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Book Summaries Philosophy

Be Virtuous (The Art of Wordly Wisdom)

The Secret of Long Life Lead a good life. Two things bring life speedily to an end: folly and immorality. Some lose their life because they have not the intelligence to keep it, others because they have not the will. Just as virtue is its own reward, so is vice its own punishment. He who lives a fast life runs through life in a double sense. A virtuous life never dies. The firmness of the soul is communicated to the body, and a good life is long not only in intention but also in extension.

A Man without Illusions, a wise Christian, a philosophic Courtier. Be all these, not merely seem to be them, still less affect to be them. Philosophy is nowadays discredited, but yet it was always the chiefest concern of the wise. The art of thinking has lost all its former repute.


Seneca introduced it at Rome: it went to court for some time, but now it is considered out of
place there. And yet the discovery of deceit was always thought the true nourishment of a
thoughtful mind, the true delight of a virtuous soul.

Do not be Inaccessible. None is so perfect that he does not need at times the advice of
others. He is an in-corrigible ass who will never listen to any one. Even the most surpassing
intellect should find a place for friendly counsel. Sovereignty itself must learn to lean. There are
some that are incorrigible simply because they are: they fall to ruin because none dares to
extricate them. The highest should have the door open for friendship; it may prove the gate of
help. A friend must be free to advise, and even to upbraid, without feeling embarrassed. Our
satisfaction in him and our trust in his steadfast faith give him that power. One need not pay
respect or give credit to every one, but in the innermost of his precaution man has a true
mirror of a confidant to whom he owes the correction of his errors, and has to thank for it.

Be Trustworthy. Honourable dealing is at an end: trusts are denied: few keep their word: the
greater the service, the poorer the reward: that is the way with all the world nowadays. There are
whole nations inclined to false dealing: with some treachery has always to be feared, with others
breach of promise, with others deceit. Yet this bad behaviour of others should rather be a
warning to us than an example. The fear is that the sight of such unworthy behaviour should
override our integrity. But a man of honour should never forget what he is because he sees
what others are.

In one word, be a Saint. So is all said at once. Virtue is the link of all perfections, the centre of
all the felicities. She it is that makes a man prudent, discreet, sagacious, cautious, wise, courageous, thoughtful, trustworthy, happy, honoured, truthful, and a universal Hero. Three HHH’s make a man happy–Health, Holiness, and a Headpiece. Virtue is the sun of the microcosm, and has for emisphere a good conscience. She is so beautiful that she finds favour with both God and man. Nothing is lovable but virtue, nothing detestable but vice. Virtue alone is serious, all else is but jest. A man’s capacity and greatness are to be measured by his virtue and not by his fortune. She alone is allsufficient. She makes men lovable in life, memorable after death

"Silence is the best expression of scorn" - G.B. Shaw

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