French writer François, the sixth Duc de La Rochefoucauld (1613-1680) was born on this day in Paris to a wealthy and noble family. The eldest of 14 children, Francois grew up in the country and entered military service while still a teenager.
"We refuse praise from a desire to be praised twice," he said.
As a soldier and trusted member of the artistocracy, La Rochefoucauld lived a full life of wealth, pleasure, espionage, and exile. In 1656, he retired from politics and passionately pursued writing.
He observed: "A true friend is the greatest of all blessings, and that which we take the least care of all to acquire."
He was best known for writing Maxims, a classic collection of quotations that examined human behavior and self-love. "Philosophy triumphs easily over past evils and future evils; but present evils triumph over it," he said.
Like a Freudian psychologist, he examined motivation and turned his observations and reflections into philosophic truths. Biting and cynical but full of meaning, he looked at life with a spirit of world-weariness... In finding wisdom with his observations, he passed on a legacy of ideas that still ring true today.
"We confess to small faults," he said. "To create the impression that we have no great ones."
More ROCHEFOUCAULD Quotations
Survive the disappointment, then embrace the wisdom.