Madeleine de Souvre, marquise de Sable Quotes

We think highly of men when we do not know the extent of their capabilities, for we always suppose that more exists when we only see half.

When an opinionated person starts to challenge something, his mind shuts out all that could clear up the matter. The argument irritates him, however just it might be, and it seems that he is afraid of discovering the truth.

It is vain and useless to survey everything that goes on in the world if our study does not help us mend our ways.

There are people so blind and self-absorbed in all matters that they always believe that, whatever they desire or think, they can impose their will on other people. Whatever bad reason they use to persuade others, these self-centered people are so caught up in the process that it seems to them all they have to do is to speak their wishes in a lofty and commanding tone of voice in order to convince everybody.

In knowledge of human affairs, we should never allow our minds to be enslaved by others by subjecting ourselves to their whims. We must maintain freedom of thought, and never accept anything of purely human authority into our heads. When we are presented with a diversity of opinions, we must choose, if we can; if we cannot, we must remain in doubt.

To be too dissatisfied with ourselves is a weakness. To be too satisfied with ourselves is a stupidity.

It is a singular characteristic of love that we cannot hide it where it exists, or pretend it where it does not exist.

The ties of virtue ought to be closer than the ties of blood, since the good man is closer to another good man by their similarity of morals than the son is to his father by their similarity of face.

It is a very common failing, never to be pleased with our fortune nor displeased with our character.

He who uses trickery should at least make use of his judgment to learn that he can scarcely hide treacherous conduct for very long among clever men who are determined to find him out, although they may pretend to be deceived in order to disguise their knowledge of his deceitfulness.

We prefer people who are trying to imitate us more than those who are trying to equal us. This is because imitation is a sign of esteem, but the desire to equal others is a sign of envy.

Pettiness of mind, ignorance and presumption are the cause of stubbornness, because stubborn people only want to believe what they themselves can imagine, and they can imagine very few things.

There are many people who are so inclined to say “no” that the “no” always precedes whatever we say to them. This negative quality makes them so disagreeable that, even if they do what we want them to or agree with what we say, they always lose the pleasure that they might have received had they not started off so badly.

We learn as much by others’ failings as by their teachings. Examples of imperfection is just as useful for achieving perfection as are models of competence and perfection.

Honest and sincere acts mislead the wicked and cause them to lose their path to their own goals, because mean-spirited people usually believe that people never act without deceit.

Virtue is not always where it seems to be. People sometimes acknowledge favors only to maintain their reputations, and to make themselves more impudently ungrateful for favors that they do not wish to acknowledge.

It is better that great peoples should seek out glory, or even vanity, in their deeds, than that they should remain indifferent . For even if they are not incited to act upon virtuous principles, at least there is the saving grace that they will do things they might not have done had not vanity prompted their actions.

Social intercourse, even friendship among most people, is a merely a business arrangement that lasts only so long as there is need.

Self-love is even deceived by self-love, because by looking out for our own interests and disregarding those of other people, we lose the advantage that comes with the exchange of favors.

We are more put off by people who parade their dignity than by people who show off their wardrobes. When people have to trick themselves out to gain attention, it is a sure sign that they are unworthy of it. If we want to make ourselves worthy, we can do so only by the innate eminence conferred by virtue. We hold great people in esteem more for the qualities of their soul than for the qualities of their fortune.

Self-love is almost always the ruling principle of our friendships. It makes us avoid all our obligations in unprofitable situations, and even causes us to forget our hostility towards our enemies when they become powerful enough to help us achieve fame or fortune.

It is a strength of character to acknowledge our failings and our strong points, and it is a weakness of character not to remain in harmony with both the good and the bad that is within us.

All the great amusements are dangerous for the Christian life.


There is a certain manner of self-absorption in speaking that always renders the speaker disagreeable. For it is as great a folly to listen only to ourselves while we are carrying on a conversation with others as it is to talk to ourselves while we are alone.

It is such a great fault to talk too much that, in business and conversation, if what is good is also brief, it is doubly good, and one gains by brevity what one often loses by an excess of words.