S. Austin Allibone, comp. Prose Quotations from Socrates to Macaulay. 1880.
You, if you are what you ought to be, are in my eye the great oaks that shade a country, and perpetuate your benefits from generation to generation. The immediate power of a Duke of Richmond, or a Marquis of Rockingham, is not so much of moment; but if their conduct and example hand down their principles to their successors, then their houses become the public repositories and offices of record for the constitution; not like the Tower, or Roll-Chapel, where it is searched for, and sometimes in vain, in rotten parchments under dripping and perishing walls, but in full vigour, and acting with vital energy and power, in the character of the leading men and natural interests of the country.
Turbulent, discontented men of quality, in proportion as they are puffed up with personal pride and arrogance, generally despise their own order. One of the first symptoms they discover of a selfish and mischievous ambition is a profligate disregard of a dignity which they partake with others.
Edmund Burke: Reflections on the Revolution in France, 1790.
When men of rank sacrifice all ideas of dignity to an ambition without a distinct object, and work with low instruments and for low ends, the whole composition becomes low and base. Does not something like this now appear in France?
Neither you, nor I, nor any fair man, can believe that a whole nation is free from honour and real principle; or that if these things exist in it, they are not to be found in the men the best born, and the best bred, and in those possessed of rank which raises them in their own esteem, and in the esteem of others, and possessed of hereditary settlement in the same place, which secures, with an hereditary wealth, an hereditary inspection. That these should be all scoundrels, and that the virtue, honour, and public spirit of a nation should be only found in its attorneys, pettifoggers, stewards of manors, discarded officers of police, shop-boys, clerks of counting-houses, and rustics from the plough, is a paradox, not of false ingenuity, but of envy and malignity. It is an error, not of the head, but of the heart.
I love nobility. I should be ashamed to say so if I did not know what it is that I love. He alone is noble that is so reputed by those who, by being free, are capable of forming an opinion. Such a people are alone competent to bestow a due estimation upon rank and titles. He is noble who has a priority amongst freemen; not he who has a sort of wild liberty among slaves.
Amongst the masseseven in revolutionsaristocracy must ever exist; destroy it in nobility, and it becomes centred in the rich and powerful House of the Commons. Pull them down, and it still survives in the master and foreman of the workshop.