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

{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
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{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. Mackintosh.

“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.


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- cauld.

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 supposed.

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- foucauld.

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 mankind.”

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 desired.

“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 reputation.

“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 Rushfucave.
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- cauld.

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 fable:–
“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- THROPE.”

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 MARTIN.]

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 clever.

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 jealousy.

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 without.

[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, ESPRIT DES LOIS, LIB. VI., C. 21.]

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 maxims.]

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

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 quoting.]

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 Adversity”}.]

{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 others.

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- sible.

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- per, CONVERSATION 160.]

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. RACINE.]

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 reason.

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 suppose.

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 hero.

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 mind.

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 mysteries.

[“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 himself.

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 betrayed me.'”–MEMOIRES DE MADAME DE MOTTEVILLE, TOM. 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 lived.]

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 flirt.

108.–The head cannot long play the part of the heart.

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 marriages.

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 assume.”–Burke, {REFLECTIONS ON THE REVOLUTION IN FRANCE, (1790), Paragraph 19}.]

{The translators’ incorrectly cite THOUGHTS ON THE CAUSE OF THE PRESENT DISCONTENTS.}

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 incapacity.

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 cured.

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.”– Hallam, LITERATURE OF EUROPE.]

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- proach.

[“Damn with faint praise, assent with civil leer, And, without sneering, teach the rest to sneer.” Pope {ESSAY ON MAN, (1733), EPISTLE TO DR. ARBUTHNOT.}]

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 work.

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 liberality.

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 self.

172.–If we thoroughly consider the varied effects