French Courtier, Moralist, Writer of Maxims and Memoirs
"A clear stream reflects all the objects on its shore, but is unsullied by them; so it should be with our hearts; they should show the effect of all earthly objects, but remain unstained by any... All worldly things are so much without us, and so subject to variety and uncertainty, that they do not make us when they come, nor mend us while they stay, nor undo us when they are taken away."
"A lofty mind always thinks nobly, it easily creates vivid, agreeable, and natural fancies, places them in their best lights, clothes them with all appropriate adornments, studies others’ tastes, and clears away from its own thoughts all that is useless and disagreeable."
"Absence diminishes little passions and increases great ones, as wind extinguishes candles and fans a fire."
"Age loves to give good precepts to console itself for being no longer able to give bad examples."
"Almost everyone takes pleasure in returning small obligations; many are grateful for moderate ones; but there is scarcely anyone who has anything but ingratitude for great ones."
"As it is the mark of great minds to say many things in a few words, so it is that of little minds to use many words to say nothing."
"Although men flatter themselves with their great actions, they are not so often the result of great design as of chance."
"Before we passionately desire anything which another enjoys, we should examine into the happiness of its possessor."
"Confidence always pleases those who receive it. It is a tribute we pay to their merit, a deposit we commit to their trust, a ledge that gives them to claim upon us, a kind of dependence to which we voluntarily submit."
"Constancy in love is a perpetual inconstancy, which makes the heart attach itself successively to all the qualities of the person we love, giving preference now to one and presently to another."
"Each particle of matter is an immensity, each leaf a world, each insect an inexplicable compendium."
"Esteem has more engaging charms than friendship, and even love. It captivates hearts better, and never makes ingrates."
"Few persons have sufficient wisdom to prefer censure which is useful to them to praise which deceives them."
"Few things are needful to make the wise man happy, but nothing satisfies the fool; and this is the reason why so many of mankind are miserable."
"Friendship is only a reciprocal conciliation of interests, and an exchange of good offices; it is a species of commerce out of which self-love always expects to gain something."
"Generally we praise only to be praised... Refusal of praise is a desire to be praised twice."
"Great souls are not those which have less passion and more virtue than common souls, but only those which have greater designs."
"He is not a reasonable man who by chance stumbles upon reason, but he who derives it from knowledge, from discernment, and from taste."
"He who imagines he can do without the world deceives himself much; but he who fancies the world cannot do without him is still more mistaken."
"However brilliant an action, it should not be esteemed great unless the result of a great motive."
"He who thinks he can find within himself the means of doing without others is much; mistaken; but he who thinks that others cannot do without him is still more mistaken."
"How can we expect another to guard our secret if we have not been able to guard (keep) it ourselves?"
"If we had no defects ourselves, we should not take so much pleasure in noting those of others."