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asked him what he did there. He told her the truth, without reserve, believing that he had met a ghost; upon which she spoke to him in the following manner : Stranger, thou art in my power: I am a murderer as thou art. Know then that I am a nun of a noble family. A base perjured man undid me, and boasted of it. I soon had him dispatched; but, not content with the murder, I have bribed the sexton to let me enter his grave, and have now plucked out his false heart from his body; and thus I use a traitor's heart. At these words she tore it in pieces and trampled it under her feet.
N° 612. WEDNESDAY, OCT. 27, 1714.
Murranum hic atavos et avorum antiqua sonantem
VIRG. Æn, xii. 329.
Murranus, boasting of his blood, that springs
It is highly laydable to pay respect to men who are descended from worthy ancestors, not only out of gratitude to those who have done good to mankind, but as it is an encouragement to others to follow their example. But this is an honour to be received, not demanded, by the descendants of great men i
and they who are apt to remind us of their ancestors only put us upon making comparisons to their own disadvantage. There is some pretence for boasting of wit, beauty, strength, or wealth, because the communication of them may give pleasure or profit to others; but we can have no merit, nor ought we to claim any respect, because our fathers acted well whether we would or no.
The following letter ridicules the folly I have mentioned, in a new, and, I think, not disagreeable light,
· WERE the genealogy of every family preserved, there would probably be no man valued or despised on account of his birth. There is scarce a beggar in the streets, who would not find himself lineally descended from some great man; nor any one of the highest title, who would not discover several base and indigent persons among his ancestors. It would be a pleasant entertainment to see one pedigree of men appear together, under the same characters they bore when they acted their respective parts among the living. Suppose there. fore a gentleman, full of his illustrious family, should, in the same manner Virgil makes Æneas look over his descendants, see the whole line of his progenitors pass in review before his eyes—with how many varying passions would he behold shepherds and soldiers, statesmen and artificers, princes and beggars, walk in the procession of five thousand years! How would his heart sink or Autter at the several sports of fortune, in a scene so diversified with rags and purple, handicraft tools and sceptres, ensigns of dignity, and emblems of disgrace! And how would his fears and apprehensions, his transports and mortifications, succeed one another, as the line of his genealogy appeared bright or ob scure!
• In most of the pedigrees hung up in old man. sion-houses, you are sure to find the first in the ca. talogue a great statesman, or a soldier with an ho. nourable commission. The honest artificer that begot him, and all his frugal ancestors before him, are torn off from the top of the register ; and you are not left to imagine that the noble founder of the family ever had a father. Were we to trace many boasted lines further backwards, we should lose them in a mob of tradesmen, or a crowd of rustics, without hope of seeing them emerge again : not unlike the old Appian way, which, after having run many miles in length, loses itself in a bog.
• I lately made a visit to an old country gentle. man, who is
in this sort of family madness. I found him in his study perusing an old register of his family, which he had just then discovered as it was branched out in the form of a tree, upon a skin of parchment. Having the ho. nour to have some of his blood in my veins, he permitted me to cast my eye over the boughs of this venerable plant; and asked my advice in the reforming of some of the superfluous branches.
• We passed slightly over three or four of our immediate forefathers, whom we knew by tradition, but were soon stopped by an alderman of London, who I perceived made my kinsman's heart go pit-apat. His confusion increased when he found the alderman's father to be a grazier; but he recovered his fright upon seeing justice of the quorum at the end of his titles. Things went on pretty well as we threw our eyes occasionally over the tree, when unfortunately he perceived a merchant-tailor perched on a bough, who was said greatly to have increased the estate: he was just going to cut him off if he had not seen gent. after the name of his son ; who was recorded to have mortgaged one of the manors his honest father had purchased. A weaver, who was burnt for his religion in the reign of queen Mary, was pruned away without mercy; as was likewise a yeoman, who died of a fall from his own cart. But great was our triumph in one of the blood who was beheaded for high treason: which nevertheless was not a little allayed by another of our ancestors who was hanged for stealing sheep. The expectations of my good cousin were wonderfully raised by a match into the family of a knight; but, unfortunately for us, this branch proved barren: on the other hand, Margery the milk-maid, being twined round a bough, it flourished out into so many shoots, and bent with se much fruit, that the old gentleman was quite out of countenance. To comfort me under this disgrace, he singled out a branch ten times more fruit. ful than the other, which he told me he valued more than any in thetree, and bade me be of good comfort. This enormous bough was a graft out of a Welsh heiress, with so many Aps upon it that it might have made a little grove by itself. From the trunk of the pedigree, which was chiefly composed of labourers and shepherds, arose a huge sprout of farmers: this was branched out into yeomen, and ended in a sheriff of the county, who was knighted for his good service to the crown in bringing up an address. Several of the names that seemed to disparage the family, being looked upon as mistakes, were lopped off as rotten or withered; as, on the contrary, no small number appearing without any titles, my cousin, to supply the defects of the manu. script, added esq. at the end of each of them.
• This tree, so pruned, dressed, and cultivated, was, within a few days, transplanted into a large sheet of vellum, and placed in the great hall, where it attracts the veneration of his tenants every Sun. day morning, while they wait until his worship is ready to go to church; wondering that a man who had so many fathers before him should not be made a knight, or at least a justice of the peace.'
N°613. FRIDAY, OCTOBER 29, 1714.
-Studiis fiorentem ignobilis otí.
VIRG. Georg. iv. 564
Affecting studies of less noisy praise.
It is reckoned a piece of ill-breeding for one man to engross the whole talk to himself. For this reason, since I keep three visiting-days in the week, I am content now and then to let my friends put in a word. There are several advantages hereby accruing both to my readers and myself. At first, young and modest writers have an opportunity of getting into print ; again, the town enjoys the pleasures of variety; and posterity will see the humour of the present age, by the help of these lights into private and domestic life. The benefits I receive from thence are such as these: I gain more time for future speculations; pick up hints which I improve for the public good; give advice ; redress grievances; and, by leaving commodious spaces be