Cunning

Cunning pays no regard to virtue, and is but the low mimic of reason.

Discretion is the perfection of reason, and a guide to us in all the duties of life; cunning is a kind of instinct, that only looks after our immediate interests and welfare. Discretion is only found in men of strong sense and good understanding; cunning is often to be met with in brutes themselves, and in persons who are but the fewest removes from them.

Wisdom and truth, the offspring of the sky, are immortal; while cunning and deception, the meteors of the earth, after glittering for a moment, must pass away.

Cunning pays no regard to virtue, and is but the low mimic of wisdom.

Money never can be well managed if sought solely through the greed of money for its own sake. In all meanness there is a defect of intellect as well as of heart. And event he cleverness of avarice is but the cunning of imbecility.

In every government on earth is some trace of human weakness, some germ of corruption and degeneracy, which cunning will discover, and wickedness insensibly open, cultivate and improve. Every government degenerates when trusted to the rulers of the people alone. The people themselves therefore are its only safe depositories.

Every man wishes to be wise, and they who cannot be wise are almost always cunning.

What constitutes the bulwark of our own liberty and independence? ... Our reliance is in the love of liberty which God has planted in us... Destroy this spirit and you have planted the seeds of despotism at your own doors. Familiarize yourselves with the chains of bondage and you prepare your own limbs to wear them. Accustomed to trample on the rights of others, you have lost the genius of your own independence and become the fit subjects of the first cunning tyrant who rises among you.

Cunning is the ape of wisdom.

Every man of action has a strong dose of egotism, pride, hardness, and cunning. But all those things will be forgiven him, indeed, they will be regarded as high qualities, if he can make of them the means to achieve great ends.

It is as if a divine cunning operated in human history, using our instincts as pretexts for the attainment of goals which are universally valid, a scheme to harness man’s lower forces in the service of higher ends.

Those words, “temperate and moderate,” are words either of political cowardice, or of cunning, or seduction. A thing moderately good, if not so good as it ought to be. Moderation in temper is always a virtue, but moderation in principle is a species of vice.

The problem with capitalism is that it best rewards the worst part of us: the ruthless, competitive, cunning, opportunistic, acquisitive drives, giving little reward and often much punishment – or at least much handicap – to honesty, compassion, fair play, many forms of hard work, love of justice, and a concern for those in need.

Sincerity is an opening of the heart; we find it in very few persons; and that which we see ordinarily is only a cunning deceit to attract the confidence of others.

Nothing doth more hurt in a state than that cunning men pass for wise.

Reading maketh a full man; conference a ready man; and writing an exact man; and, therefore, if a man write little, he had need have a great memory; if he confer little, he had need have a present wit; and if he read little, he had need have much cunning, to seem to know that he doth not.

Be calm in argument; for fierceness makes error a fault, and truth discourtesy. Why should I feel another man’s mistakes more than his sicknesses or poverty? In love I should: but anger is not love, nor wisdom either; therefore gently move. Calmness is great advantage; he that lets another chafe may warm him at his fire, mark all his wand’rings and enjoy his frets, as cunning fencers suffer heat to tire.

A cunning man overreaches no one half as much as himself.

Cunning is only the mimic of discretion, and may pass upon weak men, as vivacity is often mistaken for wit, and gravity for wisdom.

And all knowledge, when separated from justice and virtue, is seen to be cunning and not wisdom; wherefore make this your first and last and constant and all-absorbing aim, to exceed, if possible, not only us but all your ancestors in virtue; and know that to excel you in virtue only brings us shame, but that to be excelled by you is a source of happiness to us.