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[ Also see Age Antiquity Beginnings Birth Blood Character Childhood Courtiers Family Gentility Gentlemen Heirs Heredity Inheritance Nobility Parents Pedigree Posterity Race Rank ]

In the founders of great families, titles or attributes of honor are generally correspondent with the virtues of the person to whom they are applied; but in their descendants they are too often the marks rather of grandeur than of merit. The stamp and denomination still continue, but the intrinsic value is frequently lost.
      - Joseph Addison

Title and ancestry render a good man more illustrious, but an ill one more contemptible. Vice is infamous, though in a prince, and virtue honorable, though in a peasant.
      - Joseph Addison

It is a revered thing to see an ancient castle not in decay; how much more to behold an ancient family which have stood against the waves and weathers of time!
      - Francis Bacon

The wisdom of our ancestors.
      - Francis Bacon,
        (according to Lord Brougham), also attributed to Edmund Burke "Observations on a Late Publication on the Present State of the Nation", vol I, p. 516

It is better to be the builder of our own name than to be indebted by descent for the proudest gifts known to the books of heraldry.
      - Hosea Ballou

Though you be sprung in direct line from Hercules, if you show a lowborn meanness, that long succession of ancestors whom you disgrace are so many witnesses against you; and this grand display of their tarnished glory but serves to make your ignominy more evident.
      - Nicolas Boileau-Despreaux

My ancestors wandered lost in the wilderness for forty years because even in biblical times, men would not stop to ask for directions.
      - Elayne Boosler

Nobility of birth is like a cipher; it has no power in itself, like wealth or talent; but, it tells with all the power of a cipher when added to either of the other two.
      - John Frederick Boyes

I am a gentleman, though spoiled i' the breeding. The Buzzards are all gentlemen. We came with the Conqueror.
      - Richard Brome, The English Moor
         (act II, 4)

I look upon you as a gem of the old rock.
      - Sir Thomas Browne,
        Dedication to Urn Burial

People will not look forward to posterity, who never look backward to their ancestors.
      - Edmund Burke,
        Reflections on the Revolution in France
         (vol. III, p. 274)

The power of perpetuating our property in our families is one of the most valuable and interesting circumstances belonging to it, and that which tends most to the perpetuation of society itself. It makes our weakness subservient to our virtue; it grafts benevolence even upon avarice. The possession of family wealth and of the distinction which attends hereditary possessions (as most concerned in it,) are the natural securities for this transmission.
      - Edmund Burke,
        Reflections on the Revolution in France
         (vol. III, p. 298)

Some decent regulated pre-eminence, some preference (not exclusive appropriation) given to birth, is neither unnatural, nor unjust, nor impolite.
      - Edmund Burke,
        Reflections on the Revolution in France
         (vol. III, p. 299)

Of all vanities of fopperies, the vanity of high birth is the greatest. True nobility is derived from virtue, not from birth. Titles, indeed, may be purchased, but virtue is the only coin that makes the bargain valid.
      - Robert Burton

A degenerate nobleman, or one that is proud of his birth, is like a turnip. There is nothing good of him but that which is underground.
      - Samuel Butler (1),
        "Characters"--A Degenerate Noblemen

Born in the garret, in the kitchen bred.
      - Lord Byron (George Gordon Noel Byron),
        A Sketch (l. 1)

He that boasts of his ancestors confesses that he has no virtue of his own. No person ever lived for our honor; nor ought that to be reputed ours, which was long before we had a being; for what advantage can it be to a blind man to know that his parents had good eyes? Does he see one whit the better?
      - Pierre Charron

Those who have nothing else to recommend them to the respect of others but only their blood, cry it up at a great rate, and have their mouth perpetually full of it. They swell and vapor, and you are sure to hear of their families and relations every third word.
      - Pierre Charron

It is a shame for a man to desire honor because of his noble progenitors, and not to deserve it by his own virtue.
      - St. John Chrysostom

It is disgraceful when the passers-by exclaim, "O ancient house! alas, how unlike is thy present master to thy former one."
  [Lat., Odiosum est enim, cum a praetereuntibus dicatur:--O domus antiqua, heu, quam dispari dominare domino.]
      - Cicero (Marcus Tullius Cicero) (often called "Tully" for short),
        De Officiis (CXXXIX)

He that to ancient wreaths can bring no more
  From his own worth, dies bankrupt on the score.
      - John Cleveland

It is with antiquity as with ancestry, nations are proud of the one, and individuals of the other; but if they are nothing in themselves, that which is their pride ought to be their humiliation.
      - Charles Caleb Colton

The pride of ancestry is a superstructure of the most imposing height, but resting on the most flimsy foundation. It is ridiculous enough to observe the hauteur with which the old nobility look down on the new. The reason of this puzzled me a little, until I began to reflect that most titles are respectable only because they are old; if new, they would be despised, because all those who now admire the grandeur of the stream would see nothing but the impurity of the source.
      - Charles Caleb Colton

I came up-stairs into the world; for I was born in a cellar.
      - William Congreve, Love for Love
         (act II, sc. 1)

D'Adam nous sommes tous enfants,
  La prove en est connue,
    Et que tous, nos premier parents
      Ont mene la charrue.
        Mais, las de cultiver enfin
          La terre labouree
            L'une a detele le matin,
              L'autre l'apres-dinee.
      - Marquis Philippe Emanuel de Coulanges,
        D'Origine de la Noblesse

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