Reference > Quotations > C.N. Douglas, comp. > Forty Thousand Quotations > Category Index
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CONTENTS · BIBLIOGRAPHIC RECORD
C.N. Douglas, comp.  Forty Thousand Quotations: Prose and Poetical.  1917.
 
Ancestry
 
  By blood a king, in heart a clown.
Tennyson.    
  1
  Breed is stronger than pasture.
George Eliot.    
  2
  Some men by ancestry are only the shadow of a mighty name.
Lucan.    
  3
  He who boasts of his lineage boasts of that which does not properly belong to him.
Seneca.    
  4
  Whoever serves his country well has no need of ancestors.
Voltaire.    
  5
  I am no herald to inquire of men’s pedigrees; it sufficeth me if I know their virtues.
Sir P. Sidney.    
  6
  Pride, in boasting of family antiquity, makes duration stand for merit.
Zimmermann.    
  7
  People will not look forward to posterity, who never look backward to their ancestors.
Burke.    
  8
  He who boasts of his descent, praises the deeds of another.
Seneca.    
  9
  What is birth to a man if it shall be a stain to his dead ancestors to have left such an offspring?
Sir P. Sidney.    
  10
  It is, indeed, a blessing, when the virtues of noble races are hereditary; and do derive themselves from the imitation of virtuous ancestors.
Nabb.    
  11
  Philosophy does not regard pedigree; she did not receive Plato as a noble, but she made him so.
Seneca.    
  12
  It is of no consequence of what parents any man is born, so that he be a man of merit.
Horace.    
  13
  The man who has nothing to boast of but his illustrious ancestry is like a potato,—the only good belonging to him is underground.
Sir Thomas Overbury.    
  14
        Great families of yesterday we show,
And lords whose parents were the Lord knows who.
Daniel De Foe.    
  15
  From yon blue heaven above us bent, the grand old gardener and his wife smile at the claims of long descent.
Tennyson.    
  16
  Our ancestors are very good kind of folks; but they are the last people I should choose to have a visiting acquaintance with.
Sheridan.    
  17
  What can they see in the longest kingly line in Europe, save that it runs back to a successful soldier?
Walter Scott.    
  18
  When real nobleness accompanies that imaginary one of birth, the imaginary seems to mix with real, and becomes real too.
Lord Greville.    
  19
  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.    
  20
 
 
  He that boasts of his ancestors, the founders and raisers of a family, doth confess that he hath less virtue.
Jeremy Taylor.    
  21
  The pride of ancestry is a superstructure of the most imposing height, but resting on the most flimsy foundation.
Colton.    
  22
        They that on glorious ancestors enlarge,
Produce their debt, instead of their discharge.
Young.    
  23
  Pedigrees seldom improve by age; the grandson is too often a weak infringement on the grandsire’s patent.
H. W. Shaw.    
  24
  If it is fortunate to be of noble ancestry, it is not less so to be such as that people do not care to be informed whether you are noble or ignoble.
La Bruyère.    
  25
  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. Chrysostom.    
  26
  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.
J. F. Boyes.    
  27
  We are very fond of some families because they can be traced beyond the Conquest, whereas indeed the farther back, the worse, as being the nearer allied to a race of robbers and thieves.
De Foe.    
  28
  The happiest lot for a man as far as birth is concerned, is that it should be such as to give him but little occasion to think much about it.
Whately.    
  29
  I am one who finds within me a nobility that spurns the idle pratings of the great, and their mean boasts of what their fathers were, while they themselves are fools effeminate.
Percival.    
  30
  Birth and ancestry, and that which we have not ourselves achieved, we can scarcely call our own.
Ovid.    
  31
  Some decent, regulated pre-eminence, some preference (not exclusive appropriation) given to birth, is neither unnatural nor unjust nor impolitic.
Burke.    
  32
  Those who depend on the merits of their ancestors may be said to search in the roots of the tree for those fruits which the branches ought to produce.
Barrow.    
  33
        He that to ancient wreaths can bring no more
From his own worth, dies bankrupt on the score.
Cleveland.    
  34
        I have no urns, no dusty monuments;
No broken images of ancestors,
Wanting an ear, or nose; no forged tales
Of long descents, to boast false honors from.
Ben Jonson.    
  35
  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!
Bacon.    
  36
  High birth is a thing which I never knew any one to disparage except those who had it not; and I never knew any one to make a boast of it who had anything else to be proud of.
Bishop Warburton.    
  37
  The origin of all mankind was the same; it is only a clear and good conscience that makes a man noble, for that is derived from heaven itself.
Seneca.    
  38
  I make little account of genealogical trees. Mere family never made a man great. Thought and deed, not pedigree, are the passports to enduring fate.
General Skobeleff.    
  39
  It has long seemed to me that it would be more honorable to our ancestors to praise them in words less, but in deeds to imitate them more.
Horace Mann.    
  40
  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.
Addison.    
  41
  Pride of origin, whether high or low, springs from the same principle in human nature; one is but the positive, the other the negative, pole of a single weakness.
Lowell.    
  42
  People who take no pride in the noble achievements of remote ancestors will never achieve anything worthy to be remembered with pride by remote descendants.
Macaulay.    
  43
  The nobility of the Spencers has been illustrated and enriched by the trophies of Marlborough; but I exhort them to consider the “Faerie Queene,” as the most priceless jewel of their coroner.
Gibbon.    
  44
  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.
Colton.    
  45
  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.
Burton.    
  46
  The generality of princes, if they were stripped of their purple and cast naked on the world, would immediately sink to the lowest rank of society, without a hope of emerging from their obscurity.
Gibbon.    
  47
  The glory of ancestors sheds a light around posterity; it allows neither their good nor bad qualities to remain in obscurity.
Sallust.    
  48
  Let him speak of his own deeds, and not of those of his forefathers. High birth is mere accident, and not virtue; for if reason had controlled birth, and given empire only to the worthy, perhaps Arbaces would have been Xerxes, and Xerxes Arbaces.
Metastasio.    
  49
  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 mouths perpetually full of it. They swell and vapor, and you are sure to hear of their families and relations every third word.
Charron.    
  50
  Being well satisfied that, for a man who thinks himself to be somebody, there is nothing more disgraceful than to hold himself up as honored, not on his own account, but for the sake of his forefathers. Yet hereditary honors are a noble and splendid treasure to descendants.
Plato.    
  51
  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?
Charron.    
  52
  Though you be sprung in direct line from Hercules, if you show a low-born 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.
Boileau.    
  53
  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.
Addison.    
  54
  The character of the reputed ancestors of some men has made it possible for their descendants to be vicious in the extreme, without being degenerate; and there are some hereditary strokes of character by which a family may be as clearly distinguished as by the blackest features of the human face.
Junius.    
  55
  It is only shallow-minded pretenders who either make distinguished origin a matter of personal merit, or obscure origin a matter of personal reproach. Taunt and scoffing at the humble condition of early life affect nobody in America but those who are foolish enough to indulge in them, and they are generally sufficiently punished by the published rebuke. A man who is not ashamed of himself need not be ashamed of his early condition.
Daniel Webster.    
  56
  It was the saying of a great man, that if we could trace our descents, we should find all slaves to come from princes, and all princes from slaves; and fortune has turned all things topsy-turvy in a long series of revolutions; beside, for a man to spend his life in pursuit of a title, that serves only when he dies to furnish out an epitaph, is below a wise man’s business.
Seneca.    
  57
  Take the title of nobility which thou hast received by birth, but endeavor to add to it another, that both may form a true nobility. There is between the nobility of thy father and thine own the same difference which exists between the nourishment of the evening and of the morrow. The food of yesterday will not serve three for to-day, and will not give thee strength for the next.
Jamakchari.    
  58
  There may be, and there often is, indeed, a regard for ancestry which nourishes only a weak pride; as there is also a care for posterity, which only disguises an habitual avarice, or hides the workings of a low and groveling vanity. But there is also a moral and philosophical respect for our ancestors, which elevates the character and improves the heart.
Daniel Webster.    
  59
  If there be no nobility of descent, all the more indispensable is it that there should be nobility of ascent,—a character in them that bear rule so fine and high and pure that as men come within the circle of its influence they involuntarily pay homage to that which is the one pre-eminent distinction,—the royalty of virtue.
Bishop Henry C. Potter.    
  60
  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.
Colton.    
  61
  No man is nobler born than another, unless he is born with better abilities and a more amiable disposition. They who make such a parade with their family pictures and pedigrees, are, properly speaking, rather to be called noted or notorious than noble persons. I thought it right to say this much, in order to repel the insolence of men who depend entirely upon chance and accidental circumstances for distinction, and not at all on public services and personal merit.
Seneca.    
  62
  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 the 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.
Burke.    
  63
  We sometimes see a change of expression in our companion, and say, his father or his mother comes to the windows of his eyes, and sometimes a remote relative. In different hours, a man represents each of several of his ancestors, as if there were seven or eight of us rolled up in each man’s skin,—seven or eight ancestors at least,—and they constitute the variety of notes for that new piece of music which his life is.
Emerson.    
  64
 
 
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