Prince de Marsillac - Great Maxims

I ran into
Moral Maxims By Francois Duc De La Rochefoucauld, Prince de Marsillac.
It is a great collection of short pieces of Wisdom. Like many such collections, its lessons appear timeless even though it was written in 1693. I found myself intrigued and identifying with many of them. Not saying I agree with all of them, but I found them all interesting.

 You can find the whole book online here:

To the Maxims!

  • 12 Whatever care we take to conceal our passions under the appearances of piety and honour, they are always to be seen through these veils.
  • 20 The constancy of the wise is only the talent of concealing the agitation of their hearts. 
  • 38 We promise according to our hopes; we perform according to our fears.
  • 41 Those who apply themselves too closely to little things often become incapable of great things. 
  • 56 To establish ourselves in the world we do everything to appear as if we were established. 
  • 59 There are no accidents so unfortunate from which skilful men will not draw some advantage, nor so fortunate that foolish men will not turn them to their hurt. 
  • 62 Sincerity is an openness of heart; we find it in very few people; what we usually see is only an artful dissimulation to win the confidence of others.
  • 63 The aversion to lying is often a hidden ambition to render our words credible and weighty, and to attach a religious aspect to our conversation
  • 72 If we judge of love by the majority of its results it rather resembles hatred than friendship. 
  • 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. 
  • 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. 
  •  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. 
  • 103 Those who know their minds do not necessarily know their hearts. 
  • 113 There may be good but there are no pleasant marriages. 
  • 118 The intention of never deceiving often exposes us to deception. 
  • 121 We frequently do good to enable us with impunity to do evil. 
  • 151 It is easier to govern others than to prevent being governed.
  • 169 Idleness and fear keeps us in the path of duty, but our virtue often gets the praise.
  • 174 It is far better to accustom our mind to bear the ills we have than to speculate on those which may befall us. 
  • 195 The reason which often prevents us abandoning a single vice is having so many.
  • 201 He who thinks he has the power to content the world greatly deceives himself, but he who thinks that the world cannot be content with him deceives himself yet more.
  •  205 Virtue in woman is often the love of reputation and repose. 
  •  237 No one should be praised for his goodness if he has not strength enough to be wicked. All other goodness is but too often an idleness or powerlessness of will. 
  •  245 There is great ability in knowing how to conceal one's ability. 
  • 269 No man is clever enough to know all the evil he does. 
  • 277 Women often think they love when they do not love. The business of a love affair, the emotion of mind that sentiment induces, the natural bias towards the pleasure of being loved, the difficulty of refusing, persuades them that they have real passion when they have but flirtation. 
  •  286 It is impossible to love a second time those whom we have really ceased to love. 
  • 316 Weak persons cannot be sincere. 
  • 335 In love deceit almost always goes further than mistrust. 
  • 340 The wit of most women rather strengthens their folly than their reason. 
  • 346 If a woman's temper is beyond control there can be no control of the mind or heart. 
  • 366 However we distrust the sincerity of those whom we talk with, we always believe them more sincere with us than with others. 
  • 409 We should often be ashamed of our very best actions if the world only saw the motives which caused them.
  • 422 All passions make us commit some faults, love alone makes us ridiculous.  
  • 442 We try to make a virtue of vices we are loth to correct.
  • 445 Weakness is more hostile to virtue than vice
  • 471 In their first passion women love their lovers, in all the others they love love. 
  • 477 The same firmness that enables us to resist love enables us to make our resistance durable and lasting. So weak persons who are always excited by passions are seldom really possessed of any. 
  •  481 Nothing is rarer than true good nature, those who think they have it are generally only pliant or weak. 
  •  497 It is valueless to a woman to be young unless pretty, or to be pretty unless young. 
  •  LIX Women for the most part surrender themselves more from weakness than from passion. Whence it is that bold and pushing men succeed better than others, although they are not so loveable. 
  • LXXI The power which women whom we love have over us is greater than that which we have over ourselves. 
  • LXXXVIII.—Prudence and love are not made for each other; in the ratio that love increases, prudence diminishes. 
  • CXXV.—A man to whom no one is pleasing is much more unhappy than one who pleases nobody. 


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