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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
Of Friendship
By Michel de Montaigne (1533–1592)
 
From the ‘Essays’: Translation of Charles Cotton, 1685

FOR the rest, which we commonly call Friends, and Friendships, are nothing but Acquaintance, and Familiarities, either occasionally contracted, or upon some design, by means of which, there happens some little intercourse betwixt our Souls: but in the Friendship I speak of, they mix and work themselves into one piece, with so universal a mixture, that there is no more sign of the Seame by which they were first conjoin’d. If a Man should importune me to give a reason why I lov’d him [Etienne de la Boëtie]; I find it could no otherwise be exprest, than by making answer, because it was he, because it was I. There is, beyond I am able to say, I know not what inexplicable and fatal power that brought on this Union. We sought one another long before we met, and by the Characters we heard of one another, which wrought more upon our Affections, than in reason, meer reports should do, I think by some secret appointment of Heaven, we embraced in our Names; and at our first meeting, which was accidentally at a great City entertainment, we found ourselves so mutually taken with one another, so acquainted, and so endear’d betwixt our selves, that from thenceforward nothing was so near to us as one another. He writ an excellent Latin Satyr, which I since Printed, wherein he excuses the precipitation of our intelligence, so suddenly come to perfection, saying, that being to have so short a continuance, as being begun so late (for we were both full grown Men, and he some Years the older), there was no time to lose; nor was ti’d to conform it self to the example of those slow and regular Friendships, that require so many precautions of a long præliminary Conversation. This has no other Idea, than that of its self; this is no one particular consideration, nor two, nor three, nor four, nor a thousand: ’tis I know not what quintessence of all this mixture, which, seizing my whole Will, carried it to plunge and lose it self in his, and that having seiz’d his whole Will, brought it back with equal concurrence and appetite, to plunge and lose it self in mine. I may truly say, lose, reserving nothing to our selves, that was either his or mine.  1
 
 
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