Of friendship

If a man urge me to tell wherfore I loved him, I feele it can not be expressed, but by answering; Because it was he, because it was my selfe. (Essais I.28, ‘Of friendship’, trans. Florio)

From 1554, Montaigne is thought to have worked in the Cour des aides of Périgueux, before transferring to the Bordeaux Parlement in 1557. Around 1559 he met Etienne de La Boétie, who was also working for the Parlement. Their deep friendship had a lasting influence on Montaigne: ‘truely a man shall not commonly heare of the like’ (I.28).

Bordeaux at the time was torn by Huguenot riots. From 1561 to 1563 Montaigne was sent on a mission with the court of Charles IX, taking him to Rouen, recently captured from the Huguenots. He returned to Bordeaux in 1563. In August that year La Boétie fell ill and died at the age of thirty-two. Montaigne later oversaw the publication of a number of his friend’s works.

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