Curiosities of Literature, by Isaac Disraeli

Nobility.

Francis the First was accustomed to say, that when the nobles of his kingdom came to court, they were received by the world as so many little kings; that the day after they were only beheld as so many princes; but on the third day they were merely considered as so many gentlemen, and were confounded among the crowd of courtiers. — It was supposed that this was done with a political view of humbling the proud nobility; and for this reason Henry IV. frequently said aloud, in the presence of the princes of the blood, We are all gentlemen.

It is recorded of Philip the Third of Spain, that while he exacted the most punctilious respect from the grandees, he saluted the peasants. He would never be addressed but on the knees; for which he gave this artful excuse, that as he was of low stature, every one would have appeared too high for him. He showed himself rarely even to his grandees, that he might the better support his haughtiness and repress their pride. He also affected to speak to them by half words; and reprimanded them if they did not guess the rest. In a word, he omitted nothing that could mortify his nobility.

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Last updated Saturday, March 1, 2014 at 20:37