No Comment, Quotation — November 24, 2007, 12:00 am

Gracián on the Value of Integrity

baltasar-gracian

Hombre de entereza. Siempre de parte de la razón, con tal tesón de su propósito, que ni la passión vulgar, ni la violencia tirana le obliguen jamás a pisar la raya de la razón. Pero ¿quién será este Fenis de la equidad?, que tiene pocos finos la entereza. Celébranla muchos, mas no por su casa; síguenla otros hasta el peligro; en él los falsos la niegan, los políticos la dissimulan. No repara ella en encontrarse con la amistad, con el poder, y aun con la propria conveniencia, y aquí es el aprieto del desconocerla. Abstrahen los astutos con metafísica plausible por no agraviar, o la razón superior, o la de estado; pero el constante varón juzga por especie de traición el dissimulo; préciase más de la tenacidad que de la sagacidad; hállase donde la verdad se halla; y si dexa los sugetos, no es por variedad suya, sino dellos en dexarla primero.

A person of integrity. Be a person of integrity. Cling to righteousness with such tenacity of purpose that neither the passions of the mob, nor the violence of the tyrant can ever cause you to transgress the bounds of right. But who can be such a phoenix of equity? What a scanty following rectitude has! Many praise it indeed, but few devote themselves. Others follow it until danger threatens; then the false deny it and the politic conceal it. For righteousness cares not if it conflicts with friendship, power or even self-interest; then comes the danger of desertion. Astute people make plausible distinctions so as not to stand in the way of their superiors or of the reasons of state. But straightforward and constant people regard deception as a kind of treason and set more store in tenacity than on sagacity. Such people are always to be found on the side of truth, and if they desert a group they do not change due to fickleness but because the others have first deserted truth.

Baltasar Gracián y Morales, Oráculo manual y arte de prudencia § 29 (1647)(J. Jacobs transl. 1892)

Share
Single Page

More from Scott Horton:

From the April 2015 issue

Company Men

Torture, treachery, and the CIA

Six Questions October 18, 2014, 8:00 pm

The APA Grapples with Its Torture Demons: Six Questions for Nathaniel Raymond

Nathaniel Raymond on CIA interrogation techniques.

No Comment, Six Questions June 4, 2014, 8:00 am

Uncovering the Cover Ups: Death Camp in Delta

Mark Denbeaux on the NCIS cover-up of three “suicides” at Guantánamo Bay Detention Camp

Get access to 165 years of
Harper’s for only $45.99

United States Canada

CATEGORIES

THE CURRENT ISSUE

June 2015

The Magic Toilet

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Loitering With Intent

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

A Polite Coup

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

What Went Wrong

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Shooting Down Man the Hunter

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

view Table Content

FEATURED ON HARPERS.ORG

Article
New Television·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“Comedy’s convex mirror makes visible the way that modern American teenage boys’ progress toward adulthood resembles Zeno’s paradox, while teenage girls are brought to adulthood abruptly, as if by jump cut; television, among its other powers, teaches them to want that.”
Illustration by Demetrios Psillos
[Browsings]
Wave Goodbye·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“Here, a long finger of snow replaced by gray patches of dirt and rock; there, a grayish blob of ice the texture of corduroy, where once a vibrant white patch of snow lay.”
Photograph by the author
Article
Legends of the Lost·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“A bond with reality has gone, and sometimes you wonder whether that fosters our feeling that movies are a fleeting art.”
Photograph by Alexander Perrelli
Article
What Went Wrong·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“In the seventh year of his presidency, Barack Obama was presenting himself as a politician who followed the path of least resistance. This is a disturbing confession.”
Photograph by Pete Souza
Article
Surviving a Failed Pregnancy·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“If this woman — who spent her days studying gray screens for early signs of gestation — could not see my pregnancy, what were the chances that anyone else would?”
Illustration by Leigh Wells

Average age at which an inmate in federal prison first fired a gun:

13.2

Drivers who carry guns in their cars are more likely to indulge in road rage.

A woman in New York suffered broken bones when her 50-year-old son intentionally drove his Chevrolet Tahoe into her living room, running her over. “He drove right in,” said a relative, “like it was a garage.”

Subscribe to the Weekly Review newsletter. Don’t worry, we won’t sell your email address!

HARPER’S FINEST

Subways Are for Sleeping

By

“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”

Subscribe Today