Politics are a matter rather of the practical than the scientific reason, of the faculty of choice rather than of logic, of judgment rather than demonstration. Thus, treated as they are nowadays, we mistake the nature, kind and classification of politics, and make use of unfit methods and instruments.
 Filled with a gigantic pride and, like giants at enmity with the gods, this century, in all its ambitions, has taken colossal proportions; a true Leviathan among the ages, it would have liked to devour them all.
 Let our philosophy be in sympathy with antiquity and not with novelty, aiming rather at utility than brilliance, and loving to be wise rather than bold. The presumption is always in favour of what has been; for if it has lasted so long, there has been some reason for its existence and its duration, and this reason can have been nothing but its harmony with already existing things, with a need of the time, or a natural want, with some necessity in fact which will restore it if it be destroyed, or will make the absence of it be felt by some grave inconvenience.
 After the Nouvelle Héloïse young people made a pose of being lovers, as before they had done of being drinkers or fencers. It is rather to the shame of the age than to the honour of books, when it happens that romances exercise such an ascendency over habits and customs.
 Nowadays, nearly everybody excels in refinement of style; it has become a common art. The exquisite may be found everywhere, the satisfying nowhere. I should like to smell of the dungheap, said a witty woman.
 The reason why we have no poets is because we can do without them. Our taste does not insist upon them because they are essential neither to our morals, our laws, our political festivals, nor our domestic pleasures.
 Taste in literature is become so domestic, and approbation so dependent on pleasure, that in a book we look first of all for the author, and in the author for his humours and his passions. We ask that the soul of a writer should show itself with the strength and the weakness, the knowledge and the errors, the wisdom and the illusions, which bring a man down to our level, and are such as we like to find in our friends. We ask no longer for a wise guide, but for a lover or friend, or at least an actor, who shows himself off and charms our taste much more than our reason, by his part and by his play. We want books that will keep us in a good humour, not that will make us better; we ask that we should be able to touch and handle those who have written them, that they should have, in fact, flesh and blood. We have scarcely any admiration left for pure mind .