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    La Rochefoucauld, Francois


Before we set our hearts too much on anything, let us examine how happy are those who already possess it.

François VI, duc de La Rochefoucauld (1613-1680) French epigrammatist, memoirist, noble
(Attributed)
 
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Those who are incapable of committing great crimes do not readily suspect them in others.

François VI, duc de La Rochefoucauld (1613-1680) French epigrammatist, memoirist, noble
(Attributed)
 
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Behind many acts that are thought ridiculous there lie wise and weighty motives.

[Il y a une infinité de conduites qui paraissent ridicules, et dont les raisons cachées sont très sages et très solides.]

François VI, duc de La Rochefoucauld (1613-1680) French epigrammatist, memoirist, noble
(Attributed)
 
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A small degree of wit, accompanied by good sense, is less tiresome in the long run than a great amount of wit without it.

François VI, duc de La Rochefoucauld (1613-1680) French epigrammatist, memoirist, noble
(Attributed)
 
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When we are unable to find tranquility within ourselves, it is useless to seek it elsewhere.

François VI, duc de La Rochefoucauld (1613-1680) French epigrammatist, memoirist, noble
(Attributed)
 
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We are so accustomed to disguise ourselves to others that in the end we become disguised to ourselves.

François VI, duc de La Rochefoucauld (1613-1680) French epigrammatist, memoirist, noble
(Attributed)
 
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If we had no faults of our own, we would not take so much pleasure in noticing those of others.

François VI, duc de La Rochefoucauld (1613-1680) French epigrammatist, memoirist, noble
Réflexions ou sentences et maximes morales [Maxims] (1665-1678)
 
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There is nothing more horrible than the murder of a beautiful theory by a brutal gang of facts.

François VI, duc de La Rochefoucauld (1613-1680) French epigrammatist, memoirist, noble
Réflexions ou sentences et maximes morales [Maxims] (1665-1678)
 
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In the adversity of our best friends we often find something which does not displease us.

François VI, duc de La Rochefoucauld (1613-1680) French epigrammatist, memoirist, noble
Réflexions ou sentences et maximes morales [Maxims] (1665-1678)
 
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To listen closely and reply well is the highest perfection we are able to attain in the art of conversation.

François VI, duc de La Rochefoucauld (1613-1680) French epigrammatist, memoirist, noble
Réflexions ou sentences et maximes morales [Maxims] (1665-1678)
 
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Although men flatter themselves with their great actions, they are not so often the result of a great design as of chance.

François VI, duc de La Rochefoucauld (1613-1680) French epigrammatist, memoirist, noble
Réflexions ou sentences et maximes morales [Maxims] (1665-1678)
 
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We all have enough strength to endure the misfortunes of others.

[Nous avons tous assez de force pour supporter les maux d’autrui.]

François VI, duc de La Rochefoucauld (1613-1680) French epigrammatist, memoirist, noble
Réflexions ou sentences et maximes morales [Maxims] (1665-1678) [tr. E. Stack (1956)]
 
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Hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue.

[L’hypocrisie est un hommage que le vice rend à la vertu.]

François VI, duc de La Rochefoucauld (1613-1680) French epigrammatist, memoirist, noble
Réflexions ou sentences et maximes morales [Maxims], ¶ 218 (1665-1678) [tr. FitzGibbon (1957)]
    (Source)

(Source (French)). Alternate translations:

Hypocrisie is a Sort of Homage which Vice pays to Vertue.
[tr. Stanhope (1694), ¶ 219]

Hypocrisy is the homage that vice pays to virtue.
[pub. Donaldson (1783), ¶ 231; ed. Lepoittevin-Lacroix (1797), ¶ 209; ed. Carville (1835), ¶ 449; tr. Bund/Friswell (1871), ¶ 218]

Hypocrisy is the homage that vice renders to virtue.
[ed. Gowens (1851), ¶ 227]

Hypocrisy is a tribute vice pays to virtue.
[tr. Heard (1917), ¶ 223; tr Tancock (1959), ¶ 218]

Hypocrisy is a sort of homage which vice pays to virtue.
[tr. Stevens (1939), ¶ 218]

Hypocrisy is the homage vice offers to virtue.
[tr. Kronenberger (1959), ¶ 218]

Hypocrisy is a form of homage that vice pays to virtue.
[tr. Whichello (2016), ¶ 218]

 
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True love is like ghosts, which everyone talks about and few have seen.

[Il est du véritable amour comme de l’apparition des esprits tout le monde en parle, mais peu de gens en ont vu.]

François VI, duc de La Rochefoucauld (1613-1680) French epigrammatist, memoirist, noble
Réflexions ou sentences et maximes morales [Maxims], # 76 (1665-1678)
 
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The love of justice in most men is simply the fear of suffering injustice.

[L’amour de la justice n’est en la plupart des hommes que la crainte de souffrir l’injustice.]

François VI, duc de La Rochefoucauld (1613-1680) French epigrammatist, memoirist, noble
Réflexions ou sentences et maximes morales [Maxims], # 78 (1665-1678)
 
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Everyone complains of his memory, but no one complains of his judgment.

[Tout le monde se plaint de sa mémoire, et personne ne se plaint de son jugement.]

François VI, duc de La Rochefoucauld (1613-1680) French epigrammatist, memoirist, noble
Réflexions ou sentences et maximes morales [Maxims], # 89 (1665-1678)

Alt. trans: "Everybody complains of his memory, but nobody of his judgment." [tr. Tancock (1959)]
 
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Old men are fond of giving advice, to console themselves for being no longer in a position to give bad examples.

[Les vieillards aiment à donner de bons préceptes, pour se consoler de n’être plus en état de donner de mauvais exemples.]

François VI, duc de La Rochefoucauld (1613-1680) French epigrammatist, memoirist, noble
Réflexions ou sentences et maximes morales [Maxims], # 93 (1665-1678)
 
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He who imagines he can do without the world deceives himself much; but he who fancies the world cannot do without him is still more mistaken.

François VI, duc de La Rochefoucauld (1613-1680) French epigrammatist, memoirist, noble
Réflexions ou sentences et maximes morales [Maxims], # 93 (1665-1678)
 
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Old people are fond of giving good advice; it consoles them for no longer being capable of setting a bad example.

François VI, duc de La Rochefoucauld (1613-1680) French epigrammatist, memoirist, noble
Réflexions ou sentences et maximes morales [Maxims], # 93 (1665-1678) (tr. L. Tancock (1999))
 
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It often happens that things come into the mind in a much more finished form than could have been achieved after much study.

François VI, duc de La Rochefoucauld (1613-1680) French epigrammatist, memoirist, noble
Réflexions ou sentences et maximes morales [Maxims], #101 (1665-1678) [tr. L. Tancock (1959)]
 
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Not all those who know their minds know their hearts as well.

[Tous ceux qui connaissent leur esprit ne connaissent pas leur coeur.]

François VI, duc de La Rochefoucauld (1613-1680) French epigrammatist, memoirist, noble
Réflexions ou sentences et maximes morales [Maxims], #103 (1665-1678)
 
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With nothing are we so generous as advice.

François VI, duc de La Rochefoucauld (1613-1680) French epigrammatist, memoirist, noble
Réflexions ou sentences et maximes morales [Maxims], #110 (1665-1678) [tr. Kronenberger (1959)]
 
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‘Tis as easy to deceive one’s self without perceiving it, as it is difficult to deceive others without being perceived.

[Il est aussi facile de se tromper soi-même sans s’en apercevoir qu’il est difficile de tromper les autres sans qu’ils s’en aperçoivent.]

François VI, duc de La Rochefoucauld (1613-1680) French epigrammatist, memoirist, noble
Réflexions ou sentences et maximes morales [Maxims], #115 (1665-1678)
 
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Men are oftener treacherous out of weakness than out of any formed design.

[L’on fait plus souvent des trahisons par faiblesse que par un dessein formé de trahir.]

François VI, duc de La Rochefoucauld (1613-1680) French epigrammatist, memoirist, noble
Réflexions ou sentences et maximes morales [Maxims], #120 (1665-1678)
 
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Tricks and treachery are merely proof of lack of skill.

[Les finesses et les trahisons ne viennent que de manque d’habileté.]

François VI, duc de La Rochefoucauld (1613-1680) French epigrammatist, memoirist, noble
Réflexions ou sentences et maximes morales [Maxims], #126 (1665-1678)
 
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The true way to be deceived is to think oneself more clever than others.

[Le vrai moyen d’être trompé, c’est de se croire plus fin que les autres.]

François VI, duc de La Rochefoucauld (1613-1680) French epigrammatist, memoirist, noble
Réflexions ou sentences et maximes morales [Maxims], #127 (1665-1678)
 
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Those qualities we have do not make us so ridiculous as those which we affect.

[On n’est jamais si ridicule par les qualités que l’on a que par celles que l’on affecte d’avoir.]

François VI, duc de La Rochefoucauld (1613-1680) French epigrammatist, memoirist, noble
Réflexions ou sentences et maximes morales [Maxims], #134 (1665-1678)
 
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One of the reasons so few people are to be found who seem sensible and pleasant in conversation is that almost everybody is thinking about what he wants to say himself rather than about answering clearly what is being said to him.

François VI, duc de La Rochefoucauld (1613-1680) French epigrammatist, memoirist, noble
Réflexions ou sentences et maximes morales [Maxims], #139 (1665-1678) [tr. L. Tancock (1959)]
 
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As the stamp of great minds is to suggest much in a few words, so, contrariwise, little minds have the gift of talking a great deal and saying nothing.

François VI, duc de La Rochefoucauld (1613-1680) French epigrammatist, memoirist, noble
Réflexions ou sentences et maximes morales [Maxims], #142 (1665) [tr. Tancock (1959)]
    (Source)
 
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There are reproaches that compliment, and compliments that disparage.

François VI, duc de La Rochefoucauld (1613-1680) French epigrammatist, memoirist, noble
Réflexions ou sentences et maximes morales [Maxims], #148 (1665) [tr. Kronenberger (1959)]
 
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The glory of great men must always be measured against the means they have used to acquire it.

François VI, duc de La Rochefoucauld (1613-1680) French epigrammatist, memoirist, noble
Réflexions ou sentences et maximes morales [Maxims], #157 (1665-1678) [tr. Tancock (1959)]

Alt. trans.:

  • "The fame of great men ought to be judged always by the means they used to acquire it."
  • "The glory of a great man ought always to be estimated by the means used to acquire it."
 
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Flattery is counterfeit money which, but for vanity, would have no circulation.

[La flatterie est une fausse monnaie qui n’a de cours que par notre vanité]

François VI, duc de La Rochefoucauld (1613-1680) French epigrammatist, memoirist, noble
Réflexions ou sentences et maximes morales [Maxims], #158 (1665-1678) [tr. Kronenberger (1959)]
 
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True bravery is shown by performing without witness what one might be capable of doing before all the world!

François VI, duc de La Rochefoucauld (1613-1680) French epigrammatist, memoirist, noble
Réflexions ou sentences et maximes morales [Maxims], #216 (1665-1678)
 
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Fortunate people seldom mend their ways, for when good luck crowns their misdeeds with success they think it is because they are right.

François VI, duc de La Rochefoucauld (1613-1680) French epigrammatist, memoirist, noble
Réflexions ou sentences et maximes morales [Maxims], #227 (1665-1678) [tr. Tancock (1959)]
 
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Nothing is so contagious as an example, and our every really good or bad action inspires a similar one.

François VI, duc de La Rochefoucauld (1613-1680) French epigrammatist, memoirist, noble
Réflexions ou sentences et maximes morales [Maxims], #230 (1665-1678) [tr. Tancock (1959)]
 
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It is exceedingly clever to know how to hide your cleverness.

François VI, duc de La Rochefoucauld (1613-1680) French epigrammatist, memoirist, noble
Réflexions ou sentences et maximes morales [Maxims], #245 (1665-1678) [tr. L. Kronenberger (1959)]
 
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We try to make virtues out of the faults we have no wish to correct.

François VI, duc de La Rochefoucauld (1613-1680) French epigrammatist, memoirist, noble
Réflexions ou sentences et maximes morales [Maxims], #251 (1665-1678) [tr. Tancock (1959)]
 
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Self-interest sets in motion virtues and vices of all kinds.

François VI, duc de La Rochefoucauld (1613-1680) French epigrammatist, memoirist, noble
Réflexions ou sentences et maximes morales [Maxims], #263 (1665-1678) [tr. Tancock (1959)]
 
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Few men are sufficiently discerning to appreciate all the evil they do.

François VI, duc de La Rochefoucauld (1613-1680) French epigrammatist, memoirist, noble
Réflexions ou sentences et maximes morales [Maxims], #269 (1665-1678) [tr. Tancock (1959)]
 
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Absence diminishes mediocre passions and increases great ones, as the wind blows out candles and fans flames.

[L’absence diminue les médiocres passions, et augmente les grandes, comme le vent éteint les bougies et allume le feu.]

François VI, duc de La Rochefoucauld (1613-1680) French epigrammatist, memoirist, noble
Réflexions ou sentences et maximes morales [Maxims], #276 (1665-1678)

Alt. trans.: "Absence lessens the minor passions and increases the great ones, as the wind douses a candle and kindles a fire."

(See DeBussy)
 
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We often forgive those who bore us, but we cannot forgive those who find us boring.

[Nous pardonnons souvent à ceux qui nous ennuient, mais nous ne pouvons pardonner à ceux que nous ennuyons.]

François VI, duc de La Rochefoucauld (1613-1680) French epigrammatist, memoirist, noble
Réflexions ou sentences et maximes morales [Maxims], #304 (1665-1678) [tr. L. Tancock (1959)]
 
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Moderation has been declared a virtue so as to curb the ambition of the great and console lesser folk for their lack of fortune and merit.

François VI, duc de La Rochefoucauld (1613-1680) French epigrammatist, memoirist, noble
Réflexions ou sentences et maximes morales [Maxims], #308 (1665-1678) [tr. Tancock (1959)]
 
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The world oftener rewards the appearances of merit than merit itself.

François VI, duc de La Rochefoucauld (1613-1680) French epigrammatist, memoirist, noble
Réflexions ou sentences et maximes morales [Maxims], #312 (1665-1678)
    (Source)
 
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Why is it that we have enough memory to recall the most trivial occurrences that have happened to us, but not enough memory to remind us how often we have told them to the same person?

[Pourquoi faut-il que nous ayons assez de mémoire pour retenir jusqu’aux moindres particularités de ce qui nous est arrivé, et que nous n’en ayons pas assez pour nous souvenir combien de fois nous les avons contées à une même personne?]

François VI, duc de La Rochefoucauld (1613-1680) French epigrammatist, memoirist, noble
Réflexions ou sentences et maximes morales [Maxims], #313 (1665-1678)
 
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It is no tragedy to do ungrateful people favors, but it is unbearable to be indebted to a scoundrel.

[Ce n’est pas un grand malheur d’obliger des ingrats, mais c’en est un insupportable d’être obligé à un malhonnête homme.]

François VI, duc de La Rochefoucauld (1613-1680) French epigrammatist, memoirist, noble
Réflexions ou sentences et maximes morales [Maxims], #317 (1665-1678)
 
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We own up to minor failings, but only so as to convince others that we have no major ones.

[Nous n’avouons de petits défauts que pour persuader que nous n’en avons pas de grands.]

François VI, duc de La Rochefoucauld (1613-1680) French epigrammatist, memoirist, noble
Réflexions ou sentences et maximes morales [Maxims], #327 (1665-1678) [tr. L. Tancock (1959)]

Alt. trans.: "We confess to little faults only to persuade ourselves that we have no great ones."
 
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Circumstances reveal us to others and still more to ourselves.

François VI, duc de La Rochefoucauld (1613-1680) French epigrammatist, memoirist, noble
Réflexions ou sentences et maximes morales [Maxims], #345 (1665-1678) [tr. L. Tancock (1959)]
 
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We rarely find that people have good sense unless they agree with us.

François VI, duc de La Rochefoucauld (1613-1680) French epigrammatist, memoirist, noble
Réflexions ou sentences et maximes morales [Maxims], #347 (1665-1678)

Alt. trans.: "We hardly find any persons of good sense save those who agree with us."
 
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Mediocre minds dismiss anything which reaches beyond their own understanding.

François VI, duc de La Rochefoucauld (1613-1680) French epigrammatist, memoirist, noble
Réflexions ou sentences et maximes morales [Maxims], #375 (1665-1678)
 
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We should often blush at our noblest deeds if the world were to see all their underlying motives.

François VI, duc de La Rochefoucauld (1613-1680) French epigrammatist, memoirist, noble
Réflexions ou sentences et maximes morales [Maxims], #409 (1665-1678) [tr. Tancock (1959)]
 
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Almost all our faults are more pardonable than the methods we resort to hide them.

[On n’a guère de défauts qui ne soient plus pardonnables que les moyens dont on se sert pour les cacher.]

François VI, duc de La Rochefoucauld (1613-1680) French epigrammatist, memoirist, noble
Réflexions ou sentences et maximes morales [Maxims], #411 (1665-1678) (1665)
 
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Self-confidence adds more to conversation than wit.

François VI, duc de La Rochefoucauld (1613-1680) French epigrammatist, memoirist, noble
Réflexions ou sentences et maximes morales [Maxims], #421 (1665-1678) [tr. Kronenberger (1959)]
 
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We try to make virtues of those faults that we do not wish to correct.

[Nous essayons de nous faire honneur des défauts que nous ne voulons pas corriger.]

François VI, duc de La Rochefoucauld (1613-1680) French epigrammatist, memoirist, noble
Réflexions ou sentences et maximes morales [Maxims], #442 (1665-1678)
 
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Some people’s faults are becoming, other people’s virtues prove drawbacks.

François VI, duc de La Rochefoucauld (1613-1680) French epigrammatist, memoirist, noble
Réflexions ou sentences et maximes morales [Maxims], #442 (1665-1678) [tr. Tancock (1959)]
 
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In affairs of importance a man should concentrate not so much on making opportunities as on taking advantages of those that arise.

François VI, duc de La Rochefoucauld (1613-1680) French epigrammatist, memoirist, noble
Réflexions ou sentences et maximes morales [Maxims], #453 (1665-1678) [tr. Tancock (1959)]
 
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Our enemies come nearer the truth in the opinions they form of us than we do in our opinion of ourselves.

[Nous essayons de nous faire honneur des défauts que nous ne voulons pas corriger.]

François VI, duc de La Rochefoucauld (1613-1680) French epigrammatist, memoirist, noble
Réflexions ou sentences et maximes morales [Maxims], #458 (1665-1678)
 
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Quarrels would not last long if the fault were on one side only.

[Les querelles ne dureraient pas longtemps, si le tort n’était que d’un côté.]

François VI, duc de La Rochefoucauld (1613-1680) French epigrammatist, memoirist, noble
Réflexions ou sentences et maximes morales [Maxims], #496 (1665-1678) [tr. Tancock (1959)]

Alt. trans.:
  • "Quarrels would not last so long if the fault were only on one side."
  • "Quarrels would not last long if the fault were only on one side."
 
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How can we expect somebody else to keep our secret if we cannot keep it ourselves?

François VI, duc de La Rochefoucauld (1613-1680) French epigrammatist, memoirist, noble
Réflexions ou sentences et maximes morales [Maxims], #584 (1665-1678) [tr. Tancock (1959)]
 
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Self-confidence is at the root of most of our confidence in others.

François VI, duc de La Rochefoucauld (1613-1680) French epigrammatist, memoirist, noble
Réflexions ou sentences et maximes morales [Maxims], #624 (1665-1678) [tr. L. Tancock (1959)]
 
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To safeguard one’s health at the cost of too strict a diet is a tiresome illness indeed.

François VI, duc de La Rochefoucauld (1613-1680) French epigrammatist, memoirist, noble
Réflexions ou sentences et maximes morales [Maxims], #633 (1665-1678) (1665) [tr. Tancock (1959)]
 
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Ambitious Men cheat themselves, when they fix upon any Ends for their Ambition; those Ends, when they are attained to, are converted into Means, subordinate to something farther.

François VI, duc de La Rochefoucauld (1613-1680) French epigrammatist, memoirist, noble
Réflexions ou sentences et maximes morales [Reflections; or Sentences and Moral Maxims] (1665-1678) [tr. Stanhope (1694), Part 4, ¶65]
    (Source)

Reported in multiple translations, but no modern ones. I cannot find the analog for it, the French original, or the "official" number.

Appears in the 1706 (Powell) ed. of Stanhope as ¶711.

Alternate translations:

The ambitious deceive themselves in proposing an end to their ambition; for that end, when attained, becomes a means.
[pub. Donaldson (1783), ¶32]

When the ambitious propose an end to their ambition, they deceive themselves; for, when attained, the end becomes a mean.
[ed. Carville (1835), ¶29]

 
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And it is not always because of valour or chastity that men are valiant or women chaste.
 
[Et ce n’est pas toujours par valeur et par chasteté que les hommes sont vaillants et que les femmes sont chastes.]

François VI, duc de La Rochefoucauld (1613-1680) French epigrammatist, memoirist, noble
Réflexions ou sentences et maximes morales [Reflections; or Sentences and Moral Maxims], ¶1 (1665-1678) [tr. Tancock (1959)]
    (Source)

Introduced in the 4th ed. (1665).

(Source (French)). Alternate translations:

It may be further affirmed, that Valour in Men, and Chastity in Women, two qualifications which make so much noise in the World, are the products of Vanity and Shame, and principally of their particular Temperaments.
[tr. Davies (1669), ¶94]

And we are much mistaken, if we think that Men are always stout from a principle of Valour, or Women chast from a principle of Modesty.
[tr. Stanhope (1694)]

It is not always from the principles of valour and chastity that men are valiant, and that women are chaste.
[pub. Donaldson (1783), ¶446]

It is not always from valor and from chastity that men are valiant, and that women are chaste.
[ed. Gowens (1851), ¶2]

It is not always from valour or from chastity that men are brave, and women chaste.
[tr. Bund/Friswell (1871)]

Men are not always brave because courageous, nor women chaste because virtuous.
[tr. Heard (1917)]

So it is not always courage that makes the hero, nor modesty the chaste woman.
[tr. Stevens (1939)]

It is not always valor which makes men valiant, nor chastity that renders women chaste.
[tr. FitzGibbon (1957)]

And it is not always through valor and chastity that men are valiant and women chaste.
[tr. Kronenberger (1959)]

It is not always because of bravery or chastity that men are brave, and women chaste.
[tr. Whichello (2016)]

 
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Pride plays a greater part than kindness in our censure of a neighbor’s faults. We criticize faults less to correct them, than to prove that we do not possess them.

[L’orgueil a plus de part que la bonté aux remontrances que nous faisons à ceux qui commettent des fautes; et nous ne les reprenons pas tant pour les en corriger que pour leur persuader que nous en sommes exempts.]

François VI, duc de La Rochefoucauld (1613-1680) French epigrammatist, memoirist, noble
Réflexions ou sentences et maximes morales [Reflections; or Sentences and Moral Maxims], ¶37 (1665-1678) [tr. Heard (1917)]
    (Source)

Present from the first edition. (Source (French)). Alternate translations:

We are liberal of our remonstrances and reprehensions towards those, whom we think guilty of miscarriages; but we therein betray more pride, than charity. Our reproving them does not so much proceed from any desire in us of their reformation, as from an insinuation that we our selves are not chargeable with the like faults.
[tr. Davies (1669), ¶142]

Pride hath a greater share than Goodness in the reproofs we give other people for their faults; and we chide them, not so much with a design to mend them, as to make them believe that we ourselves are not guilty of them.
[tr. Stanhope (1694), ¶38]

Pride is more concerned than benevolence in our remonstrances to persons guilty of faults; and we reprove them not so much with a design to correct, as to make them believe that we ourselves are free from such failings.
[pub. Donaldson (1783), ¶349; ed. Lepoittevin-Lacroix (1797), ¶37]

In our reprehensions, pride has a greater share than good nature. We reprove, not so much in order to correct, as to intimate that we hold ourselves free from such failings.
[ed. Carville (1835), ¶309]

Pride has a greater share than goodness of heart in the remonstrances we make to those who are guilty of faults; we reprove not so much with a view to correct them as to persuade them that we are exempt from those faults ourselves.
[ed. Gowens (1851), ¶38]

Pride has a larger part than goodness in our remonstrances with those who commit faults, and we reprove them not so much to correct as to persuade them that we ourselves are free from faults.
[tr. Bund/Friswell (1871), ¶37]

Pride, rather than virtue, makes us reprove those who have done wrong; our reproaches are not so much intended to improve the evil-doer, as to show him that we are quite free of his taint.
[tr. FitzGibbon (1957), ¶37]

Pride plays a greater part than kindness in our remonstrating with those who make mistakes; and we point out their faults, less to correct them than to indicate they are not ours.
[tr. Kronenberger (1959), ¶37]

Pride plays a greater part than kindness in the reprimands we address to wrongdoers; we reprove them not so much to reform them as to make them believe that we are free from their faults.
[tr. Tancock (1959), ¶37]

Pride shares a greater part than the goodness of our hearts in the reprimands we give to those who commit faults; and we do not reprove so much in order to correct them, as in order to persuade them that we are ourselves exempt from those faults.
[tr. Whichello (2016), ¶37]

 
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People who are too much concerned with little things usually become incapable of big ones.
 
[Ceux qui s’appliquent trop aux petites choses deviennent ordinairement incapables des grandes.]

François VI, duc de La Rochefoucauld (1613-1680) French epigrammatist, memoirist, noble
Réflexions ou sentences et maximes morales [Reflections; or Sentences and Moral Maxims], ¶41 (1665-1678) [tr. Kronenberger (1959)]
    (Source)

Present from the 1665 edition. See here for more discussion (English).

(Source (French)). Alternate translations:

They that use to employ their minds too much upon Trifles, commonly make themselves incapable of any thing that is serious or great.
[tr. Stanhope (1694), ¶42]

Those who apply themselves too much to little things, commonly become incapable of great ones.
[pub. Donaldson (1783), ¶38; ed. Lepoittevin-Lacroix (1797), ¶41]]

Those who apply themselves much to little things, commonly become incapable of great ones.
[ed. Carville (1835), ¶35]

Those who bestow too much application on trifling things, become generally incapable of great ones.
[ed. Gowens (1851), ¶42]

Those who apply themselves too closely to little things often become incapable of great things.
[tr. Bund/Friswell (1871)]

Undue attention to details tends to unfit us for greater enterprises.
[tr. Heard (1917)]

Too close attention to trifles generally breeds incapacity in matters of moment.
[tr. Stevens (1939)]

Men too involved in details usually become unable to deal with great matters.
[tr. FitzGibbon (1957)]

People too much taken up with little things usually become incapable of big ones.
[tr. Tancock (1959)]

Those who apply themselves too much to little things, ordinarily become incapable of great ones.
[tr. Whichello (2016)]

 
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We are never quite as happy, or as unhappy, as we think.

[On n’est jamais si heureux ni si malheureux qu’on s’imagine.]

François VI, duc de La Rochefoucauld (1613-1680) French epigrammatist, memoirist, noble
Réflexions ou sentences et maximes morales [Reflections; or Sentences and Moral Maxims], ¶49 (1665-1678) [tr. FitzGibbon (1957)]
    (Source)

Present in the first edition. In the first four editions, the concluding words were "... que l’on pense [whatever one thinks]." In the manuscript, this maxim read:

One is never so unhappy as one fears, nor so happy as one hopes.
[On n’est jamais si malheureux qu’on craint, ni si heureux qu’on espère.] 

Another manuscript version is what the Davies translation below derives from:

Les biens et les maux sont plus grands dans notre imagination qu’ils ne le sont en effet, et on n’est jamais si heureux ni si malheureux que l’on pense.

Above notes. (Source (French)). Alternate translations:

Goods and Evils are much greater in our imaginations of them, than they are in effect; and men are never so happy or unhappy, as they think themselves.
[tr. Davies (1669), ¶128; see above.]

None are either so happy or so unhappy, as they imagine.
[pub. Donaldson (1783), ¶211; ed. Lepoittevin-Lacroix (1797), ¶49]

No person is either so happy;, or so unhappy, as he imagines.
[ed. Carville (1835), ¶184]

We are never so happy, or so unhappy, as we imagine.
[ed. Gowens (1851), ¶50]

We are never so happy or so unhappy as we suppose.
[tr. Bund/Friswell (1871); tr. Stevens (1939)]

We are never as happy or unhappy as we think.
[tr. Heard (1917)]

We are never so happy or so unhappy as we think.
[tr. Kronenberger (1959)]

We are never as fortunate or as unfortunate as we suppose.
[tr. Tancock (1959)]

We are never so happy nor so unhappy as we imagine.
[tr. Whichello (2016)]

 
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Scorn for wealth among philosophers was at bottom a desire to avenge themselves against fate, by despising the very things of which she deprived them. It was a strategic way of avoiding the humiliations of poverty, a roundabout way of gaining an esteem they could not gain through wealth.

[Le mépris des richesses était dans les philosophes un désir cache de venger leur mérite de l’injustice de la fortune par le mépris des mêmes biens dont elle les privait; c’était un secret pour se garantir de l’avilissement de la pauvreté; c’était un chemin détourné pour aller à la considération qu’ils ne pouvaient avoir par les richesses.]

François VI, duc de La Rochefoucauld (1613-1680) French epigrammatist, memoirist, noble
Réflexions ou sentences et maximes morales [Reflections; or Sentences and Moral Maxims], ¶54 (1665-1678) [tr. Kronenberger (1959)]
    (Source)

This maxim appeared in the first edition, with various small modifications across subsequent editions.

(Source (French)). Alternate translations:

The contempt of wealth, in the Philosophers, was a secret desire of vindicating their merit, against the injustice of Fortune, by an affected slighting of those goods, whereof she depriv'd them. It was an humorous secret, which they had found out, to indemnifie themselves from the disparagement accessory to Poverty. In fine, it was a winding path, or by-way to get into that esteem, which they could not obtain by Riches.
[tr. Davies (1669), ¶170]

When the Philosophers despised Riches, it was because they had a mind to vindicate their own Merit, and take a Revenge upon the injustice of Fortune, by vilifying those Enjoyments which She had not given them: This was a secret to ward off the Contempt that Poverty brings, a kind of winding By-path to get into the Esteem of the World, and when Riches had not made them considerable, to make themselves so some other way.
[tr. Stanhope (1694), ¶55]

The contempt of riches in the philosophers was a concealed desire of revenging on Fortune the injustice done to their merit, by despising the good she denied them. It was a secret to shelter them from the ignominy of poverty ; a bye-way to arrive at the esteem they could not procure by wealth.
[pub. Donaldson (1783), ¶341; ed. Lepoittevin-Lacroix (1797), ¶54]

Contempt of riches in the old philosophers was a concealed desire of revenge, by despising the good which Fortune had denied them. It was an artful shelter from the disgrace of poverty: a by-way to arrive at that esteem which they could not procure by wealth.
[ed. Carville (1835), ¶301]

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 that consideration which they could not obtain by riches.
[ed. Gowens (1851), ¶55]

The contempt of riches in philosophers was only a hidden desire to avenge their merit upon the injustice of fortune, by despising the very goods of which fortune had deprived them; it was a secret to guard themselves against the degradation of poverty, it was a back way by which to arrive at that distinction which they could not gain by riches.
[tr. Bund/Friswell (1871)]

The Philosophers' scorn of wealth was but their secret ambition to exalt their merit above fortune by deriding those blessings which Fate denied them. It was a ruse to shield them from the sordidness of poverty, and a subterfuge to attain that distinction which they could not achieve by wealth.
[tr. Heard (1917)]

Contempt of wealth was, among the early philosophers, due to a secret desire to vindicate their worth agaiunst the malignity of fate, by affecting to despise those very gifts of which it deprived them. It was a means of insurance against the ignominy of poverty, a round-about way of acquiring the esteem they were unable to command by the possession of wealth.
[tr. Stevens (1939)]

Philosophers have expressed their contempt for material riches; they thus reveal their wish to vindicate their merit on their fate by displaying their contempt for those gifts which fate has withheld from them; it is a secret remedy to save them from those degradations which poverty entails; it is also an indirect method for obtaining that respect which they cannot gain through wealth.
[tr. FitzGibbon (1957)]

The scorn for riches displayed by the philosophers was a secrete desire to recompense their own merit for the injustice of Fortune by scorning those very benefits she had denied them; it it was a private way of remaining unsullied by poverty, a devious path towards the high respect they could not command by wealth.
[tr. Tancock (1959)]

The contempt which philosophers professed for wealth, was but a hidden desire of getting revenge for their merit upon the injustice of Fortune, by despising those goods of which she had deprived them: it was a secret by which to protect themselves against the degradation of poverty; it was an alternate path by which to gain that consideration which they had not been able to attain through riches.
[tr. Whichello (2016)]

 
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No occurrences are so unfortunate that the shrewd cannot turn them to some advantage, nor so fortunate that the imprudent cannot turn them to their own disadvantage.
 
[Il n’y a point d’accidents si malheureux dont les habiles gens ne tirent quelque avantage, ni de si heureux que les imprudents ne puissent tourner à leur préjudice.]

François VI, duc de La Rochefoucauld (1613-1680) French epigrammatist, memoirist, noble
Réflexions ou sentences et maximes morales [Reflections; or Sentences and Moral Maxims], ¶59 (1665-1678) [tr. Tancock (1959)]
    (Source)

Present in the original 1665 edition. In manuscript, this was originally drafted as:

One could say that there are no lucky or unfortunate accidents, because clever people know how to take advantage of bad ones, and the imprudent very often turn the most advantageous harm to themselves.

[On pourrait dire qu’il n’y a point d’heurcux ni de malheureux accidents, parce que les habiles gens savent profiter des mauvais, et que les imprudents tournent bien souvent à leur préjudice les plus avantageux.]

(Source (French)). Alternate translations:

It may be affirm'd that either there are not any happy or unhappy accidents, or that all accidents are both happy and unhappy, inasmuch as the prudent know how to make their advantages of the bad, and the imprudent many times turn the most advantageous emergencies to their own prejudice.
[tr. Davies (1669), ¶128]

There is no accident so exquisitely unfortunate, but wise Men will make some advantage of it; nor any so entirely fortunate, but Fools may turn it to their own prejudice.
[tr. Stanhope (1694), ¶60]

No accidents are so unlucky, but that the prudent may draw some advantage from them: nor are there any so lucky, but what the imprudent may turn to their prejudice.
[pub. Donaldson (1783), ¶8; [ed. Lepoittevin-Lacroix (1797), ¶58]

No accidents are so unlucky, but what the prudent may draw some advantages from; nor are there any so lucky, but what the imprudent may turn to their prejudice.
[ed. Carville (1835), ¶5]

There are no circumstances, however unfortunate, that clever people do not extract some advantage from; and none, however fortune, that the imprudent cannot turn to their own prejudice.
[ed. Gowens (1851), ¶60]

There are no accidents so unfortunate from which skillful men will not draw some advantage, nor so fortunate that foolish men will not turn them to their hurt.
[tr. Bund/Friswell (1871)]

A clever man reaps some benefit from the worst catastrophe, and a fool can turn even good luck to his disadvantage.
[tr. Heard (1917)]

No event is so disastrous that the adroit cannot derive some benefit from it, nor so auspicious that fools cannot turn it to their detriment.
[tr. Stevens (1939)]

There is no accident so disastrous that a clever man cannot derive some profit from it: nor any so fortunate that a fool cannot turn it to his disadvantage.
[tr. FitzGibbon (1957)]

There are no experiences so disastrous that thoughtful men cannot derive some profit from them, nor so happy that the thoughtless cannot use them to their harm.
[tr. Kronenberger (1959)]

There are no accidents so unfortunate that clever men may not draw some advantage from them, nor so fortunate that imprudent men may not turn them to their own detriment.
[tr. Whichello (2016)]

 
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A shrewd man has to arrange his interests in order of importance and deal with them one by one; but often our greed upsets this order and makes us run after so many things at once that through over-anxiety to have the trivial we miss the most important.

[Un habile homme doit régler le rang de ses intérêts et les conduire chacun dans son ordre. Notre avidité le trouble souvent en nous faisant courir à tant de choses à la fois que, pour désirer trop les moins importantes, on manque les plus considérables.]

François VI, duc de La Rochefoucauld (1613-1680) French epigrammatist, memoirist, noble
Réflexions ou sentences et maximes morales [Reflections; or Sentences and Moral Maxims], ¶66 (1665-1678) [tr. Tancock (1959)]
    (Source)

Present in the first, 1665 edition in a slightly longer form:

Un habile homme doit savoir régler le rang de ses intérêts et les conduire chacun dans son ordre. Notre avidité le trouble souvent en nous faisant courir à tant de choses à la fois que, pour désirer trop les moins importantes, nous ne les faisons pas assez servir à obtenir les plus considérables.

(Source (French)). Alternate translations:

In this the prudent man is distinguishable from the imprudent, that he regulates his interests, and directs them to the prosecution of his designs each in their order. Our earnestness does many times raise a disturbance in them, by hurrying us after a hundred things at once. Thence it proceeds, that out of an excessive desire of the less important, we do not what is requisite for the attainment of the most considerable.
[tr. Davies (1669), ¶165]

A wise Man should order his Designs, and set all his Interests in their proper places. This Order is often disturbed by a foolish greediness, which, while it puts us upon pursuing several things at once, makes us eager for matters of less consideration; and while we grasp at trifles, we let go things of greater Value.
[tr. Stanhope (1694), ¶67]

An able man will arrange his interests, and conduct each in its proper order. Our greediness often hurts us, by making us prosecute so many things at once; by too earnestly desiring the less considerable, we lose the more important.
[pub. Donaldson (1783), ¶205; ed. Lepoittevin-Lacroix (1797), ¶65]

An able man will arrange his respective interests;, and conduct each in its proper order. Ambition is often injurious, by tempting us to prosecute too much at once. By earnestly desiring the less considerable, we lose the more important.
[ed. Carville (1835), ¶473]

A clever man should regulate his interests, and place them in proper order. Our avidity often deranges them by inducing us to undertake too many things at once; and by grasping at minor objects, we lose our hold of more important ones.
[ed. Gowens (1851), ¶67]

A clever man ought to so regulate his interests that each will fall in due order. Our greediness so often troubles us, making us run after so many things at the same time, that while we too eagerly look after the least we miss the greatest.
[tr. Bund/Friswell (1871)]

A wise man co-ordinates his interests, and develops them according to their merits. Cupidity defeats its own ends by following so many at once that in our greed for trifles we lose sight of important matters.
[tr. Heard (1917)]

A clever man will know how to range his interests, and will pursue each according to its merits. Our greed, however, will often confuse our method; for we run after so many things at once that we frequently miss what is of importance in pursuit of what is negligible.
[tr. FitzGibbon (1957)]

Clever men should arrange their desires in the proper order and seek each in turn. In our eagerness we often attempt too many things at once, and by striving too much after the small ones we lose the big.
[tr. Kronenberger (1959)]

A wise man ought to arrange his interests in their true order of importance. Our greed often disturbs this order by making us pursue so many things at once that, for too much desiring the least important, we miss those that are most so.
[tr. Whichello (2016)]

 
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There are scarcely any who are not ashamed of having loved, when they love no longer.

[Il n’y a guère de gens qui ne soient honteux de s’être aimés quand ils ne s’aiment plus.]

François VI, duc de La Rochefoucauld (1613-1680) French epigrammatist, memoirist, noble
Réflexions ou sentences et maximes morales [Reflections; or Sentences and Moral Maxims], ¶71 (1665-1678) [tr. Stevens (1939)]
    (Source)

First appeared in the fifth (1678) edition.

(Source (French)). Alternate translations:

There are few people who are not ashamed of their amours when the fit is over.
[pub. Donaldson (1783), ¶271; ed. Lepoittevin-Lacroix (1797), ¶69]

Most people are ashamed of their amours when the fit is over.
[ed. Carville (1835), ¶232]

There are very few people who, when their love is over, are not ashamed of having been in love.
[ed. Gowens (1851), ¶181]

There are few people who would not be ashamed of being beloved when they love no longer.
[tr. Bund/Friswell (1871)]

There are few of us who are not ashamed of a mutual passion when love has died.
[tr. Heard (1917), ¶177]

When two people have ceased to love, the memory that remains is almost always one of shame.
[tr. FitzGibbon (1957)]

Few people, when they love no longer, but feel shame for having loved.
[tr. Kronenberger (1959)]

There are few people who, when their love for each other is dead, are not ashamed of that love.
[tr. Tancock (1959)]

There are few people who are not ashamed of having loved each other when they no longer do so.
[tr. Whichello (2016)]

 
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Philosophy easily triumphs over past ills and ills to come, but present ills triumph over philosophy.

[La philosophie triomphe aisément des maux passés et des maux à venir; mais les maux présents triomphent d’elle.]

François VI, duc de La Rochefoucauld (1613-1680) French epigrammatist, memoirist, noble
Réflexions ou sentences et maximes morales [Reflections; or Sentences and Moral Maxims], ¶22 (1665-1678) [tr Tancock (1959)]
    (Source)

(Source (French)). French variants:

La philosophie triomphe aisément des maux passés et de ceux qu’un ne sont pas prêts d’arriver; mais les maux présents triomphent d'elle.
(1665)]

La philosophie ne fait des merveilles que contre les maux passés ou contre ceux qui ne sont pas prêts d’arriver, mais elle n’a pas grande vertu contre les maux présents.
[Manuscript]

Alternate English translations:

Philosophy may easily triumph over Evils past, as also over those not yet ready to assault a man; but the present triumph over it.
[tr. Davies (1669), ¶87]

Philosophy finds it an easie matter to vanquish past and future Evils, but the present are commonly too hard for it.
[tr. Stanhope (1694), ¶23]

Philosophy easily triumphs over past and future ills; but present ills triumph over philosophy.
[pub. Donaldson (1783), "Ills" ¶242]

Philosophy easily triumphs over ills both past and future; but present ills triumph over philosophy.
[ed. Carville (1835), "Ills" ¶211]

Philosophy easily triumphs over past and future ills: but religion only triumphs over the present ones.
[ed. Carville (1835), "Philosophers" ¶303]

Philosophy triumphs easily over past, and over future evils, but present evils triumph over philosophy.
[ed. Gowens (1851), ¶23]

Philosophy triumphs easily over past evils and future evils; but present evils triumph over it.
[tr. Bund/Friswell (1871)]

Philosophy easily masters past and future ills, but the sorrow of the moment is the master of philosophy.
[tr. Heard (1917)]

Philosophy easily conquers both past and future misfortunes, but is conquered by the misfortunes of the moment.
[tr. Stevens (1939)]

Philosophy can easily triumph over past misfortunes and over those that lie ahead: but the misfortunes of the present will triumph over our philosophy.
[tr. FitzGibbon (1957)]

Philosophy triumphs with ease over misfortunes past and to come, but present misfortunes triumph over it.
[tr. Kronenberger (1959)]

Philosophy triumphs easily over past and future evils; but present evils triumph over it.
[tr. Whichello (2016)]

 
Added on 30-Jul-15 | Last updated 19-Jan-24
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It takes a clever man to hide his cleverness.

[C’est une grande habileté que de savoir cacher son habileté.]

François VI, duc de La Rochefoucauld (1613-1680) French epigrammatist, memoirist, noble
Réflexions ou sentences et maximes morales [Reflections; or Sentences and Moral Maxims], ¶245 (1678) [tr. Heard (1917), ¶253]
    (Source)

In the 1665 edition, this read: Le plus grand art d’un habile homme est celui de savoir cacher son habileté.

(Source (French)). Alternate translations:

It is a Great Act of Wisdom to be able to Conceal one's being Wise.
[tr. Stanhope (1694), ¶246]

It requires no small degree of ability to know when to conceal it.
[pub. Donaldson (1783), "Ability," ¶4]

It is a great ability to be able to conceal one's ability.
[ed. Gowens (1851), ¶257]

There is great ability in knowing how to conceal one's ability.
[tr. Bund/Friswell (1871), ¶245]

It is the height of art to conceal art.
[tr. Stevens (1939), ¶245]

A very clever man will know how to hide his cleverness.
[tr. FitzGibbon (1957), ¶245]

It is exceedingly clever to know how to hide your cleverness.
[tr. Kronenberger (1959), ¶245]

To conceal ingenuity is ingenuity indeed.
[tr. Tancock (1959), ¶245]

It is great cleverness to know how to hide our cleverness.
[tr. Whichello (2016), ¶245]

 
Added on 26-Jul-07 | Last updated 9-Feb-24
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We make promises to the extent that we hope, and keep them to the extent that we fear.

[Nous promettons selon nos espérances, et nous tenons selon nos craintes.]

François VI, duc de La Rochefoucauld (1613-1680) French epigrammatist, memoirist, noble
Réflexions ou sentences et maximes morales [Reflections; or Sentences and Moral Maxims], ¶38 (1665-1678) [tr. Kronenberger (1959)]
    (Source)

Present from the 1st edition in 1665.

(Source (French)). Alternate translations:

Our Promises are always made with a reflection on our Hopes, and perform'd according to our fears.
[tr. Davies (1669), ¶16]

We promise in proportion to our Hopes,
and we keep in proportion to our Fears
[tr. Stanhope (1694), ¶39]

We promise in proportion to our Hopes, and we keep our Word in proportion to our Fears.
[tr. Stanhope (1706), ¶39]

We promise according to our hopes, and perform according to our fears.
[pub. Donaldson (1783), ¶357; [ed. Lepoittevin-Lacroix (1797); ed. Gowens (1851), ¶39]

We promise according to our hopes; we perform according to our fears.
[ed. Carville (1835), ¶463; tr. Bund/Friswell (1871)]

Promises are measured by hope; performances by fear.
[tr. Heard (1917)]

Our promises are measured by our hopes; our performances by our fears.
[tr. Stevens (1939)]

Our promises are made in hope, and kept in fear.
[tr. FitzGibbon (1957)]

Our promises are made in proportion to our hopes, but kept in proportion to our fears.
[tr. Tancock (1959)]

We make promises according to our hopes, and keep them according to our fears.
[tr. Whichello (2016)]

 
Added on 8-Oct-12 | Last updated 22-Mar-24
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Pure Valour, if there were any such thing, would consist in the doing of that without witnesses, which it were able to do, if all the world were to be spectators thereof.

[La pure valeur (s’il y en avait) serait de faire sans témoins ce qu’on est capable de faire devant le monde.]

François VI, duc de La Rochefoucauld (1613-1680) French epigrammatist, memoirist, noble
Réflexions ou sentences et maximes morales [Reflections; or Sentences and Moral Maxims], ¶216 (1665-1678) [tr. Davies (1669), ¶97]
    (Source)

(Source (French, 1665 ed., ¶229)). In the final edition (1678, ¶216), the original French had been modified to:

La parfaite valeur est de faire sans témoins ce qu’on seroit capable de faire devant tout le monde.

Alternate translations:

True Valour would do all that, when alone, that it could do, if all the World were by.
[tr. Stanhope (1694), ¶217]

Perfect valour consists in doing without witnesses all we should be capable of doing before the whole world.
[pub. Donaldson (1783), ¶431]

Perfect valour consists in doing, without witness, all that we should be capable of doing before the whole world.
[ed. Carville (1835), ¶367]

Perfect valor is to do unwitnessed what we should be capable of doing before all the world.
[ed. Gowens (1851), ¶225]

Perfect valour is to do without witnesses what one would do before all the world.
[tr. Bund/Friswell (1871)]

Perfect valor accomplishes without witnesses what anyone could do before the eyes of the world.
[tr. Heard (1917), ¶221]

Perfect courage consists in doing unobserved what what we could do in the eyes of the world.
[tr. Stevens (1939)]

Perfect valour is to behave, without witnesses, as one would act were all the world watching.
[tr. FitzGibbon (1957)]

Perfect courage means doing unwitnessed what we would be capable of with the world looking on.
[tr. Kronenberger (1959)]

Perfect valour consists in doing without witnesses what one would be capable of doing before the world at large.
[tr Tancock (1959)]

Perfect courage is to do without witnesses what one would do before all the world.
[tr. Whichello (2016)]

Perfect courage is to do without witnesses what one would be capable of doing with the world looking on.
[Source]

 
Added on 15-Jul-22 | Last updated 19-Jan-24
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Our virtues are usually only vices in disguise.

[Nos vertus ne sont le plus souvent que des vices déguisés]

François VI, duc de La Rochefoucauld (1613-1680) French epigrammatist, memoirist, noble
Réflexions ou sentences et maximes morales [Reflections; or Sentences and Moral Maxims], Epigraph (1675 ed.) [tr. Tancock (1959)]
    (Source)

Added as an epigraph to the entire work in the 4th (1675) edition. A common theme in La Rochefoucauld's work, and variations of this maxim (and related thoughts) had been in the preceding editions and even this and later (see also ¶442).

(Source (French)). Alternate translations:

Our Vertues are oftentimes in Reality no better than Vices disguised.
[tr. Stanhope (1694)]

Our virtues are most frequently but vices disguised.
[tr. Bund/Friswell (1871)]

Our virtues are mostly but vices in disguise.
[tr. FitzGibbon (1957)]

Our virtues, most often, are only vices disguised.
[tr. Whichello (2016)]

 
Added on 16-Feb-24 | Last updated 16-Feb-24
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