To some of whom this may be a first introduction to an intimate
acquaintance with their estimable and honourable ancestry,
This Volume is cordially Dedicated,
One of Their
John Jay Smith
The Achada, Dr. Richard Hill's Country House in .
My boast is not, that I deduce my birth
From loins enthroned, and rulers of the earth;
But higher far my proud pretensions rise,
The son of parents passed into the skies.”—Cowper.
“The glory of children are their fathers.”—Prov. xvii. 6.
The characters and the events delineated in the collection of family letters, from which the following have been selected, seemed to me so interesting and instructive, that I have thought it a duty to comply with the request of the immediate descendants of the writers, to preserve them in this form. The picture here given of the joys and sorrows of private life; of conjugal and parental, of paternal and sisterly love; of fortitude and resignation in adversity; of moderation, contentment, and independence under all circumstances; of the female character in its strength of heroic endurance, in its overflowing tenderness of admiration for all loveliness, and sympathy for all suffering—no less than in its lighter graces and social endearments—pervaded by a deep sense of religion, and dedicated to the fulfilment of duty, and to obedience to the word manifest in the heart; all this is sketched in a way so graphic, yet so unstudied, that we are brought into immediate contact with the actors and the scenes. These letters come "warm from the heart and faithful to its fires,” for the sincerity of the writers was almost continually tested by self-sacrificing kindnesses, by forgiveness and forgetfulness of injuries; by actions which, had they been performed on a wider theatre, and in a more conspicuous station in life, would have called forth the applause of mankind.
The preservation of such family records—this commemoration of honourable and virtuous ancestors, is due from their descendants as a tribute to the memory of the just; and may serve as an incentive to honourable and virtuous conduct; for, while it is a false and absurd vanity which strives to deck itself in plumes, borrowed from the past, the desire to emulate a noble example, which has descended to us as an inheritance, is worthy of all praise.
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