Reflections Or, Sentences and Moral Maxims

By Francois Duc De La Rochefoucauld, Prince de Marsillac

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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 sometimes 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

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.

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

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

[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.”–Cowper, Conversation

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 perform according to our

[“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.

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