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James Wood, comp.  Dictionary of Quotations.  1899.
 
La Rochefoucauld
 
  A fool may sometimes have talent, but he never has judgment.  1
  A man of wit would often be much embarrassed without the company of fools.  2
  Absence lessens weak, and intensifies violent, passions, as wind extinguishes a taper and lights up a fire.  3
  C’est une grande folie de vouloir être sage tout seul—It is a great folly to wish to be wise all alone.  4
  Ceux qui s’appliquent trop aux petites choses deviennent ordinairement incapables des grandes—Those who occupy their minds too much with small matters generally become incapable of great.  5
  Chacun dit du bien de son cœur et personne n’en ose dire de son esprit—Every one speaks well of his heart, but no one dares boast of his wit.  6
  Chance corrects us of many faults that reason would not know how to correct.  7
  Dans l’adversité de nos meilleurs amis, nous trouvons toujours quelque chose qui ne nous déplait pas—In the misfortune of our best friends we find always something which does not displease us.  8
  Decency is the least of all laws, yet it is the one which is the most strictly observed.  9
  Envy is more irreconcilable than hatred.  10
  Every one complains of his memory, no one of his judgment.  11
  Every one regards his duty as a troublesome master from whom he would like to be free.  12
  Familiarity is a suspension of almost all the laws of civility which libertinism has introduced into society under the notion of ease.  13
  Few people know how to be old.  14
  Few things are impracticable in themselves; and it is from want of application rather than want of means that men fail of success.  15
  Flattery is a base coin, to which only our vanity gives currency.  16
  Good taste comes more from the judgment than from the mind.  17
  Grace is to the body what good sense is to the mind.  18
  Gratitude is with most people only a strong desire for greater benefits to come.  19
  Gravity is a mysterious carriage of the body, invented to cover the defects of the mind.  20
 
 
  Great souls are not those which have less passion and more virtue than common souls, but only those which have greater designs.  21
  Happiness depends not on the things, but on the taste.  22
  However brilliant an action, it should not be esteemed great unless the result of a great motive.  23
  Humility is often a feigned submission which we employ to supplant others.  24
  Humility is the altar upon which God wishes that we should offer Him His sacrifices.  25
  Ideas often flash across our minds more complete than we could make them after much labour.  26
  Il est plus aisé d’être sage pour les autres que pour sol-même—It is easier to be wise for others than for ourselves.  27
  Il est plus honteux de se défier de ses amis que d’en être trompé—It is more disgraceful to suspect our friends than to be deceived by them.  28
  Il faut de plus grandes vertus pour soutenir la bonne fortune que la mauvaise—It requires greater moral strength to bear good fortune than bad.  29
  Il n appartient qu’aux grands hommes, d’avoir de grands défauts—It is only great men who can afford to have great defects.  30
  Il n’y a de sots si incommodes que ceux qui ont de l’esprit—There are no fools so unsufferable as those who have wit.  31
  Il y a dans la jalousie plus d’amour-propre que d’amour—There is more self-love than love in jealousy.  32
  Il y a des gens dégoûtants avec du mérite, et d’autres qui plaisent avec des défauts—There are people who disgust us in spite of their merits, and others who please us in spite of their faults.  33
  Il y a des gens qui ressemblent aux vaudevilles, qu’on ne chante qu’un certain temps—Some men are like the ballads that are sung only for a certain time.  34
  Il y a des reproches qui louent, et des louanges qui médisent—There are censures which are commendations, and commendations which are censures.  35
  In the adversity of our best friends we always find something that does not altogether displease us.  36
  Interest blinds some people and enlightens others.  37
  Interest speaks all sorts of tongues, and plays all sorts of parts, even the part of the disinterested.  38
  It is as easy to deceive one’s self without perceiving it, as it is difficult to deceive others without their finding it out.  39
  It is difficult to feel deep veneration and great affection for one and the same person.  40
  It is easier to know man in general than men in particular.  41
  It is for want of application, rather than of means, that men fail of success.  42
  It is only people who possess firmness that can possess true gentleness.  43
  Jealousy is always born with love, but it does not always die with it.  44
  Jealousy lives upon doubts; it becomes madness or ceases entirely as soon as we past from doubt to certainty.  45
  Kings do with men as with pieces of money; they give them what value they please, and we are obliged to receive them at their current, and not at their real value.  46
  L’amour de la justice n’est, en la plus part des hommes, que la crainte de souffrir l’injustice—The love of justice is, in the majority of mankind, nothing else than the fear of suffering injustice.  47
  L’amour-propre est le plus grand de tous les flatteurs—Self-love is the greatest of all flatterers.  48
  L’esprit de la plupart des femmes sert plus à fortifier leur folie que leur raison—The wit of most women goes more to strengthen their folly than their reason.  49
  L’esprit est toujours la dupe du cœur—The mind is always the dupe of the heart.  50
  L’honneur acquis est caution de celui qu’on doit acquérir—Honour acquired is an earnest of that which is to follow.  51
  L’hypocrisie est un hommage que le vice rend à la vertu—Hypocrisy is the homage which vice renders to virtue.  52
  L’orgueil ne veut pas devoir, et l’amour-propre ne veut pas payer—Pride wishes not to owe, and self-love does not wish to pay.  53
  La clémence des princes n’est souvent qu’une politique pour gagner l’affection des peuples—The clemency of princes is often only a political manœuvre to gain the affections of their subjects.  54
  La confiance fournit plus à la conversation que l’esprit—Confidence contributes more to conversation than wit.  55
  La constance des sages n’est que l’art de renfermer leur agitation dans leur cœur—The constancy of the wise is nothing but the art of shutting up whatever might disturb them within themselves.  56
  La durée de nos passions ne dépend pas plus de nous que la durée de notre vie—The duration of our passions no more depends upon ourselves than the duration of our lives.  57
  La parfaite valeur est de faire sans témoins ce qu’on serait capable de faire devant tout le monde—Sterling worth shows itself in doing unseen what we would be capable of doing in the eye of the world.  58
  La passion fait souvent un fou du plus habile homme, et rend souvent habiles les plus sots—Love often makes a fool of the cleverest man, and often gives cleverness to the most foolish.  59
  La philosophie triomphe aisément des maux passés, et des maux à venir; mais les maux présents triomphent d’elle—Philosophy triumphs easily enough over misfortunes that are past and to come, but present misfortunes triumph over her.  60
  La vertu n’iroit pas si loin, si la vanité ne lui tenait compagnie—Virtue would not go so far if vanity did not bear her company.  61
  Le bonheur et le malheur des hommes ne dépendent pas moins de leur humeur que de la fortune—The happiness and unhappiness of men depend as much on their dispositions as on fortune.  62
  Le bonheur ou le malheur vont ordinairement à ceux qui ont le plus de l’un ou de l’autre—Good fortune or bad generally falls to those who have the greatest share of either.  63
  Le plus dangereux ridicule des vieilles personnes qui sont aimables, c’est d’oublier qu’elles ne le sont plus—For old people, however estimable, to forget that they are no longer old is to expose themselves to certain ridicule.  64
  Le plus véritable marque d’être né avec de grandes qualités, c’est d’être né sans envie—The sure mark of being born with noble qualities is being born without envy.  65
  Le silence est le parti le plus sûr pour celui qui se défie de soi-même—Silence is the safest course for the man who is diffident of himself.  66
  Le soleil ni la mort ne se peuvent regarder fixement—Neither the sun nor death can be looked at fixedly.  67
  Le travail du corps délivre des peines de l’esprit; et c’est ce qui rend les pauvres heureux—Bodily labour alleviates the pains of the mind, and hence arises the happiness of the poor.  68
  Le vrai moyen d’être trompé, c’est de se croire plus fin que les autres—The most sure way to be imposed on is to think one’s self cleverer than other people.  69
  Les esprits médiocres condamnent d’ordinaire tout ce qui passe leur portée—Men of limited intelligence generally condemn everything that is above their power of understanding.  70
  Les grandes âmes ne sont pas celles qui ont moins de passions et plus de vertus que les âmes communes, mais celles seulement qui ont de plus grands desseins—Great souls are not those who have fewer passions and more virtues than common souls, but those only who have greater designs.  71
  Les grands noms abaissent, au lieu d’élever ceux qui ne les savent pas soutenir—High titles lower, instead of raising, those who know not how to support them.  72
  Les passions sont les seuls orateurs qui persuadent toujours—The passions are the only orators which always convince us.  73
  Les querelles ne dureraient pas longtemps, si le tort n’était que d’un côté—Quarrels would not last so long if the fault lay only on one side.  74
  Les vertus se perdent dans l’intérêt comme les fleuves se perdent dans la mer—Our virtues lose themselves in our interests, as the rivers lose themselves in the ocean.  75
  Les vieillards aiment à donner de bons préceptes, pour se consoler de n’être plus en état de donner de mauvais exemples—Old men like to give good precepts, to make amends for being no longer able to set bad examples.  76
  Les vieux fous sont plus fous que les jeunes—Old fools are more foolish than young ones.  77
  Levity is a prettiness in a child, a disgraceful defect in men, and a monstrous folly in old age.  78
  Little minds are too much wounded by little things; great minds see all, and are not even hurt.  79
  Louer les princes des vertus qu’ils n’ont pas, c’est leur dire impunement des injures—To praise princes for virtues which they do not possess, is to insult them with impunity.  80
  Love, like fire, cannot subsist without continual motion, and ceases to exist as soon as it ceases to hope or fear.  81
  Lovers are never tired of each other; they always speak of themselves.  82
  Magnanimity is the good sense of pride, and the noblest way of acquiring applause.  83
  Many young persons believe themselves natural when they are really ill-mannered and coarse.  84
  Men are never so easily deceived as while they are endeavouring to deceive others.  85
  Men are oftener treacherous through weakness than design.  86
  Men more easily renounce their interests than their tastes.  87
  Men speak but little when vanity does not induce them to speak.  88
  Men would not live long in society, were they not the mutual dupes of each other.  89
  Merit in appearance is oftener rewarded than merit itself.  90
  No accidents are so unlucky that the prudent may not draw some advantage from them.  91
  No man can answer for his courage who has never been in danger.  92
  No person is either so happy or so unhappy as he imagines.  93
  Nothing is given so ungrudgingly as advice.  94
  Nothing so much prevents our being natural as the desire of appearing so.  95
  Notre défiance justifie la tromperie d’autrui—Our distrust justifies the deceit of others.  96
  Nous avons tous assez de force pour supporter les maux d’autrui—We all have strength enough to bear the misfortunes of others.  97
  Nous désirerions peu de choses avec ardeur, si nous connaissions parfaitement ce que nous désirons—We should desire few things with eagerness if we well knew the worth of what we are striving for.  98
  Nous ne trouvons guère de gens de bon sens que ceux qui sont de notre avis—We seldom find any persons of good sense except those who are of our opinion.  99
  Old age is a tyrant, who forbids, under pain of death, the pleasures of youth.  100
  On aime bien à deviner les autres, mais l’on aime pas à être deviné—We like well to see through other people, but we do not like to be seen through ourselves.  101
  On donne des conseils, mais on ne donne point la sagesse d’en profiter—We may give advice, but not the sense to profit by it.  102
  On n’est jamais si heureux, ni si malheureux qu’on se l’imagine—People are never either so happy or so miserable as they imagine.  103
  On n’est jamais si ridicule par les qualités que l’on a que par celles que l’on affecte d’avoir—We are never so ridiculous by the qualities we have as by those we affect to have.  104
  On ne doit pas juger du mérité d’un homme par ses grandes qualités, mais par l’usage qu’il en sait faire—We should not judge of the merit of a man by his great gifts, but by the use he makes of them.  105
  On ne donne rien si libéralement que ses conseils—People are not so liberal with anything as with advice.  106
  On ne loue d’ordinaire que pour être loué—Praise is generally given only that it may be returned.  107
  On ne méprise pas tous ceux qui ont des vices, mais on méprise tous ceux qui n’ont aucune vertu—We do not despise all those who have vices, but we despise all those who have no virtue.  108
  On ne se blame que pour être loué—Persons only blame themselves in order to obtain praise.  109
  On parle peu quand la vanité ne fait pas parler—People speak little when vanity does not prompt them.  110
  On peut être plus fin qu’un autre, mais non pas plus fin que tous les autres—A man may be sharper than another, but not than all others.  111
  Only great men have any business with great defects.  112
  Only people who possess firmness can possess true gentleness.  113
  Opportunity makes us known to others, but more to ourselves.  114
  Par les mêmes voies on ne va pas toujours aux mêmes fins—The same means do not always lead to the same ends.  115
  Penetration has an air of divination; it pleases our vanity more than any other quality of the mind.  116
  Peu de gens savent être vieux—Few people know how to be old.  117
  Peu de gens sont assez sages pour préférer le blame qui leur est utile, à la louange qui les trahit—Few people are wise enough to prefer censure which may be useful, to flattery which may betray them.  118
  Philosophy easily triumphs over past and future ills, but present ills triumph over philosophy.  119
  Pour exécuter de grandes choses il faut vivre comme si on ne devait jamais mourir—To achieve great things a man should so live as if he were never to die.  120
  Pour s’établir dans le monde, on fait tout ce que l’on peut pour y paraître établi—To establish himself in the world a man must do all he can to appear already established.  121
  Pride would never owe, nor self-love ever pay.  122
  Prudence and love are not made for each other; as the love increases, prudence diminishes.  123
  Quarrels would not last long if the fault were only on one side.  124
  Quelqu’éclatante que soit une action, elle ne doit passer pour grande lorsqu’elle n’est pas l’effet d’un grand dessein—An action should not be regarded as great, however brilliant it may be, if it is not the offspring of a great design.  125
  Quelque soin que l’on prenne de couvrir ses passions par des apparences de piété et l’honneur, elles paraissent toujours au travers de ces voiles—Whatever care we take to conceal our passions by show of piety and honour, they always appear through these veils.  126
  Raillery is sometimes more insupportable than wrong; because we have a right to resent injuries, but it is ridiculous to be angry at a jest.  127
  Rien n’empêche tant d’être naturel que l’envie de la paraître—Nothing so much prevents one from being natural as the desire to appear so.  128
  Rien n’est plus rare que la véritable bonté; ceux même qui croient en avoir n’ont d’ordinaire que de la complaisance ou de la faiblesse—Nothing is rarer than real goodness; those even who think they possess it are generally only good-natured and weak.  129
  S’il y a beaucoup d’art à savoir parler à propos, il n’y en a pas moins à savoir se taire—If it requires great tact to know how to speak to the purpose, it requires no less to know when to be silent.  130
  Si nous n’avions point de défauts, nous ne prendrions pas tant de plaisir à en remarquer dans les autres—If we had no faults ourselves, we should not take so much pleasure in noticing those of other people.  131
  Silence is the best resolve for him who distrusts himself.  132
  Taste may change, but inclination never.  133
  The greatest miracle of love is to eradicate flirtation.  134
  The greatest skill is shown in disguising our skill.  135
  The height of ability consists in a thorough knowledge of the real value of things, and of the genius of the age we live in.  136
  The passions are the only orators who never fail to persuade.  137
  There are people who would never have been in love if they had never heard love spoken of.  138
  There is a country accent, not in speech only, but in thought, conduct, character, and manner of existing, which never forsakes a man.  139
  Those only are despicable who fear to be despised.  140
  To be in too great a hurry to discharge an obligation is itself a kind of ingratitude.  141
  True eloquence consists in saving all that is proper, and nothing more.  142
  Truth does not do as much good in the world as the shows of it do of evil.  143
  Un homme d’esprit seroit souvent bien embarrassé sans la compagnie des sots—A man of wit would often be much embarrassed if it were not for the company of fools.  144
  Un homme toujours satisfait de lui-même, peu souvent l’est des autres; rarement on l’est de lui—A man who is always well satisfied with himself seldom is so with others, and others rarely are with him.  145
  Un sot n’a pas assez d’étoffe pour être bon—A fool has not stuff in him to turn out well.  146
  We all bear the misfortunes of other people with a heroic constancy.  147
  We are never made so ridiculous by the qualities we have as by those we affect to have.  148
  We are never so happy or so unhappy as we imagine.  149
  We give advice, but we cannot give the wisdom to profit by it.  150
  We have all strength enough to endure the troubles of others.  151
  We have more indolence in the mind than in the body.  152
  We like to see through others, but not that others should see through us.  153
  We love those who admire us, but not those whom we admire.  154
  We need greater virtues to sustain good than evil fortune.  155
  We never desire ardently what we desire rationally.  156
  We pardon as long as we love.  157
  We promise according to our hopes, and perform according to our fears.  158
  We should manage our fortune like our constitution; enjoy it when good, have patience when bad, and never apply violent remedies but in cases of necessity.  159
  We should often feel ashamed of our most brilliant actions were the world to see the motives from which they sprung.  160
  Weak persons cannot be sincere.  161
  Weakness of character is the only defect which cannot be amended.  162
  Were we to take as much pains to be what we ought to be as we do to disguise what we really are, we might appear like ourselves, without being at the trouble of any disguise at all.  163
  What makes lovers never tire of each others’ society is that they talk always about themselves.  164
  What makes vanity so insufferable to us is that it wounds our own.  165
  When our hatred is too keen, it places us beneath those we hate.  166
  When the heart is still agitated by the remains of a passion, we are more ready to receive a new one than when we are entirely cured.  167
 
 
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