Reflections Or, Sentences and Moral Maxims

200.–Virtue would not go far did not vanity escort her.

201.–He who thinks he has the power to content the world greatly
deceives himself, but he who thinks that the world cannot be content
with him deceives himself yet more.

202.–Falsely honest men are those who disguise their faults both
to themselves and others; truly honest men are those who know them
perfectly and confess them.

203.–He is really wise who is nettled at nothing.

204.–The coldness of women is a balance and burden they add to their

205.–Virtue in woman is often the love of reputation and repose.

206.–He is a truly good man who desires always to bear the inspection
of good men.

207.–Folly follows us at all stages of life. If one appears wise ’tis
but because his folly is proportioned to his age and fortune.

208.–There are foolish people who know and who skilfully use their

209.–Who lives without folly is not so wise as he thinks.

210.–In growing old we become more foolish–and more wise.

211.–There are people who are like farces, which are praised but for a
time (however foolish and distasteful they may be).

[The last clause is added from Edition of 1665.]

212.–Most people judge men only by success or by fortune.

213.–Love of glory, fear of shame, greed of fortune, the desire to make
life agreeable and comfortable, and the wish to depreciate others are
often causes of that bravery so vaunted among men.

[Junius said of the Marquis of Granby, “He was as brave as a total
absence of all feeling and reflection could make him.”–21st Jan. 1769.]

214.–Valour in common soldiers is a perilous method of earning their

[“Men venture necks to gain a fortune, The soldier does it ev{‘}ry day,
(Eight to the week) for sixpence pay.” {–Samuel Butler,} Hudibras, Part
II., canto i., line 512.]

215.–Perfect bravery and sheer cowardice are two extremes rarely found.
The space between them is vast, and embraces all other sorts of courage.
The difference between them is not less than between faces and tempers.
Men will freely expose themselves at the beginning of an action, and
relax and be easily discouraged if it should last. Some are content to
satisfy worldly honour, and beyond that will do little else. Some are
not always equally masters of their timidity. Others allow themselves
to be overcome by panic; others charge because they dare not remain at
their posts. Some may be found whose courage is strengthened by small
perils, which prepare them to face greater dangers. Some will dare a
sword cut and flinch from a bullet; others dread bullets little and fear
to fight with swords. These varied kinds of courage agree in this, that
night, by increasing fear and concealing gallant or cowardly actions,
allows men to spare themselves. There is even a more general discretion
to be observed, for we meet with no man who does all he would have done
if he were assured of getting off scot-free; so that it is certain that
the fear of death does somewhat subtract from valour.

[See also “Table Talk of Napoleon,” who agrees with this, so far as to
say that few, but himself, had a two o’clock of the morning valour.]

216.–Perfect valour is to do without witnesses what one would do before
all the world.

[“It is said of untrue valours that some men’s valours are in the eyes
of them that look on.”–Bacon, Advancement Of Learning{, (1605), Book I,
Section II, paragraph 5}.]

217.–Intrepidity is an extraordinary strength of soul which raises it
above the troubles, disorders, and emotions which the sight of great
perils can arouse in it: by this strength heroes maintain a calm
aspect and preserve their reason and liberty in the most surprising and
terrible accidents.

218.–Hypocrisy is the homage vice pays to virtue.

[So Massillon, in one of his sermons, “Vice pays homage to virtue in
doing honour to her appearance.”

So Junius, writing to the Duke of Grafton, says, “You have done as much
mischief to the community as Machiavel, if Machiavel had not known that
an appearance of morals and religion are useful in society.”–28 Sept.

219.–Most men expose themselves in battle enough to save their honor,
few wish to do so more than sufficiently, or than is necessary to make
the design for which they expose themselves succeed.

220.–Vanity, shame, and above all disposition, often make men brave and
women chaste.

[“Vanity bids all her sons be brave and all her daughters chaste and
courteous. But why do we need her instruction?”–Sterne, Sermons.]

221.–We do not wish to lose life; we do wish to gain glory, and this
makes brave men show more tact and address in avoiding death, than
rogues show in preserving their fortunes.

222.–Few persons on the first approach of age do not show wherein their
body, or their mind, is beginning to fail.

223.–Gratitude is as the good faith of merchants: it holds commerce
together; and we do not pay because it is just to pay debts, but because
we shall thereby more easily find people who will lend.

224.–All those who pay the debts of gratitude cannot thereby flatter
themselves that they are grateful.

225.–What makes false reckoning, as regards gratitude, is that the
pride of the giver and the receiver cannot agree as to the value of the

[“The first foundation of friendship is not the power of conferring
benefits, but the equality with which they are received, and may be
returned.”–Junius’s Letter To The King.]

226.–Too great a hurry to discharge of an obligation is a kind of

227.–Lucky people are bad hands at correcting their faults; they always
believe that they are right when fortune backs up their vice or folly.

[“The power of fortune is confessed only by the miserable, for the happy
impute all their success to prudence and merit.”–Swift, Thoughts On
Various Subjects]

228.–Pride will not owe, self-love will not pay.

229.–The good we have received from a man should make us excuse the
wrong he does us.

230.–Nothing is so infectious as example, and we never do great good or
evil without producing the like. We imitate good actions by emulation,
and bad ones by the evil of our nature, which shame imprisons until
example liberates.

231.–It is great folly to wish only to be wise.

232.–Whatever pretext we give to our afflictions it is always interest
or vanity that causes them.

233.–In afflictions there are various kinds of hypocrisy. In one, under
the pretext of weeping for one dear to us we bemoan ourselves; we
regret her good opinion of us, we deplore the loss of our comfort, our
pleasure, our consideration. Thus the dead have the credit of tears
shed for the living. I affirm ’tis a kind of hypocrisy which in these
afflictions deceives itself. There is another kind not so innocent
because it imposes on all the world, that is the grief of those who
aspire to the glory of a noble and immortal sorrow. After Time,
which absorbs all, has obliterated what sorrow they had, they still
obstinately obtrude their tears, their sighs their groans, they wear a
solemn face, and try to persuade others by all their acts, that their
grief will end only with their life. This sad and distressing vanity is
commonly found in ambitious women. As their sex closes to them all paths
to glory, they strive to render themselves celebrated by showing an
inconsolable affliction. There is yet another kind of tears arising from
but small sources, which flow easily and cease as easily. One weeps to
achieve a reputation for tenderness, weeps to be pitied, weeps to be
bewept, in fact one weeps to avoid the disgrace of not weeping!

[“In grief the {Pleasure} is still uppermost{;} and the affliction we
suffer has no resemblance to absolute pain which is always odious, and
which we endeavour to shake off as soon as possible.”–Burke, Sublime
And Beautiful{, (1756), Part I, Sect. V}.]

234.–It is more often from pride than from ignorance that we are so
obstinately opposed to current opinions; we find the first places taken,
and we do not want to be the last.

235.–We are easily consoled at the misfortunes of our friends when they
enable us to prove our tenderness for them.

236.–It would seem that even self-love may be the dupe of goodness
and forget itself when we work for others. And yet it is but taking the
shortest way to arrive at its aim, taking usury under the pretext of
giving, in fact winning everybody in a subtle and delicate manner.

237.–No one should be praised for his goodness if he has not strength
enough to be wicked. All other goodness is but too often an idleness or
powerlessness of will.

238.–It is not so dangerous to do wrong to most men, as to do them too
much good.

239.–Nothing flatters our pride so much as the confidence of the great,
because we regard it as the result of our worth, without remembering
that generally ’tis but vanity, or the inability to keep a secret.

240.–We may say of conformity as distinguished from beauty, that it is
a symmetry which knows no rules, and a secret harmony of features both
one with each other and with the colour and appearance of the person.

241.–Flirtation is at the bottom of woman’s nature, although all do not
practise it, some being restrained by fear, others by sense.

[“By nature woman is a flirt, but her flirting changes both in the mode
and object according to her opinions.”– Rousseau, Emile.]

242.–We often bore others when we think we cannot possibly bore them.

243.–Few things are impossible in themselves; application to make them
succeed fails us more often than the means.

244.–Sovereign ability consists in knowing the value of things.

245.–There is great ability in knowing how to conceal one’s ability.

[“You have accomplished a great stroke in diplomacy when you have made
others think that you have only very average abilities.”–La Bruy√®re.]

246.–What seems generosity is often disguised ambition, that despises
small to run after greater interest.

247.–The fidelity of most men is merely an invention of self-love
to win confidence; a method to place us above others and to render us
depositaries of the most important matters.

248.–Magnanimity despises all, to win all.

249.–There is no less eloquence in the voice, in the eyes and in the
air of a speaker than in his choice of words.

250.–True eloquence consists in saying all that should be, not all that
could be said.

251.–There are people whose faults become them, others whose very
virtues disgrace them.

[“There are faults which do him honour, and virtues that disgrace
him.”–Junius, Letter Of 28th May, 1770.]

252.–It is as common to change one’s tastes, as it is uncommon to
change one’s inclinations.

253.–Interest sets at work all sorts of virtues and vices.

254.–Humility is often a feigned submission which we employ to supplant
others. It is one of the devices of Pride to lower us to raise us; and
truly pride transforms itself in a thousand ways, and is never so well
disguised and more able to deceive than when it hides itself under the
form of humility.

[“Grave and plausible enough to be thought fit for business.”–Junius,
Letter To The Duke Of Grafton.

“He saw a cottage with a double coach-house, A cottage of gentility,
And the devil was pleased, for his darling sin Is the pride that apes
humility.” Southey, Devil’s Walk.]

{There are numerous corrections necessary for this quotation; I will
keep the original above so you can compare the correct passages:

“He passed a cottage with a double coach-house, A cottage of gentility,
And he owned with a grin, That his favourite sin Is pride that apes
humility.” –Southey, Devil’s Walk, Stanza 8.

“And the devil did grin, for his darling sin Is pride that apes
humility.” –Samuel Taylor Coleridge, The Devil’s Thoughts}

255.–All feelings have their peculiar tone of voice, gestures and
looks, and this harmony, as it is good or bad, pleasant or unpleasant,
makes people agreeable or disagreeable.

256.–In all professions we affect a part and an appearance to seem what
we wish to be. Thus the world is merely composed of actors.

[“All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely
players.”–Shakespeare, As You Like It{, Act II, Scene VII, Jaques}.

“Life is no more than a dramatic scene, in which the hero should
preserve his consistency to the last.”–Junius.]

257.–Gravity is a mysterious carriage of the body invented to conceal
the want of mind.

[“Gravity is the very essence of imposture.”–Shaftesbury,
Characteristics, p. 11, vol. I. “The very essence of gravity is design,
and consequently deceit; a taught trick to gain credit with the world
for more sense and knowledge than a man was worth, and that with all its
pretensions it was no better, but often worse, than what a French wit
had long ago defined it–a mysterious carriage of the body to cover the
defects of the mind.”–Sterne, Tristram Shandy, vol. I., chap. ii.]

258.–Good taste arises more from judgment than wit.

259.–The pleasure of love is in loving, we are happier in the passion
we feel than in that we inspire.

260.–Civility is but a desire to receive civility, and to be esteemed

261.–The usual education of young people is to inspire them with a
second self-love.

262.–There is no passion wherein self-love reigns so powerfully as in
love, and one is always more ready to sacrifice the peace of the loved
one than his own.

263.–What we call liberality is often but the vanity of giving, which
we like more than that we give away.

264.–Pity is often a reflection of our own evils in the ills of others.
It is a delicate foresight of the troubles into which we may fall. We
help others that on like occasions we may be helped ourselves, and these
services which we render, are in reality benefits we confer on ourselves
by anticipation.

[“Grief for the calamity of another is pity, and ariseth from the
imagination that a like calamity may befal himself{;} and therefore is
called compassion.”–Hobbes’ Leviathan{, (1651), Part I, Chapter VI}.]

265.–A narrow mind begets obstinacy, and we do not easily believe what
we cannot see.

[“Stiff in opinion, always in the wrong.” Dryden, Absalom And
Achitophel{, line 547}.]

266.–We deceive ourselves if we believe that there are violent
passions like ambition and love that can triumph over others. Idleness,
languishing as she is, does not often fail in being mistress; she
usurps authority over all the plans and actions of life; imperceptibly
consuming and destroying both passions and virtues.

267.–A quickness in believing evil without having sufficiently examined
it, is the effect of pride and laziness. We wish to find the guilty, and
we do not wish to trouble ourselves in examining the crime.

268.–We credit judges with the meanest motives, and yet we desire our
reputation and fame should depend upon the judgment of men, who are all,
either from their jealousy or pre-occupation or want of intelligence,
opposed to us–and yet ’tis only to make these men decide in our favour
that we peril in so many ways both our peace and our life.

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

270.–One honour won is a surety for more.

271.–Youth is a continual intoxication; it is the fever of reason.

[“The best of life is but intoxication.”–{Lord Byron, } Don Juan{,
Canto II, stanza 179}. In the 1st Edition, 1665, the maxim finishes
with–“it is the fever of health, the folly of reason.”]

272.–Nothing should so humiliate men who have deserved great praise, as
the care they have taken to acquire it by the smallest means.

273.–There are persons of whom the world approves who have no merit
beyond the vices they use in the affairs of life.

274.–The beauty of novelty is to love as the flower to the fruit; it
lends a lustre which is easily lost, but which never returns.

275.–Natural goodness, which boasts of being so apparent, is often
smothered by the least interest.

276.–Absence extinguishes small passions and increases great ones, as
the wind will blow out a candle, and blow in a fire.

277.–Women often think they love when they do not love. The business of
a love affair, the emotion of mind that sentiment induces, the natural
bias towards the pleasure of being loved, the difficulty of refusing,
persuades them that they have real passion when they have but

[“And if in fact she takes a {“}Grande Passion{“}, It is a very serious
thing indeed: Nine times in ten ’tis but caprice or fashion, Coquetry,
or a wish to take the lead, The pride of a mere child with a new sash
on. Or wish to make a rival’s bosom bleed: But the {Tenth} instance will
be a tornado, For there’s no saying what they will or may do.” {–Lord
Byron, }Don Juan, canto xii. stanza 77.]

278.–What makes us so often discontented with those who transact
business for us is that they almost always abandon the interest of their
friends for the interest of the business, because they wish to have the
honour of succeeding in that which they have undertaken.

279.–When we exaggerate the tenderness of our friends towards us, it is
often less from gratitude than from a desire to exhibit our own merit.

280.–The praise we give to new comers into the world arises from the
envy we bear to those who are established.

281.–Pride, which inspires, often serves to moderate envy.

282.–Some disguised lies so resemble truth, that we should judge badly
were we not deceived.

283.–Sometimes there is not less ability in knowing how to use than in
giving good advice.

284.–There are wicked people who would be much less dangerous if they
were wholly without goodness.

285.–Magnanimity is sufficiently defined by its name, nevertheless one
can say it is the good sense of pride, the most noble way of receiving

286.–It is impossible to love a second time those whom we have really
ceased to love.

287.–Fertility of mind does not furnish us with so many resources on
the same matter, as the lack of intelligence makes us hesitate at each
thing our imagination presents, and hinders us from at first discerning
which is the best.

288.–There are matters and maladies which at certain times remedies
only serve to make worse; true skill consists in knowing when it is
dangerous to use them.

289.–Affected simplicity is refined imposture.

[Domitianus simplicitatis ac modestiae imagine studium litterarum et
amorem carminum simulabat quo velaret animum et fratris aemulationi
subduceretur.–Tacitus, Ann. iv.]

290.–There are as many errors of temper as of mind.

291.–Man’s merit, like the crops, has its season.

292.–One may say of temper as of many buildings; it has divers aspects,
some agreeable, others disagreeable.

293.–Moderation cannot claim the merit of opposing and overcoming
Ambition: they are never found together. Moderation is the languor and
sloth of the soul, Ambition its activity and heat.

294.–We always like those who admire us, we do not always like those
whom we admire.

295.–It is well that we know not all our wishes.

296.–It is difficult to love those we do not esteem, but it is no less
so to love those whom we esteem much more than ourselves.

297.–Bodily temperaments have a common course and rule which
imperceptibly affect our will. They advance in combination, and
successively exercise a secret empire over us, so that, without our
perceiving it, they become a great part of all our actions.

298.–The gratitude of most men is but a secret desire of receiving
greater benefits.

[Hence the common proverb “Gratitude is merely a lively sense of favors
to come.”]

299.–Almost all the world takes pleasure in paying small debts; many
people show gratitude for trifling, but there is hardly one who does not
show ingratitude for great favours.