François, Duc de La Rochefoucauld (1613-1680)
Absence lessens the minor passions and increases the great ones, as the wind douses a candle and kindles a fire.
We are never so ridiculous through what we are as through what we pretend to be.
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?
Nothing so much prevents our being natural as the desire to seem so.
There are few virtuous women who are not bored with their trade.
If it were not for the company of fools, a witty man would often be greatly at a loss.
Usually we praise only to be praised.
We only confess our little faults to persuade people that we have no big ones.
We often forgive those who bore us, but we cannot forgive those whom we bore.
Perfect courage is to do without witnesses what one would be capable of doing with the world looking on.
There are crimes which become innocent and even glorious through their splendor, number and excess.
To safeguard one's health at the cost of too strict a diet is a tiresome illness indeed.
True eloquence consists in saying all that need be said and no more.
There is hardly a man clever enough to recognize the full extent of the evil he does.
If we had no faults of our own, we should not take so much pleasure in noticing those in others.
Too great a hurry to discharge an obligation is a kind of ingratitude.
He who lives without folly isn't so wise as he thinks.
We pardon to the extent that we love.
In the misfortunes of our best friends we always find something not altogether displeasing to us.
It is more shameful to distrust one's friends than to be deceived by them.
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.
Funeral pomp is more for the vanity of the living than for the honor of the dead.
What is called generosity is usually only the vanity of giving; we enjoy the vanity more than the thing given.
The glory of a great man ought always to be estimated by the means used to acquire it.
In most of mankind gratitude is merely a secret hope of further favors.
Hypocrisy is a tribute that vice pays to virtue.
The only good copies are those which make us see the absurdity of bad originals.
We seldom find people ungrateful so long as we are in a condition to render them service.
Those who are incapable of commiting great crimes will not easily suspect others of doing so.
The height of cleverness is being able to conceal it.
Jealousy contains more of self-love than of love.
Everyone complains of his memory, none of his judgment.
The love of justice is, in most men, nothing more than the fear of suffering injustice.
What makes us so bitter against people who outwit us is that they think themselves cleverer than we are.
True love is like ghosts, which everyone talks about but few have seen.
We are nearer loving those who hate us than those who love us more than we wish.
There are few people who are not ashamed of their love affairs when the infatuation is over.
The more one loves a mistress, the more one is ready to hate her.
Moderation in people who are contented comes from that calm that good fortune lends to their spirit.
We should often be ashamed of our finest actions if the world understood all the motives behind them.
Old people love to give good advice to console themselves for no longer being able to set a bad example.
Few people know how to be old.
The passions are the only orators which always persuade.
If we resist our passions, it is more because of their weakness than because of our strength.
The accent of one's birthplace remains in the mind and in the heart as in one's speech.
It is easier to appear worthy of a position one does not hold, than of the office which one fills.
One can find women who have never had one love affair, but it is rare indeed to find any who have had only one.
Honest people will respect us for our merit: the public, for our luck.
The surest way to be deceived is to consider oneself cleverer than others.
To establish oneself in the world, one does all one can to seem established there already.
It's the height of folly to want to be the only wise one.
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