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I don’t believe any man ever existed without vanity, and if he did he would be an extremely uncomfortable person to have anything to do with. He would, of course, be a very good man, and we should respect him very much. He would be a very admirable man — a man to be put under a glass case and shown round as a specimen — a man to be stuck upon a pedestal and copied, like a school exercise — a man to be reverenced, but not a man to be loved, not a human brother whose hand we should care to grip. Angels may be very excellent sort of folk in their way, but we, poor mortals, in our present state, would probably find them precious slow company. Even mere good people are rather depressing.

Jerome K. Jerome (1859-1927) English writer, humorist [Jerome Klapka Jerome]
Idle Thoughts of an Idle Fellow, “On Vanity and Vanities” (1886)
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More quotes by Jerome, Jerome K.

Vanity is a weakness. I know this. It’s a shallow dependence on the exterior self, on how one looks instead of what one is. I know this well. But I have a scar the size and texture of a jellyfish on my abdomen already, and you’d be surprised how your sense of self changes when you can’t take your shirt off at the beach. In my more private moments, I pull up my shirt and look at it, tell myself it doesn’t matter, but every time a woman has felt it under her palm late at night, propped herself up on a pillow and asked me about it, I’ve made my explanation as quick as possible, closed the doors to my past as soon as they’ve opened, and not once, even when Angie’s asked, have I told the truth. Vanity and dishonesty may be vices, but they’re also the first forms of protection I ever knew.

dennis lehane
Dennis Lehane (b. 1965) American novelist, screenwriter
A Drink Before the War, ch. 7 [Kenzie] (1996)
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Added on 19-Feb-24 | Last updated 19-Feb-24
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Compliments make me vain: & when I am vain, I am insolent & overbearing. It is a pity, too, because I love compliments. I love them even when they are not so. My child, I can live on a good compliment two weeks with nothing else to eat.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
Letter to Gertrude Natkin (1906-03-02)
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In a similar vein, his biographer, Albert Bigelow Paine, in Mark Twain: A Biography, Vol. 4, ch. 250 (1912), recalled Clemens saying: "I can live for two months on a good compliment."
 
Added on 21-Dec-23 | Last updated 21-Dec-23
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More quotes by Twain, Mark

Alas, proud Christians, faint with misery,
So warped of vision in the inward sense
You trust in your backslidings! Don’t you see
That we are worms, whose insignificance
Lives but to form the angelic butterfly
That flits to judgement naked of defence?
Why do you let pretension soar so high,
Being as it were but larvae — grubs that lack
The finished form that shall be by and by?

[O superbi Cristian, miseri lassi!
Che, della vista della mente infermi,
Fidanza avete ne’ ritrosi passi;
Non v’ accorgete voi, che noi siam vermi
Nati a formar l’ angelica farfalla,
Che vola alla giustizia senza schermi?
Di che l’ animo vostro in alto galla,
Poi siete quasi entomata in difetto,
Sì come verme, in cui formazion falla?]

Dante Alighieri the poet
Dante Alighieri (1265-1321) Italian poet
The Divine Comedy [Divina Commedia], Book 2 “Purgatorio,” Canto 10, l. 121ff (10.121-129) (1314) [tr. Sayers (1955)]
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Criticizing prideful Christians.

(Source (Italian)). Alternate translations:

O, miserable Pride! of Blindness born!
Vile retrograde Ambition! theme of Scorn!
Can Reptiles in the dust, of dust be proud? --
Boast of their meanness, falsify their end;
From their immortal hopes at once descend.
And let a dowerless Vice their prospects cloud? --

As Reptiles, who their painted plumes display,
(Tho; crawling once in dust,) and wing their way
On Summer-buxom gales, and claim the Sky:
Thus were ye born, and thus you claim your flight
To the pure Precincts of celestial Light,
If on no fpurious Pride your hopes rely.
[tr. Boyd (1802), st. 23-24]

Christians and proud! O poor and wretched ones!
That feeble in the mind’s eye, lean your trust
Upon unstaid perverseness! Know ye not
That we are worms, yet made at last to form
The winged insect, imp’d with angel plumes
That to heaven’s justice unobstructed soars?
Why buoy ye up aloft your unfleg’d souls?
Abortive then and shapeless ye remain,
Like the untimely embryon of a worm!
[tr. Cary (1814)]

O haughty Christians! miserable, alas!
From mental sight to weakness that's allied,
Confiding in perverseness and in pride,
Perceive ye not we are but merely worms,
Born embryo of angelic butterfly,
Which, unrestrained, to justice flies on high,
Where is the object of your souring flight?
Insect, in whom defecta lone prevails,
And worm, in which the true formatiln fails.v [tr. Bannerman (1850)]

O ye proud Christians! wretched, weary ones!
Who, in the vision of the mind infirm
Confidence have in your backsliding steps,
Do ye not comprehend that we are worms,
Born to bring forth the angelic butterfly
That flieth unto judgment without screen?
Why floats aloft your spirit high in air?
Like are ye unto insects undeveloped,
Even as the worm in whom formation fails!
[tr. Longfellow (1867)]

O proud Christians, wretched and weary, who, weak in the sight of the mind, have confidence in your backward paces, do ye not perceive that we are worms, born to form the angelic butterfly which flies without screen to the judgement? In respect of what does your mind float on high, since ye are as it were defective insects, like a worm in which formative power is in default?
[tr. Butler (1885)]

Proud Christians, wretched, weary, and undone!
Who of your mental sight are so bereaved
That ye have faith in backward paths alone;
That we are worms have ye not yet perceived,
Born but to form the Angelic butterfly
That soareth up to judgment unreprieved?
Of what your spirit doth it vaunt so high?
Since ye are unformed insects at the best,
Worms as it were unfinished utterly.
[tr. Minchin (1885)]

O proud Christians, wretched weary ones, who, diseased in vision of the mind, have confidence in backward steps, are ye not aware that we are worms born to form the angelic butterfly which flies unto judgment without defence? Why doth your mind float up aloft, since ye are as it were defective insects, even as a worm in which formation fails?
[tr. Norton (1892)]

O ye proud Christians, wretched and weary, who, sick in mental vision, put trust in backward steps,
perceive ye not that we are worms, born to form the angelic butterfly that flieth to judgment without defence?
Why doth your mind soar on high, since ye are as 'twere imperfect insects, even as the grub in which full form is wanting?
[tr. Okey (1901)]

O vainglorious Christians, weary wretches who are sick in the mind's vision and put your trust in backward steps, do you not perceive that we are worms born to form the angelic butterfly that soars to judgement without defence? Why does your mind float so high, since you are as it were imperfect insects, like the worm that is undeveloped?
[tr. Sinclair (1939)]

O ye proud Christians, weary and sad of brow,
Who, tainted in the vision of the mind,
In backward steps your confidence avow,
Preceive ye not that we are worms, designed
To form the angelic butterfly, that goes
To judgment, leaving all defence behind?
Why doth your mind take such exalted pose,
Since ye, disabled, are as insects, mean
As worm which never transformation knows?
[tr. Binyon (1943)]

O you proud Christians, wretched souls and small,
who by the dim lights of your twisted minds
believe you prosper even as you fall --
can you not see that we awer works, each one
born to become the Angelic butterfly
that flies defenseless to the Judgment Throne?
what have your souls to boast of and be proud?
You are no more than insects, incomplete
as any grub until it burst the shroud.
[tr. Ciardi (1961)]

O proud Christians, wretched and weary, who, sick in mental vision, put trust in backward steps: are you not aware that we are worms, born to form the angelic butterfly that flies until judgment without defenses? Why does your mind soar up aloft, since you are as it wer imperfect insects, even as the worm in which full form is wanting?
[tr. Singleton (1973)]

O haughty Christians, wretched, sluggish souls,
all you whose inner vision is diseased,
putting your trust in things that pull you back,
do you not understand that we are worms,
each born to form the angelic butterfly,
that flies defenseless to the Final Judge?
Why do your souls’ pretensions rise so high,
since you are but defective insects still,
worms as yet imperfectly evolved?
[tr. Musa (1981)]

O proud Christians, wretched and exhausted,
Who, sick in mind, and not seeing aright,
Go confidently in the wrong direction;
Do you not perceive that we are grubs,
Born to turn into the angelic butterfly
Which flies towards justice without defence?
Why does your mind float aloft
Since you are no more than defective insects,
Like the grub which has not reached its full development?
[tr. Sisson (1981)]

O Christians, arrogant, exhausted, wretched,
Whose intellects are sick and cannot see,
Who place your confidence in backward steps,
Do you not know that we are worms and born
To form the angelic butterfly that soars,
Without defenses, to confront His judgment?
Why does your mind presume to flight when you
Are still like the imperfect grub, the worm
Before it has attained its final form?
[tr. Mandelbaum (1982)]

O proud Christians, weary wretches, who, weak in mental vision, put your faith in backward steps,
do you not perceive that we are worms born to form the angelic butterfly that flies to justice without a shield?
Why is it that your spirit floats on high, since you are like defective insects, like worms in whom formation is lacking?
[tr. Durling (2003)]

O proud Christians, weary and wretched, who, infirm in the mind’s vision, put your trust in downward steps: do you not see that we are caterpillars, born to form the angelic butterfly, that flies to judgement without defence? Why does your mind soar to the heights, since you are defective insects, even as the caterpillar is, in which the form is lacking?
[tr. Kline (2002)]

Proud Christians, wretched and — alas! — so tired,
who, feeble in your powers of mental sight,
place so much faith in your own backward tread,
do you not recognize that you are worms
born to become angelic butterflies
that fly to justice with no veil between?
Why is it that your thoughts float up so high?
You, with your faults, are little more than grubs,
chrysalides (no more!) that lack full form.
[tr. Kirkpatrick (2007)]

O vainglorious Christians, miserable wretches!
Sick in the visions engendered in your minds,
you put your trust in backward steps.
Do you not see that we are born as worms,
though able to transform into angelic butterflies
that unimpeded soar to justice?
What makes your mind rear up so high?
You are, as it were, defective creatures,
like the unformed worm, shaped from the mud.
[tr. Hollander/Hollander (2007)]

O haughty Christians, miserable and weary,
Driven by sickness rioting in your mind,
Placing eternal trust in what walks backward,
Unable to see that human beings are worms,
Born to create angelic butterflies
That fly to God's judgment, needing no other protection.
Why do you let your mind soar into Heaven,
Since what you truly are is imperfect insects,
Just as the worm must wait to come into being?
[tr. Raffel (2010)]

 
Added on 17-Nov-23 | Last updated 17-Nov-23
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More quotes by Dante Alighieri

Guard against that vanity which courts a compliment, or is fed by it.

Thomas Chalmers
Thomas Chalmers (1780-1847) Scottish minister, theologian, political economist, church leader
Journal (1810-05-10)
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Added on 16-Nov-23 | Last updated 16-Nov-23
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And even when I reproach myself for it, the love of praise tempts me. There is temptation in the very process of self-reproach, for often, by priding himself on his contempt for vainglory, a man is guilty of even emptier pride; and for this reason his contempt of vainglory is an empty boast, because he cannot really hold it in contempt as long as he prides himself on doing so.

[[Amor laudis] temptat et cum a me in me arguitur, eo ipso quo arguitur, et saepe de ipso vanae gloriae contemptu vanius gloriatur, ideoque non iam de ipso contemptu gloriae gloriatur: non enim eam contemnit cum gloriatur.]

Augustine of Hippo (354-430) Christian church father, philosopher, saint [b. Aurelius Augustinus]
Confessions, Book 10, ch. 38 / ¶ 63 (10.38.63) (c. AD 398) [tr. Pine-Coffin (1961)]
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(Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

[Love of praise] tempts, even when it is reproved by myself in myself, on the very ground that it is reproved; and often glories more vainly of the very contempt of vain-glory; and so it is no longer contempt of vain-glory, whereof it glories; for it doth not contemn when it glorieth.
[tr. Pusey (1838)]

[Love of praise] tempts, even when within I reprove myself for it, on the very ground that it is reproved; and often man glories more vainly of the very scorn of vain-glory; wherefore it is not any longer scorn of vain-glory whereof it glories, for he does not truly contemn it when he inwardly glories.
[tr. Pilkington (1876)]

[Love of praise] tempts, even when I condemn it in myself, and from the very fact that it is condemned; and often glories more vainly in the very contempt of vain-glory; and therefore it ceases to be contempt of vain-glory, whereof it glories; for it does not really contemn it when it so glories.
[tr. Hutchings (1890)]

Love of praise tempts me even when I reprove it in myself, indeed in the very fact that I do reprove it: a man often glories the more vainly for his very contempt of vainglory: for which reason he does not really glory in his contempt of glory; in that he glories in it, he does not contemn it.
[tr. Sheed (1943), 10.39]

[Love of praise] tempts me, even when I inwardly reprove myself for it, and this precisely because it is reproved. For a man may often glory vainly in the very scorn of vainglory--and in this case it is not any longer the scorn of vainglory in which he glories, for he does not truly despise it when he inwardly glories in it.
[tr. Outler (1955)]

Even when [love of praise] is rebuked within myself by myself, it affords temptation by the very fact that it is rebuked. Often, out of very contempt of glory a man derives an emptier glory. No longer, therefore, does he glory in contempt of vainglory: he does not despise it, in as much as he glories over it.
[tr. Ryan (1960)]

Indeed [the love of praise] tempts me even in the very act of condemning it; often in our contempt of vainglory we are merely being all the more vainglorious, and so one cannot really say that one glories in the contempt of glory; for one does not feel contempt for something in which one glories.
[tr. Warner (1963)]

[Love of praise] is a temptation, even when shown up by myself and in myself. "Shown up" is the right word. It often boasts emptily over its very scorn for empty boasting, which thus ceases to be the scorn of which it boasts. The boaster does not in truth despise it, when he boasts about it.
[tr. Blaiklock (1983)]

[Hankering for praise] is a real temptation to me, and even when I am accusing myself of it, the very fact that I am accusing myself tempts me to further self-esteem. We can make our very contempt for vainglory a ground for preening ourselves more vainly still, which proves that what we are congratulating ourselves on is certainly not contempt for vainglory; for no one who indulges in it can be despising it.
[tr. Boulding (1997)]

 
Added on 9-Oct-23 | Last updated 9-Oct-23
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More quotes by Augustine of Hippo

Others lash the unknown seas with oars,
Rush at the sword, pay court in royal halls.
One destroys a city and its homes
To drink from jewelled cups and sleep on scarlet;
One hoards his wealth and lies on buried gold.
One gapes dumbfounded at the speaker’s stand;
At the theater, still another, open-mouthed,
Reels before crescendos of applause
From the tiers where mob and dignitaries sit.
Others are keen to drench themselves in blood,
Their brothers’ blood, and, exiled, change their homes
And winsome hearths, to range abroad for room
To live in, underneath a foreign sun.

[Sollicitant alii remis freta caeca ruuntque
in ferrum, penetrant aulas et limina regum;
hic petit excidiis urbem miserosque Penatis,
ut gemma bibat et Sarrano dormiat ostro;
condit opes alius defossoque incubat auro;
hic stupet attonitus rostris; hunc plausus hiantem
per cuneos — geminatus enim plebisque patrumque —
corripuit; gaudent perfusi sanguine fratrum,
exsilioque domos et dulcia limina mutant
atque alio patriam quaerunt sub sole iacentem.]

Virgil the Poet
Virgil (70-19 BC) Roman poet [b. Publius Vergilius Maro; also Vergil]
Georgics [Georgica], Book 2, l. 504ff (2.504-513) (29 BC) [tr. Bovie (1956)]
    (Source)

Virgil contrasting violent, ambitious, vain, and rootless life of city folk (evoking the Roman civil wars), in contrast to the bucolic peace and sense of home enjoyed by farmers.

(Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

Some vex the Sea, and some to war resorts,
Attend on Kings, and waite in Princes Courts.
This would his Countrey, and his God betray
To drink in Jems, and on proud scarlet lye.
This hides his wealth, and broods on hidden gold,
This loves to plead, and that to be extold
Through all the seats of Commons, and the sires.
To bathe in's brothers blood this man desires.
Some banish'd, must their native seats exchange,
And Countries, under other Climates range.
[tr. Ogilby (1649)]

Some to the Seas, and some to Camps resort, ⁠
And some with Impudence invade the Court.
In foreign Countries others seek Renown,
With Wars and Taxes others waste their own.
And Houses burn, and household Gods deface,
To drink in Bowls which glitt'ring Gems enchase:
⁠ To loll on Couches, rich with Cytron Steds,
And lay their guilty Limbs in Tyrian Beds.
This Wretch in Earth intombs his Golden Ore,
Hov'ring and brooding on his bury'd Store.
Some Patriot Fools to pop'lar Praise aspire, ⁠
By Publick Speeches, which worse Fools admire.
While from both Benches, with redoubl'd Sounds,
Th' Applause of Lords and Commoners abounds.
Some through Ambition, or thro' Thirst of Gold;
Have slain their Brothers, or their Country sold: ⁠
And leaving their sweet Homes, in Exile run
To Lands that lye beneath another Sun.
[tr. Dryden (1709), l. 720ff]

Some rush to battle, vex with oars the deep,
Or in the courts of Kings insidious creep;
For cups of gem, and quilts of Tyrian, die,
Others remorseless loose each public tie:
On hoarded treasures these ecstatic gaze,
Those eye the Rostra, stupid with amaze:
This for the theatre's applauding roar
Sighs: with the blood of brothers sprinkled o'er
From their dear homes to exile others run,
And seek new seats beneath a distant sun.
[tr. Nevile (1767), l. 565ff]

Some vex with restless oar wild seas unknown.
Some rush on death, or cringe around the throne;
Stern warriors here beneath their footsteps tread
The realm that rear'd them, and the hearth that fed,
To quaff from gems, and lull to transient rest
The wound that bleeds beneath the Tyrian vest.
These brood with sleepless gaze o'er buried gold,
The rostrum these with raptur'd trance behold,
Or wonder when repeated plaudits raise
'Mid peopled theatres the shout of praise;
These with grim joy, by civil discord led,
And stain'd in battles where a brother bled.
From their sweet household hearth in exile roam,
And seek beneath new suns a foreign home.
[tr. Sotheby (1800)]

Some vex the dangerous seas with oars, some rush into arms, some work their way into courts, and the palaces of kings. One destines a city and wretched families to destruction, that he may drink in gems and sleep on Tyrian purple. Another hoards up wealth, and broods over buried gold. One, astonished at the rostrum, grows giddy; another peals of applause along the rows, (for it is redoubled both by the people and the fathers,) have captivated, and set agape; some rejoice when stained with their brother's blood; and exchange their homes and sweet thresholds for exile, and seek a country lying under another sun.
[tr. Davidson (1854)]

While others vex dark Hellespont with oars,
Leap on the sword, or dash through royal stores,
Storm towns and homesteads, in their vile desire
To quaff from pearl, and sleep on tints of Tyre;
While others hoard and brood on buried dross,
And some are moonstruck at the pleader's gloss;
While this man gapes along the pit, to hear
The mob and senators renew their cheer;
And others, reeking in fraternal gore,
With songs of triumph quit their native shore,
Abjure sweet home for banishment, and run
In quest of country 'neath another sun --
[tr. Blackmore (1871), l. 602ff]

Others are startling the darkness of the deep with oars, rushing on the sword's pint, winning their way into the courts and ante-chambers of kings; another is dooming a city to ruin and its homes to misery, that he may drink from jewelled cups and sleep on Tyrian purple; another hoards his wealth, and broods o'er buried gold; this man is dazzled and amazed by the eloquence of the rostra; that man the applause of commoners and senators, as it rolls redoubled through the benches, transports agape with wonder; they steep their hands in brothers' blood and joy, they change their homes and the thresholds of affection for the land of exile, and seek a fatherland that lies beneath another sun.
[tr. Wilkins (1873)]

Others vex
The darksome gulfs of Ocean with their oars,
Or rush on steel: they press within the courts
And doors of princes; one with havoc falls
Upon a city and its hapless hearths,
From gems to drink, on Tyrian rugs to lie;
This hoards his wealth and broods o'er buried gold;
One at the rostra stares in blank amaze;
One gaping sits transported by the cheers,
The answering cheers of plebs and senate rolled
Along the benches: bathed in brothers' blood
Men revel, and, all delights of hearth and home
For exile changing, a new country seek
Beneath an alien sun.
[tr. Rhoades (1881)]

These dare the ocean, and invite the storm,
This rage, and this the courtier’s wiles deform;
All faith, all right the traitor’s acts defy,
From gems to drink, on Tyrian purple lie;
One broods in misery o’er his hoarded gold.
And one in chains the people’s plaudits hold.
There stains of blood pollute a brother’s hand,
And he in terror flies his father’s land.
[tr. King (1882), l. 514ff]

Some vex the dangerous seas with oars, or rush into arms, or work their way into courts and the palaces of kings: one marks out a city and its wretched homes for destruction, that he may drink from jewelled cups and sleep on Tyrian purple. Another hoards up wealth, and lies sleepless on his buried gold. One, in bewildered amazement, gazes at the Rostra; another, in open-mouthed delight, the plaudits of the commons and the nobles, redoubled along benches, have arrested: some take pleasure in being drenched with a brother’s blood; and exchange their homes and dear thresholds for exile, and seek a country lying under another sun.
[tr. Bryce (1897)]

Others vex blind sea-ways with their oars, or rush upon the sword, pierce the courts and chambers of kings; one aims destruction at the city and her wretched homes, that he may drink from gems and sleep on Tyrian scarlet; another heaps up wealth and broods over buried gold; one hangs rapt in amaze before the Rostra; one the applause of populace and senate re-echoing again over the theatre carries open-mouthed away: joyfully they steep themselves in blood of their brethren, and exchange for exile the dear thresholds of their homes, and seek a country spread under an alien sun.
[tr. Mackail (1899)]

Others may tempt with oars the printless sea, may fling
Their lives to the sword, may press through portals and halls of a king.
This traitor hath ruined his country, hath blasted her homes, thereby
To drink from a jewelled chalice, on Orient purple to lie;
That fool hoards up his wealth, and broods o'er his buried gold;
That simple-one gazes rapt on the rostra: the loud cheers rolled
Down the theatre-seats, as Fathers and people acclaiming stood,
Have entranced yon man; men drench them with joy in their brethren's blood;
Into exile from home and its sweet, sweet threshold some have gone
Seeking a country that lieth beneath an alien sun.
[tr. Way (1912), l. 503ff]

Let strangers to such peace
Trouble with oars the boundless seas or fly
To wars, and plunder palaces of kings;
Make desolate whole cities, casting down
Their harmless gods and altars, that one's wine
May from carved rubies gush, and slumbering head
On Tyrian pillow lie. A man here hoards
His riches, dreaming of his buried gold;
Another on the rostrum's flattered pride
Stares awe-struck. Him th' applause of multitudes.
People and senators, when echoed shouts
Ring through the house approving, quite enslaves.
With civil slaughter and fraternal blood
One day such reek exultant, on the next
Lose evermore the long-loved hearth and home.
[tr. Williams (1915)]

Others brave with oars seas unknown, dash upon the sword, or press their way into courts and the chambers of kings. One wreaks ruin on a city and its wretched homes, and all to drink from a jewelled cup and sleep on Tyrian purple; another hoards wealth and gloats over buried gold; one stares in admiration at the rostra; another, open-mouthed, is carried away by the applause of high and low which rolls again and again along the benches. They steep themselves in their brothers’ blood and glory in it; they barter their sweet homes and hearths for exile and seek a country that lies beneath an alien sun.
[tr. Fairclough (Loeb) (1916)]

Other men dare the sea with their oars blindly, or dash
On the sword, or insinuate themselves into royal courts:
One ruins a whole town and the tenements of the poor
In his lust for jewelled cups, for scarlet linen to sleep on,
One piles up great wealth, gloats over his cache of gold;
One gawps at the public speakers; one is worked up to hysteria
By the plaudits of senate and people resounding across the benches:
These shed their brothers’ blood
Merrily, they barter for exile their homes beloved
And leave for countries lying under an alien sun.
[tr. Day-Lewis (1940)]

Others churn blind straits with their oars, and rush to the sword, force their way across the thresholds and into the courts of kings; [...] They rejoice, soaked in their brothers’ blood, exchange their own sweet thresholds for exile and seek a fatherland under another sun.
[tr. Miles (1980)]

Some vex with oars uncharted waters, some
Rush on cold steel, some seek to worm their way
Into the courts of kings. One is prepared
To plunge a city's homes in misery
All for a jewelled cup and a crimson bedspread;
Another broods on a buried hoard of gold.
This one is awestruck by the platform's thunder;
That one, enraptured, gapes ad the waves of applause
from high and low rolling across the theater.
Men revel steeped in brothers' blood, exchange
The hearth they love for banishment, and seek
A home in lands benath an alien sun.
[tr. Wilkinson (1982)]

Others trouble unknown seas with oars, rush on
their swords, enter the gates and courts of kings.
This man destroys a city and its wretched houses,
to drink from a jewelled cup, and sleep on Tyrian purple:
that one heaps up wealth, and broods about buried gold:
one’s stupefied, astonished by the Rostra: another, gapes,
entranced by repeated applause, from people and princes,
along the benches: men delight in steeping themselves
in their brothers’ blood, changing sweet home and hearth for exile,
and seeking a country that lies under an alien sun.
[tr. Kline (2001)]

Others slap their oars on dark, unknown seas, fall on their swords,
or thrust themselves into royal courts and palaces.
One man aims to destroy a city and its humble homes -- just
to drink from a jeweled goblet and sleep on Tyrian purple;
another stores up treasures and broods on his buried gold.
Wide-eyed, one gawks at the forum's speakers; another,
mouth agape, is swept away when lower class and upper both
applaud a statesman. Dripping with their brothers' gore,
they exult, exchanging familiar homes and hearths for exile,
they seek a fatherland that lies beneath a foreign sun.
[tr. Lembke (2004)]

Others fret with oars uncharted seas, or rush
upon the sword, or infiltrate the courts and vestibules of kings.
One visits devastation on a city and its wretched hearths
that he may slurp from a jewelled cup and snore on Tyrian purple.
Another hoards treasure and broods over buried gold.
One wonders thunderstruck at the podium, one gapes
transported by the applause of senators and commonfolk
resounding through the galleries. Drenched in their brothers' blood
they exult, and trade exile for their homes and sweet porches,
and seek a homeland under an alien sun.
[tr. Johnson (2009)]

There are those who with their oars disturb the waters
Of dangerous unknown seas, and those who rush
Against the sword, and those who insinuate
Their way into the chamber of a king:
There's one who brings down ruin on a city
And all its wretched households, in his desire
To drink from an ornate cup and go to sleep
On Tyrian purple coverlets at night;
There's the man who heaps up gold, and hides it away,
There's he who stares up stupefied at the Rostrum;
There's the open-mouthed, undone astonishment
Of the one who hears the waves and waves of the wild
Applause of the close packed crowd in the theater;
There are those who bathe in their brothers' blood, rejoicing;
And those who give up house and home for exile,
Seeking a land an alien sun shines on.
[tr. Ferry (2015)]

 
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All has its date below; the fatal hour
Was register’d in Heav’n ere time began.
We turn to dust, and all our mightiest works
Die too.

William Cowper (1731-1800) English poet
The Task, Book 5 “The Winter Morning Walk,” l. 529ff (1785)
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All flesh is grass, and all its glory fades
Like the fair flower dishevell’d in the wind;
Riches have wings, and grandeur is a dream;
The man we celebrate must find a tomb,
And we that worship him, ignoble graves.

William Cowper (1731-1800) English poet
The Task, Book 3 “The Garden,” l. 261ff (1785)
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There is no arena in which vanity displays itself under such a variety of forms as in conversation.

[Il n’est point d’arène où la vanité se montre sous des formes plus variées que dans la conversation.]

Germaine de Staël (1766-1817) Swiss-French writer, woman of letters, critic, salonist [Anne Louise Germaine de Staël-Holstein, Madame de Staël, Madame Necker]
Germany [L’Allemagne], Part 1, ch. 11 “Of the Spirit of Conversation” (1813)
    (Source)

(Source (French)).

Sometimes misattributed to Marguerite Gardiner (Lady Blessington), due to this quote (there attributed to de Stael) being included in the Preface to R. R. Madden, The Literary Life and Correspondence of the Countess of Blessington, Vol. 1 (1855).
 
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Your lady friends are ill to see,
All old or ugly as can be,
And in their company you go
To banquet, play, and portico;
This hideous background you prepare
To seem, by contrast, young and fair.

[Omnes aut vetulas habes amicas
Aut turpes vetulisque foediores.
Has ducis comites trahisque tecum
Per convivia, porticus, theatra.
Sic formosa, Fabulla, sic puella es.]

Marcus Valerius Martial
Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 8, epigram 79 (8.79) (AD 94) [tr. Pott & Wright (1921), “The Contrast”]
    (Source)

"To Fabulla." (Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

All thy companions aged beldames are,
Or more deform'd than age makes any, far:
These cattle at thy heels thou trail'st always
To public walks, to suppers, and to plays.
'Cause when with such alone we thee compare,
Thou canst be said, Fabulla, young or fair.
[tr. Killigrew (1695)]

All the companions of her grace, I'm told,
Are either very plan, or very old.
With these she visits: these she drags about,
To play, to ball, assembly, auctions, rout:
With these she sups: with these she takes the air.
Without such foils is lady dutchess fair?
[tr. Hay (1755)]

Old women are thine only friends;
Or rivals, safe as they.
No other face thy face attends,
To table, porch or play.
Fabulla, thus thou beauteous art,
And thus thou still art young.
Oh! solace to my eyes impart;
Or silence to my tongue.
[tr. Elphinston (1782), Book 6, Part 3, ep. 94]

All your female friends are either old or ugly; nay, more ugly than old women usually are. These you lead about in your train, and drag with you to feasts, porticoes, and theatres. Thus, Fabulla, you seem handsome, thus you seem young.
[tr. Bohn's Classical (1859)]

All the female friends you have are either old crones or ugly, and fouler than old crones. These, as your companions, you conduct and drag about with you through parties, colonnades, theaters. In this way, Fabulla, you are lovely, in this way young.
[tr. Ker (1919)]

The friends that old Fabulla owns
Are harridans and ancient crones,
Ill-favored witches, what you will;
These are her constant comrades still
To banquets, theatres, and shows;
So ever fair and young she goes.
[tr. Francis & Tatum (1924), ep. 442]

The only female friends she has
Are old or ugly crows.
These she drags along with her
To parties, visits, shows.
So it's no cause for wonder that
Amidst such company
She's young, attractive, beautiful --
Almost a joy to see!
[tr. Marcellino (1968)]

Her women friends are all old hags
Or, worse, hideous girls. She drags
Them with her everywhere she goes --
To parties, theaters, porticoes.
Clever Fabulla! Set among
Those foils you shine, even look young.
[tr. Michie (1972)]

All your women friends are either old hags or frights uglier than old hags. These are your companions whom you bring with you and trail through dinner parties, colonnades, theaters. In this way, Fabullla, you are a beauty, you are a girl.
[tr. Shackleton Bailey (1993)]

With women you keep company
Who are ugly as can be.
These ancient frights you take along
To show off in your social throng.
You hope that we will make compare,
So even you look young and fair.
[tr. Wills (2007)]

All your friends are ancient hags
or eyesores uglier than those.
These are the company you drag
to banquets, plays, and porticoes.
Fabulla, when you're seen among
such friends, you're beautiful and young.
[tr. McLean (2014)]

 
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You’re rich and young, as all confess,
And none denies your loveliness;
But when we hear your boastful tongue
You’re neither pretty, rich, nor young.

[Bella es, novimus, et puella, verum est,
Et dives, quis enim potest negare?
Sed cum te nimium, Fabulla, laudas,
Nec dives neque bella nec puella es.]

Marcus Valerius Martial
Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 1, epigram 64 (1.64) (AD 85-86) [tr. Pott & Wright (1921), “The Boaster”]
    (Source)

"To Fabulla." (Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

Of beautie braue we knowe thou art,
and eke a maide beside:
Abounding eke in wealthe and store,
this ne maie bee denied.
But while to much you praise your self,
and boste you all surmount:
Ne riche, ne faire, Fabulla, nor
A maide we can you counte.
[tr. Kendall (1577)]

You're fayre, I know't; and modest too, 't is true;
And rich you are; well, who denyes it you?
But whilst your owne prayse you too much proclame,
Of modest, rich, and fayre you loose the same.
[17th C Manuscript]

Faire, rich, and yong? how rare is her perfection,
Were it not mingled with one soule infection?
I meane, so proud a heart, so curst a tongue,
As makes her seeme, nor faire, nor rich, nor yong.
[tr. Harington (fl. c. 1600), ep. 291; Book 4, ep. 37 "Of a faire Shrew"]

Th' art faire Fabulla, tis most true,
Rich, yongue, there's none denies thy due.
But whilest thy selfe dost too much boast,
Thy youth, thy wealth, thy beautie's lost.
[tr. May (1629)]

Genteel 't is true, O nymph, you are;
You're rich and beauteous to a hair.
But while too much you praise yourself,
You've neither air, nor charms, nor pelf.
[tr. Gent. Mag. (1746)]

Pretty thou art, we know; a pretty maid!
A rich one, too, it cannot be gainsay'd.
But when thy puffs we hear, thy pride we see;
Thou neither rich, nor fair, nor maid canst be.
[tr. Elphinston (1782), Book 6, Part 3, ep. 48; Bohn labels this as Anon.]

You are pretty, -- we know it; and young, --it is true; and rich, -- who can deny it? But when you praise yourself extravagantly, Fabulla, you appear neither rich, nor pretty, nor young.
[tr. Bohn's Classical (1859)]

Fabulla, it's true you're a fair ingénue,
And your wealth is on every one's tongue:
But your loud self-conceit
Makes people you meet
Think you neither fair, wealthy, nor young.
[tr. Nixon (1911), "The Egoist"]

You are beautiful, we know, and young, that is true, and rich -- for who can deny it? But while you praise yourself overmuch, Fabulla, you are neither rich, nor beautiful, nor young.
[tr. Ker (1919)]

You’re beautiful, oh yes, and young, and rich;
But since you tell us so, you’re just a bitch.
[tr. Humphries (1963)]

It's true enough, Fabulla, you are
by you, Fabulla, you aren't rich, or beautiful, or young.
Bovie (1970)]

That you're young, beautiful and rich,
Fabulla, no one can deny.
But when you praise yourself too much,
None of the epithets apply.
[tr. Michie (1972)]

You're beautiful, oh yes, and young, and rich;
But since you tell us so, you're just a bitch.
[tr. Humphries (<1987)]

You are pretty: we know. You are young: true. And rich: who can deny it? But when you praise yourself too much, Fabulla, you are neither rich nor pretty nor young.
[tr. Shackleton Bailey (1993)]

You're rich, and young, and beautiful!
It's true, and who can doubt it?
But less and less we feel that pull
The more you talk about it.
[tr. Ericsson (1995)]

Of debutantes you are beyond compare --
So wealthy, beautiful, and debonair.
Yet you make all this matter not a whit:
Your beauty to undo -- you boast of it.
[tr. Wills (2007)]

You’re lovely, yes, and young, it’s true,
and rich -- who can deny your wealth?
But you aren’t lovely, young or rich,
Fabulla, when you praise yourself.
[tr. McLean (2014)]

 
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Every author, however modest, keeps a most outrageous vanity chained like a madman in the padded cell of his breast.

Smith - Every author however modest keeps a most outrageous vanity chained like a madman in the padded cell of his breast - wist.info quote

Logan Pearsall Smith (1865-1946) American-English essayist, editor, anthologist
Afterthoughts (1931)
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An author, like any other so-called artist, is a man in whom the normal vanity of all men is so vastly exaggerated that he finds it a sheer impossibility to hold it in. His overpowering impulse is to gyrate before his fellow men, flapping his wings and emitting defiant yells. This being forbidden by the police of all civilized countries, he takes it out by putting his yells on paper. Such is the thing called self-expression.

H. L. Mencken (1880-1956) American writer and journalist [Henry Lewis Mencken]
“The Fringes of Lovely Letters,” Prejudices: Fifth Series (1926)
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So you pretend to fear you may be hit
By pointed epigrams, the shafts of wit?
To seem a worthy foeman you aspire,
How vain alike the fear and the desire!
Against fiercest bulls the lion’s wrath may rise,
He scorns to war with puny butterflies.

[Versus et breve vividumque carmen
in te ne faciam times, Ligurra,
et dignus cupis hoc metu videri.
sed frustra metuis cupisque frustra.
in tauros Libyci fremunt leones,
non sunt papilionibus molesti.]

Marcus Valerius Martial
Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 12, epigram 61 (12.61.1-6) (AD 101) [tr. Pott & Wright (1921)]
    (Source)

"To Ligurra". (Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

You dread my verse, and sting of wit,
Which put you in a shaking fit:
Would seem of rank to entertain
Such fears: your fears and hopes are vain.
'Tis at the bull that lions fly,
While rats run unregarded by.
[tr. Hay (1755)]

Lest a little living song
Make thy fame, Ligurra, long;
Thou would'st have thy terror seen:
Vain thy wish as fear, I ween.
At the bulls the lions rise,
Never rush on butterflies.
[tr. Elphinston (1782), Book 3, ep. 31]

You are afraid, Ligurra, lest I should compose verses on you, some short and pungent epigram, and you wish to be thought a proper object of such rear. But vain is your fear. and vain your desire! Libyan lions rush upon bulls; they do not hurt butterflies.
[tr. Bohn's Classical (1859)]

You fear, Ligurra -- above all, you long --
That I should smite you with a singing song,
This dreadful honour you both fear and hope:
Both quite in vain: you fall below my scope.
The Libyan lion tears the roaring bull,
He does not harm the midge along the pool.
[tr. Stevenson (1884)]

You are afraid, Ligurra, I should write verses on you, and some short and lively poem, and you long to be thought a man that justifies such fear. But vain is your fear, and your longing is vain. Against bulls Libyan lions rage, they are not hostile to butterflies.
[tr. Ker (1919)]

You say you're scared I'm going to aim
A lampoon at you, something brief
And lurid, and half proudly claim
You're a marked man. Wishful belief!
Misapprehended apprehension!
African lions pay attention
To bulls, they don't hunt butterflies.
[tr. Michie (1972)]

Ligurra's fearful I'll contrive
Some pungent piece, some sprightly ditty,
And longs to be considered worth it.
Longings baseless! Baseless fears!
The Libyan lion paws the Libyan bull
But does not bat the butterfly.
[tr. Whigham (1987)]

You are afraid, Ligurra, of my writing verses against you, a brief, lively poem, and you long to seem worthy of such an apprehension. But idle is your fear and idle your desire. Libyan lions roar at bulls, they do not trouble butterflies.
[tr. Shackleton Bailey (1993)]

Ah Ligurra, you’re quite afraid that I might write
About you. Some nasty, pithy, diamond-shard of spite
As is my wont. In fact, you quite like the idea.
Well, don’t get your hopes up I’ll gratify that fear.
I may be beastly but I claw with discretion,
No stepping on insects, flattered to be flattened.
[tr. Ynys-Mon (2007)]

You fear I'll write a brief and lively poem
attacking you, Ligurra, and you yearn
to seem one who would merit such a fear.
Your wish is vain and so is your concern.
Lions of Libya roar at bulls; they leave
butterflies unmolested.
[tr. McLean (2014)]

Ligurra, you fear that I might compose
Verses against you, a brief, intense poem --
Oh how you long to seem worthy of this fear.
But you fear in vain, in vain you long.
The Libyan lions growl at bulls;
They do not pester butterflies.
[tr. @sentantiq (2018)]

See also Ben Jonson (1572-1637):

Sir Inigo doth fear it, as I hear,
And labors to seem worthy of that fear,
That I should write upon him some sharpe verse,
Able to eat into his bones, and pierce
Their marrow. Wretch! I quit thee of thy pain,
Thou'rt too ambitious, and dost fear in vain:
The Lybian lion hunts no butterflies,
He makes the camel and dull ass his prize.

 
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It is in vain to Say that Democracy is less vain, less proud, less selfish, less ambitious or less avaricious than Aristocracy or Monarchy. It is not true in Fact and no where appears in history. Those Passions are the same in all Men under all forms of Simple Government, and when unchecked, produce the same Effects of Fraud Violence and Cruelty. When clear Prospects are opened before Vanity, Pride, Avarice or Ambition, for their easy gratification, it is hard for the most considerate Phylosophers and the most conscientious Moralists to resist the temptation. Individuals have conquered themselves, Nations and large Bodies of Men, never.

John Adams (1735-1826) American lawyer, Founding Father, statesman, US President (1797-1801)
Letter to John Taylor (17 Dec 1814)
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You seem a youth to look upon.
You dyed your hair — and lo,
The locks once whiter than a swan
Are blacker than a crow.
Not everyone can you deceive
And, though you hide the grey,
Yet Proserpine will not believe
But snatch the mask away.

[Mentiris iuvenem tinctis, Laetine, capillis,
Tam subito corvus, qui modo sygnus eras.
Non omnes fallis; scit te Proserpina canum
Personam capiti detrahet illa tuo.]

Marcus Valerius Martial
Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 3, epigram 43 (3.43) (AD 87-88) [tr. Pott & Wright (1921)]
    (Source)

Proserpina (the Roman version of Persephone) was the goddess / Queen of the Underworld.

(Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

Thou dy'st thy haire to seeme a younger man,
And turn'st a Crow, that lately wert a Swan.
All are not cousen'd; hels queene knows thee grey.
She'll take the vizor from thy head away.
[tr. May (1629)]

Lentinus counterfeits his youth
With periwigs, I trow,
But art thou changed so soon, in truth,
From a swan to a crow?
Though canst not all the world deceive:
Proserpine knows thee gray;
And she'll make bold, without your leave,
To take your cap away.
[tr. Fletcher (1656)]

Thou that not many months ago
Wast white as Swan, or driven Snow,
Now blacker far than Aesop's Crow,
Thanks to thy Wig, set’st up for Beau.
Faith Harry, thou'rt i'the wrong box,
Old Age these vain endeavours mocks
And time that knows thou'st hoary locks,
Will pluck thy Mask off with a pox.
[tr. Brown (1699)]

Why should’st thou try to hide thy self in youth?
Impartial Proserpine beholds the truth,
And laughing at so find and vain a task,
Will strip thy hoary noddle of its mask.
[tr. Addison (fl. early 18th C)]

With tinctur'd locks the dotard youth puts on:
Behold a raven, from but now a swan!
Though cheat'st not all; not her, who rules the dead:
She soon shall pull the mask from off thy head.
[tr. Elphinston (1782), Part 2, ep. 21]

Before a swan, behind a crow,
Such self-deceit ne'er did I know.
Ah! cease your arts-- death knows you're grey,
And spite of all will keep his day.
[tr. Hoadley (fl. 18th C) §240]

You simulate youth, Lentinus, with your dyed hairs; so suddenly a crow, who were so lately a swan. You do not deceive everyone: Proserpina knows you for a greybeard, she will tear off the masque from your head.
[tr. Amos (1858), ch. 4, ep. 140]

Letinus, fain to cheat men's eyes,
You smear your head with umber dyes;
And, late a swan as white as snow,
You've suddenly become a crow.
Is everyone deceived by you?
No, one can tell the genuine hue.
Proserpine knows your hair is grey,
And she will tear that mask away.
[tr. Webb (1879)]

You ape youth, Laetinus, with your dyed hair; and you, who were but now a swan, are suddenly become a crow! You will not deceive everyone: Proserpine knows that you are hoary, and will snatch the mask from your head.
[tr. Bohn's Classical (1897)]

You pretend you're still youthful by dyeing your hair --
Now a crow, though a swan just of late --
But you don't fool us all, for Proserpina knows,
She'll show up the sham of your pate.
[tr. Nixon (1911)]

You falsely ape youth, Laetinus, with dyed hair, so suddenly a raven who were but now a swan. You don't deceive all; Proserpine knows you are hoary: she shall pluck the mask from off your head.
[tr. Ker (1919)]

You play the youth with raven hue assumed
But yesterday like swan of Leda plumed.
Not all you cheat; Proserpine knows you grey.
Some day she'll pluck your silly mask away.
[tr. Francis & Tatum (1924)]

You wish, Lætinus, to be thought a youth,
And so you dye your hair.
You're suddenly a crow, forsooth:
Of late a swan you were!
You can't cheat all: there is a Lady dread
Who knows your hair is grey:
Proserpina will pounce upon your head,
And tear the mask away.
[tr. Duff (1929)]

It's artificial for you to look like a young man
with your dyed hair, suddenly turning into a crow
when just a while ago you were a swan. You won't fool
everyone: Proserpina knows you are white-haired
and she will make you take your mask off.
[tr. Bovie (1970)]

You've dyed your hair to mimic youth,
Laetinus. Not so long ago
You were a swan; now you're a crow.
You can't fool everyone. One day
Proserpina, who knows the truth,
Will rip that actor's wig away.
[tr. Michie (1972)]

You were a swan, you’re now a crow.
Laetinus, why deceive us so,
With borrowed plumage trying?
The Queen of Shades will surely know
When she slips off your mask below,
In Death there's no more dyeing.
[tr. Pitt-Kethley (1987)]

You simulate youth, Laetinus, by dying your hair; so suddenly a raven, who were but now a swan. You don't fool everybody. Proserpina knows your hair is white. She will drag the mask from your head.
[tr. Shackleton Bailey (1993)]

You dye your hair, Laetinus, to feign youth --
a swan before, a raven now instead.
You don't fool all. Proserpina can tell
you're gray. She'll pull that mask right off your head.
[tr. McLean (2014)]

You counterfeit youth with hair-dye, Laetinus: all of a sudden you're a raven, when just now you were a swan. You don't fool everyone: Proserpina knows you are grey; she will drag the mask from your head.
[tr. Nisbet (2015)]

Thou, that not a month ago
Wast white as swan or driven snow,
Now blacker far than Aesop's crow,
Thanks to thy wig, sett'st up for beau:
Faith, Harry, thou'rt i' the wrong box;
Old age these vain endeavours mocks,
And time, that knows thou 'st hoary locks,
Will pluck thy mask off with a pox.
[tr. Browne]

Before a swan, behind a crow,
Such self-deceit I ne'er did know.
Ah, cease your arts! Death knows you're grey,
And, spite of all, will have his way.
[tr. Hoadley]

 
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What egotism, what stupid vanity, to suppose that a thing could not happen because you could not conceive it!

Philip Wylie (1902-1971) American author
When Worlds Collide (1933) [with Edwin Balmer]
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The vanity of man revolts from the serene indifference of the cat.

Agnes Repplier (1855-1950) American writer
“The Grocer’s Cat,” Americans and Others (1912)
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There is another sort of lies, inoffensive enough in themselves, but wonderfully ridiculous; I mean those lies which a mistaken vanity suggests, that defeat the very end for which they are calculated, and terminate in the humiliation and confusion of their author, who is sure to be detected. These are chiefly narrative and historical lies, all intended to do infinite honor to their author. He is always the hero of his own romances; he has been in dangers from which nobody but himself ever escaped; he as seen with his own eyes, whatever other people have heard or read of; he has had more bonnes fortunes than ever he knew women; and has ridden more miles post in one day, than ever courier went in two. He is soon ridiculed, and as soon becomes the object of universal contempt and ridicule.

Lord Chesterfield (1694-1773) English statesman, wit [Philip Dormer Stanhope]
Letter to his son, #126 (21 Sep 1747)
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The pain others give passes away in their later kindness, but that of our own blunders, especially when they hurt our vanity, never passes away.

William Butler Yeats (1865-1939) Irish poet and dramatist
Journal entry #105 (18 Mar 1909)
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See also "Vacillation."
 
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It never ceases to amaze me: we all love ourselves more than other people, but care more about their opinion than our own.

Marcus Aurelius (AD 121-180) Roman emperor (161-180), Stoic philosopher
Meditations, Book 12, ch. 4 [tr. Hays (2002)]
    (Source)

Alt. trans.:
  • "I have often wondered how each man should love himself more than any other; and yet make less account of his own opinion concerning himself, than of the opinions of others." [tr. Foulis (1742)]
  • "I have often wondered, whence it comes to pass, that although every one loves himself more than he does any other man, he should yet pay a greater regard to the opinion of other people concerning him than to his own." [tr. Graves (1792)]
  • "I have often wondered how it comes to pass that everybody should love themselves best, and yet value their neighbor's opinion about themselves more than their own." [tr. Collier (rev.)]
  • "I have often wondered how it is that every man loves himself more than all the rest of men, but yet sets less value on his own opinion of himself than on the opinion of others." [tr. Long (1862)]
  • "How is it that every person loves themselves more than any other person, yet still gives more value to the opinions of others than the opinion they hold of themselves?" [tr. McNeill (2019)]
 
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You both seem concern’d lest I have imbib’d some erroneous Opinions. Doubtless I have my Share, and when the natural Weakness and Imperfection of Human Understanding is considered, with the unavoidable Influences of Education, Custom, Books and Company, upon our Ways of thinking, I imagine a Man must have a good deal of Vanity who believes, and a good deal of Boldness who affirms, that all the Doctrines he holds, are true; and all he rejects, are false. And perhaps the same may be justly said of every Sect, Church and Society of men when they assume to themselves that Infallibility which they deny to the Popes and Councils. I think Opinions should be judg’d of by their Influences and Effects; and if a Man holds none that tend to make him less Virtuous or more vicious, it may be concluded he holds none that are dangerous; which I hope is the Case with me.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher, aphorist
Letter to Josiah and Abiah Franklin (13 Apr 1738)
    (Source)

His parents.
 
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Many complain of their looks, but none of their brains.

(Other Authors and Sources)
Italian proverb

Also noted as a Jewish or Yiddish proverb.

This is also often cited to Sally Koslow, Little Pink Slips, ch. 5 (2007); it appears there as ""Many complain of their looks, few of their brains," but is described as an unoriginal needlepoint on a pillow cover.

See also La Rochefoucauld for a similar construction.
 
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In our judgment of men, we are to beware of giving any great importance to occasional acts. By acts of occasional virtue weak men endeavour to redeem themselves in their own estimation, vain men to exalt themselves in that of mankind.

Henry Taylor (1800-1886) English dramatist, poet, bureaucrat, man of letters
The Statesman: An Ironical Treatise on the Art of Succeeding, ch. 3 (1836)
    (Source)
 
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There are no grades of vanity, there are only grades of ability in concealing it.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
Mark Twain’s Notebook, 1898 [ed. Paine (1935)]
 
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After all, vanity is as much a virtue as a vice. It is easy to recite copy-book maxims against its sinfulness, but it is a passion that can move us to good as well as to evil. Ambition is only vanity ennobled. We want to win praise and admiration — or Fame as we prefer to name it — and so we write great books, and paint grand pictures, and sing sweet songs; and toil with willing hands in study, loom, and laboratory.

Jerome K. Jerome (1859-1927) English writer, humorist [Jerome Klapka Jerome]
“On Vanity and Vanities,” The Idle Thoughts of an Idle Fellow (1889)
    (Source)
 
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A diplomat is a man who always remembers a woman’s birthday but never remembers her age.

Robert Frost (1874-1963) American poet
(Attributed)
 
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This sad little lizard told me that he was a Brontosaurus on his mother’s side. I did not laugh; people who boast of ancestry often have little else to sustain them. Humoring them costs nothing and adds to happiness in a world in which happiness is in short supply.

Robert A. Heinlein (1907-1988) American writer
Time Enough for Love (1973)
 
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You should show the least vanity about your greatest gifts. Content yourself with doing: leave saying to others.

[Afecte menos sus mayores eminencias. Conténtese con hacer, y deje para otros el decir.]

Baltasar Gracián y Morales (1601-1658) Spanish Jesuit priest, writer, philosopher
The Art of Worldly Wisdom [Oráculo Manual y Arte de Prudencia], § 295 (1647) [tr. Maurer (1992)]
    (Source)

(Source (Spanish)). Alternate translations:

Shew as little as thou canst thy most eminent qualities. Rest satisfied to doe, and leave it to others to talk of it.
[Flesher ed. (1685)]

The greater your exploits the less you need affect them: content yourself with doing, leave the talking to others.
[tr. Jacobs (1892)]

Real achievement needs no such affectation. Rest in accomplishment, and leave talk to others. Do, and do not brag.
[tr. Fischer (1937)]

Make the least ado about your greatest gifts. Be content to act, and leave the talking to others.
[Source]

 
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Properly regarded, male vanity is a virtue, not a vice. Treated correctly, it makes him enormously pleasanter to deal with.

Robert A. Heinlein (1907-1988) American writer
Friday [Friday Jones] (1982)
 
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Thirty-five is a very attractive age. London society is full of women of the very highest birth who have, of their own free choice, remained thirty-five for years.

Oscar Wilde (1854-1900) Irish poet, wit, dramatist
The Importance of Being Earnest, Act 3 (1895)
 
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People in general will much better bear being told of their vices or crimes than of their little failings or weaknesses.

Lord Chesterfield (1694-1773) English statesman, wit [Philip Dormer Stanhope]
Letter to his son, #204 (26 Nov 1749)
    (Source)
 
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We are so vain that we even care for the opinion of those we don’t care for.

Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach (1830-1916) Austrian writer
Aphorisms (1905)
 
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Since the gleaming expanse on the top of your head,
Marinus, seems painfully wide,
You gather together and spread on the tract
The hairs that remain on each side.
But the breath of the wind promptly blows them about
And straightway the middle space clears.
And long strands so surround the bare waste that you seem
Like a Roundhead ‘twixt two Cavaliers.
Now why not be candid, confess that you’re old,
Meet nature with heart unappalled?
You’ll at least then seem one man: there’s nothing so bad
As a being hirsute and yet bald.

[Raros colligis hinc et hinc capillos
Et latum nitidae, Marine, calvae
Campum temporibus tegis comatis;
Sed moti redeunt iubente vento
Reddunturque sibi caputque nudum
Cirris grandibus hinc et inde cingunt:
Inter Spendophorum Telesphorumque
Cydae stare putabis Hermerotem.
Vis tu simplicius senem fateri,
Ut tandem videaris unus esse!
Calvo turpius est nihil comato.]

Marcus Valerius Martial
Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 10, epigram 83 (10.83) (AD 95, 98 ed.) [tr. Nixon (1911), “A Most Delicate Matter”]
    (Source)

"To Marinus." (Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

Your thin-sown hairs on any side
With dextrous care you cull;
And rob your temples of their pride,
To thatch your shining skull.
Repell'd by ev'ry puff of wind,
They take their former stand,
And then your desert poll they bind,
With locks in either hand.
So 'twixt two tuzzy youthful pates,
One Halmyrotes sees.
Throw ridicule no more such baits:
The bare old-man will please.
But, that at length you may seem one,
The shaver quick be call'd;
And let him o'er the remnant run:
Belock'd! oh shame! and bald!
[tr. Elphinston (1782), Book 6, part 2, ep. 17]

You collect together a few locks of hair that remain on your temples, and cover with them the wide expanse of your shining bald pate; but no sooner are the locks commanded by the wind than they return to their places; and, as before, they gird, on each side, your naked head; just as if Cidas's statue of the old man were placed between two youths having luxuriant hair. Will you candidly confess your senility? In order that you may appear what you really are, let some barber shave the remnant of your hairs; nothing is more disgraceful than a bald man wearing hair.
[tr. Amos (1858), ch. 4, #138]

You collect your straggling hairs on each side, Marinus, endeavouring to conceal the vast expanse of your shining bald pate by the locks which still grow on your temples. But the hairs disperse, and return to their own place with every gust of wind; flanking your bare pole on either side with crude tufts. We might imagine we saw Hermeros of Cydas standing between Spendophorus and Telesphorus. Why not confess yourself an old man? Be content to seem what you really are, and let the barber shave off the rest of your hair. There is nothing more contemptible than a bald man who pretends to have hair.
[tr. Bohn's Classical (1859)]

From one side and the other you gather up your scanty locks and you cover, Marinus, the wide expanse of your shining bald scalp with the hair form both sides of your head. But blown about, they come back at the bidding of the wind, and return to themselves and gird your bare poll with big culres on this side and on that. You would think that Hermeros of Cydas is standing between Spendophorus and Telephorus. Will you, please, in simpler fashion confess yourself old, so as after all to appear a single person? Nothing is more unsightly than a bald man covered with hair.
[tr. Ker (1919)]

You scrape a few hairs from the side of your head,
So that over your bare-shining baldness they spread;
But blown by the wind they return to their place
And with two big curls your poor naked poll grace.
You’ld think that we had old Silenus in sight
Between young Adonis and Hermaphrodite.
Confess your old age and leave all your head bare:
There’s nothing more ugly than bald men with hair
[tr. Pott & Wright (1921)]

Your scattered side-locks to a bunch you train,
And draw a forest to the shining plain.
Then comes the wind, and once again are seen
Two curly masses with a space between.
Spendophorus and Telesphorus you'ld swear
And Hermerotes in the midst were there.
Be one, Marinus; your old age confess;
A bald coot feathered vaunts his ugliness.
[tr. Francis & Tatum (1924), #572 "To One Who Hides His Baldness"]

Marinus, you collect your scattered locks from this side and from that, and cover the broad expanse of your shining baldness with hair from your temples. But at the wind's bidding they move and return and are restored to themselves, to surround your bare top with big curls on either side. You would think that Cydas' Hermeros was standing between Spendophorus and Telesphorus. Why not be straightforward and admit to being an old man, so that at least you look like one man? Nothing is uglier than a baldhead with a lot of hair.
[tr. Shackleton Bailey (1993)]

Your hairs are carefully disposed
Lest your bald pate should be disclosed.
But winds lift them in wavy drifts,
Moved in a blur of constant shifts.
How can you have so little hair,
Yet have it show up everywhere?
[tr. Wills (2007)]

 
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Nothing makes one so vain as being told that one is a sinner. Conscience makes egotists of us all.

Oscar Wilde (1854-1900) Irish poet, wit, dramatist
The Picture of Dorian Gray, ch. 8 [Lord Henry] (1891)
    (Source)
 
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There are high spots in all of our lives and most of them have come about through encouragement from someone else. I don’t care how great, how famous, or successful a man or woman may be, each hungers for applause.

George Matthew Adams (1878-1962) American newspaper columnist, publisher
Syndicated Column (1932)
    (Source)
 
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I didn’t think it was possible to not care about something less than I did about football, but clothes were it. Most guys really don’t give a damn. Clothes were the things that, if you were a guy, you wore to keep warm, and that a girl wore so that you wouldn’t see her naked, and what guy is in favor of that?

Peter David (b. 1956) American writer
Pulling Up Stakes (2013)
 
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We are all vainer of our luck than of our merits.

Rex Stout (1886-1975) American writer
The Rubber Band ch. 18 [Wolfe] (1937)
 
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The real persuaders are our appetites, our fears, and above all our vanity. The skillful propagandist stirs and coaches these internal persuaders.

Eric Hoffer (1902-1983) American writer, philosopher, longshoreman
The Passionate State of Mind, Aphorism 218 (1955)
    (Source)
 
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We may also observe that a great many people do many things that seem to be inspired more by a spirit of ostentation than by heart-felt kindness; for such people are not really generous but are rather influenced by a sort of ambition to make a show of being open-handed. Such a pose is nearer akin to hypocrisy than to generosity or moral goodness.

[Videre etiam licet plerosque non tam natura liberales quam quadam gloria ductos, ut benefici videantur, facere multa, quae proficisci ab ostentatione magis quam a voluntate videantur. Talis autem sinulatio vanitati est coniunctior quam aut liberalitati aut honestati.]

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC) Roman orator, statesman, philosopher
De Officiis [On Duties; On Moral Duty; The Offices], Book 1, ch. 14 (1.14) / sec. 44 (44 BC) [tr. Miller (1913)]
    (Source)

(Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:trans.:

One may also observe in a great many people, that they take a sort of pride in being counted magnificent, and give very plentifully, not from any generous principle in their natures, but only to appear great in the eye of the world; so that all their bounty is resolved into nothing but mere outside and pretense, and is nearer of kin to vanity and folly, than it is to either liberality or honesty.
[tr. Cockman (1699)]

Besides we may observe, that most men, not so much from a liberal disposition, as led by some show of apparent beneficence, do acts of kindness, which seem to flow more from ostentation than from the heart. This conduct is more allied to vanity than to liberality or honour.
[tr. McCartney (1798)]

For it is easy to observe, that most of them are not so much by nature generous, as they are misled by a kind of pride to do a great many things in order that they may seem to be generous; which things seem to spring not so much from good will as from ostentation. Now such a simulation is more nearly allied to duplicity than to generosity or virtue.
[tr. Edmonds (1865)]

We can see, also, that a large number of persons, less from a liberal nature than for the reputation of generosity, do many things that evidently proceed from ostentation rather than from good will.
[tr. Peabody (1883)]

It is also manifest that the conduct of men who are not really generous but only ambitious of the name often springs from vainglory rather than from a pure motive. Such hypocrisy, I hold, savours more of deceit than of liberality or honour.
[tr. Gardiner (1899)]

It is quite clear that many individuals who are not so much innately generous as they are swayed by the vain desire to seem generous, often indulge in gestures that apparently originate in ostentation rather than in genuine open-handedness. This kind of pretense is closer to vanity than to generosity or uprightness.
[tr. Edinger (1974)]

 
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On some positions, Cowardice asks the question, “Is it safe?” Expediency asks the question, “Is it is politic?” Vanity asks the question, “Is it is popular?” But Conscience asks the question, “Is it right?” There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must do it because Conscience tells him it is right.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, social activist, preacher
Speech, Santa Rita, Calif., (14 Jan 1968)

Recording (at 10:22). King reused speech elements frequently. The same passage can be found in "Remaining Awake Through a Great Revolution", sermon at the National Cathedral, Washington, DC (31 Mar 1968).
 
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Vanity asks the question — is it popular? Conscience asks the question — is it right?

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, social activist, preacher
Sermon, Passion Sunday, National Cathedral, Washington, DC (31 Mar 1968)

See also this.
 
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A strange and vanity-devoured, detestable woman! I do not believe I could ever learn to like her except on a raft at sea with no other provisions in sight.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
The Autobiography of Mark Twain, Vol. 3, 3 July 1908 (2010)
    (Source)
 
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The vanity of being trusted with a secret is generally one of the chief motives to disclose it; for however absurd it may be thought to boast an honor by an act with shows that it was conferred without merit, yet most men seem rather inclined to confess the want of virtue than of importance, and more willingly show their influence, though at the expense of their probity, than glide through life with no other pleasure than the private consciousness of fidelity; which, while it is preserved, must be without praise, except from the single person who tries and knows it.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
The Rambler, #13 (1 May 1750)
    (Source)
 
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Men don’t so much blush for their Crimes, as for their Weaknesses and Vanity.

[Les hommes rougissent moins de leurs crimes que de leurs faiblesses et de leur vanité.]

Jean de La Bruyere
Jean de La Bruyère (1645-1696) French essayist, moralist
The Characters [Les Caractères], ch. 4 “Of the Heart [Du Coeur],” § 74 (4.74) (1688) [Bullord ed. (1696)]
    (Source)

(Source (French)). Alternate translations:

Men blush not so much for their Crimes, as for their Weaknesses and Vanity.
[Curll ed. (1713)]

Men don't so much blush for their Crimes, as for their Weaknesses and Vanity.
[Browne ed. (1752)]

Men are less ashamed of their crimes than of their weaknesses and their vanity.
[tr. Van Laun (1885)]

Men are less ashamed of their crimes than of their failings and of what touches their vanity.
[tr. Stewart (1970)]

 
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Avoid having your ego so close to your position that when your position falls, your ego goes with it.

Colin Powell (1937-2021) American military leader, politician, diplomat
My American Journey (1995)
 
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