Reflections; Or Sentences and Moral Maxims
Francois Duc De La Rochefoucauld

Part 1 out of 3

{Transcriber's notes: spelling variants are preserved (e.g. labour
instead of labor, criticise instead of criticize, etc.); words that
were italicized appear in all CAPITALS; the translators' comments are
in square brackets [...] as they are in the text; footnotes are indicated
by * and appear in angled brackets <...> immediately following the passage
containing the note (in the text they appear at the bottom of the page);
and, finally, I give corrections and addenda in curly brackets {...}.}


"As Rochefoucauld his maxims drew
From Nature--I believe them true.
They argue no corrupted mind
In him; the fault is in mankind."--Swift.

"Les Maximes de la Rochefoucauld sont des proverbs des
gens d'esprit."--Montesquieu.

"Maxims are the condensed good sense of nations."--Sir J.

"Translators should not work alone; for good ET PROPRIA VERBA
do not always occur to one mind."--Luther's TABLE TALK, iii.

Reflections; or Sentences and Moral Maxims


Francois Duc De La Rochefoucauld,
Prince de Marsillac.

Translated from the Editions of 1678 and 1827 with introduction,
notes, and some account of the author and his times.


J. W. Willis Bund, M.A. LL.B
J. Hain Friswell

Simpson Low, Son, and Marston,
188, Fleet Street.

{Translators'} Preface.

Some apology must be made for an attempt
"to translate the untranslatable." Not-
withstanding there are no less than eight
English translations of La Rochefoucauld, hardly
any are readable, none are free from faults, and all
fail more or less to convey the author's meaning.
Though so often translated, there is not a complete
English edition of the Maxims and Reflections. All
the translations are confined exclusively to the
Maxims, none include the Reflections. This may be
accounted for, from the fact that most of the trans-
lations are taken from the old editions of the
Maxims, in which the Reflections do not appear.
Until M. Suard devoted his attention to the text
of Rochefoucauld, the various editions were but
reprints of the preceding ones, without any regard
to the alterations made by the author in the later
editions published during his life-time. So much
was this the case, that Maxims which had been
rejected by Rochefoucauld in his last edition, were
still retained in the body of the work. To give
but one example, the celebrated Maxim as to the
misfortunes of our friends, was omitted in the last
edition of the book, published in Rochefoucauld's
life-time, yet in every English edition this Maxim
appears in the body of the work.

M. Aime Martin in 1827 published an edition
of the Maxims and Reflections which has ever since
been the standard text of Rochefoucauld in France.
The Maxims are printed from the edition of 1678,
the last published during the author's life, and the
last which received his corrections. To this edition
were added two Supplements; the first containing
the Maxims which had appeared in the editions of
1665, 1666, and 1675, and which were afterwards
omitted; the second, some additional Maxims
found among various of the author's manuscripts
in the Royal Library at Paris. And a Series of Re-
flections which had been previously published in a
work called "Receuil de pieces d'histoire et de litte-
rature." Paris, 1731. They were first published
with the Maxims in an edition by Gabriel Brotier.

In an edition of Rochefoucauld entitled "Reflex-
ions, ou Sentences et Maximes Morales, augmentees
de plus deux cent nouvelles Maximes et Maximes
et Pensees diverses suivant les copies Imprimees a
Paris, chez Claude Barbin, et Matre Cramoisy
1692,"* some fifty Maxims were added, ascribed
by the editor to Rochefoucauld, and as his family
allowed them to be published under his name, it
seems probable they were genuine. These fifty
form the third supplement to this book.

* published in 1693. The only copy I have seen is in the
Cambridge University Library, 47, 16, 81, and is called
"Reflexions Morales.">

The apology for the present edition of Rochefou-
cauld must therefore be twofold: firstly, that it is
an attempt to give the public a complete English
edition of Rochefoucauld's works as a moralist.
The body of the work comprises the Maxims
as the author finally left them, the first supple-
ment, those published in former editions, and
rejected by the author in the later; the second, the
unpublished Maxims taken from the author's cor-
respondence and manuscripts, and the third, the
Maxims first published in 1692. While the Re-
flections, in which the thoughts in the Maxims are
extended and elaborated, now appear in English
for the first time. And secondly, that it is an
attempt (to quote the preface of the edition of
1749) "to do the Duc de la Rochefoucauld the
justice to make him speak English."

{Translators'} Introduction

The description of the "ancien regime" in
France, "a despotism tempered by epigrams,"
like most epigrammatic sentences, contains
some truth, with much fiction. The society of
the last half of the seventeenth, and the whole of the
eighteenth centuries, was doubtless greatly influenced
by the precise and terse mode in which the popular
writers of that date expressed their thoughts. To a
people naturally inclined to think that every possible
view, every conceivable argument, upon a question is
included in a short aphorism, a shrug, and the word
"voila," truths expressed in condensed sentences must
always have a peculiar charm. It is, perhaps, from this
love of epigram, that we find so many eminent
French writers of maxims. Pascal, De Retz, La
Rochefoucauld, La Bruyere, Montesquieu, and Vau-
venargues, each contributed to the rich stock of French
epigrams. No other country can show such a list
of brilliant writers--in England certainly we can-
not. Our most celebrated, Lord Bacon, has, by
his other works, so surpassed his maxims, that their
fame is, to a great measure, obscured. The only
Englishman who could have rivalled La Rochefou-
cauld or La Bruyere was the Earl of Chesterfield, and
he only could have done so from his very inti-
mate connexion with France; but unfortunately his
brilliant genius was spent in the impossible task of
trying to refine a boorish young Briton, in "cutting
blocks with a razor."

Of all the French epigrammatic writers La Rochefou-
cauld is at once the most widely known, and the most
distinguished. Voltaire, whose opinion on the cen-
tury of Louis XIV. is entitled to the greatest weight,
says, "One of the works that most largely contributed
to form the taste of the nation, and to diffuse a spirit
of justice and precision, is the collection of maxims,
by Francois Duc de la Rochefoucauld."

This Francois, the second Duc de la Rochefoucauld,
Prince de Marsillac, the author of the maxims, was
one of the most illustrious members of the most illus-
trious families among the French noblesse. Descended
from the ancient Dukes of Guienne, the founder of
the Family Fulk or Foucauld, a younger branch of
the House of Lusignan, was at the commencement of
the eleventh century the Seigneur of a small town,
La Roche, in the Angounois. Our chief knowledge of
this feudal lord is drawn from the monkish chronicles.
As the benefactor of the various abbeys and monas-
teries in his province, he is naturally spoken of by
them in terms of eulogy, and in the charter of one of
the abbeys of Angouleme he is called, "vir nobilissimus
Fulcaldus." His territorial power enabled him to
adopt what was then, as is still in Scotland, a com-
mon custom, to prefix the name of his estate to his
surname, and thus to create and transmit to his
descendants the illustrious surname of La Rochefou-

From that time until that great crisis in the history
of the French aristocracy, the Revolution of 1789, the
family of La Rochefoucauld have been, "if not first, in
the very first line" of that most illustrious body. One
Seigneur served under Philip Augustus against Richard
Coeur de Lion, and was made prisoner at the battle
of Gisors. The eighth Seigneur Guy performed a great
tilt at Bordeaux, attended (according to Froissart) to
the Lists by some two hundred of his kindred and
relations. The sixteenth Seigneur Francais was cham-
berlain to Charles VIII. and Louis XII., and stood
at the font as sponsor, giving his name to that last
light of French chivalry, Francis I. In 1515 he was
created a baron, and was afterwards advanced to a
count, on account of his great service to Francis and
his predecessors.

The second count pushed the family fortune still
further by obtaining a patent as the Prince de Mar-
sillac. His widow, Anne de Polignac, entertained
Charles V. at the family chateau at Verteuil, in so
princely a manner that on leaving Charles observed,
"He had never entered a house so redolent of high
virtue, uprightness, and lordliness as that mansion."

The third count, after serving with distinction
under the Duke of Guise against the Spaniards, was
made prisoner at St. Quintin, and only regained his
liberty to fall a victim to the "bloody infamy" of St.
Bartholomew. His son, the fourth count, saved with
difficulty from that massacre, after serving with dis-
tinction in the religious wars, was taken prisoner
in a skirmish at St. Yriex la Perche, and murdered
by the Leaguers in cold blood.

The fifth count, one of the ministers of Louis
XIII., after fighting against the English and Buck-
ingham at the Ile de Re, was created a duke. His
son Francis, the second duke, by his writings has
made the family name a household word.

The third duke fought in many of the earlier cam-
paigns of Louis XIV. at Torcy, Lille, Cambray, and
was dangerously wounded at the passage of the Rhine.
From his bravery he rose to high favour at Court, and
was appointed Master of the Horse (Grand Veneur)
and Lord Chamberlain. His son, the fourth duke,
commanded the regiment of Navarre, and took part
in storming the village of Neerwinden on the day
when William III. was defeated at Landen. He was
afterwards created Duc de la Rochequyon and Marquis
de Liancourt.

The fifth duke, banished from Court by Louis XV.,
became the friend of the philosopher Voltaire.

The sixth duke, the friend of Condorcet, was the
last of the long line of noble lords who bore that
distinguished name. In those terrible days of Sep-
tember, 1792, when the French people were proclaim-
ing universal humanity, the duke was seized as an
aristocrat by the mob at Gisors and put to death
behind his own carriage, in which sat his mother and
his wife, at the very place where, some six centuries
previously, his ancestor had been taken prisoner in
a fair fight. A modern writer has spoken of this
murder "as an admirable reprisal upon the grandson
for the writings and conduct of the grandfather."
But M. Sainte Beuve observes as to this, he can see
nothing admirable in the death of the duke, and if it
proves anything, it is only that the grandfather was
not so wrong in his judgment of men as is usually

Francis, the author, was born on the 15th December
1615. M. Sainte Beuve divides his life into four
periods, first, from his birth till he was thirty-five, when
he became mixed up in the war of the Fronde; the
second period, during the progress of that war; the
third, the twelve years that followed, while he re-
covered from his wounds, and wrote his maxims dur-
ing his retirement from society; and the last from
that time till his death.

In the same way that Herodotus calls each book of
his history by the name of one of the muses, so each
of these four periods of La Rochefoucauld's life may
be associated with the name of a woman who was for
the time his ruling passion. These four ladies are the
Duchesse de Chevreuse, the Duchesse de Longueville,
Madame de Sable, and Madame de La Fayette.

La Rochefoucauld's early education was neglected;
his father, occupied in the affairs of state, either had
not, or did not devote any time to his education. His
natural talents and his habits of observation soon,
however, supplied all deficiencies. By birth and sta-
tion placed in the best society of the French Court,
he soon became a most finished courtier. Knowing
how precarious Court favour then was, his father,
when young Rochefoucauld was only nine years old,
sent him into the army. He was subsequently at-
tached to the regiment of Auvergne. Though but
sixteen he was present, and took part in the mili-
tary operations at the siege of Cassel. The Court of
Louis XIII. was then ruled imperiously by Richelieu.
The Duke de la Rochefoucauld was strongly opposed
to the Cardinal's party. By joining in the plots of
Gaston of Orleans, he gave Richelieu an opportunity
of ridding Paris of his opposition. When those plots
were discovered, the Duke was sent into a sort of
banishment to Blois. His son, who was then at
Court with him, was, upon the pretext of a liaison
with Mdlle. d'Hautefort, one of the ladies in waiting
on the Queen (Anne of Austria), but in reality to pre-
vent the Duke learning what was passing at Paris, sent
with his father. The result of the exile was Roche-
foucauld's marriage. With the exception that his
wife's name was Mdlle. Vivonne, and that she was
the mother of five sons and three daughters, nothing
is known of her. While Rochefoucauld and his
father were at Blois, the Duchesse de Chevreuse, one
of the beauties of the Court, and the mistress of
Louis, was banished to Tours. She and Rochefou-
cauld met, and soon became intimate, and for a time
she was destined to be the one motive of his actions.
The Duchesse was engaged in a correspondence with
the Court of Spain and the Queen. Into this plot
Rochefoucauld threw himself with all his energy; his
connexion with the Queen brought him back to his
old love Mdlle. d'Hautefort, and led him to her
party, which he afterwards followed. The course he
took shut him off from all chance of Court favour.
The King regarded him with coldness, the Cardinal
with irritation. Although the Bastile and the scaffold,
the fate of Chalais and Montmorency, were before his
eyes, they failed to deter him from plotting. He was
about twenty-three; returning to Paris, he warmly
sided with the Queen. He says in his Memoirs
that the only persons she could then trust were him-
self and Mdlle. d'Hautefort, and it was proposed he
should take both of them from Paris to Brussels. Into
this plan he entered with all his youthful indiscretion,
it being for several reasons the very one he would wish
to adopt, as it would strengthen his influence with
Anne of Austria, place Richelieu and his master in an
uncomfortable position, and save Mdlle. d'Hautefort
from the attentions the King was showing her.

But Richelieu of course discovered this plot, and
Rochefoucauld was, of course, sent to the Bastile.
He was liberated after a week's imprisonment, but
banished to his chateau at Verteuil.

The reason for this clemency was that the Cardinal
desired to win Rochefoucauld from the Queen's party.
A command in the army was offered to him, but by
the Queen's orders refused.

For some three years Rochefoucauld remained at
Verteuil, waiting the time for his reckoning with
Richelieu; speculating on the King's death, and the
favours he would then receive from the Queen. During
this period he was more or less engaged in plotting
against his enemy the Cardinal, and hatching treason
with Cinq Mars and De Thou.

M. Sainte Beuve says, that unless we study this first
part of Rochefoucauld's life, we shall never under-
stand his maxims. The bitter disappointment of the
passionate love, the high hopes then formed, the deceit
and treachery then witnessed, furnished the real key to
their meaning. The cutting cynicism of the morality
was built on the ruins of that chivalrous ambition and
romantic affection. He saw his friend Cinq Mars
sent to the scaffold, himself betrayed by men whom
he had trusted, and the only reason he could assign
for these actions was intense selfishness.

Meanwhile, Richelieu died. Rochefoucauld re-
turned to Court, and found Anne of Austria regent,
and Mazarin minister. The Queen's former friends
flocked there in numbers, expecting that now their
time of prosperity had come. They were bitterly dis-
appointed. Mazarin relied on hope instead of grati-
tude, to keep the Queen's adherents on his side. The
most that any received were promises that were never
performed. In after years, doubtless, Rochefoucauld's
recollection of his disappointment led him to write the
maxim: "We promise according to our hopes, we per-
form according to our fears." But he was not even to
receive promises; he asked for the Governorship of
Havre, which was then vacant. He was flatly refused.
Disappointment gave rise to anger, and uniting with
his old flame, the Duchesse de Chevreuse, who had
received the same treatment, and with the Duke of
Beaufort, they formed a conspiracy against the govern-
ment. The plot was, of course, discovered and crushed.
Beaufort was arrested, the Duchesse banished. Irri-
tated and disgusted, Rochefoucauld went with the
Duc d'Enghein, who was then joining the army, on a
campaign, and here he found the one love of his life,
the Duke's sister, Mdme. de Longueville. This lady,
young, beautiful, and accomplished, obtained a great
ascendancy over Rochefoucauld, and was the cause of
his taking the side of Conde in the subsequent civil
war. Rochefoucauld did not stay long with the army.
He was badly wounded at the siege of Mardik, and
returned from thence to Paris. On recovering from
his wounds, the war of the Fronde broke out. This
war is said to have been most ridiculous, as being
carried on without a definite object, a plan, or a
leader. But this description is hardly correct; it was
the struggle of the French nobility against the rule
of the Court; an attempt, the final attempt, to re-
cover their lost influence over the state, and to save
themselves from sinking under the rule of cardinals
and priests.

With the general history of that war we have
nothing to do; it is far too complicated and too
confused to be stated here. The memoirs of Roche-
foucauld and De Retz will give the details to those
who desire to trace the contests of the factions--the
course of the intrigues. We may confine ourselves to
its progress so far as it relates to the Duc de la Roche-

On the Cardinal causing the Princes de Conde
and Conti, and the Duc de Longueville, to be
arrested, Rochefoucauld and the Duchess fled into
Normandy. Leaving her at Dieppe, he went into
Poitou, of which province he had some years pre-
viously bought the post of governor. He was there
joined by the Duc de Bouillon, and he and the Duke
marched to, and occupied Bordeaux. Cardinal Ma-
zarin and Marechal de la Meilleraie advanced in force
on Bordeaux, and attacked the town. A bloody
battle followed. Rochefoucauld defended the town
with the greatest bravery, and repulsed the Cardinal.
Notwithstanding the repulse, the burghers of Bor-
deaux were anxious to make peace, and save the city
from destruction. The Parliament of Bordeaux com-
pelled Rochefoucauld to surrender. He did so, and
returned nominally to Poitou, but in reality in secret
to Paris.

There he found the Queen engaged in trying to
maintain her position by playing off the rival parties
of the Prince Conde and the Cardinal De Retz against
each other. Rochefoucauld eagerly espoused his old
party--that of Conde. In August, 1651, the contend-
ing parties met in the Hall of the Parliament of Paris,
and it was with great difficulty they were prevented
from coming to blows even there. It is even said that
Rochefoucauld had ordered his followers to murder
De Retz.

Rochefoucauld was soon to undergo a bitter disap-
pointment. While occupied with party strife and
faction in Paris, Madame de Chevreuse left him,
and formed an alliance with the Duc de Nemours.
Rochefoucauld still loved her. It was, probably,
thinking of this that he afterwards wrote, "Jealousy is
born with love, but does not die with it." He endea-
voured to get Madame de Chatillon, the old mistress
of the Duc de Nemours, reinstated in favour, but in
this he did not succeed. The Duc de Nemours was
soon after killed in a duel. The war went on, and
after several indecisive skirmishes, the decisive battle
was fought at Paris, in the Faubourg St. Antoine,
where the Parisians first learnt the use or the abuse
of their favourite defence, the barricade. In this
battle, Rochefoucauld behaved with great bravery.
He was wounded in the head, a wound which for a
time deprived him of his sight. Before he recovered,
the war was over, Louis XIV. had attained his ma-
jority, the gold of Mazarin, the arms of Turenne, had
been successful, the French nobility were vanquished,
the court supremacy established.

This completed Rochefoucauld's active life.

When he recovered his health, he devoted himself
to society. Madame de Sable assumed a hold over
him. He lived a quiet life, and occupied himself in
composing an account of his early life, called his
"Memoirs," and his immortal "Maxims."

From the time he ceased to take part in public life,
Rochefoucauld's real glory began. Having acted the
various parts of soldier, politician, and lover with but
small success, he now commenced the part of moralist,
by which he is known to the world.

Living in the most brilliant society that France
possessed, famous from his writings, distinguished
from the part he had taken in public affairs, he
formed the centre of one of those remarkable French
literary societies, a society which numbered among its
members La Fontaine, Racine, Boileau. Among his
most attached friends was Madame de La Fayette (the
authoress of the "Princess of Cleeves"), and this friend-
ship continued until his death. He was not, however,
destined to pass away in that gay society without
some troubles. At the passage of the Rhine in 1672
two of his sons were engaged; the one was killed,
the other severely wounded. Rochefoucauld was
much affected by this, but perhaps still more by the
death of the young Duc de Longueville, who perished
on the same occasion.

Sainte Beuve says that the cynical book and that
young life were the only fruits of the war of the
Fronde. Madame de Sevigne, who was with him
when he heard the news of the death of so much that
was dear to him, says, "I saw his heart laid bare on that
cruel occasion, and his courage, his merit, his tender-
ness, and good sense surpassed all I ever met with. I
hold his wit and accomplishments as nothing in com-
parison." The combined effect of his wounds and the
gout caused the last years of Rochefoucauld's life to
be spent in great pain. Madame de Sevigne, who
was {with} him continually during his last illness, speaks of
the fortitude with which he bore his sufferings as
something to be admired. Writing to her daughter,
she says, "Believe me, it is not for nothing he has
moralised all his life; he has thought so often on his
last moments that they are nothing new or unfamiliar
to him."

In his last illness, the great moralist was attended
by the great divine, Bossuet. Whether that match-
less eloquence or his own philosophic calm had,
in spite of his writings, brought him into the state
Madame de Sevigne describes, we know not; but
one, or both, contributed to his passing away in a
manner that did not disgrace a French noble or a
French philosopher. On the 11th March, 1680, he
ended his stormy life in peace after so much strife, a
loyal subject after so much treason.

One of his friends, Madame Deshoulieres, shortly
before he died sent him an ode on death, which
aptly describes his state--
"Oui, soyez alors plus ferme,
Que ces vulgaires humains
Qui, pres de leur dernier terme,
De vaines terreurs sont pleins.
En sage que rien n'offense,
Livrez-vous sans resistance
A d'inevitables traits;
Et, d'une demarche egale,
Passez cette onde fatal
Qu'on ne repasse jamais."

Rochefoucauld left behind him only two works, the
one, Memoirs of his own time, the other the Maxims.
The first described the scenes in which his youth had
been spent, and though written in a lively style,
and giving faithful pictures of the intrigues and the
scandals of the court during Louis XIV.'s minority,
yet, except to the historian, has ceased at the present
day to be of much interest. It forms, perhaps, the
true key to understand the special as opposed to
general application of the maxims.

Notwithstanding the assertion of Bayle, that "there
are few people so bigoted to antiquity as not to prefer
the Memoirs of La Rochefoucauld to the Commen-
taries of Caesar," or the statement of Voltaire, "that
the Memoirs are universally read and the Maxims are
learnt by heart," few persons at the present day ever
heard of the Memoirs, and the knowledge of most as
to the Maxims is confined to that most celebrated of
all, though omitted from his last edition, "There
is something in the misfortunes of our best friends
which does not wholly displease us." Yet it is
difficult to assign a cause for this; no book is
perhaps oftener unwittingly quoted, none certainly
oftener unblushingly pillaged; upon none have so
many contradictory opinions been given.

"Few books," says Mr. Hallam, "have been more
highly extolled, or more severely blamed, than the
maxims of the Duke of Rochefoucauld, and that not
only here, but also in France." Rousseau speaks of it
as, "a sad and melancholy book," though he goes on
to say "it is usually so in youth when we do not like
seeing man as he is." Voltaire says of it, in the words
above quoted, "One of the works which most contri-
buted to form the taste of the (French) nation, and
to give it a spirit of justness and precision, was the
collection of the maxims of Francois Duc de la Roche-
foucauld, though there is scarcely more than one
truth running through the book--that 'self-love is the
motive of everything'--yet this thought is presented
under so many varied aspects that it is nearly always
striking. It is not so much a book as it is materials
for ornamenting a book. This little collection was
read with avidity, it taught people to think, and to
comprise their thoughts in a lively, precise, and delicate
turn of expression. This was a merit which, before
him, no one in Europe had attained since the revival
of letters."

Dr. Johnson speaks of it as "the only book written
by a man of fashion, of which professed authors need
be jealous."

Lord Chesterfield, in his letters to his son, says,
"Till you come to know mankind by your experience,
I know no thing nor no man that can in the mean-
time bring you so well acquainted with them as Le
Duc de la Rochefoucauld. His little book of maxims,
which I would advise you to look into for some
moments at least every day of your life, is, I fear, too
like and too exact a picture of human nature. I own
it seems to degrade it, but yet my experience does not
convince me that it degrades it unjustly."

Bishop Butler, on the other hand, blames the book
in no measured terms. "There is a strange affecta-
tion," says the bishop, "in some people of explaining
away all particular affection, and representing the
whole life as nothing but one continued exercise
of self-love. Hence arise that surprising confusion
and perplexity in the Epicureans of old, Hobbes, the
author of 'Reflexions Morales,' and the whole set
of writers, of calling actions interested which are
done of the most manifest known interest, merely for
the gratification of a present passion."

The judgment the reader will be most inclined to
adopt will perhaps be either that of Mr. Hallam, "Con-
cise and energetic in expression, reduced to those
short aphorisms which leave much to the reader's
acuteness and yet save his labour, not often obscure,
and never wearisome, an evident generalisation of
long experience, without pedantry, without method,
without deductive reasonings, yet wearing an appear-
ance at least of profundity; they delight the intelli-
gent though indolent man of the world, and must be
read with some admiration by the philosopher . . . .
yet they bear witness to the contracted observation
and the precipitate inferences which an intercourse
with a single class of society scarcely fails to generate."
Or that of Addison, who speaks of Rochefoucauld
"as the great philosopher for administering consola-
tion to the idle, the curious, and the worthless part of

We are fortunately in possession of materials such
as rarely exist to enable us to form a judgment of
Rochefoucauld's character. We have, with a vanity
that could only exist in a Frenchman, a description
or portrait of himself, of his own painting, and one of
those inimitable living sketches in which his great
enemy, Cardinal De Retz, makes all the chief actors in
the court of the regency of Anne of Austria pass
across the stage before us.

We will first look on the portrait Rochefoucauld has
left us of himself: "I am," says he, "of a medium height,
active, and well-proportioned. My complexion dark,
but uniform, a high forehead; and of moderate height,
black eyes, small, deep set, eyebrows black and thick
but well placed. I am rather embarrassed in talking of
my nose, for it is neither flat nor aquiline, nor large;
nor pointed: but I believe, as far as I can say, it is too
large than too small, and comes down just a trifle too
low. I have a large mouth, lips generally red enough,
neither shaped well nor badly. I have white teeth,
and fairly even. I have been told I have a little too
much chin. I have just looked at myself in the
glass to ascertain the fact, and I do not know how to
decide. As to the shape of my face, it is either
square or oval, but which I should find it very diffi-
cult to say. I have black hair, which curls by nature,
and thick and long enough to entitle me to lay claim
to a fine head. I have in my countenance somewhat
of grief and pride, which gives many people an
idea I despise them, although I am not at all given to
do so. My gestures are very free, rather inclined to
be too much so, for in speaking they make me use too
much action. Such, candidly, I believe I am in out-
ward appearance, and I believe it will be found that
what I have said above of myself is not far from
the real case. I shall use the same truthfulness in
the remainder of my picture, for I have studied my-
self sufficiently to know myself well; and I will lack
neither boldness to speak as freely as I can of my
good qualities, nor sincerity to freely avow that I
have faults.

"In the first place, to speak of my temper. I am
melancholy, and I have hardly been seen for the last
three or four years to laugh above three or four times.
It seems to me that my melancholy would be even
endurable and pleasant if I had none but what be-
longed to me constitutionally; but it arises from so
many other causes, fills my imagination in such a
way, and possesses my mind so strongly that for the
greater part of my time I remain without speaking a
word, or give no meaning to what I say. I am ex-
tremely reserved to those I do not know, and I am
not very open with the greater part of those I do. It
is a fault I know well, and I should neglect no means
to correct myself of it; but as a certain gloomy air
I have tends to make me seem more reserved than
I am in fact, and as it is not in our power to rid
ourselves of a bad expression that arises from a natu-
ral conformation of features, I think that even when
I have cured myself internally, externally some bad
expression will always remain.

"I have ability. I have no hesitation in saying it,
as for what purpose should I pretend otherwise. So
great circumvention, and so great depreciation, in
speaking of the gifts one has, seems to me to hide a
little vanity under an apparent modesty, and craftily
to try to make others believe in greater virtues than
are imputed to us. On my part I am content not to
be considered better-looking than I am, nor of a bet-
ter temper than I describe, nor more witty and clever
than I am. Once more, I have ability, but a mind
spoilt by melancholy, for though I know my own
language tolerably well, and have a good memory, a
mode of thought not particularly confused, I yet have
so great a mixture of discontent that I often say what
I have to say very badly.

"The conversation of gentlemen is one of the plea-
sures that most amuses me. I like it to be serious
and morality to form the substance of it. Yet I
also know how to enjoy it when trifling; and if I do
not make many witty speeches, it is not because I do
not appreciate the value of trifles well said, and that
I do not find great amusement in that manner of rail-
lery in which certain prompt and ready-witted per-
sons excel so well. I write well in prose; I do well
in verse; and if I was envious of the glory that
springs from that quarter, I think with a little labour
I could acquire some reputation. I like reading, in
general; but that in which one finds something to
polish the wit and strengthen the soul is what I like
best. But, above all, I have the greatest pleasure in
reading with an intelligent person, for then we reflect
constantly upon what we read, and the observations
we make form the most pleasant and useful form of
conversation there is.

"I am a fair critic of the works in verse and prose
that are shown me; but perhaps I speak my opinion
with almost too great freedom. Another fault in
me is that I have sometimes a spirit of delicacy far
too scrupulous, and a spirit of criticism far too severe.
I do not dislike an argument, and I often of my own
free will engage in one; but I generally back my
opinion with too much warmth, and sometimes, when
the wrong side is advocated against me, from the
strength of my zeal for reason, I become a little un-
reasonable myself.

"I have virtuous sentiments, good inclinations, and
so strong a desire to be a wholly good man that my
friend cannot afford me a greater pleasure than can-
didly to show me my faults. Those who know me
most intimately, and those who have the goodness
sometimes to give me the above advice, know that I
always receive it with all the joy that could be ex-
pected, and with all reverence of mind that could be

"I have all the passions pretty mildly, and pretty
well under control. I am hardly ever seen in a rage,
and I never hated any one. I am not, however, in-
capable of avenging myself if I have been offended,
or if my honour demanded I should resent an insult
put upon me; on the contrary, I feel clear that duty
would so well discharge the office of hatred in me
that I should follow my revenge with even greater
keenness than other people.

"Ambition does not weary me. I fear but few
things, and I do not fear death in the least. I am but
little given to pity, and I could wish I was not so at
all. Though there is nothing I would not do to com-
fort an afflicted person, and I really believe that one
should do all one can to show great sympathy to him
for his misfortune, for miserable people are so foolish
that this does them the greatest good in the world;
yet I also hold that we should be content with ex-
pressing sympathy, and carefully avoid having any.
It is a passion that is wholly worthless in a well-regu-
lated mind, which only serves to weaken the heart,
and which should be left to ordinary persons, who, as
they never do anything from reason, have need of
passions to stimulate their actions.

"I love my friends; and I love them to such an
extent that I would not for a moment weigh my
interest against theirs. I condescend to them, I
patiently endure their bad temper. But, also, I do
not make much of their caresses, and I do not feel
great uneasiness in their absence.

"Naturally, I have but little curiosity about the
majority of things that stir up curiosity in other men.
I am very secret, and I have less difficulty than most
men in holding my tongue as to what is told me in
confidence. I am most particular as to my word, and
I would never fail, whatever might be the conse-
quence, to do what I had promised; and I have made
this an inflexible law during the whole of my life.

"I keep the most punctilious civility to women. I
do not believe I have ever said anything before them
which could cause them annoyance. When their
intellect is cultivated, I prefer their society to that of
men: one there finds a mildness one does not meet
with among ourselves, and it seems to me beyond this
that they express themselves with more neatness, and
give a more agreeable turn to the things they talk
about. As for flirtation, I formerly indulged in a little,
now I shall do so no more, though I am still young.
I have renounced all flirtation, and I am simply
astonished that there are still so many sensible people
who can occupy their time with it.

"I wholly approve of real loves; they indicate great-
ness of soul, and although, in the uneasiness they give
rise to, there is a something contrary to strict wisdom,
they fit in so well with the most severe virtue, that I
believe they cannot be censured with justice. To me
who have known all that is fine and grand in the lofty
aspirations of love, if I ever fall in love, it will as-
suredly be in love of that nature. But in accordance
with the present turn of my mind, I do not believe
that the knowledge I have of it will ever change from
my mind to my heart."

Such is his own description of himself. Let us
now turn to the other picture, delineated by the man
who was his bitterest enemy, and whom (we say it
with regret) Rochefoucauld tried to murder.

Cardinal De Retz thus paints him:--
"In M. de la Rochefoucauld there was ever an
indescribable something. From his infancy he always
wanted to be mixed up with plots, at a time when he
could not understand even the smallest interests (which
has indeed never been his weak point,) or comprehend
greater ones, which in another sense has never been
his strong point. He was never fitted for any matter,
and I really cannot tell the reason. His glance was
not sufficiently wide, and he could not take in at once
all that lay in his sight, but his good sense, perfect in
theories, combined with his gentleness, his winning
ways, his pleasing manners, which are perfect, should
more than compensate for his lack of penetration.
He always had a natural irresoluteness, but I cannot
say to what this irresolution is to be attributed. It
could not arise in him from the wealth of his imagina-
tion, for that was anything but lively. I cannot put
it down to the barrenness of his judgment, for,
although he was not prompt in action, he had a good
store of reason. We see the effects of this irresolution,
although we cannot assign a cause for it. He was
never a general, though a great soldier; never, na-
turally, a good courtier, although he had always a good
idea of being so. He was never a good partizan,
although all his life engaged in intrigues. That air
of pride and timidity which your see in his private
life, is turned in business into an apologetic manner.
He always believed he had need of it; and this, com-
bined with his 'Maxims,' which show little faith in
virtue, and his habitual custom, to give up matters
with the same haste he undertook them, leads
me to the conclusion that he would have done far
better to have known his own mind, and have passed
himself off, as he could have done, for the most
polished courtier, the most agreeable man in private
life that had appeared in his century."

It is but justice to the Cardinal to say, that the
Duc is not painted in such dark colours as we should
have expected, judging from what we know of the
character of De Retz. With his marvellous power of
depicting character, a power unrivalled, except by St.
Simon and perhaps by Lord Clarendon, we should
have expected the malignity of the priest would have
stamped the features of his great enemy with the
impress of infamy, and not have simply made him
appear a courtier, weak, insincere, and nothing more.
Though rather beyond our subject, the character of
Cardinal de Retz, as delineated by Mdme. Sevigne, in
one of her letters, will help us to form a true conclu-
sion on the different characters of the Duc and the
Cardinal. She says:--
"Paul de Gondi Cardinal de Retz possesses great
elevation of character, a certain extent of intellect, and
more of the ostentation than of the true greatness of
courage. He has an extraordinary memory, more
energy than polish in his words, an easy humour,
docility of character, and weakness in submitting to
the complaints and reproaches of his friends, a little
piety, some appearances of religion. He appears
ambitious without being really so. Vanity and those
who have guided him, have made him undertake great
things, almost all opposed to his profession. He ex-
cited the greatest troubles in the State without any
design of turning them to account, and far from
declaring himself the enemy of Cardinal Mazarin
with any view of occupying his place, he thought of
nothing but making himself an object of dread to
him, and flattering himself with the false vanity of
being his rival. He was clever enough, however, to
take advantage of the public calamities to get himself
made Cardinal. He endured his imprisonment with
firmness, and owed his liberty solely to his own
daring. In the obscurity of a life of wandering and
concealment, his indolence for many years supported
him with reputation. He preserved the Archbishopric
of Paris against the power of Cardinal Mazarin, but
after the death of that minister, he resigned it without
knowing what he was doing, and without making use
of the opportunity to promote the interests of him-
self and his friends. He has taken part in several
conclaves, and his conduct has always increased his

"His natural bent is to indolence, nevertheless he
labours with activity in pressing business, and reposes
with indifference when it is concluded. He has great
presence of mind, and knows so well how to turn it to
his own advantage on all occasions presented him by
fortune, that it would seem as if he had foreseen and
desired them. He loves to narrate, and seeks to
dazzle all his listeners indifferently by his extraor-
dinary adventures, and his imagination often supplies
him with more than his memory. The generality of
his qualities are false, and what has most contributed
to his reputation is his power of throwing a good light
on his faults. He is insensible alike to hatred and to
friendship, whatever pains he may be at to appear
taken up with the one or the other. He is incapable
of envy or avarice, whether from virtue or from care-
lessness. He has borrowed more from his friends
than a private person could ever hope to be able to
repay; he has felt the vanity of acquiring so much on
credit, and of undertaking to discharge it. He has
neither taste nor refinement; he is amused by every-
thing and pleased by nothing. He avoids difficult
matters with considerable address, not allowing people
to penetrate the slight acquaintance he has with every-
thing. The retreat he has just made from the world
is the most brilliant and the most unreal action of his
life; it is a sacrifice he has made to his pride under
the pretence of devotion; he quits the court to which
he cannot attach himself, and retires from a world
which is retiring from him."

The Maxims were first published in 1665, with a
preface by Segrais. This preface was omitted in the
subsequent editions. The first edition contained
316 maxims, counting the last upon death, which
was not numbered. The second in 1666 contained
only 102; the third in 1671, and the fourth in
1675, 413. In this last edition we first meet with
the introductory maxim, "Our virtues are gene-
rally but disguised vices." The edition of 1678,
the fifth, increased the number to 504. This was
the last edition revised by the author, and pub-
lished in his lifetime. The text of that edition has
been used for the present translation. The next
edition, the sixth, was published in 1693, about
thirteen years after the author's death. This edition
included fifty new maxims, attributed by the editor
to Rochefoucauld. Most likely they were his writing,
as the fact was never denied by his family, through
whose permission they were published. They form
the third supplement to the translation. This sixth
edition was published by Claude Barbin, and the
French editions since that time have been too nu-
merous to be enumerated. The great popularity of
the Maxims is perhaps best shown from the numerous
translations that have been made of them. No less
than eight English translations, or so-called transla-
tions, have appeared; one American, a Swedish, and
a Spanish translation, an Italian imitation, with
parallel passages, and an English imitation by Hazlitt.
The titles of the English editions are as follows:--
i. Seneca Unmasked. By Mrs. Aphara Behn. Lon-
don, 1689. She calls the author the Duke of
ii. Moral Maxims and Reflections, in four parts. By
the Duke de la Rochefoucauld. Now made
English. London, 1694. 12 mo.
iii. Moral Maxims and Reflections of the Duke de
la Rochefoucauld. Newly made English. Lon-
don, 1706. 12 mo.
iv. Moral Maxims of the Duke de la Rochefoucauld.
Translated from the French. With notes. Lon-
don, 1749. 12 mo.
v. Maxims and Moral Reflections of the Duke de la
Rochefoucauld. Revised and improved. London,
1775. 8 vo.
vi. Maxims and Moral Reflections of the Duke de la
Rochefoucauld. A new edition, revised and im-
proved, by L. D. London, 1781. 8 vo.
vii. The Gentleman's Library. La Rochefoucauld's
Maxims and Moral Reflections. London, 1813.
12 mo.
viii.Moral Reflections, Sentences, and Maxims of
the Duke de la Rochefoucauld, newly translated
from the French; with an introduction and notes.
London, 1850. 16 mo.
ix. Maxims and Moral Reflections of the Duke de la
Rochefoucauld: with a Memoir by the Chevalier
de Chatelain. London, 1868. 12 mo.

The perusal of the Maxims will suggest to every
reader to a greater or less degree, in accordance with
the extent of his reading, parallel passages, and simi-
lar ideas. Of ancient writers Rochefoucauld most
strongly reminds us of Tacitus; of modern writers, Ju-
nius most strongly reminds us of Rochefoucauld. Some
examples from both are given in the notes to this trans-
lation. It is curious to see how the expressions of the
bitterest writer of English political satire to a great ex-
tent express the same ideas as the great French satirist
of private life. Had space permitted the parallel
could have been drawn very closely, and much of the
invective of Junius traced to its source in Rochefou-

One of the persons whom Rochefoucauld patronised
and protected, was the great French fabulist, La
Fontaine. This patronage was repaid by La Fontaine
giving, in one of his fables, "L'Homme et son Image,"
an elaborate defence of his patron. After there depict-
ing a man who fancied himself one of the most lovely
in the world, and who complained he always found
all mirrors untrustworthy, at last discovered his real
image reflected in the water. He thus applies his
"Je parle a tous: et cette erreur extreme,
Est un mal que chacun se plait d'entretenir,
Notre ame, c'est cet homme amoureux de lui meme,
Tant de miroirs, ce sont les sottises d'autrui.
Miroirs, de nos defauts les peintres legitimes,
Et quant au canal, c'est celui
Qui chacun sait, le livre des MAXIMES."

It is just this: the book is a mirror in which we
all see ourselves. This has made it so unpopular. It
is too true. We dislike to be told of our faults,
while we only like to be told of our neighbour's.
Notwithstanding Rousseau's assertion, it is young
men, who, before they know their own faults
and only know their neighbours', that read and tho-
roughly appreciate Rochefoucauld.

After so many varied opinions he then pleases us more
and seems far truer than he is in reality, it is impossible
to give any general conclusion of such distinguished
writers on the subject. Each reader will form his own
opinion of the merits of the author and his book. To
some, both will seem deserving of the highest praise; to
others both will seem deserving of the highest censure.
The truest judgment as to the author will be found in
the remarks of a countryman of his own, as to the
book in the remarks of a countryman of ours.

As to the author, M. Sainte Beuve says:--"C'etait un
misanthrope poli, insinuant, souriant, qui precedait
de bien peu et preparait avec charme l'autre MISAN-

As to the book, Mr. Hallam says:--"Among the
books in ancient and modern times which record the
conclusions of observing men on the moral qualities
of their fellows, a high place should be reserved for
the Maxims of Rochefoucauld".


Our virtues are most frequently but vices disguised.

[This epigraph which is the key to the system
of La Rochefoucauld, is found in another form
as No. 179 of the maxims of the first edition, 1665, it is
omitted from the 2nd and 3rd, and reappears for the first
time in the 4th edition, in 1675, as at present, at the head
of the Reflections.--AIME MARTIN. Its best answer is ar-
rived at by reversing the predicate and the subject, and
you at once form a contradictory maxim equally true, our
vices are most frequently but virtues disguised.]

1.--What we term virtue is often but a mass of
various actions and divers interests, which fortune, or
our own industry, manage to arrange; and it is not
always from valour or from chastity that men are
brave, and women chaste.

"Who combats bravely is not therefore brave,
He dreads a death-bed like the meanest slave;
Who reasons wisely is not therefore wise,
His pride in reasoning, not in acting, lies."
Pope, MORAL ESSAYS, Ep. i. line 115.

2.--Self-love is the greatest of flatterers.

3.--Whatever discoveries have been made in the
region of self-love, there remain many unexplored ter-
ritories there.

[This is the first hint of the system the author tries to
develope. He wishes to find in vice a motive for all our
actions, but this does not suffice him; he is obliged to call
other passions to the help of his system and to confound
pride, vanity, interest and egotism with self love. This
confusion destroys the unity of his principle.--AIME

4.--Self love is more cunning than the most cunning
man in the world.

5.--The duration of our passions is no more de-
pendant upon us than the duration of our life.
[Then what becomes of free will?--AIME MARTIN]

6.--Passion often renders the most clever man a
fool, and even sometimes renders the most foolish man

7.--Great and striking actions which dazzle the
eyes are represented by politicians as the effect of
great designs, instead of which they are commonly
caused by the temper and the passions. Thus the war
between Augustus and Anthony, which is set down to
the ambition they entertained of making themselves
masters of the world, was probably but an effect of

8.--The passions are the only advocates which
always persuade. They are a natural art, the rules
of which are infallible; and the simplest man with
passion will be more persuasive than the most eloquent

[See Maxim 249 which is an illustration of this.]

9.--The passions possess a certain injustice and
self interest which makes it dangerous to follow them,
and in reality we should distrust them even when
they appear most trustworthy.

10.--In the human heart there is a perpetual gene-
ration of passions; so that the ruin of one is almost
always the foundation of another.

11.--Passions often produce their contraries: ava-
rice sometimes leads to prodigality, and prodigality to
avarice; we are often obstinate through weakness
and daring though timidity.

12.--Whatever care we take to conceal our pas-
sions under the appearances of piety and honour, they
are always to be seen through these veils.

[The 1st edition, 1665, preserves the image perhaps
better--"however we may conceal our passions under the
veil, etc., there is always some place where they peep out."]

13.--Our self love endures more impatiently the
condemnation of our tastes than of our opinions.

14.--Men are not only prone to forget benefits and
injuries; they even hate those who have obliged them,
and cease to hate those who have injured them. The
necessity of revenging an injury or of recompensing
a benefit seems a slavery to which they are unwilling
to submit.

15.--The clemency of Princes is often but policy
to win the affections of the people.

["So many are the advantages which monarchs gain by
clemency, so greatly does it raise their fame and endear
them to their subjects, that it is generally happy for them
to have an opportunity of displaying it."--Montesquieu,

16.--This clemency of which they make a merit,
arises oftentimes from vanity, sometimes from idle-
ness, oftentimes from fear, and almost always from all
three combined.

[La Rochefoucauld is content to paint the age in which
he lived. Here the clemency spoken of is nothing more
than an expression of the policy of Anne of Austria.
Rochefoucauld had sacrificed all to her; even the favour
of Cardinal Richelieu, but when she became regent she be-
stowed her favours upon those she hated; her friends were
forgotten.--AIME MARTIN. The reader will hereby see
that the age in which the writer lived best interprets his

17.--The moderation of those who are happy arises
from the calm which good fortune bestows upon their

18.--Moderation is caused by the fear of exciting
the envy and contempt which those merit who are
intoxicated with their good fortune; it is a vain dis-
play of our strength of mind, and in short the mo-
deration of men at their greatest height is only a
desire to appear greater than their fortune.

19.--We have all sufficient strength to support the
misfortunes of others.

[The strongest example of this is the passage in Lucre-
tius, lib. ii., line I:--
"Suave mari magno turbantibus aequora ventis
E terra magnum alterius spectare laborem."]

20.--The constancy of the wise is only the talent of
concealing the agitation of their hearts.

[Thus wisdom is only hypocrisy, says a commentator.
This definition of constancy is a result of maxim 18.]

21.--Those who are condemned to death affect some-
times a constancy and contempt for death which is
only the fear of facing it; so that one may say that
this constancy and contempt are to their mind what
the bandage is to their eyes.

[See this thought elaborated in maxim 504.]

22.--Philosophy triumphs easily over past evils and
future evils; but present evils triumph over it.

23.--Few people know death, we only endure it,
usually from determination, and even from stupidity
and custom; and most men only die because they
know not how to prevent dying.

24.--When great men permit themselves to be cast
down by the continuance of misfortune, they show
us that they were only sustained by ambition, and not
by their mind; so that PLUS a great vanity, heroes
are made like other men.

[Both these maxims have been rewritten and made
conciser by the author; the variations are not worth

25.--We need greater virtues to sustain good than
evil fortune.

["Prosperity do{th} best discover vice, but adversity do{th}
best discover virtue."--Lord Bacon, ESSAYS{, (1625), "Of

{The quotation wrongly had "does" for "doth".}

26.--Neither the sun nor death can be looked at
without winking.

27.--People are often vain of their passions, even
of the worst, but envy is a passion so timid and
shame-faced that no one ever dare avow her.

28.--Jealousy is in a manner just and reasonable,
as it tends to preserve a good which belongs, or
which we believe belongs to us, on the other hand
envy is a fury which cannot endure the happiness of

29.--The evil that we do does not attract to us so
much persecution and hatred as our good qualities.

30.--We have more strength than will; and it is
often merely for an excuse we say things are impos-

31.--If we had no faults we should not take so much
pleasure in noting those of others.

32.--Jealousy lives upon doubt; and comes to an
end or becomes a fury as soon as it passes from
doubt to certainty.

33.--Pride indemnifies itself and loses nothing even
when it casts away vanity.

[See maxim 450, where the author states, what we take
from our other faults we add to our pride.]

34.--If we had no pride we should not complain of
that of others.

["The proud are ever most provoked by pride."-Cow-

35.--Pride is much the same in all men, the only
difference is the method and manner of showing it.

["Pride bestowed on all a common friend."--Pope,
ESSAY ON MAN, Ep. ii., line 273.]

36.--It would seem that nature, which has so wisely
ordered the organs of our body for our happiness, has
also given us pride to spare us the mortification of
knowing our imperfections.

37.--Pride has a larger part than goodness in our
remonstrances with those who commit faults, and we
reprove them not so much to correct as to persuade
them that we ourselves are free from faults.

38.--We promise according to our hopes; we per-
form according to our fears.

["The reason why the Cardinal (Mazarin) deferred so long
to grant the favours he had promised, was because he was
persuaded that hope was much more capable of keeping
men to their duty than gratitude."--FRAGMENTS HISTORIQUES.

39.--Interest speaks all sorts of tongues and plays
all sorts of characters; even that of disinterestedness.

40.--Interest blinds some and makes some see.

41.--Those who apply themselves too closely to
little things often become incapable of great things.

42.--We have not enough strength to follow all our

43.--A man often believes himself leader when he
is led; as his mind endeavours to reach one goal, his
heart insensibly drags him towards another.

44.--Strength and weakness of mind are mis-named;
they are really only the good or happy arrangement of
our bodily organs.

45.--The caprice of our temper is even more whim-
sical than that of Fortune.

46.--The attachment or indifference which philoso-
phers have shown to life is only the style of their self
love, about which we can no more dispute than of that
of the palate or of the choice of colours.

47.--Our temper sets a price upon every gift that
we receive from fortune.

48.--Happiness is in the taste, and not in the things
themselves; we are happy from possessing what we
like, not from possessing what others like.

49.--We are never so happy or so unhappy as we

50.--Those who think they have merit persuade
themselves that they are honoured by being unhappy,
in order to persuade others and themselves that they
are worthy to be the butt of fortune.

["Ambition has been so strong as to make very miserable
men take comfort that they were supreme in misery; and
certain it is{, that where} we cannot distinguish ourselves by some-
thing excellent, we begin to take a complacency in some
singular infirmities, follies, or defects of one kind or other."
--Burke, {ON THE SUBLIME AND BEAUTIFUL, (1756), Part I, Sect. XVII}.]

{The translators' incorrectly cite SPEECH ON CONCILIATION WITH
AMERICA. Also, Burke does not actually write "Ambition has been...",
he writes "It has been..." when speaking of ambition.}

51.--Nothing should so much diminish the satisfac-
tion which we feel with ourselves as seeing that we
disapprove at one time of that which we approve of
at another.

52.--Whatever difference there appears in our for-
tunes, there is nevertheless a certain compensation of
good and evil which renders them equal.

53.--Whatever great advantages nature may give,
it is not she alone, but fortune also that makes the

54.--The contempt of riches in philosophers was
only a hidden desire to avenge their merit upon the
injustice of fortune, by despising the very goods of
which fortune had deprived them; it was a secret to
guard themselves against the degradation of poverty,
it was a back way by which to arrive at that distinc-
tion which they could not gain by riches.

["It is always easy as well as agreeable for the inferior
ranks of mankind to claim merit from the contempt of that
pomp and pleasure which fortune has placed beyond their
reach. The virtue of the primitive Christians, like that of
the first Romans, was very frequently guarded by poverty
and ignorance."--Gibbon, DECLINE AND FALL, CHAP. 15.]

55.--The hate of favourites is only a love of favour.
The envy of NOT possessing it, consoles and softens its
regrets by the contempt it evinces for those who pos-
sess it, and we refuse them our homage, not being able
to detract from them what attracts that of the rest of
the world.

56.--To establish ourselves in the world we do
everything to appear as if we were established.

57.--Although men flatter themselves with their
great actions, they are not so often the result of a
great design as of chance.

58.--It would seem that our actions have lucky or
unlucky stars to which they owe a great part of the
blame or praise which is given them.

59.--There are no accidents so unfortunate from
which skilful men will not draw some advantage, nor
so fortunate that foolish men will not turn them to
their hurt.

60.--Fortune turns all things to the advantage of
those on whom she smiles.

61.--The happiness or unhappiness of men depends
no less upon their dispositions than their fortunes.

["Still to ourselves in every place consigned
Our own felicity we make or find."
Goldsmith, TRAVELLER, 431.]

62.--Sincerity is an openness of heart; we find it in
very few people; what we usually see is only an artful
dissimulation to win the confidence of others.

63.--The aversion to lying is often a hidden ambi-
tion to render our words credible and weighty, and
to attach a religious aspect to our conversation.

64.--Truth does not do as much good in the world,
as its counterfeits do evil.

65.--There is no praise we have not lavished upon
Prudence; and yet she cannot assure to us the most
trifling event.

[The author corrected this maxim several times, in 1665
it is No. 75; 1666, No. 66; 1671-5, No. 65; in the last
edition it stands as at present. In the first he quotes
Juvenal, Sat. X., line 315.
" Nullum numen habes si sit Prudentia, nos te;
Nos facimus, Fortuna, deam, coeloque locamus."
Applying to Prudence what Juvenal does to Fortune, and
with much greater force.]

66.--A clever man ought to so regulate his interests
that each will fall in due order. Our greediness so
often troubles us, making us run after so many things
at the same time, that while we too eagerly look after
the least we miss the greatest.

67.--What grace is to the body good sense is to the

68.--It is difficult to define love; all we can say is,
that in the soul it is a desire to rule, in the mind it is
a sympathy, and in the body it is a hidden and deli-
cate wish to possess what we love--PLUS many

["Love is the love of one {singularly,} with desire to be
singularly beloved."--Hobbes{, LEVIATHAN, (1651), Part I,
Chapter VI}.]

{Two notes about this quotation: (1) the translators' mistakenly
have "singularity" for the first "singularly" and (2) Hobbes does
not actually write "Love is the..."--he writes "Love of one..."
under the heading "The passion of Love."}

69.--If there is a pure love, exempt from the mix-
ture of our other passions, it is that which is concealed
at the bottom of the heart and of which even our-
selves are ignorant.

70.--There is no disguise which can long hide love
where it exists, nor feign it where it does not.

71.--There are few people who would not be
ashamed of being beloved when they love no longer.

72.--If we judge of love by the majority of its
results it rather resembles hatred than friendship.

73.--We may find women who have never indulged
in an intrigue, but it is rare to find those who have
intrigued but once.

["Yet there are some, they say, who have had {NONE};
But those who have, ne'er end with only {ONE}."
{--Lord Byron, }DON JUAN, {Canto} iii., stanza 4.]

74.--There is only one sort of love, but there are a
thousand different copies.

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

[So Lord Byron{, STANZAS, (1819), stanza 3} says of Love--
"Like chiefs of faction,
His life is action."]

76.--There is real love just as there are real ghosts;
every person speaks of it, few persons have seen it.

["Oh Love! no habitant of earth thou art--
An unseen seraph, we believe in thee--
A faith whose martyrs are the broken heart,--
But never yet hath seen, nor e'er shall see
The naked eye, thy form as it should be."
{--Lord Byron, }CHILDE HAROLD, {Canto} iv., stanza 121.]

77.--Love lends its name to an infinite number of
engagements (COMMERCES) which are attributed to it,
but with which it has no more concern than the Doge
has with all that is done in Venice.

78.--The love of justice is simply in the majority of
men the fear of suffering injustice.

79.--Silence is the best resolve for him who distrusts

80.--What renders us so changeable in our friend-
ship is, that it is difficult to know the qualities of the
soul, but easy to know those of the mind.

81.--We can love nothing but what agrees with us,
and we can only follow our taste or our pleasure when
we prefer our friends to ourselves; nevertheless it is
only by that preference that friendship can be true
and perfect.

82.--Reconciliation with our enemies is but a desire
to better our condition, a weariness of war, the fear
of some unlucky accident.

["Thus terminated that famous war of the Fronde. * *
The Duke de la Rochefoucauld desired peace because of
his dangerous wounds and ruined castles, which had made
him dread even worse events. On the other side the
Queen, who had shown herself so ungrateful to her too
ambitious friends, did not cease to feel the bitterness of
their resentment. 'I wish,' said she, 'it were always
night, because daylight shows me so many who have
IV., p. 60. Another proof that although these maxims
are in some cases of universal application, they were based
entirely on the experience of the age in which the author

83.--What men term friendship is merely a partner-
ship with a collection of reciprocal interests, and an
exchange of favours--in fact it is but a trade in which
self love always expects to gain something.

84.--It is more disgraceful to distrust than to be
deceived by our friends.

85.--We often persuade ourselves to love people
who are more powerful than we are, yet interest alone
produces our friendship; we do not give our hearts
away for the good we wish to do, but for that we ex-
pect to receive.

86.--Our distrust of another justifies his deceit.

87.--Men would not live long in society were they
not the dupes of each other.

[A maxim, adds Aime Martin, "Which may enter into
the code of a vulgar rogue, but one is astonished to find
it in a moral treatise." Yet we have scriptural authority
for it: "Deceiving and being deceived."--2 TIM. iii. 13.]

88.--Self love increases or diminishes for us the
good qualities of our friends, in proportion to the
satisfaction we feel with them, and we judge of their
merit by the manner in which they act towards us.

89.--Everyone blames his memory, no one blames
his judgment.

90.--In the intercourse of life, we please more by
our faults than by our good qualities.

91.--The largest ambition has the least appearance
of ambition when it meets with an absolute impossi-
bility in compassing its object.

92.--To awaken a man who is deceived as to his
own merit is to do him as bad a turn as that done
to the Athenian madman who was happy in believing
that all the ships touching at the port belonged to him.

[That is, they cured him. The madman was Thrasyllus,
son of Pythodorus. His brother Crito cured him, when
he infinitely regretted the time of his more pleasant mad-
ness.--See Aelian, VAR. HIST. iv. 25. So Horace--
-------------"Pol, me occidistis, amici,
Non servastis," ait, "cui sic extorta voluptas
Et demptus per vim mentis gratissimus error."
HOR. EP. ii--2, 138,
of the madman who was cured of a pleasant lunacy.]

93.--Old men delight in giving good advice as a
consolation for the fact that they can no longer set
bad examples.

94.--Great names degrade instead of elevating those
who know not how to sustain them.

95.--The test of extraordinary merit is to see those
who envy it the most yet obliged to praise it.

96.--A man is perhaps ungrateful, but often less
chargeable with ingratitude than his benefactor is.

97.--We are deceived if we think that mind and
judgment are two different matters: judgment is but
the extent of the light of the mind. This light pene-
trates to the bottom of matters; it remarks all that
can be remarked, and perceives what appears imper-
ceptible. Therefore we must agree that it is the ex-
tent of the light in the mind that produces all the
effects which we attribute to judgment.

98.--Everyone praises his heart, none dare praise
their understanding.

99.--Politeness of mind consists in thinking chaste
and refined thoughts.

100.--Gallantry of mind is saying the most empty
things in an agreeable manner.

101.--Ideas often flash across our minds more com-
plete than we could make them after much labour.

102.--The head is ever the dupe of the heart.

[A feeble imitation of that great thought "All folly
comes from the heart."--AIME MARTIN. But Bonhome, in his
L'ART DE PENSER, says "Plusieurs diraient en periode quarre
que quelques reflexions que fasse l'esprit et quelques resolu-
tions qu'il prenne pour corriger ses travers le premier sen-
timent du coeur renverse tous ses projets. Mais il n'appar-
tient qu'a M. de la Rochefoucauld de dire tout en un mot
que l'esprit est toujours la dupe du coeur."]

103.--Those who know their minds do not neces-
sarily know their hearts.

104.--Men and things have each their proper per-
spective; to judge rightly of some it is necessary to
see them near, of others we can never judge rightly
but at a distance.

105.--A man for whom accident discovers sense, is
not a rational being. A man only is so who under-
stands, who distinguishes, who tests it.

106.--To understand matters rightly we should
understand their details, and as that knowledge is
almost infinite, our knowledge is always superficial
and imperfect.

107.--One kind of flirtation is to boast we never

108.--The head cannot long play the part of the

109.--Youth changes its tastes by the warmth of its
blood, age retains its tastes by habit.

110.--Nothing is given so profusely as advice.

111.--The more we love a woman the more prone
we are to hate her.

112.--The blemishes of the mind, like those of the
face, increase by age.

113.--There may be good but there are no pleasant

114.--We are inconsolable at being deceived by our
enemies and betrayed by our friends, yet still we are
often content to be thus served by ourselves.

115.--It is as easy unwittingly to deceive oneself as
to deceive others.

116.--Nothing is less sincere than the way of asking
and giving advice. The person asking seems to pay
deference to the opinion of his friend, while thinking
in reality of making his friend approve his opinion
and be responsible for his conduct. The person
giving the advice returns the confidence placed in him
by eager and disinterested zeal, in doing which he is
usually guided only by his own interest or reputation.

["I have often thought how ill-natured a maxim it was
which on many occasions I have heard from people of
good understanding, 'That as to what related to private
conduct no one was ever the better for advice.' But upon
further examination I have resolved with myself that the
maxim might be admitted without any violent prejudice
to mankind. For in the manner advice was generally given
there was no reason I thought to wonder it should be so
ill received, something there was which strangely inverted
the case, and made the giver to be the only gainer. For
by what I could observe in many occurrences of our lives,
that which we called giving advice was properly taking an
occasion to show our own wisdom at another's expense.
On the other side to be instructed or to receive advice on
the terms usually prescribed to us was little better than
tamely to afford another the occasion of raising himself a
character from our defects."--Lord Shaftesbury, CHARAC-
TERISTICS, i., 153.]

117.--The most subtle of our acts is to simulate
blindness for snares that we know are set for us. We
are never so easily deceived as when trying to deceive.

118.--The intention of never deceiving often exposes
us to deception.

119.--We become so accustomed to disguise ourselves
to others that at last we are disguised to ourselves.

["Those who quit their proper character{,} to assume what
does not belong to them, are{,} for the greater part{,} ignorant
both of the character they leave{,} and of the character they
Paragraph 19}.]

{The translators' incorrectly cite THOUGHTS ON THE CAUSE

120.--We often act treacherously more from weak-
ness than from a fixed motive.

121.--We frequently do good to enable us with
impunity to do evil.

122.--If we conquer our passions it is more from
their weakness than from our strength.

123.--If we never flattered ourselves we should have
but scant pleasure.

124.--The most deceitful persons spend their lives
in blaming deceit, so as to use it on some great occa-
sion to promote some great interest.

125.--The daily employment of cunning marks a
little mind, it generally happens that those who resort
to it in one respect to protect themselves lay them-
selves open to attack in another.

["With that low cunning which in fools supplies,
And amply, too, the place of being wise."
Churchill, ROSCIAD, 117.]

126.--Cunning and treachery are the offspring of

127.--The true way to be deceived is to think one-
self more knowing than others.

128.--Too great cleverness is but deceptive delicacy,
true delicacy is the most substantial cleverness.

129.--It is sometimes necessary to play the fool to
avoid being deceived by cunning men.

130.--Weakness is the only fault which cannot be

131.--The smallest fault of women who give them-
selves up to love is to love.
[------"Faciunt graviora coactae
Imperio sexus minimumque libidine peccant."
Juvenal, SAT. vi., 134.]

132.--It is far easier to be wise for others than to
be so for oneself.

[Hence the proverb, "A man who is his own lawyer
has a fool for his client."]

133.--The only good examples are those, that make
us see the absurdity of bad originals.

134.--We are never so ridiculous from the habits we
have as from those that we affect to have.

135.--We sometimes differ more widely from our-
selves than we do from others.

136.--There are some who never would have loved
if they never had heard it spoken of.

137.--When not prompted by vanity we say little.

138.--A man would rather say evil of himself than
say nothing.

["Montaigne's vanity led him to talk perpetually of
himself, and as often happens to vain men, he would rather
talk of his own failings than of any foreign subject."--

139.--One of the reasons that we find so few
persons rational and agreeable in conversation is
there is hardly a person who does not think more of
what he wants to say than of his answer to what is
said. The most clever and polite are content with
only seeming attentive while we perceive in their
mind and eyes that at the very time they are wander-
ing from what is said and desire to return to what they
want to say. Instead of considering that the worst
way to persuade or please others is to try thus strongly
to please ourselves, and that to listen well and to
answer well are some of the greatest charms we can
have in conversation.

["An absent man can make but few observations, he can
pursue nothing steadily because his absences make him
lose his way. They are very disagreeable and hardly to be
tolerated in old age, but in youth they cannot be forgiven."
--Lord Chesterfield, LETTER 195.]

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

141.--We often boast that we are never bored, but
yet we are so conceited that we do not perceive how
often we bore others.

142.--As it is the mark of great minds to say many
things in a few words, so it is that of little minds to
use many words to say nothing.

["So much they talked, so very little said."
Churchill, ROSCIAD, 550.

"Men who are unequal to the labour of discussing an ar-
gument or wish to avoid it, are willing enough to suppose
that much has been proved because much has been said."--
Junius, JAN. 1769.]

143.--It is oftener by the estimation of our own
feelings that we exaggerate the good qualities of others
than by their merit, and when we praise them we wish
to attract their praise.

144.--We do not like to praise, and we never praise
without a motive. Praise is flattery, artful, hidden,
delicate, which gratifies differently him who praises
and him who is praised. The one takes it as the re-
ward of merit, the other bestows it to show his im-
partiality and knowledge.

145.--We often select envenomed praise which, by
a reaction upon those we praise, shows faults we could
not have shown by other means.

146.--Usually we only praise to be praised.

147.--Few are sufficiently wise to prefer censure
which is useful to praise which is treacherous.

148.--Some reproaches praise; some praises re-

["Damn with faint praise, assent with civil leer,
And, without sneering, teach the rest to sneer."

149.--The refusal of praise is only the wish to be
praised twice.

[The modesty which pretends to refuse praise is but in
truth a desire to be praised more highly. EDITION 1665.]

150.--The desire which urges us to deserve praise
strengthens our good qualities, and praise given to
wit, valour, and beauty, tends to increase them.

151.--It is easier to govern others than to prevent
being governed.

152.--If we never flattered ourselves the flattery of
others would not hurt us.

["Adulatione servilia fingebant securi de fragilitate cre-
dentis." Tacit. Ann. xvi.]

153.--Nature makes merit but fortune sets it to

154.--Fortune cures us of many faults that reason
could not.

155.--There are some persons who only disgust with
their abilities, there are persons who please even with
their faults.

156.--There are persons whose only merit consists
in saying and doing stupid things at the right time,
and who ruin all if they change their manners.

157.--The fame of great men ought always to be
estimated by the means used to acquire it.

158.--Flattery is base coin to which only our vanity
gives currency.

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

160.--However brilliant an action it should not be
esteemed great unless the result of a great motive.

161.--A certain harmony should be kept between
actions and ideas if we desire to estimate the effects
that they produce.

162.--The art of using moderate abilities to advan-
tage wins praise, and often acquires more reputation
than real brilliancy.

163.--Numberless arts appear foolish whose secre{t}
motives are most wise and weighty.

164.--It is much easier to seem fitted for posts we
do not fill than for those we do.

165.--Ability wins us the esteem of the true men,
luck that of the people.

166.--The world oftener rewards the appearance of
merit than merit itself.

167.--Avarice is more opposed to economy than to

168.--However deceitful hope may be, yet she
carries us on pleasantly to the end of life.

["Hope travels through, nor quits us when we die."
Pope: ESSAY ON MAN, Ep. ii.]

169.--Idleness and fear keeps us in the path of duty,
but our virtue often gets the praise.

["Quod segnitia erat sapientia vocaretur."
Tacitus Hist. I.]

170.--If one acts rightly and honestly, it is difficult
to decide whether it is the effect of integrity or skill.

171.--As rivers are lost in the sea so are virtues in

172.--If we thoroughly consider the varied effects


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