Balthasar Gracian's The Art of Worldly Wisdom

Table of Contents

Introduction
Maxims
Paragraphs
Notes

Introduction

This is a small page dedicated to Balthasar Gracian's The Art of Worldly Wisdom .
Gracian was a 17th century (1601-1658) Jesuit monk, and sometimes you can see
religion refleceted in his writings. Gracian wrote Oraculo manual y arte de prudencia (this book) in 1637, and it soon became popular throughout Europe. The entire book is a collection of
300 paragraphs on various topics. This work gives advice and guidance on how to live more fully, advance socially, and be a better person. Some of the material here may seem disagreeable. I advise that Gracian's writings be taken with lots of contemplation, it might help to absorb the material slowly and then explore it further.

This webpage, like the book itself is divided into "Maxims" and "Paragraphs."
Under "Maxims" you will find 300 one-sentence summaries of his 300 paragraphs,
with links to the "Paragraphs" section on this page, which contains his entire book.

If you like "The Art Of Worldly Wisdom" and decide you want to buy it, you can do it at: amazon.com and shambhala.com (or anywhere else, for that matter.
It's not like they're sponsoring me)

If you have any comments email me (Vadim) at VADiM0@aol.com

Maxims

1 . Everything is at its peak of perfection.
2 . Character and intellect.
3 . Keep matters for a time in suspense.
4 . Knowledge and courage.
5 . Make people depend on you.
6 . A person at his peak.
7 . Avoid outshining your superiors.
8 . Be without passions.
9 . Avoid the faults of your nation.
10 . Fortune and Fame.
11 . Cultivate relationships with those who can teach you.
12 . Nature and art, material and workmanship.
13 . Act sometimes on second thoughts, sometimes on first impulse.
14 . The thing itself and the way it is done.
15 . Keep auxiliary wits around you.
16 . Knowledge and good intentions.
17 . Vary your mode of action.
18 . Application and ability.
19 . Arouse no exaggerated expectations when you start something.
20 . A man of the times.
21 . The art of being lucky.
22 . Knowledge has a purpose.
23 . Be free of imperfections.
24 . Keep you imagination under control.
25 . Know how to take a hint.
26 . Find out each person's thumbscrew.
27 . Prize intensity more than extent.
28 . Be common in nothing.
29 . Be a person of integrity.
30 . Have nothing to do with disreputable occupations.
31 . Select the lucky and avoid the unlucky.
32 . Have a reputation for being gracious.
33 . Know how to withdraw.
34 . Know your strongest quality.
35 . Think things over, especially those that are important.
36 . Before acting or refraining weigh your luck.
37 . Keep a store of sarcasms and know how to use them.
38 . Leave your luck while still winning.
39 . Recognize when things are ripe, and know how to enjoy them.
40 . Gain people's goodwill.
41 . Never exaggerate.
42 . Natural leadership.
43 . Think with the few and speak with the many.
44 . Sympathy with great minds.
45 . Use, but do not abuse, cunning.
46 . Master your antipathies.
47 . Avoid incurring obligations.
48 . So much depends on being a person of depth.
49 . Be a person of observation and judgement.
50 . Never lose your self-respect.
51 . Know how to choose well.
52 . Never be upset.
53 . Be diligent and intelligent.
54 . Know how to show your strength.
55 . Know how to wait.
56 . Have presence of mind.
57 . Be slow and sure.
58 . Adapt yourself to those around you.
59 . Finish off well.
60 . Have sound judgement.
61 . Excel in what is excellent.
62 . Use good instruments.
63 . To be the first of the kind is excellent.
64 . Avoid worry.
65 . Cultivate taste.
66 . See to it that things end well.
67 . Choose an occupation that wins distinction.
68 . It is better to help with intelligence than with memory.
69 . Do not give way to every common impulse.
70 . Know how to say "no".
71 . Do not vacillate.
72 . Be resolute.
73 . Know how to use evasion.
74 . Do not be unapproachable.
75 . Chose a heroic ideal.
76 . Do not always be joking.
77 . Be all things to all people.
78 . The art of undertaking things.
79 . A jovial disposition.
80 . Take care when you get information.
81 . Renew your brilliance.
82 . Drain nothing to the dregs, neither good nor bad.
83 . Allow yourself some forgivable sin.
84 . Make use of your enemies.
85 . Do not be a wild card, a jack-of-all-trades.
86 . Prevent scandal.
87 . Culture and elegance.
88 . Let your behavior be fine and noble.
89 . Know yourself.
90 . The secret of long life.
91 . Never set to work at anything if you have any doubts about its prudence.
92 . Transcendent wisdom.
93 . Versatility.
94 . Keep the extent of your abilities unknown.
95 . Keep expectation alive.
96 . The highest discretion.
97 . Obtain and preserve a reputation.
98 . Write your intentions in cypher.
99 . Reality and appearance.
100 . Be a person without illusions, one who is wise and righteous, a philosophical courtier.
101 . One half of the world laughs at the other, and fools are they all.
102 . Be able to stomach big slices of luck.
103 . Let each keep up his dignity.
104 . Get to know what is needed in different occupations.
105 . Do not be a bore.
106 . Do not parade your position.
107 . Show no self-satisfaction.
108 . The shortest path to greatness is along with others.
109 . Do not be censorious.
110 . Do not wait till you are a setting sun.
111 . Have friends.
112 . Gain goodwill.
113 . In times of prosperity prepare for adversity.
114 . Never compete.
115 . Get used to the failings of those around you.
116 . Only act with honorable people.
117 . Never talk about yourself.
118 . Acquire the reputation for courtesy.
119 . Avoid becoming disliked.
120 . Live practically.
121 . Do not make much ado about nothing.
122 . Distinction in speech and action.
123 . Avoid affectation.
124 . Make yourself sought after.
125 . Do not be a blacklister of other people's faults.
126 . Folly consists not in committing folly, but in not hiding it when committed..
127 . Grace in everything.
128 . High -mindedness.
129 . Never complain.
130 . Do and be seen doing.
131 . Nobility of feeling.
132 . Revise your judgements.
133 . Better mad with the rest of the world than wise alone.
134 . Double your resources.
135 . Do not nourish the spirit of contradiction.
136 . Post yourself in the center of things.
137 . The sage should be self-sufficient.
138 . The art of letting things alone.
139 . Recognize unlucky days.
140 . Find the good in a thing at once.
141 . Do not listen to yourself.
142 . Never from obstinacy take the wrong side because your opponent has anticipated you by taking the right one.
143 . Never become paradoxical in order to avoid being trite.
144 . Begin with another's to end with your own.
145 . Do not show your wounded finger, for everything will knock up against it.
146 . Look into the interior of things.
147 . Do not be inaccessible.
148 . Have the art of conversation.
149 . Know how to put off ills on others.
150 . Know how to get your price for things.
151 . Think beforehand.
152 . Never have a companion who outshines you.
153 . Beware of entering where there is a great gap to be filled.
154 . Do not believe, or like, lightly.
155 . The art of mastering your passions.
156 . Select your friends.
157 . Do not make mistakes about character.
158 . Make use of your friends.
159 . Put up with fools.
160 . Be careful in speaking.
161 . Know your pet faults.
162 . How to triumph over your rivals and detractors.
163 . Never - out of sympathy with the unfortunate - involve yourself in their fate.
164 . Throw straws in the air to test the wind.
165 . Wage war honorably.
166 . Distinguish people of words from people of deeds.
167 . Know how to rely on yourself.
168 . Do not indulge in the eccentricities of folly.
169 . Be more careful not to miss once than to hit a hundred times.
170 . In all things keep something in reserve.
171 . Do not waste influence.
172 . Never contend with someone who has nothing to lose.
173 . Do not be made of glass in your relations with others, still less in friendship.
174 . Do not live in a hurry.
175 . A solid person.
176 . Have knowledge, or know those who do.
177 . Avoid being to familiar with others.
178 . Trust your heart.
179 . Reticence is the seal of capacity.
180 . Never guide the enemy to what he has to do.
181 . The truth, but not the whole truth.
182 . A grain of boldness in everything.
183 . Do not hold your views to firmly.
184 . Do not stand on ceremony.
185 . Never stake your credit on a single cast of the dice.
186 . Recognize faults, however highly placed.
187 . Do pleasant things yourself, unpleasant things through others.
188 . Be the bearer of praise.
189 . Utilize another's wants.
190 . Find consolation in all things.
191 . Do not take payment in politeness.
192 . A peaceful life is a long life.
193 . Watch out for people who begin with another's concerns to end with their own.
194 . Have reasonable views of yourself and of your affairs.
195 . Know how to appreciate.
196 . Know your ruling star.
197 . Do not carry fools on your back.
198 . Know how to transplant yourself.
199 . Find your proper place by merit, not by presumption.
200 . Leave something to wish for.
201 . They are all fools who seem so, as well as half the rest.
202 . Words and deeds make the perfect person.
203 . Know the great people of your age.
204 . Attempt easy tasks as if they were difficult and difficult as if they were easy.
205 . Know how to play the card of contempt.
206 . Know that there are vulgar people everywhere.
207 . Be moderate.
208 . Do not die of the fools' disease.
209 . Keep yourself free from common follies.
210 . Know how to play the card of truth.
211 . In heaven all is bliss.
212 . Keep to yourself the final touches of your art.
213 . Know how to contradict.
214 . Do not turn one blunder into two.
215 . Watch out for those who act on second thoughts.
216 . Be expressive.
217 . Neither love nor hate forever.
218 . Never act from obstinacy but from knowledge.
219 . Do not pass for a hypocrite.
220 . If you cannot clothe yourself in lion-skin use foxpelt.
221 . Do not seize occasions to embarrass yourself or others.
222 . Reserve is proof of prudence.
223 . Do not be eccentric, neither from affectation nor carelessness.
224 . Never take things against the grain, no matter how they come.
225 . Know your chief fault.
226 . Take care to be obliging.
227 . Do not be the slave of first impressions.
228 . Do not be a scandalmonger.
229 . Plan out your life wisely.
230 . Open your eyes early.
231 . Never let things be seen half finished.
232 . Have a touch of business sense.
233 . Do not let the morsels you offer be distasteful.
234 . Never trust your honor to another, unless you have his in pledge.
235 . Know how to ask.
236 . Make an obligation beforehand of what would have to be a reward afterward.
237 . Never share the secrets of your superiors.
238 . Know what is lacking in yourself.
239 . Do not be overly critical.
240 . Make use of folly.
241 . Put up with mockery but do not practice it yourself.
242 . Push advantages.
243 . Do not be too much of a dove.
244 . Create a feeling of obligation.
245 . Have original and out-of-the-way views.
246 . Never offer satisfaction unless it is demanded.
247 . Know a little more, live a little less.
248 . Do not go with the latest speaker.
249 . Never begin life with what should end it.
250 . When to turn conversation around.
251 . Use human means as if there were no divine ones, and divine means as if there were no human ones.
252 . Neither belong entirely to yourself nor entirely to others.
253 . Do not explain too much.
254 . Never despise an evil, however small.
255 . Do good a little at a time, but often.
256 . Go prepared.
257 . Never let matters come to a braking point.
258 . Find someone to share your troubles with.
259 . Anticipate injuries and turn them into favors.
260 . We belong to no one and no one to us, entirely.
261 . Do not follow up a folly.
262 . Be able to forget.
263 . Many things of taste one should not possess oneself.
264 . Have no careless days.
265 . Set difficult tasks for those under you.
266 . Do not become bad from sheer goodness.
267 . Silken words, sugared manners.
268 . The wise do at once what the fool does later.
269 . Make use of the novelty of your position.
270 . Do not condemn alone that which pleases all.
271 . In every occupation, if you know little stick to the safe path.
272 . Sell things with a tariff of courtesy.
273 . Comprehend the disposition of the people you deal with.
274 . Be attractive.
275 . Join in the game as far as decency permits.
276 . Know how to renew your character both with nature and with art.
277 . Display yourself.
278 . Avoid notoriety in all things.
279 . Do not respond to those who contradict you.
280 . Be trustworthy.
281 . Find favor with people of good sense.
282 . Make use of absence to make yourself more esteemed or valued.
283 . Have the gift of discovery.
284 . Do not be burdensome.
285 . Never die of another's bad luck.
286 . Do not become responsible for all or for everyone.
287 . Never act out of passion.
288 . Live for the moment.
289 . Nothing depreciates a person more than to show he is just like anyone else.
290 . It is a piece of good fortune to combine people's love and respect.
291 . Know how to test people.
292 . Let your personal qualities surpass the requirements of your office.
293 . Maturity.
294 . Be moderate in your views.
295 . Do not affect what you have not effected.
296 . Noble qualities.
297 . Always act as if others were watching.
298 . Three things go to a prodigy.
299 . Leave of hungry.
300 . In one word, be a saint.

Paragraphs

1. Everything is at its peak of perfection. This is especially true of the art
of making one's way in the world. There is more required nowadays to make a
single wise person than formerly to make the Seven Sages of ancient Greece, and
more is needed nowadays to make a single person than was required with a whole
people in former times

Back to Maxims

2. Character and intellect. These are the two poles of our capacity; one
without the other is but halfway to happiness. Intellect is not enough,
character is also needed. On the other hand, it is the fool's misfortune to
fail in obtaining the position, employment, neighborhood, and circle of friends
of his choice.

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3. Keep matters for a time in suspense. Admiration at their novelty heightens
the value of your achievements. It is both useless and insipid to play with
your cards on the table. If you do not declare yourself immediately, you arouse
expectation, especially when the importance of your position makes you the
object of general attention. Mix a little with everything, and the very mystery
arouses veneration. And when you explain, do not be too explicit, just as you
do not expose your inmost thoughts in ordinary conversation. Cautious silence
is the sacred sanctuary of worldly wisdom. A resolution declared is never
highly thought of - it only leaves room for criticism. And if it happens to
fail, you are doubly unfortunate. Besides, you imitate the divine way when you
inspire people to wonder and watch.

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4. Knowledge and courage. These are the elements of greatness. Because they
are immortal they bestow immortality. Each is as much as he knows, and the wise
can do anything. A person without knowledge is in a world without light.
Wisdom and strength are the eyes and hands. Knowledge without courage is
sterile.

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5. Make people depend on you. It is not he that adorns but he that adores that
makes a divinity. The wise person would rather see others needing him than
thanking him. To keep them on the threshold of hope is diplomatic, to trust to
their gratitude is boorish; hope has a good memory, gratitude a bad one. More
is to be got from dependence than from courtesy. He that has satisfied his
thirst turns his back on the well, and the orange once squeezed fall from the
golden platter into the waste basket. When dependence disappears good behavior
goes with it, as well as respect. Let it be one of the chief lessons of
experience to keep hope alive without entirely satisfying it, by preserving it
to make oneself always needed, even by a patron on the throne. But do not carry
silence to excess or you will go wrong, nor let another's failing grow incurable
for the sake of your own advantage.

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6. A person at his peak. We are not born perfect. Every day we develop in our
personality and in our profession until we reach the highest point of our
completed being, to the full round of our accomplishments and of our
excellences. This is known by the purity of our taste, the clearness of our
thought, the maturity of our judgement, and the firmness of our will. Some
never arrive at being complete - something is always lacking. Others ripen
late. The complete person - wise in speech, prudent in act - is admitted to the
familiar intimacy of discreet people and is even sought out by them.

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7. Avoid outshining your superiors. All victories breed hate, and that over
your superior is foolish or fatal. Preeminence is always detested, especially
over those who are in high positions. Caution can gloss over common advantages.
For example, good looks may be cloaked by careless attire. There are some that
will grant you superiority in good luck or in good temper, but none in good
sense, least of all a prince - for good sense is a royal prerogative and any
claim of superiority in that is a crime against majesty. They are princes, and
wish to be so in that most princely of qualities. They will allow someone to
help them but not to surpass them. So make any advice given to them appear
like a recollection of something they have only forgotten rather than as a guide
to something they cannot find. The stars teach us this finesse with happy tact:
though they are his children and brilliant like him, they never rival the
brilliance of the sun.

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8. Be without passions. This is the highest quality of the mind. Its very
eminence redeems us from being affected by transient and low impulses. There is
no higher rule than that over oneself, over one's impulses; there is the triumph
of free will. When passion rules your character do not let it threaten your
position, especially if it is a high one. It is the only refined way of
avoiding trouble and the shortest way back to a good reputation.

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9. Avoid the faults of your nation. Water shares the good or bad qualities of
the channels through which it flows and people share those of the climate in
which they are born. Some owe more than others to their native land, because
there is a more favorable sky in the zenith. There is not a nation among even
the most civilized that has not some fault peculiar to itself that other nations
blame by way of boast or as a warning. It is a triumph of cleverness to correct
in oneself such failings, or even to hide them. You get great credit for being
unique among your fellows because what is less expected is esteemed all the
more. There are also family failings as well as faults of position, of office,
or of age. If these all meet in one person and are not carefully guarded
against, they make an intolerable monster.

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10. Fortune and Fame. Where the one is fickle the other is enduring. The first
is for this life, this second for the next; fortune against envy, fame against
oblivion. Fortune is desired and sometimes nurtured, but fame is earned. The
desire for fame springs from virtue. Fame was and is the sister of the giants;
it always goes to extremes - either horrible monsters or brilliant prodigies.

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11. Cultivate relationships with those who can teach you. Let friendly
intercourse be a school of knowledge, and let culture be taught through
conversation. Thus you make your friends your teachers and mingle the pleasures
of conversation with the advantages of instruction. Sensible people enjoy
alternating pleasures: you are rewarded with applause for what you say and you
gain instruction from what you hear. We are always attracted to others by our
own interest, but in this case it is of a higher kind. Wise people frequent the
houses of great nobility as theaters of heroism not temples of vanity. They are
renowned for their worldly wisdom, not only for being oracles of all nobleness
by their example and their behavior, but because those who surround them form a
courtly academy of worldly wisdom of the best and noblest kind.

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12. Nature and art, material and workmanship. There is no beauty unadorned and
no excellence that would not become barbaric if it were not supported by
artifice. This remedies the bad and improves the good. Nature scarcely ever
give us the very best - for that we must have recourse to art. Without this the
best of natural dispositions remains uncultured, lacking half its excellence if
training is absent. Everyone has something unrefined that needs training, and
every kind of excellence needs some polish.

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13. Act sometimes on second thoughts, sometimes on first impulse. Life is a
warfare against the malice of others. Sagacity fights with strategic changes of
intention - never doing what it threatens, aiming only to escape notice. It
aims in the air with dexterity and strikes home in an unexpected direction,
always seeking to conceal its game. It lets a purpose appear in order to
attract the opponent's attention, but then turns round and conquers by the
unexpected. But a penetrating intelligence anticipates this by watchfulness and
lurks in ambush. It always understands the opposite of what the opponent wishes
it to understand, and recognizes every feint of guile. It lets the first
impulse pass by and waits for the second. , or even the third. Sagacity now
rises to higher flights on seeing its artifice foreseen: It tries to deceive by
truth itself, changing its game in order to change its deceit, cheats by not
cheating, and bases its deception on the greatest candor. But the opposing
intelligence is on guard with increased watchfulness and discovers the darkness
concealed by the light and deciphers every move, the more subtle because more
simple. In this way the guile of the Python combats the far darting rays of
Apollo.

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14. The thing itself and the way it is done. Substance is not enough,
attention to circumstance is also required. A bad manner spoils
everything - even reason and justice - a good one supplies everything, gilds,
even sweetens truth, and adds a touch of beauty to old age itself. The
how plays a large part in affairs, a good manners steal people's hearts.
Fine behavior is a joy in life, and a pleasant expression can help you out of a
difficult situation in a remarkable way.

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15. Keep auxiliary wits around you. It is a privilege of the powerful to
surround themselves with the champions of intellect who protect them from the
dangers of every ignorance, who untangle them from the snarls of every
difficulty. It is a rare greatness to know how to make use of the wise; it far
exceeds the barbarous taste of Tigranes, who delighted in enslaving kings as his
servants. It is a novel kind of supremacy - the best that life can offer - to
use skill to make as servants of those who by nature are our masters. It is a
great thing to know, little to live; there is no real life without knowledge.
There is remarkable cleverness in studying without effort, in getting much by
means of many, and through them all to become wise. Afterwards, you speak in
the council of chambers on behalf of many, and since as many sages speak through
your mouth as were consulted beforehand you thus obtain the fame of an oracle by
others' efforts. Such auxiliary wits distil the best books and serve up the
quintessence of wisdom. He that cannot have sages for service should have them
as his friends.

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16. Knowledge and good intentions. Together they ensure continued success. A
fine intellect wedded to a wicked will is always an unnatural monster. A wicked
will poisons all perfections; helped by knowledge it only ruins with greater
subtlety. It is a miserable superiority that only results in ruin. Knowledge
without sense is doubly folly.

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17. Vary your mode of action. So as to distract attention, do not always do
things the same way, especially if you have a rival. Do not always act on first
impulse; people will soon recognize the uniformity and, by anticipating,
frustrate your designs. It is easy to kill a bird on the wing that flies
straight, not so one that twists and turns. Nor should you always act on second
thoughts; people will discern the plan the second time. The enemy is on the
watch, great skill is required to outwit him. The gamester never plays the card
the opponent expects, still less the one he wants.

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18. Application and ability. There is no attaining eminence without both, and
where they unite there is the greatest fame. Mediocre people obtain more with
application than superior people without it. Work is the price that is paid for
reputation. What costs little is of little worth. Even for the highest posts
it is only in some cases application that is wanting, rarely the talent. To
prefer moderate success in great things over eminence in a humble post may be
excused by a generous mind, but there is no excuse for being content with humble
mediocrity when you could shine among the highest. Thus nature and art are both
needed, and application makes them complete.

Back to Maxims

19. Arouse no exaggerated expectations when you start something. It is the
misfortune of all celebrated people not to fulfill afterwards the expectations
beforehand formed of them. The real can never equal the imagined, for it is
easy to form ideals but very difficult to realize them. Imagination weds hope
and gives birth to much more than things are in themselves. However excellent
something is, it never suffices to fulfill expectations. And as people find
themselves disappointed with their exorbitant expectations they are more readily
disillusioned than impressed. Hope is a great falsifier of truth; let skill
guard against this by ensuring that fruition exceeds desire. A few creditable
attempts at the beginning are sufficient to arouse curiosity without pledging
one to the final object. It is better that reality should surpass the design
and it turns out better than was thought. This rule does not apply to wicked
things, for the same exaggeration is a great aid with them and draws general
applause; what seemed at first extreme ruin comes to be thought of as quite
bearable.

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20. A man of the times. The rarest individuals depend on their times. It is
not everyone that finds the times he deserves, and even when he finds it he does
not always know how to utilize it. Some people have been worthy of a better
century, for every species of good does not always triumph. Things have their
period - even excellent qualities are subject to fashion. Wisdom has one
advantage: she is immortal. If this is not her century many others will be.

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21. The art of being lucky. There are rules of luck and the wise do not leave
it all to chance. Luck can be assisted by care. Some content themselves with
placing themselves confidently at the gate of fortune, waiting till she opens
it. Others do better, and press forward and profit by their clever boldness,
reaching the goddess and winning her favor on the wings of their virtue and
valor. But a true philosophy has no other umpire than virtue and insight - for
there is no good or bad luck except wisdom and foolishness.

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22. Knowledge has a purpose. Wise people arm themselves with tasteful and
elegant erudition - a practical and expert knowledge of what is going on, not
common gossip. They possess a copious store of wise and witty sayings, and of
noble deeds, and know how to employ them at the right moment. Often, more is
taught by a jest than by the most serious teaching. Knowledge gained in
conversation can be of more help than the seven arts, however liberal.

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23. Be free of imperfections. Few live without some weak point, either physical
or moral, which they pamper even though they could easily cure it. The keenness
of others often regrets to see a slight defect attaching itself to a whole
assembly of elevated qualities, and yet a single cloud can hide the whole of the
sun. There are likewise blemishes on our reputation, which those with ill will
soon discover and continually point out. The highest skill is to transform them
into ornament. So Caesar hid his natural defect (baldness) with the laurel.

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24. Keep you imagination under control. You must sometimes correct it,
sometimes assist it. For it is all important for out happiness and balances
reason. The imagination can tyrannize, not being content with looking on, but
influences and even often dominates our life. It can make us happy or burden
us, depending on the folly that it leads us to. It can make us either content
or discontent with ourselves. Before some people it continually holds up the
penalties of action and becomes the mortifying lash of fools. To others the
imagination promises happiness and adventure with blissful delusion. It can do
all this unless you lord over it with the most prudent self-control.

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25. Know how to take a hint. It was once the art of arts to be able to
discourse, now it is no longer sufficient. We must know how to take a hint,
especially in disabusing ourselves. You cannot make yourself understood if you
do not easily understand others. There are some who act like diviners of the
heart and lynxes of intentions. The very truths that concern us most are only
half spoken, but with attention we can grasp the whole meaning. When you hear
anything favorable keep a tight rein on your credulity; if unfavorable, give it
the spur.

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26. Find out each person's thumbscrew. This is the art of setting their wills
in action. It needs more skill than resolution. You must know where to get at
any one. Every volition has a special motive that varies according to taste.
All people idolize something; for some it is fame, for others self-interest, for
most it is pleasure. Skill consists in knowing these idols in order to bring
them into play. Know a person's mainspring of motive and you have as it were
the key to his will. Have resort to primary motives, which are not always the
highest but more often the lowest part of his nature because there are more
dispositions badly organized than well. First guess a person's ruling passion,
appeal to it with words, set it in motion by temptation, and you will always
checkmate his freedom of will.

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27. Prize intensity more than extent. Excellence resides in quality not in
quantity. The best is always few and rare - abundance lowers value. Even among
men, the giants are usually really dwarfs. Some reckon books by the thickness,
as if they were written to exercise the brawn more than the brain. Extent alone
never rises above mediocrity; it is the misfortune of universal geniuses that in
attempting to be at home everywhere are so nowhere. Intensity give eminence and
rises to the heroic in matters sublime.

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28. Be common in nothing. Especially not in taste. It is great and wise to be
ill at ease when your deeds please the mob! The excesses of popular applause
never satisfy the sensible. There are chameleons of popularity who find
enjoyment not in the sweet savors of Apollo but in the breath of the mob.
Secondly, do not be common in intelligence; take no pleasure in the wonder of
the mob, for ignorance never gets beyond wonder. While vulgar folly wonders,
wisdom watches for the deception.

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29. Be a person of integrity. Cling to righteousness with such tenacity of
purpose that neither the passions of the mob nor the violence of the tyrant can
ever cause you to transgress the bounds of right. But who can be such a phoenix
of equity? What a scanty following rectitude has! Many praise it indeed, but
few devote themselves. Others follow it until danger threatens; then the false
deny it and the political conceal it. For righteousness cares not if it
conflicts with friendship, power, or even self-interest; then comes the danger
of desertion. Astute people make plausible distinctions so as not to stand in
the way of their superiors or of reason of state. But straightforward and
constant people regard deception as a kind of treason and set more store in
tenacity than on sagacity. Such people are always to be found on the side of
truth, and if they desert a group they do not change due to fickleness but
because the others have first deserted truth.

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30. Have nothing to do with disreputable occupations. And have still less to do
with fads that bring more notoriety than good reputation. There are many
fanciful sects, and the prudent person flees from them all. There are people
with bizarre tastes that always take to heart everything that wise people
repudiate. They live in love with eccentricity, and this may make them well
known indeed but more as an object of ridicule than of good reputation. A
cautious person does not make public his pursuit of wisdom, still less those
matters that make him or his followers seem ridiculous. These need not be
specified - common contempt has sufficiently singled them out.

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31. Select the lucky and avoid the unlucky. Bad luck is generally the penalty
of folly and for the unfortunate there is no disease so contagious. Never open
the door to a lesser evil, for other and greater ones will invariably slink in
after it. The greatest skill at cards is to know when to discard; the smallest
of current tramps is worth more than the ace of trumps of the last game. When
in doubt, follow the suit of the wise and the prudent - sooner or later they
will win the odd trick.

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32. Have a reputation for being gracious. It is the chief glory of the high and
the mighty to be gracious, a prerogative of kings to conquer with universal
goodwill. That is the great advantage of a commanding position - to be able to
do more good than others. Those make friends who do friendly acts. On the
other hand, there are some who fix themselves on not being gracious, not on
account of difficulty but due to a bad disposition. In all things they are the
opposite of divine grace.

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33. Know how to withdraw. If it is a great lesson in life to know how to deny,
it is still greater to know how to deny oneself as regards both affairs and
persons. There are extraneous occupations that eat away precious time. To be
occupied in what does not concern you is worse than doing nothing. It is not
enough for a careful person not to interfere with others, he must see that they
do not interfere with him. One is not obliged to belong so much to others as
not to belong at all to oneself. So with friends, their help should not be
abused or more demanded from them than they themselves will grant. All excess
is a failing, but above all in personal relationships. A wise moderation in
this best preserves the goodwill and esteem for all, for by this means that
precious boon of courtesy is not gradually worn away. Thus you preserve your
genius and freedom to select the best and never sin against the unwritten laws
of good taste.

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34. Know your strongest quality. Know your preeminent gift - cultivate it and
it will assist the rest. Everyone would have excelled in something if he had
known his strong point. Notice in what quality you surpass and take charge of
that. In some people judgement excels, in others valor. Most do violence to
their natural aptitude and thus attain superiority in nothing. Time enlightens
us too late of what was first only a flattering of the passions.

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35. Think things over, especially those that are important. All fools come to
grief from lack of thought. They never see even half the things and, as they
do not observe their own loss or gain, still less do they apply any diligence to
them. Some make much of what matters little and little of much, always weighing
on the wrong scale. Many never lose their common sense, because they have non
to lose. There are matters that should be observed with the closest attention,
and thereafter always kept well in mind. The wise person thinks over
everything, but with a difference, most profoundly where there is more in it
than he first thought. Thus his comprehension extends as far as his
apprehension.

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36. Before acting or refraining weigh your luck. More depends on that than on
noticing your temperament. If he is a fool who at forty applies first to
Hippocrates for health, still more is he one who only first applies to Seneca
for wisdom. It is a great piece of skill to know how to guide your luck while
waiting for it. For something is accomplished by just waiting to use it at the
proper moment, since it has periods and offers opportunities - though one cannot
calculate its path because its steps are irregular. When you find fortune
favorable, stride boldly forward, for she favors the bold and, being a woman,
the young. But if you have bad luck, withdraw so as not to redouble the
influence of your unlucky star.

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37. Keep a store of sarcasms and know how to use them. This is the point of
greatest tact in human intercourse. Such sarcasms are often thrown out to test
people's moods, and by their means one often obtains the most subtle and
penetrating touchstone of the heart. Other sarcasms are malicious, insolent,
poisoned by envy or envenomed by passion, unexpected flashes that destroy at
once all favor and esteem. Struck by the slightest word of this kind, many fall
away from the closest intimacy with superiors or inferiors that would not have
been the slightest shaken by a whole conspiracy of popular insinuation or
private malevolence. Other sarcasms work favorably, confirming and assisting
one's reputation. But the greater the skill with which they are launched, the
greater the caution with which they should be anticipated and received. For
here a knowledge of malice is in itself a means of defense, and a shot foreseen
always misses its mark.

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38. Leave your luck while still winning. All the best players do it. A fine
retreat is as good as a gallant attack. Bring your exploits under cover when
there are enough, or even when there are many of them. Luck too long lasting is
always suspicious; alternating luck seems safer, and is even sweeter to the
taste for a little infusion of bitter sweet. The higher the heap of luck, the
greater the risk of a slip, and down comes all. Fortune pays you sometimes for
the intensity of her favors by the shortness of their duration. She soon tires
of carrying anyone long on her shoulders.

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39. Recognize when things are ripe, and know how to enjoy them. The works of
nature all reach a certain point of maturity - up to then they improve, then
they degenerate. Few works of art reach such a point that they cannot be
improved. It is a special privilege of good taste to enjoy everything at its
ripest. Not everyone can do this, nor do all who can know how. There is a
ripening point too for fruits of intellect, but it is important to know how to
recognize it in order to both value it and use it.

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40. Gain people's goodwill. It is a great thing to gain universal admiration,
but greater to gain universal affection. It depends on natural disposition but
more so on practice; the first is the foundation, the second then builds on
that. Great gifts are not enough, though they are thought to be essential - win
good opinion and it is easy to win goodwill. Kindly acts are required to
produce kindly feelings - do good with both hands, good words and better deeds,
love so as to be loved. Courtesy is the politic magic of great people. First,
lay the hand on deeds and then on the pen - words follow swords and the goodwill
to be won among writers is eternal.

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41. Never exaggerate. It is an important object of attention not to talk in
superlatives, so as neither to offend truth nor cast doubt on your
understanding. Exaggeration wastes distinctions and shows the narrowness of
one's knowledge or taste. Praise arises lively curiosity, begets desire and if
afterwards the value does not correspond to the price - as generally happens -
expectation revolts against the deception and revenges itself by cheapening both
the thing praised and the praiser. A prudent person goes more cautiously to
works and prefers to err by understatement than by overstatement. Extraordinary
things are rare, therefore temper your evaluation. Exaggeration is akin to
lying, and you jeopardize your reputation for good taste and - much worse - good
sense.

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42. Natural leadership. It is a secret force of superiority not to have to get
by artful trickery but by an inborn power of rule. All submit to it without
knowing why, recognizing the secret vigor of natural authority. Such
magisterial spirits are kings by merit and lions by innate privilege. By the
esteem that they inspire, they hold the hearts and minds of those around them.
If their other qualities permit, such people are born to be the prime movers of
the state. They perform more by a gesture than others by a long harangue.

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43. Think with the few and speak with the many. Swimming against the stream
makes it impossible to remove error and easy to fall into danger - only a
Socrates can undertake it. To dissent from others' views is regarded as an
insult, because it is a condemnation of their judgement. The offense is doubled
on account of the judgement condemned and of the person who championed it.
Truth is for the few, error is both common and vulgar. The wise person is not
known by what he says on the public square, for there he speaks not with his own
voice but with that of common folly, however much his inmost thoughts may deny
it. The prudent person avoids being contradicted as much as he avoids
contradicting others - though they have their judgement ready they are not ready
to publish it. Thought is free, force cannot and should not be used on it. The
wise person therefore retires into silence and if he allows himself to come out
of it, he does so in the shade and before few and fit persons.

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44. Sympathy with great minds. It is a heroic quality to agree with heroes. It
is like a miracle of nature both because of its mystery and for its usefulness.
There is a natural kinship of hearts and minds; its effects are such that vulgar
ignorance attributes it to magic potions. Esteem and goodwill follow and at
times reach affection. It persuades without words and obtains without earning.
This sympathy is sometimes active, sometimes passive; both bring great happiness
- the more so, the more sublime. It is a great art to recognize, to
distinguish, and to utilize this gift. No amount of energy suffices without
that favor of nature.

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45. Use, but do not abuse, cunning. One ought not to delight in it, still less
boast of it. Everything artificial should be concealed, most of all cunning,
which is hated. Deceit is common, so our caution has to be redoubled, but not
so as to show itself, for caution arouses distrust, causes annoyance, awakens
revenge, and gives rise to more ills than you would imagine. To go to work with
caution is of great advantage in action, and there is no greater proof of
wisdom. The greatest skill in any deed consists in the sure mastery with which
it is executed.

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46. Master your antipathies. We often allow ourselves to form dislikes of
people, even before we know anything about them. At times this innate yet
vulgar aversion attaches itself to eminent people. Good sense masters this
feeling, for there is nothing better than ourselves. As sympathy with great
people ennobles us, so dislike of them degrades us.

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47. Avoid incurring obligations. This is one of the chief aims of prudence.
People of great ability keep extremes far apart, so that there is a long
distance between them. They always keep in the middle of their caution, so they
take time to act. It is easier to avoid committing yourself to something than
it is to come out of it well. Such affairs test our judgement - it is better to
avoid them than to conquer in them. One obligation leads to another and may
lead to an affair of dishonor. There are people so constituted by nature or by
nation that they easily enter upon such obligations. But for those who walk by
the light of reason, such matters require long thinking over. There is more
valor needed not to take up the affair than in conquering in it. When there is
one fool ready for the occasion, one may excuse oneself from being the second.

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48. So much depends on being a person of depth. The interior must be at least
as impressive as the exterior. Some people's character is all fašade, like
houses that, due to lack of means, have the portico of a palace leading to the
rooms of a cottage. It is no use boring into such people - although they will
bore you - because conversation flags after the first salutation. They prance
through the first compliments like Sicilian stallions, but silence quickly
follows, for the flow of words soon ceases where there is no spring of thoughts.
Others may be taken in by them because they themselves have superficial views,
but not the prudent, who look within them and find nothing there except material
for scorn.

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49. Be a person of observation and judgement. Such a person rules things, not
they him. He quickly plumbs the most profound depths. He knows how to get at
the anatomy of character. On seeing a person he understands him and judges his
inmost nature. From a few observations he deciphers what is most hidden. Keen
observation, subtle insight, judicious inference - with these he discovers,
notices grasps, and comprehends everything.

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50. Never lose your self-respect. And do not be too self-conscious. Let your
own integrity be the true standard of your rectitude, and let your own self-
judgement be more strict than all external laws. Avoid anything unseemly more
from regard for your own self-respect than from fear of external authority. Pay
regard to that and there is no need of Seneca's imaginary monitor.

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51. Know how to choose well. Most of life depends on this. You need good taste
and correct judgement, for which neither intellect nor study suffices. To be
choice, you must choose well, and for this two things are needed: to be able to
choose at all, and then to choose the best. There are many people with fertile
and subtle minds, of keen judgement, of much learning, and of great observation
who still are at a loss when they come to choosing. They always take the worst
as if they were determined to go wrong. Thus, knowing how to choose well is one
of the greatest gifts.

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52. Never be upset. It is a great aim of prudence never to be embarrassed.
This is the sign of a real person, of a noble heart, for magnanimity is not
easily put off balance. The passions are the humors of the soul, and every
excess in them weakens prudence. If they overflow through the mouth, the
reputation will be in danger. Let us therefore be so great a master over
ourselves that neither in the most fortunate nor in the most adverse
circumstances can anything cause our reputation injury by disturbing our self-
possession but rather enhance it by showing superiority.

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53. Be diligent and intelligent. Diligence promptly executes what intelligence
carefully thought through. Haste is the failing of fools - they know not the
obstacles and set to work without preparation. On the other hand, the wise more
often fail from procrastination - foresight begets deliberation, and delay often
nullifies prompt judgement. Promptness is the mother of good fortune. He has
done much who leaves nothing until tomorrow. "Make haste slowly" is a
magnificent motto.

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54. Know how to show your strength. Even hares can pull the mane of a dead
lion. Courage is no joking matter. Give way to the first and you must yield to
the second, and so on till the last, and to gain your point in the end costs as
much trouble as it would have a first. Moral courage exceeds physical courage;
it should be like a sword kept ready for use in the scabbard of caution. It is
your shield. Moral cowardice degrades one more than physical weakness. Many
have had eminent qualities yet, for want of a stout heart, they passed inanimate
lives and found a tomb in their own sloth. Wise nature has thoughtfully
combined in the bee the sweetness of its honey with the sharpness of its sting.

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55. Know how to wait. It is a sign of a noble heart to be endowed with
patience, never to be in a hurry, never to be given over to passion. First be
master over yourself if you would be master over others. You must pass through
the circumference of time before arriving at the center of opportunity. A wise
reserve seasons the aims and matures the means. Time's crutch effects more than
the iron club of Hercules. God himself chastens not with a rod but with time.
"Time and I against any two," is a great saying. Fortune rewards the first
prize to those who wait.

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56. Have presence of mind. This is the child of a happy readiness of spirit.
Owing to this vivacity and alertness there is no fear of danger of accident.
Many reflect much only to go wrong in the end and others attain their aim
without thinking about it beforehand. There are paradoxical characters who work
best in an emergency. They are like monster who succeed in all they do offhand,
but fail in everything they think over. Something occurs to them at once or
never - for them there is no court of appeal. Promptness wins applause because
it proves remarkable capacity: subtlety of judgement, prudence in action.

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57. Be slow and sure. Things are done quickly enough if done well If just
quickly done they can be quickly undone. To last an eternity requires an
eternity of preparation. Only excellence counts, only achievement endures.
Profound intelligence is the only foundation for immortality. What is worth
much costs much. The precious metals are the heaviest.

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58. Adapt yourself to those around you. There is no need to show your ability
before everyone. Employ no more force than is necessary. Let there be no
unnecessary expenditure either of knowledge or of power. The skillful falconer
only flies enough birds to serve for the chase. If there is too much display
today there will be nothing to show tomorrow. Always have some novelty with
which to dazzle. To show something fresh each day keeps expectations alive and
conceals the limits of capacity.

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59. Finish off well. In the house of fortune if you enter by the gate of
pleasure you must leave by that of sorrow, and vice versa. You ought therefore
to think of the finish, and attach more importance to a happy exit than to
applause on entrance. It is the common lot of the unlucky to have a very
fortunate beginning and a very tragic end. The important point is not the
vulgar applause on entrance - that comes to nearly all - but the general feeling
at exit. Few in life are felt to deserve an encore. Fortune rarely accompanies
anyone to the door, and as warmly as she may welcome the coming, she is cold to
the parting guest.

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60. Have sound judgement. Some are born wise and with this natural advantage
enter upon their studies with half their journey to success already mastered.
With age and experience their reason ripens, and thus they attain a sound
judgement. They abhor everything whimsical as leading prudence astray,
especially in matters of state, where certainty is so necessary, owing to the
importance of the affairs involved. Such people deserve to stand at the helm of
government either as navigators or as helmsmen.

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61. Excel in what is excellent. It is a great rarity among excellences. You
cannot have a great person without something preeminent. Mediocrity never wins
applause. Eminence is some distinguished post distinguishes one from the vulgar
mob and ranks us with the exceptional. To be distinguished in a small post is
to be great in little - the more comfort the less glory. To be excellent at
great things is a royal characteristic - it excites admiration and wins
goodwill.

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62. Use good instruments. Some would have the subtlety of their wits proven by
the poorness of their instruments. This is a dangerous satisfaction and
deserves a fatal punishment. The excellence of a minister never diminished the
greatness of his lord. All the glory of exploits reverts to the principal
actor, also all the blame. Fame only does business with principals. She does
not say. "This had good, that had bad servants," but, "This was a good artist,
that a bad one." Therefore, let your assistants be selected and tested, for you
have to trust them an immortality of fame.

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63. To be the first of the kind is excellent. And to be eminent in it as well
is twice as good. To have the first move is a great advantage when the players
are equal. Many a person would have been as unique as a phoenix if he had been
the first of the sort. Those who come first are the heirs of fame. The others
get only a younger brother's allowance; whatever they do, they cannot persuade
the world they are anything more than parrots. Extraordinary people find a new
path to eminence, and prudence accompanies them all the way. Because of the
novelty of their enterprises, sages write their names in the golden books of
heroes. Some prefer to be first in things of minor importance than second in
greater exploits.

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64. Avoid worry. Such prudence brings its own reward. It escapes much, and is
thus the midwife of comfort and so of happiness. Neither give nor take bad news
unless it can help. Some people's ears are stuffed with the sweets of flattery,
others with the bitters of scandal, while some cannot live without a daily
annoyance no more than Mithridates (Mithridates VI, 132-63 BCE, King of Pontus,
is said to have taken small doses of poison to immunize himself from it in an
event that it might be used in an assassination attempt) without poison. It is
no rule of life to prepare for yourself lifelong trouble in order to give a
temporary enjoyment to another, however near and dear. You should never spoil
your own chances in order to please another who advises but keeps out of the
affair.

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65. Cultivate taste. You can train it like the intellect. Full knowledge whets
desire and increases enjoyment. You may know a noble spirit by the elevation of
his taste. Only a great thing can satisfy a great mind. Big bites for big
mouths, lofty things for lofty spirits. Before their judgement the bravest
tremble, the most perfect lose confidence. Few things are of the first
importance, so let appreciation be rare. Taste can be imparted by personal
intercourse; it is great good luck to associate with the highest taste. But do
not profess to be dissatisfied with everything; this is the extreme of folly,
and more odious if from affectation than if from unreachable ideals. Some would
have God create another world and other ideals to satisfy their fantastic
imagination.

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66. See to it that things end well. Some regard more the rigor of the game than
the winning of it, but to the world the discredit of the final failure does away
with any recognition of previous diligence. The victor need not explain. The
world does not notice the details of the measures employed, but only the good or
bad result. You lose nothing if you gain your end. A good end gilds
everything, however unsatisfactory the means. Thus at times it is part of the
art of life to transgress the rules of the art, if you cannot end well
otherwise.

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67. Choose an occupation that wins distinction. Most things depend on the
satisfaction of others. Esteem is to excellence what the west wind is to
flowers: the breath of life. There are some occupations that gain universal
esteem, while others more important are without credit. The former, pursued
before the eyes of all, obtain the universal favor; the others, though they are
rarer and more valuable, remain obscure and unperceived, honored but not
applauded. Among princes, conquerors are the most celebrated, and therefore the
kings of Aragon earned such applause as warriors, conquerors, and great people.
An able person will prefer occupations of distinction, which all know of and
utilize - he thus becomes immortalized by universal suffrage.

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68. It is better to help with intelligence than with memory. The latter needs
only recollection, the former requires thought. Many people fail to do what is
appropriate to the moment because it does not occur to them. A friend's advice
on such occasions may enable them to see the advantages. It is one of the
greatest gifts of mind to be able to offer what is needed at the right moment;
for want of that many things fail to be performed. Share the light of your
intelligence, when you have any, and ask for it when you have it not - the first
cautiously, the last anxiously. Give no more than a hint. The finesse is
especially necessary when it touches the interests of him whose attention you
awaken. You should give but a taste at first, and then pass on more when that
is not sufficient. If he thinks of no, go cleverly in search of
yes.
Most things are not simply because they are not attempted.

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69. Do not give way to every common impulse. He is great who never allows
himself to be influenced by the impressions of others. Self-reflection is the
school of wisdom; to know one's current disposition and to allow for it, even
going to the other extreme so as to find a balance between nature and art.
Self-knowledge is the beginning of self-improvement. There are some whose
humors are so monstrous that they are always under the influence of one or other
of them in place of their real inclinations. They are torn asunder by such
disharmony and get involved in contradictory obligations. Such excesses not
only destroy firmness of will, all power of judgement gets lost and desire and
knowledge pull in opposite directions.

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70. Know how to say "no." One ought not to give way in everything nor to
everybody. To know how to refuse is therefore as important as to know how to
consent. This is especially the case with people of power. Everything depends
on how you do it. Some people's no is thought more of than the
yes of others; for a gilded no is more satisfactory than a dry
yes. There are some who always have no on their lips, whereby
they make everything distasteful. No always comes first with them, and
when sometimes they give way after all, it does them no good on account of the
unpleasant beginning. Your refusal need not be point-blank; let the
disappointment come by degrees. Nor let the refusal be final - that would
destroy dependence, so let some spice of hope remain to soften the rejection.
Let politeness compensate and fine words supply the place of deeds. Yes
and no are soon said, but give much to think over.

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71. Do not vacillate. Do not let your actions be abnormal either from
disposition or affectation. A wise person is always consistent in his best
qualities, and because of this he gets the credit of trustworthiness. If he
changes, he does so for good reason and after good consideration. In matters of
conduct change is hateful. There are some who are different every day - their
intelligence varies, still more their will, and with this their fortune.
Yesterday's white is today's black; today's no was yesterday's
yes. They always give the lie to their own credit and destroy their
credit with others.

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72. Be resolute. Bad execution of your designs does less harm than irresolution
in forming them. Streams do less harm flowing than when dammed up. There are
some people so infirm of purpose that they always require direction from others,
and this not on account of any perplexity, for they judge clearly, but for their
sheer incapacity for action. It takes some skill to find out difficulties but
more to find a way out of them. There are others who never get bogged down;
their clear judgement and determined character fit them for the highest
callings, their intelligence tells them where to insert the thin end of the
wedge, their resolution how to drive it home. They soon get through anything,
and when they have done with one sphere of action, they are ready for another.
Wedded to fortune, they make themselves sure of success.

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73. Know how to use evasion. That is how smart people get out of difficulties.
They extricate themselves from the most intricate labyrinth by some witty
application of a bright remark. They get out of a serious contention by an airy
nothing or by raising a smile. Most of the great leaders are well grounded in
this art. When you have to refuse something, often the most courteous way is to
just change the subject. And sometimes it proves the highest understanding to
act like you do not understand.

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74. Do not be unapproachable. The most wild beasts live in the most populous
places. To be inaccessible is the fault of those who distrust themselves, whose
honors change their manners. It is no way to earn people's goodwill by being
ill-tempered with them. What a sight it is to see one of those unsociable
monsters who make a point of being proudly impertinent. Their servants, who
have the misfortune to be obliged to speak with them, enter as if prepared for a
fight with a tiger: armed with patience and with fear. To obtain their high
position these unapproachable people must have ingratiated themselves with
everyone, but having arrived there they seek to compensate themselves by
irritating all. It is a condition of their position that they should be
accessible to all, yet from pride or spite they are so to none. A civil way to
punish such people is to let them alone, depriving them of the chance of
improvement by granting them no opportunity for intercourse.

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75. Chose a heroic ideal. Emulate rather than imitate. There are exemplars of
greatness, living texts of honor. Let everyone have before his mind the best in
his profession, not so much to follow him as to spur himself on. Alexander wept
not on account of Achilles being dead and buried, but over himself because his
fame had not yet spread throughout the world. Nothing arouses ambition so much
in the heart as the trumpet call of another's fame. The same thing that
sharpens envy nourishes a generous spirit.

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76. Do not always be joking. Wisdom is shown in serious matters, and is more
appreciated than mere wit. He that is always ready for jests is never ready for
serious things. Jokers resemble liars in that people never believe either,
always expecting a lie in one, a joke in the other. One never knows when you
speak with judgement, which is the same as if you had none. A continual jest
soon loses all zest. Many get their reputation for being witty but thereby lose
the credit for being sensible. Jest has its little hour, seriousness should
have all the rest.

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77. Be all things to all people. Be a discreet Proteus, learned with the
learned, saintly with the sainted. It is the great are to gain everyone's
support; general agreement gains goodwill. Notice people's moods and adapt
yourself to each, genial or serious as the case may be. Follow their lead,
glossing over the changes as cunningly as possible. This is an especially
indispensable art for people who are dependant on others. But this skill in the
art of living calls for great cleverness. He only will find no difficulty who
has a universal genius in his knowledge and universal ingenuity in his wit.

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78. The art of undertaking things. Fools rush in through the door - for folly
is always bold. The same simplicity that robs them of all attention to caution
deprives them of all sense of shame at failure. But prudence enters with more
deliberation. Its forerunners are caution and care; they advance and discover
whether you can also advance without danger. Every rush forward might have been
freed from danger by caution, but fortune sometimes helps in such cases. Go
cautiously where you suspect depth. Sagacity goes cautiously forward while
discretion covers the ground. Nowadays there are unsuspected depths in human
intercourse, you must therefore plumb the waters as you go.

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79. A jovial disposition. With moderation it is an accomplishment, not a
defect. A grain of gaiety seasons all. The greatest people join in the fun at
times and it makes them liked by all. But they should always on such occasions
preserve their dignity nor go beyond the bounds of decorum. Others, again, use
a joke to get themselves out of a difficulty quickly. For there are things you
must take in fun, though others perhaps mean them in earnest. This shows a
sense of calm, which acts as a magnet on all hearts.

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80. Take care when you get information. We live by information, not by sight.
We exist by faith in others. The ear is the sidedoor of truth but the frontdoor
of lies. The truth is generally seen, rarely heard. She seldom comes in
elemental purity, especially from afar - there is always some admixture of the
moods of those through whom she has passed. The passions tinge her, sometimes
favorably, sometimes odiously. She always brings out people's disposition,
therefore receive her with caution from him that praises, with more caution from
him that blames. Pay attention to the intention of the speaker; you should know
beforehand on what footing he comes. Let reflection test for falsity and
exaggeration.

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81. Renew your brilliance. This is the privilege of the phoenix. Ability grows
old, and with it fame. The staleness of custom weakens admiration, and a
mediocrity that is new often eclipses the highest excellence grown old. Try
therefore to be born again in valor, in genius, in fortune, in everything.
Display startling novelty - rise afresh like the sun every day. Change too the
scene of your shine, so that your loss may be felt in the old scenes of your
triumph, while the novelty of your powers wins you applause in the new.

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82. Drain nothing to the dregs, neither good nor bad. A sage once reduced all
virtue to the golden mean. Push right to the extreme and it becomes wrong;
press all the juice from an orange and it becomes bitter. Even in enjoyment
never go to extremes. Thought too subtle is dull. If you milk a cow too much
you draw blood, not milk.

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83. Allow yourself some forgivable sin. Some such carelessness is often the
greatest recommendation of talent. For envy causes ostracism, most envenomed
when most polite. Envy counts every perfection as a failing and that it has no
faults itself. Being perfect in all envy condemns perfection in all. It
becomes an Argus (mythological, hundred-eyed giant), all eyes for imperfection,
if only for its own consolation. Blame is like the lightning - it hits the
highest. Let Homer nod now and then and affect some negligence in valor or in
intellect - not in prudence - so as to disarm malevolence, or at least to
prevent its bursting with its own venom. You thus leave your cape on the horns
of envy (like a matador) in order to save your immortality.

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84. Make use of your enemies. You should learn to seize things not by the
blade, which cuts, but by the handle, which saves you from harm - especially
with the doings of your enemies. A wise person gets more use from his enemies
than a fool from his friends. Their ill will often levels mountains of
difficulties that one would otherwise not face. Many have had their greatness
made for them by their enemies. Flattery is more dangerous than hatred, because
it covers the stains that the other causes to be wiped out. The wise will turn
ill will into a mirror more faithful than that of kindness, and remove or
improve the faults referred to. Caution thrives well when rivalry and ill will
are next-door neighbors.

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85. Do not be a wild card, a jack-of-all-trades. It is a fault of excellence
that being so much in use it is liable to abuse. Because all covet it, all are
vexed by it. It is great misfortune to be of use to nobody - scarcely less to
be of use to everybody. People who reach this stage lose by gaining, and in the
end bore those who desired them before. These wild cards wear away all kinds of
excellence. Losing the earlier esteem of the few, they obtain discredit among
the vulgar. The remedy against this extreme is to moderate your brilliance. Be
extraordinary in your excellence, if you like, but be ordinary in your display
of it. The more light a torch gives, the more it burns away and the nearer it
is to burning out. Show yourself less and you will be rewarded by being
esteemed more.

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86. Prevent scandal. Many heads go to make the mob, and in each of them there
are eyes for malice to use and a tongue for detraction to wag. If a single ill
report spreads, it casts a blemish on your fair fame, and if it clings to you
with a nickname, your reputation is in danger. Generally it is some salient
defect or ridiculous trait that gives rise to the rumors. At times these are
malicious inflations of private envy to general distrust. For these are wicked
tongues that ruin a great reputation more easily by a witty sneer than by a
direct accusation. It is easy to get a bad reputation because it is easy to
believe evil but hard to eradicate. The wise therefore avoid such incidents,
guarding against vulgar scandal with constant vigilance. It is far easier to
prevent than to rectify.

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87. Culture and elegance. We are born barbarians and only raise ourselves above
the beast by culture. Culture therefore makes the person; the greater a person
the more culture. Thanks to this, Greece could call the rest of the world
barbarians. Ignorance is very raw - nothing contributes so much to culture as
knowledge. But even knowledge is coarse if without elegance. Not alone must
our intelligence be elegant, but also our desires, and above all our
conversation. Some people are naturally elegant in internal and external
qualities, in their thoughts, in their words, in their dress, which is the rind
of the soul as their talents are its fruit. There are others, on the other
hand, so gauche that everything about them, even their most excellent quality,
is tarnished by an intolerable and barbaric want of neatness.

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88. Let your behavior be fine and noble. A great person ought not to be little
in his actions. He ought never to pry too minutely into things, least of all in
unpleasant matters. For though it is important to know all, it is not necessary
to know all about all. One ought to act in such cases with the generosity of a
gentleman, with conduct worthy of a gallant person. To pretend to overlook
things is a large part of the work of ruling. Most things must be left
unnoticed among relatives and friends, and even among enemies. All superfluity
is annoying, especially in things that annoy. To keep hovering around the
object of your annoyance is a kind of mania. Generally speaking, everybody
behaves according to his heart and his understanding.

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89. Know yourself. Know your talents and capacity, in judgement and
inclination. You cannot master yourself unless you know yourself. There are
mirrors for the face but none for the mind. Let careful thought about yourself
serve as a substitute. When the outer image is forgotten, keep the inner one to
improve and perfect. Learn the force of your intellect and capacity for
affairs, test the force of your courage in order to apply it, and keep your
foundations secure and your head clear for everything.

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90. The secret of long life. Lead a good life. Two things bring life speedily
to an end: folly and immorality. Some lose their life because they have not the
intelligence to keep it, others because they have not the will. Just as virtue
is its own reward, so is vice its own punishment. He who lives a fast life runs
through life to its end doubly quick. A virtuous life never dies. The firmness
of the soul is communicated to the body, and a good life is not only long but
also full.

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91. Never set to work at anything if you have any doubts about its prudence. A
suspicion of failure in the mind of the doer is proof positive of it in that of
the onlooker, especially if he is a rival. If in the heat of action your
judgement wavers, it will afterwards in cool reflection be condemned as folly.
Action is dangerous where prudence is in doubt - better leave such things alone.
Wisdom does not trust to probabilities, it always marches in the midday light of
reason. How can an enterprise succeed which the judgement condemns as soon as
it was conceived? If resolutions passed unanimously by an inner court often
turn out badly, what can we expect of those undertaken by a doubting reason and
a vacillating judgement?

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92. Transcendent wisdom. I mean in everything. An ounce of wisdom is worth
more than a ton of cleverness is the first and highest rule of all deeds and
words, the more necessary to be followed the higher and more numerous your post.
It is the only sure way, though it may not gain so much applause. A reputation
for wisdom is the last triumph of fame. It is enough if you satisfy the wise,
for their judgement is the touchstone of true success.

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93. Versatility. A man of many excellent qualities equals many men. By
imparting his own enjoyment of life to his circle of friends and followers he
enriches their life. Variety in excellences is the delight of life. It is a
great art to profit by all that is good, and, since nature has made people in
their most perfected form an abstract of herself, so let art create in them a
true microcosm by training their taste and intellect.

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94. Keep the extent of your abilities unknown. The wise person does not allow
his knowledge and abilities to be sounded to the bottom, if he desires to be
honored by all. He allows you to know him but not to comprehend him. No one
must know the extent of a wise person's abilities, lest he be disappointed. No
one should ever have an opportunity to fathom him entirely. For guesses and
doubts about the extent of his talents arouse more veneration than accurate
knowledge of them, be they ever so great.

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95. Keep expectation alive. Keep stirring it up. Let much promise more, and
great deeds herald greater. Do not rest your whole fortune on a single cast of
the dice. It requires great skill to moderate your forces so as to keep
expectation from being dissipated

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96. The highest discretion. It is the throne of reason, the foundation of
prudence - by its means success is gained at little cost. It is a gift from
above, and should be prayed for as the first and best quality. It is the main
piece of the suit of armor, and so important that its absence makes a person
imperfect, whereas with other qualities it is merely a question needing more or
less. All the actions of life depend in its application - all requires its
assistance, for everything needs intelligence. Discretion consists in a natural
tendency to the most rational course, combined with a liking for the surest.

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97. Obtain and preserve a reputation. It is something only borrowed from fame.
It is expensive to obtain a reputation, for it only attaches to distinguished
abilities, which are as rare as mediocrities are common. Once obtained, it is
easily preserved. It confers many an obligation, but it does more. When it is
owing to elevated powers or lofty spheres of action, it rises to a kind of
veneration and yields a sort of majesty. But it is only a well-founded
reputation that lasts permanently.

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98. Write your intentions in cypher. The passions are the gates of the soul.
The most practical knowledge consists in disguising them. He that plays with
cards exposed runs a risk of losing the stakes. The reserve of caution should
combat the curiosity of inquirers with the policy of the inky cuttlefish. Do
not even let your tastes be known, lest others utilize them either by running
counter to them or by flattering them.

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99. Reality and appearance. Things pass for what they seem, not for what they
are. Few see inside, many get attached to appearances. It is not enough to be
right if your actions look false and ill.

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100. Be a person without illusions, one who is wise and righteous, a
philosophical courtier. Be all these, not merely seem to be them, still less
affect to be them. Philosophy is nowadays discredited, but yet it was always
the chief concern of the wise. The art of thinking has been degraded. Seneca
introduced it at Rome, it found favor for a time among nobility, but now it is
considered nonsense. And yet the discovery of deceit was always thought the
true nourishment of a thoughtful mind, the true delight of a virtuous soul.

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101. One half of the world laughs at the other, and fools are they all.
Everything is good or everything is bad according to who you ask. What one
pursues another persecutes. He is an insufferable ass who would regulate
everything according to his ideas. Excellences do not depend on a single
person's pleasure. So many people, so many tastes, all different. There is no
defect that is not affected by some. We need not lose heart if something does
not please someone, for others will appreciate I; nor need their applause turn
our head, for there will surely be others to condemn it. The real test of
praise is the approval of renowned people and of experts in the field. You
should aim to be independent of any one opinion, of any one fashion, of any one
century.

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102. Be able to stomach big slices of luck. In the body of wisdom not the least
important organ is a big stomach, for great capacity implies great parts. Big
bits of luck do not embarrass one who can digest still bigger ones. What is a
surfeit for one may be hunger for another. Many are troubled as it were with
weak digestion, owing to their small capacity, being neither born nor trained
for great employment. Their actions turn sour, and the fumes that arise from
their undeserved honors turn their proper place, for luck finds no proper place
in them. A person of talent therefore should show that he has more room for
even greater enterprises, and above all avoid showing signs of a little heart.

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103. Let each keep up his dignity. Let each deed of a person in its degree,
though he be not a king, be worthy of a prince and let his action be princely
within due limits. Sublime in action, lofty in thought, in all things like a
king, at least in merit if not in might. For true kingship lies in spotless
rectitude, and he need not envy greatness who can serve as a model of it.
Especially should those near the throne aim at true superiority, and prefer to
share the true qualities of royalty rather than take parts in its mere
ceremonies - yet without affecting its imperfections but sharing in its true
dignity.

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104. Get to know what is needed in different occupations. Different qualities
are required. To know which is needed taxes attention and calls for masterly
discernment. Some demand courage, others tact. Those that merely require
rectitude are the easiest, the more difficult are those requiring cleverness.
For the former all that is necessary is character, for the latter all of one's
attention and zeal may not suffice. It is a troublesome business to rule
people, still more fools or blockheads - twice as much sense is needed with
those who have none. It is intolerable when an office engrosses someone with
fixed hours and a settled routine. Those are better that leave him free to
follow his own devices, combining variety with importance, for the change
refreshes the mind. The most respected jobs are those that have least, or most
distant, dependence on others. The worst are those that worry us both here and
hereafter.

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105. Do not be a bore. The person obsessed with one activity or one topic is
apt to be tiresome. Brevity is flattering and get more accomplished - it gains
by courtesy what it loses by curtness. Good things, when short, are twice as
good. The quintessence of the matter is more effective than a big mishmash of
details. It is a well known truth that talkative person rarely is wise, whether
in dealing with things at hand or how they function. There are people who serve
more as stumbling blocks than centerpieces, useless lumber in everyone's way.
The wise avoid being bores, especially to the great - who are fully occupied; it
is worse to disturb one of them than all the rest. Well said is soon said.

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106. Do not parade your position. To boast about your position is more
offensive than personal vanity. To pose as an important person is to be hated -
you should surely have had enough envy. The more you seek esteem the less you
obtain it, for it depends on the opinion of others. You cannot take it, but
must earn and receive it from others. Great positions require exercising a
sufficient amount of authority - without it they cannot be adequately filled.
Preserve therefore enough dignity to carry on the duties of the office. Do not
enforce respect, but try to create it. Those who insist on the dignity of their
office, show they have not deserved it, and that it is too much for them. If
you wish to be valued, be valued for your talents, not for anything obtained by
chance. Even kings prefer to be honored for their personal qualifications
rather than for their station.

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107. Show no self-satisfaction. You must neither be discontented with yourself,
which is weak spirited, nor self-satisfied, which is folly. Self-satisfaction
arises mostly from ignorance, and it would be a happy ignorance not without its
advantages if it did not ruin reputation. Because a person cannot achieve the
superlative perfections of others, he contents himself with any mediocre talent
of his own. Distrust is wise, and even useful, either to evade mishaps or to
afford consolation when they come. For a misfortune cannot surprise a man who
has already feared it. Even Homer nods at times, and Alexander fell from his
lofty state due to his illusions. Things depend on many circumstances - what
constitutes triumph in one set may cause a defeat in another. In the midst of
all, incorrigible folly remains the same with empty self-satisfaction,
blossoming, flowering, and running all to seed.

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108. The shortest path to greatness is along with others. Intercourse with the
right people works well; manners and taste are shared, good sense and even
talent grow insensibly. Let the impatient person then make a comrade of the
sluggish, and so with the other temperaments, so that without forcing it the
golden mean is obtained. It is a great art to agree with others. The
alternation of contraries beautifies and sustains the world, and if it can cause
harmony in the physical world, still more can it do in the moral. Adopt this
policy in the choice of friends and defendants - by joining extremes the more
effective middle way is found.

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109. Do not be censorious. There are people of gloomy character who regard
everything as faulty, not from any evil motive but because it is their nature
to. They condemn all - these for what they have done, those for what they will
do. This indicates a nature worse than cruel, vile indeed. They accuse with
such exaggeration that they make out of motes beams with which to poke out the
eyes. They are always taskmasters who could turn a paradise into a prison - if
passion intervenes they drive matters to the extreme. A noble nature, on the
contrary, always knows how to find an excuse for failings, saying the intention
was good, or it was an error of oversight.

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110. Do not wait till you are a setting sun. It is a maxim of the wise to leave
things before things leave them. One should be able to snatch a triumph at the
end, just as the sun even at its brightest often retires behind a cloud so as
not to be seen sinking, and to leave in doubt whether he has sunk or not.
Wisely withdraw from the mere chance of mishap, lest you have to do so when it
becomes reality. Do not wait until they turn you the cold shoulder and carry
you to the grave, alive in feeling but dead in esteem. Wise trainers put
racehorses out to pasture before they arouse derision by falling on the course.
A beauty should break her mirror early, lest she do so later with open eyes.

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111. Have friends. A friends is a second self. Every friend is good and wise
for his friend; between them everything turn to good. Everyone is as others
wish him to be - but in order that they may wish him well, he must win their
hearts and so their tongues. There is no magic like a good turn, and the way to
gain friendly feelings is to do friendly acts. The most and best of us depend
on others - we have to live either among friends or among enemies. So seek
someone everyday who will wish you well - if not a friend, by-and-by after
trials some of these will become your confidants.

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112. Gain goodwill. For thus the first and highest cause foresees and furthers
the greatest objects. By gaining their goodwill you gain people's good opinion.
Some trust so much to merit that they neglect grace, but wise men know that it
is a long and stony road without a lift from favor. Goodwill facilitates and
supplies everything. It supposes gifts or even supplies them, such as courage,
zeal, knowledge, or even discretion; whereas it will not see defects because it
does not search for them. It arises from some common interest, either material,
as in disposition, nationality, family, race, occupation; or formal, which is of
a higher kind of communion, as in capacity, obligation, reputation or merit.
The whole difficulty is to gain goodwill - to keep it is easy. It has, however,
to be sought for and when found to be utilized.

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113. In times of prosperity prepare for adversity. It is both wiser and easier
to collect winter stores in summer. In prosperity favors are cheap and friends
are many. It is well therefore to save them for more unlucky days, for
adversity costs dear and has no helpers. Retain a store of friends and people
who are in your debt - the day may come when their price will go up. Lowly
minds never have friends - in luck they will not recognize them, in misfortune
they will not be recognized by them.

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114. Never compete. Every competition damages your reputation. Our rivals
seize occasion to obscure us so as to outshine us. Few wage honorable war.
Rivalry discloses faults that courtesy would hide. Many have lived in good
repute while they had no rivals. The heat of conflict revives and gives new
life to dead scandals, digging up long-buried skeletons. Competition begins
with belittling, and seeks aid anywhere it can, not only where it should. And
when the weapons of abuse do not effect their purpose, as often or mostly
happens, our opponents seek revenge and use them at least for beating away the
dust of oblivion from anything that is our discredit. People of goodwill are
always at peace, and those of good reputation and dignity are of goodwill.

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115. Get used to the failings of those around you. Just as you would to an ugly
face. It is indispensable if they depend on you, or you on them. There are
wretched characters one cannot live with or without. Therefore clever folk get
used to them, as to ugly faces, so that they are not obliged to do so suddenly
under the pressure of necessity. At first they arouse disgust, but gradually
they lose this influence, and reflection provides for disgust puts up with it.

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116. Only act with honorable people. You can trust them and they you. Their
honor is the best surety of their behavior even in misunderstandings, for they
always act according to their character. Hence it is better to have a dispute
with honorable people than to have a victory over dishonorable ones. You cannot
deal well with the ruined, for they have no hostages for rectitude. With them
there is no true friendship, and their agreements are not binding, however
stringent they may appear, because they have no feeling of honor. Never have
anything to do with such people, for if honor does not restrain them, virtue
will not, since honor is the throne of rectitude.

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117. Never talk about yourself. To do so you must either praise yourself, which
is vain, or blame yourself, which is weak minded - it is unseemly for the
speaker and unpleasant for the listener. And if you should avoid this in
ordinary conversation, how much more so in official matters, and above all in
public speaking, where every mere appearance of unwisdom really is unwise. The
same want of tact lies in speaking of someone in his presence, owing to the
danger of going to one of two extremes: flattery or censure.

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118. Acquire the reputation for courtesy. This is enough to make you liked.
Politeness is the main ingredient of culture - a kind of witchery that wins the
regard of all as surely as discourtesy gains their disfavor and opposition. If
this latter springs from pride it is abominable, if from bad breeding it is
despicable. Better too much courtesy than too little, provided it is not
indiscriminate, which degenerates into injustice. Between opponents it is of
special worth as a proof of valor. It costs little and helps much - everyone is
honored who gives honor. Politeness and honor have this advantage, that they
remain with him who displays them to others.

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119. Avoid becoming disliked. There is no right occasion to seek dislike - it
comes without seeking soon enough. There are many who hate of their own accord
without knowing the why or the how. Their ill will outruns our readiness to
please. Their ill nature is more prone to do harm to others than their greed is
eager to gain advantage for themselves. Some manage to be on bad terms with
everyone because they always either produce or experience a vexation of spirit.
Once hate has taken root it is, like bad reputation, difficult to eradicate.
Wise people are feared, the malevolent are abhorred, the arrogant are regarded
with disdain, buffoons with contempt, eccentrics with neglect. Therefore pay
respect that you may be respected, and know that to be esteemed you must show
esteem.

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120. Live practically. Even knowledge has to be in style, and where it is not
it is wise to affect ignorance. Thought and taste change with the times. Do
not be old fashioned in your ways of thinking and let your taste be modern. In
everything the taste of the many carries the day; for the time being one must
follow it in hope of leading it to higher things. In the adornment of the body,
as of the mind, adapt yourself to the present, even though the past appears
better. But this rule does not apply to kindness, for goodness is for all
times. It is neglected nowadays and seems out of date. Truthfulness, keeping
your word, and so too good people, seem to come from the good old days, yet they
are liked for all that, but even so if any exist they are not in fashion and are
not imitated. What a misfortune for our age that it regards virtue as a
stranger and vice as a matter of course! If you are wise live as you can, if
you cannot live as you would. Think more highly of what fate has given you than
of what it has denied.

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121. Do not make much ado about nothing. As some make gossip out of everything,
so others make much ado of everything. They always talk big, take everything in
earnest and turn it into a dispute or a secret. Troublesome things must not be
taken too seriously if they can be avoided. It is preposterous to take to heart
that which you should just throw over your shoulders. Mush that would be
something has become nothing by being left alone, and what was nothing has
become of consequence by being made much of. At the outset things can be easily
settled, but not afterwards. Often the remedy causes the disease. It is by no
means the least of life's rules to let things alone.

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122. Distinction in speech and action. By this you gain a position in many
places and win esteem in advance. It shows itself in everything, in talk, in
look, even in gait. It is a great victory to conquer people's hearts. It does
not arise from any foolish presumption or pompous talk, but in a becoming tone
of authority born of superior talent combined with true merit.

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123. Avoid affectation. The more merit, the less affectation, which gives a
vulgar flavor to all. It is wearisome to others and troublesome to the one
affected, for he becomes a martyr to care and tortures himself with attention.
The most eminent merits lost most by it, for they appear proud and artificial
instead of being the product of nature, and the natural is always more pleasing
than the artificial. One always feels sure that the person who affects a virtue
has it not. The more pains you take with a thing, the more you should conceal
them, so that it may appear to arise spontaneously from your own natural
character. Do not, however, in avoiding affectation fall into it by affecting
to be unaffected. The sage never seems to know his own merits, for only by not
noticing them can you call others' attention to them. He is twice great who has
all the perfections in the opinion of all except of himself - he attains
applause by two opposite paths.

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124. Make yourself sought after. Few reach such favor with the many, if with
the wise it is the height of happiness. When one has finished one's work,
coldness is the general rule. But there are ways of earning the reward of
goodwill. The sure way is to excel in your office and talents; add to this
agreeable manner and you reach the point where you become necessary to your
office, not your office to you. Some do honor to their post, with others it is
the other way around. It is no great gain if a poor successor makes the
predecessor seem good, for this does not imply that the one is missed, but that
the other is wished away.

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125. Do not be a blacklister of other people's faults. It is a sign of having a
tarnished name to concern oneself with the ill fame of others. Some wish to
hide their own stains with those of others, or at least wash them away; or they
seek consolation therein - it is the consolation of fools. Their breath must
stink who form the sewers of scandal for the whole town. The more one grubs
about in such matters the more one befouls oneself. There are few without stain
somewhere or other. It is only of little known people that the failings are
little known. Be careful then to avoid being a registrar of faults. That is to
be an abominable thing, a man that lives without a heart.

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126. Folly consists not in committing folly, but in not hiding it when
committed. You should keep your desires sealed up, still more your defects.
All go wrong sometimes, but the wise try to hide their errors while fools boast
of them. Reputation depends more on what is hidden than on what is done; if a
man does not live chastely, he must live cautiously. The errors of great men
are like the eclipses of the greater lights. Even in friendship it is rare to
expose one's failings to one's friend. Nay, one should conceal them from
oneself if one can. But here one can help with that other great rule of life:
learn to forget.

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127. Grace in everything. It is the life of talent, the breath of speech, the
soul of action, and the ornament or ornament. Perfections are the adornment of
our nature, but this is the adornment of perfection itself. It shows itself
even in the thoughts. It is mostly a gift of nature and owes least to education
- it even triumphs over training. It is more than ease, approaches the free and
easy, gets over embarrassment, and adds the finishing touch to perfection.
Without it beauty is lifeless, graciousness ungraceful. It surpasses valor,
discretion, prudence, even majesty itself. It is a shortcut to accomplishment
and an easy escape from embarrassment.

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128. High-mindedness. This is one of the principal qualifications for a
gentleman, it spurs us on to all kinds of nobility. It improves the taste,
ennobles the heart, elevates the mind, refines the feelings, and intensifies
dignity. It raises him in whom it is found. At times it even remedies the bad
turns of fortune, which turns itself around because of envy. High-mindedness
can find full scope in the will when it cannot be exercised in act.
Magnanimity, generosity, and all heroic qualities recognize in it their source.

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129. Never complain. To complain always brings discredit. Better to be a model
of self-reliance opposed to the passion of others than an object of their
compassion. For complaining opens the way for the hearer to act like those we
are complaining of, and to disclose one insult forms an excuse for another. By
complaining of past offenses we give occasion for future ones, and in seeking
aid or counsel we only obtain indifference or contempt. It is much more politic
to praise a person's favors, so that others may feel obliged to follow suit. To
recount the favors we owe the absent is to demand similar ones from those
present, and thus we sell our credit with the ones to the other. The shrewd
will therefore never publish to the world his failures or his defects, but only
those marks of consideration that serve to keep friendship alive and enmity
silent.

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130. Do and be seen doing. Things do not pass for what they are but for what
they seem. To be of use and to know how to show it, is to be twice as useful.
What is not seen is as if it was not. Even the right does not receive proper
consideration if it does not seem right. The observant are far fewer in number
than those who are deceived by appearances. Deceit rules - things are judged by
their jackets and many things are other than they seem. But a good exterior is
the best recommendation of the inner perfection.

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131. Nobility of feeling. There is a certain distinction of the soul, a high-
mindedness prompting to gallant acts, that gives an air of grace to the whole
character. It is not found often, for it presupposes great magnanimity. Its
chief characteristic is to speak well of an enemy and to act even better toward
him. It shines brightest when a chance comes for revenge; not alone does it let
the occasion pass but improves it by using a complete victory in order to
display unexpected generosity. It is a fine stroke of policy - no, the very
acme of statecraft. It makes no pretense to victory, for it pretends to
nothing, and while obtaining its deserts it conceals its merits.

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132. Revise your judgements. To appeal to an inner court of revision makes
things safe. Especially when the course of action is not clear, you gain time
either to confirm or improve your decision. It affords new grounds for
strengthening or corroborating your judgement. And if it is a matter of giving,
the gift is the more valued from its being evidently well considered than for
being to promptly bestowed; long expected is highest prized. And if you have to
deny something, that gains you time to decide how and when to mature the
no so that it may be made palatable. Besides, after the first heat of
desire is passed the repulse of refusal is felt less keenly. But, especially
when people press for a reply, it is best to defer it, for as often as not that
is only a feint to disarm attention.

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133. Better mad with the rest of the world than wise alone. So say politicians.
If all are so, one is no worse off than the rest, whereas solitary wisdom passes
for folly. So important is it to sail with the stream. The greatest wisdom
often consists of ignorance, or the pretense of it. One has to live with
others, and others are mostly ignorant. "To live entirely alone one must be
very like a god or quite like a wild beast," But I would turn the aphorism by
saying: Better be wise with the many than a fool all alone. There be some too
who seek to be original by chasing chimeras.

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134. Double your resources. You thereby double your life. One must not depend
on one thing or trust to only one resource, however preeminent. Everything
should be kept double, especially the causes of success, of favor, or of esteem.
The moon's mutability transcends everything and gives a limit to all existence,
especially of things dependent on human will - the most brittle of all things.
To guard against this inconstancy should be the sage's care, and for this the
chief rule of life is to keep a double store of good and useful qualities. Thus
as nature gives us in duplicate the most important of our limbs and those most
exposed to risk, so art should deal with the qualities on which we depend for
success.

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135. Do not nourish the spirit of contradiction. It only proves you foolish or
peevish and prudence should guard against this strenuously. To find
difficulties in everything may prove you clever but such wrangling writes you
down as a fool. Such folk make a war out of the most pleasant conversation and
in this way act as enemies toward their associates rather than toward those with
whom they do not consort. Grit grates most in delicacies, and so does
contradiction in amusement. They are both foolish and cruel who yoke together
the wild beast and the tame.

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136. Post yourself in the center of things. So you feel the pulse of affairs.
Many lose their way either in the ramifications of useless discussion or in the
brushwood of wearisome verbosity without ever realizing the real matter at hand.
They go over a single point a hundred times, wearing themselves and others, and
yet never touch the all important center of affairs. This comes from a
confusion of mind from which they cannot extricate themselves. They waste time
and patience on matters they should leave alone, and afterward there is no time
spared for what they have left alone.

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137. The sage should be self-sufficient. He that was all in all to himself
carried all with him when he carried himself. If a universal friend can
represent us to Rome and the rest of the world, let a man be his own universal
friend, and then he is in a position to live alone. Whom could such a man want
if there is no clearer intellect or finer taste than his own? He would then
depend on himself alone, which is the highest happiness and like the Supreme
Being. He that can live alone resembles the brute beast in nothing, the sage in
much and like a god in everything.

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138. The art of letting things alone. The more so the wilder the waves of
public or of private life. There are hurricanes in human affairs, tempests of
passion, when it is wise to retire to a harbor and ride it out at anchor.
Remedies often make diseases worse; in such cases one has to leave them to their
natural course and the moral influence of time. It takes a wise doctor to know
when not to prescribe, and at times the greater skill consists in not applying
remedies. The proper way to still the storms of the vulgar is to hold yourself
back and let them calm down by themselves. To give way now is to conquer by and
by. A fountain gets muddy with but little stirring up, and does not get clear
by our meddling with it but by our leaving it alone. The best remedy for
disturbances is to let them run their course, for so they quiet down.

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139. Recognize unlucky days. They do exist. Nothing goes well on them, and
even though the game may be changed the bad luck remains. Two tries should be
enough to tell if one is in luck today or not. Everything is in process of
change, even the mind, and no one is always wise. Chance has something to say,
even how to write a good letter. All perfection turns on the times - even
beauty has it hours. Even wisdom fails at times by doing too much or too
little. To turn out well a thing must be done on its own day. This is why with
some people everything turns out ill, with others all goes well, even with less
trouble. They find everything ready, their wit prompt, their presiding genius
favorable, their lucky star on the rise. At such times one must seize the
occasion and not throw away the slightest chance. But a shrewd person will not
decide on a day's luck by a single piece of good or bad fortune, for the one may
be only a lucky chance and the other a slight annoyance.

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140. Find the good in a thing at once. This is the advantage of good taste.
The bee goes to the honey for her comb, the serpent to the gall for its venom.
So with taste - some seek the good, others the ill. There is nothing that has
no good in it, especially in books, as giving food for thought. But many have
such a scent that amid a thousand excellences they fix upon a single defect, and
single it out for blame as if they were scavengers of people's hearts and minds.
So they draw up a balance sheet of defects, which does more credit to their bad
taste than to their intelligence. They lead a sad life, nourishing themselves
on bitters and fattening on garbage. They have the luckier taste who amid a
thousand defects seize upon a single beauty they may have hit upon by chance.

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141. Do not listen to yourself. It is no use pleasing yourself if you do not
please others, and as a rule general contempt is the punishment for self-
satisfaction. The attention you pay to yourself you probably owe to others. To
speak and at the same time to listen to yourself cannot turn out well. If to
talk to oneself when alone is madness, it must be doubly unwise to listen to
oneself in the presence of others. It is a weakness of the great to talk with a
recurrent "As I was saying" and "What?," which bewilders their hearers. At
every sentence they look for applause or flattery, taxing the patience of the
wise. So too the pompous speak with an echo, and as their talk can only totter
on with the aid of stilts - at every word they need the support of a stupid
"Bravo!"

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142. Never from obstinacy take the wrong side because your opponent has
anticipated you by taking the right one. You begin the fight already beaten and
must soon take to flight in disgrace. With bad weapons one can never win. It
was astute in the opponent to seize the better side first, it would be folly to
come lagging after with the worst. Such obstinacy, is more dangerous in actions
than in words, for action encounters more risk than talk. It is the common
failing of the obstinate that they lose the true by contradicting it, and the
useful by quarrelling with it. The sage never places himself on the side of
passion, but espouses the cause of right, either discovering it first or
improving it later. If the enemy is a fool, he will in such case turn round to
follow the opposite and worse way. Thus the only way to drive him from the
better course is to take it yourself, for his folly will cause him to desert it,
and his obstinacy be punished for so doing.

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143. Never become paradoxical in order to avoid being trite. Both extremes
damage our reputation. Every undertaking that differs from the reasonable
approaches foolishness. The paradox is a cheat; it wins applause at first by
its novelty and piquancy, but afterwards it becomes discredited when the deceit
is foreseen and its emptiness becomes apparent. It is a species of jugglery,
and in political matters it would be the ruin of the state. Those who cannot or
dare not reach great deeds on the direct road of excellence go round by way of
paradox, admired by fools but making wise men true prophets. It demonstrates an
unbalanced judgement, and if it is not altogether based on the false, it is
certainly founded on the uncertain, and risks the weightier matters of life.

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144. Begin with another's to end with your own. This is a politic means to your
own end. Even in heavenly matters Christian teachers lay stress on this holy
cunning. It is a weighty piece of dissimulation, for the foreseen advantages
serve as a lure to influence the other's will. His affair seems to be in train
when it is really only leading the way for your own. One should never advance
unless under cover, especially where the ground is dangerous. Likewise with
persons who always say no at first, it is useful to ward off this blow by
presenting your intent in such a way that the difficulty of conceding does not
occur to them. This advice belongs to the rule about second thoughts (maxim
13), which covers the most subtle maneuvers of life.

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145. Do not show your wounded finger, for everything will knock up against it.
Do not complain about it, for malice always aims where weakness can be injured.
It is no use to be vexed; being the butt of the talk will only vex you the more.
Ill will searches for wounds to irritate, aims darts to try the temper, and
tries a thousand ways to sting to the quick. The wise never confess to being
hit, or disclose any evil, whether personal or hereditary. For even fate
sometimes likes to wound us where we are most tender. It always mortifies
wounded flesh. Never therefore disclose the source of pain or of joy, if you
wish the one to cease and the other to endure.

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146. Look into the interior of things. Things are generally other than they
seem, and ignorance that never looks beneath the rind is disillusioned when you
show the kernel. Lies always come first, dragging fools along by their
irreparable vulgarity. Truth always lags last, limping along on the arm of
time. The wise therefore reserve for truth one of their ears, which their
common mother, nature, has wisely given in duplicate. Deceit is very
superficial, and the superficial therefore easily fall into it. Prudence lives
retired within its recesses, visited only by sages and wise men.

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147. Do not be inaccessible. None is so perfect that he does not need at times
the advice of others. He is an incorrigible ass who will never listen to
anyone. Even the most surpassing intellect should find a place for friendly
counsel. Sovereignty itself must learn to lean. There are some that are
incorrigible simply because they are inaccessible. They fall to ruin because
none dares to extricate them. The highest should have the door open for
friendship; it may prove the gate of help. A friend must be free to advise, and
even to upbraid, without feeling embarrassed. Our satisfaction in him and our
trust in his steadfast faith give him that power. One need not pay respect or
give credit to everyone, but in the innermost sanctum of his caution a person
must have the true mirror of a confidant to whom he owes the correction of his
errors, and has to thank for it.

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148. Have the art of conversation. That is where the real personality shows
itself. No act requires more attention, thought it be the most common thing in
life. You must either lose or gain by it. If it takes care to write a letter,
which is but a deliberate and written conversation, how much more so the
ordinary kind in which there is occasion for a prompt display of intelligence?
Experts feel the pulse of the soul in the tongue, which is why the sage said,
"Speak, that I may know thee." Some hold that the art of conversation is to be
without art - that it should be neat, not gaudy, like clothing. This holds good
for talk between friends. But when held with persons to whom one would show
respect, it should be more dignified to answer to the dignity of the person
addressed. To be appropriate it should adapt itself to the mind and tone of
others. And do not be a critic of words, or you will be taken for a pedant; nor
a tax-gatherer of ideas, or people will avoid you, or at least sell their
thoughts dear. In conversation discretion is more important than eloquence.

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149. Know how to put off ills on others. To have a shield against ill will is a
great piece of skill in a ruler. It is not the resort of incapacity, as ill-
wishers imagine, but is due to the higher policy of having someone to receive
the censure of the disaffected and the punishment of universal dislike.
Everything cannot turn out well, therefore, even at the cost of our pride, to
have such a scapegoat, a target for unlucky undertakings.

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150. Know how to get your price for things. Their intrinsic value is not
sufficient, for not everyone bites at the essence or looks into the interior.
Most go with the crowd, and go because they see others go. It is a great stroke
of art to show things at true value - at times by praising them (for praise
arouses desire), at times by giving them a striking name (which is very useful
for putting things at a premium), provided it is done without affectation.
Again, it is generally an inducement to profess to supply only to connoisseurs,
for all think themselves such, and if not, the sense of want arouses the desire.
Never call things easy or common - that makes them depreciated rather than made
accessible. All rush after the unusual, which is more appetizing both for the
taste and for the intelligence.

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151. Think beforehand. Today for tomorrow, and even for many days hence. The
greatest foresight consists in determining beforehand the time of trouble. For
the provident there are no mischances and for the careful no narrow escapes. We
must not put off thought till we are up to the chin in mire. Mature reflection
can get over the most formidable difficulty. "The pillow is a silent Sibyl,"
and it is better to sleep on things beforehand than lie awake about them
afterwards. Many act first and then think later - that is, they think less of
consequences than of excuses. Others think neither before nor after. The whole
of life should be one course of thought how not to miss the right path.
Rumination and foresight enable one to determine the course of life.

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152. Never have a companion who outshines you. The more he does so the less
desirable a companion he is. The more he excels in quality, the more in
reputation; he will always play first fiddle and you second. If you get any
consideration, it is only his leavings. The moon shines bright alone among the
stars; when the sun rises she becomes either invisible or imperceptible. Never
join one that eclipses you but rather one who sets you in a brighter light. By
this means the cunning Fabula in Martial's verse was able to appear beautiful
and brilliant, owing to the ugliness and disorder of her companions. But one
should as little imperil oneself by an evil companion as pay honor to another at
the cost of one's own credit. When you are on the way to fortune associate with
the eminent, when arrived with the mediocre.

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153. Beware of entering where there is a great gap to be filled. But if you do
be sure to surpass your predecessor - merely to equal him requires twice his
worth. As it is an artful stroke to arrange it so that one's successor shall
cause you to be missed, so it is policy to see that our predecessor does not
eclipse us. To fill a great gap is difficult, for the past always seems best,
and to equal the predecessor is not enough, since he has the right of first
possession. You must therefore possess additional claims to oust the other from
his hold on public opinion.

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154. Do not believe, or like, lightly. Maturity of mind is best shown in slow
belief. Lying is the usual thing, so then let belief be unusual. He that is
lightly led away soon falls into contempt. At the same time, there is no
necessity to betray your doubts against the good faith of others. For this adds
insult to discourtesy, since you make out your informant to be either deceiver
or deceived. Nor is this the only evil. Lack of belief is the mark of a liar,
who suffers from two failings: he neither believes nor is believed. Suspension
of judgement is prudent in a hearer; the speaker can appeal to his original
source of information. There is a similar kind of imprudence in liking too
easily, for lies may be told by deeds as well as in words, and this deceit is
more dangerous for practical life.

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155. The art of mastering your passions. If possible, oppose the vulgar advance
of passion with prudent reflection. This is not difficult for a truly prudent
person. The first step toward mastering a passion is to acknowledge that you
are in a passion. By this means you begin the conflict with command over your
temper, for one has to regulate one's passion to the exact point that is
necessary and no further. This is the art of arts in falling into and getting
out of rage. You should know how and when best to come to a stop - and it is
most difficult to halt while running double-time. It is a great proof of wisdom
to remain clear-sighted during paroxysms of rage. Every excess of passion is a
digression from rational conduct. But by this masterful policy reason will
never be transgressed, nor pass the bounds of its own moral reason. To keep
control of passion one must hold firm the reins of attention; he who can do so
will be the first person "wise on horseback," and probably the last.

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156. Select your friends. Only after passing the examination of experience and
the test of fortune will they be graduates, not only in affection but in
discernment. Though this is the most important thing in life, it is the one
least cared for. Intelligence brings friends to some, chance to most. Yet a
person is judged by his friends, for there was never sympathy between wise men
and fools. At the same time, to find pleasure in a person's society is no proof
of close friendship: it may come from the pleasantness of his company more than
from trust in his capacity. There are some friendships legitimate, others
illicit; the latter for pleasure, the former for their fertility of ideas and
motives. Few are the friends of a person's innermost self, most those of his
circumstances. The insight of a true friend is more useful than the goodwill of
others, therefore gain them by choice, not by chance. A wise friend ward off
worries, a foolish one brings them about. But do not wish them too much luck,
or you may lose them.

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157. Do not make mistakes about character. That is the worst and yet easiest
error. Better be cheated in the price than in the quality of goods. In dealing
with people, more than with other things, it is necessary to look within. To
know people is different from knowing things. It is profound philosophy to
sound the depths of feeling and distinguish traits of character. People must be
studied as deeply as books.

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158. Make use of your friends. This requires all the art of discretion. Some
are good far off, some when near. Many are no good at conversation but
excellent as correspondents, for distance removes some failings which are
unbearable in close proximity to them. Friends are for use even more than for
pleasure, for they have the three qualities of the good, or, as some say, of
being in general: unity, goodness, and truth. For a friend is all in all. Few
are worthy to be good friends, and even these become fewer because people do not
know how to pick them out. Keeping friends is more important than making them.
Select those that will wear well - if they are new at first it is some
consolation that they will become old. Absolutely the best are those well
salted, though they may require soaking in the testing. There is no desert like
leaving without friends. Friendship multiplies the good of life and divides the
evil. It is the sole remedy against misfortune, like fresh air to the soul.

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159. Put up with fools. The wise are always impatient, for he that increases
knowledge increases impatience with folly. Much knowledge is difficult to
satisfy. The first great rule of life, according to Epictetus, is to put up
with things - he valued this as half of all wisdom. To put up with all the
varieties of folly would need much patience. We often have to put up with most
from those on whom we most depend, which is a useful lesson in self-control.
Out of patience comes forth peace, the priceless boon that is the happiness of
the world. But let him that has no power of patience then retire within
himself, though even there he will have to put up with himself.

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160. Be careful in speaking. With your rivals out of prudence, with others for
the sake of appearance. There is always time to add a word, never to withdraw
one. Talk as if you were making your will: the fewer words the less litigation.
In trivial matters exercise yourself for the more weighty matters of speech.
Profound secrecy has some of the luster of the divine. He who speaks quickly
soon falls of fails.

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161. Know your pet faults. The most perfect of people has them and is either
wedded to them or loves them. They are often faults of intellect, and the
greater this is, the greater they are, or at least the more conspicuous. It is
not so much that their possessor does not know them, he loves them, which is a
double evil because it's an irrational affection for avoidable faults. They are
spots on perfection, they displease the onlooker as much as they please the
possessor. It is a gallant thing to get clear of them, and so give play to
one's other qualities. For all people hit upon such a failing, and on going
over your qualifications they will take a long look at this blot and blacken it
in as deeply as possible, casting your other talents into the shade.

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162. How to triumph over your rivals and detractors. It is not enough to
despise them, though this is often wise - a gallant bearing is the essential
thing. One cannot praise a person too much who speaks well of them who speaks
ill of him. There is no more heroic vengeance than that of talents and services
that at once conquer and torment the envious. Every success is a further twist
of the cord round the neck of those who wish you ill, and an enemy's glory is
the rival's hell. The envious die not once, but as often as the envied wins
applause. The immortality of his fame is the measure of the other's torture;
the one lives in endless honor, the other in endless pain. The clarion of fame
announces immortality to the one and death to the other - the slow death of envy
long drawn out.

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163. Never - out of sympathy with the unfortunate - involve yourself in their
fate. One person's misfortune is another's luck, for one cannot be lucky
without many being unlucky. It is a peculiarity of the unfortunate to arouse
people's goodwill, who desire to compensate them for the blows of fortune with
their useless favor, and it happens that one who was abhorred by all in
prosperity is adored by all in adversity. Vengeance on the wing is exchanged
for compassion afoot. Yet it should be noticed how fate shuffles the cards.
There are people who always consort with the unlucky, and he that yesterday flew
high and happy stands today miserable at their side. That reveals nobility of
soul but not worldly wisdom.

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164. Throw straws in the air to test the wind. Find how things will be
perceived, especially from those whose reception or success is doubtful. One
can thus be assured of its turning out well, and an opportunity is provided for
going on in earnest or withdrawing entirely. By trying people's intentions in
this way, the wise person knows on what ground he stands. This is the great
rule of foresight in asking, in desiring, and in ruling.

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165. Wage war honorably. You may be obliged to wage war but not to use poisoned
arrows. Everyone must act as he is, not as others would make him to be.
Gallantry in the battle of life wins everyone's praise; one should fight so as
to conquer, not alone by force but by the way it is used. A mean victory brings
no glory, but rather disgrace. Honor always has the upper hand. An honorable
person never uses forbidden weapons, such as using a friendship that's ended for
the purposes of a hatred just begun; a confidence must never be used for a
vengeance. The slightest taint of treason tarnishes one's good name. In people
of honor the smallest trace of meanness repels. The noble and the ignoble
should be miles apart. Be able to boast that is gallantry, generosity, and
fidelity were lost in the world people would be able to rediscover them in your
own heart.

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166. Distinguish people of words from people of deeds. Discrimination is
important, as in the case of friends, persons, and employments, which all have
many varieties. Bad words even without bad deeds are bad enough; good words
with bad deeds are worse. One cannot dine off words, which are wind, nor off
politeness, which is but polite deceit. To catch birds with a mirror is the
ideal snare. It is the vain alone who take their wages in windy words. Words
should be the pledges of work, and, like pawntickets, have their market price.
Trees that bear leaves but not fruit usually have no core - know them for what
they are, of no use except for shade.

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167. Know how to rely on yourself. In great crises there is no better companion
than a bold heart, and if it becomes weak it must be strengthened from the
neighboring parts. Worries dies away for the person who asserts himself. One
must not surrender to misfortune or else it would become intolerable. Many
people do not help themselves in their troubles and double their weight by not
knowing how to bear them. He that knows himself knows how to strengthen his
weakness, and the wise person conquers everything, even the stars in their
courses.

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168. Do not indulge in the eccentricities of folly. Like vanity,
presumptuousness, egotism, untrustworthiness, capriciousness, obstinacy,
fancifulness, theatricalism, whimsy, inquisitivness, contradiction, and all
forms of one-sidedness - they are all monstrosities of impertinence. All
deformity of mind is more obnoxious than that of the body, because it violates a
higher beauty. Yet who can assist such a complete confusion of mind? Where
self-control is wanting, there is no room for others' guidance. Instead of
paying attention to other people's real derision, people of this kind blind
themselves with the false hope of imaginary applause.

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169. Be more careful not to miss once than to hit a hundred times. No one looks
at the blazing sun, but all gaze when it is eclipsed. The common talk does not
reckon what goes right but what goes wrong. Evil news carries farther than any
applause. Many people are not known to the world till they have left it. All
the exploits of a person taken together are not enough to wipe out a single
small blemish. Avoid therefore falling into error, knowing that ill will
notices every error and no success.

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170. In all things keep something in reserve. This is a sure way of keeping up
your importance. A person should employ all his capacity and power at once and
on every occasion. Even in knowledge there should be a rearguard so that your
resources are doubled. One must always have something to resort to when there
is fear of a defeat. The reserve is of more importance than the attacking
force, for it is distinguished by valor and reputation. Prudence always sets to
work with assurance of safety. In this matter the piquant paradox holds true:
the half is more than the whole.

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171. Do not waste influence. The great as friends are for great occasions. One
should not make use of great confidence for little things, for that wastes a
favor. The emergency anchor should be reserved for the last resort. If you use
up the great for little ends what remain afterward? Nothing is more valuable
than a protector and nothing costs more nowadays than a favor. It can make or
unmake a whole world. It can even support your wits or take them away. As
nature and fame are favorable to the wise, so luck is generally envious of them.
It is therefore more important to keep the favor of the mighty than goods and
chattels.

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172. Never contend with someone who has nothing to lose. By doing so you enter
into an unequal conflict. The other enters without anxiety - having lost
everything, including shame, he has no further loss to fear. He therefore
resorts to all kinds of insolence. One should never expose a valuable
reputation to so terrible a risk, least of all what has cost years to gain and
may be lost in a moment - a single slight may wipe out much sweat. A person of
honor and responsibility has a reputation, because he has much to lose. He
balances his own and the other's reputation. He only enters into the contest
with the greatest caution, and then goes to work with such circumspection that
he gives prudence the opportunity to retire in time and bring his reputation
under cover. For even by victory he cannot gain what he has lost by exposing
himself to the chances of loss.

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173. Do not be made of glass in your relations with others, still less in
friendship. Some break very easily, and thereby show their want of consistency.
They attribute to themselves imaginary offences and to others oppressive
intentions. Their feelings are even more sensitive than the eye itself and must
not be touched in jest or in earnest. Motes offend them; they need not wait for
beams. Those who consort with them must treat them with the greatest delicacy,
have regard to their sensitiveness, and watch their demeanor, since the
slightest slight arouses their annoyance. They are mostly very egoistic, slaves
of their moods, for the sake of which they cast everything aside. They are
worshippers of little nothings. On the other hand, the disposition of the true
lover is almost diamond-like: hard and everlasting.

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174. Do not live in a hurry. To know how to separate things is to know how to
enjoy them. Many people finish their fortune sooner than their life. They run
through pleasures without enjoying them, and would like to go back when they
find they have overrun the mark. Postilions of life, they increase the ordinary
pace of life by the hurry of their own calling. They devour more in one day
than they can digest in a whole lifetime; they live in advance of pleasures, eat
up the years beforehand, and by their hurry get through everything too soon.
Even in the search for knowledge there should be moderation, lest we learn
things better left unknown. We have more days to live through than pleasures.
Be slow in enjoyment, quick at work, for people see work ended with pleasure,
pleasures ended with regret.

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175. A solid person. One who is finds no satisfaction in those that are not.
It is a pitiable eminence that is not well founded. Not all are those that seem
to be so. Some are sources of deceit - impregnated by chimeras, they give
births to impositions. Others are like them so much that they take more
pleasure in a lie (because it promises much) than in the truth (because it
performs little). But in the end these caprices come to a bad end, for they
have no solid foundation. Only truth can give true reputation; only reality can
be of real profit. One deceit needs many others, and so the whole house is
built in the air and must soon come to the ground. Unfounded things never reach
old age. They promise too much to be much trusted: that cannot be true that
proves too much.

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176. Have knowledge, or know those who do. Without intelligence, either one's
own or another's, true life is impossible. But many do not know that they do
not know, and many think they know when they know nothing. Failings of the
intelligence are incorrigible, since those who do not know, do not know
themselves, and cannot therefore seek what they lack. Many would be wise if
they did not think themselves wise. Thus it happens that though the oracles of
wisdom are precious, they are rarely used. To seek advice does not lessen
greatness or argue incapacity. On the contrary, to ask advice proves you well
advised. Take counsel with reason if you do not wish to court defeat.

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177. Avoid being to familiar with others. Nor should you permit other to be
too familiar with you. He that is too familiar loses any superiority his
influence gives him and so loses respect. The stars keep their brilliance by
not making themselves common. The divine demands decorum. Every familiarity
breeds contempt. In human affairs, the more a person shows the less he has, for
in open communication you communicate the failings that reserve might keep under
cover. Familiarity is never desirable: with superiors because it is dangerous,
with inferiors because it is unbecoming, least of all with the common herd, who
become insolent from sheer folly - they mistake favor shown them for need felt
of them. Familiarity verges on vulgarity.

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178. Trust your heart. Especially when it has been proved. Never deny it a
hearing. It is a kind of house oracle that often foretells things most
important. Many have perished because they feared their own heart, but of what
use is it to fear it without finding a better remedy? Many are endowed by
nature with a heart so true that it always warns them of misfortune and wards
off its effects. It is unwise to seek evils, unless you seek to conquer them.

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179. Reticence is the seal of capacity. A heart without a secret is an open
letter. Where there is a solid foundation secrets can be kept profound - there
are specious cellars where important things may be hid. Reticence springs from
self-control and to control oneself in this is a true triumph. You must pay
ransom to each you tell. The security of wisdom consists of inner temperance.
The risk that reticence runs lies in the cross-questioning of others, in the use
of contradiction to worm out secrets, in the darts of irony. To avoid there the
prudent become more reticent than ever. What must be done need not be said, and
what must be said need not be done.

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180. Never guide the enemy to what he has to do. The fool never does what the
wise judge wise, because he does not follow up with suitable means. He that is
discreet follows still less a plan laid out, or even carried out, by another.
One has to discuss matters from both points of view - turn it over on both
sides. Judgements vary. Let him that has not decided attend rather to what is
possible than what is probable.

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181. The truth, but not the whole truth. Nothing demands more caution than the
truth - it is the lancet of the heart. It requires as much to tell the truth as
to conceal it. A single lie destroys a whole reputation for integrity. The
deceit is regarded as treason and the deceiver as a traitor, which is worse.
Yet not all truths can be spoken, some for our own sake, others for the sake of
others.

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182. A grain of boldness in everything. This is an important piece of prudence.
You must moderate your opinion of others so that you may not think so high of
them as to fear them. The imagination should never yield to the heart. Many
appear great till you know them personally, and then dealing with them does more
to raise disillusion than esteem. No one oversteps the narrow bounds of
humanity - all have their weaknesses either in heart or head. Dignity gives
apparent authority, which is rarely accompanied by personal power, for fortune
often redresses the height of office by the inferiority of the holder. The
imagination always jumps too soon and paints things in brighter colors than the
real. It thinks things not as they are but as it wishes them to be.
Attentiveness - though disillusioned in the past - soon corrects all that. Yet
if wisdom should not be timorous, neither should folly be rash. And if self-
reliance helps the ignorant, how much more the brave and wise?

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183. Do not hold your views to firmly. Every fool is firmly convinced, and
everyone fully persuaded is a fool; the more erroneous his judgement the more
firmly he holds it. Even in cases of obvious certainty, it is fine to yield.
Our reasons for holding the view cannot escape notice, our courtesy in yielding
will be recognized. Our obstinacy loses more than our victory gains - that is
not to champion truth but rather rudeness. There are some heads of iron most
difficult to turn, and add caprice to obstinacy and the sum is a wearisome fool.
Steadfastness should be for the will, not for the mind. Yet there are
exceptions where one would fail twice, owning oneself wrong both in judgement
and in the execution of it.

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184. Do not stand on ceremony. Even in kings this affectation is renowned for
eccentricity. To be punctilious is to be a bore, yet whole nations have this
peculiarity. The garb of folly is woven out of such things. Such folk are
worshippers of their own dignity, yet show how little it is justified since they
fear that the least thing can destroy it. It is right to demand respect, but
not to be considered a master of ceremonies. Yet it is true that in order to do
without ceremonies one must possess supreme qualities. Neither affect nor
despise etiquette - he cannot be great who is great at such little things.

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185. Never stake your credit on a single cast of the dice. If it miscarries the
damage is irreparable. It may easily happen that you might fail once,
especially at first. Circumstances are not always favorable, hence they say,
"Every dog has his day." Always connect your second attempt with your first,
because whether it succeeds or fails the first will redeem the second. Always
have resort to better means and appeal to more resources. Things depend on all
sorts of chances. That is why the satisfaction of success is so rare.

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186. Recognize faults, however highly placed. Integrity can discover vice when
clothed in brocade or even crowned with gold, but will not be able to hide its
own character for all that. Slavery does not lose its vileness because it is
disguised by the nobility of its lord and master. Vices may stand in a high
place, but are low for all that. People may see that many a great person has
great faults, yet they do not see that he is not great because of them. The
example of the great is so specious that it even glosses over viciousness, until
it may so affect those who flatter it that they do not notice that what they
gloss over in the great they abominate in the lower classed.

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187. Do pleasant things yourself, unpleasant things through others. By the one
course you gain goodwill, by the other you avoid hatred. A great person takes
more pleasure in doing a favor than in receiving one - it is the privilege of
his generous nature. One cannot easily cause pain to another without suffering
pain either from sympathy or from remorse. In a high position one can only work
by means of rewards and punishment, so grant the first yourself, inflict the
other through others. Have someone against whom the weapons of discontent,
hatred, and slander may be directed. For the rage of the mob is like that of a
dog: missing the cause of its pain it turns to bite the whip itself and, though
this is not the real culprit, it has to pay the penalty.

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188. Be the bearer of praise. This increases our credit for good taste, since
it shows that we have learned elsewhere to know what is excellent and hence how
to prize it in the present company. It gives material for conversation and for
imitation and encourages praiseworthy exertions. Besides, this does homage in a
very delicate way to the excellences before us. Others do the opposite, they
accompany their talk with a sneer, and fancy they flatter those present by
belittling the absent. This may serve them with superficial people, who do not
notice how cunning it is to speak ill of everyone to everyone else. Many pursue
the plan of valuing more highly the mediocrities of the day than the most
distinguished exploits of the past. Let the cautious penetrate through these
subtleties, and let him not be dismayed by the exaggerations of the one or made
overconfident by the flatteries of the other; knowing that both act in the same
way by different methods, adapting their talk to the company they are in.

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189. Utilize another's wants. The greater his wants the greater the turn of the
screw. Philosophers say privation is non-existent, but statesmen say it is all-
embracing, and they are right. Many make ladders to attain their ends out of
the wants of others. They make use of the opportunity and tantalize the
appetite by pointing out the difficulty of satisfaction. The energy of desire
promises more than the inertia of possession. The passion of desire increases
with every increase of opposition. It is a subtle point to satisfy the desire
and yet preserve the dependence.

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190. Find consolation in all things. Even the useless may find it in being
immortal. No trouble without compensation. Fools are held to be lucky, and the
good luck of the ugly is proverbial. Be worth little and you will live long -
it is the cracked glass that never gets broken, but worries one with its
durability. It seems that fortune envies the great, so it equalizes things by
giving long life to the useless, a short one to the important. Those who bear
the burden come soon to grief, while those who are of no importance live on and
on: in one case it appears so, in the other it is so. The unlucky thinks he has
been forgotten by both death and fortune.

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191. Do not take payment in politeness. This is a kind of fraud. Some do not
need exotic herbs for their magic potion, for they can enchant fools by the
grace of their salute. Theirs is the Bank of Elegance, and they pay with the
wind of fine words. To promise everything is to promise nothing - promises are
the pitfalls of fools. The true courtesy is performance of duty; the spurious,
and especially the useless, is deceit. It is not respect but rather a means to
power. Obeisance is paid not to the man but to his means, and compliments are
offered not to the qualities that are recognized but to the advantages that are
desired.

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192. A peaceful life is a long life. To live, let live. Peacemakers not only
live, they rule life. Hear, see, and be silent. A day without dispute brings
sleep without dreams. Long life and a pleasant one is life enough for two -
that is the fruit of peace. He has all that makes nothing of what is nothing to
him. There is no greater perversity than to take everything to heart. There is
equal folly in troubling our heart about what does not concern us and in not
taking to heart what does.

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193. Watch out for people who begin with another's concerns to end with their
own. Watchfulness is the only guard against cunning. Be intent on their
intention. Many succeed in making others do their own affairs, and unless you
possess the key to their motives you may at any moment be forced to take their
chestnuts out of the fire to the damage of your own fingers.

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194. Have reasonable views of yourself and of your affairs. This is especially
true in the beginning of life. Everyone has a high opinion of himself,
especially those who have least ground for it. Everyone dreams of his good luck
and thinks himself a marvel. Hope gives rise to extravagant promises that
experience does not fulfill. Such idle imaginations merely serve as a
wellspring of annoyance when disillusion comes with the true reality. The wise
man anticipates such errors. He may always hope for the best, but he always
expects the worst, so as to receive what comes with equanimity. True, it is
wise to aim high so as to hit your mark, but not so high that you miss your
mission at the very beginning of life. This correction of expectations is
necessary because before experience comes, expectation is sure to soar too high.
The best panacea against folly is prudence. If you know the true sphere of your
activity and position, you can reconcile ideals with reality.

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195. Know how to appreciate. There is no one who cannot teach somebody
something, and there is no one so excellent that he cannot be excelled. To know
how to make use of everyone is useful knowledge. Wise men appreciate everyone,
for they see the good in each and know how hard it is to make anything good.
Fools depreciate everyone, not recognizing the good and selecting the bad.

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196. Know your ruling star. No one is so helpless as not to have a ruling star;
if he is unlucky, that is because he does know it. Some stand high in the favor
of princes and potentates without knowing why or wherefore, except that good
luck itself has granted them favor on easy terms, merely requiring them to aid
it with a little exertion. Others find favor with the wise. One person is
better received by one nation than another, or is more welcome in one city than
another. He finds more luck in one office or position than another, and all
this though his qualifications are equal or even identical. Luck shuffles the
cards how and when she will. Let each person know his luck as well as his
talents, for on this depends whether he loses or wins. Follow your guiding star
and help it without mistaking it for any other, for that would be to miss the
north, though its neighbor (or polestar) calls us to it with a voice of thunder.

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197. Do not carry fools on your back. He that does not know a fool when he sees
one is one himself, still more he that knows him but will not keep clear of him.
They are dangerous company and ruinous confidants. Even though their own
caution and others' care keeps them in bounds for a time, still at length they
are sure to do or to say some foolishness that is all the greater for being kept
so long in stock. They cannot help another's credit who have none of their own.
They are most unlucky, which is the nemesis of fools, and they have to pay for
one thing or the other. There is only one thing that is not so bad about them,
and this is that though they can be of no use to the wise, they are good as
warning signs or as signposts.

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198. Know how to transplant yourself. There are nations with whom one must
cross their borders to make one's value felt, especially when in great posts.
Their native land is always the stepmother to great talents; envy flourishes
there on its native, soil and they remember one's small beginnings rather than
the greatness one has reached. A needle is appreciated that comes from one end
of the world to the other, and a piece of painted glass might outvie the diamond
in value if it comes from afar. Everything foreign is respected, partly because
it comes from afar partly because it is ready made and perfect. We have seen a
person once the laughingstock of their village and now the wonder of the whole
world, honored by their fellow countrymen and by foreigners - by the latter
because they come from afar, by the former because they are seen from afar. The
wood statue on the altar is never reverenced by him who knew it as a tree trunk
in the garden.

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199. Find your proper place by merit, not by presumption. The true road to
respect is through merit, and if industry accompanies merit the path becomes
shorter. Integrity alone is not sufficient, push and insistence is degrading,
for things that arrive by that means are so sullied that the discredit destroys
reputation. The true way is the middle one, halfway between deserving a place
and pushing oneself into it.

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200. Leave something to wish for. That way you will not be miserable from too
much happiness. The body must respire and the soul aspire. If one possessed
all, all would be disillusion and discontent. Even in knowledge there should be
always something left to know in order to arouse curiosity and excite hope.
Surfeit of happiness are fatal. In giving assistance it is a piece of policy
not to satisfy entirely. If there is nothing left to desire, there is
everything to fear - an unhappy state of happiness. When desire dies, fear is
born.

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201. They are all fools who seem so, as well as half the rest. Folly arose with
the world, and if there be any wisdom it is folly compared with the divine. But
the greatest fool is he who thinks he is not one and all others are. To be wise
it is not enough to seem wise, least of all to seem so to oneself. He knows who
does not think that he knows, and he does not see who does not see that others
see. Though all the world is full of fools, there is no one who thinks himself
one, or even suspects the fact.

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202. Words and deeds make the perfect person. One should speak well and act
honorably the one is an excellence of the head, the other of the heart, and both
arise from nobility of soul. Words are the shadows of deeds - the former are
feminine, the latter masculine. It is more important to be renowned than to
convey renown. Speech is easy, action hard. Actions are the stuff of life,
words its frippery. Eminent deeds endure, striking words pass away. Actions
are the fruit of thought; if this is wise, they are effective.

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203. Know the great people of your age. They are not many. There is one
phoenix in the whole world, one great general, one perfect orator, one true
philosopher in a century, one really illustrious king in several. Mediocrities
are as numerous as they are worthless; eminent greatness is rare in every
respect, since it needs complete perfection, and the higher the species the more
difficult is the highest rank in it. Many have claimed the title Great,
like Caesar and Alexander, but in vain, for without deeds the title is a
mere breath of air. There have been few Senecas, and fame records but one
Apelles.

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204. Attempt easy tasks as if they were difficult and difficult as if they were
easy. In one case so that confidence may not fall asleep, in the other so that
it may not be dismayed. For a thing to remain undone nothing more is needed
than to think it done. On the other hand, patient industry overcomes
impossibilities. Great undertakings are not to be brooded over, lest their
difficulty when seen causes despair.

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205. Know how to play the card of contempt. It is a shrewd way of getting
things you want, by pretending to depreciate them; generally they are not to be
had when sought for, but fall into one's hands when one is not looking for them.
As all mundane things are but shadows of the things eternal, they share with
shadows this quality, they flee from him who follows them and follow him that
flees from them. Contempt is also the most subtle form of revenge. It is a
fixed rule with the wise never to defend themselves with the pen. For such
defense always leaves a stain, and does more to glorify one's opponent than to
punish his offence. It is a trick of the worthless to stand forth as opponents
of great men, so as to win notoriety by a roundabout way, which they would never
do by the straight road of merit. There are many we would not have heard of if
their eminent opponents had not taken notice of them. There is no revenge like
oblivion, through which they are buried in the dust of their unworthiness. An
audacious person hopes to make himself eternally famous by setting fire to one
of the wonders of the world and of the ages. The art of reproving scandal is
not to take notice of it. To combat it damages our own case - even if credited
it causes discredit and is a source of satisfaction to our opponent. This
shadow of a stain dulls the luster of our fame, even if it cannot altogether
deaden it.

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206. Know that there are vulgar people everywhere. This is true even in Corinth itself,
even in the highest families. Everyone may try the experiment within his own gates. But there is also such a thing as vulgar opposition to vulgarity, which is worse. This special kind shares all the qualities of the common kind, just as bits of broken glass, but this kind is still more pernicious; it speaks folly, blames impertinently, is a disciple of ignorance, a patron of folly, a past master of scandal. You need not notice what it says, still less what it thinks. It is important to know vulgarity in order to avoid it, whether it is subjective or objective. For all folly is
vulgarity, and the vulgar consist of fools.

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207. Be moderate. One has to consider the chance of a mischance. The impulses
of the passions cause prudence to slip, and there is risk of ruin. A moment of
wrath or of pleasure carries you on farther than many hours of calm, and often a
short diversion may put a whole life to shame. The cunning of others uses such
moments of temptation to search the recesses of the mind. They use such
thumbscrews to test your best sense of caution. Moderation serves as a
counterplot, especially in sudden emergencies. Much thought is needed to
prevent a passion taking the bit in the teeth, and he is doubly wise who is wise
on horseback. He who knows the danger may with care pursue his journey. As
light as a word may appear to him who throws it out, it may import much to him
that hears it and ponders on it.

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208. Do not die of the fools' disease. The wise generally die after they have
lost their reason, fools before they have found it. To die of the fool's
disease is to die of too much thought. Some die because they think and feel too
much, others live because they do not think or feel at all. The first are fools
because they die of sorrow, the others because they do not. A fool is he that
dies of too much knowledge. Thus some die because they are too knowing, others
because they are not knowing enough. Yet though many die like fools, few die
fools.

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209. Keep yourself free from common follies. This is a special stroke of
policy. They are of special power because they are common, so that many who
would not be led away by an individual folly cannot escape the universal
failing. Among these are to be counted the common prejudice of anyone who is
satisfied with his fortune, however great, or unsatisfied with his intellect,
however poor it is. Or again, that each, being discontented with his own lot,
envies that of others. Or further, that persons of today praise the things of
yesterday, and those here the things there. Everything past seems best and
everything distant is more valued. He is a great fool that laughs at everything
as is he that weeps at everything.

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210. Know how to play the card of truth. It is dangerous, yet a good person
cannot avoid speaking it. But great skill is needed here. The most expert
doctors of the soul pay great attention to the means of sweetening the pills of
truth. For when it deals with the destroying of illusion it is the quintessence
of bitterness. A pleasant manner has here an opportunity for a display of skill
- with the same truth it can flatter one and fell another to the ground.
Matters of today should be treated as if they were long past. For those who can
understand, a word is sufficient, and if it does not suffice, it is a case for
silence. Princes must not be cured with bitter draughts, so it is desirable in
their case to gild the pill of disillusion.

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211. In heaven all is bliss. And in hell all misery. One earth, between the
two, both one thing and the other. We stand between the two extremes, and
therefore share both. Fate varies - all is not good luck nor all mischance.
This world is merely zero - by itself it is of no value - but with heaven in
front of it, it means much. Indifference at its ups and downs is prudent, nor
is there any novelty for the wise. Our life gets as complicated as a comedy as
it goes on, but the complications get gradually resolved - see that the curtain
comes down on a good denouement.

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212. Keep to yourself the final touches of your art. This is a maxim of the
great masters who pride themselves on this subtlety in teaching their pupils:
one must always remain superior, remain master. One must teach an art artfully.
The source of knowledge need not be pointed out no more than that of giving. By
this means a person preserves the respect and the dependence of others. In
amusing and teaching, you must observe the rule: keep up expectation and advance
in perfection. To keep a reserve is a great rule for life and for success,
especially for those in high places.

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213. Know how to contradict. A chief means of finding thing out - to embarrass
others without being embarrassed. The true thumbscrew, it brings the passions
into play. A little disbelief makes people spit up secrets. It is the key to a
locked up heart, and with great subtlety makes a double trial of both mind and
will. A sly depreciation of another's mysterious word scents out the
profoundest secrets; some sweet bait brings them into the mouth till they fall
from the tongue and are caught in the net of astute deceit. By reserving your
attention the other becomes less attentive, and lets his thoughts appear while
otherwise his heart were inscrutable. An affected doubt is the subtlest
picklock that curiosity can use to find out what it wants to know. Also in
learning it is a subtle plan of the pupil to contradict the master, who
thereupon takes pains to explain the truth more thoroughly and with more force,
so that a moderate contradiction produces complete instruction.

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214. Do not turn one blunder into two. It is quite usual to commit four
blunders in order to remedy one, or to excuse one piece of impertinence by still
another. Folly is either related to or identical with the family of lies, for
in both cases it needs many to support one. The worst of a bad case is having
to fight it, and worse than the ill itself is not being able to conceal it. The
annuity of one failing serves to support many others. A wise person may make
one slip but never two, and that only in running not while standing still.

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215. Watch out for those who act on second thoughts. It is a device of business
people to put the opponent off his guard before attacking him, and thus to
conquer by being defeated. They dissemble their desire so as to attain it.
They put themselves second so as to come out first. This method rarely fails if
it is not noticed. Let therefore the attention never sleep when the intention
is so wide awake. And if the other puts himself second so to hide his plan, put
yourself first to discover it. Prudence can discern the artifices that such a
man uses, and notices the pretexts he puts forward to gain his ends. He aims at
one thing to get another, then he turns round smartly and fires straight at his
target. It is good to know what you grant him, and at times it is desirable to
let him understand that you understand.

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216. Be expressive. This depends not only on the clearness but also on the
vivacity of your thoughts. Some have an easy conception but a hard labor, for
without clarity the children of the mind - thoughts and judgements - cannot be
brought into the world. Many have a capacity like that of vessels with a large
mouth and a small vent. Others say more than they think. Resolution for the
will, expression for the thought - both are gifts. Plausible minds are
applauded, yet confused ones are often venerated just because they are not
understood - at times obscurity is convenient if you wish to avoid vulgarity.
How will the audience understand someone who does not connect and definite idea
with what he is talking about?

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217. Neither love nor hate forever. Trust the friends of today as if they will
be enemies tomorrow, and that of the worst kind. As this happens in reality,
let it happen in your precaution. Do not put weapons in the hand for deserters
from friendship to wage war with. On the other hand, leave the door of
reconciliation open for enemies, and if it is also the gate of generosity so
much the more safe. The vengeance of long ago is at times the torment of today,
and the joy over the ill we have done is turned to grief.

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218. Never act from obstinacy but from knowledge. All obstinacy is an evil
tumor on the mind, a grandchild of passion that never did anything right. There
are people who make a war out of everything, real bandits of social intercourse.
All that they undertake must end in victory. They do not know how to get on in
peace. Such people are fatal when they rule and govern, for they make
government a rebellion and enemies out of those they should regard as children.
They try to effect everything with strategy and treat it as the fruit of their
skill. But when others have recognized their perverse humor, they revolt
against them and learn to overturn their chimerical plans. They succeed in
nothing but only heap up a mass of troubles, since everything serves to increase
their disappointment. They have a head turned and a heart spoilt. Nothing can
be done with such monsters except to flee from them - even the savagery of
barbarians is easier to bear than their loathsome nature.

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219. Do not pass for a hypocrite. Though nowadays, such people are
indispensable. Be considered prudent rather than astute. Sincerity should not
degenerate into simplicity nor sagacity into cunning. Be respected as wise
rather than feared as sly. The openhearted are loved but often deceived. The
great art consists in disclosing what is thought to be deceit. Simplicity
flourished in the golden age, cunning in these days of iron. The reputation of
someone who knows what he has to do is honorable and inspires confidence, but to
be considered a hypocrite is deceptive and arouses mistrust.

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220. If you cannot clothe yourself in lion-skin use foxpelt. To follow the
times is to lead them. He that gets what he wants never loses his reputation.
Use cleverness when force will not do. Take one way or another, the king's
highway of valor or bypath of cunning. Skill has effected more than force, and
astuteness has conquered courage more often than the other way around. When you
cannot get something, that is the time to despise it.

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221. Do not seize occasions to embarrass yourself or others. There are some
people who are stumbling blocks of good manners either for themselves of for
others. They are always on the verge of some stupidity. You meet with them
easily and part from them uneasily. A hundred annoyance a day is nothing to
them. Their humor always strokes the wrong way since they contradict all and
everything. They put on the judgement cap backwards and thus condemn all. Yet
the greatest test of others' patience and prudence are just those who do no good
and speak ill of all. There are many monsters in the wide realm of indecorum.

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222. Reserve is proof of prudence. The tongue is a wild beast - once let loose
it is difficult to chain. It is the pulse of the soul by which wise men judge
its health. By this pulse a careful observer feels every movement of the heart.
The worst is that he who should be most reserved is the least. The sage saves
himself from worries and embarrassments, and shows his mastery over himself. He
goes his way carefully, a Janus of impartiality, an Argus of watchfulness.
Certainly Momus would have better placed the eyes in the hand than the windows in the breast.

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223. Do not be eccentric, neither from affectation nor carelessness. Many have
some remarkable and individual quality leading to eccentric actions. Theses are
more defects than excellent differences. And just as some are known for some
special ugliness, so these for something repellant in their outward behavior.
Such eccentricities simply serve as trademarks through their atrocious
singularity - they cause either derision or ill will.

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224. Never take things against the grain, no matter how they come. Everything
has a smooth and a seamy side. The best of weapons wounds it taken the blade,
while the enemy's spear may be our best protection if taken by the staff. Many
things cause pain that would cause pleasure if you regarded their advantages.
There is a favorable and an unfavorable side to everything - cleverness consists
in finding out the favorable. The same thing looks quite different in another
light; look at it therefore on its best side and do not exchange good for evil.
Thus it happens that many find joy, many grief, in everything. This remark is a
great protection against the frowns of fortune, and a weighty rule of life for
all times and all conditions.

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225. Know your chief fault. There is no one lives who has not in himself a
counterbalance to his most conspicuous merit, and if it is nourished by desire
it may grow to be a tyrant. Commence war against it, summoning prudence as your
ally. The first thing to do is to make it public, for an evil once known is
soon conquered, especially when the one afflicted regards it in the same light
as the onlookers. To be master of oneself one should know oneself. If the
chief imperfection is surrendered, the rest will also come to an end.

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226. Take care to be obliging. Most talk, and act, not as they are, but as they
are obliged. To persuade people of the bad is easy for anyone, since the bad is
easily credited even when it is incredible. The best we have depends on the
opinion of others. Some are satisfied if they have right on their side, but
that is not enough, for it must be assisted by energy. To oblige people often
costs little and helps much. With words you may purchase deeds. In this great
house of the world there is no chamber so hidden that it may not be wanted one
day in the year, and then you would miss it however little it is worth.
Everyone speaks of a subject according to his feelings.

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227. Do not be the slave of first impressions. Some marry the very first
account they hear, all others must live with them as concubines. But as a lie
has swift legs, the truth with them can find no lodging. We should neither
satisfy our will with the first object nor our mind with the first proposition -
for that is superficial. Many are like new casks who keep the scent of the
first liquor they hold, be it good or bad. If this superficiality become known,
it becomes fatal, for it then give opportunity for cunning mischief. The evil-
minded hasten to color the mind of the gullible. Always therefore leave room
for a second hearing. Alexander always kept one ear for the other side. Wait
for the second or even third edition of news. To be the slave of your first
impressions shows lack of capacity, and is not far from being the slave of your
passions.

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228. Do not be a scandalmonger. Still less pass for one, for that means to be
considered a slanderer. Do not be witty at the cost of others; it is easy but
hateful. Everyone will have their revenge on such a person by speaking ill of
him and, as they are so many and he but one, he is more likely to be overcome
than they convinced. Evil should never be our pleasure and therefore never our
theme. The backbiter is always hated, and if now and then one of the great
consorts with him it is less from pleasure in his sneers than from esteem for
his insight. He that speaks ill will always hear worse.

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229. Plan out your life wisely. Not as chance would have it, but with prudence
and foresight. Without amusements it is wearisome, like a long journey where
there are no inns - manifold knowledge gives manifold pleasure. The first day's
journey of a noble life should be passed in conversing with the dead: we live to
know and to know ourselves, hence true books make us truly human. The second
day should be spent with the living, seeing and noticing all the good in the
world. Everything is not to be found in a single country. The Universal Father
has divided his gifts and at times has given the richest dowry to the ugliest.
The third day is entirely for oneself. The greatest happiness is to be a
philosopher.

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230. Open your eyes early. Not all who see have their eyes open, nor do all
those see who look. To come up on things too late is more worry than help.
Some just begin to see when there is nothing more to see: they pull their houses
down about their heads before they come to themselves. It is difficult to give
understanding to those who have no power of will, still more difficult to give
power of will to those who have no understanding. Those who surround them play
a game of blindman's buff with them, making them the butts of jokes. Because
they are hard of hearing, they do not open their eyes to see. There are often
those who encourage such insensibility because their very existence depends on
it. It is an unhappy steed who rider is blind: it will never grow sleek.

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231. Never let things be seen half finished. They can only be enjoyed when
complete. All beginning are misshapen, and this deformity sticks in the
imagination. The recollection of having seen a thing imperfect disturbs our
enjoyment of it when completed. To swallow something great at one gulp may
disturb the judgement of the separate parts, but satisfies the taste. Before a
thing is manifest, it is nothing, and while it is in process of being it is
still nothing. To see the tastiest dishes prepared arouses disgust rather than
appetite. Let each great master take care not to let his work be seen in its
embryonic stages - they might take this lesson from Mother Nature, who never
brings the child to the light till it is fit to be seen.

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232. Have a touch of business sense. Life should not be all thought, there
should be action as well. Very wise folk are generally easily deceived, for
while they know out-of-the-way things they do not know the ordinary things of
life, which are of real necessity. The observation of higher things leaves them
no time for things close at hand. Since they do not know the very first thing
they should know - and what everybody knows so well - they are either esteemed
or thought ignorant by the superficial multitude. Let therefore the prudent
take care to have something to the businessman about him - enough to prevent him
being deceived and so laughed at. Be a person adapted to the daily round, which
if not the highest is the most necessary thing in life. Of what use is
knowledge if it is not practical, and to know how to live is nowadays the true
knowledge.

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233. Do not let the morsels you offer be distasteful. Otherwise they give more
discomfort than pleasure. Some annoy when attempting to please, because they
take no account of varieties of taste. What is flattery to one is offense to
another, and in attempting to be useful you may become insulting. It often
costs more to displease someone than it would have cost to please him - you
thereby lose both gift and thanks because you have lost the compass that steers
for pleasure. If you do not know another's taste, you do not know how to
please him. Thus it happens that many insult where they mean to praise, and get
soundly punished, and rightly so. Others desire to charm by their conversation,
and only succeed in boring by their babble.

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234. Never trust your honor to another, unless you have his in pledge. Arrange
that silence is a mutual advantage, disclosure a danger to both. Where honor is
at stake you must act with a partner, so that each must be careful of the
other's honor for the sake of his own. Never fully entrust your honor to
another, but if you have to, let caution surpass prudence. Let the danger be in
common and the risk mutual, so that your partner cannot turn king's evidence.

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235. Know how to ask. With some nothing is easier, with others nothing is so
difficult. For there are men who cannot refuse - with them no skill is
required. But with others their first word at all times is no - with
them great art is required, and with everyone pick the right moment. Surprise
them when they are in a pleasant mood, when a repast of body or soul has just
left them refreshed - but only of their shrewdness has not anticipated your
cunning. The days of joy are the days of favor, for joy overflows from the
inner person into the outward creation. It is no use to apply when another has
just been refused, since the reticence of saying no has just bee
overcome. Nor is it good time after sorrow. To oblige a person beforehand is a
sure way, unless he is base and mean.

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236. Make an obligation beforehand of what would have to be a reward afterward.
This is a stroke of subtle policy. To grant favors before they are deserved is
a proof of being obliging. Favors thus granted beforehand have two great
advantages: the promptness of the gift obliges the recipient more strongly. And
the same gift that would afterward be merely a reward is beforehand an
obligation. This is a subtle means of transforming obligations, since that
which would force you to reward someone is changed into one that obliges them to
satisfy their obligation. But this is only suitable for people who feel
obligation, since with people of lower stamp the honorarium paid beforehand acts
rather as a bit than as a spur.

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237. Never share the secrets of your superiors. You may think you will share
pears, but you will only share parings. Many have been ruined by being
confidants: they are like sops of bread used like spoons, they run the same risk
of being eaten up afterwards. It is no favor to a prince to share a secret - it
is only a relief. Many break the mirror that reminds them of their ugliness.
We do not like seeing those who have seen us as we are, nor is he seen in a
favorable light who has seen us in an unfavorable one. No one ought to be too
much beholden to us, least of all one of the great, unless it is for favors done
for him rather than for favors received. Especially dangerous are secrets
entrusted to friends. When you communicate a secret to someone you make
yourself his slave. With a prince this is an intolerable position that cannot
last; he will desire to recover his lost liberty, and to gain he will overturn
everything, including right and reason. Accordingly, neither tell secrets nor
listen to them.

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238. Know what is lacking in yourself. Many would have been great people if
they had not had something wanting, without which they could not rise to the
height of perfection. It is remarkable that some people could be much better
if they could be just a little better in something. They do not perhaps take
themselves seriously enough to do justice to their great abilities. Some are
lacking geniality of disposition, a quality which their entourage soon finds
want of, especially if they are in high office. Some are without organizing
ability, others lack moderation. In all such cases a careful person may make of
habit a second nature.

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239. Do not be overly critical. It is much more important to be sensible. To
know more than is necessary blunts your weapons, for fine points generally bend
or break. Commonsense truth is the surest. It is well to know but not to
niggle. Lengthy comment leads to disputes. It is much better to have sound
sense, which does not wander from the matter in hand.

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240. Make use of folly. The wisest person plays this card at times. Sometimes
the greatest wisdom lies in seeming not to be wise. You need not be unwise, but
merely affect unwisdom. To be wise with fools and foolish with the wise is of
little use; speak to each in his own language. He is no fool who affects folly,
but he is who suffers from it. Ingenious folly, rather than simple affect, is
the true foolishness, since cleverness is at such a high pitch. To be well
liked one must dress in the skin of the simplest of animals.

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241. Put up with mockery but do not practice it yourself. The first is a form
of courtesy, the second may lead to embarrassment. To snarl at playful jokes
seems beastly. Audacious mocking is delightful and to stand for it proves your
power. To show oneself annoyed causes others to be annoyed. Best leave it
alone - that is the surest way of avoiding fitting the fool's cap. The most
serious matters have arisen out of jests. Nothing requires more tact and
attention. Before you begin to joke know how far the subject of your joke is
able to bear it.

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242. Push advantages. Some put all their strength in the commencement and never
carry a thing to conclusion. They invent but never execute. These be ambiguous
spirits - they obtain no fame for they sustain no game to the end. Everything
ends at the first stop. In some that arises from impatience, which is the
failing of the Spaniards, as patience is the virtue of the Belgians. The latter
bring things to an end, the former come to an end with things. They sweat away
until the obstacle is overcome, but then they are content - they do not know how
to push the victory home. They prove that they can but will not. This shows
that they are either incapable or unreliable. If the undertaking is good, why
not finish it? It is bad, why undertake it? Strike down your quarry, if you
are wise - do not be content merely to flush it out.

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243. Do not be too much of a dove. Alternate the cunning of the serpent with
the candor of the dove. Nothing is easier than to deceive an honest man. He
believes in much who lies about nothing; he who does no deception has much
confidence. To be deceived is not always due to stupidity, it may arise from
sheer goodness. There are two sets of people who can guard themselves from
injury: those who have learned by experiencing it at their own cost and those
who have observed it at the cost of others. Prudence should use as much
suspicion as subtlety uses snares, and none need be so good as to enable others
to do him ill. Combine in yourself the dove and the serpent, not as a monster
but as a prodigy.

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244. Create a feeling of obligation. Some transform favors received into favors
bestowed, and seem - or let it be thought - that they are doing a favor when
receiving one. There are some so astute that they get honor by asking, and buy
their own advantage with applause from others. They manage matters so cleverly
that they seem to be doing others a service when receiving one from them. They
transpose the order of obligation with extraordinary skill, or at least render
it doubtful who has obliged whom. They buy the best by praising it, and make a
flattering honor out of the pleasure they express. They oblige by their
courtesy, and thus make people beholden for what they themselves should be
indebted. In this way the conjugate "to oblige" in the active instead of in
passive voice, thereby proving themselves better politicians than grammarians.
This is a subtle piece of finesse, but even greater is to perceive it, and to
retaliate on such fools' bargains by paying in their own coin, and so come into
your own again.

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245. Have original and out-of-the-way views. These are signs of superior
ability. We do not think much of someone who never contradicts us; that is not
a sign he loves us but rather that he loves himself. Do not be deceived by
flattery and thereby have to pay for it, rather condemn it. Besides, you may be
given credit for being criticized by some, especially if they are those of whom
the good speak ill. On the contrary, it should disturb us if our affairs please
everyone, for that is a sign that they are of little worth. Perfection is for
the few.

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246. Never offer satisfaction unless it is demanded. And if they do demand it,
it is a kind of crime to give more than necessary. To excuse oneself before
there is occasion is to accuse oneself. To draw blood in full health gives the
hint to ill will. An excuse unexpected arouses suspicion from its slumbers.
Nor need a shrewd person show himself aware of another's suspicion, which is
equivalent to seeking out offense. He had best disarm distrust by the integrity
of his conduct.

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247. Know a little more, live a little less. Some say the opposite. To be at
ease is better than to be at business. Nothing really belongs to us but time,
which you have even if you have nothing else. It is equally unfortunate to
waste your precious life in mechanical tasks or in a profusion of too important
work. Do not heap up occupation and thereby envy, otherwise you complicate
life and exhaust your mind. Some wish to apply the same principle to knowledge,
but unless one knows one does not truly live.

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248. Do not go with the latest speaker. There are people who go by the latest
thing they have heard and thereby go to irrational extremes. Their feelings and
desires are made of wax; the last comer stamps them with his seal and
obliterates all previous impressions. These people never gain anything, for
they lose everything so soon. Everyone dyes them with his own color. They are
of no use as confidants; they remain children their whole life. Owing to this
instability of feeling and volition, they stumble along, crippled in will and
thought, tottering from one side of the road to the other.

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249. Never begin life with what should end it. Many take amusement at the
beginning, putting off anxiety to the end; but the essential should come first
and accessories afterwards if there is room. Others wish to triumph before they
have fought. Others again begin with learning things of little consequence and
leave studies that would bring them fame and gain to the end of life. Another
is just about to make his fortune when he disappears from the scene. Method is
essential for knowledge and for life.

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250. When to turn conversation around. When they talk malice. With some
everything goes in reverse: their no is yes and their yes
is no . If they speak ill of something it is the highest praise.
For what they want for themselves they depreciate to others. To praise a thing
is not always to speak well of it. For some avoid praising what's good by
praising what's bad. Nothing is good for him for whom nothing is bad.

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251. Use human means as if there were no divine ones, and divine means as if
there were no human ones. A masterful rule, which needs no comment.

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252. Neither belong entirely to yourself nor entirely to others. Both are mean
forms of tyranny. To desire to be all for oneself is the same as desiring to
have all for oneself. Such people will not yield the least bit or lose the
smallest portion of their comfort. They are rarely beholden, lean on their own
luck, and their crutch generally breaks. It is convenient at times to belong to
others so that others may belong to us. And he that holds public office is no
more nor less than a public slave; let a man give up both berth and burden, as
the old woman said to Hadrian. On the other hand, some
people are all for others - this is folly, which always flies to extremes, and
in this case in a most unfortunate manner. No day, no hour, is their own. They
so much belong to others that they may be called slaves to all. This applies
even to knowledge, where a person may know everything for others and nothing for
himself. A shrewd person knows that others, when they seek him, do not seek
him
but their advantage in him and by him.

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253. Do not explain too much. Most people do not esteem what they understand
and venerate what they do not see. To be valued things should cost dear; what
is not understood becomes overrated. You have to appear wiser and more prudent
than is required by the people you are dealing with if you want to give a high
opinion of yourself. Yet in this there should be moderation and no excess. And
though with sensible people common sense holds its own, with most people a
little elaboration is necessary. Give them no time for criticizing - occupy
them with discerning your meaning. Many praise a thing without being able to
tell why, if asked. The reason is that they venerate the unknown as a mystery,
and praise it because they hear it praised.

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254. Never despise an evil, however small. They never come alone, they are
linked together like pieces of good fortune. Fortune and misfortune generally
go to find their fellows. Hence all avoid the unlucky and associate with the
fortunate. Even the doves with all their innocence resort to the whitest walls.
Everything fails with the unfortunate - himself, his words, and his luck. Do
not wake misfortune when she sleeps. One slip is a little thing, yet some fatal
loss may follow it till you do not know where it will end. For just as no
happiness is perfect, so no piece of bad luck is complete. Use patience with
what comes from above, prudence with that from below.

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255. Do good a little at a time, but often. One should never give beyond the
possibility of return. He who gives much does not give but sells. Nor drain
gratitude to the dregs, for what the recipient sees all return is impossible he
breaks off correspondence. With many people it is not necessary to do more than
overburden them with favors to lose them altogether; they cannot repay you, and
so they retire, preferring rather to be enemies than perpetual debtors. The
idol never wishes to see before him the sculptor who shaped him, nor does the
benefited wish to see his benefactor always before his eyes. There is a great
subtlety in giving what costs little yet is much desired, so that it is esteemed
the more.

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256. Go prepared. Go armed against discourtesy, faithlessness, presumption, and
all other kinds of folly. There is much of it in the world, and prudence lies
in avoiding meeting with it. Arm yourself each day before the mirror of
attention with the weapons of defense. Thus you will beat down the attacks of
folly. Be prepared for the occasion, and do not expose your reputation to
vulgar contingencies. Armed with prudence, a person cannot be disarmed by
impertinence. The road of human intercourse is difficult, for it is full of
ruts that may jolt our reputation. Best to take the byway, taking Ulysses as a
model of shrewdness. Feigned misunderstanding is of great value in such
matters. Aided by politeness it helps us over all, and is often the only way
out of difficulties.

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257. Never let matters come to a braking point. For our reputation always comes
out injured. Everyone may be of importance as an enemy if not as a friend. Few
can do us good, almost any can do us harm. In Jove's bosom itself even his
eagle never nestles securely from the day he has quarreled with a beetle.
Hidden foes use the paw of the declared enemy to stir up the fire, and meanwhile
they lie in ambush for such an occasion. Friends provoked become the bitterest
of enemies. They cover their own failings with the faults of others. Everyone
speaks as things seem to him, and things seem as he wishes them to appear.
Everyone will blame us at the beginning for want of foresight, at the end for
lack of patience, at all times for imprudence. If, however, a breach is
inevitable, let it be rather excused as a slackening of friendship than by an
outburst or wrath. This is good application of the saying about a good retreat.
[Maxim #38]

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258. Find someone to share your troubles with. You will never be all alone,
even in dangers, nor bear all the burdens of hate. Some think by their high
position that they can carry off the whole glory of success, and find that they
have to bear the whole humiliation of defeat. In this way they have no one to
excuse them, no one to share the blame. Neither fate nor the mob are so bold
against two. Hence the wise physician, if he has failed to cure, looks out for
someone who, under the name of a consultation, may help him carry out the
corpse. Share weight and woe, for misfortune falls with double force on him
that stands alone.

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259. Anticipate injuries and turn them into favors. It is wiser to avoid than
to revenge them. It is an uncommon piece of shrewdness to change a rival into a
confidant, or transform into guards of honor those who were aiming to attack us.
It helps much to know how to oblige, for he leaves no time for injuries who
fills time up with gratitude. It is true savoir faire, to turn
anxieties into pleasures. Try and make a confidential relation out of ill will
itself.

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260. We belong to no one and no one to us, entirely. Neither relationship nor
friendship nor the most intimate connection is sufficient to effect this. To
give one's whole confidence is quite different from giving one's regard. The
closest intimacy has its exceptions, without which the laws of friendship would
be broken. The friend always keeps one secret to himself, and even the son
always hides something from his father. Some things are kept from one that are
revealed to another and vice versa. In this way one reveals all and conceals
all, by making a distinction among the persons with who we are connected.

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261. Do not follow up a folly. Many make an obligation out of a blunder, and
because they have entered the wrong path they think it proves their strength of
character to go on in it. Within they regret their error, while outwardly they
excuse it. At the beginning of their mistake they were regarded as inattentive,
in the end as fools. Neither an unconsidered promise nor a mistaken resolution
are really binding. Yet some continue in their folly and prefer to be constant
fools.

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262. Be able to forget. It is more a matter of luck than of skill. The things
we remember best are those better forgotten. Memory is not only unruly, leaving
us in the lurch when most needed, but stupid as well, putting its nose into
places where it is not wanted. In painful things it is active, but neglectful
in recalling the pleasurable. Very often the only remedy for the trouble is to
forget it, and all we forget is the remedy. Nevertheless one should cultivate
good habits of memory, for it is capable of making existence a paradise or an
inferno. The happy are an exception who enjoy innocently their simple
happiness.

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263. Many things of taste one should not possess oneself. One enjoys them
better if they are another's rather than one's own. The owner has the good of
them first day, for all the rest of the time they are for others. You take a
double enjoyment in other men's property, being without fear of spoiling it and
with the pleasure of novelty. Everything tastes better for having been without
it - even water from another's well tastes like nectar. Possession hinders
enjoyment and increases annoyance, whether you lend or keep. You gain nothing
except keeping things for or from others, and by this means gain more enemies
than friends.

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264. Have no careless days. Fate loves to play tricks, and will heap up chances
to catch us unawares. Our intelligence, prudence, and courage, even our beauty,
must always be ready for trial. For their day of careless trust will be that of
their discredit. Care always fails just when it was most wanted. It is
thoughtlessness that trips us up into destruction. Accordingly, it is a piece
of military strategy to put perfections to their trial when unprepared. The
days of parade are watched and are allowed to pass, but the day is chosen when
least expected so as to put valor to the severest test.

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265. Set difficult tasks for those under you. Many have proved themselves able
at once when they had to deal with difficulty, just as fear of drowning makes a
person into a swimmer. In this way, many have discovered their own courage,
knowledge, or tact, which but for the opportunity would have been forever buried
beneath their lack of initiative. Dangerous situations are the occasions to
create a name for oneself, and if a noble mind sees honor at stake, he will do
the work of thousands. Queen Isabella the Catholic knew well this rule of life
(as well as all the others) and to a shrewd favor of this kind of Great Captain
won his fame, and many others earned an undying name. By this great art she
made great men.

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266. Do not become bad from sheer goodness. That is, by never getting angry.
Such people without feeling are scarcely to be considered human. It does not
always arise from laziness, but from sheer inability. To feel strongly on
occasion shows personality; birds soon mock at the scarecrow. It is a sign of
good taste to combine bitter and sweet. All sweets is diet for children and
fools. It is a great evil to sink into such insensibility out of too great
goodness.

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267. Silken words, sugared manners. Arrows pierce the body, insult the souls.
Sweet pastry perfumes the breath. It is a great art in life to know how to sell
wind. Most things are paid for in words, and by them you can remove
impossibilities. Thus we deal in air, and a royal breath can produce courage
and power. Always have your words, so that even your enemies enjoy them. To
please one must be peaceful.

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268. The wise do at once what the fool does later. Both do the same thing - the
only difference lies in the time they do it: the one at the right time, the
other at the wrong. Who starts out with his mind topsy-turvy will so continue
till the end. He catches by the foot what he ought to knock on the head, he
turns right into left, and in all his acts is immature. There is only one way
to turn him in the right direction, and that is to force him to do what he might
have done sooner or later, so he does it willingly and gains honor thereby.

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269. Make use of the novelty of your position. For people are valued while they
are new. Novelty pleases all because it is uncommon, taste is refreshed, and a
brand new mediocrity is thought more of than accustomed excellence. Ability
wears away by use and becomes old. However, know that the glory of novelty is
short lived. After four days respect is gone. Accordingly, learn to utilize
the first fruits of appreciation, and seize during the rapid passage of applause
all that can be put to use. For once the heat of novelty is over, the passion
cools and the appreciation of novelty is exchanged for distaste at the
customary. Believe that everything has its season, which soon passes.

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270. Do not condemn alone that which pleases all. There must be something good
in a thing that pleases so many - even if it cannot be explained it is certainly
enjoyed. Peculiarity is always hated and, when in the wrong, laughed at. You
simply destroy respect for your taste rather than do harm to the object of your
blame, and are left alone, you and your bad taste. If you cannot find the good
in a thing, hide your incapacity and do not damn it right away. As a general
rule bad taste springs from want of knowledge. What all say, is so, or will be
so. br>
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271. In every occupation, if you know little stick to the safe path. If you are
not respected as subtle, you will be regarded as sure. On the other hand,
someone well trained can plunge in and act as he pleases. To know little and
yet seek danger is no different than to seek ruin. Follow the right hand, for
what has gone before can be followed after. Let those with little knowledge
keep to the king's highway, and in every case, knowing or unknowing, security is
shrewder than uniqueness

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272. Sell things with a tariff of courtesy. You oblige people most that way.
The bid of an interested buyer will never equal the return gift of a grateful
recipient of a favor. Courtesy does not really make presents, but lays people
under obligation, and generosity is the great obligation. To the right-minded
nothing costs more dear than what is given to him. You sell it to him twice and
for two prices: one for the value, one for the politeness. At the same time, it
is true that with vulgar souls generosity is gibberish, for they do not
understand the language of good breeding

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273. Comprehend the disposition of the people you deal with. Then you will know
their intentions. Cause known, effect known; beforehand in the disposition and
after in the motive. The melancholy person always foresees misfortunes, the
backbiter scandals - having no conception of the good, evil offers itself to
them. A person moved by passion always speaks of things as different from what
they are; it is his passion that speaks, not his reason. Thus each speaks as
his feeling or his humor prompts him, and all far from the truth. Learn how to
decipher faces and spell out the soul in the features. If someone always laughs
set him down as foolish, if never as false. Beware of the gossip - he is either
a babbler or a spy. Expect little good from the misshapen: they generally take
revenge on nature, and do little honor to her, as she has done little to them.
Beauty and folly generally go hand in hand.

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274. Be attractive. It is the magic of subtle courtesy. Use the magnet of your
pleasant qualities more to attract goodwill than good deeds, but apply it to
all. Merit is not enough unless supported by grace, which is the sole thing
that gives general acceptance, and the most practical means of rule over others.
To be vogue is a matter of luck, yet it can be encouraged by skill, for art can
best take root on a soil favored by nature. There goodwill grows and develops
into universal favor.

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275. Join in the game as far as decency permits. Do not always pose and be a
bore - this is a maxim for gallant bearing. You may yield a touch of dignity to
gain the general goodwill. You may now and then go where most go, yet not
beyond the bound of decorum. He who makes a fool of himself in public will not
be regarded as discreet in private life. One may lose more on a day of pleasure
than has been gained during a whole year of labor. Still you must not always
keep away; to be eccentric is to condemn all others. Still less act prudish -
leave that to its appropriate sex - even religious prudery is ridiculous.
Nothing so becomes a man as to be a man. A woman may affect a manly bearing as
an excellence, but not vice versa.

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276. Know how to renew your character both with nature and with art. Every
seven years the disposition changes, they say. Let it be a change for the
better and for the nobler in your taste. After the first seven comes reason,
with each succeeding luster let a new excellence be added. Observe this change
so as to aid it, and hope also for betterment in others. Hence it happens that
many change their behavior when they change their position or their occupation.
At times the change is not noticed till it reaches the height of maturity. At
twenty a man is a peacock, at thirty a lion, at forty a camel, at fifty a
serpent, at sixty a dog, at seventy an ape, at eighty nothing at all.

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277. Display yourself. It is the illumination of talents. For each there comes
an appropriate moment - use it, for not every day comes to triumph. There are
some dashing men who make a show with little and others who make a whole
exhibition with much. If ability to display them is joined to versatile gifts,
they are regarded as miraculous. There are whole nations given to display; the
Spanish people take the highest rank in this. Light was the first thing to
cause creation to shine forth. Display fills up much, supplies much, and gives
a second existence to things, especially when combined with real excellence.
Heaven, which grants perfection, also provides the means of display. Even
excellence depends on circumstances and is not always opportune. Ostentation is
out of place when it is out of time. More than any other quality it should be
free of any affectation. If not, it is an offense, for it then borders on
vanity and so on contempt. It must be moderate to avoid being vulgar, and any
excess is despised by the wise. At times it consists of a sort of mute
eloquence, a careless display of excellence. For a wise concealment is often
the most effective boast, since the very withdrawal from view piques curiosity
to the highest. It is a fine subtlety too, not to display one's excellences all
at one time, but to grant stolen glances at it, more and more as time goes on.
Each exploit should be the pledge of a greater, and applause at the first should
only die away in expectation of its sequel.

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278. Avoid notoriety in all things. Even excellences become defects if they
become notorious. Notoriety arises from eccentricity, which is always blamed:
he that is singular is left severely alone. Even beauty is discredited by
foolish excess, which offends by the very notice it attracts. Still more does
this apply to discreditable eccentricities. Yet among the wicked there are some
that seek to be known for seeking novelties in vice so as to attain to the fame
of infamy. Even in matters of the intellect lack of moderation may degenerate
into empty talk.

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279. Do not respond to those who contradict you. You have to distinguish
whether the contradiction comes from cunning or from vulgarity. It is not
always obstinacy, but may be artfulness. Notice this, for in the first case one
may get into difficulties, in the other into danger. Caution is never more
needed than against spies. There is no countercheck to the picklock of the mind
as to leave the key of caution in the inside lock of the door.

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280. Be trustworthy. Honorable dealing is at an end, trusts are denied, few
keep their word, the greater the service the poorer the reward - that is the way
of the world nowadays. There are whole nations inclined to false dealing; with
some treachery has always to be feared, with others breach of promise, with
others deceit. Yet this bad behavior of others should be a warning to us rather
than an example. The fear is that the sight of such unworthy behavior will
override our integrity. But a person of honor should never forget what he is
because he sees what others are.

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281. Find favor with people of good sense. The tepid yes from a
remarkable person is worth more than all the applause of the vulgar - you cannot
make a meal off the smoke of chaff. The wise speak with understanding and their
praise gives permanent satisfaction. The sage Antigonus reduced the theater of
his fame to Zeus alone, and Plato called Aristotle his whole school. Some
strive to fill their stomach albeit only with the breath of the mob. Even
monarchs have need of authors, and fear their pens more than ugly women the
painter's pencil.

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282. Make use of absence to make yourself more esteemed or valued. If the
accustomed presence diminishes fame, absence augments it. Someone that is
regarded as a lion in his absence may be laughed at when present like the
ridiculous offspring of the mighty. Talents get soiled by use, for it is easier
to see the exterior rind than the kernel of greatness it encloses. Imagination
reached farther than sight. Disillusion, which ordinarily comes through the
ears, also goes out through the ears. He keeps his fame that keeps himself in
the center of public opinion. Even the phoenix uses its retirement for new
adornment and turns absence into desire.

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283. Have the gift of discovery. It is a proof of the highest genius, yet when
was genius without a touch of madness? If discovery be a gift of genius, choice
is a mark of sound sense. Discovery comes by special grace and very seldom.
For many can follow up a thing when found, but to find it first is the gift of
the few - the first in excellence and in age. Novelty flatters, and if
successful gives the possessor double credit. In matters of judgement novelties
are dangerous because they lead to paradox, in matters of genius they deserve
all praise. Yet both equally deserve applause if successful.

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284. Do not be burdensome. Then you will net be slighted. Respect yourself if
you would have others respect you. Be sooner sparing than lavish with your
presence. You will thus become desired and so well received. Never come
unasked and only go when sent for. If you undertake a thing of your own accord
you get all the blame if it fails, none of the thanks if it succeeds. Those who
do not mind their own business are always the butt of blame, and because they
thrust themselves in without shame they are thrust out with it.

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285. Never die of another's bad luck. Notice those who stick in the mud, and
observe how they call others to their aid so as to console themselves with a
companion in misfortune. They seek someone to help them to bear misfortune, and
often those who turned the cold shoulder on them in prosperity now give them a
helping hand. There is great caution needed in helping the drowning without
endangering oneself.

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286. Do not become responsible for all or for everyone. Otherwise you become a
slave and the slave of all. Some are born more fortunate than others; they are
born to do good as others are to receive it. Freedom is more precious than any
gifts for which you may be tempted to give it up. Lay less stress on making
many dependent on you than on keeping yourself independent of any. The sole
advantage of power is that you can do more good. Above all do not regard a
responsibility as a favor, for generally it is another's plan to make you
dependent on him.

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287. Never act out of passion. If you do all is lost. You cannot act for
yourself if you are not yourself, and passion always drives out reason. In such
cases interpose a prudent go-between who can keep cool. That is why onlookers
see more of the game, because they keep cool. As soon as you notice that you
are losing your temper beat a wise retreat. For no sooner is the blood up than
it is spilled. A few moments may be given for many days' repentance for oneself
and complaints from others.

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288. Live for the moment. Our acts and thoughts and all must be determined by
circumstances. Act when you may, for time and tide wait for no one. Do not
live by certain fixed rules, except those that relate to the cardinal virtues.
Nor let your will pledge to fixed conditions, for you may have to drink the
water tomorrow that you cast away today. There are some so absurdly paradoxical
that they expect all the circumstances of an action should bend to their
eccentric whims and not vice versa. The wise man knows that the very polestar
of prudence lies in steering by the prevailing wind.

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289. Nothing depreciates a person more than to show he is just like anyone else.
The day he is seen to be all too human he ceases to be thought divine.
Frivolity is the exact opposite of reputation. And as the reserved are held to
be more than men, so the frivolous are held to be less. No failing causes
failure of respect. For frivolity is the exact opposite of solid seriousness.
A person of levity cannot be a person of weight even when he is old, and age
should oblige him to be prudent. Although this blemish is so common it is none
the less despised.

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290. It is a piece of good fortune to combine people's love and respect.
Generally, one dare not be liked if one would be respected. Love is more
sensitive than hate. Love and honor do not go well together. So that one
should aim neither to be much feared nor much loved. Love introduces
confidence, and the further this advances the more respect recedes. Prefer to
be loved with respect rather than with passion, for that is a love suitable for
many.

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291. Know how to test people. The care of the wise must guide against the snare
of the wicked. Great judgement is needed to test the judgement of another. It
is more important to know the characteristics and properties of people than
those of vegetables and minerals. Indeed, it is one of the shrewdest things in
life. You can tell metals by their ring and men by their voice. Words are
proof of integrity, deeds still more. Here one requires extraordinary care,
deep observation, subtle discernment, and judicious decision.

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292. Let your personal qualities surpass the requirements of your office. Do
not let it be the other way about. However high the post, the person should be
higher. An extensive capacity extends and dilates more and more as his office
becomes higher. On the other hand, the narrow-minded will easily lose heart and
come to grief with diminished responsibilities and reputation. The great
Augustus thought more of being a great man than a great prince. Here a lofty
mind finds fit place, and well-grounded confidence finds its opportunity.

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293. Maturity. It is shown in the costume, still more in the customs. Material
weight is the sign of a precious metal, moral weight is the sign of a precious
man. Maturity gives finish to his capacity and arouses respect. A composed
bearing in a person forms a fašade to his soul. It does not consist in the
insensibility of fools, as frivolity would have it, but in a calm tone of
authority. With people of this kind sentences are orations and acts are deeds.
Maturity puts a finish on a person for each is so far complete only according as
he possesses maturity. On ceasing to be a child a person begins to gain
seriousness and authority.

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294. Be moderate in your views. Everyone holds views according to his interest,
and imagines he has abundant grounds for them. For with most people judgement
has to give way to inclination. It may occur that two may meet with exactly
opposite views and yet each thinks to have reason on his side, yet reason is
always true to itself and never has two faces. In such a situation a prudent
person will proceed with care, for his judgement of his opponent's view may cast
doubt on his own. Place yourself in the other person's place and then
investigate the reasons for his opinion. You will not then condemn him or
justify yourself in such a confusing way.

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295. Do not affect what you have not effected. Many claim accomplishments
without the slightest cause. With great coolness they make a mystery of all.
Chameleons of applause they afford others a surfeit of laughter. Vanity is
always objectionable, here it is despicable. These ants of honor go crawling
about filching scraps of exploits. The greater your exploits the less you need
affect them. Content yourself with doing, leave the talking to others. Give
away your deeds but do not sell them. And do not hire venal pens to write down
praises in the mud, to the derision of those who know better. Aspire rather to
be a hero than merely to appear to be one.

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296. Noble qualities. Noble qualities make noble people; a single one of them
is worth more than a multitude of mediocre ones. There was once a man who made
all his belongings, even his household utensils, as great as possible. How much
more ought a great man see that the qualities of his soul are as great as
possible. In God all is eternal and infinite; in a hero everything should be
great and majestic, so that all his deeds - no, all his words - should be
pervaded by a transcendent majesty.

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297. Always act as if others were watching. He must see all round who sees that
men see him or will see him. He knows that walls have ears and that ill deeds
rebound back. Even when alone he acts as if the eyes of the whole world were
upon him. For he knows that sooner or later all will be known, so he considers
those to be present as witnesses who must afterwards hear of the deed. He that
wished the whole world might always see him did not mind that his neighbors
could see him over their walls.

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298. Three things go to a prodigy. They are the choicest gifts of Heaven's
perfections - a fertile genius, a profound intellect, a pleasant and refined
taste. To think well is good, to think right is better - it is the
understanding of the good. It will not do for the judgement to reside in the
backbone; it would be more trouble than use. To think right is the fruit of
reasonable nature. At twenty the will rules, at thirty the intellect, at forty
the judgement. There are minds that shine in the dark like the eyes of a lynx,
and are most clear where there is most darkness. Others are more adapted for
the occasion - they always hit on that which suits the emergency; such a quality
produces much and good - a sort of fertile felicity. In the meantime, good
taste seasons the whole of life.

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299. Leave of hungry. One ought to remove even the bowl of nectar from the
lips. Demand is the measure of value. Even with regard to bodily thirst it is
a mark of good taste to slake but not to quench it. Little and good is twice
good. The second time around comes as a great falling off. Too much pleasure
is always dangerous and brings down the ill-will of the highest powers. The
only way to please is to revive the appetite by the hunger that is left. If you
must excite desire, better do it by the impatience of want than by the surfeit
of enjoyment. Happiness earned gives double joy.

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300. In one word, be a saint. So is all said at once. Virtue is the link of
all perfections, the center of all the felicities. She makes a person prudent,
discreet, sagacious, cautious, wise, courageous, thoughtful, trustworthy, happy,
honored, truthful, and a universal hero. Three things make a person happy -
health, holiness, and wisdom. Virtue is the sun of our world, and has for its
course a good conscience. She is so beautiful that she finds favor with both
god and man. Nothing is lovable but virtue, nothing detestable but vice. A
person's capacity and greatness are to be measured by his virtue and not by his
fortune. She alone is all-sufficient. She makes people lovable in life,
memorable after death.

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Notes


From 50: one's conscience.

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From 155:Spanish proverb: "No one is wise on horseback."

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From 206: An ancient Greek city renowned as a place of
learning and culture.


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From 222:Janus is the ancient Roman god of doorways, who is
often depicted as one-headed but with two faces, looking in opposite
directions.


Argus is a mythological giant with a hundred eyes.

In a story by the classical Greek writer Lucian, the Greek god
Momus ridiculed the god Hephaistos for making a man without a window in his
breast.


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From 252: Referring to a story about the Roman emperor
Hadrian, who when confronted by an old woman with a petition dismissed her
saying he didn't have time to consider it. She retorted "Then give up your
berth." Hadrian recognized the justice in this and passed judgement on her
petition on the spot.


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From 265:"El Gran Capitan," a reference to the Spanish general
Gonzalo Fernandez de Cordoba (1453-1515), who commanded the Spanish army against
Charles VIII of France.


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