After a particularly draining work week left me with an inability to concentrate and a tendency to grumpiness, I spent yesterday puttering around the house and clearing out drawers. I threw away a lot of stuff, but I also rediscovered a few things, including this photo of my great-grandfather, Daniel H. Cameron, at work in Burlington, Vermont.
Here’s his business card — made back when they kept those things simple and modest (the actual card is quite small).
Lest you are unsure how I feel about great-grandfathers (and grandmothers too), I give you these insightful comments by John Beresford from his introduction to The Diary of a Country Parson: The Reverend James Woodforde, 1758-1781 (Oxford, 1924), a book my DH (who discovered the passage) happens to be reading.
I confess to an old-fashioned belief in the profound importance of great-grandfathers; but not in any snobbish sense. Whether a man’s great-grandfathers were Dukes or Dustmen is a matter of relatively minor interest; the interest consists in finding out what manner of men the great-grandfathers were, and to what extent their qualities have re-emerged in their descendants. I do not understand a certain modern school of thought which steadfastly ignores the past and, with child-like simplicity, believes it can instantly create something in art, literature, or politics which shall be completely new. It is an impossible theory, for the plain fact is that we cannot escape from the past, and progress consists but in a slow and gradual engrafting. Moreover, a disregard of great-grandfathers is peculiarly inopportune in an age when Science has demonstrated, even in Sweet Peas, the immense importance of pedigree.
Which of my ancestors’ qualities, I wonder, have re-emerged in my children, nieces and nephews? Food for thought.
Have a very Happy Easter and don’t leave your great-grandfathers out of your holiday contemplation.