Nicolas Chamfort

Literary Birthday – 6 April – Nicolas Chamfort

Nicolas Chamfort was born 6 April 1741, and died 13 April 1794.


  1. Contemplation often makes life miserable. We should act more, think less, and stop watching ourselves live.
  2. There are well-dressed foolish ideas just as there are well-dressed fools.
  3. Intelligent people make many mistakes because they cannot believe the world is really as foolish as it is.
  4. There are certain times when public opinion is the worst of all opinions.
  5. Happiness is not easy to find. It’s very difficult to find it in yourself — and impossible to find anywhere else.
  6. To enjoy and give enjoyment, without injury to yourself or others; this is true morality.
  7. In order not to find life unbearable, you must accept two things: the ravages of time and the injustices of man.
  8. Every day I add to the list of things I refuse to discuss. The wiser the man, the longer the list.
  9. Most books today seemed to have been written overnight from books read the day before.
  10. Anyone whose needs are small seems threatening to the rich, because he’s always ready to escape their control.
  11. There are more people who wish to be loved than there are who are willing to love.
  12. He who leaves the game wins it.

Nicolas Chamfort, born Sébastien-Roch Nicolas, was a French writer known for his witty epigrams and aphorisms. He was secretary to Louis XVI’s sister, and of the Jacobin club. A selection of hos writings is available in Chamfort: Reflections on Life, Love & Society.

by Amanda Patterson

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Posted on: 6th April 2014