Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Nicolas Chamfort,fully Sébastien-Roch Nicolas De Chamfort, also spelled Nicholas

French Writer known for his Epigrams and Aphorisms

"Almost the whole of history is nothing but a series of horrors."

"Man in the present state of society appears to me to be ore corrupted by his reason than his passions."

"No one likes to see those who are happier than himself."

"To enjoy and give enjoyment, without injury to yourself or others: this is true morality."

"Education should be constructed on two bases: morality and prudence. Morality in order to assist virtue, and prudence in order to defend you against the vices of others. In tipping the scales toward morality, you merely produce dupes and martyrs. In tipping it the other way, you produce egotistical schemers."

"The most wasted day of all is that during which we have not laughed."

"Contemplation often makes life miserable. We should act more, think less, and stop watching ourselves live."

"There is a melancholy that stems from greatness of mind."

"A man should swallow a toad every morning to be sure of not meeting with anything more revolting in the day ahead."

"If you must love your neighbor as yourself, it is at least as fair to love yourself as your neighbor."

"If it wasn't for me, I'd do brilliantly."

"And so I leave this world, where the heart must either break or turn to lead. [last words]"

"All passions exaggerate; and they are passions only because they do exaggerate."

"Conviction is the conscience of the mind. "

"It must be admitted that there are some parts of the soul which we must entirely paralyse before we can live happily in this world."

"Philosophy, like medicine, has plenty of drugs, few good remedies, and hardly any specific cures."

"Man may aspire to virtue, but he cannot reasonably aspire to truth."

"People are governed with the head; kindness of heart is little use in chess."

"Preoccupation with money is the great test of small natures, but only a small test of great ones."

"Real worth requires no interpreter: its everyday deeds form its emblem."

"Scandal is an importunate wasp, against which we must make no movement unless we are quite sure that we can kill it; otherwise it will return to the attack more furious than ever."

"There are more people who wish to be loved than there are who are willing to love."

"There are certain times when public opinion is the worst of all opinions."

"There are two things that one must get used to or one will find life unendurable: the damages of time and injustices of men."

"Some things are easier to legalize than to legitimate."

"A day without laughter is a day wasted."

"Education must have two foundations --morality as a support for virtue, prudence as a defense for self against the vices of others. By letting the balance incline to the side of morality, you only make dupes or martyrs; by letting it incline to the other, you make calculating egoists."

"Success makes success, like money makes money."

"An honest fellow stripped of all his illusions is the ideal man. Though he may have little wit, his society is always pleasant. As nothing matters to him, he cannot be pedantic; yet is he tolerant, remembering that he too has had the illusions which still beguile his neighbor. He is trustworthy in his dealings, because of his indifference; he avoids all quarreling and scandal in his own person, and either forgets or passes over such gossip or bickering as may be directed against himself. He is more entertaining than other people because he is in a constant state of epigram against his neighbor. He dwells in truth, and smiles at the stumbling of others who grope in falsehood. He watches from a lighted place the ludicrous antics of those who walk in a dim room at random. Laughing, he breaks the false weight and measure of men and things."

"A man begins every stage of his life as a novice."

"Anyone who has no character is not a man, but a thing."

"Anyone who relies too heavily on reason to achieve happiness, who analyses it, who, so to speak, quibbles over his enjoyment and can accept only refined pleasures, ends up not having any at all. He's like a man who wants to get rid of all the lumps in his mattress and eventually ends up sleeping on bare boards."

"A good number of works owe their success to the mediocrity of their authors' ideas, which match the mediocrity of those of the general public."

"A man well-known to be a liar had just told a most improbable story. Sir, while I believe you, someone said, you must admit that it's very wrong of truth not to condescend to be more plausible."

"Anyone whose needs are small seems threatening to the rich, because he's always ready to escape their control."

"Celebrity is the advantage of being known to people who we don't know, and who don't know us."

"Change of fashion is the tax levied by the industry of the poor on the vanity of the rich."

"Both the court and the general public give a conventional value to men and things, and then are surprised to find themselves deceived by it. This is as if arithmeticians should give a variable an arbitrary value to the figures in a sum, and then, after restoring their true and regular value in the addition, be astonished at the incorrectness of their answer."

"Despising money is like toppling a king off his throne."

"Every day I add to the list of things I refuse to discuss. The wiser the man, the longer the list."

"Feeling creates thought, men willingly agree; but they will not so willingly agree that thought creates feeling, though this is scarcely less true."

"Economists are surgeons …who operate beautifully on the dead and torment the living."

"Eminence without merit earns deference without esteem."

"Few people are able to appreciate a philosopher; he's almost a sort of public enemy. Faced by the various pretensions of mankind, he says bluntly: I'm prepared to take you only at your true value, what you're really worth. It's not easy to get people to appreciate anyone who makes such an uncompromising declaration."

"Foolish, ignorant and vicious persons go to books for their thoughts and judgments, and for all their elevated and noble sentiments, just as a rich woman goes with her money to a draper."

"Having lots of ideas doesn't mean you're clever, any more than having lots of soldiers means you're a good general."

"Good taste, tact, and propriety have more in common than men of letters affect to believe. Tact is good taste applied to bearing and conduct, and propriety is good taste applied to conversation."

"Few people are prepared to use their reason without fear or favor, or bold enough to apply it relentlessly to every moral, political and social issue: to kings and ministers, to men in high places … And if we don't, we're doomed to remain mediocre."

"He was passionate and thought he was wise; I was a fool and suspected it; I was nearer to wisdom."

"High society is a poor play, a bad, boring opera, made slightly better by its staging, costumes and scenery."