Maximes and Moral Reflections

From Short and to the Point

Maximes and Moral Reflections by François de La Rochefoucauld

50. We are never so happy, or so unhappy, as we imagine.

51. Men who fancy they have merit, take a pride in being unfortunate, to persuade others and themselves that they are worthy to be the butt of fortune.

52. Nothing ought so much to diminish the good opinion we have of ourselves as to see that we disapprove at one time what we approve at another.

53. Whatever may be the apparent difference between fortunes, there is a certain compensation of good and evil which renders them equal.

54. However great the advantages which Nature bestows on us, it is not she alone, but Fortune in conjunction with her, which makes heroes.

55. The contempt of riches among the philosophers was a hidden desire to revenge their merit for the injustice of Fortune, by contempt of the very advantages of which she deprived them. It was a secret to secure themselves from the degradation of poverty: it was a by-road to arrive at the consideration which they could not obtain by riches.

56. Hatred of favorites is nothing else than love of favor. The mortification of not possessing it, is consoled and relieved by the contempt we show of those who do possess it; and we refuse them our respect, because we cannot deprive them of what attracts the respect of the world.

57. In order to establish themselves in the world, men do all they can to appear established there.

58. Although men pride themselves on their great actions, these are often the result, not of any great design, but of chance.

59. It would seem that our actions are regulated by lucky or unlucky stars, to which they owe a great part of the praise or blame bestowed on them.

60. There are no circumstances, however unfortunate, that clever people do not extract some advantage from; and none, however fortunate, that the imprudent cannot turn to their own prejudice.

61. Fortune turns everything to the advantage of her favorites.

62. The happiness or unhappiness of men depends as much on their humors as on fortune.

The complete text of Maximes