François de la Rochefoucauld wrote 528 interesting maxims on morality and human nature after living a harsh life, despite being born into nobility, as well as being handsome, before he was wounded in battle. His wisdom came from sharpening both wits and wisdom in the salon of Madeleine de Souvré, marquise de Sablé. There he learned to keep people’s attention by condensing profound wisdom in short, pithy sayings, which not only confounded, but intrigued listeners to truly consider the base of their actions.

He lived through an unhappy marriage, spurned love affairs, and war. The more human societies change, the more they appear to stay the same, which is why I find this man and his wisdom particularly noteworthy for consideration when going down the path of your own life.

I have gone through his maxims, and note below the ones to which I felt a particular and strange affinity, for better or worse, considering my own life, character, flaws, vices, and virtues. If you find these interesting, take a look at all 528 to see which ones resonate most with you.

Maxim 390:
Most virtuous women are like hidden treasures, secure because no one is seeking them.

Maxim 376:
A mind of mediocre attainments condemns everything beyond its scope.

Maxim 354:
We rarely consider anyone sensible unless he agrees with our ideas.

Maxim 267:
The joy of love is in loving, and we are happier in our own emotion than in the passion we inspire.

Maxim 214:
A man who is never foolish is not as wise as he thinks.

Maxim 211:
True honesty invites the scrutiny of the upright.

Maxim 208:
Kindliness takes offense at nothing.

Maxim 168:
Our hopes, often though they deceive us, lead us pleasantly along the path of life.

Maxim 146:
In general, we praise only to be praised.

Maxim 141 :
We boast that we are never lonely only because we are too vain to admit that we find ourselves poor company.

Maxim 129:
Stupidity is often the best shield against a clever rascal.

Maxim 126:
Trickery and treachery are a mark of stupidity.

Maxim 119:
We spend so much time deceiving others that we end by deceiving ourselves.

Maxim 96:
It is a feeble friendship that is not aware of the estrangement of its friends.

Maxim 84:
We should be more ashamed to distrust our friends than to be deceived by them.

Maxim 70:
No disguise can mask love, nor feign it for long.

Maxim 49:
We are never as happy or as unhappy as we think.

Maxim 42:
We are too weak to follow our best judgment.

Maxim 31:
Had we no faults, we should not take such pleasure in discovering them in others.

Maxim 5:
We are no more masters of the duration of our passions than the length of our days.


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