Great Throughts Treasury

This site is dedicated to the memory of Dr. Alan William Smolowe who gave birth to the creation of this database.

François de La Rochefoucauld, François VI, Duc de La Rochefoucauld, Prince de Marcillac, Francois A. F. Rochefoucauld-Liancourt

French Courtier, Moralist, Writer of Maxims and Memoirs

"A man who finds no satisfaction I himself seeks for it in vain elsewhere."

"A right mind finds it easier to yield to perversity than to guide it."

"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."

"Almost all our faults are more pardonable than the methods we resort to hide them."

"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."

"An extraordinary haste to discharge an obligation, is sort of ingratitude."

"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."

"Behind many acts that are thought ridiculous there lie wise and weighty motives."

"Commonplace minds usually condemn what is beyond the reach of their understanding."

"As we grow old we become more foolish and more wise."

"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."

"Decency is the least of all laws, yet the law which is most strictly observed."

"Bodily labor alleviates the pain of the mind."

"Each particle of matter is an immensity, each leaf a world, each insect an inexplicable compendium."

"Envy is destroyed by true friendship, as coquetry by true love."

"Envy is more irreconcilable than hatred."

"Every one speaks well of his heart, but no one dares speak of his head."

"Every one complains of the badness of his memory, but nobody of his judgment."

"Esteem has more engaging charms than friendship, and even love. It captivates hearts better, and never makes ingrates."

"Everyone complains of his lack of memory, but nobody of his want of judgment."

"Fortune reveals our virtues and vices, as light reveals material objects."

"Few people know how to be old."

"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."

"Good taste is the product of judgment rather than of intellect."

"Great names debase instead of elevating those who do not know how to sustain them."

"Great souls are not those which have less passion and more virtue than common souls, but only those which have greater designs."

"Great talents are sometimes born of mischievous propensities."

"Happiness and misery depend as much on temperament as on fortune."

"He is a truly virtuous man who wishes always to be open to the observation of honest men."

"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 lives without committing any folly is not so wise as he thinks."

"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."

"Hope and fear are inseparable; there is no fear without hope, no hope without fear."

"If we have not peace within ourselves, it is in vain to seek it from outward sources."

"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 a man fancies that he loves his mistress for her own sake, he is very much mistaken."

"Hypocrisy is a homage which vice pays to virtue."

"If we had no defects ourselves, we should not take so much pleasure in noting those of others."

"If vanity does not entirely overthrow the virtues, at least it makes them all totter."