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A thousand flashes of French wit, wisdom, and wickedness online

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al

r



LIBRARY

ITY OF

SAN 01 EGO



A THOUSAND FLASHES

OF FRENCH



WIT.




AJ4D



COLLECTED AND TRANSLA TED

BY

]. DE FINOD



NEW YORK
D. APPLETON AND COMPANY

72 FIFTH AVENUE
I9O2



COPYRIGHT BY

D. APPLETON & COMPANY,
1880.



PREFATORY.



READER : As an amateur botanist, I have pen-
etrated some avenues of the vast garden of lit-
erature, and I have gathered flowers of different
species to compose a bouquet which I offer to you.

Occasionally, I have allowed myself to insert
some of my own thoughts among those of the great
thinkers here represented, as one shelters timid
violets by planting them at the foot of majestic
oaks.

In compiling this book, I have carefully ex-
cluded everything that would seem objectionable
to you, my liberal but virtuous reader, the Eng-
lish language being more austere than the French
in its expressions ; but, after having paid a legiti-
mate tribute to your just susceptibilities, I have,
without timorous scruples, preserved such piquant
gems as could be enjoyed without endangering
your morals.



In an orderly spirit, for which posterity, if not
the present generation, will give me thanks, 1 have
mixed the serious with the jocular ; for I feared
that, if I placed the wisdom at the beginning and
the wickedness at the end of the book, you would
begin your reading retrogressively, which is con-
trary to established principles. At the worst, this
subterfuge is not more criminal than that of the
physician who coats his bitter pills with sugar.

rThe thinker, the skeptic, the misanthrope, the
sentimentalist, the melancholic, and the mirthful
will find in these pages ample food for their differ-
ent appetites. Democritus elbows Heraclitus all
the way long; and I have no doubt that, after
having perused meditatively these deep or fanci-
ful lucubrations of eminent authors, you will have
greatly improved your natural_disposition. \

A final word to the lady reader : You will see,
fair reader, that much good has been said of you,
and, alas! much bad also; this is because no
subject more worthy of attention has ever haunted
the minds of all the great philosophers of the world.
But listen to this well-meant injunction : believe
unhesitatingly all that is said in your favor, and
deny energetically, as I myself do, all that is said



to your prejudice. Do not criminate an innocent
compiler, who would not exchange one of your
smiles for all the wisdom of Solomon, and who has
inserted in his book the malicious remarks of cer-
tain ill-natured philosophers, only to show how far
man's ingratitude can go.

DE FINOD.



INTKODUCTOKY.



To select well among old things is almost
equal to inventing new ones.

Trublet.

The flavor of detached thoughts depends upon
the conciseness of their expression : for thoughts
are grains of sugar, or of salt, that must be melted
in a drop of water.

J. Petit-Senn.

When we say there is nothing new under the
sun, we do not count forgotten things.

E. Thierry.

A burlesque word is often a mighty sermon.

Boileau.

He who hears but one bell, hears but one

sound.

Proverb.



8



What seems only ludicrous is sometimes very
serious.

Rabelais.

Better a man with paradoxes than a man with
prejudices.

y. y. Rousseau.

We must laugh before we are happy, lest we
should die without having laughed.

La Eruyere.

The history of love would be the history
of humanity: it would be a beautiful book to
write.

Ch. Nodier.

Strong thoughts are iron nails driven in the

mind, that nothing can draw out.

Diderot.

In this world, one must put cloaks on all

truths, even the nicest.

Balzac.

Fear of hypocrites and fools is the great plague
of thinking and writing.

y. yanin.

Women prefer us to say a little evil of them,
rather than say nothing of them at all.

A. Ricard.



All truths are not to be uttered ; still it is
always good to hear them.

Mme. du Deffand,

Wisdom is to the soul what health is to the
body.

De Saint-Rtal.

Thought is the first faculty of man : to express
it is one of his first desires; to spread it, his

dearest privilege.

Raynal.

One of the principal occupations of men is to

divine women.

Lacretelle.

Love is composed of so many sensations, that
something new of it can always be said.

Saint-Prosper.

A truth that one does not understand becomes
an error.

Desbarolles.

Can one better expiate his sins than by enlist-
ing his experience in the service of morals.

De Bernard.

A delicate thought is a flower of the mind.

Rollin.



10



Men may say of marriage and women what
they please : they will renounce neither the one
nor the other.



The history of the thoughts of men, curious on
account of their infinite variety, is also sometimes
instructive.

Fontenelle.

Men say of women what pleases them ; women
do with men what pleases them.

De Stgur.



Verity is nudity.

A. de Musset.



A jest that makes a virtuous woman only smile,
often frightens away a prude ; but, when real dan-
ger forces the former to flee, the latter does not
hesitate to advance.

Latina.

To laugh is the characteristic of man.

Rabelais.

Although it is dangerous to have too much
knowledge of certain subjects, it is still more dan-
gerous to be totally ignorant of them.

Colombat.



II



There will always remain something to be said
of woman, as long as there is one on the earth.

Bcufflers.

When one writes of woman, he must reserve
the right to laugh at his ideas of the day before.

A. Ricard.

O Truth ! pure and sacred virgin, when wilt
thou be worthily revered ? O Goddess who in-
structs us, why didst thou put thy palace in a
well ? When will our learned writers, alike free
from bitterness and from flattery, faithfully teach

us life?

Voltaire.

Should we condemn ourselves to ignorance to

preserve hope ?

E. Souvestre.

Ignorance is the mother of all evils.

Montaigne.

All my misfortunes come of having thought

too well of my fellows.

f. J. Rousseau.

We laugh but little in our days, but are we less
frivolous ?

Biranger.



12



Common sense is not a common thing.

Valatncourt,

Our century is a brutal thinker.

Biranger.

The most completely lost of all days is the one
on which we have not laughed.

Chamfort.

The most completely lost of all days is the one
on which we have not thought.

De Fined.




Melancholy is the convalescence of sorrow.

Mme. Dufresnoy.

Of all heavy bodies, the heaviest is the woman
we have ceased to love.

Lemontey.

Pleasures are like liqueurs : they must be drunk
but in small glasses.

Romainville.



Of what is man certain? What lasts? What
passes? What is chimerical ? What is real?. . .
Every body drags its shadow, and every mind its
doubt.

Victor Hugo.

Discretion is more necessary to women than
eloquence, because they have less trouble to speak

well than to speak little.

Father Du Base.



'4

Twenty years in the life of a man is sometimes
a severe lesson.

Mme. de Stall.

Envy lurks at the bottom of the human heart

like a viper in its hole.

Balzac.

Marriage is a lottery in which men stake their
liberty, and women their happiness.

Mme. de Rieux.

Young saint, old devil ; young devil, old saint.

Proverb.

The heart has no wrinkles.

Mme. de Sevigne".

Experience is the name men give to their fol-
lies, or their sorrows.

A. de Musset.

Women are constantly the dupes, or the vic-
tims, of their extreme sensitiveness.

Balzac.

Oblivion is the flower that grows best on graves.

George Sand.

In life, as in a promenade, woman must lean
on a man above her.

A. Karr.



For one Orpheus who went to Hell to 'seek his
wife, how many widowers who would not even go
to Paradise to find theirs !

J. Petit-Senn.

When a lover gives, he demands and much
moie than he has given.

Parny.

In most men there is a dead poet whom the
man survives.

Sainte-Beuve.

Woman is a perfected devil.

Victor Hugo.

How many people would be mute if they were
forbidden to speak well of themselves, and evil of
others !

Mme. de Fontaines.

Coquettes are the quacks of love.

La Rochefoucauld.

To remain virtuous, a man has only to combat
his own desires : a woman must resist her own in-
clinations, and the continual attack of man.

Latena.

We condemn vice and extol virtue only through
interest.

La Rochefoucauld.



i6



The less one sees and knows men, the higher
one esteems them ; for experience teaches their
real value.

Marguerite de Valois.

Beauty without grace is a hook without a bait.

Ninon de Lenclos.

The destiny of nations depends upon the man-
ner in which they feed themselves.

Brillat-Savarin.

Experience is a keen knife that hurts, while it
extracts the cataract that blinds.

De Finod.

He who is never guilty of follies is not so
wise as he imagines.

La Rochefoucauld.

Contempt is like the hot iron that brands crim-
inals : its imprint is almost always indelible.

Altbert.

Antiquity is the aristocracy of History.

A. Dumas pere.

A hydra advances which will soon devour all
the men of sentiment : this hydra is the cipher.

O. Firmez,



17

Folly was condemned to serve as a guide to
Love whom she had blinded.

La Fontaine,

The future of society is in the hands of the
mothers. If the world was lost through woman,

she alone can save it.

De Beaufort.

What we gain by experience is not worth what
we lose in illusion.

Petit-Senn.

The breaking of a heart leaves no traces.

George Sand.

Rejected lovers need never despair! There
are four and twenty hours in a day, and not a mo-
ment in the twenty-four in which a woman may
not change her mind.

De Finod.

There are few husbands whom the wife can
not win in the long run by patience and love, un-
less they are harder than the rocks which the soft
water penetrates in time.

Marguerite de Valois.

From the moment it is touched, the heart can
not dry up.

Bourdaloue.



i8
Prejudice is the reason of fools.



Voltaire.



The best government is not that which ren-
ders men the happiest, but that which renders the
greatest number happy.

Ch. P. Duclos.

Hypocrisy of manners, a vice peculiar to mod-
ern nations, has contributed more than one thinks
to destroy that energy of character which distin-
guished the nations of antiquity.

Condorcet.

Celebrity sells dearly what we think she gives,

E. Souvestre.

The world either breaks or hardens the heart.

Chamfort.

Old age is the night of life, as night is the old
age of the day. Still, night is full of magnifi-
cence ; and, for many, it is more brilliant than the
day.

Mme. Swetchine.

A mother's tenderness and caresses are the
milk of the heart.

Mil'', de Gufrin.



'9

Many have lived on a pedestal, who will never
have a statue when dead.

Bfranger.

In eternal cares we spend our years, ever agi-
tated by new desires : we look forward to living,

and yet never live.

Fontenelle.

Frequently the curses of men bring the bless-
ings of Heaven.

Lamennais.

There are some moral conditions in which
Death smiles upon us, as smiles a silent and peace-
ful night upon the exhausted laborer.

Alfred Merrier.

At the age when the faculties droop, when stern
experience has destroyed all sweet illusions, man
may seek solitude ; but, at twenty, the affections
which he is compelled to repress are a tomb in
which he buries himself alive.

E. de Girardin.

Doubt follows white- winged Hope with a limp-
ing gait.

Balzac.

Progress is lame.

Sainte-Beuvf.



2O



Great vices, and great virtues, are exceptions
in mankind.

Napoleon I.

It is easier to take care of a peck of fleas than
of one woman.

Proverb.



Hope is the gardener of the heart.

De Finod.



Many men kill themselves for love, but many
more women die of it.

Lemontey.

No one knows himself until he has suffered.

A. de Musset.

Who would venture upon the journey of life, if
compelled to begin it at the end?

Mme. de Maintenon.

All those observers who have spent their lives
in the study of the human heart, know less about
the signs of love than the most brainless, yet sensi-
tive woman.

. . Rousseau.



There are no oaths that make so many perju-
rers as the vows of love.

Rochebrune.



21



One can impose silence on sentiment, but one
can not give it limits.

Mme. Necker.

Women deceived by men want to marry them :
it is a kind of revenge as good as any other.

Beaumanoir.

Recollection is the only paradise out of which
we can not be driven.



One must tell women only what one wants to
be known.

Caron.

One blushes oftener from the wounds of self-
love than from modesty.

Mme, Guibert.

Between the mouth and the kiss, there is al-
ways time for repentance.

A. Ricard.



Prosperity makes few friends.

Vauvenargues.

The thought of eternity consoles us for the
shortness of life.

Malesherbes,



22



He is the happiest who renders the greatest
number happy.

Desmahis.

Flow, wine ! smile, woman ! and the universe
is consoled !

Blranger.

We should not pass from the earth without
leaving traces to carry our memory to posterity.

Napoleon I,

The moral amelioration of man constitutes the
chief mission of woman.

A. Comte.

Everywhere the strong have made the laws and
oppressed the weak ; and, if they have sometimes
consulted the interests of society, they have always
forgotten those of humanity.

Turgot.

We rarely confess that we deserve what we

suffer.

Quesnel,

Under the freest constitution ignorant people

are still slaves.

Condorcet.

Love decreases when it ceases to increase.

Chateaubriand.



23

Imagination has more charm in writing than
in speaking : great wings must fold before enter-
ing a salon.

Prince de Ligne.

In separations, the one who departs is the soon-
est consoled.

Mme. de Montolieu.

Partake of love as a temperate man partakes
of wine : do not become intoxicated.

A. de Musset.

The last census of France embraced nearly
twenty millions of women. Happy rascal !



In love affairs, from innocence to the fault,
there is but a kiss.

A. Second.

Fortune does not change men : it unmasks
them.

Mme. Necker.

Virtue and Love are two ogres : one must eat
the other.

D'Houdetot.

The table is the only place where we do not
get weary during the first hour.

Brillat -Savarin.



24

Love never dies of starvation, but often of in-
digestion.

Ninon de Lendos.

Man corrupts all that he touches.

Montaigne.

Shun idleness : it is the rust that attaches it-
self to the most brilliant metals.

Voltaire.

He who is devoted to everybody is devoted to
nobody.

. C. Delavigne.

Of all serious things, marriage is the most ludi-
crous.

Beaumarchais.

The waves of life toss our destinies like sea-
weeds detached from the rock. Houses are ships
which receive but passengers.

Souvestre.

The man who enters his wife's dressing-room

is either a philosopher, or a fool.

Balzac.

The sowing of wild oats is necessary in the
life of a man. Libertinism is a leaven that fer-
ments sooner or later.

y. J. Rousseau.



2 5
The Devil and Love are but one.



Voltaire.



Hope is a lure. There is no hand that can
retain a wave or a shadow.

Victor Hugo.

Inopportune consolations increase a deep sor-
row.

y. y. Rousseau.

We instinctively abhor calumny as we do a
snake, for fear of its venom ; but, is our aversion
to it so great when it attacks others ?

De Finod.

Let youth dance : tempests of the heart arise
after the repose of the limbs.

Lemontey.

How many languish in obscurity, who would
become great if emulation and encouragement in-
cited them to exertion !

Ftnelon.

Woman is an idol that man worships, until he
throws it down.



Many benefit by the caresses they have not in-
spired ; many a vulgar reality serves as a pedestal

to an ideal idol.

T. Gautier.



26

Necessity is a severe schoolmistress.

Montaigne.

If all hearts were frank, just, and honest, the
major part of the virtues would be useless to us.

Moliere.

O woman ! it is thou that causest the tempests
that agitate mankind.

J. y. Rousseau.

War is not as onerous as servitude.

Vauvenargues.

Glory, ambition, armies, fleets, thrones, crowns:
playthings of grown children.

Victor Hugo.

Great men are like meteors : they glitter and
are consumed to enlighten the world.

Napoleon I.

Oh, poor hearts of poets, eager for the infinite
in love, will you never be understood ?

Mme. Louise Colet.

Irony is the purulence of our moral wounds.

De Finod.



27

WRITTEN ON A SKULL : Lamp, what hast thou
done with the flame? Skeleton, what hast thou
done with the soul? Deserted cage, what hast
thou done with the bird? Volcano, what hast
thou done with the lava ? Slave, what hast thou

done with thy master ?

Mme. A. Segalas.

We salute more willingly an acquaintance in a
carriage than a friend on foot.

J. Petit-Senn.

The virtuous woman who falls in love is much
to be pitied.

La Rochefoucauld,

To despise money is to dethrone a king.

Chamfort.

Instruction is to the proletary what liberty is
to the slave : the latter emancipates the body, the
former emancipates the intelligence.

E. de Girardin.

All thinkers have about the same principles,
and form but one republic.

Voltaire.

A poet is a world inclosed in a man.

Victor Hugo.



28



The devil must be very powerful, since the
sacrifice of a god for men has not rendered them
any better.

Piron.

O world ! how many hopes thou dost engulf!

A. de Musset,

Women swallow at one mouthful the lie that
flatters, and drink drop by drop a truth that is
bitter.

Diderot.

It is not easy to be a widow : one must reas-
sume all the modesty of girlhood, without being
allowed to even feign its ignorance.

Mme. de Girardin.

A handsome face is a mute recommendation.



Virginity is poetry : it does not exist for fools.

Limayrac.

What woman desires is written in heaven.

La Chaussee.

Life often seems but a long shipwreck, of
which the debris are friendship, glory, and love :
the shores of our existence are strewn with them.

Mine, de Stdel.



29

Alas! how can we always resist? The devil

tempts us, and the flesh is weak.

Voltaire.

Barbarism recommences by the excess of civ-
ilization.

Lamartine.

There are three things that I have always loved
and have never understood : Painting, Music, and
Woman.

Fontenelle.

A philosopher is a fool who torments himself
during life, to be spoken of when dead.

D 'Alembert.

How many women would laugh at the funerals
of their husbands, if it were not the custom to
weep !



Beware of him who meets you with a friendly
mien, and, in the midst of a cordial salutation,

seeks to avoid your glance.

Lavater.

There is no torture that a woman would not
suffer to enhance her beauty.

Montaigne.



Alas! what does man here below? A little
noise in much shadow.

Victor Hugo.

Modesty in woman is a virtue most deserving,
since we do all we can to cure her of it.

Lingrfe.

The more hidden the venom, the more danger-
ous it is.

Marguerite de Valois.

It was Love who invented music.

Virey.

Happiness is a bird that we pursue our life
long, without catching it.



An idle man is like stagnant water: he corrupts
himself.

Latlna.

Love makes mutes of those who habitually
speak most fluently.

Mile, de ScudM.

He who tries to prove too much, proves nothing.

Proverb.

A woman with whom one discusses love is al-
ways in expectation of something

Poincelot.



God ! thy pity must have been profound
when this miserable world emerged from chaos !

A. de Musset.

1 have seen more than one woman drown her
honor in the clear water of diamonds.

D 'Houdetot.

Love is the sin of all men.

Du Base.

One knows the value of pleasure only after he
has suffered pain.

Fontenelle.

Attention is a tacit and continual compliment.

Mme. Swetchine.

The power of words is immense. A well-chosen
word has often sufficed to stop a flying army, to
change defeat into victory, and to save an empire.

E. de Girardin.

One of the sweetest pleasures of a woman is to
cause regret.

Gavarni.

Solitude causes us to write because it causes
us to think

Mile, de Gutrin.



32

Love is a bird that sings in the heart of woman.

A. Karr.

Death is the only trustworthy friend of the mis-
erable.

To hate is a torment.

Slgur.

The desire to please is born in woman before
the desire to love.

Ninon de Lenclos.

Constancy is the chimera of love.

Vauvenargues.

Polygamy ought to be obligatory on physicians.
It would be only just to compel those who de-
populate the world to repopulate it a little.

The pretension of youth always gives to a wo-
man a few more years than she really has.

Jouy.

Hope says to us at every moment : Go on ! go
on ! and leads us thus to the grave.

Mme. de Maintenon.

Cleanliness is the toilet of old age.

Mme. Necker.



33



The prejudices of men emanate from the mind,
and maybe overcome; the prejudices of women
emanate from the heart, and are impregnable.

D 'Argens.

A prude ought to be condemned to meet only
indiscreet lovers.

Raisson.

Friendship is a shield that blunts the darts of
adversity.

Mme, de Saint-Surin.

Whoever has loved knows all that life contains
of sorrow and of joy.

George Sand.

Modesty secretly awakes desire : it is the most
chaste, the most delicate, and the most attractive
of all provocations.

Poincelot.

The only true and firm friendship is that be-
tween man and woman, because it is the only af-
fection exempt from actual or possible rivalry.

A. Comte.

Grief counts the seconds: happiness forgets

the hours.

De Finod.
3



34

The yoke of love is sometimes heavier than

that of all the virtues.

Montaigne.

Paradise, as described by the theologians, seems
to me too musical : I confess that I should be in-
capable of listening to a cantata that would last

ten thousand years.

T. Gautier.

We are always more disposed to laugh at non-
sense than at genuine wit; because the nonsense
is more agreeable to us, being more comformable
to our own natures : fools love folly, and wise men

wisdom.

Marguerite de Valois.

Use, do not abuse : neither abstinence nor ex-
cess ever renders man happy.

Voltaire.

Those who seek happiness in ostentation and
dissipation, are like those who prefer the light of a
candle to the splendor of the sun.

Napoleon I.

The virtue of women is often the love of repu-
tation and quiet.

La Rochefoucauld.

The prayers of a lover are more imperious than
the menaces of the whole world.

George Sand,



35

There are those who have nothing chaste but
their ears, and nothing virtuous but their tongues.

De Finod,



<^\ The moment past is no longer : the future may

f never be : the present is all of which man is the
<" master.

y. J. Rousseau.



God speaks to our hearts through the voice of
remorse.

De Bernis.

A revolution is the lava of a civilization.

Victor Hugo.

To love is to admire with the heart ; to admire
is to love with the mind.

T. Gautier.

Practice is to theory what the feet are to the
head.

E. de Girardiit.

We like to give in the sunlight, and to receive

in the dark.

y. Petit-Senn.

Glances are the first billets-doux of love.

Ninon de Lenclos.



36
Fools never understand people of wit.

Vauvenargues.

The world is a masked ball.

Miry.

We attract hearts by the qualities we display ;
we retain them by the qualities we possess.

Suard.

Gratitude is a cross-road that leads quickly to
love.

T. Gautier.

Beauty and ugliness disappear equally under
the wrinkles of age : one is lost in them, the other
hidden.

y. Petit-Senn.

There are some who are born with a sorrow in
the heart.

Lamennais.

The ruses of women multiply with their years.

Proverb.

The world boasts that it can render men
happy !

Massillon.



37

The reading of romances will always be the
favorite amusement of women : old, they peruse
them to recall what they have experienced ; young
to anticipate what they wish to experience.

A. Ricard.

When we combat that which we love, soonef
or later we succumb.

Marivaux.

Science seldom renders men amiable ; women,
never.

BeaucMne.

Let us make no vows, but let us act as if we
had.

Rochepldrt.

Whoever is suspicious incites treason.

Voltaire.
Presumption is the daughter of ignorance.

Rivarol.

That a country may be truly free, the people
should be all philosophers, and the rulers all
gods.

Napoleon /.

Chance is a nickname for Providence.

CAam/ort.



38

It is not the weathercock that changes : it is


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