Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Montaigne, Michel Eyquem de (1533-92), French man of letters, was born at Perigord, of a family of high descent. His father put him under the care of a German tutor, who could not speak French, but had to communicate with his pupil in Latin, the result being, as the father wished, that the boy grew up without learning French, and had to learn it as a foreign tongue. He learnt Greek in the ordinary way, though in this case, too, the father had yvished to employ an exceptional method. As to moral training, the father put little restriction upon him, but endeavoured to make him refer everything to a standard of right and wrong. Later he was sent to the college of Bordeaux, and after that studied law for a time; but this did not suit him, and he found the contemplation of human nature the only pursuit that interested him. He travelled in Germany, Switzerland and Italy, and in 1581 was made a citizen of Rome. In 1582 he was mayor of Bordeaux, but was soon glad to escape to his castle and philosophy. During the Huguenot trouble he was so unfortunate as to displease both sides, and to suffer at their hands, while in 1586 the plague drove him away from his home. After, however, a stay in Paris he returned home fur the latter part of his life. Although from the circumstances under which he learnt French Montaigne never attained the highest purity of style, he has a style of his own, bold and original. He had strong views upon educational questions, but his general attitude as to life and morals was a tentative one; Que sais-je, was his motto. Of his celebrated Essais there are two English translations, and biographies of him have been written both in English and in French. His Voyages (partly written in Italian) were published 200 years after his death.