Bathasar Gracian (1601-1658)a worldly Spanish Jesuit priest with an undying hatred for human folly. Author of "The Art of Worldly Wisdom: A Pocket Oracle" and "A Pocket Mirror for Heroes".
Admired by such dirverse personalities as Arthur Schopenhauer, Friedrich Nietzsche, Joseph Addison
These are a samples of some aphorisms from "The Art of Worldly Wisdom":
Speak what is very good, do what is very honorable
Hope is a great falsifer. Let good judgment keep her in check.
All has reached perfection, and becoming a true person is the greatest perfection of all. It takes more to make one sage today than it did to make the seven of Greece. And you need more resources today to deal with a single person these days than with an entire nation in times past.
Make people depend on you. A god is not made by adorning a statue but by adoring it. He who is truly shrewd would rather have people need him than thank him. Vulgar gratitude is worth less than polite hope, for hope remembers and gratitude forgets. You will get more from dependence than from courtesy...
Knowledge and courage take turns at greatness. Because they are immortal, they can make you so. You are as much as you know, and if you wise you can do anything. The uninformed person is a dark world unto himself. Judgment and strength: eyes and hands. Without courage wisdom bears no fruit.
Don't outshine your boss. Being defeated is hateful and besting ones boss is either foolish or fatal. Superiority is always odious, especially to superiors or sovereigns...Most people do not mind being surpassed in good fortune, character, or temperment, but no one, especially a sovereign, likes to be surpassed in intelligence...Princes like to be helped not surpassed. When you counsel someone, you should appear to be reminding him of the something he had forgotten, not the light he was unable to see. It is the stars that teach us this subtlety. They are brilliant sons, but they never dare outshine the sun.
Essential reading for anyone wishing to survive in the dog eat dog world. Both of these books are translated by Christopher Maurier available from Doubleday--the last time I checked.