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HIS ANCESTORS AND DESCENDANTS.
WILLIAM CHAUNCEY FOWLER.
HENRY W. DUTTON AND SON, PRINTERS,
Nos. 38 and 85, Congress Street.
THE following MEMORIALS of the Chaunceys owe their collection to an affectionate regard for the virtues of the family. It has been thought that these virtues ought to be rescued from encroaching oblivion, and placed on record for future contemplation. Many of the Chaunceys were burning and shining lights in their day, and multitudes rejoiced in their light. To that light, still shining in their sepulchres, this book may serve to guide the living.
Ancestral virtues are the property of a family, which ought to be carefully transmitted, as if by the law of entail, unalienated, undiminished. And in order to their faithful transmission to posterity, they should be recorded, as in a public registry, with the associations of persons, times, and places in which they originally existed. Even minute details in a work of this kind may be allowed, if they serve to interest descendants in their ancestors. If Adam Smith said that in reading the life of Milton, he wished to find the smallest particulars relating to his personal habits, even what shoe-buckles he wore, how much more eager for the same information would he have been had he been a descendant!
Exhibited in this way these virtues awaken an interest in the hearts of living descendants, which incline them to imitate their ancestors in all that is good and praiseworthy;
just as the hereditary war-cry of a clan can, in battle, animate the clansmen to emulate the valor of their forefathers; just as a motto on armorial bearings has helped to preserve in a family the trait of character which originally led to its selection. The genealogy of a family should not consist merely of names in the lines of descent. In addition to these, it should present biographical sketches of those in the lines who ought to be held in lasting remembrance, and thus at once gratify a natural feeling of the heart, and conduce to its moral improvement.
There is a beautiful illustration of my views on this point in one of the genealogical tables in the first book of Chronicles. "And Jabez was more honorable than his brethren. And Jabez called on the God of Israel, saying, Oh that thou wouldst bless me, indeed, and enlarge my border, and that thy hand might be with me, and that thou wouldst keep me from evil that it may not grieve me! And God granted him that which he requested." Because he was more honorable than others, he is distinguished by this biographical sketch; while only the bare names of others are given.
Our ancestors need not to have been distinguished in the higher walks of life in order to interest us in their fortunes. and their character. We "do not love our living kindred for their glory or their genius, but for those domestic affections and private virtues, that, unobserved by the world, expand in confidence toward ourselves. And should we not derive equal benefit from studying the virtues of our forefathers? An affectionate regard for their memory is natural to the heart; it is an emotion totally distinct from pride, an ideal love, free from the consciousness of requited