The agreeable eye

an eudæmonistarchives

Montaigne 3.11

Compendium Maleficarum

Truth and lies are faced alike; their port, taste, and proceedings are the same, and we look upon them with the same eye. I find that we are not only remiss in defending ourselves from deceit, but that we seek and offer ourselves to be gulled; we love to entangle ourselves in vanity, as a thing conformable to our being.

—Montaigne (‘Of Cripples’, Cotton’s translation)

In his essay ‘Of Cripples’, Montaigne tells the story of three young people who convince the people in their town that the village is haunted. The youngsters hid in various places (such as under the altar) and counterfeited the voices of spirits, promising the day of judgement and suchlike. They were found out, Montaigne says, and were put in prison, where they ‘are like shortly to pay for the common folly; and I know not whether some judge will not also make them smart for his.’ So they wait there, poor devils, in the prison of history, while we, poor devils, remain here, ignorant of their fate – and our own.


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