so many
precautions of long preliminary conversation: This has no other idea than
that of itself, and can only refer to itself: this is no one special
consideration, nor two, nor three, nor four, nor a thousand; 'tis I know
not what quintessence of all this mixture, which, seizing my whole will,
carried it to plunge and lose itself in his, and that having seized his
whole will, brought it back with equal concurrence and appetite to plunge
and lose itself in mine. I may truly say lose, reserving nothing to
ourselves that was either his or mine.--[All this relates to Estienne de
la Boetie.]

When Laelius,--[Cicero, De Amicit., c. II.]--in the presence of the
Roman consuls, who after thay had sentenced Tiberius Gracchus, prosecuted
all those who had had any familiarity with him also; came to ask Caius
Blosius, who was his chiefest friend, how much he would have done for
him, and that he made answer: "All things."--"How! All things!" said
Laelius. "And what if he had commanded you to fire our temples?"--"He
would never have commanded me that," replied Blosius.--"But what if he
had?" said Laelius.--"I would have obeyed him," said the other. If he
was so perfect a friend to Gracchus as the histories report him to have
been, there was yet no necessity of offending the consuls by such a bold
confession, though he might still have retained the assurance he had of
Gracchus' disposition. However, those who accuse this answer as
seditious, do not well understand the mystery; nor presuppose, as it was
true, that he had Gracchus' will in his sleeve, both by the power of a
friend, and the perfect knowledge he had of the man: they were more
friends than citizens, more friends to one another than either enemies or
friends to their country, or than friends to ambition and innovation;
having absolutely given up themselves to one another, either held
absolutely the reins of the other's inclination; and suppose all this
guided by virtue, and all this by the conduct of reason, which also
without these it had not been possible to do, Blosius' answer was such as
it ought to be. If any of their actions flew out of the handle, they
were neither (according to my measure of friendship) friends to one
another, nor to themselves. As to the rest, this answer carries no worse
sound, than mine would do to one that should ask me: "If your will should
command you to kill your daughter, would you do it?" and that I should
make answer, that I would; for this expresses no consent to such an act,
forasmuch as I do not in the least suspect my own will, and as little
that of such a friend. 'Tis not in the power of all the eloquence in the
world, to dispossess me of the certainty I have of the intentions and
resolutions of my friend; nay, no one action of his, what face soever it
might bear, could be presented to me, of which I could not presently,
and at first sight, find out the moving cause. Our souls had drawn so
unanimously together, they had considered each other with so ardent an
affection, and with the like affection laid open the very bottom of our
hearts to one another's view, that I not only knew his as well as my own;
but should certainly in any concern of mine have trusted my interest much
more willingly with him, than with myself.

Let no one, therefore, rank other common friendships with such a one as
this. I have had as much experience of these as another, and of the most
perfect of their kind: but I do not advise that any should confound the
rules of the one and the other, for they would find themselves much
deceived. In those other ordinary friendships, you are to walk with
bridle in your hand, with prudence and circumspection, for in them the
knot is not so sure that a man may not half suspect it will slip. "Love
him," said Chilo,--[Aulus Gellius, i. 3.]--"so as if you were one day to
hate him; and hate him so as you were one day to love him." This
precept, though abominable in the sovereign and perfect friendship I
speak of, is nevertheless very sound as to the practice of the ordinary
and customary ones, and to which the saying that Aristotle had so
frequent in his mouth, "O my friends, there is no friend," may very fitly
be applied. In this noble commerce, good offices, presents, and
benefits, by which other friendships are supported and maintained, do not
deserve so much as to be mentioned; and the reason is the concurrence of
our wills; for, as the kindness I have for myself receives no increase,
for anything I relieve myself withal in time of need (whatever the Stoics
say), and as I do not find myself obliged to myself for any service I do
myself: so the union of such friends, being truly perfect, deprives them
of all idea of such duties, and makes them loathe and banish from their
conversation these words of division and distinction, benefits,
obligation, acknowledgment, entreaty, thanks, and the like. All things,
wills, thoughts, opinions, goods, wives, children, honours, and lives,
being in effect common betwixt them, and that absolute concurrence of
affections being no other than one soul in two bodies (according to that
very proper definition of Aristotle), they can neither lend nor give
anything to one another. This is the reason why the lawgivers, to honour
marriage with some resemblance of this divine alliance, interdict all
gifts betwixt man and wife; inferring by that, that all should belong to
each of them, and that they have nothing to divide or to give to each

If, in the friendship of which I speak, one could give to the other, the
receiver of the benefit would be the man that obliged his friend; for
each of them contending and above all things studying how to be useful to
the other, he that administers the occasion is the liberal man, in giving
his friend the satisfaction of doing that towards him which above all
things he most desires. When the philosopher Diogenes wanted money, he
used to say, that he redemanded it of his friends, not that he demanded
it. And to let you see the practical working of this, I will here
produce an ancient and singular example. Eudamidas, a Corinthian, had
two friends, Charixenus a Sicyonian and Areteus a Corinthian; this man
coming to die, being poor, and his two friends rich, he made his will
after this manner. "I bequeath to Areteus the maintenance of my mother,
to support and provide for her in her old age; and to Charixenus I
bequeath the care of marrying my daughter, and to give her as good a
portion as he is able; and in case one of these chance to die, I hereby
substitute the survivor in his place." They who first saw this will made
themselves very merry at the contents: but the legatees, being made
acquainted with it, accepted it with very great content; and one of them,
Charixenus, dying within five days after, and by that means the charge of
both duties devolving solely on him, Areteus nurtured the old woman with
very great care and tenderness, and of five talents he had in estate, he
gave two and a half in marriage with an only daughter he had of his own,
and two and a half in marriage with the daughter of Eudamidas, and on one
and the same day solemnised both their nuptials.

This example is very full, if one thing were not to be objected, namely
the multitude of friends for the perfect friendship I speak of is
indivisible; each one gives himself so entirely to his friend, that he
has nothing left to distribute to others: on the contrary, is sorry that
he is not double, treble, or quadruple, and that he has not many souls
and many wills, to confer them all upon this one object. Common
friendships will admit of division; one may love the beauty of this
person, the good-humour of that, the liberality of a third, the paternal
affection of a fourth, the fraternal love of a fifth, and so of the rest:
but this friendship that possesses the whole soul, and there rules and
sways with an absolute sovereignty, cannot possibly admit of a rival.
If two at the same time should call to you for succour, to which of them
would you run? Should they require of you contrary offices, how could
you serve them both? Should one commit a thing to your silence that it
were of importance to the other to know, how would you disengage
yourself? A unique and particular friendship dissolves all other
obligations whatsoever: the secret I have sworn not to reveal to any
other, I may without perjury communicate to him who is not another, but
myself. 'Tis miracle enough certainly, for a man to double himself, and
those that talk of tripling, talk they know not of what. Nothing is
extreme, that has its like; and he who shall suppose, that of two, I love
one as much as the other, that they mutually love one another too, and
love me as much as I love them, multiplies into a confraternity the most
single of units, and whereof, moreover, one alone is the hardest thing in
the world to find. The rest of this story suits very well with what I
was saying; for Eudamidas, as a bounty and favour, bequeaths to his
friends a legacy of employing themselves in his necessity; he leaves them
heirs to this liberality of his, which consists in giving them the
opportunity of conferring a benefit upon him; and doubtless, the force of
friendship is more eminently apparent in this act of his, than in that of
Areteus. In short, these are effects not to be imagined nor comprehended
by such as have not experience of them, and which make me infinitely
honour and admire the answer of that young soldier to Cyrus, by whom
being asked how much he would take for a horse, with which he had won the
prize of a race, and whether he would exchange him for a kingdom?
--"No, truly, sir," said he, "but I would give him with all my heart,
to get thereby a true friend, could I find out any man worthy of that
alliance."--[Xenophon, Cyropadia, viii. 3.]--He did not say ill in
saying, "could I find": for though one may almost everywhere meet with
men sufficiently qualified for a superficial acquaintance, yet in this,
where a man is to deal from the very bottom of his heart, without any
manner of reservation, it will be requisite that all the wards and
springs be truly wrought and perfectly sure.

In confederations that hold but by one end, we are only to provide
against the imperfections that particularly concern that end. It can be
of no importance to me of what religion my physician or my lawyer is;
this consideration has nothing in common with the offices of friendship
which they owe me; and I am of the same indifference in the domestic
acquaintance my servants must necessarily contract with me. I never
inquire, when I am to take a footman, if he be chaste, but if he be
diligent; and am not solicitous if my muleteer be given to gaming, as if
he be strong and able; or if my cook be a swearer, if he be a good cook.
I do not take upon me to direct what other men should do in the
government of their families, there are plenty that meddle enough with
that, but only give an account of my method in my own:

          "Mihi sic usus est: tibi, ut opus est facto, face."

     ["This has been my way; as for you, do as you find needful.
     --"Terence, Heaut., i. I., 28.]

For table-talk, I prefer the pleasant and witty before the learned and
the grave; in bed, beauty before goodness; in common discourse the ablest
speaker, whether or no there be sincerity in the case. And, as he that
was found astride upon a hobby-horse, playing with his children,
entreated the person who had surprised him in that posture to say nothing
of it till himself came to be a father,--[Plutarch, Life of Agesilaus,
c. 9.]--supposing that the fondness that would then possess his own
soul, would render him a fairer judge of such an action; so I, also,
could wish to speak to such as have had experience of what I say: though,
knowing how remote a thing such a friendship is from the common practice,
and how rarely it is to be found, I despair of meeting with any such
judge. For even these discourses left us by antiquity upon this subject,
seem to me flat and poor, in comparison of the sense I have of it, and in
this particular, the effects surpass even the precepts of philosophy.

               "Nil ego contulerim jucundo sanus amico."

     ["While I have sense left to me, there will never be anything more
     acceptable to me than an agreeable friend."
     --Horace, Sat., i. 5, 44.]

The ancient Menander declared him to be happy that had had the good
fortune to meet with but the shadow of a friend: and doubtless he had
good reason to say so, especially if he spoke by experience: for in good
earnest, if I compare all the rest of my life, though, thanks be to God,
I have passed my time pleasantly enough, and at my ease, and the loss of
such a friend excepted, free from any grievous affliction, and in great
tranquillity of mind, having been contented with my natural and original
commodities, without being solicitous after others; if I should compare
it all, I say, with the four years I had the happiness to enjoy the sweet
society of this excellent man, 'tis nothing but smoke, an obscure and
tedious night. From the day that I lost him:

                              "Quern semper acerbum,
               Semper honoratum (sic, di, voluistis) habebo,"

     ["A day for me ever sad, for ever sacred, so have you willed ye
     gods."--AEneid, v. 49.]

I have only led a languishing life; and the very pleasures that present
themselves to me, instead of administering anything of consolation,
double my affliction for his loss. We were halves throughout, and to
that degree, that methinks, by outliving him, I defraud him of his part.

              "Nec fas esse ulla me voluptate hic frui
               Decrevi, tantisper dum ille abest meus particeps."

     ["I have determined that it will never be right for me to enjoy any
     pleasure, so long as he, with whom I shared all pleasures is away."
     --Terence, Heaut., i. I. 97.]

I was so grown and accustomed to be always his double in all places and
in all things, that methinks I am no more than half of myself:

              "Illam meae si partem anima tulit
               Maturior vis, quid moror altera?
                    Nec carus aeque, nec superstes
                    Integer? Ille dies utramque
               Duxit ruinam."

     ["If that half of my soul were snatch away from me by an untimely
     stroke, why should the other stay? That which remains will not be
     equally dear, will not be whole: the same day will involve the
     destruction of both."]


     ["If a superior force has taken that part of my soul, why do I, the
     remaining one, linger behind? What is left is not so dear, nor an
     entire thing: this day has wrought the destruction of both."
     --Horace, Ode, ii. 17, 5.]

There is no action or imagination of mine wherein I do not miss him; as I
know that he would have missed me: for as he surpassed me by infinite
degrees in virtue and all other accomplishments, so he also did in the
duties of friendship:

              "Quis desiderio sit pudor, aut modus
               Tam cari capitis?"

     ["What shame can there, or measure, in lamenting so dear a friend?"
     --Horace, Ode, i. 24, I.]

              "O misero frater adempte mihi!
               Omnia tecum una perierunt gaudia nostra,
               Quae tuus in vita dulcis alebat amor.
               Tu mea, tu moriens fregisti commoda, frater;
               Tecum una tota est nostra sepulta anima
               Cujus ego interitu tota de menthe fugavi
               Haec studia, atque omnes delicias animi.
               Alloquar? audiero nunquam tua verba loquentem?
               Nunquam ego te, vita frater amabilior
               Aspiciam posthac; at certe semper amabo;"

     ["O brother, taken from me miserable! with thee, all our joys have
     vanished, those joys which, in thy life, thy dear love nourished.
     Dying, thou, my brother, hast destroyed all my happiness. My whole
     soul is buried with thee. Through whose death I have banished from
     my mind these studies, and all the delights of the mind. Shall I
     address thee? I shall never hear thy voice. Never shall I behold
     thee hereafter. O brother, dearer to me than life. Nought remains,
     but assuredly I shall ever love thee."--Catullus, lxviii. 20; lxv.]

But let us hear a boy of sixteen speak:

     --[In Cotton's translation the work referred to is "those Memoirs
     upon the famous edict of January," of which mention has already been
     made in the present edition. The edition of 1580, however, and the
     Variorum edition of 1872-1900, indicate no particular work; but the
     edition of 1580 has it "this boy of eighteen years" (which was the
     age at which La Boetie wrote his "Servitude Volontaire"), speaks of
     "a boy of sixteen" as occurring only in the common editions, and it
     would seem tolerably clear that this more important work was, in
     fact, the production to which Montaigne refers, and that the proper
     reading of the text should be "sixteen years." What "this boy
     spoke" is not given by Montaigne, for the reason stated in the next
     following paragraph.]

"Because I have found that that work has been since brought out, and with
a mischievous design, by those who aim at disturbing and changing the
condition of our government, without troubling themselves to think
whether they are likely to improve it: and because they have mixed up his
work with some of their own performance, I have refrained from inserting
it here. But that the memory of the author may not be injured, nor
suffer with such as could not come near-hand to be acquainted with his
principles, I here give them to understand, that it was written by him in
his boyhood, and that by way of exercise only, as a common theme that has
been hackneyed by a thousand writers. I make no question but that he
himself believed what he wrote, being so conscientious that he would not
so much as lie in jest: and I moreover know, that could it have been in
his own choice, he had rather have been born at Venice, than at Sarlac;
and with reason. But he had another maxim sovereignty imprinted in his
soul, very religiously to obey and submit to the laws under which he was
born. There never was a better citizen, more affectionate to his
country; nor a greater enemy to all the commotions and innovations of his
time: so that he would much rather have employed his talent to the
extinguishing of those civil flames, than have added any fuel to them;
he had a mind fashioned to the model of better ages. Now, in exchange of
this serious piece, I will present you with another of a more gay and
frolic air, from the same hand, and written at the same age."