Our virtues are most frequently but vices disguised.
What we term virtue is often but a mass of various actions and divers interests, which fortune, or our own industry, manage to arrange; and it is not always from valour or from chastity that men are brave, and women chaste.
Self-love is the greatest of flatterers.
Whatever discoveries have been made in the region of self-love, there remain many unexplored territories there.
Self love is more cunning than the most cunning man in the world.
The duration of our passions is no more dependent upon us than the duration of our life.
Passion often renders the most clever man a fool, and even sometimes renders the most foolish man clever.
Great and striking actions which dazzle the eyes are represented by politicians as the effect of great designs, instead of which they are commonly caused by the temper and the passions. Thus the war between Augustus and Anthony, which is set down to the ambition they entertained of making themselves masters of the world, was probably but an effect of jealousy.
The passions are the only advocates which always persuade. They are a natural art, the rules of which are infallible; and the simplest man with passion will be more persuasive than the most eloquent without.
The passions possess a certain injustice and self interest which makes it dangerous to follow them, and in reality we should distrust them even when they appear most trustworthy.
In the human heart there is a perpetual generation of passions; so that the ruin of one is almost always the foundation of another.
Passions often produce their contraries: avarice sometimes leads to prodigality, and prodigality to avarice; we are often obstinate through weakness and daring though timidity.
Whatever care we take to conceal our passions under the appearances of piety and honor, they are always to be seen through these veils.
Our self love endures more impatiently the condemnation of our tastes than of our opinions.
Men are not only prone to forget benefits and injuries; they even hate those who have obliged them, and cease to hate those who have injured them. The necessity of revenging an injury or of recompensing a benefit seems a slavery to which they are unwilling to submit.
The clemency of Princes is often but policy to win the affections of the people.
This clemency of which they make a merit, arises oftentimes from vanity, sometimes from idleness, oftentimes from fear, and almost always from all three combined.
The moderation of those who are happy arises from the calm which good fortune bestows upon their temper.
Moderation is caused by the fear of exciting the envy and contempt which those merit who are intoxicated with their good fortune; it is a vain display of our strength of mind, and in short the moderation of men at their greatest height is only a desire to appear greater than their fortune.
We have all sufficient strength to support the misfortunes of others.
Those who are condemned to death affect sometimes a constancy and contempt for death which is only the fear of facing it; so that one may say that this constancy and contempt are to their mind what the bandage is to their eyes.
Philosophy triumphs easily over past evils and future evils; but present evils triumph over it.
Few people know death, we only endure it, usually from determination, and even from stupidity and custom; and most men only die because they know not how to prevent dying.
When great men permit themselves to be cast down by the continuance of misfortune, they show us that they were only sustained by ambition, and not by their mind; so that plus a great vanity, heroes are made like other men.
We need greater virtues to sustain good than evil fortune.
Neither the sun nor death can be looked at without winking.
People are often vain of their passions, even of the worst, but envy is a passion so timid and shame-faced that no one ever dare avow her.
Jealousy is in a manner just and reasonable, as it tends to preserve a good which belongs, or which we believe belongs to us, on the other hand envy is a fury which cannot endure the happiness of others.
The evil that we do does not attract to us so much persecution and hatred as our good qualities.
We have more strength than will; and it is often merely for an excuse we say things are impossible.
If we had no faults we should not take so much pleasure in noting those of others.
Jealousy lives upon doubt; and comes to an end or becomes a fury as soon as it passes from doubt to certainty.
Pride indemnifies itself and loses nothing even when it casts away vanity.
If we had no pride we should not complain of that of others.
Pride is much the same in all men, the only difference is the method and manner of showing it.
It would seem that nature, which has so wisely ordered the organs of our body for our happiness, has also given us pride to spare us the mortification of knowing our imperfections.
Pride has a larger part than goodness in our remonstrances with those who commit faults, and we reprove them not so much to correct as to persuade them that we ourselves are free from faults.
We promise according to our hopes; we perform according to our fears.
Interest speaks all sorts of tongues and plays all sorts of characters; even that of disinterestedness.
Interest blinds some and makes some see.
Those who apply themselves too closely to little things often become incapable of great things.
We have not enough strength to follow all our reason.
A man often believes himself leader when he is led; as his mind endeavours to reach one goal, his heart insensibly drags him towards another.
Strength and weakness of mind are mis-named; they are really only the good or happy arrangement of our bodily organs.
The caprice of our temper is even more whimsical than that of Fortune.
The attachment or indifference which philosophers have shown to life is only the style of their self love, about which we can no more dispute than of that of the palate or of the choice of colours.
Our temper sets a price upon every gift that we receive from fortune.
Happiness is in the taste, and not in the things themselves; we are happy from possessing what we like, not from possessing what others like.
We are never so happy or so unhappy as we suppose.
Those who think they have merit persuade themselves that they are honored by being unhappy, in order to persuade others and themselves that they are worthy to be the butt of fortune.
Nothing should so much diminish the satisfaction which we feel with ourselves as seeing that we disapprove at one time of that which we approve of at another.
Whatever difference there appears in our fortunes, there is nevertheless a certain compensation of good and evil which renders them equal.
Whatever great advantages nature may give, it is not she alone, but fortune also that makes the hero.
The contempt of riches in philosophers was only a hidden desire to avenge their merit upon the injustice of fortune, by despising the very goods of which fortune had deprived them; it was a secret to guard themselves against the degradation of poverty, it was a back way by which to arrive at that distinction which they could not gain by riches.
The hate of favorites is only a love of favor. The envy of not possessing it, consoles and softens its regrets by the contempt it evinces for those who possess it, and we refuse them our homage, not being able to detract from them what attracts that of the rest of the world.
To establish ourselves in the world we do everything to appear as if we were established.
Although men flatter themselves with their great actions, they are not so often the result of a great design as of chance.
It would seem that our actions have lucky or unlucky stars to which they owe a great part of the blame or praise which is given them.
There are no accidents so unfortunate from which skillful men will not draw some advantage, nor so fortunate that foolish men will not turn them to their hurt.
Fortune turns all things to the advantage of those on whom she smiles.
The happiness or unhappiness of men depends no less upon their dispositions than their fortunes.
Sincerity is an openness of heart; we find it in very few people; what we usually see is only an artful dissimulation to win the confidence of others.
The aversion to lying is often a hidden ambition to render our words credible and weighty, and to attach a religious aspect to our conversation.
Truth does not do as much good in the world, as its counterfeits do evil.
There is no praise we have not lavished upon Prudence; and yet she cannot assure to us the most trifling event.
A clever man ought to so regulate his interests that each will fall in due order. Our greediness so often troubles us, making us run after so many things at the same time, that while we too eagerly look after the least we miss the greatest.
What grace is to the body good sense is to the mind.
It is difficult to define love; all we can say is, that in the soul it is a desire to rule, in the mind it is a sympathy, and in the body it is a hidden and delicate wish to possess what we love — Plus many mysteries.
If there is a pure love, exempt from the mixture of our other passions, it is that which is concealed at the bottom of the heart and of which even ourselves are ignorant.
There is no disguise which can long hide love where it exists, nor feign it where it does not.
There are few people who would not be ashamed of being beloved when they love no longer.
If we judge of love by the majority of its results it rather resembles hatred than friendship.
We may find women who have never indulged in an intrigue, but it is rare to find those who have intrigued but once.
There is only one sort of love, but there are a thousand different copies.
Neither love nor fire can subsist without perpetual motion; both cease to live so soon as they cease to hope, or to fear.
There is real love just as there are real ghosts; every person speaks of it, few persons have seen it.
Love lends its name to an infinite number of engagements which are attributed to it, but with which it has no more concern than the Doge has with all that is done in Venice.
The love of justice is simply in the majority of men the fear of suffering injustice.
Silence is the best resolve for him who distrusts himself.
What renders us so changeable in our friendship is, that it is difficult to know the qualities of the soul, but easy to know those of the mind.
We can love nothing but what agrees with us, and we can only follow our taste or our pleasure when we prefer our friends to ourselves; nevertheless it is only by that preference that friendship can be true and perfect.
Reconciliation with our enemies is but a desire to better our condition, a weariness of war, the fear of some unlucky accident.
What men term friendship is merely a partnership with a collection of reciprocal interests, and an exchange of favors — in fact it is but a trade in which self love always expects to gain something.
It is more disgraceful to distrust than to be deceived by our friends.
We often persuade ourselves to love people who are more powerful than we are, yet interest alone produces our friendship; we do not give our hearts away for the good we wish to do, but for that we expect to receive.
Our distrust of another justifies his deceit.
Men would not live long in society were they not the dupes of each other.
Self love increases or diminishes for us the good qualities of our friends, in proportion to the satisfaction we feel with them, and we judge of their merit by the manner in which they act towards us.
Everyone blames his memory, no one blames his judgment.
In the intercourse of life, we please more by our faults than by our good qualities.
The largest ambition has the least appearance of ambition when it meets with an absolute impossibility in compassing its object.
To awaken a man who is deceived as to his own merit is to do him as bad a turn as that done to the Athenian madman who was happy in believing that all the ships touching at the port belonged to him.
Old men delight in giving good advice as a consolation for the fact that they can no longer set bad examples.
Great names degrade instead of elevating those who know not how to sustain them.
The test of extraordinary merit is to see those who envy it the most yet obliged to praise it.
A man is perhaps ungrateful, but often less chargeable with ingratitude than his benefactor is.
We are deceived if we think that mind and judgment are two different matters: judgment is but the extent of the light of the mind. This light penetrates to the bottom of matters; it remarks all that can be remarked, and perceives what appears imperceptible. Therefore we must agree that it is the extent of the light in the mind that produces all the effects which we attribute to judgment.
Everyone praises his heart, none dare praise their understanding.
Politeness of mind consists in thinking chaste and refined thoughts.
Gallantry of mind is saying the most empty things in an agreeable manner.
Ideas often flash across our minds more complete than we could make them after much labour.
The head is ever the dupe of the heart.
Those who know their minds do not necessarily know their hearts.
Men and things have each their proper perspective; to judge rightly of some it is necessary to see them near, of others we can never judge rightly but at a distance.
A man for whom accident discovers sense, is not a rational being. A man only is so who understands, who distinguishes, who tests it.
To understand matters rightly we should understand their details, and as that knowledge is almost infinite, our knowledge is always superficial and imperfect.
One kind of flirtation is to boast we never flirt.
The head cannot long play the part of the heart.
Youth changes its tastes by the warmth of its blood, age retains its tastes by habit.
Nothing is given so profusely as advice.
The more we love a woman the more prone we are to hate her.
The blemishes of the mind, like those of the face, increase by age.
There may be good but there are no pleasant marriages.
We are inconsolable at being deceived by our enemies and betrayed by our friends, yet still we are often content to be thus served by ourselves.
It is as easy unwittingly to deceive oneself as to deceive others.
Nothing is less sincere than the way of asking and giving advice. The person asking seems to pay deference to the opinion of his friend, while thinking in reality of making his friend approve his opinion and be responsible for his conduct. The person giving the advice returns the confidence placed in him by eager and disinterested zeal, in doing which he is usually guided only by his own interest or reputation.
The most subtle of our acts is to simulate blindness for snares that we know are set for us. We are never so easily deceived as when trying to deceive.
The intention of never deceiving often exposes us to deception.
We become so accustomed to disguise ourselves to others that at last we are disguised to ourselves.
We often act treacherously more from weakness than from a fixed motive.
We frequently do good to enable us with impunity to do evil.
If we conquer our passions it is more from their weakness than from our strength.
If we never flattered ourselves we should have but scant pleasure.
The most deceitful persons spend their lives in blaming deceit, so as to use it on some great occasion to promote some great interest.
The daily employment of cunning marks a little mind; it generally happens that those who resort to it in one respect to protect themselves lay themselves open to attack in another.
Cunning and treachery are the offspring of incapacity.
The true way to be deceived is to think oneself more knowing than others.
Too great cleverness is but deceptive delicacy, true delicacy is the most substantial cleverness.
It is sometimes necessary to play the fool to avoid being deceived by cunning men.
Weakness is the only fault which cannot be cured.
The smallest fault of women who give themselves up to love is to love.
It is far easier to be wise for others than to be so for oneself.
The only good examples are those that make us see the absurdity of bad originals.
We are never so ridiculous from the habits we have as from those that we affect to have.
We sometimes differ more widely from ourselves than we do from others.
There are some who never would have loved if they never had heard it spoken of.
When not prompted by vanity we say little.
A man would rather say evil of himself than say nothing.
One of the reasons that we find so few persons rational and agreeable in conversation is there is hardly a person who does not think more of what he wants to say than of his answer to what is said. The most clever and polite are content with only seeming attentive while we perceive in their mind and eyes that at the very time they are wandering from what is said and desire to return to what they want to say. Instead of considering that the worst way to persuade or please others is to try thus strongly to please ourselves, and that to listen well and to answer well are some of the greatest charms we can have in conversation.
If it were not for the company of fools, a witty man would often be greatly at a loss.
We often boast that we are never bored, but yet we are so conceited that we do not perceive how often we bore others.
As it is the mark of great minds to say many things in a few words, so it is that of little minds to use many words to say nothing.
It is oftener by the estimation of our own feelings that we exaggerate the good qualities of others than by their merit, and when we praise them we wish to attract their praise.
We do not like to praise, and we never praise without a motive. Praise is flattery, artful, hidden, delicate, which gratifies differently him who praises and him who is praised. The one takes it as the reward of merit, the other bestows it to show his impartiality and knowledge.
We often select envenomed praise which, by a reaction upon those we praise, shows faults we could not have shown by other means.
Usually we only praise to be praised.
Few are sufficiently wise to prefer censure which is useful to praise which is treacherous.
Some reproaches praise; some praises reproach.
The refusal of praise is only the wish to be praised twice.
The desire which urges us to deserve praise strengthens our good qualities, and praise given to wit, valour, and beauty, tends to increase them.
It is easier to govern others than to prevent being governed.
If we never flattered ourselves the flattery of others would not hurt us.
Nature makes merit but fortune sets it to work.
Fortune cures us of many faults that reason could not.
There are some persons who only disgust with their abilities; there are persons who please even with their faults.
There are persons whose only merit consists in saying and doing stupid things at the right time, and who ruin all if they change their manners.
The fame of great men ought always to be estimated by the means used to acquire it.
Flattery is a base coin to which only our vanity gives currency.
It is not enough to have great qualities, we should also have the management of them.
However brilliant an action it should not be esteemed great unless the result of a great motive.
A certain harmony should be kept between actions and ideas if we desire to estimate the effects that they produce.
The art of using moderate abilities to advantage wins praise, and often acquires more reputation than real brilliance.
Numberless arts appear foolish whose secret motives are most wise and weighty.
It is much easier to seem fitted for posts we do not fill than for those we do.
Ability wins us the esteem of the true men, luck that of the people.
The world oftener rewards the appearance of merit than merit itself.
Avarice is more opposed to economy than to liberality.
However deceitful hope may be, yet she carries us on pleasantly to the end of life.
Idleness and fear keeps us in the path of duty, but our virtue often gets the praise.
If one acts rightly and honestly, it is difficult to decide whether it is the effect of integrity or skill.
As rivers are lost in the sea, so are virtues are lost in the self.
If we thoroughly consider the varied effects of indifference, we find we miscarry more in our duties than in our interests.
There are different kinds of curiosity: one springs from interest, which makes us desire to know everything that may be profitable to us; another from pride, which springs from a desire of knowing what others are ignorant of.
It is far better to accustom our mind to bear the ills we have than to speculate on those which may befall us.
Constancy in love is a perpetual inconstancy which causes our heart to attach itself to all the qualities of the person we love in succession, sometimes giving the preference to one, sometimes to another. This constancy is merely inconstancy fixed, and limited to the same person.
There are two kinds of constancy in love, one arising from incessantly finding in the loved one fresh objects to love, the other from regarding it as a point of honor to be constant.
Perseverance is not deserving of blame or praise, as it is merely the continuance of tastes and feelings which we can neither create or destroy.
What makes us like new studies is not so much the weariness we have of the old or the wish for change as the desire to be admired by those who know more than ourselves, and the hope of advantage over those who know less.
We sometimes complain of the levity of our friends to justify our own by anticipation.
Our repentance is not so much sorrow for the ill we have done as fear of the ill that may happen to us.
One sort of inconstancy springs from levity or weakness of mind, and makes us accept everyone's opinion, and another more excusable comes from a surfeit of matter.
Vices enter into the composition of virtues as poison into that of medicines. Prudence collects and blends the two and renders them useful against the ills of life.
For the credit of virtue we must admit that the greatest misfortunes of men are those into which they fall through their crimes.
We admit our faults to repair by our sincerity the evil we have done in the opinion of others.
There are both heroes of evil and heroes of good.
We do not despise all who have vices, but we do despise all who have not virtues.
The name of virtue is as useful to our interest as that of vice.
The health of the mind is not less uncertain than that of the body, and when passions seem furthest removed we are no less in danger of infection than of falling ill when we are well.
It seems that nature has at man's birth fixed the bounds of his virtues and vices.
Great men should not have great faults.
We may say vices wait on us in the course of our life as the landlords with whom we successively lodge, and if we travelled the road twice over I doubt if our experience would make us avoid them.
When our vices leave us we flatter ourselves with the idea we have left them.
There are relapses in the diseases of the mind as in those of the body; what we call a cure is often no more than an intermission or change of disease.
The defects of the mind are like the wounds of the body; whatever care we take to heal them the scars ever remain, and there is always danger of their reopening.
The reason that often prevents us from abandoning a single vice is having so many.
We easily forget those faults which are known only to ourselves.
There are men of whom we can never believe evil without having seen it. Yet there are very few in whom we should be surprised to see it.
We exaggerate the glory of some men to detract from that of others, and we should praise Prince Condé and Marshal Turenne much less if we did not want to blame them both.
The desire to appear clever often prevents our being so.
Virtue would not go far if vanity did not escort her.
He who thinks he has the power to satisfy the world greatly deceives himself, but he who thinks that the world cannot be satisfied with him deceives himself yet more.
Falsely honest men are those who disguise their faults both to themselves and others; truly honest men are those who know them perfectly and confess them.
He is really wise who is annoyed at nothing.
The coldness of women is a balance and burden they add to their beauty.
Virtue in woman is often the love of reputation and repose.
He is a truly good man who desires always to bear the inspection of good men.
Folly follows us at all stages of life. If one appears wise it is but because his folly is proportioned to his age and fortune.
There are foolish people who know and who skillfully use their folly.
Who lives without folly is not so wise as he thinks.
In growing old we become more foolish — and more wise.
There are people who are like farces, which are praised but for a time (however foolish and distasteful they may be).
Love of glory, fear of shame, greed of fortune, the desire to make life agreeable and comfortable, and the wish to depreciate others are often causes of that bravery so vaunted among men.
Valour in common soldiers is a perilous method of earning their living.
Perfect bravery and sheer cowardice are two extremes rarely found. The space between them is vast, and embraces all other sorts of courage. The difference between them is not less than between faces and tempers. Men will freely expose themselves at the beginning of an action, and relax and be easily discouraged if it should last. Some are content to satisfy worldly honor, and beyond that will do little else. Some are not always equally masters of their timidity. Others allow themselves to be overcome by panic; others charge because they dare not remain at their posts. Some may be found whose courage is strengthened by small perils, which prepare them to face greater dangers. Some will dare a sword cut and flinch from a bullet; others dread bullets little and fear to fight with swords. These varied kinds of courage agree in this, that night, by increasing fear and concealing gallant or cowardly actions, allows men to spare themselves. There is even a more general discretion to be observed, for we meet with no man who does all he would have done if he were assured of getting off scot-free; so that it is certain that the fear of death does somewhat subtract from valour.
Perfect valour is to do without witnesses what one would do before all the world.
Intrepidity is an extraordinary strength of soul which raises it above the troubles, disorders, and emotions which the sight of great perils can arouse in it: by this strength heroes maintain a calm aspect and preserve their reason and liberty in the most surprising and terrible accidents.
Hypocrisy is the homage that vice pays to virtue.
Most men expose themselves in battle enough to save their honor, few wish to do so more than sufficiently, or than is necessary to make the design for which they expose themselves succeed.
Vanity, shame, and above all disposition, often make men brave and women chaste.
We do not wish to lose life; we do wish to gain glory, and this makes brave men show more tact and skill in avoiding death, than rogues show in preserving their fortunes.
Few persons on the first approach of age do not show wherein their body, or their mind, is beginning to fail.
Gratitude is as the good faith of merchants: it holds commerce together; and we do not pay because it is just to pay debts, but because we shall thereby more easily find people who will lend.
All those who pay the debts of gratitude cannot thereby flatter themselves that they are grateful.
What makes false reckoning, as regards gratitude, is that the pride of the giver and the receiver cannot agree as to the value of the benefit.
Too great a hurry to discharge of an obligation is a kind of ingratitude.
Lucky people are bad hands at correcting their faults; they always believe that they are right when fortune backs up their vice or folly.
Pride will not owe, self-love will not pay.
The good we have received from a man should make us excuse the wrong he does us.
Nothing is so infectious as example, and we never do great good or evil without producing the like. We imitate good actions by emulation, and bad ones by the evil of our nature, which shame imprisons until example liberates.
It is great folly to wish only to be wise.
Whatever pretext we give to our afflictions it is always interest or vanity that causes them.
In afflictions there are various kinds of hypocrisy. In one, under the pretext of weeping for one dear to us we bemoan ourselves; we regret her good opinion of us, we deplore the loss of our comfort, our pleasure, our consideration. Thus the dead have the credit of tears shed for the living. I affirm it is a kind of hypocrisy which in these afflictions deceives itself. There is another kind not so innocent because it imposes on all the world, that is the grief of those who aspire to the glory of a noble and immortal sorrow. After Time, which absorbs all, has obliterated what sorrow they had, they still obstinately obtrude their tears, their sighs, their groans, they wear a solemn face, and try to persuade others by all their acts, that their grief will end only with their life. This sad and distressing vanity is commonly found in ambitious women. As their sex closes to them all paths to glory, they strive to render themselves celebrated by showing an inconsolable affliction. There is yet another kind of tears arising from but small sources, which flow easily and cease as easily. One weeps to achieve a reputation for tenderness, weeps to be pitied, weeps to be bewept, in fact one weeps to avoid the disgrace of not weeping!
It is more often from pride than from ignorance that we are so obstinately opposed to current opinions; we find the first places taken, and we do not want to be the last.
We are easily consoled at the misfortunes of our friends when they enable us to prove our tenderness for them.
It would seem that even self-love may be the dupe of goodness and forget itself when we work for others. And yet it is but taking the shortest way to arrive at its aim, taking usury under the pretext of giving, in fact winning everybody in a subtle and delicate manner.
No one should be praised for his goodness if he has not strength enough to be wicked. All other goodness is but too often an idleness or powerlessness of will.
It is not so dangerous to do wrong to most men, as to do them too much good.
Nothing flatters our pride so much as the confidence of the great, because we regard it as the result of our worth, without remembering that generally it is but vanity, or the inability to keep a secret.
We may say of conformity as distinguished from beauty, that it is a symmetry which knows no rules, and a secret harmony of features both one with each other and with the colour and appearance of the person.
Flirtation is at the bottom of woman's nature, although all do not practise it, some being restrained by fear, others by sense.
We often bore others when we think we cannot possibly bore them.
Few things are impossible in themselves; application to make them succeed fails us more often than the means.
Sovereign ability consists in knowing the value of things.
There is great ability in knowing how to conceal one's ability.
What seems generosity is often disguised ambition, that despises small interest to run after greater interest.
The fidelity of most men is merely an invention of self-love to win confidence; a method to place us above others and to render us depositaries of the most important matters.
Magnanimity despises all, to win all.
There is no less eloquence in the voice, in the eyes and in the air of a speaker than in his choice of words.
True eloquence consists in saying all that should be said, not all that could be said.
There are people whose faults become them, others whose very virtues disgrace them.
It is as common to change one's tastes, as it is uncommon to change one's inclinations.
Interest sets at work all sorts of virtues and vices.
Humility is often a feigned submission which we employ to supplant others. It is one of the devices of Pride to lower us to raise us; and truly pride transforms itself in a thousand ways, and is never so well disguised and more able to deceive than when it hides itself under the form of humility.
All feelings have their peculiar tone of voice, gestures and looks; and this harmony, as it is good or bad, pleasant or unpleasant, makes people agreeable or disagreeable.
In all professions we affect a part and an appearance to seem what we wish to be. Thus the world is merely composed of actors.
Gravity is a mysterious carriage of the body invented to conceal the want of mind.
Good taste arises more from judgment than from wit.
The pleasure of love is in loving; we are happier in the passion we feel than in the passion we inspire.
Civility is but a desire to receive civility, and to be esteemed polite.
The usual education of young people is to inspire them with a second self-love.
There is no passion wherein self-love reigns so powerfully as in love, and one is always more ready to sacrifice the peace of the loved one than his own.
What we call liberality is often but the vanity of giving, which we like more than what we give away.
Pity is often a reflection of our own evils in the ills of others. It is a delicate foresight of the troubles into which we may fall. We help others that on like occasions we may be helped ourselves, and these services which we render are in reality benefits we confer on ourselves by anticipation.
A narrow mind begets obstinacy, and we do not easily believe what we cannot see.
We deceive ourselves if we believe that there are violent passions like ambition and love that can triumph over others. Idleness, languishing as she is, does not often fail in being mistress; she usurps authority over all the plans and actions of life; imperceptibly consuming and destroying both passions and virtues.
A quickness in believing evil without having sufficiently examined it, is the effect of pride and laziness. We wish to find the guilty, and we do not wish to trouble ourselves in examining the crime.
We credit judges with the smallest motives, and yet we desire that our reputation and fame should depend upon the judgment of men, who are all, either from their jealousy or pre-occupation or want of intelligence, opposed to us — and yet it is only to make these men decide in our favor that we imperil in so many ways both our peace and our life.
No man is clever enough to know all the evil he does.
One honor won is a surety for more.
Youth is a continual intoxication; it is the fever of reason.
Nothing should so humiliate men who have deserved great praise, as the care they have taken to acquire it by the smallest means.
There are persons of whom the world approves who have no merit beyond the vices they use in the affairs of life.
The beauty of novelty is to love as the flower to the fruit; it lends a luster which is easily lost, but which never returns.
Natural goodness, which boasts of being so apparent, is often smothered by the least interest.
Absence extinguishes small passions and increases great ones, as the wind will blow out a candle, and blow in a fire.
Women often think they love when they do not love. The business of a love affair, the emotion of mind that sentiment induces, the natural bias towards the pleasure of being loved, the difficulty of refusing, persuades them that they have real passion when they have but flirtation.
What makes us so often discontented with those who transact business for us is that they almost always abandon the interest of their friends for the interest of the business, because they wish to have the honor of succeeding in that which they have undertaken.
When we exaggerate the tenderness of our friends towards us, it is often less from gratitude than from a desire to exhibit our own merit.
The praise we give to newcomers into the world arises from the envy we bear to those who are established.
Pride, which inspires, often serves to moderate envy.
Some disguised lies so resemble truth, that we should judge badly were we not deceived.
Sometimes there is not less ability in knowing how to use than in giving good advice.
There are wicked people who would be much less dangerous if they were wholly without goodness.
Magnanimity is sufficiently defined by its name, nevertheless one can say it is the good sense of pride, the most noble way of receiving praise.
It is impossible to love a second time those whom we have really ceased to love.
Fertility of mind does not furnish us with so many resources on the same matter, as the lack of intelligence makes us hesitate at each thing our imagination presents, and hinders us from at first discerning which is the best.
There are matters and maladies which at certain times remedies only serve to make worse; true skill consists in knowing when it is dangerous to use them.
Affected simplicity is refined deception.
There are as many errors of temper as of mind.
Man's merit, like the crops, has its season.
One may say of temper as of many buildings; it has varying aspects, some agreeable, others disagreeable.
Moderation cannot claim the merit of opposing and overcoming Ambition: they are never found together. Moderation is the languor and sloth of the soul, Ambition its activity and heat.
We always like those who admire us, we do not always like those whom we admire.
It is well that we know not all our wishes.
It is difficult to love those we do not esteem, but it is no less so to love those whom we esteem much more than ourselves.
Bodily temperaments have a common course and rule which imperceptibly affect our will. They advance in combination, and successively exercise a secret empire over us, so that, without our perceiving it, they become a great part of all our actions.
The gratitude of most men is but a secret desire of receiving greater benefits.
Almost all the world takes pleasure in paying small debts; many people show gratitude for trifling favors, but there is hardly one who does not show ingratitude for great favors.
There are follies as catching as infections.
Many people despise wealth, but few know how to bestow it.
Only in things of small value are we usually bold enough not to trust to appearances.
Whatever good quality may be imputed to us, we ourselves find nothing new in it.
We may forgive those who bore us, we cannot forgive those whom we bore.
Interest which is accused of all our misdeeds often should be praised for our good deeds.
We find very few ungrateful people when we are able to confer favors.
It is as proper to be boastful alone as it is ridiculous to be so in company.
Moderation is made a virtue to limit the ambition of the great; to console ordinary people for their small fortune and equally small ability.
There are persons fated to be fools, who commit follies not only by choice, but who are forced by fortune to do so.
Sometimes there are accidents in our life the skillful extrication from which demands a little folly.
If there be men whose folly has never appeared, it is because it has never been closely looked for.
Lovers are never tired of each other — they always speak of themselves.
How is it that our memory is good enough to retain the least triviality that happens to us, and yet not good enough to recollect how often we have told it to the same person?
The extreme delight we take in talking of ourselves should warn us that it is not shared by those who listen.
What commonly hinders us from showing the recesses of our heart to our friends, is not the distrust we have of them, but that we have of ourselves.
Weak persons cannot be sincere.
It is a small misfortune to oblige an ungrateful man; but it is unbearable to be obliged by a scoundrel.
We may find means to cure a fool of his folly, but there are none to set straight a cross-grained spirit.
If we take the liberty to dwell on their faults we cannot long preserve the feelings we should hold towards our friends and benefactors.
To praise princes for virtues they do not possess is but to reproach them with impunity.
We are nearer loving those who hate us, than those who love us more than we desire.
Those only are despicable who fear to be despised.
Our wisdom is no less at the mercy of Fortune than our goods.
There is more self-love than love in jealousy.
We often comfort ourselves by the weakness of evils, for which reason has not the strength to console us.
Ridicule dishonors more than dishonor itself.
We own to small faults to persuade others that we have not great ones.
Envy is more irreconcilable than hatred.
We believe, sometimes, that we hate flattery — we only dislike the method.
We pardon in the degree that we love.
It is more difficult to be faithful to a mistress when one is happy, than when we are ill-treated by her.
Women do not know all their powers of flirtation.
Women cannot be completely severe unless they hate.
Women can less easily resign flirtations than love.
In love deceit almost always goes further than mistrust.
There is a kind of love, the excess of which forbids jealousy.
There are certain good qualities as there are senses, and those who lack them can neither perceive nor understand them.
When our hatred is too bitter it places us below those whom we hate.
We only appreciate our good or evil in proportion to our self-love.
The wit of most women rather strengthens their folly than their reason.
The heat of youth is not more opposed to safety than the coldness of age.
The accent of our native country dwells in the heart and mind as well as on the tongue.
To be a great man one should know how to profit by every phase of fortune.
Most men, like plants, possess hidden qualities which chance discovers.
Opportunity makes us known to others, but more to ourselves.
If a woman's temper is beyond control there can be no control of the mind or heart.
We hardly find any persons of good sense, except those who agree with us.
When one loves one doubts even what one most believes.
The greatest miracle of love is to eradicate flirtation.
We hate with so much bitterness those who deceive us because they think themselves more clever than we are.
We have much trouble to break with one, when we no longer are in love.
We almost always are bored with persons with whom we should not be bored.
A gentleman may love like a lunatic, but not like a beast.
There are certain defects which, well mounted, glitter like virtue itself.
Sometimes we lose friends for whose loss our regret is greater than our grief, and others for whom our grief is greater than our regret.
Usually we only praise heartily those who admire us.
Little minds are too much wounded by little things; great minds see all and are not even hurt.
Humility is the true proof of Christian virtues; without it we retain all our faults, and they are only covered by pride to hide them from others, and often from ourselves.
Infidelities should extinguish love, and we ought not to be jealous when we have cause to be so. No persons escape causing jealousy who are worthy of exciting it.
We are more humiliated by the least infidelity towards us, than by our greatest towards others.
Jealousy is always born with love, but does not always die with it.
Most women do not grieve so much for the death of their lovers for love's sake, as to show they were worthy of being beloved.
The evils we do to others give us less pain than those we do to ourselves.
We well know that it is bad taste to talk of our wives; but we do not so well know that it is the same to speak of ourselves.
There are virtues which degenerate into vices when they arise from Nature, and others which when acquired are never perfect. For example, reason must teach us to manage our estate and our confidence, while Nature should have given us goodness and valour.
However we distrust the sincerity of those whom we talk with, we always believe them more sincere with us than with others.
There are few virtuous women who are not tired of their part.
The greater number of good women are like concealed treasures, safe as no one has searched for them.
The violences we put upon ourselves to escape love are often more cruel than the cruelty of those we love.
There are not many cowards who know the whole of their fear.
It is generally the fault of the loved one not to perceive when love ceases.
Most young people think they are natural when they are only boorish and rude.
Some tears after having deceived others deceive ourselves.
If we think we love a woman for love of herself we are greatly deceived.
Ordinary men commonly condemn what is beyond them.
Envy is destroyed by true friendship, flirtation by true love.
The greatest mistake of penetration is not to have fallen short, but to have gone too far.
We may bestow advice, but we cannot inspire the conduct.
As our merit declines so also does our taste.
Fortune makes visible our virtues or our vices, as light does objects.
The struggle we undergo to remain faithful to one we love is little better than infidelity.
Our actions are like the rhymed ends of blank verses where to each one puts what construction he pleases.
The desire of talking about ourselves, and of putting our faults in the light we wish them to be seen, forms a great part of our sincerity.
We should only be astonished at still being able to be astonished.
It is equally as difficult to be contented when one has too much or too little love.
No people are more often wrong than those who will not allow themselves to be wrong.
A fool has not stuff in him to be good.
If vanity does not overthrow all virtues, at least she makes them totter.
What makes the vanity of others unsupportable is that it wounds our own.
We give up more easily our interest than our taste.
Fortune appears so blind to none as to those to whom she has done no good.
We should manage fortune like our health: enjoy it when it is good, be patient when it is bad, and never resort to strong remedies but in an extremity.
Awkwardness sometimes disappears in the camp, never in the court.
A man is often more clever than one other, but not more than all others.
We are often less unhappy at being deceived by one we loved, than on being deceived.
We keep our first lover for a long time — if we do not get a second.
We have not the courage to say generally that we have no faults, and that our enemies have no good qualities; but in fact we are not far from believing so.
Of all our faults that which we most readily admit is idleness: we believe that it makes all virtues ineffectual, and that without utterly destroying, it at least suspends their operation.
There is a kind of greatness which does not depend upon fortune: it is a certain manner what distinguishes us, and which seems to destine us for great things; it is the value we insensibly set upon ourselves; it is by this quality that we gain the deference of other men, and it is this which commonly raises us more above them, than birth, rank, or even merit itself.
There may be talent without position, but there is no position without some kind of talent.
Rank is to merit what dress is to a pretty woman.
What we find the least of in flirtation is love.
Fortune sometimes uses our faults to exalt us, and there are tiresome people whose deserts would be ill rewarded if we did not desire to purchase their absence.
It appears that nature has hid at the bottom of our hearts talents and abilities unknown to us. It is only the passions that have the power of bringing them to light, and sometimes give us views more true and more perfect than art could possibly do.
We reach quite inexperienced the different stages of life, and often, in spite of the number of our years, we lack experience.
Flirts make it a point of honor to be jealous of their lovers, to conceal their envy of other women.
It may well be that those who have trapped us by their tricks do not seem to us so foolish as we seem to ourselves when trapped by the tricks of others.
The most dangerous folly of old persons who have been loveable is to forget that they are no longer so.
We should often be ashamed of our very best actions if the world only saw the motives which caused them.
The greatest effort of friendship is not to show our faults to a friend, but to show him his own.
We have few faults which are not far more excusable than the means we adopt to hide them.
Whatever disgrace we may have deserved, it is almost always in our power to re-establish our character.
A man cannot please long who has only one kind of wit.
Idiots and lunatics see only their own wit.
Wit sometimes enables us to act rudely with impunity.
The vivacity which increases in old age is not far removed from folly.
In love the quickest is always the best cure.
Young women who do not want to appear flirts, and old men who do not want to appear ridiculous, should not talk of love as a matter wherein they can have any interest.
We may seem great in a post beneath our capacity, but we oftener seem little in a post above it.
We often believe we have constancy in misfortune when we have nothing but debasement, and we suffer misfortunes without regarding them as cowards who let themselves be killed from fear of defending themselves.
Conceit causes more conversation than wit.
All passions make us commit some faults, love alone makes us ridiculous.
Few know how to be old.
We often credit ourselves with vices the reverse of what we have, thus when weak we boast of our obstinacy.
Penetration has a spice of divination in it which tickles our vanity more than any other quality of the mind.
The charm of novelty and old custom, however opposite to each other, equally blind us to the faults of our friends.
Most friends sicken us of friendship, most devotees of devotion.
We easily forgive in our friends those faults we do not perceive.
Women who love, pardon more readily great indiscretions than little infidelities.
In the old age of love as in life we still survive for the evils, though no longer for the pleasures.
Nothing prevents our being unaffected so much as our desire to seem so.
To praise good actions heartily is in some measure to take part in them.
The most certain sign of being born with great qualities is to be born without envy.
When our friends have deceived us we owe them but indifference to the tokens of their friendship, yet for their misfortunes we always owe them pity.
Luck and temper rule the world.
It is far easier to know men than to know man.
We should not judge of a man's merit by his great abilities, but by the use he makes of them.
There is a certain lively gratitude which not only releases us from benefits received, but which also, by making a return to our friends as payment, renders them indebted to us.
We should earnestly desire but few things if we clearly knew what we desired.
The cause why the majority of women are so little given to friendship is, that it is insipid after having felt love.
As in friendship so in love, we are often happier from ignorance than from knowledge.
We try to make a virtue of vices we are loth to correct.
The most violent passions give some respite, but vanity always disturbs us.
Old fools are more foolish than young fools.
Weakness is more hostile to virtue than vice.
What makes the grief of shame and jealousy so acute is that vanity cannot aid us in enduring them.
Propriety is the least of all laws, but the most obeyed.
A well-trained mind has less difficulty in submitting to than in guiding an ill-trained mind.
When fortune surprises us by giving us some great office without having gradually led us to expect it, or without having raised our hopes, it is well nigh impossible to occupy it well, and to appear worthy to fill it.
Our pride is often increased by what we retrench from our other faults.
No fools are so wearisome as those who have some wit.
No one believes that in every respect he is behind the man he considers the ablest in the world.
In great matters we should not try so much to create opportunities as to utilise those that offer themselves.
There are few occasions when we should make a bad bargain by giving up the good on condition that no ill was said of us.
However disposed the world may be to judge wrongly, it far oftener favors false merit than does justice to true.
Sometimes we meet a fool with wit, never one with discretion.
We should gain more by letting the world see what we are than by trying to seem what we are not.
Our enemies come nearer the truth in the opinions they form of us than we do in our opinion of ourselves.
There are many remedies to cure love, yet none are infallible.
It would be well for us if we knew all that our passions make us do.
Age is a tyrant who forbids at the penalty of life all the pleasures of youth.
The same pride which makes us blame faults from which we believe ourselves free causes us to despise the good qualities we have not.
There is often more pride than goodness in our grief for our enemies' miseries; it is to show how superior we are to them, that we bestow on them the sign of our compassion.
There exists an excess of good and evil which surpasses our comprehension.
Innocence is most fortunate if it finds the same protection as crime.
Of all the violent passions the one that becomes a woman best is love.
Vanity makes us sin more against our taste than against our reason.
Some bad qualities form great talents.
We never desire earnestly what we desire in reason.
All our qualities are uncertain and doubtful, both the good as well as the bad, and nearly all are creatures of opportunities.
In their first passion women love their lovers, in all the others they love love.
Pride as the other passions has its follies. We are ashamed to admit we are jealous, and yet we plume ourselves in having been and being able to be so.
However rare true love is, true friendship is rarer.
There are few women whose charm survives their beauty.
The desire to be pitied or to be admired often forms the greater part of our confidence.
Our envy always lasts longer than the happiness of those we envy.
The same firmness that enables us to resist love enables us to make our resistance durable and lasting. So weak persons who are always excited by passions are seldom really possessed of any.
Fancy does not enable us to invent so many different contradictions as there are by nature in every heart.
It is only people who possess firmness who can possess true gentleness. In those who appear gentle it is generally only weakness, which is readily converted into harshness.
Timidity is a fault which is dangerous to blame in those we desire to cure of it.
Nothing is rarer than true good nature; those who think they have it are generally only pliant or weak.
The mind attaches itself by idleness and habit to whatever is easy or pleasant. This habit always places bounds to our knowledge, and no one has ever yet taken the pains to enlarge and expand his mind to the full extent of its capacities.
Usually we are more satirical from vanity than malice.
When the heart is still disturbed by the relics of a passion it is more proper to take up a new one than when wholly cured.
Those who have had great passions often find all their lives made miserable in being cured of them.
More persons exist without self-love than without envy.
We have more idleness in the mind than in the body.
The calm or disturbance of our mind does not depend so much on what we regard as the more important things of life, as in a judicious or injudicious arrangement of the little things of daily occurrence.
However wicked men may be, they do not dare openly to appear the enemies of virtue, and when they desire to persecute her they either pretend to believe her false or attribute crimes to her.
We often go from love to ambition, but we never return from ambition to love.
Extreme avarice is nearly always mistaken; there is no passion which is oftener further away from its mark, nor upon which the present has so much power to the prejudice of the future.
Avarice often produces opposite results: there are an infinite number of persons who sacrifice their property to doubtful and distant expectations, others mistake great future advantages for small present interests.
It appears that men do not find they have enough faults, as they increase the number by certain peculiar qualities that they affect to assume, and which they cultivate with such great assiduity that at length they become natural faults, which they can no longer correct.
What makes us see that men know their faults better than we imagine, is that they are never wrong when they speak of their conduct; the same self-love that usually blinds them enlightens them, and gives them such true views as to make them suppress or disguise the smallest thing that might be censured.
Young men entering life should be either shy or bold; a solemn and sedate manner usually degenerates into impertinence.
Quarrels would not last long if the fault were only on one side.
It is valueless to a woman to be young unless pretty, or to be pretty unless young.
Some persons are so frivolous and fickle that they are as far removed from real defects as from substantial qualities.
We do not usually reckon a woman's first flirtation until she has had a second.
Some people are so self-occupied that when in love they find a mode by which to be engrossed with the passion without being so with the person they love.
Love, though so very agreeable, pleases more by its ways than by itself.
A little wit with good sense bores less in the long run than much wit with ill nature.
Jealousy is the worst of all evils, yet the one that is least pitied by those who cause it.
Thus having treated of the hollowness of so many apparent virtues, it is only just to say something on the hollowness of the contempt for death. I allude to that contempt of death which the heathen boasted they derived from their unaided understanding, without the hope of a future state. There is a difference between meeting death with courage and despising it. The first is common enough, the last I think always feigned. Yet everything that could be has been written to persuade us that death is no evil, and the weakest of men, equally with the bravest, have given many noble examples on which to found such an opinion, still I do not think that any man of good sense has ever yet believed in it. And the pains we take to persuade others as well as ourselves amply show that the task is far from easy. For many reasons we may be disgusted with life, but for none may we despise it. Not even those who commit suicide regard it as a light matter, and are as much alarmed and startled as the rest of the world if death meets them in a different way than the one they have selected. The difference we observe in the courage of so great a number of brave men, is from meeting death in a way different from what they imagined, when it shows itself nearer at one time than at another. Thus it ultimately happens that having despised death when they were ignorant of it, they dread it when they become acquainted with it. If we could avoid seeing it with all its surroundings, we might perhaps believe that it was not the greatest of evils. The wisest and bravest are those who take the best means to avoid reflecting on it, as every man who sees it in its real light regards it as dreadful. The necessity of dying created all the constancy of philosophers. They thought it only right to go with a good grace when they could not avoid going, and being unable to prolong their lives indefinitely, nothing remained but to build an immortal reputation, and to save from the general wreck all that could be saved. To put a good face upon it, let it suffice, not to say all that we think to ourselves, but rely more on our nature than on our fallible reason, which might make us think we could approach death with indifference. The glory of dying with courage, the hope of being regretted, the desire to leave behind us a good reputation, the assurance of being enfranchised from the miseries of life and being no longer dependent on the wiles of fortune, are resources which should not be passed over. But we must not regard them as infallible. They should affect us in the same proportion as a single shelter affects those who in war storm a fortress. At a distance they think it may afford cover, but when near they find it only a feeble protection. It is only deceiving ourselves to imagine that death, when near, will seem the same as at a distance, or that our feelings, which are merely weaknesses, are naturally so strong that they will not suffer in an attack of the rudest of trials. It is equally as absurd to try the effect of self-esteem and to think it will enable us to count as naught what will of necessity destroy it. And the mind in which we trust to find so many resources will be far too weak in the struggle to persuade us in the way we wish. For it is this which betrays us so frequently, and which, instead of filling us with contempt of death, serves only to show us all that is frightful and fearful. The most it can do for us is to persuade us to avert our gaze and fix it on other objects. Cato and Brutus each selected noble ones. A lackey sometime ago contented himself by dancing on the scaffold when he was about to be broken on the wheel. So however diverse the motives they merely realize the same result. For the rest it is a fact that whatever difference there may be between the peer and the peasant, we have constantly seen both the one and the other meet death with the same composure. Still there is always this difference, that the contempt the peer shows for death is but the love of fame which hides death from his sight; in the peasant it is but the result of his limited vision that hides from him the extent of the evil, and leaves him free to reflect on other things.
Monadnock Valley Press > Rochefoucauld