January 1992

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Names of Men

from Harper's New Monthly Magazine

December 1865


M. Schele De Vere

When the good King Philip of France had determined to seat a queen by his side on the throne, he sent embassadors [sic] to his neighbor, the King of Spain, and gave them authority to choose one of his two daughters for their sovereign. They were struck with the beauty of the elder sister, and decided among themselves that, both on account of her age and her charms, she would be a fit bride for their master. But of a sudden their opinion was changed. They had been told that the beauty was called Uracca, while the younger and less attractive sister was called Blanca. That name of Uracca destroyed all other charms; they abandoned their choice, and led the younger princess back with them to rule over France. History has more than one such answer to the question, "What's in a name?"

Perhaps parents would be more guarded in naming their children if they thought how much more pleasing Mary, Anne, and Lucy sound, even to the uneducated ear, than barbarous Barbara, the little bear Ursula, and the heathern Apollonia. Men might even be expected to guard their names more jealously from every stain and bad repute if they gave more attention to their meaning and their history. It will not be amiss, therefore, to examine English names, at least in their outlines, and as far as this affords us a valuable insight into their early history and present form.

The oldest surnames with which we are familiar are those of the Bible, and they represent invariably true patronymics in their earliest form. We read of Caleb, the son of Jephunneh, and of Joshua, the son of Nun. For the father's name, however, an ordinary word was soon substituted: thus dying, Rachel had called her child Benoni, "the son of my sorrow;" but Jacob gave him the name of Benjamin, "the son of my strength." The same custom prevailed in Greek, where we read of Icarus (the son) of Daidalus, and of Daidalus (the son) of Eupalmos. This survives in our modern Isaac Jacobsen, or Stephen Fitzherbert. Such names were the rule in England before the Conquest, and Proper Names, in the modern sense, were then little known, if at all. Only about a thousand surnames began to be taken up by the most noble families in France and in England, when the language was gradually Frenchified, about the time of Edward the Confessor. The lower nobility did not follow this example until the twelfth, and the citizens and husbandmen had no names for their families before the fourteenth century. It is probable, though not absolutely certain, that surnames were so called from the fact that they were at first always written "not in a direct line after the Christian name, but above it, between the lines," as Du Cange says, and thus were literally supra-nomina, or surnames.

The English names, most of which have thus arisen since the Norman Conquest, have recruits among them from almost all races and languages upon the earth. The Hebrew itself is largely represented in its ancient Ben, which means "son." It has given us Benjamin and the shorter Benson, Bendigo and Benari, Bendavid and Benoni. The corresponding word in Syriac, Bar, is of less frequent occurrence, and mostly modernized, as in Barrow, which now generally stands for Baruch, and in Bartholomew and its many descendants. This tendency to disguise Old Testament names has led to much ludicrous sham-work, both in the attempt to conceal and to discover the original forms. Abraham is shortened into Braham, and Moses into Moss or Moseley. Solomon becomes, according to fancy or taste, Salmon or Sloman; Levi is tranformed into Lewis, and Elias into Ellis. The French are as skillful as the English in this operation. Thus few readers of history will recognize in the great Republican Manuel the sweet name of Emmanuel; or in the famous banker Mirès the simple Hebrew-German Meyers. Valiant Manasseh proved its ancient renown on Italian battlefields as Masséna, and the vain composer, Herz Adam Levi, added his initials to his father's name and called himself Halévi. This tendency is pleasingly illustrated in the great novelist Israeli or, as he now writes it Disraeli, who, true to his descent, loves to convert every great man of our day into a member of the chosen people, just as the Irish affirm, with great good faith, no doubt, but with Irish accuracy, that all the heroes of recent date belong to the favored isle. Cavaignac is in their eyes but French for Kavanagh; Pelissier, of Crimean fame, belonged to the Palissers, and even Garibaldi was originally, they are sure, Garry Baldwin.

Dutch names are rare in English families, but frequently met with in those parts of the United States, where early settlers of the nation acquired large tracts of land and left behind them honored names like Van Rensalaers, the Van Shaiks, and Van Benthuysens.

The three most numerous patronymics in use among the English are, of course, the O', the Mac, and the Ap of the Celtic races in the British kingdom. The Irish O', or Oy, is said by their own writers to have originally meant grandson; it is certain that the old Irish plural Ui was formerly quite frequent, though it must now be considered extinct. Mr. Lower, in his charming book on surnames, tells us of an Old Scotch dame who boasted that "she had trod the world's stage long eno' to possess a hundred Oyes." It need not be explained here that the Irish use largely the cognate Mac, so that there was, in former days at least, much truth in the well-known lines:

"Per Mac atque O tu veros cognosis Hibernos,
His duobus demptis nullus Hibernus adest."

The O'Connells and O'Connors have made their mark in England's history, and the O'Donohue is still heard of wherever Erin's wrongs are rehearsed. In France this O has been slyly incorporated into the name, and a son of O'Dillons became the simple but celebrated Odilon Barrot.

The Scotch Mac meant also originally nothing more than son or male descendant. Macaulay and M'Colloch have made the prefix renowned all over the world, while poor M'Gowan has been translated into unromantic but literal Smithson. M'Priest, M'Bride, and M'Queen would be almost scandalous if the world were not too lazy to bear in mind that names have a meaning: and M'Quaker, a modern name, has a spice of the ludicrous. M'Nabb is, in like manner good Scotch for the Abbot's son, and the origin of the similar name of M'Pherson is historically established. During the reign of David I., the king of Scotland, we are told a younger son of the powerful clan of Chattan became the abbot of Kingussie. The elder brother died afterward childless, and the chieftainship fell to the share of the venerable priest. He procured the necessary dispensation from Rome, and married the fair daughter of the Thane of Calder. A swarm of little Kingussies followed, and the good people of Inverness-shire, in their quaint, straightforward way, called them M'Phersons, the sons of the parson. Occasionally the word Mac gives way to the more pretentious Clan, the Gaelic for offspring or descendants, and this furnished illustrious names like that of Clanricarde.

The Welsh Ap is the Celtic Mâb, and means son. Mr. Lower tells us that its earliest form known in names was Vap or Hab, as it was written in the days of Henry VI. Under the seventh Henry we find it used thus: "Morgano Philip, alias dicto Morgano, Vap David, Vap Philip." Subsequently, the first letter being lost, it became simply Ab or Ap, and was, first in pedigrees, placed between the son's and the father's name, by which means it gradually came to serve as a surname. This custom survived in a few modern names—as Thomas Ap Thomas, and Ap Catesby. But since the Welsh have taken to the use of surnames, after the manner of their English neighbors, they generally drop the a, and connect the b or p with the father's name, thus producing regular family names. In this manner Ap Evan is now Bevan, Beavin, or Bevins; Ap Henry is Penry, Perry, Barry, or Parry; and Ap Howell, Powell, although the same name may have been derived from Paul, as we find it spelled in Chaucer thus: "After the text of Christ and Powel and Ion." Ap Hugh is now Pugh, and sometimes Pye, as u in Welsh is apt to have the sound of y. Ap Lewis is Blewis or Blues; and Ap Lleod (Lloyd) is Blewitt, Blood, or Floyd. Ap Lewellen has early become Fluellen—a name which actually occurred in Stratford during Shakspeare's lifetime. Ap Owen is Bowen; Ap Richard, Prichard, and probably Pickett, unless where the later comes from the French picoté. Ap Roderick is Broderick, and shortened, Brodie; Ap Roger, Prodger; Ap Ross, Prosser; Ap Rhys (Rees), Pryce, Brice or Breese; and Ap Watkyn, Gwatkin.

The exaggerated importance which, Welshmen are accused of attaching to their patronymics has led to many an unfair jest at their expense hardly justified by this weakness in a few of their race, like the happy one who deduced, to his own satisfaction, the name of the god Apollo from Ap Haul, the son of the sun. Hence the bitter lines:

"Cheese: Adam's own cousin—german by birth,
Ap Curds, Ap Milk, Ap Cow, Ap Grass, Ap Earth."

In the year 1299 we find there was a proud Welshman summoned to Parliament by the name and title of Lord Ap Adam; but it is not stated whether he traced his descent in an unbroken line. This baron of so ancient a family left a son, but neither he nor any of his offspring seem ever after to have been summoned again. Later descendants, however, have carefully noted every step in the pedigree of the Ap Adams, and may yet establish a claim to sit among their post-diluvian brethren.

There is another a occasionally prefixed to names which must be carefully distinguished from its Welsh namesake. It occurs frequently among the humbler classes in Cumberland and Westmoreland—as in William a Bills, John a Toms, Billy a Luke, where it seems simply to stand for the English of, added to the father's name. In other cases it appears to have been used after the fashion of the Norman de for the Latin ab—as in John a Gaunt (ab Ghent), and in the name of the first grand-master of the Teutonic order, whom Fuller, in his Holy War, calls Henry a Walpole. We are all familiar with Thomas a Becket, Anthony a Wood, and Thomas a Kempis, though few may be aware that the fictitious names of John a Nokes and Tom a Stiles have been handed down to us from Jack Noakes and Tom Styles, who formerly served as representatives of the profanum vulgus, or our more fastidious Tom, Dick, and Harry.

The Normans added to these patronymics their own Fitz, the much-abused filius of the Romans. It is somewhat strange, however, that the use of this word is now unknown in France, and does not occur in the ancient chronicles of that country. The name came, there is reason to believe, from Flanders, and was only subsequently adopted by the Normans, who were strangely fond of names and surnames. Like the old Romans—of whom Horace says, Gaudent prænomine molles auriculæ, while he satirized one as Tamquam habens tria nomina—they loved to add name to name, so that Fitzhamon's daughter could justly complain, as of a great wrong done her, that the natural son of King Henry II, whom he gave her as husband, had but one name. The King, therefore, bestowed on him the proud name of Fitz Roi; for, says she in the poetical version of the event:

"It were to me a great shame
To have a lord withouten his twa name."

Henry II., to recall his being born in imperial purple, called himself Fitz Empress; and at one time it was the fashion among old Anglo-Saxon families to exchange their ancient son for the more modern Fitz. The Sweynsons thus became Fitz-Swains, and the Hardysonnes, Fitz-Hardinges. Even now the eldest son of Harris, Earl of Malmesbury, is by courtesy called Viscount Fitz-Harris. It will be seen from this how erroneous the general impression is that Fitz always indicated illegitimacy. It was probably not before the days of the later Norman kings that the name was at all applied to bastards—a custom which has, however, since been regularly kept up. Thus arose the comparatively recent case of the children of the Duke of Clarence and Mrs. Jordan, who bore the name of Fitz-Clarence.

The very large number of English names which are derived from Saints have mainly come down to us from the Normans, though a few, no doubt, are derived more directly through the Church. Some have been preserved in their purity, but others are sadly mispronounced. The majority have been so fiercely mutilated that, but for authentic documents showing the gradual change, their present appearance would scarcely suggest the original form. Thus, St. Paul is now Sampole, Sample, or Semple; St. Denis, Sidney; and St. Aubin, Tobyn or Dobbin—a degradation due, like many others, to the desire of certain Norman settlers in Ireland to become thoroughly Hibernicized. Sta. Clara is now Sinclair, or even Sinkler; St. Leger is Sillinger; and St. Pierre, Sampire, Sampier, and, in the Southern States of the Union, Yampert. St. Oly has changed into Toly; St. Ebbe into Tabby, or Tebbs; St. Amandus into Samand; St. Edolph into Stydolph; and St. Barbe into Simbard. Most of these changes took place as soon as the loss of Normandy cut off English noblemen from their constant intercourse with France—a time at which the Saxon element began to get the better of the Norman French, and to fashion it to its own laws of euphony. It was then also, that other French names not derived from Saints underwent similar mutilations; when La Morte Mer gave us Mortimer, and Le Mort Lac, Mortlake or Mortlock; when Beauchamp began to sound like Beecham—as Froissart spells it by the ear; when Belvoir became Beaver, Cholmondeley Chomley, and the French-English word skirmisher appeared first under the strange guise of Scrymgeour!

The Flemish and Frisian patronymic kin is so closely connected with our own Saxon "kin" that at this period it is difficult to decide to which of the two sources each individual name is due. From the occurrence of the same words on the Continent we may, however, presume that especially the abbreviated names are of Frisian origin, such as Watkin, Simkin, Perkin, and Hodgkin from Walter, Simon, Peter and Roger.

The most fertile of all is, of course, the good old Anglo-Saxon word son, and mixed up with it, now inseparably, the characteristic letter of the genitive, s. Thus we have obtained from Harry, Harrison, Harris, Herries, Hawes, and, with the aid of kin, Hawkins; from Andrew: Anderson, Andrews, and Henderson; from Michael, Mixon (Mike's son) and Oldmixon; from Walter: Watson, Watts, and Watkins. David had given us Davidson, Davies, Daws, and Dawson; Hodge: Hodgson, Hodges, Hutchins, and Hutchinson; William: Williamson, Williams, Wilson, Wills, and Wilkin, Wilkinson, and Wilkins. From Richard we have Richardson, Richards, Dixon (Dick's son), Dickens and Dickinson; from Adam: Adamson, Adams, Atkin, Atkins, and Atkinson; from Elias: Ellyson, Ellis, Ellice, and Elliott: from Anna: Anson; from Nelly: Nelson; and from Patty: Patterson.

In like manner are derived Benson, Gibson, Jefferson, and Simpson. It must, however, be borne in mind that this final s occasionally represents not the genitive of the father's name, but the plural, when the name is derived from some peculiarity of outward appearance. Bones is the appropriate name of a medical practitioner of some distinction, and Shanks seem to have the power of attracting public attention in an uncommon degree, it we may judge of the number of Shanks, Longshanks, Crookshanks, or Cruikshanks, and Sheepshanks we meet with in history and in actual life. Common people it is well known, have a strange partiality for the plural form in s, adding it even to the verb in the vulgar—"says I, says we"—and hence are probably derived names like Flowers, Grapes, Crosskeys, Briggs or Bridges, Banks, Boys, Brothers, Cousins, and Children. A different process has led in Italian to the designation of whole families from appearance or profession, as in the case of the Medici, who had long ceased to be physicians, when they were still so called after an ancestor of fame, or the charming Bello and Rosso, who left behind them families of Belli and Rossi and little Bellini and Rossini.

The old Saxon derivative ing has left us unfortunately but few proper names such as Manning and Dunning, but the expressive kin is much more largely represented. Derived from the ancient cyn, it meant originally "race" and hence gave us Cyning, now contracted into King, the descendant of the race by eminence, as the children of the French sovereign were, with like exclusiveness, long known as fils de France, the children of France. Thence came also cynd, now kind, comprising all who belong to the same race or class. This is the true meaning to be given to the Biblical expression of "trees bearing each after its own kind," and to Hamlet's words: "A little more than kin and less than kind." In its secondary meaning we find the suggestion, that what is of the same race and blood must needs feel affectionately one for another, and thus kindness became synonymous with benevolence and brotherly love. Added to the father's name it has from the earliest times served to designate the descendants, and thus we have obtained Wilkin, Tomkin, Perkin (Peterkin), and their derivatives Wilkins, Wilkinson, etc.

Of equal antiquity, but of much rarer occurrence, are the names obtained by means of the Saxon termination ock, as in Pollock, from Paul and contracted into Polk; which is often connected with the first name by an inserted c, and thus gives us Wilcox (Will-c-ocks), Philcox, and Mattox.

It is not our intention here to enter into a full explanation of English surnames. The work has been admirably done by men of great research and learning, and yet, as a matter of necessity, but a small proportion of the thirty to forty thousand surnames in our language have been fully explained. They are derived from almost every possible condition of personal qualities, natural objects, occupations, and pursuits, localities, and often from mere caprice and fancy. We will here only allude to a few peculiarities connected with certain classes of names which deserve fuller investigation. The Norman-French brought with them a number of names, which in the course of being Anglicized lost both in form and meaning so much that it is not always easy now to retrace them to their first origin. Thus e. g. Le Dispensier, subsequently known as Le Spencer, was originally the dispensator or steward to the household. The officer who accompanied the conqueror became, of course, a great baron in England, and at the same time the founder of the illustrious house of Spenser, now represented by the Duke of Marlborough. Le Gros Veneur, anciently the chief huntsman to the Dukes of Normandy, founded in like manner the noble house of Grosvenor. Le Napier, now known as Napier, was the officer who took charge of the Duke's "napery," his table-linen, etc. This derivation of the illustrious house of Napier is certainly less romantic than that which ascribes it to the grateful monarch's eulogy of his brave vassal, who, he said, had No Peer, but, on the other hand, it has the advantage of being authentic. De la Chambre, the first chamberlain known to England by that name, soon dwindled into Chambers in England, and the corresponding Chalmers in Scotland. The Summoner became plain Summer, the Falconer simple Faulkner, and other French names were still worse treated. The heroic Taillefer, who marched before the Conqueror's host singing ancient war-songs, survives now only as Telfair, while in Italy the name has softened into Tagliaferro, which, though they spell it still Taliaferro, they pronounce in the Southern States as if it were written Toliver. The fair De Champ is now ill-sounding Shands, Belle Chère, taken from what Chaucer means when he says: "For cosynage and eke for bele chere," is now unpleasantly suggestive as Belcher. Molyneux, in humble life, is written as well as pronounced Mullniks and saintly Theobald is Tipple!

Many Norman names, taken from the bearer's native land or town, suffered in a way to make us tremble for many of our names. The Paganus became first a Paynim, and then, shorter still, Payne; the Genoese is now a Janeway; and the man from Hogstepe calls himself Huckstep. But the worst fate befell three men from three little towns; one was called De Ath, and is now Death; another, De Ville, became briefly Devil; and the family of a third, from Scardeville, branched into two lines—peaceful Scarfields and terrible Scaredevils.

By the side of such unmerciful treatment the most violent contractions in sound appear but trifling injuries done to a name. The noble owners of Cholmondeley, Marjoribanks, and Tollemache may, after that well bear their curtailment into Chumley, Marchbanks, and Talmash; and even the descendant of the Danish monarch's cup-bearer, originally known as Schenke, and so called by Shakspeare and Dryden, might be reconciled to his modern appellation of Skinker.

Families, moreover, were not the only sufferers by such violence. The names of towns and places, of public and private houses, even though of good old English origin, were in like manner ill-treated and changed beyond all power of recognition. It might be pardonable, from the truthfulness of the description, to change St. Diacre into Sandy Acre, a parish in Derbyshire; and the Chartreuse, a former Carthusian convent of great renown, suppressed during the Reformation, into Charter House. There is no harm in changing "Boulogne Mouth," the sign of a tavern much frequented by sailors from that locality, into Bull and Mouth; or "La Belle Sauvage," the name of another inn, the lease of which had been granted to a Mrs. Isabella Savage, into Bell and Savage, although the pictorial representations which accompany and embody the names are enigmatic enough to puzzle the wisest of antiquarians. The frequenters of the famous ale-house, the "Cat and Wheel," will be little disposed to quarrel with the owner because he substituted those simple words for the more pretentious Catherine on the Wheel of his predecessor; and the "Bag of Nails," a well-known public house in Pimlico, is deservedly more popular now than it was under its classic name of Bacchanalia. But we think we have a right to complain when "St Mary on the Bourne"—i. e., on the river—is travestied into Marylebone, as "Old Bourne" was into Holborne; and when the memory of the gentle St. Helena, whom our forefathers revered as "Mincheons," is forgotten in the change from "Mincheon's Lane, a street that passed their ancient house, into Mincing Lane. Few of us would recognize in the sign of "George and Cannon" a tribute to the fame of George Canning; or in the famous "Goat and Compasses," in the eastern part of the city, the God Encompasseth Us of the Puritans. Still less is it suspected by many admirers of that ancient play, Punch and Judy, that the names represent nothing less then Pontius cum Judœis, a relic of an ancient Mystery taken from St. Matthew, xxviii. 19.

Compound surnames are numerous, and often ludicrous enough, when taken aside from the time and circumstances that first suggested them. A Massinger ought ever to be a Catholic, singing holy mass; and a Shakelady would hardly be admitted into good society. How Doolittles get along in life is a mystery; a greater one yet, the patience with which men submit, generation after generation, to being called Gotobed, Stabback, or Popkiss. Total abstinence seems to have been a favorite idea from of old, if we may judge from the fondness of all nations for the name of Drinkwater, which reappears as Bevilacqua in Italy, and as Boileau in France. Sir Thomas Leatherbreeches had weight enough to carry his uncomfortable name into the best society of England; and while Winspear has become a great name in Naples, Shakspeare is immortal. Our Puritan fathers, it is well known, indulged in a sad fancy for Scriptural names, which they used almost at haphazard—an abuse which became downright unpardonable when it was extended to whole phrases. On Hume's roll of a Sussex jury we find, among others, a Mr. Fight-the-good-fight-of-faith White, of Ewen; and a Mr. Kill-sin Pimple, of Witham. The most unfortunate bearer of such a name was probably the brother of the famous dealer in leather who presided over the Rump Parliament. His pious parents had had him christened as "If-God-had-not-died-for-thee-thou-hadst-been-damned;" and as no mortal man could utter the whole name in sober earnest every time he spoke of or to the unlucky owner, he was universally known as Damned Barebones.

Such vagaries are, however, by no means limited to one country or one epoch. The great dialectician Diodorus, in order to show that language was the result of an arbitrary choice of words, and not a living organism, gave simple words as names to his slaves, calling one "The," and another "But." There was, of course, as little connection here between the name and the owner as there is between the poor slave on whom a master's caprice has bestowed the name of a free and famous Roman. A German author of considerable fame imposed in this manner, his pseudonym of Posgaru for many years on the world, which read his works and believed in his name. He was enjoying already much reputation, even in England, as the successful translator of Manfred, before it was discovered that he had hid himself behind three Greek words meaning Why then not?

Double names are not frequent among us; they occur mainly where Norman names have been Anglicized. Thus we have d'Anton and Danton, D'Aubry and Dobree, d'Aubeny and Daubeny. Other foreign names have been translated and modified. The French Le Blond reappears as English Fairfax, and mutiliated, Blount or Bland. The German Schwarz is sometimes Black, and sometimes Swart or Swarts; Klein is Little, or Small, or Kline.

In Canada a village arose on lands belonging to a Mr. Shepherd, and after him was called Shepherdville; the French Canadians immediately translated this into Bergerville. After a while the English element prevailed for a time and remodeled the name into Beggarville, until the French once more rechristened the unlucky village as Village des Quêteurs. A curious class of double names belongs to families who bear them on the pretext of an alias. Documents abound in which the same name occurs, not once only, which might be the effect of an accident, but each time accompanied by its shadow. Thus under the date of 1535, already we meet with a "Ricardus Jackson, alias Kenerden." In Scotland the custom prevailed for some time to use the Gaelic name with the English translation superadded. Men called themselves M'Tavish alias Thomson, M'Calmon alias Dow, or Gow alias Smith. Hence probably, arose the eccentric and otherwise inexplicable custom of some families to write themselves by one name and to call themselves by another, as is the case with the Enroughtys, who are called Derby. The alias was gradually omitted, and the two names remained to be used for two distinct purposes.

As the oldest coats of arms in the nobility of almost all countries are the simplest, consisting generally but of a single device, so the oldest names also may be presumed to have been extremely simple. Nomen olim apud omnes fere gentes simplex, says an excellent authority on the subject. Notwithstanding this prestige, however, there seems to have prevailed, from olden times, a dislike to very short and simple names. We know that when Diocles became Emperor he felt called upon to lengthen his name to Dioclesian. Lucian mentions a man called Simon, who, "having now gotten a little wealth, changed his name to Simonides, for that there were so many beggars of his kin," and set the house on fire in which he was born, so that nobody should point it out. Early French historians tell us of Bruna, who became queen of the kingdom, when it was thought proper to convey something of royal pomp to her name, and she was called Brunehault. It is a similar reason which induces the popes to change their names as soon as the fisherman's ring is put upon their finger—a custom observed ever since the name of one of their number, Sergius, which meant "Hog's mouth," made this necessary for decency's sake. In England, also, the change is not unfrequent, though a happy excuse was there made for short names by worthy John Cuts. He was an opulent citizen of London, to whose house and care a Spanish embassador [sic] complained officially of his host's "shortness of name," which he thought disparaging to his honor. "But," says Fuller, "when he found that his hospitality had nothing monosyllabic in it, he groaned only at the utterance of the name of his host."

An entire change of name was not unknown to our forefathers even. Camden tells us that they were frequent in his time, "to modify the ridiculous, lest the bearer should seeme villified by them." We all know why our friend Smith writes himself Smythe or Smeeth, and Mr. Taylor has become Mr. Tayleure. It is of the latter that Mr. Lower tells the following good story: A Mr. Taylor, who had been mollified into Tayleure, asked a farmer, haughtily, the name of his dog. The answer was: "Why, Sir, his proper name is Jowler, but since he's a consequential kind of a puppy we calls him Jowleure." If Plato was right in exhorting parents to give happy names to their children, because the minds, actions, and successes of men depended not on their genious and fate only, but also on their names, then we can certainly not blame those who wish to rid themselves of an ill-omened surname. Hence we can sympathize with poor Mr. Death, of Massachusetts, who petitioned the Court to change his name to Dickinson, and we do so all the more readily because malicious Fate would have it that the member who presented the petition was Mr. Graves. A Mr. Wormwood suported his more ambitious desire to assume the name of Washington by the argument that "no member of taste would oppose his request, and that the intense sufferings of so many years of Wormwood existence deserved the compensation of a great and glorious name."

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