Sunday, March 13, 2011

Quote of the Day: the Value of Life

Où que vostre vie finisse, elle y est toute. L'utilité du vivre n'est pas en l'espace, elle est en l'usage: tel a vescu long temps, qui a peu vescu: attendez vous y pendant que vous y estes. Il gist en vostre volonté, non au nombre des ans, que vous ayez assez vescu. Pensiez vous jamais n'arriver là, où vous alliez sans cesse? encore n'y a il chemin qui n'aye son issue. Et si la compagnie vous peut soulager: le monde ne va-il pas mesme train que vous allez?

-- Michel de Montaigne, Essais, livre 1, Que Philosopher C'Est Apprendre à Mourir

Wherever your life ends, it is all there. The utility of living consists not in the length of days, but in the use of time; a man may have lived long, and yet lived but a little. Make use of time while it is present with you. It depends upon your will, and not upon the number of days, to have a sufficient length of life. Is it possible you can imagine never to arrive at the place towards which you are continually going? and yet there is no journey but hath its end. And, if company will make it more pleasant or more easy to you, does not all the world go the self-same way?

-- Ibid., as, "That to Study Philosophy is to Learn to Die", trans. Charles Cotton

Wherever your life ends, there all of it ends. The usefulness of living lies not in duration but in what you make of it. Some have lived long and lived little. See to it while you are still here. Whether you have lived enough depends not on a count of years but on your will. Do you think you will never arrive whither you are ceaselessly heading? Yet every road has its end. And, if it is a relief to have company, is not the whole world proceeding at the same pace as you are?

-- Ibid., as "To Philosophize is to Learn How to Die", trans. M. A. Screech

Wherever your life ends, it is all there. The advantage of living is not measured by length, but by use; some men have lived long, and lived little; attend to it while you are in it. It lies in your will, not in the number of years, for you to have lived enough. Did you think you would never arrive where you never ceased going? Yet there is no road but has its end. And if company can comfort you, does not the world keep pace with you?

-- Ibid., as "That to Philosophize is to Learn to Die", trans. Donald M. Frame
This marvelous passage is definitely from the chapter "Que Philosopher C'Est Apprendre à Mourir", which is definitely in Book 1 of Montainge's Essays; but, oddly, this chapter appears variously as chapter seventeen, nineteen and twenty, depending on which edition you look it. I don't have time right now to unravel this mystery, but would be interested in hearing the answer if anyone does. (I'm assuming it's really twenty... but what's left out if it's nineteen?)

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