At court, far from regarding ambition as a sin, people regard it as a virtue, or if it passes for a vice, then it is regarded as the vice of great souls, and the vices of great souls are preferred to the virtues of the simple and the small.
No vice exists which does not pretend to be more or less like some virtue, and which does not take advantage of this assumed resemblance.
Jean de La Bruyère, Characters, H. Van Laun, trans. (London: 1885) “Of the Affections,” #72
We must carefully teach children to detest vices for what they consist in; we must teach them their natural ugliness, so that they flee them not only in their deeds but in their minds: the very thought of them should be hateful, whatever mask they hide behind.
Montaigne, Essays, as translated by M. A. Screech, p. 124
L’hypocrisie est un hommage que le vice rend à la vertu.