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[ Also see Character Excellence Goodness Growth Perfection Success Usefulness Value Virtue Worth ]

Nature makes merit, and fortune puts it to work.
      - Francois Duc de la Rochefoucauld

The art of being able to make a good use of moderate abilities wins esteem and often confers more reputation than real merit.
      - Francois Duc de la Rochefoucauld,
        sometimes attributed to Jean de la Bruyere

The mark of extraordinary merit is to see those most envious of it constrained to praise.
      - Francois Duc de la Rochefoucauld

The world more frequently recompenses the appearance of merit, than merit itself.
      - Francois Duc de la Rochefoucauld

The world rewards the appearance of merit oftener than merit itself.
  [Fr., Le monde recompense plus souvent les apparences de merite que le merite meme.]
      - Francois Duc de la Rochefoucauld, Maximes

There is a season for man's merit as well as for fruit.
  [Fr., Le merite des hommes a sa saison aussi bien que les fruits.]
      - Francois Duc de la Rochefoucauld, Maximes

There is merit without elevation, but there is no elevation without some merit.
  [Fr., Il y a du merite sans elevation mais il n'y a point d'elevation sans quelque merite.]
      - Francois Duc de la Rochefoucauld, Maximes

Merit is a work for the sake of which Christ gives rewards. But no such work is to be found, for Christ gives by promise. Just as if a prince should say to me, "Come to me in my castle, and I will give you a hundred florins." I do a work, certainly, in going to the castle, but the gift is not given me as the reward of my work in going, but because the prince promised it to me.
      - Martin Luther

By merit raised
  To that bad eminence.
      - John Milton, Paradise Lost (bk. II, l. 5)

Whoever gains the palm by merit, let him hold it.
      - Lord Horatio Nelson, Viscount Nelson

We should try to succeed by merit, not by favor. He who does well will always have patrons enough.
  [Lat., Virtute ambire oportet, non favitoribus.
    Sat habet favitorum semper, qui recte facit.]
      - Plautus (Titus Maccius Plautus),
        Amphitruo--Prologue (LXXVIII)

Be thou the first true merit to befriend,
  His praise is lost who waits till all commend.
      - Alexander Pope

The sufficiency of merit is to know that my merit is not sufficient.
      - Francis Quarles, Emblems (bk. II, em. 1)

Oh, that estates, degrees, and offices were not derived corruptly, and that clear honor were purchased by the merit of the wearer!
      - William Shakespeare

For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
  Th' oppressor's wrong, the proud man's contumely
    The pangs of despised love, the law's delay,
      The insolence of office, and the spurns
        That patient merit of th' unworthy takes,
          When he himself might his quietus make
            With a bare bodkin?
      - William Shakespeare,
        Hamlet Prince of Denmark
         (Hamlet at III, i)

See, see--my beauty will be saved by merit.
      - William Shakespeare, Love's Labor's Lost
         (Princess at IV, i)

Surely, sir,
  There's in him stuff that puts him to these ends;
    For, being not propped by ancestry, whose grace
      Chalks successors their way, nor called upon
        For high feats done to th' crown, neither allied
          To eminent assistants, but spiderlike
            Out of his self-drawing web, 'a gives us note,
              The force of his own merit makes his way,
                A gift that heaven gives for him, which buys
                  A place next to the king.
      - William Shakespeare,
        The Life of King Henry the Eighth
         (Norfolk at I, i)

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