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S.A. Bent, comp. Familiar Short Sayings of Great Men. 1887.

Duc de Lévis

  • [A French author; born about 1760; member of the Constituent Assembly; emigrated, 1792; returned to France, 1800; author of several works, and member of the Academy; died 1830.]
  • Noblesse oblige.

  • Always used without translation: its meaning has been defined by Littré, “Whoever calls himself noble should conduct himself well.” Of the origin of this famous mot, Comte de Laborde, in a notice of the meeting of the French Historical Society in 1865, says that one day the Duc de Lévis recalled a thought to which he had given utterance in 1808, àpropos of the establishment of the nobility of the empire, to the effect, that, while no one had previously said Noblesse oblige, it was perhaps the best maxim for both the old and the new régimes.