The nine virtues
''Nobility and honour are words much abused, but in truth nobility is not bestowed by birthright but resides in the soul, and honour is not a thing bartered among kings but comes from a sense of goodness. Men sell their honour for gold, and nobility is conferred on those who have done nothing more than their duty. This is wrong.
When titles are given as the reward of true selfless service, when he who serves his fellows well is ennobled, both giver and receiver are raised in stature, and the realm benefits.
When they who inherit titles also inherit the virtues which earned these, then all is well; but when he who inherits, to whom they descend, is unlike he who earned them, then they can no longer be borne with honour.
Honour and nobility, in their true sense, are not things which can inevitably be inherited, they are not in the blood. The man who, being without merit himself, appeals to the actions of his ancestors for his justification, is like a thief claiming justification in possession.
What good is it to the blind that his parents could see, or what benefit to the deaf that his grandfather heard? Is this more foolish then that a mean-hearted man should claim nobility because his forbears were noble?
A man who serves the people well has no need of ancestors. The noble mind does not derive pleasure in receiving honours, but in deserving them. Is it not better that men say, "Why has this man not been honoured by the king? " than to ask why he has been?''