Quotations about   fault

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Vices can be elevated, but are always base. Some people see a certain hero with a certain fault, but they don’t realize it wasn’t the fault that made him a hero. An example of people in high places is so persuasive that it makes people imitate even their ugliness. Adulation mimics even an ugly face, without realizing that what is hidden by greatness is abominated when greatness is lacking.

[Bien pueden estar los vicios realzados, pero no son realces. Ven algunos que aquel héroe tuvo aquel accidente, pero no ven que no fue héroe por aquello. Es tan retórico el ejemplo superior, que aun las fealdades persuade; hasta las del rostro afectó tal vez la lisonja, no advirtiendo que, si en la grandeza se disimulan, en la bajeza se abominan.]

Baltasar Gracián y Morales (1601-1658) Spanish Jesuit priest, writer, philosopher
The Art of Worldly Wisdom [Oráculo Manual y Arte de Prudencia], § 186 (1647) [tr. Maurer (1992)]
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(Source (Spanish)). Alternate translation:

Vices may stand in high place, but are low for all that. Men can see that many a great man has great faults, yet they do not see that he is not great because of them. The example of the great is so specious that it even glosses over viciousness, till it may so affect those who flatter it that they do not notice that what they gloss over in the great they abominate in the lower classes.
[tr. Jacobs (1892)]

The vices may stand high, but they are not high: some see a great man afflicted with this vice or that; but they do not see, that is great not because of it but in spite of it. The portrait of the man high up is so convincing, that even his deformities persuade, wherefore flattery at times mimics them, not seeing, that if in the great such things are overlooked, in the small, they are looked down upon.
[tr. Fischer (1937)]

Added on 15-Jun-22 | Last updated 15-Jun-22
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The best way to know our faults is to notice which ones you accuse others of.

James Richardson (b. 1950) American poet
Vectors: Aphorisms and Ten-Second Essays, #195 (2001)
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Added on 17-Aug-21 | Last updated 17-Aug-21
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Many journalists have fallen for the conspiracy theory of government. I do assure you that they would produce more accurate work if they adhered to the cock-up theory.

Bernard Ingham (b. 1932) British journalist, civil servant, press secretary
Quoted in The Observer (17 Mar 1985)

Often paraphrased, "Cock-up before conspiracy." Cf. Hanlon.
Added on 1-May-20 | Last updated 1-May-20
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That seems to point up a significant difference between Europeans and Americans:

A European says: I can’t understand this, what’s wrong with me?
An American says: I can’t understand this, what’s wrong with him?

Terry Pratchett (1948-2015) English author
Post, alt.fan.pratchett (8 May 1994)
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Added on 3-Apr-20 | Last updated 3-Apr-20
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For my own part, I consider the best and most finished type of man to be the person who is always ready to make allowances for others, on the ground that never a day passes without his being in fault himself, yet who keeps as clear of faults as if he never pardoned them in others.

[Atque ego optimum et emendatissimum existimo, qui ceteris ita ignoscit, tamquam ipse cotidie peccet, ita peccatis abstinet tamquam nemini ignoscat.]

Pliny the Younger (c. 61-c. 113) Roman politician, writer [Gaius Plinius Caecilius Secundus]
Epistles [Epistulae], Book 8, Letter 22 “To Geminus” [tr. J.B.Firth (1900)]
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Alt. trans.: "The highest of characters, in my estimation, is his, who is as ready to pardon the moral errors of mankind, as if he were every day guilty of some himself; and at the same time as cautious of committing a fault as if he never forgave one."
Added on 22-Aug-17 | Last updated 22-Aug-17
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I live my life in celebration and in praise of the life I’m living. What you focus on expands. The more you praise and celebrate your life, the more there is in life to celebrate. The more you complain, the more you find fault, the more misery and fault you will have to find.

Oprah Winfrey (b. 1954) American TV personality, actress
“Words of the Week,” Jet (27 Oct 1986)
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Added on 13-May-16 | Last updated 13-May-16
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The central belief of every moron is that he is the victim of a mysterious conspiracy against his common rights and true desserts. He ascribes all his failure to get on in the world, all of his congenital incapacity and damnfoolishness, to the machinations of werewolves assembled in Wall Street, or some other such den of infamy. If these villains could be put down, he holds, he would at once become rich, powerful and eminent. Nine politicians out of every ten, of whatever party, live and have their being by promising to perform
this putting down. In brief, they are knaves who maintain themselves by preying on the idiotic vanities and pathetic hopes of half-wits.

H.L. Mencken (1880-1956) American writer and journalist [Henry Lewis Mencken]
Baltimore Evening Sun (15 Jun 1936)
Added on 8-Mar-16 | Last updated 8-Mar-16
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The main advantage of being famous is that when you bore people at dinner parties they think it is their fault.

Henry Kissinger (b. 1923) German-American diplomat
(Attributed)

Quoted by James Naughtie in The Spectator (1 Apr 1995).
Added on 2-Mar-16 | Last updated 2-Mar-16
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If a man makes a slip, admonish him gently and show him his mistake. If you fail to convince him, blame yourself, or else blame nobody.

Marcus Aurelius (AD 121-180) Roman emperor (161-180), Stoic philosopher
Meditations, Book 10, #4
Added on 1-Mar-16 | Last updated 1-Mar-16
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None but the well-bred man knows how to confess a fault, or acknowledge himself in error.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher
Poor Richard’s Almanack (Nov 1738)
Added on 12-Feb-16 | Last updated 12-Feb-16
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Those see nothing but Faults that seek for nothing else.

Thomas Fuller (1654-1734) English writer, physician
Gnomologia: Adages and Proverbs, #5021 (1732)
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Added on 9-Feb-16 | Last updated 26-Jan-21
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There’s not the least thing can be said or done, but people will talk and find fault.

Miguel de Cervantes (1547-1616) Spanish novelist
Don Quixote, Part 1, Book 2, ch. 4 (1605)
Added on 12-Jan-16 | Last updated 12-Jan-16
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Self-love is often rather arrogant than blind; it does not hide our faults from ourselves, but persuades us that they escape the notice of others, and disposes us to resent censures lest we should confess them to be just.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
The Rambler, #155 (10 Sep 1751)
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Added on 23-May-14 | Last updated 26-Jun-22
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The real existence of an enemy upon whom one can foist off everything evil is an enormous relief to one’s conscience. You can then at least say, without hesitation, who the devil is; you are quite certain that the cause of your misfortune is outside, and not your own attitude.

Carl Jung (1875-1961) Swiss psychologist
“General Aspects of Dream Psychology” (1916) [tr. R. Hull (1960)]
Added on 10-Dec-09 | Last updated 19-Jan-16
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Our very defects are … shadows of our virtues.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
Journal (1831, undated)
Added on 4-Sep-09 | Last updated 19-Feb-22
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There are many scapegoats for our blunders, but the most popular one is Providence.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
Mark Twain’s Notebook 4 Jul 1898 [ed. Paine (1935)]
Added on 28-Jan-09 | Last updated 26-Jan-19
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I am not one of those who think that the people are never in the wrong. They have been so, frequently and outrageously, both in other countries and in this. But I do say, that in all disputes between them and their rulers, the presumption is at least upon a par in favour of the people.

Edmund Burke (1729-1797) Anglo-Irish statesman, orator, philosopher
“Thoughts on the Cause of the Present Discontents” (23 Apr 1770)
Added on 25-Aug-08 | Last updated 9-Nov-20
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Heaven-sent calamities you may stand up against, but you cannot survive those brought on by yourself.

Shu Ching (6th Century BC) Chinese collection of political philosophy [Shujing, Shu-kin, Shangshu, The Book of History, The Book of Documents, or The Classic of History]
T’ai Chia

Also cited as Shu Ching 4, 5
Added on 17-Oct-05 | Last updated 17-Mar-16
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And oftentimes excusing of a fault
Doth make the fault the worse by th’ excuse,
As patches set upon a little breach
Discredit more in hiding of the fault
Than did the fault before it was so patched.

William Shakespeare (1564-1616) English dramatist and poet
King John, Act 4, sc. 2, l. 30ff [Pembroke] (1596)
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Added on 12-May-04 | Last updated 29-Jun-22
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Always acknowledge a fault. This will throw those in authority off their guard and give you an opportunity to commit more.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
In More Maxims of Mark [ed. M. Johnson (1925)]
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 26-Jan-19
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Blame-all and Praise-all are two blockheads.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher
Poor Richard’s Almanack (Feb. 1734)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 9-Feb-16
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This is the excellent foppery of the world, that, when we are sick in fortune, — often the surfeit of our own behavior, — we make guilty of our disasters the sun, the moon, and the stars: as if we were villains by necessity; fools by heavenly compulsion; knaves, thieves, and treachers, by spherical predominance; drunkards, liars, and adulterers, by an enforced obedience of planetary influence; and all that we are evil in, by a divine thrusting on: an admirable evasion of whoremaster man, to lay his goatish disposition to the charge of a star!

William Shakespeare (1564-1616) English dramatist and poet
King Lear, Act 1, sc. 2, l. 125ff [Edmund] (1606)
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Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 29-Jun-22
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