Michel de Montaigne invents Craigslist!

I’ve spent much of the past several months reading through the extraordinary Essays of Michel de Montaigne (in the terrific Donald Frame translation — very, very highly recommended), and I recently stumbled across this, at the beginning of #35 [“On Administration”]

My late father, a man of a decidedly clear judgement, based though it was only on his natural gifts and his own experience, said to me once that he had wished to set a plan in motion leading to the designation of a place in our cities where those who were in need of anything could go and have their requirements registered by a duly appointed official; for example: “I want to sell some pearls”; or “I want to buy some pearls.” “So-and-so wants to make up a group to travel to Paris”; ‘”So-and-so wants a servant with the following qualifications”; “So-and-so seeks an employer”; “So-and-so wants a workman”; each stating his wishes according to his needs.

It does seem that this means of mutual advertising would bring no slight advantage to our public dealings; for at every turn there are bargains seeking each other but, because they cannot find each other, men are left in extreme want.

Nice!