François de Marsillac, Duc de La Rochefoucauld, was born in Paris on 15 September 1613 and died on 17 March 1680. Although in his earlier years he was politically active, taking part in the Fronde
revolt, he is best known for his elegant and reflective view from the court
s and salon
s, which led him to compose and in 1665 publish a slim book Réflexions ou sentences et maximes morales
. This is generally known now as the Maxim
Our virtues are usually only vices in disguise.
Self-love is the greatest flatterer of all.
Passion often makes fools of the wisest men and gives wisdom to the silliest.
In the human heart new passions are forever being born; the overthrow of one almost always means the rise of another.
The moderation of happy people comes from the tranquillity that good fortune gives to their disposition.
If we had no faults we should not find so much enjoment in seeing faults in others.
The true gentleman never claims superiority in anything.
True eloquence consists in saying all that is required and only what is required.
One of the pastimes of the salons was to write self-portrait
s. La Rochefoucauld said of himself, "I am melancholic
, and to such a degree that I have scarcely been seen to laugh more than three or four times in the last three or four years"; and "as a rule I defend my own opinion
too heatedly, and when someone is upholding an unjust
cause against me I sometimes stand up so passionate
ly for the cause of reason
that I become most unreasonable myself".