Monday, April 23, 2012

La Rochefoucauld -- Selected Maxims

Francois, Duc de La Rochefoucauld 1613 - 1660

Before there was Nietzsche, there was Francois de La Rochefoucauld, the great aphorist (├žois_de_La_Rochefoucauld_(writer)).  These are timeless nuggets of wisdom, worldliness and psychological penetration from 17th century France.  Each one of his sentences sparkles like a freshly poured flute of champagne.  Commander Kelly says, "Enjoy!"

"People would never fall in love if they hadn’t heard love talked about.

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

Gratitude is merely the secret hope of further favors.

Hypocrisy is the homage which vice pays to virtue.

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

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

Our repentance is not so much regret for the ill we have done as fear of the ill that may happen to us in consequence.

Many people despise wealth, but few know how to give it away.

Preserving health by too severe a rule is a worrisome malady.

The glory of great men should always be measured by the means they have used to acquire it.

The pleasure of love is in loving.

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

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

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

To listen closely and reply well is the highest perfection we are able to attain in the art of conversation.

The only thing constant in life is change.

We pardon to the extent that we love.

When we are unable to find tranquility within ourselves, it is useless to seek it elsewhere.

The most certain sign of being born with great qualities is to be born without envy.

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

Neither love nor fire can subsist without perpetual motion; both cease to live so soon as they cease to hope, or to fear.

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

Perfect valor is to behave, without witnesses, as one would act were all the world watching.

When our hatred is violent, it sinks us even beneath those we hate.

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

Few persons have sufficient wisdom to prefer censure, which is useful, to praise which deceives them.

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

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

Vive La Rochefoucauld!
Fights would not last, if only one side was wrong.

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

Envy is more irreconcilable than hatred.

There are heroes in evil as well as in good.

Lovers never get tired of each other because they are forever talking about themselves.

Youth is a perpetual drunkenness; it is the fever of reason.

Few people know how to be old.

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

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

If I advance, follow me! If I retreat, kill me! If I die, avenge me!"


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