It is hard to not be fond of one’s ancestors. At least it is hard not be fond of the vague idea of ancestors — those hardy souls who made a new life in a new world or who fished the rough Mediterranean seas, or cut turf in in County Cork — good honest work for honest people. They exist in a world of beards and bustles and church and market, and seas and fields.
I don’t suppose I would like them half so well if I knew them twice as well. In my personal experience there is no one beyond my great-grand parents generation, except — and here is the kicker — a few popes and a tenuous connection to an early Persian saint. I don’t know much about the ancestors, and, really I don’t need to they are there ancient and serene. The family name and perhaps the family face, dark red hair, and predisposition to early baldness.
When faced with details everything becomes a matter of judgement, and there is a responsibility to take all of the facts in, even the nasty ones, before coming to a conclusion. Of course there is a tendency to choose one nasty trait and condemn the whole by it, which is equally irresponsible, and is much easier than analysis. Graves,who as a gentleman knows far too much about his ancestors, is always caught between pride and a total rejection of the world that they supported and partly created. All of our descendants are likely to now too much about us, hopefully they will ignore us and our petty vanities. Unless we destroy all traces of ourselves. When you get home tonight delete you Myspace.