Reflections Or, Sentences and Moral Maxims

80.–What renders us so changeable in our friendship is, that it is
difficult to know the qualities of the soul, but easy to know those of
the mind.

81.–We can love nothing but what agrees with us, and we can only follow
our taste or our pleasure when we prefer our friends to ourselves;
nevertheless it is only by that preference that friendship can be true
and perfect.

82.–Reconciliation with our enemies is but a desire to better our
condition, a weariness of war, the fear of some unlucky accident.

[“Thus terminated that famous war of the Fronde. The Duke de la
Rochefoucauld desired peace because of his dangerous wounds and ruined
castles, which had made him dread even worse events. On the other side
the Queen, who had shown herself so ungrateful to her too ambitious
friends, did not cease to feel the bitterness of their resentment. ‘I
wish,’ said she, ‘it were always night, because daylight shows me so
many who have betrayed me.'”–Memoires De Madame De Motteville, Tom.
IV., p. 60. Another proof that although these maxims are in some cases
of universal application, they were based entirely on the experience of
the age in which the author lived.]

83.–What men term friendship is merely a partnership with a collection
of reciprocal interests, and an exchange of favours–in fact it is but a
trade in which self love always expects to gain something.

84.–It is more disgraceful to distrust than to be deceived by our
friends.

85.–We often persuade ourselves to love people who are more powerful
than we are, yet interest alone produces our friendship; we do not give
our hearts away for the good we wish to do, but for that we expect to
receive.

86.–Our distrust of another justifies his deceit.

87.–Men would not live long in society were they not the dupes of each
other.

[A maxim, adds Aimé Martin, “Which may enter into the code of a vulgar
rogue, but one is astonished to find it in a moral treatise.” Yet we
have scriptural authority for it: “Deceiving and being deceived.”–2
TIM. iii. 13.]

88.–Self love increases or diminishes for us the good qualities of our
friends, in proportion to the satisfaction we feel with them, and we
judge of their merit by the manner in which they act towards us.

89.–Everyone blames his memory, no one blames his judgment.

90.–In the intercourse of life, we please more by our faults than by
our good qualities.

91.–The largest ambition has the least appearance of ambition when it
meets with an absolute impossibility in compassing its object.

92.–To awaken a man who is deceived as to his own merit is to do him
as bad a turn as that done to the Athenian madman who was happy in
believing that all the ships touching at the port belonged to him.

[That is, they cured him. The madman was Thrasyllus, son of Pythodorus.
His brother Crito cured him, when he infinitely regretted the time of
his more pleasant madness.–See Aelian, Var. Hist. iv. 25. So Horace–
————“Pol, me occidistis, amici, Non servastis,” ait, “cui sic
extorta voluptas Et demptus per vim mentis gratissimus error.” HOR. EP.
ii–2, 138, of the madman who was cured of a pleasant lunacy.]

93.–Old men delight in giving good advice as a consolation for the fact
that they can no longer set bad examples.

94.–Great names degrade instead of elevating those who know not how to
sustain them.

95.–The test of extraordinary merit is to see those who envy it the
most yet obliged to praise it.

96.–A man is perhaps ungrateful, but often less chargeable with
ingratitude than his benefactor is.

97.–We are deceived if we think that mind and judgment are two
different matters: judgment is but the extent of the light of the mind.
This light penetrates to the bottom of matters; it remarks all that can
be remarked, and perceives what appears imperceptible. Therefore we must
agree that it is the extent of the light in the mind that produces all
the effects which we attribute to judgment.

98.–Everyone praises his heart, none dare praise their understanding.

99.–Politeness of mind consists in thinking chaste and refined
thoughts.