The Essays of Montaigne/Book I/The Author to the Reader

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London: Templeman, page 1






THIS, reader, is a book without guile. It tells thee, at the very outset, that I had no other end in putting it together but what was domestic and private. I had no regard therein either to thy service or my glory; my powers are equal to no such design. It was intended for the particular use of my relations and friends, in order that, when they have lost me, which they must soon do, they may here find some traces of my quality and humour, and may thereby nourish a more entire and lively recollection of me. Had I proposed to court the favour of the world, I had set myself out in borrowed beauties; but twas my wish to be seen in my simple, natural, and ordinary garb, without study or artifice, for twas myself I had to paint. My defects will appear to the life, in all their native form, as far as consists with respect to the public. Had I been born among those nations who, tis said, still live in the pleasant liberty of the Jaw of nature, I assure thee I should readily have depicted myself at full length and quite naked. Thus, reader, thou perceivest I am myself the subject of my book; tis not worth thy while to take up thy time longer with such a frivolous matter; so fare thee well.

From Montaigne; this 12th of June,