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Gracián on the Art of Expectations

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Unos principios de crédito sirven de despertar la curiosidad, no de empeñar el objecto. Mejor sale quando la realidad excede al concepto y es más de lo que se creyó. Faltará esta regla en lo malo, pues le ayuda la mesma exageración; desmiéntela con aplauso, y aun llega a parecer tolerable lo que se temió extremo de ruin.

Honorable beginnings should serve to awaken curiosity, not to heighten people’s expectations. We are much better off when reality surpasses our expectations, and something turns out better than we thought it would. This rule does not hold true for bad things: when an evil has been exaggerated, its reality makes people applaud. What was feared as ruinous comes to seem tolerable.

Baltasar Gracián y Morales, Oráculo manual y arte de prudencia § 19 (1647)(J. Jacobs transl. 1892)

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