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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
Aphorisms from Richter’s Works
By Jean Paul (J. P. F. Richter) (1763–1825)
HE who remains modest, not when he is praised but when he is blamed, is truly modest.  1
  OF all human qualities, modesty is most easily stifled by fumes of incense, or of sulphur; and praise is often more hurtful than censure.  2
  THE TRUEST love is the most timid; the falsest is the boldest.  3
  IF you wish to become acquainted with your betrothed, travel with him for a few days,—especially if he is accompanied by his own folks,—and take your mother along.  4
  IT is the misfortune of the bachelor that he has no one to tell him frankly his faults; but the husband has this happiness.  5
  A MAN ought never to be more delicately attentive to his wife than after making her a present, in order to lighten the sense of obligation.  6
  MARRIAGES are so unhappy, because men cannot make up their minds to substitute love for force and arguments, and because they wish to attain their purpose by might and right.  7
  LOVE increases in strength with years, and diminishes in its outward manifestations.  8
  THE WEDLOCK is happiest when one discovers the greatest advantages in it and not before it. It is therefore perilous to marry a poet.  9
  MEN of imagination more easily make up with a lady-love when she is absent than when she is present.  10
  JEALOUSY constitutes the sole difference between love and friendship. Friendship has therefore one pleasure, and love one pain, the more.  11
  PAINS of sympathy are the sign of love: but if genuine, they are not imaginary, and cause more suffering than one’s own pains; for we have at least the right to conquer the latter.  12
  ONE should never hope to be compatible with a wife with whom one has quarreled as a bride.  13
  IF you are unable to refute an argument, you find fault with the way in which it is put.  14
  NO two persons are ever more confidential and cordial than when they are censuring a third.  15
  INTERCOURSE with men of the world narrows the heart, communion with nature expands it.  16
  SATAN is a scarecrow set up by the clergy in the spiritual vineyard.  17
  SO easily are we impressed by numbers, that even a dozen wheelbarrows in succession seem quite imposing.  18
  REFORMERS are constantly forgetting that the hour-hand must make progress if only the minute-hand keeps moving.  19
  IT is of little avail that fortune makes us rich, if our desires make us poor again.  20
  THE INDIANS mistook the clothes of the first European they saw for the body; we mistake them for the soul.  21
  IT is not always the best actor that plays the part of king, either on the stage or in real life.  22
  HOW quickly and quietly the eye opens and closes, revealing and concealing a world!  23
  DULL persons look upon the refined as false.  24
  THE HEAD, like the stomach, is most easily infected with poison when it is empty.  25
  THE WHOLE constitution of the English is like their manufactured cloth, which may not have a fair gloss, but is capable of standing bad weather.  26
  THE TIMID fear before danger, the cowardly in the midst of it, and the courageous after it is over.  27
  BETWEEN no two things are the resemblance and the antipathy stronger than between critic and author, unless it be between wolf and dog.  28
  THE PUBLIC is so fond of reading reviews because it likes to see authors, as the English used to like to see bears, not only made to dance, but also goaded and baited.  29
  MAN’S moral, like his physical progress, is nothing but a continuous falling.  30
  EVERY recovery from illness is a restoration and palingenesis of our youth.  31
  FEMALE virtue is the glowing iron, which, as formerly in ordeals, women must bear from the font to the altar in order to be innocent.  32
  GIRLS and gold are the softer the purer they are.  33
  OUT of craftiness women often let the man rule; and then they do as they please.  34
  NO one believes so readily as a woman that she has understood a very difficult point in philosophy.  35
  FROM thinking to acting is a longer way with women than with men.  36
  THE VANITY of women is hurt by disparaging, not their intelligence or their virtue, but their comeliness or taste. A man may safely say to his wife, “You are stupider than I.” But just let him say once, “You are homelier than I.”  37
  IMITATE the bee: take the honey, but leave to the rose its fragrance.  38
  IT is as hard to prove anything to women as to lawyers.  39
  SCARS grow with the body; so do stings of conscience.  40
  CHILDREN, like wives, prefer that in every marriage there should be but one child to love.  41
  MUSIC is the Madonna among the arts: she can give birth and being only to the holiest.  42
  MUSIC is too good for drinking-songs and merry-makings.  43
  THE COURTESY with which I receive a stranger, and the civility I show him, form the background on which he paints my portrait.  44
  SULKINESS is a spiritual catalepsy, in which, as in the physical, every member grows stiff in the position in which it was when the attack came on; spiritual catalepsy has also this in common with physical, that it seizes women oftener than men.  45
  WOMEN are not fallen, but falling angels.  46
  YOUTH and Age.—The rising star looks larger, but the risen one shines brighter.  47
  OLD people are long shadows that are projected by the evening sun, and lie cold upon the earth; but they all point to the morning.  48
  EVERY one utters the word “past” with more emotion than “future.”  49
  NO maiden should slander, scold, or hate,—at least so long as she is in love, on account of the contrast: when she is a housewife with children, cattle, and maid-servants, no just man will object to moderate anger and modest chiding.  50
  IN the spirit world, autumn is the next neighbor to spring.  51
  IF any departed souls long for earth, it must be those of children.  52
  IF a man should rise from the dead, we should adore him as a saint, even if he should tell us that he had merely fallen into a long and profound sleep. Is it not the same with the newborn?  53
  HE who sacrifices health to knowledge will find that he has in most cases sacrificed knowledge too.  54
  IN going over the bridge to the Castle of St. Angelo in Rome, one is reminded of women: for there are ten angels standing on it hewn in stone, each with a different instrument of martyrdom; one with the nails, another with the reed, and a third with the dice. Thus every woman has in her hand a different instrument of martyrdom for us, poor lambs of God.  55
  IF a man spends the day in reading and studying, what worlds, what comprehensive ideas, dwarfing the present, pass before him! How vast the universe seems, and how small the earth!  56
  THE GREATER the thing that comes to end, the more we think of the end; like the end of a day, a year, or a century.  57
  DARKNESS is pleasanter than a dim light.  58
  THE PAST and the future are both veiled; but the former wears the widow’s and the latter the virgin’s veil.  59
  DYING for the truth is death not merely for one’s country, but also for the world. Truth, like the Medicean Venus, may be transmitted to posterity in thirty fragments, but posterity will put them together into a goddess. Genius is the alarm-clock of sleeping centuries.  60
  THERE are truths of which we hope that great men will be more firmly convinced than we can be, and that therefore our conviction will be supplemented by theirs.  61
  WE wish for immortality not as the reward, but as the perpetuity, of virtue.  62
  VIRTUE can be no more rewarded than joy; its sole reward is its continuance.  63
  VICE wins the battle-field, but virtue the Elysian fields.  64
  ART may not be the bread, but it is the wine, of life. To disparage it on the plea of utility is to imitate Domitian, who ordered the grape-vines to be rooted out in order to promote agriculture.  65
  A CONVERSATION about a work of art can embrace almost everything.  66
  KNOWLEDGE and Action.—It is a fine thing in the springtide of youth to poetize and theorize, and then in the years of manhood to rule from a higher throne and to crown thoughts with deeds. It is like the sun, which in the morning merely paints the clouds and lights up the earth, but at midday fructifies it with heat, and yet continues to shine and to paint rainbows on storm-clouds.  67
  IT were damnable if I should not have as much freedom to do good as other poetic heads have to work evil.  68
  IF a ruler has received the two heavenly gifts of knowledge and purity of heart, the earthly gift of statecraft will come of itself. Thus two celestial telescopes combine to form one terrestrial telescope.  69
  NECESSITY is the mother of the arts; but also the grandmother of vices.  70
  WHAT bloomed in Rome on high elevations, grows in Germany on lower levels; as in the far north, Alpine plants are found at the foot of mountains. But it is gratifying to experience the oldest in the newest, and to discover that the modern, like the ancient classic, is born rich and grand, just as he writes.  71
  SATIRE invents ridiculous combinations of purely imaginary follies, not in order that they may be laughed at and laid aside, for they never existed, but in order to render the sense of the ludicrous more acute, so that like combinations in real life may be better observed.  72
  A MAN may curse a misfortune, but never weep over it.  73
  HE who no longer aspires to be more than a man will be less than a man.  74
  THE THOUGHT of immortality is a luminous sea, in which he who bathes is all surrounded by stars.  75
  WHERE man is, infinity begins.  76
  A BEING in whom the thought of immortality can arise, cannot be mortal.  77
  O MUSIC! thou that bringest the past and the future with their fluttering flames so near to our wounds, art thou the evening zephyr of this life, or the morning breeze of the life to come? Yes, thy notes are echoes which angels catch from the joyous tones of another world, in order to drop into our mute heart and our desolate night the exhaled vernal harmonies of the heavens that fly far from us.  78
  MAN, an Egyptian deity, a patchwork of beasts’ heads and human bodies, stretches out his hands in opposite directions towards the present and the future life. He is moved by spiritual and material forces, as the moon is attracted at once by the sun and the earth; but the earth holds it fast in its fetters, while the sun only produces slight deviations in its course.  79
  THE PROGRESS of mankind towards the holy city of God is like that of some penitents, who on their pilgrimage to Jerusalem always take three steps forward and one backward.  80
  HE who differs from the world in important matters should be the more careful to conform to it in insignificant ones.  81
  PHILOSOPHY and the nymph Echo never let you have the last word.  82
  THE BELIEF in immortality is by no means incompatible with the belief in atheism: for the same Necessity which in this life threw my shining dewdrop of Me into a flower-bell and under a sun, can repeat the process in a second life; indeed, it can embody me more easily the second time than the first.  83
  MEN deny the existence of God with as little feeling as the most affirm it. Even in our true systems we are constantly collecting mere words, counters and medals, as misers do coins; and not till late do we convert the words into feelings, the coins into enjoyments. A man may believe in the immortality of the soul for twenty years, and not till in the one-and-twentieth, in a great moment, be amazed at the rich contents of this belief, the warmth of this naphtha-well.  84
  CHILDHOOD, and its terrors rather than its raptures, take wings and radiance in dreams, and sport like fireflies in the little night of the soul. Do not crush these flickering sparks!  85
  IT is a fine thing that authors, even those who deny the immortality of their souls, seldom dare to contest that of their names; and as Cicero affirmed that he would believe in another life even if there were none, so they wish to cling to the belief in the future eternal life of their names, although the critics may have furnished positive proofs to the contrary.  86
  LET us not despise the slender thread upon which we and our fortune may depend. If, like the spider, we have spun and drawn it out of ourselves, it will hold us quite well; and we may hang on it safely as the tempest tosses us and the web uninjured to and fro.  87
  POVERTY is the only burden which grows heavier when loved ones help to bear it.  88
  THE HUMAN body is a musical instrument, in which the Cremona chords are twisted out of living intestines, and the breast is the sounding-board and the head the damper.  89
  SINCE there are in our world so many delicate and Divine sentiments hovering about, so many rich blossoms unfolding and bearing no seed, it is fortunate that poesy was invented to preserve all these unborn spirits and the fragrance of flowers in its halo.  90
  IF you are an author, picture to yourself the best man, one who cherishes in his heart all that is most holy and most beautiful, and never suffers anything impure to enter there; then take your pen and strive to enrapture this imaginary reader.  91
  MAN is like horse-radish: the more it is grated the more it bites. The satirist is sadder than the jester, for the same reason that the orang-outang is more melancholy than the monkey,—because he is nobler.  92

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