Nowadays we hardly ever travel. We get transferred, as passively and swiftly as possible, from departure point to destination. This multiple hopping goes on multiplying daily to a degree inconceivable a hundred, or even fifty, years ago. Today every student makes his trip bry air to Peru, Istanbul, Cairo, Delhi, wherever his fancy leads him. So it is difficult to think back to a time when all extended travel was something between an organized expedition and a pilgrimage, or a voyage that might extend to months and years; and only the leisured and wealthy, or those driven by need or vocation, were given to travel on any scale.

Montaigne was one of the leisured and just sufficiently wealthy, equipped with all the intelligence and curiosity—social, political, moral, mechanical, child-like—that would make travel both tempting and a reward. And in 1580 he had several reasons to impel him into...


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