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:

Context, No Comment August 28, 2015, 12:16 pm

Beltway Secrecy

In five easy lessons

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.

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

United States Canada

CATEGORIES

THE CURRENT ISSUE

February 2016

Isn’t It Romantic?

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Trusted Traveler

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Trouble with Iowa

The Queen and I

Disunified Front

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

We Don’t Have Rights, But We Are Alive

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

view Table Content

FEATURED ON HARPERS.ORG

Article
Isn’t It Romantic?·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“He had paid for much of her schooling, something he cannot help but mention, since the aftermath of any failed relationship brings an ungenerous and impossible impulse to claw back one’s misspent resources.”
Illustration by Shonagh Rae
Article
The Trouble with Iowa·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“It seems to defy reason that this anachronistic farm state — a demographic outlier, with no major cities and just 3 million people, nine out of ten of them white — should play such an outsized role in American politics.”
Photograph (detail) © Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Article
Rule, Britannica·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“This is the strange magic of an arrangement of all the world’s knowledge in alphabetical order: any search for anything passes through things that have nothing in common with it but an initial letter.”
Artwork by Brian Dettmer. Courtesy the artist and P.P.O.W., New York City.
Article
The Queen and I·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“Buckingham Palace is a theater in need of renovation. There is something pathetic about a fiercely vacuumed throne room. The plants are tired. Plastic is nailed to walls and mirrors. The ballroom is set for a ghostly banquet. Everyone is whispering, for we are in a mad kind of church. A child weeps.”
Photograph (detail) © Martin Parr/Magnum Photos
Article
We Don’t Have Rights, But We Are Alive·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“If I really wanted to learn about the Islamic State, Hassan told me, I ought to speak to his friend Samir, a young gay soldier in the Syrian Army who’d been fighting jihadis intermittently for the past four years.”
Photograph (detail) by Anwar Amro/AFP/Getty

Estimated number of American senior citizens who played tackle football last year:

47,000

An island of fairy penguins was successfully defended against foxes and feral dogs by Maremma sheepdogs.

In Turlock, California, nearly 3,500 samples of bull semen were stolen from the back of a truck.

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

HARPER’S FINEST

Two Christmas Mornings of the Great War

By

Civilization masks us with a screen, from ourselves and from one another, with thin depth of unreality. We habitually live — do we not? — in a world self-created, half established, of false values arbitrarily upheld, largely inspired by misconception, misapprehension, wrong perspective, and defective proportion, misapplication.

Subscribe Today