The tradesman thrives only by the extravagance of youth, the husbandman by the dearness of grain, the architect by the ruin of houses, the officers of justice by lawsuits and men’s quarrels; even the honour and practice of ministers of religion depend on our death and our vices. No physician delights in the good health even of his friends, says the ancient Greek comic dramatist, nor does a soldier in the peace of his city; and so with the rest. And, what is worse, if each of us sounds his conscience, he will find that his inmost wishes are for hte most part born an nourished at the expense of others.
– Montaigne (Essays,
‘One Man’s Gain is Another Man’s Loss’)1
- I’ll admit I was afraid this essay would become a sort of Roman Way of Death, but thankfully its brevity saved it from that. [↩]