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.
Most virtuous women are like hidden treasures, secure because no one is seeking them.
A mind of mediocre attainments condemns everything beyond its scope.
We rarely consider anyone sensible unless he agrees with our ideas.
The joy of love is in loving, and we are happier in our own emotion than in the passion we inspire.
A man who is never foolish is not as wise as he thinks.
True honesty invites the scrutiny of the upright.
Kindliness takes offense at nothing.
Our hopes, often though they deceive us, lead us pleasantly along the path of life.
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.
Stupidity is often the best shield against a clever rascal.
Trickery and treachery are a mark of stupidity.
We spend so much time deceiving others that we end by deceiving ourselves.
It is a feeble friendship that is not aware of the estrangement of its friends.
We should be more ashamed to distrust our friends than to be deceived by them.
No disguise can mask love, nor feign it for long.
We are never as happy or as unhappy as we think.
We are too weak to follow our best judgment.
Had we no faults, we should not take such pleasure in discovering them in others.
We are no more masters of the duration of our passions than the length of our days.