la rochefoucauld

More maxims of François VI, Duc de La Rochefoucauld (1613–1680):

  • “We always love those who admire us; but we don’t always love those whom we admire.”
  • “There are people who would never have been in love, if they had never heard talk of Love.”
  • “The Generality of People judge of Men by their Reputation, or Fortune.”
  • “Men would not live long in Society, if they were not the mutual Dupes of one another.”
  • “Titles, instead of exalting, debase those who don’t act up to them.”
  • “Prosperity is a stronger Trial of Virtue than Adversity.”
  • “Weak People can’t be sincere.”
  • “‘Tis more difficult to be faithful to a Mistress when on good Terms with her, than when on bad.”
  • “‘Tis not so dangerous to do Ill to most Men as to do them too much Good.”
  • “A Man often imagines he acts, when he is acted upon; and while his Mind aims at one thing, his Heart insensibly gravitates towards another.”
  • “When great Men suffer themselves to be subdued by the Length of their Misfortunes, they discover that the Strength of their Ambition, not of their Understanding, was what supported them; and that, bating a little Vanity, Heroes are just like other Men.”
  • “Cunning and Treachery proceed from Want of Capacity.”
  • “If we took as much Pains to be what we ought, as we do to deceive others by disguising what we are; we might appear as we are, without being at the Trouble of any Disguise.”

And “‘Tis a Mistake to imagine that only the violent Passions, such as Ambition and Love, can triumph over the rest. Laziness, languid as it is, often masters them all; she indeed influences all our Designs and Actions, and insensibly consumes and destroys both the Passions and the Virtues.”



“There are very few things which we know, which are not capable of being reduc’d to a Mathematical Reasoning; and when they cannot it’s a sign our knowledge of them is very small and confus’d; and when a Mathematical Reasoning can be had it’s as great a folly to make use of any other, as to grope for a thing in the dark, when you have a Candle standing by you.” — John Arbuthnot, Of the Laws of Chance, 1692

The Moralist

la rochefoucauld

More maxims of La Rochefoucauld:

  • “We should often be ashamed of our best Actions, if the world saw all their Motives.”
  • “If we had no Faults ourselves, we should not take such Pleasure in observing those of others.”
  • “The Reason we are so angry with such as trick us is, because they think they have more Wit than we.”
  • “There are Heroes in Ill, as well as in Good.”
  • “There are People who are disagreeable with great Merit; and others who with great Faults are agreeable.”
  • “We easily forget Crimes that are known to none but ourselves.”
  • “To judge of Love by most of its Effects, one would think it more like Hatred than Kindness.”
  • “Our Merit procures us the Esteem of Men of Sense, and our Fortune that of the Public.”
  • “Narrowness of Mind is the Cause of Obstinacy; and we don’t easily believe beyond what we see.”
  • “Quarrels would not last long if the Fault was but on one Side.”
  • “We are not able to act up to our Reason.”
  • “Men are oftener treacherous through Weakness than Design.”
  • “Our Self-love bears with less Patience the Condemnation of our Tastes, than of our Opinions.”
  • “We are almost always tired with the Company of those whom we ought not to be tired of.”
  • “The Mind, thro’ Laziness and Constancy, fixes on what is easy or agreeable to it. This Habit bounds our Knowledge; and no Man has ever given himself the trouble to extend and carry his Genius as far as it was capable of going.”

And “Few People are well-acquainted with Death. ‘Tis generally submitted to thro’ Stupidity and Custom, not Resolution; and most Men die merely because they can’t help it.”

Near and Far

More proverbs from around the world:

  • A lover should be regarded as a person demented. (Roman)
  • Great politeness means “I want something.” (Chinese)
  • Large desire is endless poverty. (India)
  • A short rest is always good. (Danish)
  • A stumble is not a fall. (Haitian)
  • Abroad one has a hundred eyes, at home not one. (German)
  • The church is near, but the way is icy; the tavern is far, but I will walk carefully. (Ukrainian)
  • A bully is always a coward. (Spanish)
  • Failure is the source of success. (Japanese)
  • The greater part of humankind is bad. (Greek)
  • The inside is different from the outside. (Korean)
  • You are as many a person as languages you know. (Armenian)
  • By getting angry, you show you are wrong. (Madagascar)
  • Life is a road with a lot of signs. (Jamaican)
  • Old age does not announce itself. (Zulu)
  • Whether small or large, a snake cannot be used as a belt. (Yoruban)
  • He that is too smart is surely done for. (Yiddish)

Worldly Wise

Proverbs from around the world:

  • A pretty basket does not prevent worries. (Congo)
  • Good painters need not give a name to their pictures; bad ones must. (Poland)
  • Sickness comes riding on horseback and goes away on foot. (Belgium)
  • The spectator is a great hero. (Afghanistan)
  • Those who have to go ten miles must regard nine as only halfway. (Germany)
  • The world is dark an inch ahead. (Japan)
  • Those who place their ladder too steeply will easily fall backward. (Czech Republic)
  • All the wealth of the world is in the weather. (Scotland)
  • Those whose mother is naked are not likely to clothe their aunt. (Sudan)
  • To be in the habit of no habit is the worst habit in the world. (Wales)
  • What is bad luck for one is good luck for another. (Ghana)
  • Good luck is the guardian of the stupid. (Sweden)
  • A change is as good as a rest. (England)
  • Good scribes are not those who write well, but who erase well. (Russia)
  • There is no such thing as a pretty good omelette. (France)
  • Of all the thirty-six alternatives, running away is the best. (China)