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accounts ; ledger, day-book, blotter, and all; until I should arrive at man's estate, dissolve the partnership, and start in life, to traffic on my own account. As to the books they kept, that is their business. Alas for the dog-leaved, blotted, erased state of mine own, the originals from which copies are made into the book of fate, where there is no expunging, save when soft-eyed Mercy weeps out a black entry! Was there one of that group of friends who took me by my tiny hand, and bade me welcome by my new name, that could have imagined, for a moment, that the grave ceremony at which he was assisting, was no better than a solemn murnmery; a thing done in play, like a child's christening a doll! Such of them whose names are still among the living, assure me, that there was no farce about the matter, but that it was an occasion of uncommon solemnity, interrupted only by a little light vocal music of my own, perhaps intended by way of interlude, and to relieve the otherwise sombre character of the ceremonies; and they are graciously pleased to say, that if my volunteer performances on that occasion did partake of levity, they kindly pardoned the ill-timed mirth, in consideration of my tender years, and my ignorance of the usages of society. But they regarded the christening as complete in all its moods and tenses, and they departed under the comfortable conviction that they had done a kind act to a weak brother, in giving him a good name, and helping him to a fair start in the world.
• But, Sir, look to the legislature, where names are bestowed under the highest authority in the land.'. ' The courts are open to all,' said some one to Horne Tooke. So is the London Tavern open to all,' answered the shrewd agitator; but he who stops there, must pay.' Must I exhaust my small means in lobbying, and log-rolling, and making legislative bargains, to secure me that which is mine own ? Must I so far exceed my power of face, as to look wise, shrug my shoulders, give out that I am in favor of a charter, with banking privileges, to encourage the last new invention ; insinuate that I know what 's what,' have friends at court, and should there happen to be a vacancy in the office of fence-viewer, dog-inspector, or a sly mission to the Flat-head Indians, to induce them to emigrate beyond the Rocky Mountains, there's no telling whether some of these legislative dignitaries may not be placed in the way of promotion to these high honors ? My soul revolts at it! Beside, should I not bow, and scrape, and promise in vain, how am I the gainer? If the legislature grants me all I ask, and publishes its high mandate to the world, what doth it profit me ? My name is taken away by another man's adopting it. Can I make him cast it off? Will the chancellor enjoin him against using it! I charge not him with the crime, except perhaps as the receiver of pilfered goods. His god-fathers and godmothers were the nomenclatorial larceners, and he may well enough plead that he was no party to the first offence. He took the name in good faith, and that is a good plea against any usurious or fraudulent transaction on the part of unscrupulous principals. Beside, I could not prove that the principals stole my name. It is so common, that it can be picked up at every corner of the street.
• But change your name; the legislature can do that.' Hear me. As the first fond kiss of blest maternity over the first-born pledge of
trust and love; as the first prayer of the pilgrim Islamite at the prophet's tomb; as the star to the moth, the sun to the earth, the water-brook to the panting hart, the fountain to the river, the river to the sea; the first mint-julep of the season to a thirsty Virginian; the first fat office to a hungry politician ; as each yearns for and clings to each, so cling I to my name. It is the immediate jewel of my soul,' and call it diamond, or paste, I've won it honestly, and I 'll wear it through life.
Having been despoiled of my first name, I began to doubt whether I had any legitimate title to my second ; in fact, whether there was, in reality, any good downright Saxon family, such as I supposed mine to be. I have the proud satisfaction to state, that on that score I am properly authenticated. We are all in the Doomsday Book, a baker's dozeu of us. We held lands (great people we, in our day,) in Hautesc, and Benos, and Somerset, and Devensc, and Oxenfordsc, and Scrippsc, aud divers other places ending with a c, and were it not that the Saxon pot-hooks, which describe the extent of our vast possessions, are to us untranslateable, (our education in that branch of dialectics having been somewhat neglected,) we might enlighten the anxious public as to the details of our tenure, the wonderful privileges we enjoyed, and other' matters of generalinterest and importance.' We probably did good service as stout retainers to some baron bold, wet-nursing his pet quarrels, fighting when commanded, without troubling ourselves about the justness of the cause; paying round rents for the protection which he boasted he gave us, but which we in fact gave him, and occasionally amusing ourselves with a little free-booting, by way of variety, and to keep our hands in practice. Our name and pedigree are therefore as respectable as name and pedigree need be, especially in a republican country, where the respectability of the progenitors of a race-horse is considered of far higher importance than that of any ancestry merely human, though traced back to the dark ages. On that score we regard, and rightly too, all the past as one dark age, and look to each man as the Rodolph of his own house, the founder of his own name, and even that for himself alone.
An acquaintance, long in the same plight with ourselves, and who bore the manifold inconveniences and sufferings to which his unfortunate and undistinguishable name subjected him, with a sort of humorous resignation, suffered sore tribulation when his intimate friends gave him the wrong address. We take the liberty of copying one of his lamentations. It shows a ludicrous sadness, a painful trifling with a matter which half pestered his life out of him. There was one supernumerary letter, which nine out of ten of those who addressed him, would blunderingly add to his name, thus confounding it with that of others, pushing it into the common crowd, and depriving it of every thing like personal identity. Here it is :
Sir : Did you ever become intimately acquainted with a person, and after associating with him for a long time, astonish him by asking him to have the goodness to tell you his name? This has been the case with me several times; but I have such a wretched memory for names, that I sometimes forget my own. As to the spelling of it, I am becoming more and more perplexed every day. As I have not VOL. XV.
the family Bible near me, I have no authentic record to which to refer, to ascertain what discriminative appellation my respectable god-fathers and god-mothers endowed me withal. As I have naturally a feeble memory, it cannot be expected that I should recollect what took place at my own christening. At so tender an age, that part of the brain which is considered by phrenologists as constituting, the physical seat of memory, is too soft and jelly-like to be capable of receiving a durable impression. We are indeed told, that out of the mouths of babes and sucklings many wise and good sayings have proceeded, but I believe there is no record that when these babes attained to riper years, they astonished the world by drawing upon ibose stores of information which they gathered together while in their swaddling clothes. I have seen no such · hinfant fernomenon,' as Mr. Weller would express it. Failing, then, in the recollections of my babyhood, and having no immediate record to which to refer, I am compelled to resort to such collateral and extrinsic testimony as I can find around me. I am in the situation of the poor little old woman, whose confusion as to her identity has been made the subject of a pathetic nursery ballad, by one of the old poets :
'If I be 1,
And he knows me.'
So, if I be I,' surely my friends ought to know it. The little old woman who submitted the question of her personal identity to the evidence of her dog, instead of being enlightened in her search after truth, was donbly confused by the unexpected testimony of that whimsical little beast. He did not recognize her, and barked his upacquaintance. Whereupon the little old woman, in an agony of desperation and self-ignorance, cried out, Sure this is none of 1!' How she found out who she was, or whether she found it out at all, the legend saith not. Now, if the abounding testimony of friends is against me in my researches to find out who I am, I must hide my diminished head in the darkness of self-ignorance, and depart from among those who once knew me, in the grossest self-confusion. Were my patronymic garnished with a dozen aliases, the multitude might confuse my friends, and they might be bothered to recollect my real name. Unless my memory fails me, my sponsors were in no-wise prodigal, even in the cheap article of names.
The priest showered no superfluous baptismal bonors on my infant head. I was christened with all the brevity consistent with so solemn a ceremony. I was taught by those under whose nurture and admonition I was brought up, (it was one of the earliest lessons instilled into my infant mind,) that I HAD A NAME. Was this only the flattery of fond parents ? Was it a mere nursery tale, invented to keep me quiet? Was it a pious fraud, a holy cheat, one of the censurable tricks of doing evil that good may come ? Sir, my parents were no Jesuits. They were no cruel and unmitigated punsters, to play thus unfeelingly with the name of a lovely babe. I was, according to the course of nature, too young to choose a name for myself, and they availed themselves of the permission of the law, to confer a name upon me. It is mine
by their gift; mine by the solemn sanction of the priest; mine by law, human and divine ; mine by the records of the church; mine by the entry in the family Bible. Had I supposed that there was any flaw in the title, any link broken in the chain of evidence, I should, on coming of age, bave taken measures to clear up the smallest doubt.
• If there be such a thing as the transmigration of souls, let my returning spirit be encased in a well-blooded race-horse, or a dog of respectable connexions, and reputable nose. They hare names, which are not trifled with, nor perverted. Or if my spirit is to be again enclosed in human flesh, let me be a little foundling, and let me be baptized by the Commissioners of the Alms-House. People would not dare to trifle with a name conferred by great men in office. Your politicians would be careful how they meddled with it. I should be * free of the corporation,' born to city honors, a child of the state.
• I have an indistinct recollection of a quotation from Shakspeare, which I read on the outside of Longworth's Directory, about the wickedness of filching one's good name. I have double cause for complaint. My good name is not only filched, but it is so disfigưred by the thieves, that its own progenitors cannot recognize it. My own friends cram their own literal nonsense into its very midst, and then perk it in my face. If this be not the height of impudence, I know not what is. It is a familiarity that borders on downright rudeness. If the old maxim be true, that 'too much freedery breeds despise,' I subject myself, by submitting to such freedoms, to general contempt. Were it a pleasant nick-name, the gift of long continued friendship, I would take it, and be proud to wear it.
Were it done' for shortness,' I might adopt it, were it only for its pith and brevity. But it comes back to me burdened with a load of cumbrous honors, that in my opinion sit most ungratefully upon it. Mouth it, with its added ornament. Word it. Pronounce it. Can you extract a single additional sound, after all your damnable iteration ? Does it melt more musically from the mouth? Does it tingle more pleasantly to the ear? Does it mean more? Does it represent more to the life the poor misused being to whom it belongs? Do you suppose that he is flattered by such additaments to his honestly-begotten ancestral name? Is it an experiment upon the soft side of his heart? Such trials are dangerous. They probe sometimes a thought too deeply, and tent to the quick the proud-flesh of his heart's core. Pray you avoid such experiments. • Perhaps you
of ambition, and think that there is a delicate flattery in adding these honors to the poor name with which my parson and my parents blessed, or thought they blessed, me. You mistake my taste.
I consider these new ornaments as Asiatic and florid; as partaking of that diffuseness which always accompanies a degenerate and declining literature. I am somewhat severe in my taste. I am fond of Attic terseness and pungency. I honor my god-fathers for the Doric simplicity of my plain name. Take away a letter, and you destroy its harmony. Add a letter, and it strikes even the vulgar eye as a showy excrescence. It is primitive and democratic. The baneful spirit of luxury had not crept in, when it was given to me. The public taste has become corrupt, and the virtuous simplicity of the better days of the republic, such as is shown in my simple name, suits not the ears of the moderns.
• Again I ask, who in the name of confusion am I ? Does nobody know me! Am I poor Rip Van Winkle, so soon grown out of your memories ?
We think it bard, that after we are dead and gone, our names shall be so soon forgotten, but it is doubly hard to think that we cannot keep them alive even in the memories of the living ; that even our most intimate friends know not how to write or spell them. There may be cases, growing out of the disadvantages of not having had a common school education, where such mistakes may be excusable; and I know some well educated people who can't spell for the life of them; B —, for instance, who has a philosophical system of his own, which would perplex the father of perplexities. With such it can't be helped. The fates never intended them to spell correctly. But you have no such excuse.
*I presume, Sir, you will have the assurance to mention to several of my particular friends that you are upon intimate terms with me. If you want a witness to prove it, take the superscription upon your last letter. This is your own witness. Bring him upon the stand, and when you tell the court that, so far from being strangers, we have been intimate for years, play-mates in boyhood, friends in manhood, companions in pleasures and studies, confidants, with tastes and pursuits alike, let him answer for you. His first testimony will prove that you are a stranger to me, or if not a stranger, that your boasts of friendship are false and hollow; that either through heartless levity, or deliberate malice, you have joined in misrepresenting me, and worse confounding the confusion that surrounds my poor but honest name.'
Still, mingled with the annoyances of being nomenclatorially confused, there are some perplexities which scarce deserve the name, and which bring with them rather amusement than annoyance. In military matters, I have had the privilege of paying a fine for the nonperformance of duty. If I have any claim to military rank, I know not how I can be considered above the grade of a private, and yet my landlady will persist in dubbing me colonel. That may be meant for flattery, for these women have a way with them in such matters. This was proved in the case of the country hostess, who when the lawsergeant T. was at her house, persisted in addressing him by the title of captain. On being told, that she gave him a rank to which he had no claim, she answered • I know he's only a sergeant, but they always likes to be called captain. I can forgive my landlady, partly hecause the flattery, if such, was well meant, and partly because she may have confounded me with a gentleman of (nearly) my own surname, who formerly figured as a colonel, and now rejoices in a major-generalship, which high rank, it is but justice to add, he fills as becomes a soldier. I have even found that my colonelcy has expanded into a full-blown generalship. I confess, that when it came to that point, there was a little weakness, a spice of self-congratulation, a momentary self-hugging. I could not help, for the instant, mounting my bigh horse, he proud in his rich caparison, and I proud in plume, epaulettes, and gold lace, ogling the bright eyes that looked down upon me and my train, cutting old acquaintances, because it was unmilitary to recognize them, drinking the sonorous music of the brass band, issuing my orders to dashing young aids, and grace