Quotes by Francois De La Rochefoucauld

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Absence diminishes little passions and increases great ones, as wind extinguishes candles and fans a fire.

In jealousy there is more of self-love than love.
True love is like ghosts, which everybody talks about and few have seen.
Hope and fear are inseparable.
We may give advice, but not the sense to use it.
To achieve greatness one should live as if they will never die.
We are nearer loving those who hate us than those who love us more than we wish.
We always love those who admire us; we do not always love those whom we admire.
There are few people who are not ashamed of their love affairs when the infatuation is over.
We are more interested in making others believe we are happy than in trying to be happy ourselves.
The sure mark of one born with noble qualities is being born without envy.
True eloquence consists in saying all that should be said, and that only.
How can we accept another to keep our secret if we have been unable to keep it ourselves.
Jealousy contains more of self-love than of love.
No persons are more frequently wrong, than those who will not admit they are wrong.
We never desire strongly, what we desire rationally.
To know how to hide one's ability is great skill.
There is no disguise that can for long conceal love where it exists or simulate it where it does not.
When a man finds no peace within himself, it is useless to seek it elsewhere.
If I advance, follow me! If I retreat, kill me! If I die, avenge me!
Jealously is always born with love but it does not die with it.
Live on doubts; it becomes madness or stops entirely as soon as we pass from doubt to certainty.
Envy is more irreconcilable than hatred.
It is with true love as it is with ghosts; everyone talks about it, but few have seen it.
If we are to judge of love by its consequences, it more nearly resembles hatred than friendship.
It is easier to know men in general, than men in particular.
Not all those who know their minds know their hearts as well.
Pride does not wish to owe and vanity does not wish to pay.
Weak people cannot be sincere.
The only thing that should surprise us is that there are still some things that can surprise us.
Humility is often a false front we employ to gain power over others.
Hope is the last thing that dies in man; and though it be exceedingly deceitful, yet it is of this good use to us, that while we are traveling through life it conducts us in an easier and more pleasant way to our journey's end.
When our hatred is violent, it sinks us even beneath those we hate.
Gracefulness is to the body what understanding is to the mind.
He who lives without folly isn't so wise as he thinks.
It is not enough to succeed, others must fail.
Perfect Valor is to do, without a witness, all that we could do before the whole world.
Listening well and answering well is one of the greatest perfections that can be obtained in conversation.
The height of cleverness is being able to conceal it.
We would frequently be ashamed of our good deeds if people saw all of the motives that produced them.
In the human heart new passions are forever being born; the overthrow of one almost always means the rise of another.
Passion makes idiots of the cleverest men, and makes the biggest idiots clever.
If we resist our passions, it is more through their weakness than from our strength.
There are people who in spite of their merit disgust us, and others who please us in spite of their faults.
Everyone complains of the badness of his memory, but nobody of his judgment.
It's easier to be wise for others than for ourselves.
Hypocrisy is the homage that vice pays to virtue.
We are never so happy nor so unhappy as we imagine.
However rare true love may be, it is less so than true friendship.
We pardon to the extent that we love.
All women are flirts, but some are restrained by shyness, and others by sense.
Self-love is the greatest of all flatterers.
There is hardly a man clever enough to recognize the full extent of the evil he does.
Quarrels would not last so long if the fault lay only on one side.
What makes vanity so insufferable to us, is that it hurts our own.
What makes lovers never tire of one another is that they talk always about themselves.
The more one loves a mistress, the more one is ready to hate her.
Moderation is an ostentatious proof of our strength of character.
We promise according to our hopes and perform according to our fears.
We should often be ashamed of our finest actions if the world understood all the motives behind them.
Nothing is impossible; there are ways that lead to everything, and if we had sufficient will we should always have sufficient means. It is often merely for an excuse that we say things are impossible.
A refusal of praise is a desire to be praised twice.
In all professions each affects a look and an exterior to appear what he wishes the world to believe that he is. Thus we may say that the whole world is made up of appearances.
It is easier to appear worthy of a position one does not hold, than of the office which one fills.
The intellect is always fooled by the heart.
One can find women who have never had one love affair, but it is rare indeed to find any who have had only one.
The confidence which we have in ourselves gives birth to much of that which we have in others.
Lovers never get tired of each other because they are forever talking about themselves.
Those who are incapable of committing great crimes do not readily suspect them in others.
Great souls are not those who have fewer passions and more virtues than others, but only those who have greater designs.
Funeral pomp is more for the vanity of the living than for the honor of the dead.
It is more shameful to distrust our friends than to be deceived by them.
Our enemies come nearer the truth in the opinions they form of us than we do in our opinion of ourselves.
To safeguard one's health at the cost of too strict a diet is a tiresome illness indeed.
The sure way to be cheated is to think one's self more cunning than others.
We often forgive those who bore us, but we cannot forgive those whom we bore.
Usually we praise only to be praised.
It is great cleverness to know how to conceal our cleverness.
Our desires always disappoint us; for though we meet with something that gives us satisfaction, yet it never thoroughly answers our expectation.
The reason why so few people are agreeable in conversation is that each is thinking more about what he intends to say than others are saying.
We seldom find any person of good sense, except those who share our opinions.
Old men are fond of giving good advice to console themselves for their inability to give bad examples.
Old age is a tyrant, who forbids, under pain of death, the pleasures of youth.
We give advice, but we cannot give the wisdom to profit by it.
There are few people who are more often in the wrong than those who cannot endure to be so.
We do not despise all those who have vices, but we do despise those that have no virtue.
Timidity is a fault for which it is dangerous to reprove persons whom we wish to correct of it.
The happiness and misery of men depend no less on temper than fortune.
What makes us so bitter against people who outwit us is that they think themselves cleverer than we are.
We love those who admire us, but not those whom we admire.
Although men flatter themselves with their great actions, they are not so often the result of a great design as of chance.
Chance corrects us of many faults that reason would not know how to correct.
Why is our memory good enough to recall to the last detail things that have happened to us, yet not good enough to recall how often we have told them to the same person.
The mind is always the patsy of the heart.
Before we set our hearts too much on anything, let us examine how happy are those who already possess it.
Moderation in people who are contented comes from that calm that good fortune lends to their spirit.
We think very few people sensible, except those who are of our opinion.
We credit scarcely any persons with good sense except those who are of our opinion.
The passions are the only orators which always persuade.
A person well satisfied with themselves is seldom satisfied with others, and others, rarely are with them.
Few things are impracticable in themselves; and it is for want of application, rather than of means, that men fail to succeed.
Those who occupy their minds with small matters, generally become incapable of greatness.
The accent of one's birthplace remains in the mind and in the heart as in one's speech.
When we disclaim praise, it is only showing our desire to be praised a second time.
We are never so ridiculous by the qualities we have, as by those we affect to have.
We have more ability than will power, and it is often an excuse to ourselves that we imagine that things are impossible.
Honest people will respect us for our merit: the public, for our luck.
The shame that arises from praise which we do not deserve often makes us do things we should otherwise never have attempted.
If it requires great tact to speak to the purpose, it requires no less to know when to be silent.
Passions are the only orators to always convinces us.
We all have enough strength to endure the misfortunes of others.
Nothing prevents one from appearing natural as the desire to appear natural.
Taste may change, but inclination never.
The virtues and vices are all put in motion by interest.
Too great a hurry to discharge an obligation is a kind of ingratitude.
There is only one kind of love, but there are a thousand imitations.
The only good imitations are those that poke fun at bad originals.
Fortune and humor govern the world.
The happiness or unhappiness of men depends as much on their humors as on fortune.
There are heroes in evil as well as in good.
It is a wearisome disease to preserve health by too strict a regimen.
In most of mankind gratitude is merely a secret hope of further favors.
We seldom find people ungrateful so long as it is thought we can serve them.
There are few good women who do not tire of their role.
What is called generosity is usually only the vanity of giving; we enjoy the vanity more than the thing given.
What seems to be generosity is often no more than disguised ambition, which overlooks a small interest in order to secure a great one.
A true friend is the greatest of all blessings, and that which we take the least care to acquire.
In the misfortunes of our best friends we always find something not altogether displeasing to us.
What men have called friendship is only a social arrangement, a mutual adjustment of interests, an interchange of services given and received; it is, in sum, simply a business from which those involved propose to derive a steady profit for their own self-love.
There is a kind of elevation which does not depend on fortune; it is a certain air which distinguishes us, and seems to destine us for great things; it is a price which we imperceptibly set upon ourselves.
It is only persons of firmness that can have real gentleness. Those who appear gentle are, in general, only a weak character, which easily changes into asperity.
Only the great can afford to have great defects.
If we had no faults of our own, we should not take so much pleasure in noticing those in others.
We forget our faults easily when they are known to ourselves alone.
The fame of great men ought to be judged always by the means they used to acquire it.
It is for want of application, rather than of means that people fail,
Nothing is so contagious as an example. We never do great good or evil without bringing about more of the same on the part of others.
We often do good in order that we may do evil with impunity.
Our enemies approach nearer to truth in their judgments of us than we do ourselves.
We would rather speak badly of ourselves than not talk about ourselves at all.
There are ways which lead to everything, and if we have sufficient will we should always have sufficient means.
How ever a brilliant an action, it should not be viewed as great unless it is the result of a great motive.
Decency is the least of all laws, but yet it is the law which is most strictly observed.
Neither the sun nor death can be looked at with a steady eye
There are crimes which become innocent and even glorious through their splendor, number and excess.
We can never be certain of our courage until we have faced danger.
True bravery is shown by performing without witness what one might be capable of doing before all the world.
Perfect courage is to do without witnesses what one would be capable of doing with the world looking on.
Conceit causes more conversation than wit.
When we cannot find contentment in ourselves, it is useless to seek it elsewhere.
Silence is the safest course for any man to adopt who distrust himself.
We only confess our little faults to persuade people that we have no big ones.
If it were not for the company of fools, a witty man would often be greatly at a loss.
The desire to seem clever often keeps us from being so.
There are few virtuous women who are not bored with their trade.
Weakness of character is the only defect which cannot be amended.
There is such a thing as a general revolution which changes the taste of men as it changes the fortunes of the world.
Few persons have sufficient wisdom to prefer censure, which is useful, to praise which deceives them.
We like to see others, but don't like others to see through us.
To establish yourself in the world a person must do all they can to appear already established.
Nothing so much prevents our being natural as the desire to seem so.
Old people love to give good advice to console themselves for no longer being able to set a bad example.
As one grows older, one becomes wiser and more foolish.
Few people know how to be old.
The one thing people are the most liberal with, is their advice.
Men give away nothing so liberally as their advice.
Our actions are like the terminations of verses, which we rhyme as we please.
The height of ability consists in a thorough knowledge of the real value of things, and of the genius of the age in which we live.
We are more often treacherous, through weakness than through calculation.
It's the height of folly to want to be the only wise one.
As it is the characteristic of great wits to say much in few words, so small wits seem to have the gift of speaking much and saying nothing.
It is great folly to wish to be wise all alone.
It is more easy to be wise for others than for ourselves.
The common foible of women who have been handsome is to forget that they are no longer so.
Bodily labor alleviates the pains of the mind and from this arises the happiness of the poor.
He who imagines he can do without the world deceives himself much; but he who fancies the world cannot do without him is still more mistaken.