Francois de La Rochefoucauld

Francois de La Rochefoucauld

François VI, Duc de La Rochefoucauld, Prince de Marcillac (15 September 1613 – 17 March 1680) was a noted French author of maxims and memoirs. It is said that his world-view was clear-eyed and urbane, and that he neither condemned human conduct nor sentimentally celebrated it.

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Absence diminishes mediocre passions and increases great ones, as the wind extinguishes candles and fans fires.

However rare true love may be it is less so than true friendship.

There is no disguise which can hide love for long where it exists, or simulate it where it does not.

True love is like ghosts which everyone talks about and few have seen.

Everyone complains of his memory and nobody complains of his judgment.

Jealously is always born with love, but it does not die with it.

There is a kind of elevation which does not depend on fortune, it is a certain air which distinguishes us and seems to destine us for great things, it is a price which we imperceptibly set upon ourselves.

Why 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?

Conceit causes more conversation than wit.

I have always been an admirer. I regard the gift of admiration as indispensable if one is to amount to something, I don't know where I would be without it.

Jealousy contains more of self-love than of love.

We are sometimes as different from ourselves as we are from others.

A refusal of praise is a desire to be praised twice.

A great many men's gratitude is nothing but a secret desire to hook in more valuable kindnesses hereafter.

Few people have the wisdom to prefer the criticism that would do them good to the praise that deceives them.

Being a blockhead is sometimes the best security against being cheated by a man of wit.

We are nearer loving those who hate us than those who love us more than we wish.

People always complain about their memories, never about their minds.

Hope, deceiving as it is, serves at least to lead us to the end of our lives by an agreeable route.

There are bad people who would be less dangerous if they were quite devoid of goodness.

Gratitude is merely the secret hope of further favors.

Great souls are not those who have fewer passions and more virtues than others, but only those who have greater designs.

No man deserves to be praised for his goodness who has it not in his power to be wicked. Goodness without that power is generally nothing more than sloth or an impotence of will.

Some counterfeits reproduce so very well the truth that it would be a flaw of judgment not to be deceived by them.

A man is sometimes as different from himself as he is from others.

In most of mankind, gratitude is merely a secret hope of further favors.

Pride, which inspires us with so much envy, is sometimes of use toward the moderating of it too.

Pride does not wish to owe and vanity does not wish to pay.

Confidence contributes more to conversation than wit.

If it were not for the company of fools, a witty man would often be greatly at a loss.

Jealousy is bred in doubts. When those doubts change into certainties, then the passion either ceases or turns absolute madness.

What makes the pain we feel from shame and jealousy so cutting, is that vanity can give us no assistance in bearing them.

Our concern for the loss of our friends is not always from a sense of their worth, but rather of our own need of them and that we have lost some who had a good opinion of us.

The more one loves a mistress the more one is ready to hate her.

Too great haste to repay an obligation is a kind of ingratitude.

However greatly we distrust the sincerity of those we converse with, yet still we think they tell more truth to us than to anyone else.

Silence is the safest course for any man to adopt who distrust himself.

To achieve greatness one should live as if they will never die.

Repentance is not so much remorse for what we have done as the fear of the consequences.

The mind is always the patsy of the heart.

It is not enough to have great qualities, We should also have the management of them.

Quarrels would not last long if the fault was only on one side.

Though men are apt to flatter and exalt themselves with their great achievements yet these are in truth very often owing not so much to design as chance.

Fortune converts everything to the advantage of her favorites.

Innocence does not find near so much protection as guilt.

The only thing that should surprise us is that there are still some things that can surprise us.

We are more often treacherous through weakness than through calculation.

What is called generosity is usually only the vanity of giving, we enjoy the vanity more than the thing given.

Before we set our hearts too much upon anything let us examine how happy they are who already possess it.

We seldom find any person of good sense except those who share our opinions.

Usually we praise only to be praised.

We do not despise all those who have vices but we do despise those that have no virtue.

Never give anyone the advice to buy or sell shares because the most benevolent price of advice can turn out badly.

As it is the characteristic of great wits to say much in few words so small wits seem to have the gift of speaking much and saying nothing.

We pardon to the extent that we love.

It is great folly to wish to be wise all alone.

One can find women who have never had one love affair but it is rare indeed to find any who have had only one.

Decency is the least of all laws but yet it is the law which is most strictly observed.

Those that have had great passions esteem themselves for the rest of their lives fortunate and unfortunate in being cured of them.

Every one speaks well of his own heart but no one dares speak well of his own mind.

It is easier to be wise for others than for ourselves.

What men have called friendship is only a social arrangement a mutual adjustment of interests an interchange of services given and received, it is in sum simply a business from which those involved propose to derive a steady profit for their own self-love.

We have no patience with other people's vanity because it is offensive to our own.

It is with an old love as it is with old age a man lives to all the miseries but is dead to all the pleasures.

As great minds have the faculty of saying a great deal in a few words so lesser minds have a talent of talking much and saying nothing.

What we call generosity is for the most part only the vanity of giving, and we exercise it because we are more fond of that vanity than of the thing we give.

We would rather speak ill of ourselves than not talk about ourselves at all.

The mind cannot long play the heart's role.

We are so accustomed to disguise ourselves to others that in the end we become disguised to ourselves.

Most people know no other way of judging men's worth but by the vogue they are in or the fortunes they have met with.

There is no better proof of a man's being truly good than his desiring to be constantly under the observation of good men.

When we are in love we often doubt that which we most believe.

Women's virtue is frequently nothing but a regard to their own quiet and a tenderness for their reputation.

In the human heart new passions are forever being born, the overthrow of one almost always means the rise of another.

Funeral pomp is more for the vanity of the living than for the honor of the dead.

The reason that lovers never weary each other is because they are always talking about themselves.

We only acknowledge small faults in order to make it appear that we are free from great ones.

Few things are impracticable in themselves, and it is for want of application rather than of means that men fail to succeed.

We get so much in the habit of wearing disguises before others that we finally appear disguised before ourselves.

There is nothing men are so generous of as advice.

Nature seems at each man's birth to have marked out the bounds of his virtues and vices and to have determined how good or how wicked that man shall be capable of being.

Our actions seem to have their lucky and unlucky stars to which a great part of that blame and that commendation is due which is given to the actions themselves.

No men are oftener wrong than those that can least bear to be so.

Some accidents there are in life that a little folly is necessary to help us out of.

Our aversion to lying is commonly a secret ambition to make what we say considerable and have every word received with a religious respect.

That good disposition which boasts of being most tender is often stifled by the least urging of self-interest.

There are very few things impossible in themselves, and we do not want means to conquer difficulties so much as application and resolution in the use of means.

If we are to judge of love by its consequences it more nearly resembles hatred than friendship.

We are all strong enough to bear other men's misfortunes.

Taste may change but inclination never.

We may sooner be brought to love them that hate us, than them that love us more than we would have them do.

You can find women who have never had an affair but it is hard to find a woman who has had just one.

A man's worth has its season like fruit.

There are but very few men clever enough to know all the mischief they do.

Good advice is something a man gives when he is too old to set a bad example.

There are few virtuous women who are not bored with their trade.

The force we use on ourselves to prevent ourselves from loving is often more cruel than the severest treatment at the hands of one loved.

Ridicule dishonors a man more than dishonor does.

If we judge love by most of its effects it resembles rather hatred than affection.

The desire of talking of ourselves and showing those faults we do not mind having seen makes up a good part of our sincerity.

We come altogether fresh and raw into the several stages of life and often find ourselves without experience despite our years.

Neither the sun nor death can be looked at with a steady eye.

Our virtues are often in reality no better than vices disguised.

There are a great many men valued in society who have nothing to recommend them but serviceable vices.

All the passions make us commit faults, love makes us commit the most ridiculous ones.

We are more interested in making others believe we are happy than in trying to be happy ourselves.

A work can become modern only if it is first postmodern. Postmodernism thus understood is not modernism at its end but in the nascent state and this state is constant.

Nothing is impossible, there are ways that lead to everything and if we had sufficient will we should always have sufficient means. It is often merely for an excuse that we say things are impossible.

Those who occupy their minds with small matters generally become incapable of greatness.

What keeps us from abandoning ourselves entirely to one vice often is the fact that we have several.

However glorious an action in itself it ought not to pass for great if it be not the effect of wisdom and intention.

We are strong enough to bear the misfortunes of others.

As one grows older one becomes wiser and more foolish.

It takes nearly as much ability to know how to profit by good advice as to know how to act for one's self.

We often pardon those that annoy us but we cannot pardon those we annoy.

The greatest part of intimate confidences proceed from a desire either to be pitied or admired.

Weakness of character is the only defect which cannot be amended.

The sure way to be cheated is to think one's self more cunning than others.

We are very far from always knowing our own wishes.

Old men are fond of giving good advice to console themselves for their inability to give bad examples.

The passions are the only orators which always persuade.

There is many a virtuous woman weary of her trade.

If we resist our passions it is more due to their weakness than our strength.

We always love those who admire us but we do not always love those whom we admire.

Mediocre minds usually dismiss anything which reaches beyond their own understanding.

When our vices leave us we like to imagine it is we who are leaving them.

We say little when vanity does not make us speak.

Some people displease with merit and others' very faults and defects are pleasing.

No man is clever enough to know all the evil he does.

It is easier to know men in general than men in particular.

Love can no more continue without a constant motion than fire can, and when once you take hope and fear away you take from it its very life and being.

The desire to seem clever often keeps us from being so.

There are heroes in evil as well as in good.

He who lives without folly isn't so wise as he thinks.

The happiness and misery of men depend no less on temper than fortune.

Old age is a tyrant who forbids under pain of death the pleasures of youth.

The virtues and vices are all put in motion by interest.

Passion makes idiots of the cleverest men and makes the biggest idiots clever.

What seems to be generosity is often no more than disguised ambition which overlooks a small interest in order to secure a great one.

The word virtue is as useful to self-interest as the vices.

We should often blush for our very best actions if the world did but see all the motives upon which they were done.

We seldom find people ungrateful so long as it is thought we can serve them.

Gracefulness is to the body what understanding is to the mind.

We always get bored with those whom we bore.

Old people love to give good advice, it compensates them for their inability to set a bad example.

We should often feel ashamed of our best actions if the world could see all the motives which produced them.

There are crimes which become innocent and even glorious through their splendor number and excess.

The defects of the mind like those of the face grow worse with age.

Perhaps being old is having lighted rooms inside your head and people in them acting. People you know yet can't quite name.

Flattery is a kind of bad money to which our vanity gives us currency.

Nothing prevents one from appearing natural as the desire to appear natural.

The surest way to be deceived is to consider oneself cleverer than others.

Self-interest makes some people blind and others sharp-sighted.

It is not in the power of even the most crafty dissimulation to conceal love long where it really is nor to counterfeit it long where it is not.

Men give away nothing so liberally as their advice.

The defects and faults of the mind are like wounds in the body, after all imaginable care has been taken to heal them up, still there will be a scar left behind, and they are in continual danger of breaking the skin and bursting out again.

It's easier to be wise for others than for ourselves.

When we disclaim praise it is only showing our desire to be praised a second time.

The first lover is kept a long while when no offer is made of a second.

There are very few people who are not ashamed of having been in love when they no longer love each other.

The generality of virtuous women are like hidden treasures they are safe only because nobody has sought after them.

Philosophy finds it an easy matter to vanquish past and future evils but the present are commonly too hard for it.

We may seem great in an employment below our worth but we very often look little in one that is too big for us.

On neither the sun nor death can a man look fixedly.

It is a great act of cleverness to be able to conceal one's being clever.

Why can we remember the tiniest detail that has happened to us and not remember how many times we have told it to the same person.

To know how to hide one's ability is great skill.

Perfect Valor is to do without a witness all that we could do before the whole world.

The accent of one's birthplace remains in the mind and in the heart as in one's speech.

In the misfortunes of our best friends we always find something not altogether displeasing to us.

One forgives to the degree that one loves.

A true friend is the greatest of all blessings and that which we take the least care of all to acquire.

The name and pretense of virtue is as serviceable to self-interest as are real vices.

If we had no faults of our own we should not take so much pleasure in noticing those in others.

It is easier to appear worthy of a position one does not hold than of the office which one fills.

The reason why so few people are agreeable in conversation is that each is thinking more about what he intends to say than others are saying.

How can we expect another to keep our secret if we have been unable to keep it ourselves?

We only confess our little faults to persuade people that we have no big ones.

Jealousy lives upon doubts. It becomes madness or ceases entirely as soon as we pass from doubt to certainty.

Perfect courage is to do without witnesses what one would be capable of doing with the world looking on.

Many men are contemptuous of riches, few can give them away.

Hypocrisy is the homage vice pays to virtue.

The sure mark of one born with noble qualities is being born without envy.

Nothing hinders a thing from being natural so much as the straining ourselves to make it seem so.

Virtue would go far if vanity did not keep it company.

Nothing is so contagious as example, and we never do any great good or evil which does not produce its like.

We all have enough strength to endure the misfortunes of others.

We confess our little faults to persuade people that we have no large ones.

The accent of a man's native country remains in his mind and his heart as it does in his speech.

We easily forgive our friends those faults that do no affect us ourselves.

Love often leads on to ambition but seldom does one return from ambition to love.

There are various sorts of curiosity, one is from interest which makes us desire to know that which may be useful to us, and the other from pride which comes from the wish to know what others are ignorant of.

Moderation is the feebleness and sloth of the soul whereas ambition is the warmth and activity of it.

Most of our faults are more pardonable than the means we use to conceal them.

Perfect behavior is born of complete indifference.

Politeness is a desire to be treated politely and to be esteemed polite oneself.

Men often pass from love to ambition but they seldom come back again from ambition to love.

The intellect is always fooled by the heart.

We promise in proportion to our hopes and we deliver in proportion to our fears.

We give advice but we cannot give the wisdom to profit by it.

Timidity is a fault for which it is dangerous to reprove persons whom we wish to correct of it.

If there be a love pure and free from the admixture of our other passions it is that which lies hidden in the bottom of our heart and which we know not ourselves.

It is often laziness and timidity that keep us within our duty while virtue gets all the credit.

When a man must force himself to be faithful in his love this is hardly better than unfaithfulness.

The heart is forever making the head its fool.

We do not praise others ordinarily but in order to be praised ourselves.

It's the height of folly to want to be the only wise one.

If we did not flatter ourselves the flattery of others could never harm us.

The principal point of cleverness is to know how to value things just as they deserve.

Only the contemptible fear contempt.

People that are conceited of their own merit take pride in being unfortunate that themselves and others may think them considerable enough to be the envy and the mark of fortune.

It is from a weakness and smallness of mind that men are opinionated, and we are very loath to believe what we are not able to comprehend.

The moderation of people in prosperity is the effect of a smooth and composed temper owing to the calm of their good fortune.

If we have not peace within ourselves it is in vain to seek it from outward sources.

It is almost always a fault of one who loves not to realize when he ceases to be loved.

People's personalities like buildings have various facades some pleasant to view some not.

It is with true love as it is with ghosts, everyone talks about it but few have seen it.

How is it that we remember the least triviality that happens to us and yet not remember how often we have recounted it to the same person?

We promise according to our hopes and perform according to our fears.

We are never so ridiculous through what we are as through what we pretend to be.

Not all those who know their minds know their hearts as well.

In all professions each affects a look and an exterior to appear what he wishes the world to believe that he is. Thus we may say that the whole world is made up of appearances.

Though nature be ever so generous yet can she not make a hero alone. Fortune must contribute her part too, and till both concur the work cannot be perfected.

We are so used to dissembling with others that in time we come to deceive and dissemble with ourselves.

We often forgive those who bore us but we cannot forgive those whom we bore.

In love we often doubt what we most believe.

Those who are incapable of committing great crimes do not readily suspect them in others.

A wise man thinks it more advantageous not to join the battle than to win.

We seldom praise anyone in good earnest except such as admire us.

Whatever good things people say of us they tell us nothing new.

The one thing people are the most liberal with is their advice.

There is only one kind of love but there are a thousand imitations.

We would frequently be ashamed of our good deeds if people saw all of the motives that produced them.

We are easily comforted for the misfortunes of our friends when those misfortunes give us an occasion of expressing our affection and solicitude.

Heat of blood makes young people change their inclinations often and habit makes old ones keep to theirs a great while.

He is not to pass for a man of reason who stumbles upon reason by chance but he who knows it and can judge it and has a true taste for it.

Perfect valour consists in doing without witnesses that which we would be capable of doing before everyone.

In friendship as well as love ignorance very often contributes more to our happiness than knowledge.

When a man is in love he doubts very often what he most firmly believes.

They that apply themselves to trifling matters commonly become incapable of great ones.

The man that thinks he loves his mistress for her own sake is mightily mistaken.

One is never fortunate or as unfortunate as one imagines.