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The cardinal method with faults is to overgrow them and choke them out with virtues.

John Bascom
John Bascom (1827-1911) American academic, rhetorician, writer
Added on 6-Dec-22 | Last updated 6-Dec-22
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Many have had their greatness made for them by their enemies. Flattery is more dangerous than hatred, because it covers the stains which the other causes to be wiped out. The wise will turn ill-will into a mirror more faithful than that of kindness, and remove or improve the faults referred to.

[Fabricáronles a muchos su grandeza sus malévolos. Más fiera es la lisonja que el odio, pues remedia este eficazmente las tachas que aquella disimula. Hace el cuerdo espejo de la ojeriza, más fiel que el de la afición, y previene a la detracción los defectos, o los enmienda, que es grande el recato cuando se vive en frontera de una emulación, de una malevolencia.]

Baltasar Gracián y Morales (1601-1658) Spanish Jesuit priest, writer, philosopher
The Art of Worldly Wisdom [Oráculo Manual y Arte de Prudencia], § 84 (1647) [tr. Jacobs (1892)]

(Source (Spanish)). Alternate translation:

Many owe their greatness to their enemies. Flattery is fiercer than hatred, for hatred corrects the faults flattery had disguised. The prudent man makes a mirror out of the evil eye of others; it is more truthful than that of affection, and helps him reduce his defects or emend them.
[tr. Maurer (1992)]

Added on 18-Jan-22 | Last updated 18-Jan-22
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It is an error to suppose that no man understands his own character. Most persons know even their failings very well, only they persist in giving them names different from those usually assigned by the rest of the world; and they compensate for this mistake by naming, at first sight, with singular accuracy, those very same failings in others.

Arthur Helps (1813-1875) English writer and bureaucrat
Thoughts in the Cloister and the Crowd (1835)
Added on 19-Nov-21 | Last updated 19-Nov-21
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It is better to correct your own faults than those of another.

[Κρέσσον τὰ οἰκήϊα ἐλέγχειν ἁμαρτήματα ἢ τὰ ὀθνεῖα.]

Democritus (c. 460 BC - c. 370 BC) Greek philosopher
Frag. 60 (Diels) [tr. Bakewell (1907)]

Original Greek. Diels cites this as "Fragment 60, (114 N.) DEMOKRATES. 25"; collected in Joannes Stobaeus (Stobaios) Anthologium III, 13, 46. Bakewell lists this under "The Golden Sayings of Democritus." Freeman notes this as one of the Gnômae, from a collection called "Maxims of Democratês," but because Stobaeus quotes many of these as "Maxims of Democritus," they are generally attributed to the latter.

Alternate translations:

  • "It is better to examine one's own faults than those of others." [tr. Freeman (1948)]
  • "It is better to examine your own mistakes than those of others." [tr. Barnes (1987)]
  • "It is better to rebuke familiar faults than foreign ones." [tr. @sententiq (2018)]
  • "Rather examine your own faults than those of others." [Source]
Added on 2-Feb-21 | Last updated 23-Feb-21
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When you are offended at any man’s fault, turn to yourself and study your own failings. Then you will forget your anger.

Epictetus (c.55-c.135) Greek (Phrygian) Stoic philosopher
Added on 15-Oct-15 | Last updated 15-Oct-15
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Trust no friend without faults,
And love a maiden, but no angel.

[Trau keinem Freunde sonder Mängel,
Und leib’ ein Mädchen, kienem Engel.]

Gotthold Ephraim Lessing (1729-1781) German playwright, philosopher, dramiturg, writer
Note in a Family Register (1778)

Alt. trans.: "Trust in no friend, rather forebear; / Love a sweet maid, no angel rare."
Added on 2-Apr-15 | Last updated 2-Apr-15
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Our faults and sins seem all the bigger when they are seen by the world against the excessively self-righteous picture that is our official version of ourselves.

Walter Lippmann (1889-1974) American journalist and author
“The Grace of Humility,” New York Herald Tribune (24 Sep 1957)
Added on 12-Jan-15 | Last updated 12-Jan-15
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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)
Added on 23-May-14 | Last updated 26-Jun-22
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The faults of others console us in our own.

Paul Eldridge (1888-1982) American educator, novelist, poet
Maxims for a Modern Man, #2178 (1965)
Added on 30-Jun-10 | Last updated 28-Jan-22
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Bear with the faults and frailties of others, for you, too, have many faults which others have to bear. If you cannot mold yourself as you would wish, how can you expect other people to be entirely to your liking? For we require other people to be perfect, but do not correct our own faults.

Thomas à Kempis (c. 1380-1471) German monk, author
The Imitation of Christ, Book 1, ch. 16 (c. 1418) [tr. L. Sherley-Price (1952)]

Alt trans.: "Try to bear patiently with the defects and infirmities of others, whatever they may be, because you also have many a fault which others must endure. If you cannot make yourself what you would wish to be, how can you bend others to your will? We want them to be perfect, yet we do not correct our own faults. We wish them to be severely corrected, yet we will not correct ourselves. Their great liberty displeases us, yet we would not be denied what we ask. We would have them bound by laws, yet we will allow ourselves to be restrained in nothing."

Alt trans.: "Be not angry that you cannot make others as you wish them to be, since you cannot make yourself as you wish to be."
Added on 2-Jun-10 | Last updated 14-Sep-16
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For it is the characteristic of folly, to have eyes for the faults of others, and blindness for its own.

[Est enim proprium stultitiae aliorum vitia cernere, oblivisci suorum.]

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC) Roman orator, statesman, philosopher
Tusculan Disputations [Tusculanae Disputationes], Book 3, ch. 30 (3.30) / sec. 73 (45 BC) [tr. Otis (1839)]

(Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

For it is the property of Folly, to look upon other mens Failings, and to forget their own.
[tr. Wase (1643)]

For it is the peculiar characteristic of folly to discover the vices of others, forgetting its own.
[tr. Main (1824)]

For it is the peculiar characteristic of folly to perceive the vices of others, but to forget its own.
[tr. Yonge (1853)]

It is the peculiar quality of a fool to perceive the faults of others and to forget his own.
[Source (1882)]

It is the property of folly to see the faults of others, to forget its own.
[tr. Peabody (1886)]

This is just how foolish people behave: they observe the faults of others and forget their own.
[tr. Graver (2002)]

It is a trait of fools to perceive the faults of others but not their own.

Added on 12-May-10 | Last updated 11-Aug-22
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God’s merits are so transcendent that it is not surprising his faults should be in reasonable proportion.

Samuel Butler (1835-1902) English novelist, satirist, scholar
The Note-Books of Samuel Butler, “Rebelliousness”(1912)

Full text.

Added on 8-Jan-09 | Last updated 5-Sep-19
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When a whole nation is roaring Patriotism at the top of its voice, I am fain to explore the cleanness of its hands and purity of its heart.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
Journal (1824)
Added on 26-Feb-04 | Last updated 19-Feb-22
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