Reflections Or, Sentences and Moral Maxims

400.–There may be talent without position, but there is no position
without some kind of talent.

401.–Rank is to merit what dress is to a pretty woman.

402.–What we find the least of in flirtation is love.

403.–Fortune sometimes uses our faults to exalt us, and there are
tiresome people whose deserts would be ill rewarded if we did not desire
to purchase their absence.

404.–It appears that nature has hid at the bottom of our hearts talents
and abilities unknown to us. It is only the passions that have the power
of bringing them to light, and sometimes give us views more true and
more perfect than art could possibly do.

405.–We reach quite inexperienced the different stages of life, and
often, in spite of the number of our years, we lack experience.

[“To most men experience is like the stern lights of a ship which
illumine only the track it has passed.”– Coleridge.]

406.–Flirts make it a point of honour to be jealous of their lovers, to
conceal their envy of other women.

407.–It may well be that those who have trapped us by their tricks do
not seem to us so foolish as we seem to ourselves when trapped by the
tricks of others.

408.–The most dangerous folly of old persons who have been loveable is
to forget that they are no longer so.

[“Every woman who is not absolutely ugly thinks herself handsome. The
suspicion of age no woman, let her be ever so old, forgives.”–Lord
Chesterfield, Letter 129.]

409.–We should often be ashamed of our very best actions if the world
only saw the motives which caused them.

410.–The greatest effort of friendship is not to show our faults to a
friend, but to show him his own.

4ll.–We have few faults which are not far more excusable than the means
we adopt to hide them.

412.–Whatever disgrace we may have deserved, it is almost always in our
power to re-establish our character.

[“This is hardly a period at which the most irregular character may not
be redeemed. The mistakes of one sin find a retreat in patriotism, those
of the other in devotion.” –Junius, Letter To The King.]

413.–A man cannot please long who has only one kind of wit.

[According to Segrais this maxim was a hit at Racine and Boileau, who,
despising ordinary conversation, talked incessantly of literature; but
there is some doubt as to Segrais’ statement.–Aimé Martin.]

414.–Idiots and lunatics see only their own wit.

415.–Wit sometimes enables us to act rudely with impunity.

416.–The vivacity which increases in old age is not far removed from
folly.

[“How ill {white} hairs become {a} fool and jester.”– Shakespeare,
King Henry IV, Part II, Act. V, Scene V, King}.

“Can age itself forget that you are now in the last act of life? Can
grey hairs make folly venerable, and is there no period to be reserved
for meditation or retirement.”– Junius, To The Duke Of Bedford, 19th
Sept. 1769.]

417.–In love the quickest is always the best cure.

418.–Young women who do not want to appear flirts, and old men who
do not want to appear ridiculous, should not talk of love as a matter
wherein they can have any interest.

419.–We may seem great in a post beneath our capacity, but we oftener
seem little in a post above it.

420.–We often believe we have constancy in misfortune when we have
nothing but debasement, and we suffer misfortunes without regarding
them as cowards who let themselves be killed from fear of defending
themselves.

421.–Conceit causes more conversation than wit.

422.–All passions make us commit some faults, love alone makes us
ridiculous.

[“In love we all are fools alike.”–Gay{, The Beggar’s Opera, (1728),
Act III, Scene I, Lucy}.]

423.–Few know how to be old.

424.–We often credit ourselves with vices the reverse of what we have,
thus when weak we boast of our obstinacy.

425.–Penetration has a spice of divination in it which tickles our
vanity more than any other quality of the mind.

426.–The charm of novelty and old custom, however opposite to each
other, equally blind us to the faults of our friends.

[“Two things the most opposite blind us equally, custom and novelty.”-La
Bruyère, Des Judgements.]

427.–Most friends sicken us of friendship, most devotees of devotion.

428.–We easily forgive in our friends those faults we do not perceive.

429.–Women who love, pardon more readily great indiscretions than
little infidelities.

430.–In the old age of love as in life we still survive for the evils,
though no longer for the pleasures.

[“The youth of friendship is better than its old age.” –Hazlitt’s
Characteristics, 229.]

431.–Nothing prevents our being unaffected so much as our desire to
seem so.

432.–To praise good actions heartily is in some measure to take part in
them.

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

[“Nemo alienae virtuti invidet qui satis confidet suae.” –Cicero In
Marc Ant.]

434.–When our friends have deceived us we owe them but indifference to
the tokens of their friendship, yet for their misfortunes we always owe
them pity.

435.–Luck and temper rule the world.

436.–It is far easier to know men than to know man.

437.–We should not judge of a man’s merit by his great abilities, but
by the use he makes of them.

438.–There is a certain lively gratitude which not only releases
us from benefits received, but which also, by making a return to our
friends as payment, renders them indebted to us.

[“And understood not that a grateful mind, By owing owes not, but is at
once Indebted and discharged.” Milton. Paradise Lost.]

439.–We should earnestly desire but few things if we clearly knew what
we desired.

440.–The cause why the majority of women are so little given to
friendship is, that it is insipid after having felt love.

[“Those who have experienced a great passion neglect friendship, and
those who have united themselves to friendship have nought to do with
love.”–La Bruyère. Du Coeur.]

441.–As in friendship so in love, we are often happier from ignorance
than from knowledge.

442.–We try to make a virtue of vices we are loth to correct.

443.–The most violent passions give some respite, but vanity always
disturbs us.

444.–Old fools are more foolish than young fools.

[“Malvolio. Infirmity{,} that decays the wise{,} doth eve{r} make the
better fool. Clown. God send you, sir, a speedy infirmity{,} for the
better increasing of your folly.”–Shakespeare. Twelfth Night{, Act I,
Scene V}.]

445.–Weakness is more hostile to virtue than vice.

446.–What makes the grief of shame and jealousy so acute is that vanity
cannot aid us in enduring them.

447.–Propriety is the least of all laws, but the most obeyed.

[Honour has its supreme laws, to which education is bound to
conform….Those things which honour forbids are more rigorously
forbidden when the laws do not concur in the prohibition, and those
it commands are more strongly insisted upon when they happen not to be
commanded by law.–Montesquieu, {The Spirit Of Laws, }b. 4, c. ii.]

448.–A well-trained mind has less difficulty in submitting to than in
guiding an ill-trained mind.

449.–When fortune surprises us by giving us some great office without
having gradually led us to expect it, or without having raised our
hopes, it is well nigh impossible to occupy it well, and to appear
worthy to fill it.

450.–Our pride is often increased by what we retrench from our other
faults.

[“The loss of sensual pleasures was supplied and compensated by
spiritual pride.”–Gibbon. Decline And Fall, chap. xv.]

451.–No fools so wearisome as those who have some wit.

452.–No one believes that in every respect he is behind the man he
considers the ablest in the world.

453.–In great matters we should not try so much to create opportunities
as to utilise those that offer themselves.

[Yet Lord Bacon says “A wise man will make more opportunities than he
finds.”–Essays, {(1625), “Of Ceremonies and Respects”}]

454.–There are few occasions when we should make a bad bargain by
giving up the good on condition that no ill was said of us.

455.–However disposed the world may be to judge wrongly, it far oftener
favours false merit than does justice to true.

456.–Sometimes we meet a fool with wit, never one with discretion.

457.–We should gain more by letting the world see what we are than by
trying to seem what we are not.

458.–Our enemies come nearer the truth in the opinions they form of us
than we do in our opinion of ourselves.

459.–There are many remedies to cure love, yet none are infallible.

460.–It would be well for us if we knew all our passions make us do.

461.–Age is a tyrant who forbids at the penalty of life all the
pleasures of youth.

462.–The same pride which makes us blame faults from which we believe
ourselves free causes us to despise the good qualities we have not.

463.–There is often more pride than goodness in our grief for our
enemies’ miseries; it is to show how superior we are to them, that we
bestow on them the sign of our compassion.

464.–There exists an excess of good and evil which surpasses our
comprehension.

465.–Innocence is most fortunate if it finds the same protection as
crime.

466.–Of all the violent passions the one that becomes a woman best is
love.

467.–Vanity makes us sin more against our taste than reason.

468.–Some bad qualities form great talents.

469.–We never desire earnestly what we desire in reason.

470.–All our qualities are uncertain and doubtful, both the good as
well as the bad, and nearly all are creatures of opportunities.

471.–In their first passion women love their lovers, in all the others
they love love.

[“In her first passion woman loves her lover, In all her others what
she loves is love.” {–Lord Byron, }Don Juan, Canto iii., stanza 3. “We
truly love once, the first time; the subsequent passions are more or
less involuntary.” La Bruyère: Du Coeur.]

472.–Pride as the other passions has its follies. We are ashamed to own
we are jealous, and yet we plume ourselves in having been and being able
to be so.

473.–However rare true love is, true friendship is rarer.

[“It is more common to see perfect love than real friendship.”–La
Bruyère. Du Coeur.]

474.–There are few women whose charm survives their beauty.

475.–The desire to be pitied or to be admired often forms the greater
part of our confidence.

476.–Our envy always lasts longer than the happiness of those we envy.

477.–The same firmness that enables us to resist love enables us to
make our resistance durable and lasting. So weak persons who are always
excited by passions are seldom really possessed of any.

478.–Fancy does not enable us to invent so many different
contradictions as there are by nature in every heart.

479.–It is only people who possess firmness who can possess true
gentleness. In those who appear gentle it is generally only weakness,
which is readily converted into harshness.

480.–Timidity is a fault which is dangerous to blame in those we desire
to cure of it.

481.–Nothing is rarer than true good nature, those who think they have
it are generally only pliant or weak.

482.–The mind attaches itself by idleness and habit to whatever is easy
or pleasant. This habit always places bounds to our knowledge, and no
one has ever yet taken the pains to enlarge and expand his mind to the
full extent of its capacities.

483.–Usually we are more satirical from vanity than malice.

484.–When the heart is still disturbed by the relics of a passion it is
proner to take up a new one than when wholly cured.

485.–Those who have had great passions often find all their lives made
miserable in being cured of them.

486.–More persons exist without self-love than without envy.

[“I do not believe that there is a human creature in his senses arrived
at maturity, that at some time or other has not been carried away by
this passion (envy) in good earnest, and yet I never met with any who
dared own he was guilty of it, but in jest.”–Mandeville: Fable Of The
Bees; Remark N.]

487.–We have more idleness in the mind than in the body.

488.–The calm or disturbance of our mind does not depend so much on
what we regard as the more important things of life, as in a judicious
or injudicious arrangement of the little things of daily occurrence.

489.–However wicked men may be, they do not dare openly to appear the
enemies of virtue, and when they desire to persecute her they either
pretend to believe her false or attribute crimes to her.

490.–We often go from love to ambition, but we never return from
ambition to love.

[“Men commence by love, finish by ambition, and do not find a quieter
seat while they remain there.”–La Bruyère: Du Coeur.]

491.–Extreme avarice is nearly always mistaken, there is no passion
which is oftener further away from its mark, nor upon which the present
has so much power to the prejudice of the future.

492.–Avarice often produces opposite results: there are an infinite
number of persons who sacrifice their property to doubtful and distant
expectations, others mistake great future advantages for small present
interests.

[Aimé Martin says, “The author here confuses greediness, the desire
and avarice–passions which probably have a common origin, but produce
different results. The greedy man is nearly always desirous to possess,
and often foregoes great future advantages for small present interests.
The avaricious man, on the other hand, mistakes present advantages for
the great expectations of the future. Both desire to possess and
enjoy. But the miser possesses and enjoys nothing but the pleasure of
possessing; he risks nothing, gives nothing, hopes nothing, his life is
centred in his strong box, beyond that he has no want.”]

493.–It appears that men do not find they have enough faults, as they
increase the number by certain peculiar qualities that they affect to
assume, and which they cultivate with so great assiduity that at length
they become natural faults, which they can no longer correct.

494.–What makes us see that men know their faults better than we
imagine, is that they are never wrong when they speak of their conduct;
the same self-love that usually blinds them enlightens them, and gives
them such true views as to make them suppress or disguise the smallest
thing that might be censured.

495.–Young men entering life should be either shy or bold; a solemn and
sedate manner usually degenerates into impertinence.

496.–Quarrels would not last long if the fault was only on one side.

497.–It is valueless to a woman to be young unless pretty, or to be
pretty unless young.

498.–Some persons are so frivolous and fickle that they are as far
removed from real defects as from substantial qualities.

499.–We do not usually reckon a woman’s first flirtation until she has
had a second.