Reflections Or, Sentences and Moral Maxims


[The fifty following Maxims are taken from the Sixth Edition of the
Pensées De La Rochefoucauld, published by Claude Barbin, in 1693, more
than twelve years after the death of the author (17th May, 1680). The
reader will find some repetitions, but also some very valuable maxims.]

LXXVI.–Many persons wish to be devout; but no one wishes to be humble.

LXXVII.–The labour of the body frees us from the pains of the mind, and
thus makes the poor happy.

LXXVIII.–True penitential sorrows (mortifications) are those which are
not known, vanity renders the others easy enough.

LXXIX.–Humility is the altar upon which God wishes that we should offer
him his sacrifices.

LXXX.–Few things are needed to make a wise man happy; nothing can make
a fool content; that is why most men are miserable.

LXXXI.–We trouble ourselves less to become happy, than to make others
believe we are so.

LXXXII.–It is more easy to extinguish the first desire than to satisfy
those which follow.

LXXXIII.–Wisdom is to the soul what health is to the body.

LXXXIV.–The great ones of the earth can neither command health of body
nor repose of mind, and they buy always at too dear a price the good
they can acquire.

LXXXV.–Before strongly desiring anything we should examine what
happiness he has who possesses it.

LXXXVI.–A true friend is the greatest of all goods, and that of which
we think least of acquiring.

LXXXVII.–Lovers do not wish to see the faults of their mistresses until
their enchantment is at an end.

LXXXVIII.–Prudence and love are not made for each other; in the ratio
that love increases, prudence diminishes.

LXXXIX.–It is sometimes pleasing to a husband to have a jealous wife;
he hears her always speaking of the beloved object.

XC.–How much is a woman to be pitied who is at the same time possessed
of virtue and love!

XCI.–The wise man finds it better not to enter the encounter than to

[Somewhat similar to Goldsmith’s sage– “Who quits {a} world where
strong temptations try, And since ’tis hard to co{mbat}, learns to

XCII.–It is more necessary to study men than books.

[“The proper study of mankind is man.”–Pope {Essay On Man, (1733),
Epistle II, line 2}.]

XCIII.–Good and evil ordinarily come to those who have most of one or
the other.

XCIV.–The accent and character of one’s native country dwells in the
mind and heart as on the tongue. (Repitition Of Maxim 342.)

XCV.–The greater part of men have qualities which, like those of
plants, are discovered by chance. (Repitition Of Maxim 344.)

XCVI.–A good woman is a hidden treasure; he who discovers her will do
well not to boast about it. (See Maxim 368.)

XCVII.–Most women do not weep for the loss of a lover to show that they
have been loved so much as to show that they are worth being loved. (See
Maxim 362.)

XCVIII.–There are many virtuous women who are weary of the part they
have played. (See Maxim 367.)

XCIX.–If we think we love for love’s sake we are much mistaken. (See
Maxim 374.)

C.–The restraint we lay upon ourselves to be constant, is not much
better than an inconstancy. (See Maxim 369, 381.)

CI.–There are those who avoid our jealousy, of whom we ought to be
jealous. (See Maxim 359.)

CII.–Jealousy is always born with love, but does not always die with
it. (See Maxim 361.)

CIII.–When we love too much it is difficult to discover when we have
ceased to be beloved.

CIV.–We know very well that we should not talk about our wives, but we
do not remember that it is not so well to speak of ourselves. (See Maxim

CV.–Chance makes us known to others and to ourselves. (See Maxim 345.)

CVI.–We find very few people of good sense, except those who are of our
own opinion. (See Maxim 347.)

CVII.–We commonly praise the good hearts of those who admire us. (See
Maxim 356.)

CVIII.–Man only blames himself in order that he may be praised.

CIX.–Little minds are wounded by the smallest things. (See Maxim 357.)

CX.–There are certain faults which placed in a good light please more
than perfection itself. (See Maxim 354.)

CXI.–That which makes us so bitter against those who do us a shrewd
turn, is because they think themselves more clever than we are. (See
Maxim 350.)

CXII.–We are always bored by those whom we bore. (See Maxim 352.)

CXIII.–The harm that others do us is often less than that we do
ourselves. (See Maxim 363.)

CXIV.–It is never more difficult to speak well than when we are ashamed
of being silent.

CXV.–Those faults are always pardonable that we have the courage to

CXVI.–The greatest fault of penetration is not that it goes to the
bottom of a matter–but beyond it. (See Maxim 377.)

CXVII.–We give advice, but we cannot give the wisdom to profit by it.
(See Maxim 378.)

CXVIII.–When our merit declines, our taste declines also. (See Maxim

CXIX.–Fortune discovers our vices and our virtues, as the light makes
objects plain to the sight. (See Maxim 380.)

CXX.–Our actions are like rhymed verse-ends (Bouts-Rimés) which
everyone turns as he pleases. (See Maxim 382.)

CXXI.–There is nothing more natural, nor more deceptive, than to
believe that we are beloved.

CXXII.–We would rather see those to whom we have done a benefit, than
those who have done us one.

CXXIII.–It is more difficult to hide the opinions we have than to feign
those which we have not.

CXXIV.–Renewed friendships require more care than those that have never
been broken.

CXXV.–A man to whom no one is pleasing is much more unhappy than one
who pleases nobody.