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“How many are you, then,” said I,
“ If they two are in heaven?” Quick was the little maid's reply,
“O Master, we are seven!”
“ But they are dead ; those two are dead !
Their spirits are in heaven!”
“Parvum Nilum videre."
HERE is a natural curiosity to trace a stream
to its source to follow it back to the hills from whose bosom it first springs to life.
The more noble the flow of its current, the more beneficent its waters, in opening paths to inland navigation or furnishing food for man, so much the keener is curiosity to trace it to the crystal fountain of its origin. The undiscovered source of the Nile was for centuries the theme of speculation. Inquirers, after the ancient method, propounded this practical question to the oracles of reason, and drew from them the enigmatical responses of theory; never apparently thinking of the solution, which modern empiricism has reached, by actually threading back the stream, and thus working out the safe result of observation.
Human life, like the river, may attract little public notice in its playful early course, when prattling among the parent hills, or leaping in gay cascades on its downward way, to swell, eventually, into the graver, deeper current of manhood. But if, as its waters gather head, they furnish a spectacle of nat
ural beauty in their flow or fall, or bestow public blessings in banks made green and fruitful, or bountiful fisheries, or bear upon their back the burdens of navigation, or attract attention by the glory of their exit into the sea, symbolizing the issue of life for time into the ocean of eternity, — then men turn their steps back to the early stream, and search out, in its source and surroundings, every presage of its destiny.
It is generally believed, that character, as a common rule, bears the impress of family origin. In the division of mankind into races, each race preserves in its history distinguishing traits, both physical and intellectual, so decidedly marked as to induce some ingenious naturalists to deny one common origin to all the human species. So in the subdivisions of race into families, we often observe the prominent characteristics repeated in successive generations. There is very much, it is true, to disturb this natural result. Marriage dilutes the family blood. Circumstances, which serve to evoke the fire of genius or talent, often allow it to slumber for subsequent generations. Especially is the success of parents wont to leave buried in the luxurious nurture or outward advantages of offspring those energies which the res angusto domi first developed in their own childhood, early poverty nurtured, and a severe but kind adversity trained to wrestle in the arena of difficulty, till a surpassing strength was attained. From the influence of these disturbing causes, it is almost or quite impossible to calculate the share which family traits have in the problem of individual destiny. Yet a growing attention is paid, and, we think, reasonably, to this subject.
Genealogical trees are more assiduously cultivated. The ramifications of kindred are traced to the trunk; thence the root is sought out; and, still unsatisfied, the genealogist inquires for the seed, whence it germinated, what wind wafted it to the place where it fell into the foster bosom of the earth, and, if possible, from what tree did the seed come. Such inquiries may be sometimes too minute, or pushed beyond the clew of fact, into the worse than useless vagaries of mere speculation. Yet, to a reasonable extent, family history forms a legitimate introduction to a biography.
We are, happily, able to afford a glimpse at the ancestry of the subject of this narrative. His American forefather, Thomas Fuller, was lured to these shores by, curiosity, in 1638. We have an authentic account of his tour and its results, in some verses, which, as they seem to possess few of the other characteristics of poetry, we trust are equally free from its propensity to fiction.* He declares that he was won over by the preaching of the famous Shepard, the echo of whose eloquence (saith our record) “after the lapse of two centuries has scarcely died away”; and that his converted heart was led to love liberty to worship God in the wilderness better than the flesh-pots of Egypt, left behind him in old England. An irreverent family tradition has mali
* If the public deem us to speak too lightly of our honored ancestor, they can themselves try the poetical question by a reference to “ Historical Notices of Thomas Fuller and his Descendants, with a Genealogy of the Fuller Family,” contained in the New England Historical and Genealogical Register for October, 1859, and also to be found in the Appendix to the first volume of the edition of the Memoirs and Works of Margaret Fuller, published by Walker, Wise, & Co. Boston. 1863.