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[k] A memorable speech of the chevalier Bayard's

, as he was dying, shews the truth of what I have here been speaking. IIe had received a mortal wound, as he was fighting for his king, and was lying down at the foot of a tree. The constable duke de Bourbon, who was pursuing the army of the French, passing by, and knowing him, told him he was very much concerned to see a person of his merit in such a condition. Captain Bayard answered him, Sir, there is no concern due to me, for I die like an honest man: but I am concerned for you indeed, to see you fighting against your prince, your country, and your oath. And shortly after he gave up the ghost. Now where lay the glory? on the side of the conqueror, or was not the fate of the dying person far preferable to his?

Nobility of Birth. It must be owned there is a powerful charm [l] in nobility of birth and the antiquity of families, 10 procure esteem, and gain upon the inclinations of mankind. This respect which it is natural to have for nobility, [m] is a kind of homage we think ourselves still obliged to pay to the memory of their ancestors for the great services they have done the state, and is the continued payment of a debt, which could not fully be discharged to them in person; and for this reason extends to all their posterity.

(n] Besides the tie of gratitude, which engages us not to liinit our respect for great men to the time wherein they live, as they do not theinselves confine their zeal to to such narrow bounds, but strive to become useful to future ages ;-[0] the public interest

[4] Hist. du Cheval. Bayard. [1] Senec. de Benef. lib. 4. cap.

[l] Erat hominum opinioni nobilitate ipsa, blanda conciliatricula,

[O] Omnes boni semper

nobilitati commendatus. Cic. pro Sext. n. 21. favemus, & quia utile est reipubli

[m] Qua in oratione plerique cæ nobiles homines esse dignos mahoc perficiunt, ut tantum majoribus joribus suis, & quia valet apud nos corum debituin esse videatur, unde clarorum hominum, & bene de etiam, quod posteris solveretur, re. republicâ meritorum, memoria dundaret. De Leg. Agr. aid Popul. etiam mortuorum. Cic. pro Sext.


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requires, that we should pay this tribute of honour and regard to their descendants, as it is an engagement to them to support and perpetuate the reputation of their ancestors in their famils, by endeavouring to perpetuate also the same viriues, which have rendered their predecessors so illustrious.

But to make this honour, which is paid to nobility, a real homage, it must be voluntary, and proceed from the heart. The moment it is claimed as a debt, or forcibly demanded, the right to it is lost, and it changes into hatred and contempt. People are too well pleased with themselves not to be offended at the haughtiness of a man, who thinks every thing is due to him because he is well born, and looks down from the height of his rank with contempt upon the rest of mankind. For what mighty glory is it in reality to reckon up a long series of ancestors, illustrious by their virtues, without bearing any resemblance to them? Is the merit of others transferred upon us? [P] Or will a large collection of family pictures, hung round a hall, make a man considerable ? If the honour of families consists in being able to trace back their pedigree to distant ages, till they lose theinselves in the darkness of an obscure and wknown antiquity, [9] we are all equally noble in this respect; for we had all an original equally ancient.

* We must therefore return to the only source of true nobility, which is virtue and merit. [1] Nobles have been seen to dishonour their name by low and abject vices, and persons of mean extraction have advanced and ennobled their families by great qualities It is honourable to support the glory of one's ancestors, by actions which correspond with their reputation; and it is also glorious to leave a title to one's descendants, which is not borrowed from our predecessors; to become the head and author of our own nobility;

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[1] Non facit nobilein atrium artibus bonis aptius. Senec, lib. 3. plenum tumosis imaginibus... Ani- de Benef. cap. 28. mus facit nobilem. Senec. Ep. 44.

* Nobilitas sola est atque unica [9] Eadem oronibus principia, virtus. Juv. l. 3. sat, 8. eademque origo. Nemo altero no- [r] Senec. Controv. 6.1. 1. bilior, nisi cui rectius ingenium, &



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and, to use the expression of Tiberus, who was desirous of hiding the defect of birth in Curtius Rufus, though otherwise a very great man, [s] to be born of one's own self.

I cannot,” said formerly an illustrious Roman, who was reproached by the nobility for his low extraction,“ publicly produce the statues of my an“ cestors, their triumphs, nor their consulships; but “ if need be, I can produce the military rewards I “ have been honoured with; I can sbew the wounds “I have received in fighting for my country. [t] These are my statues, these my title to nobility, “ which I have not borrowed from my ancestors, but

acquired by the labours and dangers I have undergone.”

[u] There was at Rome, in the beginning of the republic, a kind of open war between the nobility and the people. The nobles at first thought themselves dishonoured by marrying into a plebeian family. They looked upon themselves as another species of men. It seemed as if they could not bear that the populace should breathe the same air with them, or enjoy the same benefit of the sun's light. And they had set such a barrier between the people and honours, that merit was scarce able afterwards to break through it. There always remained something of this opposition and antipathy between the two orders; and Sallust observes, speaking of Metellus, that his excellent qualities were sullied and tarnished by an air of haughtiness and contempt; a fault, says he, which is but too usual among the nobility. [C] Cui quanquam virtus, gloria, atque alia optanda bonis superabant, tamen inerat contemptor animus & superbia, commune nobilitatis malum.

We should therefore consider, that the nobility arising from birth, is by far inferior to that which proceeds from merit; and to be convinced of it we

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[s] Curtius Rufus videtur mihi meis laboribus & periculis quæsivi. ex se natus. Tacit. Ann. l. 11. Sallust, in Bell. Jugurth.

[1] Hæc sunt mes imagines, hæc [u] Liv. I. 4. 1. 3. nobilitas, non hereditate relicta, ut [x] Sallust. in Bell. Jugurth. illa illis, sed quæ ego plurimis


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need only compare them together. [y] Pope Clement VIII. made a promotion of several cardinals, and among the rest he advanced two Frenchmen, M. d'Ossat, and the count de la Chapelle, who afterwards took the name of cardinal de Sourdis, from the estate of his family; the former, a man in whom the pope found nothing wanting but a descent from a better family, he was so well supplied with every other qualification; and the other a person that had nothing but his family to recommend him. Which of these two would one chuse to resemble most?

[3] Cardinal Granville, speaking of cardinal Ximenes, was wont to say, That time had oft concealed the original of great men under the veils of oblivion; that he (for instance) was doubtless sprung from royal blood, or at least he had the heart of a king in the person of a private man.

But if it shews a greatness of soul to overlook our own nobility, and not suffer it to gain the ascendant over our actions; we may likewise observe that it is no less great in such as have raised themselves by merit, not to forget the meanness of their extraction, nor to be ashamed of it.

[a] Vespasian did not only not scek to hide it, but would often glory in it; and publicly made a jest of those, who by a false genealogy, would have derived his pedigree from Hercules.

[6] The same emperor, without being ashamed of an object which continually renewed the remembrance of his original, went constantly every year, even after he came to the empire, to pass his summer in a small country-house near Rieti, where he was born, and to which he would never make any addition or embellishment. [C] His son Titus caused himself to be carried thither in his last illness, that he might die in the place where his father had begun and ended his

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[y] Vie du Card. d'Ossat, par [a] Suet. in Vit. Vesp. c. 12. M. Amelot.

[b] Ibid. c. 2.
[z] Hist. de Ximen, par M. [] Suet. Vit, Tit. c. 11.
Flechier, liv. 6.

s 2


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days. [1] Pertinax, the greatest man of his age, and soon after advanced to the empire, during the three years he tarried in Liguria, lodged in his father's house; and raising a great number of fine buildings around it, he left the [e] cottage in the midst, an illustrious monument of his low birth, and his greatness of soul. One would think that these princes affected to recal the memory of their former condition, so much the greatness of their personal merit (sensible it could sustain itself) was above any outward

support. In short, we do not see throughout the whole Roman empire, that any body ever reproached them with the obscurity of their original, or abated one title of the veneration due to their virtues upon this account.

[f] Pope Benedict XII. was the son of a miller, whence he came to be called the IVhite Cardinal. He never forgot his former condition; and when he was upon marrying his neice, he refused to give her to the great lords who sued for her, and married her to a tradesman. He said the popes should be like Melchizedek, without relations; and often used these words of the prophet, [8] If they that belong to me get not dominion, I shall be undefiled, and innocent from the great offence.

[1] John de [i] Brogni, cardinal de Viviers, who presided at the council of Constance as dean of the cardinals, had been a log-driver in his infancy. Some monks passing by as he was busied in that sorry employment, and taking notice of his wit and vivacity

, offered to carry him to Rome, and bring him up study. The boy accepted of their offer, and went straight to a shoemaker to buy a pair of shoes for his journey; the shoemaker trusted hiin with part of the price, and told him smiling, he should pay the rest when he was made a cardinal. He became a cardinal in reality, and was not only not unmindful of his for[0] Capitolin. Vit. Pert.

par J. l'Infant. (6] Tabernam.

[] Brogni is a village near AnIf] Dict. de Moreri.

neci, between Chamberi and Ge. igj Ps. xix. 13. [5] Hist. du Conc. de Constance,

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