• Alex Vikner

Maxims

Author: François de La Rochefoucauld


Summary: La Rochefoucauld's maxims reflect on the conduct and motives of mankind and encapsulate uncomfortable and everlasting truths about the human condition.

[20]

The steadfastness of the wise is but the art of keeping their agitation locked in their hearts.


[31]

If we had no faults we should not find so much enjoyment in seeing faults in others.


[38]

Our promises are made in proportion to our hopes, but kept in proportion to our fears.


[47]

Our temperament decides the value of everything the fortune bestows upon us.


[56]

In order to succeed in the world people do their utmost to appear successful.


[64]

Truth does not do as much good in the world as the semblance of truth does evil.


[78]

In most men love of justice is only fear of suffering injustice.


[79]

Silence is the safest policy if you are unsure of yourself.


[106]

To be known well things must be known in detail, but. as detail is almost infinite, our knowledge is always superficial and imperfect.


[132]

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


[147]

Few people are wise enough to prefer useful criticism to the sort of praise which is their undoing.


[157]

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


[169]

We are held to our duty by laziness and timidity, but often virtue gets all the audit.


[199]

Desire to appear clever often prevents our becoming so.


[216]

Perfect valour consists in doing without witnesses what one would be capable of doing before the world at large.


[237]

Nobody deserves to be praised for goodness unless he is strong enough to be bad, for any other goodness is usually merely inertia or lack of will-power.


[244]

Supreme cleverness is knowledge of the real value of things.


[250]

True eloquence consists in saying that all that is required and only what is required.


[286]

It is impossible to love for a second time anything you have really ceased to love.


[312]

The reason why lovers never tire of each other's company is that the conversation is always about themselves.


[327]

We own up to minor failings, but only so as to convince others that we have no major ones.


[343]

To achieve greatness a man must know how to turn all his chances to good account.


[352]

We are always bored by the very people by whom it is vital not to be bored.


[375]

Commonplace minds usually condemn whatever is beyond their powers.


[386]

No people are more often wrong than those who cannot bear to be.


[389]

What makes the vanity of others intolerable is that it hurts our own.


[410]

The most difficult undertaking in friendship is not showing our faults to our friend, but making him see his own.


[428]

We freely forgive in our friends those faults which do not affect us.


[435]

Chance and caprice rule the world.


[442]

We try to make virtues out of the faults we have no wish to correct.


[451]

No fools are so difficult to manage as those with some brains.


[457]

It would pay us better to let ourselves be seen as we are than to try to appear what we are not.


[463]

There is often more pride than kindness in our pity for the misfortunes of our enemies, for we make a display of sympathy in order to impress them with our superiority.


[487]

We are lazier in mind than in body.


[496]

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


[515]

Hope and fear are inseparable, and there is no fear without hope nor hope without fear.


[516]

We should not take offence when people hide the truth from us, since so often we hide it from ourselves.


[526]

We are quick to criticise the faults of others, but slow to use those faults to correct our own.


[528]

The good and bad things that happen to us touch our emotions not in proportion to their importance but to our sensitivity.


[532]

Extreme boredom provides its own antidote.


[533]

Most things are praised or decried because it is fashionable to praise or decry them.


[552]

A good woman is a hidden treasure: the finder is well advised not to boast about it.


[555]

Almost always we are bored by people to. whom we ourselves are boring.


[561]

A man who dislikes everybody is much more unhappy than a man nobody likes.

© Alex Vikner

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