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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
Public Spirit in Rome
By Jacques Bénigne Bossuet (1627–1704)
HE who can put into the minds of the people patience in labor, a feeling for glory and the nation’s greatness, and love of their country, can boast of having framed the political constitution best fitted for the production of great men. It is undoubtedly to great men that the strength of an empire is due. Nature never fails to bring forth in all countries lofty minds and hearts; but we must assist it in forming them. What forms and perfects them consists of strong feelings and noble impressions which spread through all minds and invisibly pass from one to another. What is it that makes our nobility so proud in battle, so bold in its undertakings? It is the opinion received from childhood and established by the unanimous sentiment of the nation, that a nobleman without valor degrades himself and is no longer worthy to see the light of day. All the Romans were nurtured in these sentiments, and the common people vied with the aristocracy as to who would in action be most faithful to these vigorous maxims…. The fathers who did not bring their children up in these maxims, and in the manner necessary to enable them to serve the State, were called into court before the magistrates and there adjudged guilty of a crime against the public. When such a course has been entered upon, great men produce great men to succeed them; and if Rome has had such men in greater number than any other city, it is nowise due to chance; it is because the Roman State, constituted in the manner which we have described, possessed as it were the very nature that must needs be most prolific of heroes.  1

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