My Father, a wise and grave Man, gave me serious excellent Counsel against what he foresaw was my Design.
He call’d me one Morning into his Chamber, where he confined by the Gout, and expostulated very warmly me upon this Subject: He ask’d me what Reasons more a meer wandring inclination I had for leaving my Father House and my native Country, where I might be well introduced, and had a Prospect of raising my Fortunes Application and Industry, with a Life of Ease and Pleasure He told me it was for Men of desperate Fortunes on one Hand, or of aspiring, Superior Fortunes on the other, who went abroad upon Adventures, to rise by Enterprize, and make themselves famous in Undertakings of a Nature out of the common Road; that these things were all either too far above me, or too far below me; that mine was the middle State, or what might be called the upper Station of Low Life, which he had found by long Experience was the best State in the World, the most suited to human Happiness, not exposed to the Miseries and Hardships, the Labour and Sufferings of the mechanick Part of Mankind, and not embarass’d with the Pride, Luxury, Ambition and Envy of the upper Part of Mankind. He told me, I might judge of the Happiness of this State, by this one thing, viz.
That this was the State of Life which all other People envied, that Kings have frequently lamented the miserable Consequences of being born to great things, and wish’d they had been placed in the Middle of the two Extremes, between Mean and the Great; that the wise Man gave his Testimony to this as the just Standard of true Felicity, when he pray to have neither Poverty or Riches.
I had two elder Brothers, one of which was Lieutenant Collonel to an English Regiment of Foot in Flanders, formerly commanded by the famous Coll. Lockhart, and was killed at the Battle near Dunkirk against the Spaniards: What became of my second Brother I never knew any more than Father or Mother did know what was become of me.
Being the third Son of the Family, and not bred to any Trade, my Head began to be fill’d very early with rambling Thoughts: My Father, who was very ancient, had given me competent Share of Learning, as far as House-Education, and a Country Free-School generally goes, and design’d for the Law; but I would be satisfied with nothing but go to Sea, and my inclination to this led me so strongly against the Will, nay the Commands of my Father, and against all the Entreaties and Perswasions of my Mother and other Friends, that there seem’d to be something fatal in Propension of Nature tending directly to the Life of Misery which was to befal me.
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