Jean de La Bruyere
No man is so perfect, so necessary to his friends, as to give them no cause to miss him less.
That man is good who does good to others; if he suffers on account of the good he does, he is very good; if he suffers at the hands of those to whom he has done good, then his goodness is so great that it could be enhanced only by greater sufferings; and if he should die at their hands, his virtue can go no further: it is heroic, it is perfect.
Grief that is dazed and speechless is out of fashion: the modern woman mourns her husband loudly and tells you the whole story of his death, which distresses her so much that she forgets not the slightest detail about it.
It is fortunate to be of high birth, but it is no less so to be of such character that people do not care to know whether you are or are not.
The giving is the hardest part; what does it cost to add a smile?
The town is divided into various groups, which form so many little states, each with its own laws and customs, its jargon and its jokes. While the association holds and the fashion lasts, they admit nothing well said or well done except by one of themselves, and they are incapable of appreciating anything from another source, to the point of despising those who are not initiated into their mysteries.
Criticism is often not a science; it is a craft, requiring more good health than wit, more hard work than talent, more habit than native genius. In the hands of a man who has read widely but lacks judgment, applied to certain subjects it can corrupt both its readers and the writer himself.
You may drive a dog off the King's armchair, and it will climb into the preacher's pulpit; he views the world unmoved, unembarrassed, unabashed.
From time to time there appear on the face of the earth men of rare and consummate excellence, who dazzle us by their virtue, and whose outstanding qualities shed a stupendous light. Like those extraordinary stars of whose origins we are ignorant, and of whose fate, once they have vanished, we know even less, such men have neither forebears nor descendants: they are the whole of their race.
Generosity lies less in giving much than in giving at the right moment.
There are only two ways of getting on in the world: by one's own industry, or by the stupidity of others.
False greatness is unsociable and remote: conscious of its own frailty, it hides, or at least averts its face, and reveals itself only enough to create an illusion and not be recognized as the meanness that it really is. True greatness is free, kind, familiar and popular; it lets itself be touched and handled, it loses nothing by being seen at close quarters; the better one knows it, the more one admires it.
Grief at the absence of a loved one is happiness compared to life with a person one hates.
As favor and riches forsake a man, we discover in him the foolishness they concealed, and which no one perceived before.
We should laugh before being happy, for fear of dying without having laughed.
We can recognize the dawn and the decline of love by the uneasiness we feel when alone together.
One seeks to make the loved one entirely happy, or, if that cannot be, entirely wretched.
Marriage, it seems, confines every man to his proper rank.
There are certain things in which mediocrity is intolerable: poetry, music, painting, public eloquence. What torture it is to hear a frigid speech being pompously declaimed, or second-rate verse spoken with all a bad poet's bombast!
The Opera is obviously the first draft of a fine spectacle; it suggests the idea of one.
Everything has been said, and we have come too late, now that men have been living and thinking for seven thousand years and more.
We should keep silent about those in power; to speak well of them almost implies flattery; to speak ill of them while they are alive is dangerous, and when they are dead is cowardly.
A heap of epithets is poor praise: the praise lies in the facts, and in the way of telling them.
Lofty posts make great men greater still, and small men much smaller.
Nothing more clearly shows how little God esteems his gift to men of wealth, money, position and other worldly goods, than the way he distributes these, and the sort of men who are most amply provided with them.
Outward simplicity befits ordinary men, like a garment made to measure for them; but it serves as an adornment to those who have filled their lives with great deeds: they might be compared to some beauty carelessly dressed and thereby all the more attractive.
One mark of a second-rate mind is to be always telling stories.
Between good sense and good taste there lies the difference between a cause and its effect.
Making a book is a craft, like making a clock; it needs more than native wit to be an author.
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