Reflections Or, Sentences and Moral Maxims

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 whimsical than that of
Fortune.

46.–The attachment or indifference which philosophers 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 something 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 satisfaction 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 fortunes, 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 distinction 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 possess 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.