Archive for January 31st, 2009

Becoming Difficult to Catch a Qualified American Forbear

January 31, 2009
Coat of Arms

Coat of Arms

Becoming Difficult Now to Catch a Qualified American Forbear.

Maurice Francis Egan, in August Smart Set

The ancestral trusts — I speak, of course, respectfully of the Sons and Daughters of the Revolution and the Colonial Dames, &c — have so cornered the market that it is difficult to catch a forbear of the required American antiquity. So hard is it now to secure a forefather who lived through the glorious days of seventy-six that there are some who even cast envious and covetous eyes at Benedict Arnold — which accounts for the great rehabilitation of that interesting person. Benedict Arnold, by judicious manipulation, may be converted in time into a sufficiently good “collateral” — for “collaterals” are the very life of our societies devoted to the worship of ancestors. Without the “collateral” arrangement, many honest citizens would be compelled to gnash their teeth in outer social darkness.

But, after all, there is a way out. The assimilation of the Philippines has opened new avenues for those unfortunates who have asquired no commercial position here, to purchase trolley lines in those happy islands. They offer space for congested speculation. Has it occurred to nobody that the societies of the South American Revolution give numerous chances for the enterprising? In almost any South American country you can get up a revolution for a song, and the ingenious mind can easily secure the prestige of one of their risings, and a button more gorgeous than anything yet dreamed of in the conclaves of our own patriotic assemblies.

It is to be regretted that the English do not value our pedigrees as they ought. They assume to think that everybody is delighted to be equal to everybody else here, just because the influence of Rousseau got into the Declaration and made it give that impression. The English have given so little thought to their own ancestors — who have come naturally — that they do not appreciate what wear and tear are forced on us by the acquiring of even one distinguished person for the beginning of a line. Besides, a coat of arms is becoming absolutely necessary to every American. The indignity of going into dinner behind heraldic bearings is felt by us, while an Englishman is quite satisfied to go in behind those that possess them without desiring them himself.

Washington Post, The (Washington, D.C.) Jul 19, 1904