« السابقةمتابعة »
TO MY SON.1
Trio to value a Mans self upon the Honour, or Antiquity, of his Family, and glory in those
things, which are owing to his Fortune, not his '
Desert, be a fl'olly justly to be derided by all wise Men: yet I cannot but think it a pardonable Curiosity for any One, to desire to know from Whome he is descended, and what Figure his Ancestors, in their several Ages, are re
ported to have made in the World. There is
something in the History of great Men, that is not only very entertaining, but instructive too: It gives us the truest Notion of human Nature: and shews us better than all the Rules in the
1 This Son died an Infant about four years old. E. B.
World, what is Worthy and Becoming: And how it will behove Us to conduct ourselves, if ever we mean to be either justly Esteemed, whilst we live, or to be Honoured by posterity, after we are dead.
Nor is this all the Benefit which such a prospect may be apt to bring to us. Examples are not only very instructive, but operative, and encouraging. They excite a Man to Do what is generous and worthy, as well as shew him what he ought to account so. They raise a secret Emulation in his Breast, and prick him on to a desire of Rivalling those whose Actions he reads of, and whose Virtues he admires.
And as this is wont to be the Effect of such Enquirys to all Men whose Souls are not utterly sunk down into, and overwhelm’d with Matter; So of all kind of History, I know none so apt to inspire into a Mans Mind a Desire of doing well, as that which relates to his own Family, When a Man looks back upon the Fortunes of his Country, and sees what glorious Things his Ancestors have done for it; How far they have ventured, and how much they have suffered, for the Sake of it; And what Honour they have gained by their so doing; If any thing can stir up such a One to act worthily, here certainly is that, which of all things, will be most likely so to do: And we may conclude that Man to be past all Sense of Honour, all Impressions of Virtue, who is not to be wrought upon, by such Motives to do well.
It is upon this Account especially, that as I look upon it as no small Happiness for any one to be descended of a brave and worthy Stock; So would I have those that are so, to be well acquainted with the Characters of their Ancestors, and to be early instructed in the History of their Lives and Actions. This would possess them from the beginning with generous Thoughts, and good Inclinations; would breed them up with an Opinion that they ought, and an Endeavour, that they may be able to keep up the Honour of their Name: and make every latter Descendant of a noble House, ambitious, if it may be, to surpass whatever had been done by any of their Race before Them.
I will not deny but that there was somewhat of this Hope, as well as a natural Curiosity of searching as far as I had Opportunity, into the Antiquitie of my Family, that first induced me to put together that short Account, I am now about
to give of it. And tho it be long since it has pleased God, to reduce us to a very moderate Fortune, and so little Care has been taken to preserve the Actions of our Ancestors, that I have not been able, with all my Diligence, to recover so much, as I could wish,'of them. Yet somewhat there will occur, even in what is come down to us, that may serve to set us some domestick Examples, of Valour and Piety, and to inspire us, with a Desire of reviving again the Honour of a Name, that was once so great in the Annals of our Country.
I was the rather disposed, at this time, to do this, for that now the unhappy Season is again returned, that seems once more to threaten our elder House, with Disgrace and Ruine, So miserable is the presentCondition, and so much yet the future Prospect of it, that I can hardly see what can be expected less than the final Desolation of it. And it ought not to be thought much, if any Affection towards an an— cient and honourable Family, And in the Fortunes of which I am so nearly concerned; has not only moved me with some Regret to behold its Fall, but has put me upon thinking how, what is just ready to sink in one Part, may possibly be raised and restored in an Other.
When the Honour and Estate of our House fell with Thomas Lord Wake; after it had flourish’d for almost 300 Years in great Riches and Dignity, it pleased God to continue it by Hugh, his Uncle in a much more moderate, but yet still, in a very plentifull Condition, from thence forth even to our present times. Who can tell, but that the same Providence, which has once before preserved this honourable Family, by a younger Branch, may now again by the same Means, if not raise it up to its ancient Greatness, yet, (at least) continue it on in the same moderate Estate in which it has stood since; And do that by a second Brother, from whom we are descended, which it before did, by that second Brother from whom Sr. William Wake is lineally descended.
Some advance my Father, by Gods Blessing, has made towards it: And I hope, what he has begun, may be yet farther increased, by the Accession, which I shall be able to make to it. It will be your part for whom I chiefly design this following Relation, to endeavour still to increase both the Honour and Estate of our Family. And the more to engage you so to do, I shall now give you a short Prospect of what it once was, and to which, if you act worthy of