“When judging another’s life, I always look to see how its end was borne,” wrote Michel de Montaigne in his essay “That We Should Not Be Deemed Happy Till After Our Death.” In another of his essays, “To Philosophize Is to Learn How to Die,” Montaigne argued that we must prepare our souls for death: “we must therefore educate and train them for their encounter with that adversary, death; for the soul can find no rest while she remains afraid of him.” Montaigne himself hoped to die while tending the cabbages in his garden, but death, that consummate trickster, had him instead die of quinsy, an inflammation of the throat and tonsils that left his tongue paralyzed and him, who claimed that “the most fruitful and natural play of the mind is conversation,” devoid of speech.

If one standard of judgment of a philosopher is how well he died, David Hume may well have been the philosopher of all philosophers. Adam Smith, James Boswell, and others who encountered Hume during his last days attested to his tranquility in the face of death. At 65, knowing his death near—the probable cause was a tumor on his liver—Hume instructed his physician to tell a friend, “I am dying as fast as my enemies, if I had any, could wish, and as easily and cheerfully as my best friends could desire.” Another physician, the one attending him at the close of his life, reporting

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