Historical Reprints Philosophical Art of Worldly Wisdom

Art of Worldly Wisdom

Art of Worldly Wisdom
Catalog # SKU3919
Publisher TGS Publishing
Weight 1.00 lbs
Author Name Balthasar Gracian, Joseph Jacobs
ISBN 10: 0000000000
ISBN 13: 0000000000000


The Art of
Worldly Wisdom

Balthasar Gracian
Translator: Joseph Jacobs

Now it is indeed curious how few maxims have ever been written. Wisdom has been extolled on the house-tops, but her practical advice seems to have been kept secret.



No laws for the just, no counsels for the wise. Yet no one ever knew as much as he had need. One thing you must forgive, another, thank me for. I have called this manual of worldly wisdom an Oracle, for it is one in curtness and sententiousness. On the other hand, I offer you in one all the twelve works of Gracian. Each of these is so highly thought of that his Prudent Man had scarcely appeared in Spain than it was enjoyed among the French, in whose language it was translated and at whose court it was printed. May this be Wisdom's bill of fare at the banquet of her sages, in which she inscribes the items of the feast of reason to be found in Gracian's other works.


i Everything is at its Acme;
especially the art of making one's way in the world. There is more required nowadays to make a single wise man than formerly to make Seven Sages, and more is needed nowadays to deal with a single person than was required with a whole people in former times.

ii Character and Intellect:
the two poles of our capacity; one without the other is but halfway to happiness. Intellect sufficeth not, character is also needed. On the other hand, it is the fool's misfortune, to fail in obtaining the position, the employment, the neighbourhood, and the circle of friends that suit him.

iii Keep Matters for a Time in Suspense.
Admiration at their novelty heightens the value of your achievements, It is both useless and insipid to play with the cards on the table. If you do not declare yourself immediately, you arouse expectation, especially when the importance of your position makes you the object of general attention. Mix a little mystery with everything, and the very mystery arouses veneration. And when you explain, be not too explicit, just as you do not expose your inmost thoughts in ordinary intercourse. Cautious silence is the holy of holies of worldly wisdom. A resolution declared is never highly thought of; it only leaves room for criticism. And if it happens to fail, you are doubly unfortunate. Besides you imitate the Divine way when you cause men to wonder and watch.

iv Knowledge and Courage
are the elements of Greatness. They give immortality, because they are immortal. Each is as much as he knows, and the wise can do anything. A man without knowledge, a world without light. Wisdom and strength, eyes and hands. Knowledge without courage is sterile.

v Create a Feeling of Dependence.
Not he that adorns but he that adores makes a divinity. The wise man would rather see men needing him than thanking him. To keep them on the threshold of hope is diplomatic, to trust to their gratitude boorish; hope has a good memory, gratitude a bad one. More is to be got from dependence than from courtesy. He that has satisfied his thirst turns his back on the well, and the orange once sucked falls from the golden platter into the waste-basket. When dependence disappears, good behaviour goes with it as well as respect. Let it be one of the chief lessons of experience to keep hope alive without entirely satisfying it, by preserving it to make oneself always needed even by a patron on the throne. But let not silence be carried to excess lest you go wrong, nor let another's failing grow incurable for the sake of your own advantage.

vi A Man at his Highest Point.
We are not born perfect: every day we develop in our personality and in our calling till we reach the highest point of our completed being, to the full round of our accomplishments, of our excellences. This is known by the purity of our taste, the clearness of our thought, the maturity of our judgment, and the firmness of our will. Some never arrive at being complete; somewhat is always awanting: others ripen late. The complete man, wise in speech, prudent in act, is admitted to the familiar intimacy of discreet persons, is even sought for by them.

172 pages - 7 x 8½ softcover - Print size, 12 point font

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