Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Pierre Charron

French Catholic Priest and Philosopher

"Mutability is the a badge of infirmity. It is seldom that a man continues to wish and design the same thing two days alike."

"Pleasure and pain, though directly opposite, are yet so contrived by nature as to be constant companions; and it is a fact that the same motions and muscles of the face are employed both in laughing and crying."

"The true science and study of man is man."

"Whatever difference there may appear to be in men’s fortunes, there is still a certain compensation of good and ill in all, that makes them equal."

"Wounds and hardships provoke our courage, and when our fortunes are at the lowest, our wits and minds are commonly at best."

"We ought not to judge of men's merits by their qualifications, but by the use they make of them."

"Whatever difference there may appear to be in man's fortunes, there is still a certain compensation of good and ill in all, that makes them equal."

"Riches should be admitted into our houses, but not into our hearts; we may take them into our possession, but not into our affections."

"As full ears load and lay down corn, so does too much fortune bend and break the mind. It deserves to be considered, too, as another disadvantage, that affliction moves pity, and reconciles our very enemies, but prosperity provokes envy, and loses us our very friends."

"Those who receive a good turn should never forget it; those who do one should never remember it."

"All Religions have this in common, that they are an outrage to common sense for they are pieced together out of a variety of elements, some of which seem so unworthy, sordid and at odds with man’s reason, that any strong and vigorous intelligence laughs at them; but others are so noble, illustrious, miraculous, and mysterious that the intellect can make no sense of them and finds them unpalatable. The human intellect is only capable of tackling mediocre subjects: it disdains petty subjects, and is startled by large ones. There is no reason to be surprised if it finds any religion hard to accept at first, for all are deficient in the mediocre and the commonplace, nor that it should require skill to induce belief. For the strong intellect laughs at religion, while the weak and superstitious mind marvels at it but is easily scandalized by it."

"Despair is like froward children, who, when you take away one of their playthings, throw the rest into the fire for madness. It grows angry with itself, turns its own executioner, and revenges its misfortunes on its own head."

"The advice of friends must be received with a judicious reserve: we must not give ourselves up to it and follow it blindly, whether right or wrong."

"Gratitude is a virtue disposing the mind to an inward sense and an outward acknowledgment of a benefit received, together with a readiness to return the same, or the like, as occasions of the doer of it shall require, and the abilities of the receiver extend to. He who receives a good turn, should never forget it: he who does one, should never remember it."

"The most excellent and divine counsel, the best and most profitable advertisement of all others, but the least practiced, is to study and learn how to know ourselves. This is the foundation of wisdom and the highway to whatever is good. God, Nature, the wise, the world, preacher-man, exhort him both by word and deed to the study of himself."

"The human intellect is only capable of tackling mediocre subjects: it disdains petty subjects, and is startled by large ones."

"Great towns are but a large sort of prison to the soul; like cages to birds, or pounds to beasts."

"He who receives a good turn should never forget it; he who does one should never remember it."

"The easiest way to be cheated is to believe yourself to be more cunning than others."

"The shortest follies are the best."

"God, Nature, the wise, the world, preach man, exhort him both by word and deed to the study of himself."

"Gratitude is a duty none can be excused from, because it is always at our own disposal."

"He that boasts of his ancestors confesses that he has no virtue of his own. No person ever lived for our honor; nor ought that to be reputed ours, which was long before we had a being; for what advantage can it be to a blind man to know that his parents had good eyes? Does he see one whit the better?"

"In company it is a very great fault to be more forward in setting off one's self, and talking to show one's parts, than to learn the worth, and be truly acquainted with the abilities of men. - He that makes it his business not to know, but to be known, is like a foolish tradesman, who makes all the haste he can to sell off his old stock, but takes no thought of laying in any new."

"In the country, a man's mind is free and easy, and at his own disposal; but in the city, the persons of friends and acquaintance, one's own and other people's business, foolish quarrels, ceremonies, visits, impertinent discourses, and a thousand other fopperies and diversions steal away the greatest part of our time, and leave no leisure for better and more necessary employment. Great towns are but a larger sort of prison to the soul, like cages to birds, or pounds to beasts."

"It is certainly much easier wholly to decline a passion than to keep it within just bounds and measures; and that which few can moderate almost anybody may prevent."

"The proper Science and Subject for Man's Contemplation is Man himself."

"There is need of a sprightly and vigilant soul to discern and to lay hold on favorable junctures; a man must look before him, descry opportunities at a distance, keep his eye constantly upon them, observe all the motions they make toward him, make himself ready for their approach, and when he sees his time, lay fast hold, and not let go again, till he has done his business."

"Those who have nothing else to recommend them to the respect of others but only their blood, cry it up at a great rate, and have their mouths perpetually full of it. - By this mark they commonly distinguish themselves; but you may depend upon it there is no good bottom, nothing of the true worth of their own when they insist so much and set their credit on that of others."

"To owe an obligation to a worthy friend, is a happiness, and can be no disparagement."

"Wise men mingle mirth with their cares, as a help either to forget or overcome them; but to resort to intoxication for the ease of one's mind, is to cure melancholy by madness."