|The Worlds Wit and Humor: An Encyclopedia in 15 Volumes. 1906.|
Vols. XXI: French
|The Conceited Fool|
|By Marquis de Vauvenargues (17151747)|
THE FOOL who is full of vanity is the born enemy of talent. If he enters a house where a clever man is being entertained, and if the mistress does him the honor of presenting him, he bows indifferently and answers nothing. If one ventures to praise merit other than what consists in wealth before him, he sits down at a table, fingers the counters or shuffles the cards, without saying anything. If a book is shown which has made some stir in the world, Midas first glances at the end, then into the middle, declares that it is ill constructed and that he could never bring himself to read it through. You speak in his presence of a victory which Frederick the Great, the hero of the North, has gained over his enemies, and when you recount the prodigies of his skill and valor, Midas assures the company positively that the disposition of the battle was made by M. de Rottembourg, who was not there, and that the king hid in a hut until the enemy was routed. A man who was present at the battle declares that he saw the king charge at the head of his troops, but Midas coldly answers that one can expect nothing good of a prince, nor will he ever see anything but follies proceed from one who writes verses and is a friend of Voltaire.