I often pull out quotes from Montaigne essays to illustrate the ideas I take away from them. But in the case of this essay, one quote would suffice to explain the entire piece. It’s a beautifully structured piece of writing that builds to the line, which was added very near Montaigne’s death:
If I can, I will prevent my death from saying anything not first said by my life.
This is Montaigne’s strongest moral statement and the essay nicely frames it. It’s strange that the essay sat completed for more than two decades before Montaigne added the punctuation. But it’s also a measure of its power that he felt obliged to add the final punch while he was writing some of his best work.