Duke François VI de La Rochefoucauld, the writer of the Maximes. Image: Wikimedia Commons

I remember the day I discovered La Rochefoucauld; or rather, to put it the way round that is now de rigueur among historians of the Spanish conquest of America, the day La Rochefoucauld discovered me. I was twelve years old, and I had been sent to the local barbers for my two-weekly haircut. I had half a crown pocket money to spend, and I was in the habit of buying books that were slightly too difficult for me to read. Those were the last days in British history...


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