Translated by Joseph Jacobs
1 Everything is at its
Acme (Todo estÃ¡ ya en su punto)
Everything is at its Acme; especially the art of making one's
way in the world. There is more required nowadays to make a single
wise man than formerly to make Seven Sages, and more is needed nowadays
to deal with a single person than was required with a whole people
in former times.
2 Character and Intellect
(Genio y ingenio)
Character and Intellect: the two poles of our capacity; one without
the other is but halfway to happiness. Intellect sufficeth not,
character is also needed. On the other hand, it is the fool's misfortune,
to fail in obtaining the position, the employment, the neighbourhood,
and the circle of friends that suit him.
3 Keep Matters for a Time
in Suspense (Llevar sus cosas con suspencion)
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 the 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 mystery with everything, and the very mystery arouses
veneration. And when you explain, be not too explicit, just as you
do not expose your inmost thoughts in ordinary intercourse. Cautious
silence is the holy of holies 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 cause men to wonder and watch.
4 Knowledge and Courage
(El saber y el valor)
Knowledge and Courage are the elements of Greatness. They give
immortality, because they are immortal. Each is as much as he knows,
and the wise can do anything. A man without knowledge, a world without
light. Wisdom and strength, eyes and hands. Knowledge without courage
5 Create a Feeling of Dependence
Create a Feeling of Dependence. Not he that adorns but he that
adores makes a divinity. The wise man would rather see men needing
him than thanking him. To keep them on the threshold of hope is
diplomatic, to trust to their gratitude 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 sucked falls from the golden platter
into the waste-basket. When dependence disappears, good behaviour
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 let not silence be carried to excess lest you
go wrong, nor let another's failing grow incurable for the sake
of your own advantage.
6 A Man at his Highest
Point (Hombre en su pinto)
A Man at his Highest Point. We are not born perfect: every day
we develop in our personality and in our calling till we reach the
highest point of our completed being, to the full round of our accomplishments,
of our excellences. This is known by the purity of our taste, the
clearness of our thought, the maturity of our judgment, and the
firmness of our will. Some never arrive at being complete; somewhat
is always awanting: others ripen late. The complete man, wise in
speech, prudent in act, is admitted to the familiar intimacy of
discreet persons, is even sought for by them.
7 Avoid Victories over
Superiors (Escusar vitorias del patron)
Avoid Victories over Superiors. All victories breed hate, and
that over your superior is foolish or fatal. Superiority is always
detested, Ã fortiori superiority over superiority. Caution can gloss
over common advantages; for example, good looks may be cloaked by
careless attire. There be some that will grant you precedence in
good luck or good temper, but none in good sense, least of all a
prince; for good sense is a royal prerogative, any claim to that
is a case of lÃ¨se majestÃ©. They are princes, and wish to be so in
that most princely of qualities. They will allow a man to help them
but not to surpass them, and will have any advice tendered them
appear like a recollection of something they have 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 brilliancy of the sun.
8 To be without Passions
To be without Passions. â€™Tis a privilege of the highest order
of mind. Their very eminence redeems them 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.
While passion rules the character, no aiming at high office; the
less the higher. It is the only refined way of avoiding scandals;
nay, â€™tis the shortest way back to good repute.
9 Avoid the Faults of your
Nation (Desmentir los achaques de su nation)
Avoid the Faults of your Nation. Water shares the good or bad
qualities of the strata through which it flows, and man those of
the climate in which he is born. Some owe more than others to their
native land, because there is a more favourable sky in the zenith.
There is not a nation even among the most civilised that has not
some fault peculiar to itself which other nations blame by way of
boast or as a warning. â€™Tis a triumph of cleverness to correct in
oneself such national failings, or even to hide them: you get great
credit for being unique among your fellows, and as it is less expected
of you it is esteemed 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
10 Fortune and Fame (Fortuna
Fortune and Fame. Where the one is fickle the other is enduring.
The first for life, the second afterwards; the one against envy,
the other against oblivion. Fortune is desired, at times assisted:
fame is earned. The desire for fame springs from man's best part.
It was and is the sister of the giants; it always goes to extremes--horrible
monsters or brilliant prodigies.
11 Cultivate those who
can teach you (Tratar con quien se pueda aprender)
Cultivate those who can teach you. Let friendly intercourse be
a school of knowledge, and culture be taught through conversation:
thus you make your friends your teachers and mingle the pleasures
of conversation with the advantages of instruction. Sensible persons
thus enjoy alternating pleasures: they reap applause for what they
say, and gain instruction from what they hear. We are always attracted
to others by our own interest, but in this case it is of a higher
kind. Wise men frequent the houses of great noblemen not because
they are temples of vanity, but as theatres of good breeding. There
be gentlemen who have the credit of worldly wisdom, because they
are not only themselves oracles of all nobleness by their example
and their behaviour, but those who surround them form a well-bred
academy of worldly wisdom of the best and noblest kind.
12 Nature and Art (Naturaleza
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 evil and improves
the good. Nature scarcely ever gives us the very best; for that
we must have recourse to art. Without this the best of natural dispositions
is uncultured, and half is lacking to any excellence if training
is absent. Every one has something unpolished without artificial
training, and every kind of excellence needs some polish.
13 Act sometimes on Second
Thoughts, sometimes on First Impulse (Obrar de intencion, ya segunda
y ya primera)
Act sometimes on Second Thoughts, sometimes on First Impulse.
Man's life is a warfare against the malice of men. Sagacity fights
with strategic changes of intention: it never does what it threatens,
it aims only at escaping 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 recognises 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, and tries to deceive by truth itself, changes
its game in order to change its deceit, and cheats by not cheating,
and founds deception on the greatest candour. 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.
14 The Thing Itself and
the Way it is done (La realidad ye el modo)
The Thing Itself and the Way it is done. "Substance" is not enough:
"accident" is also required, as the scholastics say. A bad manner
spoils everything, even reason and justice; a good one supplies
everything, gilds a No, sweetens truth, and adds a touch of beauty
to old age itself. The how plays a large part in affairs, a good
manner steals into the affections. Fine behaviour is a joy in life,
and a pleasant expression helps out of a difficulty in a remarkable
15 Keep Ministering Spirits
(Tener ingenios auxiliares)
Keep Ministering Spirits. It is a privilege of the mighty to
surround themselves with the champions of intellect; these extricate
them from every fear of ignorance, these worry out for them the
moot points of every difficulty. â€™Tis a rare greatness to make use
of the wise, and far exceeds the barbarous taste of Tigranes, who
had a fancy for captive monarchs as his servants. It is a novel
kind of supremacy, the best that life can offer, to have as servants
by skill those who by nature are our masters. â€™Tis a great thing
to know, little to live: no real life without knowledge. There is
remarkable cleverness in studying without study, in getting much
by means of many, and through them all to become wise. Afterwards
you speak in the council chamber on behalf of many, and as many
sages speak through your mouth as were consulted beforehand: you
thus obtain the fame of an oracle by others' toil. Such ministering
spirits distil the best books and serve up the quintessence of wisdom.
But he that cannot have sages in service should have them for his
16 Knowledge and Good Intentions
(Saber con recta intention)
Knowledge and Good Intentions together ensure continuance of
success. A fine intellect wedded to a wicked will was always an
unnatural monster. A wicked will envenoms all excellences: helped
by knowledge it only ruins with greater subtlety. â€™Tis a miserable
superiority that only results in ruin. Knowledge without sense is
17 Vary the Mode of Action
(Variar de tenor en el obrar)
Vary the Mode of Action;not always the same way, so as to distract
attention, especially if there be a rival. Not always from first
impulse; they will soon recognise 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. Nor always act on second
thoughts: they can discern the plan the second time. The enemy is
on the watch, great skill is required to circumvent him. The gamester
p. 11 never plays the card the opponent expects, still less that
which he wants.
18 Application and Ability
(Aplicacion y Minerva)
Application and Ability. There is no attaining eminence without
both, and where they unite there is the greatest eminence. Mediocrity
obtains more with application than superiority without it. Work
is the price which is paid for reputation. What costs little is
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 than eminence in a humble post has the excuse
of a generous mind, but not so to be content with humble mediocrity
when you could shine among the highest. Thus nature and art are
both needed, and application sets on them the seal.
19 Arouse no Exaggerated
Expectations on entering (No entrar con sobrada expectation)
Arouse no Exaggerated Expectations on entering. It is the usual
ill-luck of all celebrities not to fulfil 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 realise them.
Imagination weds Hope and gives birth to much more than things are
in themselves. However great the excellences, they never suffice
to fulfil expectations, and as men find themselves disappointed
with their exorbitant expectations they are more ready to be disillusionised
than to admire. 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 is better than was thought. This rule does
not apply to the wicked, for the same exaggeration is a great aid
to them; they are defeated amid general applause, and what seemed
at first extreme ruin comes to be thought quite bearable.
20 A Man of the Age (Hombre
en su siglo)
A Man of the Age. The rarest individuals depend on their age.
It is not every one that finds the age he deserves, and even when
he finds it he does not always know how to utilise it. Some men
have been worthy of a better century, for every species of good
does not always triumph. Things have their period; even excellences
are subject to fashion. The sage has one advantage: he is immortal.
If this is not his century many others will be.
21 The Art of being Lucky
(Arte para ser dichoso)
The Art of being Lucky. There are rules of luck: it is not all
chance with the wise: it can be assisted by care. Some content themselves
with placing them-selves 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 favour
on the wings of their virtue and valour. But on a true philosophy
there is no other umpire than virtue and insight; for there is no
luck or ill-luck except wisdom and the reverse.
22 A Man of Knowledge to
the Point (Hombre de plausibles noticias)
A Man of Knowledge to the Point. Wise men arm themselves with
tasteful and elegant erudition; a practical knowledge of what is
going on not of a common kind but more like an expert. They possess
a copious store of wise and witty sayings, and of noble deeds, and
know how to employ them on fitting occasions. More is often taught
by a jest than by the most serious teaching. Pat knowledge helps
some more than the seven arts, be they ever so liberal.
23 Be Spotless (No tener
Be Spotless: the indispensable condition of perfection. Few live
without some weak point, either physical or moral, which they pamper
because 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 patches on our reputation which ill-will
soon finds out and is continually noticing. The highest skill is
to transform them into ornament. So CÃ¦sar hid his natural defects
with the laurel.
24 Keep the Imagination
under Control (Templar la imaginacion)
Keep the Imagination under Control; sometimes correcting, sometimes
assisting it. For it is all-important for our happiness, and even
sets the reason right. It can tyrannise, and is not content with
looking on, but influences and even often dominates life, causing
it to be happy or burdensome according to the folly to which it
leads. For it makes us either contented or discontented with ourselves.
Before some it continually holds up the penalties of action, and
becomes the mortifying lash of these fools. To others it promises
happiness and adventure with blissful delusion. It can do all this
unless the most prudent self-control keeps it in subjection.
25 Know how to take a Hint
Know how to take a Hint. â€™Twas once the art of arts to be able
to discourse; now â€™tis no longer sufficient. We must know how to
take a hint, especially in disabusing ourselves. He cannot make
himself understood who does not himself easily understand. But on
the other hand there are pretended diviners of the heart and lynxes
of the intentions. The very truths which concern us most can only
be half spoken, but with attention we can grasp the whole meaning.
When you hear anything favourable keep a tight rein on your credulity;
if unfavourable, give it the spur.
26 Find out each Man's
Thumbscrew (Hallarle su torcedor Ã¡ cada uno)
Find out each Man's Thumbscrew. â€™Tis 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 which
varies according to taste. All men are idolaters, some of fame,
others of self-interest, most of pleasure. Skill consists in knowing
these idols in order to bring them into play. Knowing any man's
mainspring of motive you have as it were the key to his will. Have
resort to primary motors, which are not always the highest but more
often the lowest part of his nature: there are more dispositions
badly organised than well. First guess a man's ruling passion, appeal
to it by a word, set it in motion by temptation, and you will infallibly
give checkmate to his freedom of will.
27 Prize Intensity more
than Extent (Pagarse mas de Intenciones que de Extenciones)
Prize Intensity more than Extent. Excellence resides in quality
not in quantity. The best is always few and rare: much lowers value.
Even among men giants are commonly the real dwarfs. Some reckon
books by the thickness, as if they were written to try 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 gives eminence,
and rises to the heroic in matters sublime.
28 Common in Nothing (En
Common in Nothing. First, not in taste. O great and wise, to
be ill at ease when your deeds please the mob! The excesses of popular
applause never satisfy the sensible. Some there are such chameleons
of popularity that they find enjoyment not in the sweet savours
of Apollo but in the breath of the mob. Secondly, not 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
29 A Man of Rectitude (Hombre
A Man of Rectitude clings to the sect of right with such tenacity
of purpose that neither the passions of the mob nor the violence
of the tyrant can ever cause him to transgress the bounds of right.
But who shall be such a PhÅ“nix of equity? What a scanty following
has rectitude! Many praise it indeed, but--for others. Others follow
it till danger threatens; then the false deny it, the politic conceal
it. For it cares not if it fights with friendship, power, or even
self-interest: then comes the danger of desertion. Then astute men
make plausible distinctions so as not to stand in the way of their
superiors or of reasons of state. But the straightforward and constant
regard dissimulation as a kind of treason, and set more store on
tenacity than on sagacity. Such are always to be found on the side
of truth, and if they desert a party, they do not change from fickleness,
but because the others have first deserted truth.
30 Have naught to do with
Occupations of Ill-repute (No hazer profesion de empleos desautorizados)
Have naught to do with Occupations of Ill-repute, still less
with fads that bring more notoriety than repute. There are many
fanciful sects, and from all the prudent man has to flee. There
are bizarre tastes that always take to their heart all that wise
men repudiate; they live in love with singularity. This may make
them well known indeed, but more as objects of ridicule than of
repute. A cautious man does not even make profession of his wisdom,
still less of those matters that make their followers ridiculous.
These need not be specified, for common contempt has sufficiently
singled them out.
31 Select the Lucky and
avoid the Unlucky (Conocer los afortunados para la election y los
desdichados para la fuga)
Select the Lucky and avoid the Unlucky. Ill-luck is generally
the penalty of folly, and there is no disease so contagious to those
who share in it. Never open the door to a lesser evil, for other
and greater ones invariably slink in after it. The greatest skill
at cards is to know when to discard; the smallest of current trumps
is worth more than the ace of trumps of the last game. When in doubt,
follow the suit of the wise and prudent; sooner or later they will
win the odd trick.
32 Have the Reputation
of being Gracious (Estar en opinion de dÃ¡r gusto)
Have the Reputation of being Gracious. â€™Tis the chief glory of
the high and mighty to be gracious, a prerogative of kings to conquer
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 lay
themselves out for not being gracious, not on account of the difficulty,
but from a bad disposition. In all things they are the opposite
of Divine grace.
33 Know how to Withdraw
Know how to Withdraw. If it is a great lesson in life to know
how to deny, it is a still greater to know how to deny oneself as
regards both affairs and persons. There are extraneous occupations
which 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
man not to interfere with others, he must see that they do not interfere
with him. One is not obliged to belong so much to all 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 intercourse.
A wise moderation in this best preserves the goodwill and esteem
of all, for by this means that precious boon of courtesy is not
gradually worn away. Thus you preserve your genius free to select
the elect, and never sin against the unwritten laws of good taste.
34 Know your strongest
Point (Conocer su realce Rey)
Know your strongest Point-- your pre-eminent gift; cultivate
that and you will assist the rest. Every one 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 judgment excels, in
others valour. Most do violence to their natural aptitude, and thus
attain superiority in nothing. Time disillusionises us too late
of what first flattered the passions.
35 Think over Things, most
over the most Important (Hazer concepto y mas de lo que importa
Think over Things, most over the most Important. All fools come
to grief from want of thought. They never see even the half of 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 imports
little and little of much, always weighing in the wrong scale. Many
never lose their common sense, because they have none to lose. There
are matters which should be observed with the closest attention
of the mind, and thenceforth kept in its lowest depths. The wise
man thinks over everything, but with a difference, most profoundly
where there is some profound difficulty, and thinks that perhaps
there is more in it than he thinks. Thus his comprehension extends
as far as his apprehension.
36 In Acting or Refraining,
weigh your Luck (Tener tanteada su Fortuna, para el proceder, para
In Acting or Refraining, weigh your Luck. More depends on that
than on noticing your temperament. If he is a fool who at forty
applies to Hippocrates for health, still more is he one who then
first applies to Seneca for wisdom. It is a great piece of skill
to know how to guide your luck even while waiting for it. For something
is to be done with it by waiting so as to use it at the proper moment,
since it has periods and offers opportunities, though one cannot
calculate its path, its steps are so irregular. When you find Fortune
favourable, stride boldly forward, for she favours the bold and,
being a woman, the young. But if you have bad luck, keep retired
so as not to redouble the influence of your unlucky star.
37 Keep a Store of Sarcasms,
and know how to use them (Conocer y saber usar de las varrillas)
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 men'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 which destroy at once all favour and esteem.
Struck by the slightest word of this kind, many fall away from the
closest intimacy with superiors or inferiors which could not be
the slightest shaken by a whole conspiracy of popular insinuation
or private malevolence. Other sarcasms, on the other hand, work
favourably, 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 received and the foresight with which
they should he foreseen. For here a knowledge of the evil is in
itself a means of defence, and a shot foreseen always misses its
38 Leave your Luck while
Winning (Saberse dexar ganando con la fortuna)
Leave your Luck while 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 long lasting was ever suspicious; interrupted 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 favours by the shortness of their duration. She soon tires of
carrying any one long on her shoulders.
39 Recognise when Things
are ripe, and then enjoy them (Conocer las cosas en su punto, en
su sazon y saberlas lograr)
Recognise when Things are ripe, and then enjoy them. The works
of nature all reach a certain point of maturity; up to that they
improve, after that they degenerate. Few works of art reach such
a point that they cannot be improved. It is an especial privilege
of good taste to enjoy everything at its ripest. Not all can do
this, nor do all who can know this. There is a ripening point too
for fruits of intellect; it is well to know this both for their
value in use and for their value in exchange.
40 The Goodwill of People
(Gracia de las gentes)
The Goodwill of People. â€™Tis much to gain universal admiration;
more, universal love. Something depends on natural disposition,
more on practice: the first founds, the second then builds on that
foundation. Brilliant parts suffice not, though they are presupposed;
win good opinion and â€™tis easy to win goodwill. Kindly acts besides
are required to produce kindly feelings, doing good with both hands,
good words and better deeds, loving so as to be loved. Courtesy
is the politic witchery of great personages. First lay hand on deeds
and then on pens; words follow swords; for there is goodwill to
be won among writers, and it is eternal.
41 Never Exaggerate (Nunca
Never Exaggerate. It is an important object of attention not
to talk in superlatives, so as neither to offend against truth nor
to give a mean idea of one's understanding. Exaggeration is a prodigality
of the judgment which shows the narrowness of one's knowledge or
one's taste. Praise arouses 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 under-estimating the thing recommended and the person
recommending. A prudent man goes more cautiously to work, and prefers
to err by omission than by commission. Extraordinary things are
rare, therefore moderate ordinary valuation. Exaggeration is a branch
of lying, and you lose by it the credit of good taste, which is
much, and of good sense, which is more.
42 Born to command (Del
Born to Command. It is a secret force of superiority not to have
to get on by artful trickery but by an inborn power of rule. All
submit to it without knowing why, recognising the secret vigour
of connatural authority. Such magisterial spirits are kings by merit
and lions by innate privilege. By the esteem which they inspire,
they hold the hearts and minds of the rest. If their other qualities
permit, such men are born to be the prime motors of the state. They
per-form more by a gesture than others by a long harangue.
43 Think with the Few and
speak with the Many (Sentir con los menos y hablar con los mas)
Think with the Few and speak with the Many. By swimming against
the stream it is impossible to remove error, easy to fall into p.
26 danger; only a Socrates can undertake it. To dissent from others'
views is regarded as an insult, because it is their condemnation.
Disgust is doubled on account of the thing blamed and of the person
who praised it. Truth is for the few, error is both common and vulgar.
The wise man is not known by what he says on the house-tops, for
there he speaks not with his own voice but with that of common folly,
however much his inmost thoughts may gainsay it. The prudent avoid
being contradicted as much as contradicting: though they have their
censure ready they are not ready to publish it. Thought is free,
force cannot and should not be used to it. The wise man 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.
44 Sympathy with great
Minds (SimpatÃa con los grandes varones)
Sympathy with great Minds. It is an heroic quality to agree with
heroes. â€™Tis like a miracle of nature for mystery and for use. There
is a natural kinship of hearts and minds: its effects are such that
vulgar ignorance scents witchcraft. Esteem established, goodwill
follows, which at times reaches affection. It persuades without
words and obtains without earning. This sympathy is sometimes active,
sometimes passive, both alike felicific; the more so, the more sublime.
â€™Tis a great art to recognise, to distinguish and to utilise this
gift. No amount of energy suffices without that favour of nature.
45 Use, but do not abuse,
Cunning (Usar, no abusar de las reflexas)
Use, but do not abuse, Cunning. One ought not to delight in it,
still less to boast of it. Everything artificial should be concealed,
most of all cunning, which is hated. Deceit is much in use; therefore
our caution has to be redoubled, but not so as to show itself, for
it arouses distrust, causes much annoy, 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.
46 Master your Antipathies
(Corregir su antipatia)
Master your Antipathies. We often allow ourselves to take dislikes,
and that before we know anything of a person. At times this innate
yet vulgar aversion attaches Itself to eminent personalities. Good
sense masters this feeling, for there is nothing more discreditable
than to dislike those better than ourselves. As sympathy with great
men en-nobles us, so dislike to them degrades us.
47 Avoid "Affairs of Honour"
(Huir los empeÃ±o)
Avoid "Affairs of Honour" --one of the chiefest aims of prudence.
In men of great ability the extremes are kept far asunder, so that
there is a long distance between them, and they always keep in the
middle of their caution, so that they take time to break through
it. It is easier to avoid such affairs than to come well out of
them. They test our judgment; it is better to avoid them than to
conquer in them. One affair of honour leads to another, and may
lead to an affair of dishonour. There are men so constituted by
nature or by nation that they easily enter upon such obligations.
But for him that walks by the light of reason, such a matter requires
long thinking over. There is more valour needed not to take up the
affair than to conquer in it. When there is one fool ready for the
occasion, one may excuse oneself from being the second.
48 Be Thorough (Hombre
Be Thorough. How much depends on the person. The interior must
be at least as much as the exterior. There are natures all frontage,
like houses that p. 29 for want of means have the portico of a palace
leading to the rooms of a cottage. It is no use boring into such
persons, although they bore you, for conversation flags after the
first salutation. They prance through the first compliments like
Sicilian barbs, but silence soon succeeds, 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 but a view of the
surface, but not the prudent, who look within them and find nothing
there except material for scorn.
49 Observation and judgment
(Hombre juyzioso y notante)
Observation and Judgment. A man with these rules things, not
they him. He sounds at once the profoundest depths; he is a phrenologist
by means of physiognomy. On seeing a person he understands him and
judges of his inmost nature. From a few observations he deciphers
the most hidden recesses of his nature. Keen observation, subtile
insight, judicious inference: with these he discovers, notices,
grasps, and comprehends everything.
50 Never lose Self-respect
(Nunca perderse el respeto Ã¡ sÃ mismo)
l Never lose Self-respect, or be too familiar with oneself. Let
your own right feeling be the true standard of your rectitude, and
owe more to the strictness of your own self-judgment than to all
external sanctions. Leave off 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 tutor.
51 Know how to Choose well
(Hombre de buena election)
Know how to Choose well. Most of life depends thereon. It needs
good taste and correct judgment, for which neither intellect nor
study suffices. To be choice, you must choose, and for this two
things are needed: to be able to choose at all, and then to choose
the best. There are many men of fecund and subtle mind, of keen
judgment, of much learning, and of great observation who yet are
at a loss when they come to choose. They always take the worst as
if they had tried to go wrong. Thus this is one of the greatest
gifts from above.
52 Never be put out (Nunca
Never be put out. â€™Tis a great aim of prudence never to be embarrassed.
It is the sign of a real man. of a noble heart, for magnanimity
is not easily put out. The passions are the humours of the soul,
and every excess in them weakens prudence; if they overflow through
the mouth, the reputation will be in danger. Let a man therefore
be so much and so great a master over himself that neither in the
most fortunate nor in the most adverse circumstances can anything
53 Diligent and Intelligent
(Diligente y inteligente)
Diligent and Intelligent. Diligence promptly executes what intelligence
slowly excogitates. Hurry is the failing of fools; they know not
the crucial point and set to work without preparation. On the other
hand, the wise more often fail from procrastination; foresight begets
deliberation, and remiss action often nullifies prompt judgment.
Celerity is the mother of good fortune. He has done much who leaves
nothing over till to-morrow. Festina lente is a royal motto.
54 Know how to show your
Teeth (Tener brios Ã¡ lo cuerdo)
Know how to show your Teeth. Even hares can pull the mane of
a dead lion. There is no joke about courage. Give way to the first
and you must yield to the second, and so on till the last, and to
gain your point at last costs as much trouble as would have gained
much more at first. Moral courage exceeds physical; it should be
like a sword kept ready for use in the scabbard of caution. It Is
the shield of great place; moral cowardice lowers one more than
physical. 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.
55 Wait (Hombre de espera)
Wait. It's a sign of a noble heart dowered with patience, never
to be in a hurry, never to be in a 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 centre 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 chasteneth
not with a rod but with time. He spoke a great word who said, "Time
and I against any two." Fortune herself rewards waiting with the
56 Have Presence of Mind
(Tener buenos repentes)
Have Presence of Mind. The child of a happy promptitude of spirit.
Owing to this vivacity and wideawakeness there is no fear of danger
or mischance. Many reflect much only to go wrong in the end: others
attain their aim without thinking of it beforehand. There are natures
of Antiperistasis who work best in an emergency. They are like monsters
who succeed in all they do offhand, but fail in aught they think
over. A thing occurs to them at once or never: for them there is
no court of appeal. Celerity wins applause because it proves remarkable
capacity; subtlety of judgment, prudence in action.
57 Slow and Sure (Mas seguros
son los pensados)
Slow and Sure. Early enough if well. Quickly done 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. Worth much costs much. The
precious metals are the heaviest.
58 Adapt Yourself to your
Company (Saberse atemperar)
Adapt Yourself to your Company. There is no need to show your
ability before every one. Employ no more force than is necessary.
Let there be no unnecessary expenditure either of knowledge or of
power. The skilful falconer only flies enough birds to serve for
the chase. If there is too much display to-day there will be nothing
to show to-morrow. Always have some novelty wherewith to dazzle.
To show something fresh each day keeps expectation alive and conceals
the limits of capacity.
59 Finish off well (Hombre
de buen dexo)
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 versÃ¢.
You ought therefore to think of the finish, and attach more importance
to a graceful exit than to applause on entrance. â€™Tis the common
lot of the unlucky to have a very fortunate outset 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 any one
to the door: warmly as she may welcome the coming, she speeds but
coldly the parting guest.
60 A Sound judgment (Buenos
A Sound Judgment. Some are born wise, and with this natural advantage
enter upon their studies, with a moiety already mastered. With age
and experience their reason ripens, and thus they attain a sound
judgment. 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 men deserve
to stand by the helm of state either as pilots or as men at the
61 To Excel in what is
Excellent (Eminencia en lo mejor)
To Excel in what is Excellent. A great rarity among excellences.
You cannot have a great man without something pre-eminent. Mediocrities
never win applause. Eminence in some distinguished post distinguishes
one from the vulgar mob and ranks us with the elect. To be distinguished
in a Small post is to be great in little: the more comfort, the
less glory. The highest eminence in great affairs has the royal
characteristic of exciting admiration and winning goodwill.
62 Use good Instruments
(Obrar con buenos instrumentos)
Use good Instruments. Some would have the subtlety of their wits
proven by the meanness of their instruments. â€™Tis 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."
Let your assistants be selected and tested therefore, for you have
to trust to them for an immortality of fame.
63 To be the First of the
Kind is an Excellence (Excelencia de primero)
To he the First of the Kind is an Excellence, and to be eminent
in it as well, a double one. To have the first move is a great ad-vantage
when the players are equal. Many a man would have been a veritable
PhÅ“nix 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. The skill of prodigies may find a new path to
eminence, but prudence accompanies them all the way. By the novelty
of their enterprises sages write their names in the golden book
of heroes. Some prefer to be first in things of minor import than
second in greater exploits.
64 Avoid Worry (Saberse
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 men'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
could 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 never ought to spoil your own chances
to please another who advises and keeps out of the affair, and in
all cases where to oblige another involves disobliging yourself,
â€™tis a standing rule that it is better he should suffer now than
you afterwards and in vain.
65 Elevated Taste (Gusto
Elevated 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: it must be a great thing that can
satisfy a great mind. Big bites for big mouths, lofty things for
lofty spirits. Before their judgment the bravest tremble, the most
perfect lose confidence. Things of the first importance are few;
let appreciation be rare. Taste can be imparted by intercourse:
great good luck to associate with the highest taste. But do not
affect to be dissatisfied with everything: â€™tis the extreme of folly,
and more odious if from affectation than if from Quixotry. Some
would have God create another world and other ideals to satisfy
their fantastic imagination.
66 See that Things end
well (Atencion que salgan bien las cosas)
See that Things end well. Some regard more the rigour of the
game than the winning of it, but to the world the discredit of the
final failure does away with any recognition of the previous care.
The victor need not explain. The world does not notice the details
of the measures employed; but only the good or ill 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
67 Prefer Callings en Evidence
(Preferir los empleos plausibles)
Prefer Callings "en Evidence." Most things depend on the satisfaction
of others. Esteem is to excellence what the zephyr is to flowers,
the breath of life. There are some callings which gain universal
esteem, while others more important are without credit. The former,
pursued before the eyes of all, obtain the universal favour; the
others, though they are rarer and more valuable, remain obscure
and unperceived, honoured but not applauded. Among princes conquerors
are the most celebrated, and therefore the kings of Aragon earned
such applause as warriors, conquerors, and great men. An able man
will prefer callings en evidence which all men know of and utilise,
and he thus becomes immortalised by universal suffrage.
68 It is better to help
with Intelligence than with Memory (Dar entendimiento es de mas
primor que el dÃ¡r memoria)
It is better to help with Intelligence than with Memory. The
more as the latter needs only recollection, the former ????. Many
persons omit the Ã propos because it does not occur to them; a friend's
advice on such occasions may enable them to see the advantages.
â€™Tis one of the greatest gifts of mind to be able to offer what
is needed at the 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: this finesse is especially
needful when it touches the interest of him whose attention you
awaken. You should give but a taste at first, and then pass on to
more when that is not sufficient. If he thinks of No, go in search
of Yes. Therein lies the cleverness, for most things are not obtained
simply because they are not attempted.
69 Do not give way to every
common Impulse (No rendirse Ã¡ un vulgar humor)
Do not give way to every common Impulse. He is a great man who
never allows himself to be influenced by the impressions of others.
Self-reflection is the school of wisdom. To know one's disposition
and to allow for it, even going to the other extreme so as to find
the juste milieu between nature and art. Self-knowledge is the beginning
of self-improvement. There be some whose humours are so monstrous
that they are always under the influence of one or other of them,
and put 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 judgment
gets lost, desire and knowledge pulling in opposite directions.
70 Know how to Refuse (Saber
Know how to Refuse. 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 men of
position. All depends on the how. Some men'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 unpleasing herald. Your refusal need not
be point-blank: let the disappointment come by degrees. Nor let
the refusal be final; that would be to destroy dependence; 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.
71 Do not Vacillate (No
Do not Vacillate. Let not your actions be abnormal either from
disposition or affectation. An able man is always the same in his
best qualities; he gets the credit of trustworthiness. If he changes,
he does so for good reason or 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 to-day's black: to-day's
No was yesterday's Yes. They always give the lie to their own credit
and destroy their credit with others.
72 Be Resolute (Hombre
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 men so infirm of purpose that they
always require direction from others, and this not on account of
any perplexity, for they judge clearly, but from sheer incapacity
for action. It needs some skill to find out difficulties, but more
to find a way out of them. There are others who are never in straits
. their clear judgment and determined character it 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: as soon as they have done with one
sphere of action, they are ready for another. Affianced to Fortune,
they make themselves sure of success.
73 Utilise Slips (Saber
usar del desliz)
Utilise Slips. 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,
it is often the polite way to talk of something else. Sometimes
it proves the highest understanding not to understand.
74 Do not be Unsociable
(No ser intratable)
Do not be Unsociable. The truest wild beasts live in the most
populous places. To be inaccessible is the fault of those who distrust
themselves, whose honours change their manners. It is no way of
earning people's goodwill by being ill-tempered with them. It is
a sight to see one of those unsociable monsters who make a point
of being proudly impertinent. Their dependants 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
post these persons must have ingratiated themselves with every one,
but having once obtained it they seek to indemnify themselves by
disobliging all. It is a condition of their position that they should
be accessible to all, yet, from pride or spleen, they are so to
none. â€™Tis a civil way to punish such men by letting them alone,
and depriving them of opportunities of improvement by granting them
no opportunity of intercourse.
75 Choose an Heroic Ideal
(Elegir idea heroyca)
Choose an Heroic Ideal; but rather to emulate than to imitate.
There are exemplars of greatness, living texts of honour. Let every
one have before his mind the chief of his calling not so much to
follow him as to spur himself on. Alexander wept not on account
of Achilles 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-clang of another's fame. The
same thing that sharpens envy, nourishes a generous spirit.
76 Do not always be jesting
(No estÃ¡r siempre de burlas)
Do not always be Jesting. 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. They resemble liars in
that men never believe either, always expecting a lie in one, a
joke in the other. One never knows when you speak with judgment,
which is the same as if you had none. A continual jest soon loses
all zest. Many get the repute of being witty, but thereby lose the
credit of being sensible. Jest has its little hour, seriousness
should have all the rest.
77 Be all Things to all
Men (Saber hazerse Ã¡ todos)
Be all Things to all Men --a discreet Proteus, learned with the
learned, saintly with the sainted. It is the great art to gain every
one's suffrages; their goodwill gains general agreement. Notice
men'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 indispensable art for dependent persons.
But this savoir faire calls for great cleverness. He only will find
no difficulty who has a universal genius in his knowledge and universal
ingenuity in his wit.
78 The Art of undertaking
Things (Arte en el intentar)
The Art of undertaking Things. Fools rush in through the door;
for folly is always bold. The same simplicity which robs them of
all attention to precautions 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 is freed from danger
by caution, while fortune some-times helps in such cases. Step cautiously
where you suspect depth. Sagacity goes cautiously forward while
precaution covers the ground. Nowadays there are unsuspected depths
in human. intercourse, you must therefore cast the lead at every
79 A Genial Disposition
A Genial Disposition. If with moderation â€™tis an accomplishment,
not a defect. A grain of gaiety seasons all. The greatest men 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, get themselves out of difficulty
quickest by a joke. For there are things you must take in fun, though
others perhaps mean them in earnest. You show a sense of placability,
which acts as a magnet on all hearts.
80 Take care to get Information
(Atencion al informarse)
Take care to get Information. We live by information, not by
sight. We exist by faith in others. The ear is the area-gate of
truth but the front-door of lies. The truth is generally seen, rarely
heard; seldom she 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 with their colours wherever
they touch her, sometimes favourably, sometimes the reverse. She
always brings out the 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 assay falsity and exaggeration.
81 Renew your Brilliance
(Usar el renovar su lucimiento)
Renew your Brilliance. â€™Tis the privilege of the PhÅ“nix. Ability
is wont to grow old, and with it fame. The staleness of custom weakens
admiration, and a mediocrity that's new often eclipses the highest
excellence grown old. Try therefore to be born again in valour,
in genius, in fortune, in all. Display startling novelties, rise
afresh like the sun every day. Change too the scene on which you
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.
82 Drain Nothing to the
Dregs, neither Good nor Ill (Nunca apurar, ni el mal, ni el bien)
Drain Nothing to the Dregs, neither Good nor Ill. 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
83 Allow Yourself some
venial Fault (Permitese algun venial desliz)
Allow Yourself some venial Fault. Some such carelessness is often
the greatest recommendation of talent. For envy exercises ostracism,
most envenomed when most polite, It counts it to perfection as a
failing that it has no faults; for being perfect in all it condemns
it in all. It becomes an Argus, all eyes for imperfection: â€™tis
its only consolation. Blame is like the lightning; it hits the highest.
Let Homer nod now and then and affect some negligence in valour
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 cloak on the horns of Envy in order to save your immortal parts.
84 Make use of your Enemies
(Saber usar de los enemigos)
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 is this the rule with the doings of your enemies.
A wise man gets more use from his enemies than a fool from his friends.
Their ill-will often levels mountains of difficulties which 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 which 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 neighbours.
85 Do not play Manille
(No ser malilla)
Do not play Manille. 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 a 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 at last bore those who desired them before. These
Manilles 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 â€™tis to going out. Show yourself less and you will be rewarded
by being esteemed more.
86 Prevent Scandal (Prevenir
las malas vozes)
Prevent Scandal. Many heads go to make the mob, and in each of
them are eyes for malice to use and a tongue for detraction to wag.
If a single ill report spread, 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 rumours. At times these are malicious additions of private
envy to general distrust. For there are wicked tongues that ruin
a great reputation more easily by a witty sneer than by a direct
accusation. It is easy to get into bad repute, because it is easy
to believe evil of any one: it is not easy to clear yourself. The
wise accordingly avoid these mischances, guarding against vulgar
scandal with sedulous vigilance. It is far easier to prevent than
87 Culture and Elegance
(Cultura y aliÃ±o)
Culture and Elegance. Man is born a barbarian, and only raises
himself above the beast by culture. Culture therefore makes the
man; the more a man, the higher. Thanks to it, 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 our desires, and above all our conversation. Some men
are naturally elegant in internal and external qualities, in their
thoughts, in their address, in their dress, which is the rind of
the soul, and in their talents, which is its fruit. There are others,
on the other hand, so gauche that everything about them, even their
very excellences, is tarnished by an intolerable and barbaric want
88 Let your Behaviour be
Fine and Noble (Sea el trato por mayor procurando la sublimida en
Let your Behaviour be Fine and Noble. A great man ought not to
be little in his behaviour. 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, conduct
worthy of a gallant man. To overlook forms 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 or your
annoyance is a kind of mania. Generally speaking, every man behaves
according to his heart and his understanding.
89 Know Yourself (Comprehension
Know Yourself --in talents and capacity, in judgment 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. p. 53 [paragraph continues] 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.
90 The Secret of Long Life
(Arte para vivir mucho)
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 in a double
sense. A virtuous life never dies. The firmness of the soul is communicated
to the body, and a good life is long not only in intention but also
91 Never set to work at
Anything if you have any Doubts of its Prudence (Obrar siempre sin
escrupolos de imprudencia)
Never set to work at anything if you have any doubts of 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 judgment feels scruples, it will afterwards
in cool reflection condemn it as a piece p. 54 of 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 mid-day light of reason. How can an enterprise succeed which
the judgment condemns as soon as conceived? And if resolutions passed
nem. con. by inner court often turn out unfortunately, what can
we expect of those undertaken by a doubting reason and a vacillating
92 Transcendant Wisdom
Transcendant Wisdom. I mean in everything. The first and highest
rule of all deed and speech, the more necessary to be followed the
higher and more numerous our posts, is: an ounce of wisdom is worth
more than tons of cleverness. It is the only sure way, though it
may not gain so much applause. The reputation of wisdom is the last
triumph of fame. It is enough if you satisfy the wise, for their
judgment is the touchstone of true success.
93 Versatility (Hombre
Versatility. A man of many excellences equals many men. By imparting
his own enjoyment of life to his circle 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 man in
his highest development an abstract of herself, so let Art create
in him a true microcosm by training his taste and intellect.
94 Keep the extent of your
Abilities unknown (Incomprehensibilidad de caudal)
Keep the extent of your Abilities unknown. The wise man does
not allow his knowledge and abilities to be sounded to the bottom,
if he desires to be honoured by all. He allows you to know them
but not to comprehend them. No one must know the extent of his abilities,
lest he be disappointed. No one ever has an opportunity of fathoming
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.
95 Keep Expectation alive
(Saber entretenir la expectation)
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 die. It requires great skill to moderate
your forces so as to keep expectation from being dissipated.
96 The highest Discretion
(De la gran sinderesis)
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. â€™Tis the main piece of the panoply, and so important that
its absence makes a man imperfect, whereas with other qualities
it is merely a question of more or less. All the actions of life
depend on its application; all require its assistance, for everything
needs intelligence. Discretion consists in a natural tendency to
the most rational course, combined with a liking for the surest.
97 Obtain and preserve
a Reputation (Conseguir y conservar la reputation)
Obtain and preserve a Reputation. It is the usufruct of 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.
98 Write your Intentions
in Cypher (Cifrar la voluntad)
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:
adopt the policy of the cuttlefish. Do not even let your tastes
be known, lest others utilise them either by running counter to
them or by flattering them.
99 Reality and Appearance
(Realidad y aparencia)
Reality and Appearance. Things pass for what they seem, not for
what they are. Few see inside; many take to the outside. It is not
enough to be right, if right seem false and ill.
100 A Man without Illusions,
a wise Christian, a philosophic Courtier (Varon desengaÃ±ado, Christiana
sabio, Cortesano filosofo)
A Man without Illusions, a wise Christian, a philosophic 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 chiefest concern of the wise. The art of thinking has lost all
its former repute. Seneca introduced it at Rome: it went to court
for some time, but now it is considered out of place there. And
yet the discovery of deceit was always thought the true nourishment
of a thoughtful mind, the true delight of a virtuous soul.
101 One half of the World
laughs at the other, and Fools are they all (La mitad del mundo
se estÃ¡ riendo Ã¡ la otra mitad, con necedad de todos)
One half of the World laughs at the other, and Fools are they
all. Everything is good or everything is bad according to the votes
they gain. What one pursues another persecutes. He is an in-sufferable
ass that would regulate everything according to his ideas. Excellences
do not depend on a single man's pleasure. So many men, so many tastes,
all different. There is no defect which is not affected by some,
nor need we lose heart if things please not some, for others will
appreciate them. Nor need their applause turn our head, for there
will surely be others to condemn. The real test of praise is the
approbation of famous men and of experts in the matter. You should
aim to be independent of any one vote, of any one fashion, of any
102 Be able to stomach
big slices of Luck (Estomago para grander bocados de la fortuna)
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 humours that arise from their undeserved
honours turn their head and they incur great risks in high place:
they do not find their proper place, for luck finds no proper place
in them. A man of talent therefore should show that he has more
room for even greater enterprises, and above all avoid showing signs
of a little heart.
103 Let each keep up his
Dignity (Cada uno la magestad en su modo)
each keep up his Dignity. Let each deed of a man 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.
104 Try your hand at Office
(Tener tomado el pulso Ã¡ los empleos)
your hand at Office. It requires varied qualities, and 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 most difficult those requiring cleverness.
For the former all that is necessary is character; for the latter
all one's attention and zeal may not suffice. â€™Tis a troublesome
business to rule men, still more fools or blockheads: double sense
is needed with those who have none. It is intolerable when an office
engrosses a man with fixed hours and a settled routine. Those are
better that leave a man free to follow his own devices, combining
variety with importance, for the change refreshes the mind. The
most in repute are those that have least or most distant dependence
on others; the worst is that which worries us both here and hereafter.
105 Don't be a Bore (No
be a Bore. The man of one business or of one topic is apt to
be heavy. Brevity flatters and does better business; 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 whole farrago of details. It is a well-known truth that talkative
folk rarely have much sense whether in dealing with the matter itself
or its formal treatment. There are that serve more for stumbling-stones
than centrepieces, useless lumber in every one'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
106 Do not parade your
Position (No afectar la fortuna)
not parade your Position. To outshine in dignity is more offensive
than in personal attractions. To pose as a personage is to be hated:
envy is surely enough. 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
an amount of authority sufficient to make them efficient: 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 and 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
adventitious. Even kings prefer to be honoured for their personal
qualifications rather than for their station.
107 Show no Self-satisfaction
(No mostrar satisfaccion de sÃ)
no Self-satisfaction. You must neither be discontented with yourself--and
that were poor-spirited--nor self-satisfied--and that is folly.
Self-satisfaction arises mostly from ignorance: it would be a happy
ignorance not without its advantages if it did not injure our credit.
Because a man 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 and out of 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.
108 The Path to Greatness
is along with Others (Atajo para ser persona, saber ladear)
Path to Greatness is along with Others. Intercourse works well:
manners and taste are shared: good sense and even talent grow insensibly.
Let the sanguine man then make a comrade of the lymphatic, and so
with the other temperaments, so that without any forcing the golden
mean is obtained. It is a great art to agree with others. The alternation
of contraries beautifies and sustains the world: if it can cause
harmony in the physical world, still more can it do so in the moral.
Adopt this policy in the choice of friends and defendants; by joining
extremes the more effective middle way is found.
109 Be not Censorious (No
not Censorious. There are men 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 wherewith to force 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, if
not in the intention, at least from oversight.
110 Do not wait till you
are a Sinking Sun (No aguardar Ã¡ ser sol que se pone)
not wait till you are a Sinking Sun. â€™Tis 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 no. Wisely withdraw from the
chance of mishaps, lest you have to do so from the reality Do not
wait till they turn you the cold shoulder and carry you to the grave,
alive in feeling but dead in esteem. Wise trainers put racers to
grass before they arouse derision by falling on the course. A beauty
should break her mirror early, lest she do so later with open eyes.
111 Have Friends (Tener
Friends. â€™Tis a second existence. Every friend is good and wise
for his friend: among them all everything turns to good. Every one
is as others wish him; 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. Seek some one every day to be a
well-wisher if not a friend; by and by after trial some of these
will become intimate.
112 Gain Good-will (Ganar
la pia aficcion)
Good-will. For thus the first and highest cause foresees and
furthers the greatest objects. By gaining their good-will you gain
men's good opinion. Some trust so much to merit that they neglect
grace, but wise men know that Service Road without a lift from favour
is a long way indeed. Good-will facilitates and supplies everything:
is supposes gifts or even supplies them, as courage, zeal, knowledge,
or even discretion; whereas defects it will not see because it does
not search for them. It arises from some common interest, either
material, as disposition, nationality, relationship, fatherland,
office; or formal, which is of a higher kind of communion, in capacity,
obligation, reputation, or merit. The whole difficulty is to gain
good-will; to keep it is easy. It has, however, to be sought for,
and, when found, to be utilised.
113 In Prosperity prepare
for Adversity (Prevenirse en la fortuna prospera para la adversa)
Prosperity prepare for Adversity. It is both wiser and easier
to collect winter stores in summer. In prosperity favours are cheap
and friends are many. â€™Tis well therefore to keep them for more
unlucky days, for adversity costs dear and has no helpers. Retain
a store of friendly and obliged persons; the day may come when their
price will go up. Low minds never have friends; in luck they will
not recognise them: in misfortune they will not be recognised by
114 Never Compete (Nunca
Compete. Every competition damages the credit: our rivals seize
occasion to obscure us so as to out-shine us. Few wage honourable
war. Rivalry discloses faults which courtesy would hide. Many have
lived in good repute while they had no rivals. The heat of conflict
gives life, or even new life, to dead scandals, and digs up long-buried
skeletons. Competition begins with belittling, and seeks aid wherever
it can, not only where it ought. And when the weapons of abuse do
not effect their purpose, as often or mostly happens, our opponents
use them for revenge, and use them at least for beating away the
dust of oblivion from anything to our discredit. Men of good-will
are always at peace; men of good repute and dignity are men of good-will.
115 Get used to the Failings
of your Familiars (Hazerse Ã¡ las malas condiciones de los familiares)
used to the Failings of your Familiars, as you do to ugly faces.
It is indispensable if they depend on us, or we on them. There are
wretched characters with whom one cannot live, nor yet without them.
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 or puts up with it.
116 Only act with Honourable
Men (Tratar siempre con gente de obligaciones)
act with Honourable Men. You can trust them and they you. Their
honour is the best surety of their behaviour even in misunderstandings,
for they always act having regard to what they are. Hence â€™tis better
to have a dispute with honourable people than to have a victory
over dishonourable ones. You cannot treat 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 honour. Never have to do
with such men, for if honour does not restrain a man, virtue will
not, since honour is the throne of rectitude.
117 Never talk of Yourself
(Nunca hablar de sÃ)
talk of Yourself. You must either praise yourself, which is vain,
or blame yourself, which is little-minded: p. 68 it ill beseems
him that speaks, and ill pleases him that hears. And if you should
avoid this in ordinary conversation, how much more in official matters,
and above all, in public speaking, where every appearance of unwisdom
really is unwise. The same want of tact lies in speaking of a man
in his presence, owing to the danger of going to one of two extremes:
flattery or censure.
118 Acquire the Reputation
of Courtesy (Cobrar fama de cortÃ©s)
the Reputation of Courtesy; for it 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
disfavour 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 be not the same for all,
which degenerates into injustice. Between opponents it is especially
due as a proof of valour. It costs little and helps much: every
one is honoured who gives honour. Politeness and honour have this
advantage, that they remain with him who displays them to others.
119 Avoid becoming Disliked
(No hazerse de mal querer)
becoming Disliked. There is no occasion to seek dislike: it comes
without seeking quickly 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 others
harm than their cupidity is eager to gain advantage for themselves.
Some manage to be on bad terms with all, because they always either
produce or experience vexation of spirit. Once hate has taken root
it is, like bad repute, difficult to eradicate. Wise men 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
120 Live Practically (Vivir
Ã¡ lo platico)
Practically. Even knowledge has to be in the fashion, 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 in the modern style. In everything the taste
of the many carries the votes; for the time being one must follow
it in the 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 appear better. But this rule does not apply to kindness,
for goodness is for all time. It is neglected nowadays and seems
out of date. Truth-speaking, keeping your word, and so too good
people, seem to come from the good old times: yet they are liked
for all that, but in such a way that even when they all exist they
are not in the 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.
121 Do not make a Business
of what is no Business (No hazar negocio del no negocio)
not make a Business of what is no Business. As some make gossip
out of everything, so others business. 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 throw over
your shoulders. Much 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. â€™Tis by
no means the least of life's rules: to let things alone.
122 Distinction in Speech
and Action (SeÃ±orio en el dezir y en el hazar)
in Speech and Action. By this you gain a position in many places
and carry esteem beforehand. It shows itself in everything, in talk,
in look, even in gait. It is a great victory to conquer men'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.
123 Avoid Affectation (Hombre
Affectation. The more merit, the less affectation, which gives
a vulgar flavour 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 lose 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 man who affects a virtue has it not.
The more pains you take with a thing, the more should you 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.
124 Get Yourself missed
(Llegar Ã¡ ser deseados)
Yourself missed. Few reach such favour with the many; if with
the wise â€™tis the height of happiness. When one has finished one's
work, coldness is the general rule. But there are ways of earning
this 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 honour to their post, with others â€™tis the other way. 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.
125 Do not be a Black List
(No ser libro verde)
not be a Black List. 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--â€™tis the consolation of fools.
They must have bad breath 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,
but it is 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.
126 Folly consists not
in committing Folly, but in not hiding it when committed (No es
necio el que haze la necedad, sino el que hecha no la sabe encubrir)
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 the errors, but
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.
127 Grace in Everything
(El despojo en todo)
in Everything. â€™Tis the life of talents, the breath of speech,
the soul of action, and the ornament of ornament. Perfections are
the adornment of our nature, but this is the adornment of perfection
itself. It shows itself even in the thoughts. â€™Tis most 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 valour, discretion,
prudence, even majesty it-self. â€™Tis a short way to dispatch and
an easy escape from embarrassment.
128 Highmindedness (Alteza
One of the principal qualifications for a gentleman, for it spurs
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, and at times remedies
the bad turns of Fortune, which only raises by striking. It can
find full scope in the will when it cannot be exercised in act.
Magnanimity, generosity, and all heroic qualities recognise in it
129 Never Complain (Nunca
complain. To complain always brings discredit. Better be a model
of self-reliance opposed to the passion of others than an object
of their compassion. For it opens the way for the hearer to what
we are complaining of, and to disclose one insult forms an excuse
for another. By complaining of past offences 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 one man's favours,
so that others may feel obliged to follow suit. To recount the favours
we owe the absent is to demand similar ones from the present, and
thus we sell our credit with the one to the other. The shrewd will
therefore never publish to the world his failures or his defects,
but only those marks of consideration which serve to keep friendship
alive and enmity silent.
130 Do and be seen Doing
(Hazer y hazer parecer)
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 yourself of
use, 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 the roast, and
things are judged by their jackets, and many things are other than
they seem. A good exterior is the best recommendation of the inner
131 Nobility of Feeling
(GalanterÃa de condition)
of Feeling. There is a certain distinction of the soul, a highmindedness
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 to-wards him. It shines brightest when a chance comes
of revenge: not alone does it let the occasion pass, but it improves
it by using a complete victory in order to display unexpected generosity.
â€™Tis a fine stroke of policy, nay, the very acme of statecraft.
It makes no pretence to victory, for it pretends to nothing, and
while obtaining its deserts it conceals its merits.
132 Revise your Judgments
(Usar del reconsejo)
your Judgments. 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 judgment. And
if it is a matter of giving, the gift is the more valued from its
being evidently well considered than for being promptly bestowed:
long expected is highest prized. And if you have to deny, you gain
time to decide how and when to mature the No that it may be made
palatable. Besides, after the first heat of desire is passed the
repulse of refusal is felt less keenly in cold blood. But especially
when men press for a reply is it best to defer it, for as often
as not that is only a feint to disarm attention.
133 Better Mad with the
rest of the World than Wise alone (Antes loco con todos que cuerdo
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 in ignorance, or the pretence
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 seeking chimeras.
134 Double your Resources
(Doblar los requisitos de la vida)
your Resources. You thereby double your life. One must not depend
on one thing or trust to only one resource, however pre-eminent.
Everything should be kept double, especially the causes of success,
of favour, 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.
135 Do not nourish the
Spirit of Contradiction (No tenga espiritu de contradicion)
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 a fool. Such folk make a mimic war out
of the most pleasant conversation, and in this way act as enemies
towards their associates rather than towards 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.
136 Post Yourself in the
Centre of Things (Ponerse bien en las materias)
Yourself in the Centre 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 realising
the real matter at issue. They go over a single point a hundred
times, wearying themselves and others, and yet never touch the all-important
centre 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 cannot spare them afterwards
for what they have left alone.
137 The Sage should be
Self-sufficing (Bastase Ã¡ sÃ mismo el sabio)
Sage should be Self-sufficing. He that was all in all to himself
carried all with him when he carried himself. If a universal friend
can represent to us 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 God in everything.
138 The Art of letting
Things alone (Arte de dexar estÃ¡r)
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 harbour and
ride at anchor. Remedies often make diseases worse: in such cases
one has to leave them to their natural course and the moral suasion
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 your hand
and let them calm down of 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.
139 Recognise unlucky Days
(Conocer el dia aziago)
unlucky Days. They exist: nothing goes well on them; even though
the game may be changed the ill-luck remains. Two tries should be
enough to tell if one is in luck to-day 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 time; even beauty has its 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 everything turns
out ill, with others all goes well, even with less trouble. They
find everything ready, their wit prompt, their presiding genius
favourable, their lucky star in the ascendant. At such times one
must seize the occasion and not throw away the slightest chance.
But a shrewd person will not decide on the day's luck by a single
piece of good or bad fortune, for the one may be only a lucky chance
and the other only a slight annoyance.
140 Find the Good in a
Thing at once (Hallar luego con lo buena en cada cosa)
the Good in a Thing at once. â€™Tis 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 men's minds and hearts.
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 battening on garbage. They
have the luckier taste who midst a thousand defects seize upon a
single beauty they may have hit upon by chance.
141 Do not listen to Yourself
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 listen to yourself
cannot turn out well. If to talk to oneself when alone is folly,
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 "eh?" 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!"
142 Never from Obstinacy
take the Wrong Side because your Opponent has anticipated you in
taking the Right One (Nunca por tema seguir el peor partido porque
el contrario se adelantÃ³ y escogeÃ³ el mejor)
from Obstinacy take the Wrong Side because your Opponent has
anticipated you in 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. â€™Tis 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 a 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
143 Never become Paradoxical
in order to avoid the Trite (No dÃ¡r en paradoxo por huir de vulgar)
become Paradoxical in order to avoid the Trite. Both extremes
damage our reputation. Every undertaking which 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 fore-seen and its emptiness
becomes apparent. It is a species of jugglery, and in matters political
would be the ruin of states. 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
argues an unbalanced judgment, and if it is not altogether based
on the false, it is certainly founded on the uncertain, and risks
the weightier matters of life.
144 Begin with Another's
to end with your Own (Entrar con la agena para salir con la suya)
with Another's to end with your Own. â€™Tis a politic means to
your 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 another's. 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,
because the difficulty of conceding much more does not occur to
them when your version is presented to them. This advice belongs
to the rule about second thoughts [xiii], which covers the most
subtle manÅ“uvres of life.
145 Do not show your wounded
Finger (No descubrir el dedo malo)
not show your wounded Finger, for everything will knock up against
it; nor 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 p. 86 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 own 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
mortification or of joy, if you wish the one to cease, the other
146 Look into the Interior
of Things (Mirar por dentro)
into the Interior of Things. Things are generally other than
they seem, and ignorance that never looks beneath the rind becomes
disabused 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
it the other half of that power which the common mother 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.
147 Do not be Inaccessible
(No ser inaccessible)
not be Inaccessible. None is so perfect that he does not need
at times the advice of others. He is an in-corrigible ass who will
never listen to any one. 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 every one, but in the innermost
of his precaution man has a true mirror of a confidant to whom he
owes the correction of his errors, and has to thank for it.
148 Have the Art of Conversation
(Tener el arte de conversar)
the Art of Conversation. That is where the real personality shows
itself. No act in life requires more attention, though it be the
commonest thing in life. You must either lose or gain by it. If
it needs care to write a letter which is but a deliberate and written
conversation, how much more the ordinary kind in which there is
occasion for a prompt display of intelligence? Experts feel the
pulse of the soul in the tongue, wherefore 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 the garments.
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 the interlocutor. And do not
be a critic of words, or you will be taken for a pedant; nor a taxgatherer
of ideas, or men will avoid you, or at least sell their thoughts
dear. in conversation discretion is more important than eloquence.
149 Know how to put off
Ills on Others (Saber declinar Ã¡ otro los males)
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
some one to receive the censure of the disaffected and the punishment
of universal detestation. Everything cannot turn out well, nor can
every one be satisfied: it is well therefore, even at the cost of
our pride, to have such a scapegoat, such a target for unlucky undertakings.
150 Know how to get your
Price for Things (Saber vender sus cosas)
to get your Price for Things. Their intrinsic value is not sufficient;
for all do not bite at the kernel or look into the interior. Most
go with the crowd, and go because they see others go. It is a great
stroke of art to bring things into repute; 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 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 appetising
both for the taste and for the intelligence.
151 Think beforehand (Pensar
beforehand. To-day for to-morrow, 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 afterwards--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 line of life.
152 Never have a Companion
who casts you in the Shade (Nunca acompaÃ±arse con quien que pueda
have a Companion who casts you in the Shade. The more he does
so, the less desirable a companion he is. The more he excels in
quality the more in repute: 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 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 honour 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.
153 Beware of entering
where there is a great Gap to be filled (Huya de entrar Ã¡ llenar
of entering where there is a great Gap to be filled. But if you
do it be sure to surpass your predecessor; merely to equal him requires
twice his worth. As it is a fine stroke to arrange that our successor
shall cause us to be wished back, 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.
154 Do not Believe, or
Like, lightly (No ser facil en creer ni en querer)
not Believe, or Like, lightly. Maturity of mind is best shown
in slow belief. Lying is the usual thing; 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 in 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: want of belief is the mark of the liar, who suffers from
two failings: he neither believes nor is believed. Suspension of
judgment is prudent in a hearer: the speaker can appeal to his original
source of in-formation. 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.
155 The Art of getting
into a Passion (Arte en el apassionarse)
Art of getting into a Passion. If possible, oppose vulgar importunity
with prudent reflection; it will not be difficult for a really prudent
man. The first step towards getting into a passion is to announce
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 a rage. You should
know how and when best to come to a stop: it is most difficult to
halt while running at the double. 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 masterly
policy reason will never be transgressed, nor pass the bounds of
its own synteresis. To keep control of passion one must hold firm
the reins of attention: he who can do so will be the first man "wise
on horseback," and probably the last.
156 Select your friends
(Amigos de eleccion)
your Friends. Only after passing the matriculation of experience
and the examination of fortune will they be graduates not alone
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 man is judged by his friends,
for there was never agreement between wise men and fools. At the
same time, to find pleasure in a man's society is no proof of near
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 fecundity
of ideas and motives. Few are the friends of a man's 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 wards off worries, a foolish one brings
them about. But do not wish them too much luck, or you may lose
157 Do not make Mistakes
about Character (No engaÃ±arse en las personas)
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 men, more than with other things, it is
necessary to look within. To know men is different from knowing
things. It is profound philosophy to sound the depths of feeling
and distinguish traits of character. Men must be studied as deeply
158 Make use of your Friends
(Saber usar de los amigos)
use of your Friends. This requires all the art of discretion.
Some are good afar 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 men do not know how
to pick them out. To keep is more important than to make friends.
Select those that will wear well; if they are new at first, it is
some consolation they will become old. Absolutely the best are those
well salted, though they may require soaking in the testing. There
is no desert like living without friends. Friendship multiplies
the good of life and divides the evil. â€™Tis the sole remedy against
misfortune, the very ventilation of the soul.
159 Put up with Fools (Saber
up with Fools. The wise are always impatient, for he that increases
knowledge increase impatience of folly. Much knowledge is difficult
to satisfy. The first great rule of life, according to Epictetus,
is to put up with things: he makes that the moiety of 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:
a useful lesson in self-control. Out of patience comes forth peace,
the priceless boon which is the happiness of the world. But let
him that bath no power of patience retire within himself, though
even there he will have to put up with himself.
160 Be careful in Speaking
(Hablar de atento)
careful in Speaking. With your rivals from 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 lustre of the divine. He who speaks lightly soon falls or
161 Know your pet Faults
(Conocer los defectos dulces)
your pet Faults. The most perfect of men has them, and is either
wedded to them or has illicit relations with 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: irrational
affection for avoidable faults. They are spots on perfection; they
displease the onlooker as much as they please the possessor. â€™Tis
a gallant thing to get clear of them, and so give play to one's
other qualities. For all men hit upon such a failing, and on going
over your qualifications they make a long stay at this blot, and
blacken it as deeply as possible in order to cast your other talents
into the shade.
162 How to triumph over
Rivals and Detractors (Saber triunfar de la emulation y malevolencia)
to triumph over Rivals and Detractors. It is not enough to despise
them, though this is often wise: a gallant bearing is the thing.
One cannot praise a man too much who speaks well of them who speak
ill of him. There is no more heroic vengeance than that of talents
and services which at once conquer and torment the envious. Every
success is a further twist of the cord round the neck of the ill-affected,
and an enemy's glory is the rival's hell. The envious die not once,
but as oft as the envied wins applause. The immortality of his fame
is the measure of the other's torture: the one lives in endless
honour, 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.
163 Never, from Sympathy
with the unfortunate, involve Yourself in his Fate (Nunca por la
compassion del infeliz se ha de incurrir en la desgracia del afortunado)
from Sympathy with the Unfortunate, involve Yourself in his Fate.
One man's misfortune is another man'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 favour, 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 â€™tis
to be noticed how fate shuffles the cards. There are men who always
consort with the unlucky, and he that yesterday flew high and happy
stands to-day miserable at their side. That argues nobility of soul,
but not worldly wisdom.
164 Throw Straws in the
Air (Echar al ayre algunas cosas)
Throw Straws in the Air, to find how things will be received,
especially those whose reception or success is doubtful. One can
thus be assured of its turning out well, and an opportunity is afforded
for going on in earnest or withdrawing entirely. By trying men's
intentions in this way, the wise man knows on what ground he stands.
This is the great rule of foresight in asking, in desiring, and
165 Wage War Honourably
(Hazer buena guerra)
Wage War Honourably. You may be obliged to wage war, but not
to use poisoned arrows. Every one must needs act as he is, not as
others would make him to be. Gallantry in the battle of life wins
all men'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. Honour always has the upper hand. An honourable
man 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
the good name. In men of honour the smallest trace of meanness repels:
the noble and the ignoble should be miles apart. Be able to boast
that if gallantry, generosity, and fidelity were lost in the world
men would be able to find them again in your own breast.
166 Distinguish the Man
of Words from the Man of Deeds (Diferenciar el hombre de palabras
del de obras)
Distinguish the Man of Words from the Man of Deeds. Discrimination
here is as important as in the case of friends, persons, and employments,
which have all 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 pawn-tickets, have their
market price. Trees that bear leaves but not fruit have usually
no pith. Know them for what they are, of no use except for shade.
167 Know how to take your
own Part (Saber se ayudar)
Know how to take your own Part. In great crises there is no better
companion than a bold heart, and if it becomes weak it must be strengthened
from the neighbouring parts. Worries die away before a man who asserts
himself. One must not surrender to misfortune, or else it would
become intolerable. Many men 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
man conquers everything, even the stars in their courses.
168 Do not indulge in the
Eccentricities of Folly (No dÃ¡r en monstruo de la necedad)
Do not indulge in the Eccentricities of Folly. Like vain, presumptuous,
egotistical, untrustworthy, capricious, obstinate, fanciful, theatrical,
whimsical, inquisitive, paradoxical, sectarian people and all kinds
of one-sided persons: they are all monstrosities of impertinence.
All deformity of mind is more obnoxious than that of the body, because
it contravenes 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, men of this kind blind themselves with the unfounded
assumption of their imaginary applause.
169 Be more careful not
to Miss once than to Hit a hundred times (Atencion Ã¡ no errar una
mas que Ã¡ acertar ciento)
more careful not to Miss once than to Hit a hundred times. No
one looks at the blazing sun; all gaze when he is eclipsed. The
common talk does not reckon what goes right but what goes wrong.
Evil report carries farther than any applause. Many men are not
known to the world till they have left it. All the exploits of a
man taken together are not enough to wipe out a single small blemish.
Avoid therefore falling into error, seeing that ill-will notices
every error and no success.
170 In all Things keep
Something in Reserve (Usar del retÃ©n en todas las cosas)
In all Things keep Something in Reserve. â€™Tis a sure means of
keeping up your importance. A man should not 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 for valour and reputation. Prudence always sets
to work with assurance of safety: in this matter the piquant paradox
holds good that the half is more than the whole.
171 Waste not Influence
(No gastar el favor)
Waste not Influence. The great as friends are for great occasions.
One should not make use of great confidence for little things: for
that is to waste a favour. The sheet anchor should be reserved for
the last extremity. If you use up the great for little ends what
remains afterwards? Nothing is more valuable than a protector, and
nothing costs more nowadays than a favour. It can make or unmake
a whole world. It can even give sense and take it away. As Nature
and Fame are favourable to the wise, so Luck is generally envious
of them. It is therefore more important to keep the favour of the
mighty than goods and chattels.
172 Never contend with
a Man who has nothing to Lose (No empeÃ±arse con quien no tiene que
Never contend with a Man who has nothing to Lose; for thereby
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 re-sorts to all kinds of insolence. One should
never expose a valuable reputation to so terrible a risk, lest what
has cost years to gain may be lost in a moment, since a single slight
may wipe out much sweat. A man of honour 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 time to prudence 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.
173 Do not be Glass in
Intercourse, still less in Friendship (No ser de vitrio en el trato
y menos en la amistad)
Do not be Glass in Intercourse, 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 demeanour, 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 the worshippers of punctilio. On the other hand, the disposition
of the true lover is firm and enduring, so that it may be said that
the Arrant is half adamant.
174 Do not live in a Hurry
(No vivir apriesa)
not live in a Hurry. To know how to separate things is to know
how to enjoy them. Many 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 over-leaped 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 life-time; 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
men see work ended with pleasure, pleasure ended with regret.
175 A Solid Man (Hombre
A Solid Man. One who is finds no satisfaction in those that are
not. â€™Tis a pitiable eminence that is not well founded. Not all
are men that seem to be so. Some are sources of deceit; impregnated
by chimeras they give birth to impositions. Others are like them
so far 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, just
as that cannot be true which proves too much.
176 Have Knowledge, or
know those that have Knowledge (Saber o escuchar Ã¡ quien sabe)
Knowledge, or know those that have Knowledge. 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 rare, 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 it you do not wish to
177 Avoid Familiarities
in Intercourse (Escusar llanezas en el trato)
Avoid Familiarities in Intercourse. Neither use them nor permit
them. He that is 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 man 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 favour shown them for need felt of
them. Familiarity trenches on vulgarity.
178 Trust your Heart (Creer
Trust your Heart, especially when it has been proved. Never deny
it a hearing. It is a kind of house oracle that often foretells
the 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.
179 Reticence is the Seal
of Capacity (La retentiva es el sello de la capacidad)
Reticence is the Seal of Capacity. A breast without a secret
is an open letter. Where there is a solid foundation secrets can
be kept profound: there are spacious cellars where things of moment
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 in temperance in the inner
man. 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 these the prudent become more reticent
than before. What must be done need not be said, and what must be
said need not be done.
180 Never guide the Enemy
to what he has to do (Nunca regirse por lo que el enemigo avia de
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 the 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. Judgments vary; let
him that has not decided attend rather to what is possible than
what is probable.
181 The Truth, but not
the whole Truth (Sin mentir, no dezir todas las verdades)
The Truth, but not the whole Truth. Nothing demands more caution
than the truth: â€™tis the lancet of the heart. It requires as much
to tell the truth as to conceal it. p. 109 [paragraph continues]
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.
182 A Grain of Boldness
in Everything (Un grano de audacia con todo)
A Grain of Boldness in Everything. â€™Tis 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 disillusionise than to raise
esteem. No one oâ€™ersteps 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
colours than the real: it thinks things not as they are but as it
wishes them to be. Attentive experience disillusionised 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?
183 Do not hold your Views
too firmly (No aprender fuertemente)
Do not hold your Views too firmly. Every fool is fully convinced,
and every one fully persuaded is a fool: the more erroneous his
judgment 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 must be the more recognised. Our
obstinacy loses more than our victory yields: that is not to champion
truth but rather rudeness. There be some heads of iron most difficult
to turn: 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 judgment and in the execution of it.
184 Do not be Ceremonious
(No ser ceremonial)
not be Ceremonious. Even in a king affectation in this was renowned
for its 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 a man to do without
ceremonies must possess supreme qualities. Neither affect nor despise
etiquette: he cannot be great who is great at such little things.
185 Never stake your Credit
on a single Cast (Nunca exponer el credito Ã¡ la prueba de sola una
Never stake your Credit on a single Cast; for if it miscarries
the damage is irreparable. It may easy happen that a man should
fail once, especially at first: circumstances are not always favourable:
hence they say, "Every dog has his day." Always connect your second
attempt with your first: whether it succeed or fail, 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.
186 Recognise Faults, however
high placed (Conocer los defectos por mas autorizados que ester)
Recognise Faults, however high placed. Integrity cannot mistake
vice even when clothed in brocade or perchance crowned with gold,
but will not be able to hide its character for all that. Slavery
does not lose its vileness, however it vaunt the nobility of its
lord and master. Vices may stand in high place, but are low for
all that. Men can see that many a great man 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,
till 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
187 Do pleasant Things
Yourself, unpleasant things through Others (Todo lo favorable, obrarlo
por sÃ, todo lo odioso, por terceros)
Do pleasant Things Yourself, unpleasant Things through Others.
By the one course you gain goodwill, by the other you avoid hatred.
A great man takes more pleasure in doing a favour 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 high place one can only work by means of rewards
and punishment, so grant the first yourself, inflict the other through
others. Have some one 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
188 Be the Bearer of Praise
(Traer que alabar)
Be the Bearer of Praise. This increases our credit for good taste,
since it shows that we have learnt 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. We do homage besides 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 every one to every one
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 over-confident
by the flatteries of the other; knowing that both act in the same
way by different methods, adapting their talk to the company they
189 Utilise Another's Wants
(Valerse de la privacion agena)
Utilise Another's Wants. The greater his wants the greater the
turn of the screw. Philosophers say privation is non-existent, statesmen
say it is all-embracing, and they are right. Many make ladders to
attain their ends out of wants of others. They make use of the opportunity
and tantalise 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
190 Find Consolation in
all Things (Hallar el consuelo en todo)
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 equalises things by giving long
life to the use-less, 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 for-gotten by both Death and Fortune.
191 Do not take Payment
in Politeness (No pagarse de la mucha cortesia)
Do not take Payment in Politeness; for it is a kind of fraud.
Some do not need the herbs of Thessaly for their magic, 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 recognised but to the
advantages that are desired.
192 Peaceful Life, a long
Life (Hombre de gran paz hombre de mucha vida)
Peaceful Life, 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
193 Watch him that begins
with Another's to end with his Own (Atencion al que entra con agena
por salir Ã¡ la suya)
Watch him that begins with Another's to end with his own. Watchfulness
is the only guard against cunning. Be intent on his intentions.
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
194 Have reasonable Views
of Yourself and of your Affairs (Concebir de sÃ y de sus cosas cuerdamente)
Have reasonable Views of Yourself and of your Affairs, especially
in the beginning of life. Every one has a high opinion of himself,
especially those who have least ground for it. Every one dreams
of his good-luck and thinks himself a wonder. Hope gives rise to
extravagant promises which experience does not fulfil. Such idle
imaginations merely serve as a well-spring 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 the ideas
is necessary, because before experience comes expectation is sure
to soar too high. The best panacea against folly is prudence. If
a man knows the true sphere of his activity and position, the can
reconcile his ideals with reality.
195 Know how to Appreciate
Know how to Appreciate. There is none who cannot teach somebody
something, and there is none so excellent but he is excelled. To
know how to make use of every one is useful knowledge. Wise men
appreciate all men, for they see the good in each and know how hard
it is to make anything good. Fools depreciate all men, not recognising
the good and selecting the bad.
196 Know your ruling Star
(Conocer su estrella)
Know your ruling Star. None so helpless as not to have one; if
he is unlucky, that is because he does not know it. Some stand high
in the favour of princes and potentates without knowing why or wherefore,
except that good luck itself has granted them favour on easy terms,
merely requiring them to aid it with a little exertion. Others find
favour with the wise. One man is better received by one nation than
by another, or is more welcome in one city than in 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 man 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 any other for it,
for that would be to miss the North, though its neighbour (the polestar)
calls us to it with a voice of thunder.
197 Do not carry Fools
on your Back (Nunca embaraÃ§arse con los necios)
Do not carry Fools on your Back. He that does not know a fool
when he sees him 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 which 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 which is not so bad about them, and this is that though they
can be of no use to the wise, they can be of much use to them as
signposts or as warnings.
198 Know how to transplant
Yourself (Saberse transplantar)
Know how to transplant Yourself. There are nations with whom
one must cross their borders to make one's value felt, especially
in great posts. Their native land is always a 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 persons once the laughing-stock of their
village and now the wonder of the whole world, honoured by their
fellow-countrymen and by the foreigners [among whom they dwell];
by the latter because they come from afar, by the former because
they are seen from afar. The statue on the altar is never reverenced
by him who knew it as a trunk in the garden.
199 To find a proper Place
by Merit, not by Presumption (Saberse hazer lugar Ã¡ lo cuerdo, no
Ã¡ lo entremetido)
To find a proper Place by Merit, not by Presumption. The true
road to respect is through merit, and if industry accompany merit
the path becomes shorter. Integrity alone is not sufficient, push
and insistence is degrading, for things arrive by that means so
besprinkled with dust that the discredit destroys reputation. The
true way is the middle one, half-way between de-serving a place
and pushing oneself into it.
200 Leave Something to
wish for (Tener que desear)
Leave Something to wish for, so as not to be miserable from very
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. Surfeits 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.
201 They are all Fools
who seem so besides half the rest (Son tontos todos los que lo parecen
y la mitad de los que no le parecen)
They are all Fools who seem so besides 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 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 none that thinks himself one,
or even suspects the fact.
202 Words and Deeds make
the Perfect Man (Dichos y hechos hazen un varon consumado)
Words and Deeds make the Perfect Man. One should speak well and
act honourably: 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.
203 Know the great Men
of your Age (Conocer las eminencias de su siglo)
Know the great Men of your Age. They are not many. There is one
PhÅ“nix in the whole world, one great general, one perfect orator,
one true philosopher in a century, a really illustrious king in
several. Mediocrities are as numerous as they are worth-less: 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 CÃ¦sar and Alexander,
but in vain, for without great deeds the title is a mere breath
of air. There have been few Senecas, and fame records but one Apelles.
204 Attempt easy Tasks
as if they were difficult, and difficult as if they were easy (Lo
facil se ha de emprender como dificultoso y lo dificultoso como
Attempt easy Tasks as if they were difficult, and difficult as
if they were easy. In the one case that confidence may not fall
asleep, in the other 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
205 Know how to play the
Card of Contempt (Saber jugar del desprechio)
Know how to play the Card of Contempt. It is a shrewd way of
getting things you want, by affecting 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,
that they flee from him who follows them and follow him that flees
from them. Contempt is besides the most subtle form of revenge.
It is a fixed rule with the wise never to defend themselves with
the pen. For such defence 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. Audacious persons hope to make
themselves eternally famous by setting fire to one of the wonders
of the world and of the ages. The art of reproving scandal is to
take no 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, for this shadow of a stain dulls the lustre of our
fame even if it cannot altogether deaden it.
206 Know that there are
vulgar Natures everywhere (Sepase que ay vulgo en todas partes)
Know that there are vulgar Natures everywhere, even in Corinth
itself, even in the highest families. Every one 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 a broken glass: but this kind
is still more pernicious; it speaks folly, blames impertinently,
is a disciple of ignorance, a patron of folly, and 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.
207 Be Moderate (Usar del
Be Moderate. One has to consider the chance of a mischance. The
impulses of the passions cause prudence to slip, and there is the
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 as
are wont to test the best 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. 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.
208 Do not die of the Fools'
Disease (No morir de achaque de necio)
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 fools' disease is to die of too much thought. Some die
because they think and feel too much: others live because they do
not think and feel: these are fools because they do not die of sorrow,
the others because they do. 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
209 Keep Yourself free
from common Follies (Librarse de las comunes necedades)
Yourself free from common Follies. This is a special stroke of
policy. They are of special power because they are general, so that
many who would not be led away by any individual folly cannot escape
the universal failing. Among these are to be counted the common
prejudice that any one 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 to-day praise the things of yesterday,
and those here the things there. Everything past seems best and
everything distant is more valued. He is as great a fool that laughs
at all as he that weeps at all.
210 Know how to play the
Card of Truth (Saber jugar de la verdad)
Know how to play the Card of Truth. â€™Tis dangerous, yet a good
man 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 pill 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 to-day
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; it is therefore
desirable in their case to gild the pill of disillusion.
211 In Heaven all is bliss
(En el cielo todo es contento)
In Heaven all is bliss: in Hell all misery. On 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 dÃ©noÃ»ment.
212 Keep to Yourself the
final Touches of your Art (Reservarse siempre las ultimas tretas
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 man preserves
the respect and the dependence of others. In amusing and teaching
you must keep to 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 place.
213 Know how to Contradict
Know how to Contradict. A chief means of finding things out--to
embarrass others without being embarrassed. The true thumbscrew,
it brings the passions into play. Tepid incredulity acts as an emetic
on secrets. It is the key to a locked-up breast, 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.
214 Do not turn one Blunder
into two (No hazer de una necedad dos)
not turn one Blunder into two. It is quite usual to commit four
others 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 man may make one slip but
never two, and that only in running, not while standing still.
215 Watch him that acts
on Second Thoughts (Atencion al que llega de segunda intencion)
him that acts on Second Thoughts. It is a device of business
men 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
in the final spurt. 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 which 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 well
to know what you grant him, and at times it is desirable to give
him to understand that you understand.
216 Be Expressive (Tener
Expressive. This depends not only on the clearness but also on
the vivacity of your thoughts. Some have an easy conception but
a hard labour, for without clearness the children of the mind, thoughts
and judgments, cannot be brought into the world. Many have a capacity
like that of vessels with a large mouth and a small vent. Others
again say more than they think. Resolution for the will, expression
for the thought: two great gifts. Plausible minds are applauded:
yet confused ones are often venerated just because they are not
understood, and at times obscurity is convenient if you wish to
avoid vulgarity; yet how shall the audience understand one that
connects no definite idea with what he says?
217 Neither Love nor Hate
for ever (No se ha de querer ni aborrecer para siempre)
Love nor Hate, for ever Trust the friends of to-day as if they
will be enemies to-morrow, 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 to-day, and the
joy over the ill we have done is turned to grief,
218 Never act from Obstinacy
but from Knowledge (Nunca obrar por tema sino por intencion)
act from Obstinacy but from Knowledge. All obstinacy is an excrescence
of the mind, a grandchild of passion which never did anything right.
There are persons who make a war out of everything, real banditti
of intercourse. All that they undertake must end in victory; they
do not know how to get on in peace. Such men are fatal when they
rule and govern, for they make government rebellion, and enemies
out of those whom they ought to regard as children. They try to
effect everything with strategy and treat it as the fruit of their
skill. But when others have recognised their perverse humour all
revolt against them and learn to overturn their chimerical plans,
and 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 to the Antipodes, where
the savagery is easier to bear than their loathsome nature.
219 Do not pass for a Hypocrite
(No ser tenido por hombre de artificio)
not pass for a Hypocrite, though such men are indispensable nowadays.
Be considered rather prudent than astute. Sincerity in behaviour
pleases all, though not all can show it in their own affairs. Sincerity
should not degenerate into simplicity nor sagacity into cunning.
Be rather respected as wise than feared as sly. The open-hearted
are loved but deceived. The great art consists in disclosing what
is thought to be deceit. In the golden age simplicity flourished,
in these days of iron cunning. 'The reputation of being a man who
knows what he has to do is honourable and inspires confidence, but
to be considered a hypocrite is deceptive and arouses mistrust.
220 If you cannot clothe
yourself in Lionskin use Foxpelt (Quando no puede uno vestirse la
piel del Leon, vestase la de la Vulpeja)
you cannot clothe Yourself in Lionskin use Foxpelt. To follow
the times is to lead them. He that gets what he wants never loses
his reputation. Cleverness when force will not do. One way or another,
the king's highway of valour or the bypath of cunning. Skill has
effected more than force, and astuteness has conquered courage more
often than the other way. When you cannot get a thing then is the
time to despise it.
221 Do not seize Occasions
to embarrass Yourself or Others (No ser ocasionado ni para empeÃ±arse,
ni para empeÃ±ar)
not seize Occasions to embarrass Yourself or Others. There are
some men stumbling-blocks of good manners either for themselves
or for others: they are always on the point of some stupidity. You
meet with them easily and part from them uneasily. A hundred annoyances
a day is nothing to them. Their humour always strokes the wrong
way since they contradict all and every. They put on the judgment
cap wrong side foremost 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.
222 Reserve is proof of
Prudence (Hombre detenido evidencia de prudente)
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 of 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 for impartiality, an Argus for watchfulness.
Truly Momus had better placed the eyes in the hand than the window
in the breast.
223 Be not Eccentric (No
ser muy individuado)
not Eccentric, neither from affectation nor carelessness. Many
have some remarkable and individual quality leading to eccentric
actions. These are more defects than excellent differences. And
just as some are known for some special ugliness, so these for something
repellant in their outward behaviour. Such eccentricities simply
serve as trademarks through their atrocious singularity: they cause
either derision or ill-will.
224 Never take Things against
the Grain (Saber tomar las cosas nunca al repelo)
take Things against the Grain, no matter how they come. Everything
has a smooth and a seamy side, and the best weapon wounds if taken
by the blade, while the enemy's spear may be our best protection
if taken by the staff. Many things cause pain which would cause
pleasure if you regarded their advantages. There is a favourable
and an unfavourable side to everything, the cleverness consists
in finding out the favourable. 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 haps 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.
225 Know your chief Fault
(Conocer su defecto Rey)
your chief Fault. There lives none that has not in himself' a
counterbalance to his most conspicuous merit: if this be nourished
by desire it may grow to be a tyrant. Commence war against it, summoning
prudence as your ally, and the first thing to do is the public manifesto,
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 surrender,
the rest will come to an end.
226 Take care to be Obliging
(Atencion Ã¡ obligar)
Take care to be Obliging. Most talk and act, not as they are,
but as they are obliged. To persuade people of ill is easy for any,
since the ill is easily credited even when at times 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 persons often costs little
and helps much. With words you may purchase deeds. In this great
house of the world there is no chamber so hid that it may not be
wanted one day in the year, and then you would miss it however little
is its worth. Every one speaks of a subject according to his feelings.
227 Do not be the Slave
of First Impressions (No ser de primera Impression)
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 were superficial. Many
are like new casks who keep the scent of the first liquor they hold,
be it good or bad. If this superficiality becomes known, it becomes
fatal, for it then gives opportunity for cunning mischief; the ill-minded
hasten to colour the mind of the credulous. 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 impressions argues want of capacity, and is
not far from being the slave of your passions.
228 Do not be a Scandalmonger
(No tener voz de mala voz)
Do not be a Scandal-monger. 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. All men have their revenge on
such an one by speaking ill of him, and as they are 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.
229 Plan out your Life
wisely (Saber repartir su vida Ã¡ lo discreto)
out your Life wisely, not as chance will 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 our-selves: hence true
books make us truly men. 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 dower to the
ugliest. The third day is entirely for oneself. The last felicity
is to be a philosopher.
230 Open your Eyes betimes
(Abrir los ojos con tiempo)
Open your Eyes betimes. Not all that see have their eyes open,
nor do all those see that look. To come up to things too late is
more worry than help. Some just begin to see when there is nothing
more to see: they pull their houses about their ears before they
come to themselves. It is difficult to give sense to those who have
no power of will, still more difficult to give energy to those who
have no sense. Those who surround them play with them a game of
blind man's buff, making them the butts of others, and be-cause
they are hard of hearing, they do not open their eyes to see. There
are often those who encourage such insensibility on which their
very existence depends. Unhappy steed whose rider is blind: it will
never grow sleek.
231 Never let Things be
seen half-finished (Nunca permitir Ã¡ medio hazer las cosas)
Never let Things be seen half-finished. They can only be enjoyed
when complete. All beginnings 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 judgment of the separate
parts, but satisfies the taste. Till a thing is everything, it is
nothing, and while it is in process of being it is still nothing.
To see the tastiest dishes prepared arouses rather disgust 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 Dame
Nature, who never brings the child to the light till it is fit to
232 Have a Touch of the
Trader (Tener un punto de negociante)
Have a Touch of the Trader. 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 much more needful. The observation of
higher things leaves them no time for things close at hand. Since
they know not the very first thing they should know, and what everybody
knows so well, they are either considered or thought ignorant by
the superficial multitude. Let therefore the prudent take care to
have something of the trader about him--enough to prevent him being
deceived and so laughed at. Be a man 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.
233 Let not the proffered
Morsel be distasteful (No errarle el golpe al gusto)
Let not the proffered Morsel be distasteful; otherwise it gives
more discomfort than pleasure. Some displease when attempting to
oblige, because they take no account of varieties of taste. What
is flattery to one is an offence to another, and in attempting to
be useful one may become insulting. It often costs more to displease
a man than it would have cost to please him: you thereby lose both
gift and thanks because you have lost the compass which steers for
pleasure. He who knows not another's taste, knows not how to please
him. Thus it haps 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 loquacity.
234 Never trust your Honour
to another, unless you have his in Pledge (Nunca fiar reputacion
sin prendas de honra agena)
Never trust your Honour to another, unless you have his in Pledge.
Arrange that silence is a mutual advantage; disclosure a danger
to both. Where honour is at stake you must act with a partner, so
that each must be careful of the other's honour for the sake of
his own. Never entrust your honour to another; but if you have,
let caution surpass prudence. Let the danger be in common and the
risk mutual, so that your partner cannot turn king's evidence.
235 Know how to Ask (Saber
Know how to Ask. With some nothing easier: with others nothing
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 all the propitious
moment. Surprise them when in a pleasant mood, when a repast of
body or soul has just left them refreshed, if only their shrewdness
has not anticipated the cunning of the applicant. The days of joy
are the days of favour, for joy overflows from the inner man into
the outward creation. It is no use applying when another has been
refused, since the objection to a No has just been overcome. Nor
is it a good time after sorrow. To oblige a person beforehand is
a sure way, unless he is mean.
236 Make an Obligation
beforehand of what would have to be a Reward afterwards (Hazer obligation
antes de lo que havia de ser premio despues)
an Obligation beforehand of what would have to be a Reward afterwards.
This is a stroke of subtle policy; to grant favours before they
are deserved is a proof of being obliging. Favours thus granted
beforehand have two great advantages: the promptness of the gift
obliges the recipient the more strongly; and the same gift which
would afterwards be merely a reward is beforehand an obligation.
This is a subtle means of transforming obligations, since that which
would have forced the superior to reward is changed into one that
obliges the one obliged to satisfy the obligation. But this is only
suitable for men who have the feeling of obligation, since with
men of lower stamp the honorarium paid beforehand acts rather as
a bit than as a spur.
237 Never share the Secrets
of your Superiors (Nunca partir secretos con mayores)
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 as
forks, they run the same risk of being eaten up afterwards. It is
no favour in 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 favourable light who has seen us in an unfavourable one. None
ought to be too much beholden to us, least of all one of the great,
unless it be for benefits done him rather than for such favours
received from him. Especially dangerous are secrets entrusted to
friends. He that communicates his secret to another makes himself
that other's slave. With a prince this is an intolerable position
which cannot last. He will desire to recover his lost liberty, and
to gain it will overturn everything, including right and reason.
Accordingly neither tell secrets nor listen to them.
238 Know what is wanting
in Yourself (Conocer la pieza que falta)
Know what is wanting in Yourself. Many would have been great
personages if they had not had something wanting without which they
could not rise to the height of perfection. It is remarkable with
some that they could be much better if they could he better in something.
They do not perhaps take themselves seriously enough to do justice
to their great abilities; some are wanting in geniality of disposition,
a quality which their entourage soon find the want of, especially
if they are in high office. Some are without organising ability,
others lack moderation. In all such cases a careful man may make
of habit a second nature.
239 Do not be Captious
(No ser reagudo)
Do not be Captious. It is much more important to be sensible.
To know more than is necessary blunts your weapons, for fine points
generally bend or break. Common-sense 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.
240 Make use of Folly (Saber
usar de la necedad)
Make use of Folly. The wisest play this card at times, and there
are times when 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 were of little use. Speak to each
in his own language. He is no fool who affects folly, but he is
who suffers from it. Ingenuous folly rather than the pretended is
the true foolishness, since cleverness has arrived at such a pitch.
To be well liked one must dress in the skin of the simplest of animals.
241 Put up with Raillery,
but do not practise it (Las burlas sufrirlas, pero no usarlas)
Put up with Raillery, but do not practise it. The first is a
form of courtesy, the second may lead to embarrassment. To snarl
at play has something of the beast and seems to have more. Audacious
raillery is delightful: to stand it proves power. To show oneself
annoyed causes the other to be annoyed. Best leave it alone; the
surest way not to put on the cap that might fit. 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.
242 Push Advantages (Seguir
Push Advantages. Some put all their strength in the commencement
and never carry a thing to a conclusion. They invent but never execute.
These be paltering spirits. They obtain no fame, for they sustain
no game to the end. Everything stops at a single stop. This arises
in some from impatience, which is the failing of the Spaniard, as
patience is the virtue of the Belgian. The latter bring things to
an end, the former come to an end with things. They sweat away till
the obstacle is surmounted, but content themselves with surmounting
it: they do not know how to push the victory home. They prove that
they can but will not: but this proves always that they cannot,
or have no stability. If the undertaking is good, why not finish
it? If it is bad, why undertake it? Strike down your quarry, if
you are wise; be not content to flush it.
243 Do not be too much
of a Dove (No ser todo colombino)
Do not be too much of a Dove. Alternate the cunning of the serpent
with the candour of the dove. Nothing is easier than to deceive
an honest man. He believes in much who lies in naught; who does
no deceit, has much confidence. To be deceived is not always due
to stupidity, it may arise from sheer goodness. There are two sets
of men who can guard themselves from injury: those who have experienced
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.
244 Create a feeling of
Obligation (Saber obligar)
Create a feeling of Obligation. Some transform favours received
into favours bestowed, and seem, or let it be thought, that they
are doing a favour when receiving one. There are some so astute
that they get honour 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 honour out of the pleasure
they express. They oblige by their courtesy, and thus make men beholden
for what they themselves should be beholden. In this way they conjugate
"to oblige" in the active instead of in the passive voice, thereby
proving themselves better politicians than grammarians. This is
a subtle piece of finesse; a still greater is to perceive it, and
to retaliate on such fools' bargains by paying in their own coin,
and so coming by your own again.
245 Original and out-of-the-way
Views (Discurrir tal vez Ã¡ lo singular y fuera de lo comun)
Original and out-of-the-way Views are signs of superior ability.
We do not think much of a man who never contradicts us that is no
sign he loves us, but rather that he loves himself. Do not be deceived
by flattery, p. 149 and thereby have to pay for it: rather condemn
it. Besides you may take credit for being censured by some, especially
if they are those of whom the good speak ill. On the contrary, it
should disturb us if our affairs please every one, for that is a
sign that they are of little worth. Perfection is for the few.
246 Never offer Satisfaction
unless it is demanded (Nunca dÃ¡r satisfacion Ã¡ quien no la pedia)
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 offence. He had best disarm distrust by the integrity of his
247 Know a little more,
Live a little less (Saber un poco mas, y vivir un poco menos)
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 even he has who has nothing else. It is equally
unfortunate to waste your precious life in mechanical tasks or in
a profusion of 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.
248 Do not go with the
last Speaker (No se le lleve el ultimo)
Do not go with the last Speaker. There are persons who go by
the latest edition, and thereby go to irrational extremes. Their
feelings and desires are of wax: the last comer stamps them with
his seal and obliterates all previous impressions. These never gain
anything, for they lose everything so soon. Every one dyes them
with his own colour. They are of no use as confidants; they remain
children their whole life. Owing to this instability of feeling
and volition, they halt along cripples in will and thought, and
totter from one side of the road to the other.
249 Never begin Life with
what should end it (No comenÃ§ar Ã¡ vivir por donde se ha de acabar)
Never begin Life with what should end it. Many take their 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.
250 When to change the
Conversation (Quando se ha de discurrir a reves)
When to change the Conversation. When they talk scandal. With
some all goes contrariwise: their No is Yes, and their Yes No. If
they speak ill of a thing it is the highest praise. For what they
want for them-selves they depreciate to others. To praise a thing
is not always to speak well of it, for some, to avoid praising what's
good, praise what's bad, and nothing is good for him for whom nothing
251 Use human Means as
if there were no divine ones, and divine as if there were no human
ones (Hanse de procurar los medios humanos como sino huviesse Divinos,
y los Divinos como sino huviesse humanos)
Use human Means as if there were no divine ones, and divine as
if there were no human ones. A masterly rule: it needs no comment.
252 Neither belong entirely
to Yourself nor entirely to Others (Ni todo suyo ni todo ageno)
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 persons will not
yield a jot or lose a tittle 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, that others may belong
to us. And he that holds public office is no more nor less than
a public slave, or let a man give up both berth and burthen, as
the old woman said to Hadrian. On the other hand, others are all
for others, which is folly, that always flies to extremes, in this
case in a most unfortunate manner. No day, no hour, is their own,
but they have so much too much of others that they may be called
the slaves of all. This applies even to knowledge, where a man may
know everything for others and nothing for himself. A shrewd man
knows that others when they seek him do not seek him, but their
advantage in him and by him.
253 Do not Explain overmuch
(No allanarse sobrado en el concepto)
Do not Explain overmuch. Most men 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 he p. 153 requires with whom you deal,
if you desire to give him a high opinion of you: yet in this there
should be moderation and no excess. And though with sensible people
common sense holds its own, with most men a little elaboration is
necessary. Give them no time for blame: occupy them with understanding
your drift. 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.
254 Never despise an Evil,
however small (No despreciar el mal por poco)
Never despise an Evil, however small, for 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 ill-luck is complete. Patience serves
with what comes from above; prudence with that from below.
255 Do Good a little at
a time, but often (Saber hazer el bien poco y muchas vezes)
Do Good a little at a time, but often. One should never give
beyond the possibility of return. Who gives much does not give but
sells. Nor drain gratitude to the dregs, for when the recipient
sees all return is impossible he breaks off correspondence. With
many persons it is not necessary to do more than overburden them
with favours 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.
256 Go armed against Discourtesy
(Ir siempre prevenido contra los discorteses)
Go armed against Discourtesy, and against perfidy, presumption,
and all other kinds of folly. There is much of it in the world,
and prudence lies in avoiding a meeting with it. Arm yourself each
day before the mirror of attention with the weapons of defence.
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 man cannot be disarmed by impertinence. The
road of human intercourse is difficult, for it is full of ruts which
may jolt our credit. Best to take a 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.
257 Never let Matters come
to a Rupture (Nunca llegar Ã¡ rompimiento)
Never let Matters come to a Rupture, for our reputation always
comes injured out of the encounter. Every one 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 quarrelled 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. Every one speaks as things seem to him, and things
seem as he wishes them to appear. All 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 of wrath:
here is a good application of the saying about a good retreat.
258 Find out some one to
share your Troubles (Buscar quien le ayude a llevar las infelicidades)
Find out some one to share your Troubles. You will never be all
alone, even in dangers, nor bear all the burden of hate. Some think
by their high position to carry off the whole glory of success,
and have to bear the whole humiliation of defeat. In this way they
have none to excuse them, none 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 some one 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
259 Anticipate Injuries
and turn them into Favours (Prevenir las injurias y hazar dellas
Injuries and turn them into Favours. 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 honour those
who were aiming attacks at us. It helps much to know how to oblige,
for he leaves no time for injuries that fills it up with gratitude.
That is true savoir faire to turn anxieties into pleasures. Try
and make a confidential relation out of ill-will itself.
260 We belong to none and
none to us entirely (Ni serÃ¡ ni tendrÃ¡ Ã¡ ninguno todo por suyo)
We belong to none and none 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 versÃ¢. In this way one reveals all and conceals
all, by making a distinction among the persons with whom we are
261 Do not follow up a
Folly (No proseguir la necedad)
Do not follow up a Folly. Many make an obligation out of a blunder,
and because they have entered the wrong path 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.
262 Be able to Forget (Saber
Be able to Forget. It is more a matter of luck than of skill.
The things we remember best are those better for-gotten. 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 ill 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
263 Many Things of Taste
one should not possess oneself (Muchas cosas de gusto no se han
de poseer en propricdad)
Many things of Taste one should not possess oneself. One enjoys
them better if another's than if one's own. The owner has the good
of them the 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 not alone hinders enjoyment:
it 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.
264 Have no careless Days
(No tenga dias de descuydo)
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 perfection to its trial when unprepared. The days of parade
are known and are allowed to pass by, but the day is chosen when
least expected so as to put valour to the severest test.
265 Set those under you
difficult Tasks (Saber empeÃ±ar los dependientes)
those under you difficult Task, Many have proved themselves able
at once when they had to deal with a difficulty, just as fear of
drowning makes a swimmer of a man, In this way many have discovered
their own courage, knowledge, or tact, which but for the opportunity
would have been for ever buried beneath their want of enterprise.
Dangers are the occasions to create a name for oneself; and if a
noble mind sees honour 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 favour of this kind from her
the Great Captain won his fame, and many others earned an undying
name. By this great art she made great men.
266 Do not become Bad from
sheer Goodness (No ser malo de puro bueno)
Do not become Bad from sheer Goodness. That is, by never getting
into a temper. Such men without feeling are scarcely to be considered
men. It does not always arise from laziness, but from sheer inability.
To feel strongly on occasion is something personal: birds soon mock
at the mawkin. It is a sign of good taste to combine bitter and
sweet. All sweets is diet for children and fools. It is very bad
to sink into such insensibility out of very goodness.
267 Silken Words, Sugared
Manners (Palabras de seda con suavidad de condition)
Silken Words, sugared Manners. Arrows pierce the body, insults
the soul. 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
mouth full of sugar to sweeten your words, so that even your ill-wishers
enjoy them. To please one must be peaceful.
268 The Wise does at once
what the Fool does at last (Haga al principio el cuerdo lo que el
necio al fin)
The Wise do at once what the Fool does at last. 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 topsyturvy 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 but a child. There is only one way to get
him in the right way, and that is to force him to do what he might
have done of his own accord. The wise man, on the other hand, sees
at once what must be done sooner or later, so he does it willingly
and gains honour thereby,
269 Make use of the Novelty
of your Position (Valgase de su novedad)
use of the Novelty of your Position; for men 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 utilise 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 over, the
passion cools and the appreciation of novelty is exchanged for satiety
at the customary: believe that all has its season, which soon passes.
270 Do not condemn alone
that which pleases all (No condenar solo lo que Ã¡ muchos agrada)
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. Singularity 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 straightway. As a general
rule bad taste springs from want of knowledge. What all say, is
so, or will be so.
271 In every Occupation
if you know little stick to the safest (El que supiere poco tengase
siempre Ã¡ lo mas seguro en toda profession)
In every Occupation if you know little stick to the safest. If
you are not respected as subtle, you will be regarded as sure. On
the other hand, a man well trained can plunge in and act as he pleases.
To know little and yet seek danger is nothing else than to seek
ruin. In such a case take stand on the right hand, for what is done
cannot be undone. Let little knowledge keep to the king's highway,
and in every case, knowing or unknowing, security is shrewder than
272 Sell The Things the
Tariff of Courtesy (Vender las cosas Ã¡ precio de cortesia)
Things by the Tariff of Courtesy. You oblige people most that
way. The bid of an interested buyer will never equal the return
gift of an honourable recipient of a favour. Courtesy does not really
make presents, but really lays men under obligation, and generosity
is the great obligation. To a right-minded man nothing costs more
dear that what is given him: you sell it 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.
273 Comprehend their Dispositions
with whom you deal (Comprehension de los genios con quien trata)
Comprehend their Dispositions with whom you deal, so as to know
their intentions. Cause known, effect known, beforehand in the disposition
and after in the motive. The melancholy man always foresees misfortunes,
the backbiter scandals; having no conception of the good, evil offers
itself to them. A man moved by passion always speaks of things differently
from what they are; it is his passion speaks, not his reason. Thus
each speaks as his feeling or his humour prompts him, and all far
from the truth. Learn how to decipher faces and spell out the soul
in the features. If a man laughs always, 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 honour to her, as she has
done little to them. Beauty and folly generally go hand in hand.
274 Be Attractive (Tener
Attractive. Be a magnet of your pleasant qualities more to obtain
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 in vogue is a matter of luck, yet it can be encouraged by skill,
for art can best take root on a soil favoured by nature. There goodwill
grows and develops into universal favour.
275 Join in the Game as
far as Decency permits (Corriente pero no indecente)
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 good-will: you may now and
then go where most go, yet not beyond the bounds 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 life of labour. Still you must not always
keep away: to be singular is to condemn all others. Still less act
the prude--leave that to its appropriate sex: even religious prudery
is ridiculous. Nothing so becomes a man as to be a man: a woman
may p. 166 affect a manly bearing as an excellence, but not vice
276 Know how to renew your
Character (Saber renovar el genio)
Know how to renew your Character, with the help both of Nature
and of 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 lustre
let a new excellence be added. Observe this change so as to aid
it, and hope also for betterment in others. Hence it arises that
many change their behaviour when they change their position or their
occupation. At times the change is not noticed till it reaches the
height of maturity. At twenty 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.
277 Display Yourself (Hombre
Display yourself. â€™Tis the illumination of talents: for each
there comes an appropriate moment; use it, for not every day comes
a triumph. There are some dashing men who make much show with a
little, 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 that grants perfection, provides also the means
of display; for one without the other were abortive. Skill is however
needed for 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. This is its rock of offence, 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 in
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. â€™Tis
a fine subtlety too not to display one's excellence 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.
278 Avoid Notoriety in
all Things (Huir la nota en toda)
Avoid Notoriety in all Things. Even excellences become defects
if they become notorious. Notoriety arises from singularity, which
is always blamed: he that is singular is left severely alone. Even
beauty is discredited by coxcombry, which offends by the very notice
it attracts. Still more does this apply to discreditable singularities.
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 want of moderation may degenerate into
279 Do not contradict the
Contradicter (No dezir al contradezir)
Do not contradict the Contradicter. You have to distinguish whether
the contra-diction 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 such
countercheck to the picklock of the mind as to leave the key of
caution in the lock.
280 Be Trustworthy (Hombre
Trustworthy. Honourable dealing is at an end: trusts are denied:
few keep their word: the greater the service, the poorer the reward:
that is the way with all 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 behaviour of others should rather be a warning to us than an
example. The fear is that the sight of such unworthy behaviour should
override our integrity. But a man of honour should never forget
what he is because he sees what others are.
281 Find Favour with Men
of Sense (Gracia con los entendidos)
Find Favour with Men of Sense. The tepid Yes of a remarkable
man 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 theatre 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.
282 Make use of Absence
to make more esteemed or yourself valued (Usar de la ausencia Ã¡
para el respecta, Ã³ para la estimation)
Make use of Absence to make yourself more esteemed or valued.
If the accustomed presence diminishes fame, absence augments it.
One that is regarded as a lion in his absence may be laughed at
when present as the ridiculous result of the parturition of the
mountains. Talents get soiled by use, for it is easier to see the
exterior rind than the kernel of greatness it encloses. Imagination
reaches farther than sight, and disillusion, which ordinarily comes
through the ears, also goes out through the ears. He keeps his fame
that keeps himself in the centre of public opinion. Even the Phoenix
uses its retirement for new adornment and turns absence into desire.
283 Have the Gift of Discovery
(Hombre de Inventiva)
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 of means 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, and
those the first in excellence and in age. Novelty flatters, and
if successful gives the possessor double credit. In matters of judgment
novelties are dangerous because leading to paradox, in matters of
genius they deserve all praise. Yet both equally deserve applause
284 Do not be Importunate
(No ser entremedido)
Do not be Importunate, and so you will not 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. The importunate
is always the butt of blame; and because he thrusts himself in without
shame he is thrust out with it.
285 Never die of another's
Ill-luck (No perecer de desdicha agena)
Never die of another's Ill-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 some one to
help them to bear misfortune, and often those who turned the cold
shoulder on them in prosperity give them now a helping hand. There
is great caution needed in helping the drowning without danger to
286 Do not become responsible
for all or for every one (No dexarse obligar del todo ni de todos)
Do not become responsible for all or for every one, 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 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 responsibility
as a favour, for generally it is another's plan to make one dependent
287 Never act in a Passion
(Nunca obrar apassionado)
Never act in a 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 inter-pose a prudent go-between who can
only be prudent if he keeps cool. That is why lookers-on see most
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 spilt, and in a few moments occasion may
be given for many days' repentance for oneself and complaints of
the other party.
288 Live for the Moment
(Vivir Ã¡ la ocasion)
Live for the Moment. Our acts and thoughts and all must be determined
by circumstances. Will when you may, for time and tide wait for
no man. Do not live by certain fixed rules, except those that relate
to the cardinal virtues. Nor let your will subscribe fixed conditions,
for you may have to drink the water to-morrow which you cast away
to-day. There be some so absurdly paradoxical that they expect all
the circumstances of an action should bend to their eccentric whims
and not vice versÃ¢. The wise man knows that the very polestar of
prudence lies in steering by the wind.
289 Nothing depreciates
a Man more than to show he is a Man like other Men (El mayor desdoro
de un hombre es dÃ¡r muestras de que es hombre)
Nothing depreciates a Man more than to show he is a Man like
other Men. The day he is seen to be very human he ceases to be thought
divine. Frivolity is the exact opposite of reputation. And as the
re-served are held to be more than men, so the frivolous are held
to be less. No failing causes such failure of respect. For frivolity
is the exact opposite of solid seriousness. A man of levity cannot
be a man 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
290 â€™Tis a piece of Good
Fortune to combine Men's Love and Respect (Es felicidad juntar el
aprecio con el afecta)
Tis a piece of good Fortune to combine Men's Love and Respect.
Generally one dare not be liked if one would be respected. Love
is more sensitive than hate. Love and honour 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.
291 Know how to Test (Saber
hazer la tentativa)
how to Test. The care of the wise must guard against the snare
of the wicked. Great judgment is needed to test that of another.
It is more important to know the characteristics and properties
of persons than those of vegetables and minerals. It is indeed 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.
292 Let your personal Qualities
surpass those of your Office (VenÃ§a el natural las obligaciones
Let your personal Qualities surpass those of your Office, Let
it not be the other way about. How-ever high the post, the person
should be higher. An extensive capacity expands 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.
293 Maturity (De la madurez)
Maturity. It is shown in the costume, still more in the customs.
Material weight is the sign of a precious metal; moral, of a precious
man. Maturity gives finish to his capacity and arouses respect.
A composed bearing in a man forms a faÃ§ade 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 men of this kind sentences
are orations and acts are deeds. Maturity finishes a man off, for
each is so far a complete man according as he possesses maturity.
On ceasing to be a child a man begins to gain seriousness and authority.
294 Be moderate in your
Views (Moderarse en el sentir)
Be moderate in your Views. Every one holds views according to
his interest, and imagines he has abundant grounds for them. For
with most men judgment 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 difficulty a prudent man will
go to work with care, for his decision of his opponent's view may
cast doubt on his own. Place yourself in such a case in the other
man's place and then investigate the reasons for his opinion. You
will not then condemn him or justify yourself in such a confusing
295 Do not Affect what
you have not effected (No hazaÃ±ero sino hazaÃ±oso)
Do not affect what you have not effected. Many claim exploits
without the slightest claim. 'With the greatest 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 honour 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 the knowing ones. Aspire
rather to be a hero than merely to appear one.
296 Noble Qualities (Varon
de prendas y magestuosas)
Noble Qualities. Noble qualities make noblemen: 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, so in a hero everything should be great and majestic,
so that all his deeds, nay, all his words, should he pervaded by
a transcendent majesty.
297 Act always as if your
Acts were seen (Obrar siempre como Ã¡ vista)
act as if your Acts were seen. 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 as 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 neighbours
could see him over their walls.
298 Three Things go to
a Prodigy (Tres cosas hazer un prodigio)
Three Things go to a Prodigy. They are the choicest gifts of
Heaven's prodigality--a fertile genius, a profound intellect, a
pleasant and refined taste. To think well is good, to think right
is better: â€™tis the understanding of the good. It will not do for
the judgment to reside in the backbone: it would be of more trouble
than use. To think aright is the fruit of a reasonable nature. At
twenty the will rules; at thirty the intellect; at forty the judgment.
There are minds that shine in the dark like the eyes of the 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 fecund
felicity. In the meantime good taste seasons the whole of life.
299 Leave off Hungry (Dexar
Leave off 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 comes
a great falling off. Surfeit of pleasure was ever 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 repletion of enjoyment. Happiness earned gives double joy.
300 In one word, be a Saint
(En una palabra santo)
In one word, be a Saint. So is all said at once. Virtue is the
link of all perfections, the centre of all the felicities. She it
is that makes a man prudent, discreet, sagacious, cautious, wise,
courageous, thoughtful, trustworthy, happy, honoured, truthful,
and a universal Hero. Three HHH's make a man happy--Health, Holiness,
and a Headpiece. Virtue is the sun of the microcosm, and has for
hemisphere a good conscience. She is so beautiful that she finds
favour with both God and man. Nothing is lovable but virtue, nothing
detestable but vice. Virtue alone is serious, all else is but jest.
A man's capacity and greatness are to be measured by his virtue
and not by his fortune. She alone is all-sufficient. She makes men
lovable in life, memorable after death.
Introduction to The Art of Worldly
Notice of Attribution: Reproduced in parts
from THE ART OF WORLDLY WISDOM BY BALTHASAR GRACIAN TRANSLATED
FROM THE SPANISH BY JOSEPH JACOBS Corresponding Member of the
Royal Academy of History, Madrid. PUBLISHED BY MACMILLAN &CO,
St. Martin's Street, London, 1892. While we have taken every
precaution, we cannot guarantee the accuracy of the reproduction.
This text is not complete. It has been reproduced in parts and
suitably reformatted for the ebook version. This text is in
the public domain in the United States because it was published
prior to 1923.