Illustrating The Tremendous Extraneous Influence Of Large-Sized Names; And Describing The Most Passionate And Contemptuous Love-Scene Ever Beheld In Fashionable Southern Society By A Yankee Varlkt.
Chipmunk Court House, June 12,1868.
A nose by any other name would smell as sweet, my boy, - which may account for the occasional use of the term "bugle" in that connection; but who can doubt that the proper name of a man may sometimes give him a popular sweetness quite beyond the attainment of mere virtue or genius ? Why is it that we so instinctively realize our own insignificance, and feel crushed with a vague and awful reverence, when confronted with such names as Paracelsus, Cagliostro, and Theodore Tilton? Then, again, how is it that, by writing out all the names they have, on every possible occasion, some men may attain an inexpressible eminence, which had never been so amply accorded to their mere patronymics alone ? Look at Ralph Waldo Emerson, James Russell Lowell, Oliver Wendell Holmes, and Martin Farquhar Tupper. There is something large-sized about names in this style; something swelling and tremendous; and they virtually make a pass at you with a big club, and say: " There is much in the very sound of us that is more high-toned than language ,can express, and if yon will now prostrate yourself in the dust before us, without further confusion, we will sit down upon you for a while on this pleasant summer day." You say to yourself that you have your best clothes on, that the dust is disagreeable, and that your feeble intellect fails to discover any reason just now why you should be so crushed; but down you go, and are sat upon.
Reconnoitring the political field, after the manner of a practical philosopher, and realizing that Ulysses is the first name of one Presidential aspirant, and Pendleton the family-name of another, I am at once overpowered with intimidating classical memories of the amazing single combat with bully Ajax for the armor of Achilles, and almost suffocated with depressing premonitions of immense shirt-collar, gold-headed cane, and other pharaphernalia of deep-voiced Respectability. In the mere sound of Ulysses I hear the assertion: " There are several collegiate Greek reasons why I should take a little walk over you for my health, whether you can find any English reasons for the same or not." And in the sonorous roll of Pendleton I recognize the sentence: "If you come of good family, young man, and have a letter of recommendation from your father, you may tell your friends that I have noticed you".
When, upon a late occasion, I took up a copy of the "Daily Mortgage,"-a loyal journal,published here every morning on bits of old muslin, - and remarked the popular enthusiasm with which the Presidential nomination of Ulysses, last General of the Mackerel Brigade, has been received, I could not help feeling that a crushing name is half the battle. In one column I found a letter to the name from an influential gentleman in South Carolina, who wrote: "All hail, sir! I take this opportunity to pledge the State of New Hampshire for a majority of at least fifteen thousand votes in your favor; and if you could make it convenient to lend about three dollars and a half to a man who has always respected you, the prompt remittance of that amount to my address would greatly oblige me." Another gentleman of high position, at Mugby Six-Forks, Florida, writes: " The Empire State of New York will respond to your nomination in a tone of thunder; and should you see fit to notice the enclosed card of the Mugby State Lottery, the immediate mailing of one dollar will entitle you to a large farm in Alaska, less our commissions." A venerable leader of society in Bowieville, Arkansas, says: "Greetings, illustrious Soldier! Next November will find the good old State of Connecticut standing shoulder to shoulder with her sister States in the triumph of your cause; and by enclosing four shillings to the address here given you will receive my -Advice to Those About to Marry,' by return of mail".
Turning to the editorial page of this same journal, - the editor of which makes quite a good living and almost pays the interest of his mortgages by alternately writing articles in his office and selling ginger-snaps on the trains, I find a tribute to the other name. " Mr. Pendleton," says the editorial, "is a dignified gentleman, of enviable social Position and refined Antecedents; nor do the most elegant annals of distinguished Society present the old family-name of one taking higher rank in the walks of unblemished respectability. His position in Circles to which we all look for models of bigh-bred gentility is un-assailed by the remotest suspicion of plebeian Extraction; while his polished Manners and courtly Address will ever commend him to the most exclusive Appreciation in this community, where our well-known fellow-citizen Wade Hampton Breckenridge, Esq., is now offering a large stock of ably selected family groceries at prices which few would credit, and for which he gives no credit himself".
Just sound over these names to yourself, my boy, and see how they will make you grovel, whether you want to or not. Then ask yourself whether a John Jobkins or a James Podgers could ever attain so much world-wide reverence by any great act he might accomplish ? See what your own noiseless name has done for you ! You think yourself handsome (poor wretch!), and believe that you are both Great and Good; but you have not yet succeeded in gaining even the respect of your mother-in-law. No, sir! no one has any respect for you; and unless you induce the Legislature to change your name to something like Aurelius Stanhope Jinks, I don't see how you are going to keep out of the Poor-house this summer.
Why, look at me, here, in this great Southern monetary centre, being crushed out of all self-respect and self-defence by the name of Pendragon Penruthers, Esquire. This knight does not wear such clothes as one would like to see George Washington dressed in; yet he has so cowed me by his mere nominal sound, that I am growing more and more self-depreciatory in his presence; and a subtle intuition of this fact makes him actually ignore my low Yankee existence on occasions.