If it be a happiness to be of noble parentage, it is no less so to possess so much merit that nobody inquires whether we are noble or plebeian.

[S’il est heureux d’avoir de la naissance, il ne l’est pas moins d’être tel qu’on ne s’informe plus si vous en avez.]

Jean de La Bruyère (1645-1696) French essayist, moralist
The Characters [Les Caractères], “Of Personal Merit [Du mérite personnel],” Aphorism 21 (1688) [tr. Van Laun (1885)]

(Source (French)). Alternate translations:

If it is a Happiness to be nobly Descended, it is not less to have so much Merit, that no body enquires whether we are so or no.
[tr. Source (1752)]

It is fortunate to be of high birth, but it is no less so to be of such character that people do not care to know whether you are or not.

Added on 4-Mar-22 | Last updated 4-Mar-22
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