Francois de La Rochefoucauld Quotes

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We pardon to the extent that we love.
Perfect behavior is born of complete indifference.
Everyone complains of his memory, and nobody complains of his judgment.
We only confess our little faults to persuade people that we have no big ones.
Francois de La Rochefoucauld
Virtue would go far if vanity did not keep it company.

When we are in love we often doubt that which we most believe.
The moderation of people in prosperity is the effect of a smooth and composed temper, owing to the calm of their good fortune.
Francois de La Rochefoucauld
We should often feel ashamed of our best actions if the world could see all the motives which produced them.
Francois de La Rochefoucauld
We say little, when vanity does not make us speak.
Jealousy contains more of self-love than of love.
People's personalities, like buildings, have various facades, some pleasant to view, some not.
Francois de La Rochefoucauld
Jealousy is bred in doubts. When those doubts change into certainties, then the passion either ceases or turns absolute madness.
Francois de La Rochefoucauld
In love we often doubt what we most believe.
Only the contemptible fear contempt.
Good advice is something a man gives when he is too old to set a bad example.
Francois de La Rochefoucauld
We get so much in the habit of wearing disguises before others that we finally appear disguised before ourselves.
Francois de La Rochefoucauld
There are various sorts of curiosity; one is from interest, which makes us desire to know that which may be useful to us; and the other, from pride which comes from the wish to know what others are ignorant of.
Francois de La Rochefoucauld
True love is like ghosts, which everyone talks about and few have seen.
Pride, which inspires us with so much envy, is sometimes of use toward the moderating of it too.
Francois de La Rochefoucauld
The virtues and vices are all put in motion by interest.
Why is it that our memory is good enough to retain the least triviality that happens to us, and yet not good enough to recollect how often we have told it to the same person?
Francois de La Rochefoucauld
The force we use on ourselves, to prevent ourselves from loving, is often more cruel than the severest treatment at the hands of one loved.
Francois de La Rochefoucauld
There are bad people who would be less dangerous if they were quite devoid of goodness.
Francois de La Rochefoucauld
Taste may change, but inclination never.
Many men are contemptuous of riches; few can give them away.
The defects of the mind, like those of the face, grow worse with age.
The one thing people are the most liberal with, is their advice.
Women's virtue is frequently nothing but a regard to their own quiet and a tenderness for their reputation.
Francois de La Rochefoucauld
The word virtue is as useful to self-interest as the vices.
No man is clever enough to know all the evil he does.
Mediocre minds usually dismiss anything which reaches beyond their own understanding.
Francois de La Rochefoucauld
I have always been an admirer. I regard the gift of admiration as indispensable if one is to amount to something; I don't know where I would be without it.
Francois de La Rochefoucauld
We often pardon those that annoy us, but we cannot pardon those we annoy.
When our vices leave us, we like to imagine it is we who are leaving them.
Timidity is a fault for which it is dangerous to reprove persons whom we wish to correct of it.
Francois de La Rochefoucauld
Funeral pomp is more for the vanity of the living than for the honor of the dead.
Francois de La Rochefoucauld
Few people have the wisdom to prefer the criticism that would do them good, to the praise that deceives them.
Francois de La Rochefoucauld
The accent of one's birthplace remains in the mind and in the heart as in one's speech.
Francois de La Rochefoucauld
We are sometimes as different from ourselves as we are from others.
It is from a weakness and smallness of mind that men are opinionated; and we are very loath to believe what we are not able to comprehend.
Francois de La Rochefoucauld
Some counterfeits reproduce so very well the truth that it would be a flaw of judgment not to be deceived by them.
Francois de La Rochefoucauld
Nothing hinders a thing from being natural so much as the straining ourselves to make it seem so.
Francois de La Rochefoucauld
As one grows older, one becomes wiser and more foolish.
He is not to pass for a man of reason who stumbles upon reason by chance but he who knows it and can judge it and has a true taste for it.
Francois de La Rochefoucauld
Innocence does not find near so much protection as guilt.
However rare true love may be, it is less so than true friendship.
No men are oftener wrong than those that can least bear to be so.
Repentance is not so much remorse for what we have done as the fear of the consequences.
Francois de La Rochefoucauld
Hypocrisy is the homage vice pays to virtue.
A man's worth has its season, like fruit.
To achieve greatness one should live as if they will never die.
The mind cannot long play the heart's role.
We are more often treacherous through weakness than through calculation.
If we resist our passions, it is more due to their weakness than our strength.
Francois de La Rochefoucauld
There are few virtuous women who are not bored with their trade.
It is often laziness and timidity that keep us within our duty while virtue gets all the credit.
Francois de La Rochefoucauld
We would rather speak ill of ourselves than not talk about ourselves at all.
Francois de La Rochefoucauld
However glorious an action in itself, it ought not to pass for great if it be not the effect of wisdom and intention.
Francois de La Rochefoucauld
Passion makes idiots of the cleverest men, and makes the biggest idiots clever.
Francois de La Rochefoucauld
As great minds have the faculty of saying a great deal in a few words, so lesser minds have a talent of talking much, and saying nothing.
Francois de La Rochefoucauld
Most of our faults are more pardonable than the means we use to conceal them.
Francois de La Rochefoucauld
We seldom find any person of good sense, except those who share our opinions.
Francois de La Rochefoucauld
There are heroes in evil as well as in good.
Perfect Valor is to do, without a witness, all that we could do before the whole world.
Francois de La Rochefoucauld
The sure way to be cheated is to think one's self more cunning than others.
Francois de La Rochefoucauld
We are nearer loving those who hate us than those who love us more than we wish.
Francois de La Rochefoucauld
To know how to hide one's ability is great skill.
Usually we praise only to be praised.
Neither the sun nor death can be looked at with a steady eye.
People that are conceited of their own merit take pride in being unfortunate, that themselves and others may think them considerable enough to be the envy and the mark of fortune.
Francois de La Rochefoucauld
Self-interest makes some people blind, and others sharp-sighted.
How is it that we remember the least triviality that happens to us, and yet not remember how often we have recounted it to the same person?
Francois de La Rochefoucauld
Nothing is so contagious as example; and we never do any great good or evil which does not produce its like.
Francois de La Rochefoucauld
Our virtues are often, in reality, no better than vices disguised.
We come altogether fresh and raw into the several stages of life, and often find ourselves without experience, despite our years.
Francois de La Rochefoucauld
There is only one kind of love, but there are a thousand imitations.
Few things are impracticable in themselves; and it is for want of application, rather than of means, that men fail to succeed.
Francois de La Rochefoucauld
We only acknowledge small faults in order to make it appear that we are free from great ones.
Francois de La Rochefoucauld
Too great haste to repay an obligation is a kind of ingratitude.
It is great folly to wish to be wise all alone.
The intellect is always fooled by the heart.
It is not in the power of even the most crafty dissimulation to conceal love long, where it really is, nor to counterfeit it long where it is not.
Francois de La Rochefoucauld
If we are to judge of love by its consequences, it more nearly resembles hatred than friendship.
Francois de La Rochefoucauld
Old age is a tyrant, who forbids, under pain of death, the pleasures of youth.
Francois de La Rochefoucauld
It is a great act of cleverness to be able to conceal one's being clever.
Francois de La Rochefoucauld
There is many a virtuous woman weary of her trade.
Absence diminishes mediocre passions and increases great ones, as the wind extinguishes candles and fans fires.
Francois de La Rochefoucauld
It's the height of folly to want to be the only wise one.
People always complain about their memories, never about their minds.
Heat of blood makes young people change their inclinations often, and habit makes old ones keep to theirs a great while.
Francois de La Rochefoucauld
Great souls are not those who have fewer passions and more virtues than others, but only those who have greater designs.
Francois de La Rochefoucauld
The defects and faults of the mind are like wounds in the body; after all imaginable care has been taken to heal them up, still there will be a scar left behind, and they are in continual danger of breaking the skin and bursting out again.
Francois de La Rochefoucauld
We do not praise others, ordinarily, but in order to be praised ourselves.
The desire of talking of ourselves, and showing those faults we do not mind having seen, makes up a good part of our sincerity.
Francois de La Rochefoucauld
There is a kind of elevation which does not depend on fortune; it is a certain air which distinguishes us, and seems to destine us for great things; it is a price which we imperceptibly set upon ourselves.
Francois de La Rochefoucauld
We do not despise all those who have vices, but we do despise those that have no virtue.
Francois de La Rochefoucauld
Conceit causes more conversation than wit.
We should often blush for our very best actions, if the world did but see all the motives upon which they were done.
Francois de La Rochefoucauld
Not all those who know their minds know their hearts as well.
There is no disguise which can hide love for long where it exists, or simulate it where it does not.
Francois de La Rochefoucauld
Our actions seem to have their lucky and unlucky stars, to which a great part of that blame and that commendation is due which is given to the actions themselves.
Francois de La Rochefoucauld
We may sooner be brought to love them that hate us, than them that love us more than we would have them do.
Francois de La Rochefoucauld
In most of mankind gratitude is merely a secret hope of further favors.
The heart is forever making the head its fool.
One can find women who have never had one love affair, but it is rare indeed to find any who have had only one.
Francois de La Rochefoucauld
When a man is in love, he doubts, very often, what he most firmly believes.
Francois de La Rochefoucauld
Love often leads on to ambition, but seldom does one return from ambition to love.
Francois de La Rochefoucauld
In the human heart new passions are forever being born; the overthrow of one almost always means the rise of another.
Francois de La Rochefoucauld
What is called generosity is usually only the vanity of giving; we enjoy the vanity more than the thing given.
Francois de La Rochefoucauld
Politeness is a desire to be treated politely, and to be esteemed polite oneself.
Francois de La Rochefoucauld
Men give away nothing so liberally as their advice.
A wise man thinks it more advantageous not to join the battle than to win.
There are crimes which become innocent and even glorious through their splendor, number and excess.
Francois de La Rochefoucauld
The mind is always the patsy of the heart.
We all have enough strength to endure the misfortunes of others.
Flattery is a kind of bad money, to which our vanity gives us currency.
Every one speaks well of his own heart, but no one dares speak well of his own mind.
Francois de La Rochefoucauld
Those who occupy their minds with small matters, generally become incapable of greatness.
Francois de La Rochefoucauld
However greatly we distrust the sincerity of those we converse with, yet still we think they tell more truth to us than to anyone else.
Francois de La Rochefoucauld
We always get bored with those whom we bore.
Hope, deceiving as it is, serves at least to lead us to the end of our lives by an agreeable route.
Francois de La Rochefoucauld
Though men are apt to flatter and exalt themselves with their great achievements, yet these are, in truth, very often owing not so much to design as chance.
Francois de La Rochefoucauld
We always love those who admire us, but we do not always love those whom we admire.
Francois de La Rochefoucauld
If we had no faults of our own, we should not take so much pleasure in noticing those in others.
Francois de La Rochefoucauld
The name and pretense of virtue is as serviceable to self-interest as are real vices.
Francois de La Rochefoucauld
We easily forgive our friends those faults that do no affect us ourselves.
Our aversion to lying is commonly a secret ambition to make what we say considerable, and have every word received with a religious respect.
Francois de La Rochefoucauld
Perfect courage is to do without witnesses what one would be capable of doing with the world looking on.
Francois de La Rochefoucauld
No man deserves to be praised for his goodness, who has it not in his power to be wicked. Goodness without that power is generally nothing more than sloth, or an impotence of will.
Francois de La Rochefoucauld
Pride does not wish to owe and vanity does not wish to pay.
Confidence contributes more to conversation than wit.
A true friend is the greatest of all blessings, and that which we take the least care of all to acquire.
Francois de La Rochefoucauld
What we call generosity is for the most part only the vanity of giving; and we exercise it because we are more fond of that vanity than of the thing we give.
Francois de La Rochefoucauld
As it is the characteristic of great wits to say much in few words, so small wits seem to have the gift of speaking much and saying nothing.
Francois de La Rochefoucauld
Gracefulness is to the body what understanding is to the mind.
The desire to seem clever often keeps us from being so.
We seldom find people ungrateful so long as it is thought we can serve them.
Francois de La Rochefoucauld
The accent of a man's native country remains in his mind and his heart, as it does in his speech.
Francois de La Rochefoucauld
We are all strong enough to bear other men's misfortunes.
Perfect valour consists in doing without witnesses that which we would be capable of doing before everyone.
Francois de La Rochefoucauld
We would frequently be ashamed of our good deeds if people saw all of the motives that produced them.
Francois de La Rochefoucauld
We are so accustomed to disguise ourselves to others that in the end we become disguised to ourselves.
Francois de La Rochefoucauld
Fortune converts everything to the advantage of her favorites.
The sure mark of one born with noble qualities is being born without envy.
A refusal of praise is a desire to be praised twice.
One is never fortunate or as unfortunate as one imagines.
If it were not for the company of fools, a witty man would often be greatly at a loss.
Francois de La Rochefoucauld
The reason that lovers never weary each other is because they are always talking about themselves.
Francois de La Rochefoucauld
Men often pass from love to ambition, but they seldom come back again from ambition to love.
Francois de La Rochefoucauld
We may seem great in an employment below our worth, but we very often look little in one that is too big for us.
Francois de La Rochefoucauld
That good disposition which boasts of being most tender is often stifled by the least urging of self-interest.
Francois de La Rochefoucauld
We are more interested in making others believe we are happy than in trying to be happy ourselves.
Francois de La Rochefoucauld
Decency is the least of all laws, but yet it is the law which is most strictly observed.
Francois de La Rochefoucauld
We are very far from always knowing our own wishes.
Some people displease with merit, and others' very faults and defects are pleasing.
Francois de La Rochefoucauld
It is easier to appear worthy of a position one does not hold, than of the office which one fills.
Francois de La Rochefoucauld
We promise in proportion to our hopes, and we deliver in proportion to our fears.
Francois de La Rochefoucauld
We are so used to dissembling with others that in time we come to deceive and dissemble with ourselves.
Francois de La Rochefoucauld
The more one loves a mistress, the more one is ready to hate her.
What makes the pain we feel from shame and jealousy so cutting is that vanity can give us no assistance in bearing them.
Francois de La Rochefoucauld
If we judge love by most of its effects, it resembles rather hatred than affection.
Francois de La Rochefoucauld
Nature seems at each man's birth to have marked out the bounds of his virtues and vices, and to have determined how good or how wicked that man shall be capable of being.
Francois de La Rochefoucauld
It is with an old love as it is with old age a man lives to all the miseries, but is dead to all the pleasures.
Francois de La Rochefoucauld
Though nature be ever so generous, yet can she not make a hero alone. Fortune must contribute her part too; and till both concur, the work cannot be perfected.
Francois de La Rochefoucauld
Old people love to give good advice; it compensates them for their inability to set a bad example.
Francois de La Rochefoucauld
What keeps us from abandoning ourselves entirely to one vice, often, is the fact that we have several.
Francois de La Rochefoucauld
When we disclaim praise, it is only showing our desire to be praised a second time.
Francois de La Rochefoucauld
Jealousy lives upon doubts. It becomes madness or ceases entirely as soon as we pass from doubt to certainty.
Francois de La Rochefoucauld
What men have called friendship is only a social arrangement, a mutual adjustment of interests, an interchange of services given and received; it is, in sum, simply a business from which those involved propose to derive a steady profit for their own self-love.
Francois de La Rochefoucauld
The first lover is kept a long while, when no offer is made of a second.
Before we set our hearts too much upon anything, let us examine how happy they are, who already possess it.
Francois de La Rochefoucauld
The happiness and misery of men depend no less on temper than fortune.
On neither the sun, nor death, can a man look fixedly.
A great many men's gratitude is nothing but a secret desire to hook in more valuable kindnesses hereafter.
Francois de La Rochefoucauld
One forgives to the degree that one loves.
We are strong enough to bear the misfortunes of others.
Quarrels would not last long if the fault was only on one side.
There is nothing men are so generous of as advice.
Ridicule dishonors a man more than dishonor does.
Those that have had great passions esteem themselves for the rest of their lives fortunate and unfortunate in being cured of them.
Francois de La Rochefoucauld
It is easier to know men in general, than men in particular.
Philosophy finds it an easy matter to vanquish past and future evils, but the present are commonly too hard for it.
Francois de La Rochefoucauld
Nothing prevents one from appearing natural as the desire to appear natural.
Francois de La Rochefoucauld
A man is sometimes as different from himself as he is from others.
Silence is the safest course for any man to adopt who distrust himself.
When we are in love we often doubt that which we most believe.
He who lives without folly isn't so wise as he thinks.
It is easier to be wise for others than for ourselves.
We are never so ridiculous through what we are as through what we pretend to be.
Francois de La Rochefoucauld
In all professions each affects a look and an exterior to appear what he wishes the world to believe that he is. Thus we may say that the whole world is made up of appearances.
Francois de La Rochefoucauld
Never give anyone the advice to buy or sell shares, because the most benevolent price of advice can turn out badly.
Francois de La Rochefoucauld
The passions are the only orators which always persuade.
Weakness of character is the only defect which cannot be amended.
Love can no more continue without a constant motion than fire can; and when once you take hope and fear away, you take from it its very life and being.
Francois de La Rochefoucauld
What seems to be generosity is often no more than disguised ambition, which overlooks a small interest in order to secure a great one.
Francois de La Rochefoucauld
Most people know no other way of judging men's worth but by the vogue they are in, or the fortunes they have met with.
Francois de La Rochefoucauld
Our concern for the loss of our friends is not always from a sense of their worth, but rather of our own need of them and that we have lost some who had a good opinion of us.
Francois de La Rochefoucauld
All the passions make us commit faults; love makes us commit the most ridiculous ones.
Francois de La Rochefoucauld
Old men are fond of giving good advice to console themselves for their inability to give bad examples.
Francois de La Rochefoucauld
Why can we remember the tiniest detail that has happened to us, and not remember how many times we have told it to the same person.
Francois de La Rochefoucauld
Moderation is the feebleness and sloth of the soul, whereas ambition is the warmth and activity of it.
Francois de La Rochefoucauld
Those who are incapable of committing great crimes do not readily suspect them in others.
Francois de La Rochefoucauld
We often forgive those who bore us, but we cannot forgive those whom we bore.
Francois de La Rochefoucauld
Jealously is always born with love but it does not die with it.
You can find women who have never had an affair, but it is hard to find a woman who has had just one.
Francois de La Rochefoucauld
We have no patience with other people's vanity because it is offensive to our own.
Francois de La Rochefoucauld
Nothing is impossible; there are ways that lead to everything, and if we had sufficient will we should always have sufficient means. It is often merely for an excuse that we say things are impossible.
Francois de La Rochefoucauld
There are very few things impossible in themselves; and we do not want means to conquer difficulties so much as application and resolution in the use of means.
Francois de La Rochefoucauld
It takes nearly as much ability to know how to profit by good advice as to know how to act for one's self.
Francois de La Rochefoucauld
Perhaps being old is having lighted rooms inside your head, and people in them, acting. People you know, yet can't quite name.
Francois de La Rochefoucauld
The greatest part of intimate confidences proceed from a desire either to be pitied or admired.
Francois de La Rochefoucauld
We seldom praise anyone in good earnest, except such as admire us.
The reason why so few people are agreeable in conversation is that each is thinking more about what he intends to say than others are saying.
Francois de La Rochefoucauld
The surest way to be deceived is to consider oneself cleverer than others.
It is almost always a fault of one who loves not to realize when he ceases to be loved.
Francois de La Rochefoucauld
If there be a love pure and free from the admixture of our other passions, it is that which lies hidden in the bottom of our heart, and which we know not ourselves.
Francois de La Rochefoucauld
When a man must force himself to be faithful in his love, this is hardly better than unfaithfulness.
Francois de La Rochefoucauld
There is no better proof of a man's being truly good than his desiring to be constantly under the observation of good men.
Francois de La Rochefoucauld
If we have not peace within ourselves, it is in vain to seek it from outward sources.
Francois de La Rochefoucauld
We confess our little faults to persuade people that we have no large ones.
Francois de La Rochefoucauld
There are very few people who are not ashamed of having been in love when they no longer love each other.
Francois de La Rochefoucauld
It is not enough to have great qualities; We should also have the management of them.
Francois de La Rochefoucauld
There are a great many men valued in society who have nothing to recommend them but serviceable vices.
Francois de La Rochefoucauld
We give advice, but we cannot give the wisdom to profit by it.
The principal point of cleverness is to know how to value things just as they deserve.
Francois de La Rochefoucauld
How can we expect another to keep our secret if we have been unable to keep it ourselves?
Francois de La Rochefoucauld
In the misfortunes of our best friends we always find something not altogether displeasing to us.
Francois de La Rochefoucauld
The generality of virtuous women are like hidden treasures, they are safe only because nobody has sought after them.
Francois de La Rochefoucauld
The only thing that should surprise us is that there are still some things that can surprise us.
Francois de La Rochefoucauld
Whatever good things people say of us, they tell us nothing new.
We promise according to our hopes and perform according to our fears.
If we did not flatter ourselves, the flattery of others could never harm us.
Francois de La Rochefoucauld
Being a blockhead is sometimes the best security against being cheated by a man of wit.
Francois de La Rochefoucauld
In friendship as well as love, ignorance very often contributes more to our happiness than knowledge.
Francois de La Rochefoucauld
Some accidents there are in life that a little folly is necessary to help us out of.
Francois de La Rochefoucauld
Gratitude is merely the secret hope of further favors.
The man that thinks he loves his mistress for her own sake is mightily mistaken.
Francois de La Rochefoucauld
We are easily comforted for the misfortunes of our friends, when those misfortunes give us an occasion of expressing our affection and solicitude.
Francois de La Rochefoucauld
They that apply themselves to trifling matters commonly become incapable of great ones.
Francois de La Rochefoucauld
There are but very few men clever enough to know all the mischief they do.