Afterwards the Song subjoins that I thus judge them to be false and vain; and this it does when it says, “Sound intellect reproves their words As false, and turns away.” And afterwards I say that it is time to demonstrate or prove the Truth; and I say that it is now right to state what kind of thing true Nobility is, and how it is possible to know the man in whom it exists; and I speak of this where I say:
And now I seek to tell
As it appears to me,
What is, whence comes, what signs attest
A true Nobility.
“The King shall rejoice in God, and all those shall be praised who swear by him, for closed is the mouth of those who speak wicked things.” These words I can here propound in all truth; because each true King ought especially to love the Truth. Wherefore it is written in the Book of Wisdom, “Love the Light of Wisdom, you, who stand before, the people,” and the Light of Wisdom is this same Truth. I say, then, every King shall rejoice that the most false and most injurious opinion of the wicked and deceitful men who have up to this time spoken iniquitously of Nobility is confuted.
It is now requisite to proceed to the discussion of the Truth according to the division made above, in the third chapter of the present treatise. This second part, then, which begins, “I say that from one root Each Virtue firstly springs,” intends to describe this Nobility according to the Truth, and this part is divided into two: for in the first the intention is to prove what this Nobility is; and in the second how it is possible to recognize him in whom it dwells, and this second part begins, “Such virtue shows its good.” The first part, again, has two parts; for in the first certain things are sought for which are needful in order to perceive the definition of Nobility; in the second, one looks for its definition, and this second part begins, “Where virtue is, there is A Nobleman.”
That we may enter perfectly into the treatise, two things are to be considered in the first place. The one is, what is meant by this word Nobility, taken alone, in its simple meaning; the other is, in what path it is needful to walk in order to search out the before-named definition. I say, then, that, if we will pay attention to the common use of speech, by this word Nobility is understood the perfection of its own nature in each thing; wherefore it is predicated not only of the man, but also of all things; for the man calls a stone noble, a plant or tree noble, a horse noble, a falcon noble, whatever is seen to be perfect in its nature. And therefore Solomon says in Ecclesiastes, “Blessed is the land whose King is Noble;” which is no other than saying, whose King is perfect according to the perfection of the mind and body; and he thus makes this evident by that which he says previously, when he writes, “Woe unto the land whose King is a child.” For that is not a perfect man, and a man is a child, if not by age, yet by his disordered manners and by the evil or defect of his life, as the Philosopher teaches in the first book of the Ethics.