I have known a German Prince with more titles than subjects, and a Spanish nobleman with more names than shirts.
—Oliver Goldsmith (1730–74) Irish Novelist, Playwright, Poet
Lords are lordliest in their wine.
—John Milton (1608–74) English Poet, Civil Servant, Scholar, Debater
An aristocracy in a republic is like a chicken whose head has been cut off: it may run about in a lively way, but in fact it is dead.
—Nancy Mitford (1904–73) English Novelist, Biographer
Democracy means government by the uneducated, while aristocracy means government by the badly educated.
—G. K. Chesterton (1874–1936) English Journalist, Novelist, Essayist, Poet
Put more trust in nobility of character than in an oath.
—Lord Byron (George Gordon Byron) (1788–1824) English Romantic Poet
If, in looking at the lives of princes, courtiers, men of rank and fashion, we must perforce depict them as idle, profligate, and criminal, we must make allowances for the rich men’s failings, and recollect that we, too, were very likely indolent and voluptuous, had we no motive for work, a mortal’s natural taste for pleasure, and the daily temptation of a large income. What could a great peer, with a great castle and park, and a great fortune, do but be splendid and idle?
—William Makepeace Thackeray (1811–63) English Novelist
There is a natural aristocracy among men. The grounds of this are virtue and talent.
—Thomas Carlyle (1795–1881) Scottish Historian, Essayist
Some will always be above others. Destroy the inequality today, and it will appear again tomorrow.
—Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–82) American Philosopher
Actual aristocracy cannot be abolished by any law: all the law can do is decree how it is to be imparted and who is to acquire it.
—Georg Christoph Lichtenberg (1742–99) German Philosopher, Physicist
Aristocracy has three successive ages: the age of superiorities, that of privileges, and that of vanities.—Having passed out of the first, it degenerates in the second, and dies away in the third.
—Francois-Rene de Chateaubriand (1768–1848) French Writer, Academician, Statesman
Nobility is a graceful ornament to the civil order. It is the Corinthian capital of polished society. It is indeed one sign of a liberal and benevolent mind to incline to it with some sort of partial propensity.
—Edmund Burke (1729–97) British Philosopher, Statesman
A fully equipped duke costs as much to keep up as two Dreadnoughts, and dukes are just as great a terror—and they last longer.
—David Lloyd George (1863–1945) British Liberal Statesman
I hate the noise and hurry inseparable from great Estates and Titles, and look upon both as blessings that ought only to be given to fools, for ‘Tis only to them that they are blessings.
—Lady Mary Wortley Montagu (1689–1762) English Aristocrat, Poet, Novelist, Writer
Nothing is quite so wretchedly corrupt as an aristocracy which has lost its power but kept its wealth and which still has endless leisure to devote to nothing but banal enjoyments. All its great thoughts and passionate energy are things of the past, and nothing but a host of petty, gnawing vices now cling to it like worms to a corpse.
—Alexis de Tocqueville (1805–59) French Historian, Political Scientist
Those comfortably padded lunatic asylums which are known, euphemistically, as the stately homes of England.
—Virginia Woolf (1882–1941) English Novelist
And lords, whose parents were the Lord knows who.
—Daniel Defoe (1659–1731) English Writer, Journalist, Pamphleteer
All that is noble is in itself of a quiet nature, and appears to sleep until it is aroused and summoned forth by contrast.
—Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749–1832) German Poet
Aristocracy is always cruel.
—Wendell Phillips (1811–84) American Abolitionist, Lawyer, Orator
Real nobility is based on scorn, courage, and profound indifference.
—Albert Camus (1913–60) Algerian-born French Philosopher, Dramatist, Essayist, Novelist, Author
What is the use of your pedigrees?
—Juvenal (c.60–c.136 CE) Roman Poet
You should study the Peerage, Gerald. It is the one book a young man about town should know thoroughly, and it is the best thing in fiction the English have ever done.
—Oscar Wilde (1854–1900) Irish Poet, Playwright
There is…an artificial aristocracy founded on wealth and birth, without either virtue or talents…. The artificial aristocracy is a mischievous ingredient in government, and provisions should be made to prevent its ascendancy.
—Thomas Jefferson (1743–1826) American Head of State, Lawyer
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.
It is nobler to be good, and it is nobler to teach others to be good—and less trouble!
—Mark Twain (1835–1910) American Humorist