"Politeness, in monarchies, is naturalized at court. One man excessively great renders everybody else little. Hence that regard which is paid to our fellow-subjects; hence that politeness, equally pleasing to those by whom, as to those toward whom, it is practiced; because it gives people to understand that a person actually belongs, or at least deserves to belong, to the court.
"A court air consists in quitting a real for a borrowed greatness. The latter pleases the courtier more than the former. It inspires him with a certain disdainful modesty, which shows itself externally, but whose pride insensibly diminishes in proportion to his distance from the source of this greatness.
"At court we find a delicacy of taste in everything; a delicacy arising from the constant use of the superfluities of life; from the variety, and especially the satiety of pleasures; from the multiplicity and even confusion of fancies, which, if they are not agreeable, are sure of being well received.
"These are the things which properly fall within the province of education, in order to form what we call a man of honor, a man possessed of all the qualities and virtues requisite in this kind of government.
"Here it is that honor interferes with everything, mixing even with people's manner of thinking, and directing their very principles.
"To this whimsical honor it is owing that the virtues are only just what it pleases; it adds rules of its own invention to everything prescribed to us; it extends or limits our duties according to its own fancy, whether they proceed from religion, politics, or morality.
"There is nothing so strongly inculcated in monarchies, by the laws, by religion, and honor, as submission to the Prince's will, but this very honor tells us, that the Prince never ought to command a dishonorable action, because this would render us incapable of serving him.
"Crillon refused to assassinate the Duke of Guise, but offered to fight him. After the massacre of St. Bartholomew, Charles IX., having sent orders to the governors in the several provinces for the Huguenots to be murdered, Viscount Dorte, who commanded at Bayonne, wrote thus to the King: 'Sire, Among the inhabitants of this town, and your Majesty's troops, I could not find so much as one executioner; they are honest citizens and brave soldiers. We jointly, therefore, beseech your Majesty to command our arms and lives in things that are practicable.' This great and generous soul looked upon a base action as a thing impossible.
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