Friedrich Nietzsche, The Wanderer and His Shadow (Der Wanderer und sein Schatten).

The Wanderer and his Shadow, the second supplement to Human, All Too Human, first published in 1880.


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Previous Section   294. DISCRETION AND SUCCESS   Next Section

Discretion and Success.  That great quality of discretion, which is fundamentally the virtue of virtues, their ancestress and queen, has in common life by no means always success on its side.  The wooer would find himself deceived if he had wooed that virtue only for the sake of success.  For it is rated by practical people as suspicious, and is confused with cunning and hypocrisy: he who obviously lacks discretion, the man who quickly grasps and sometimes misses his grasp, has prejudice on his side — he is an honest, trustworthy fellow.  Practical people, accordingly, do not like the prudent man, thinking he is to them a danger.  Moreover, we often assume the prudent man to be anxious, preoccupied, pedantic — unpractical, butterfly people find him uncomfortable, because he does not live in their happy go lucky way, without thinking of actions and duties; he appears among them as their embodied conscience, and the bright day is dimmed to their eyes before his gaze.  Thus when success and popularity fail him, he may often say by way of private consolation, "So high are the taxes you have to pay for the possession of the most precious of human commodities — still it is worth the price”!  

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