+ ~ -
 
Please report pronunciation problems here. Select and sample other voices. Options Pause Play
 
Report an Error
Go!
 
Go!
 
TOC
 

MY UNCLE.

THE most remarkable man of any age or
country, is My Uncle. It is neither in family
pride, nor in a gush of gratitude for overwhelming
obligations in the nature of debts
paid, or fortune inherited or expected; but
it is on mature consideration, and with the
light of Tooke's Pantheon, Lempriere, and
the Biographie Universelle, beaming from my
book-shelves, that I persist in the conviction
that My Uncle is a very remarkable, and a
truly great man.

Osymandes, the Egyptian conqueror (vulgarly
called Sesostris) was a great man. Julius
C├Žsar was a great man; so (in spite of the
Quarterly Review) was Napoleon Buonaparte.
His late Royal Highness the Duke of York,
Bishop of Osnaburgh, and Commander-in-
Chief of the British Forces, was a great man.
Mr. William Cobbett, the implacable foe of
princes, turnpike-keepers, bank notes, and the
Times newspaper, was another great man.
Mr. Nathan Meyer Rothschild was also a
great man. But My Uncle is a concentration
of all the different sorts of greatness by which
these great men were severally distinguished:
he was born great; he has had greatness
thrust upon him; he has achieved greatness.

That my Uncle was born great, his family-
tree will attest. The roots of his genealogy
are so venerable, that I have dug in vain for
them amidst the earliest traditions of the Western
World; but, turning to the East, I have
discovered that My Unclelike gunpowder,
the mariner's compass, the art of printing,
and the treadmillowes his origin to China.
Considerably after (I now follow a respectable
Chinese historiographer)—considerably after
Yan (Heaven) was separated from Yin
(Earth), and when Pwan-koo (who reigned
forty-five thousand years) ruled the earth
from its core and centre, to wit, the Flowery
Land, My Uncle's ancestors were prosperous
gentlemen. They have continued to flourish
with unabated prosperity down to the present
date, under the enlightened Tao-Kwang.*

* See Davis's " Chinese," vol. ii., p. 438. First Edition.

In regard to the first appearance of his
family in Europe, My Uncle is fond of asserting
that Charlemagne was, in early life, a
cadet of the transplanted branch of his ancestors;
but, I confess that none of the
authorities I have consulted support him in
that pardonable boast. The most I have
been able to do for My Uncle in this wise,
has been to trace his more immediate European
progenitor to a physician who established
a lucrative medical practice, somewhere
about the beginning of the thirteenth
century, at Florence, in Tuscan Italy. As he
left an ample fortune, gained by the exercise
of his medical skill, his grateful successors
took their name from his professiona name
which illuminates the page of history, and
gives lustre to the annals of ArtMEDICI.
The offshoots of this illustrious racefrom
which My Uncle has been handed down
in direct descentremoved, early in the
fifteenth century, to Milan, took to trade,
and were called, indifferently, when they travelled,
"Lombards." It must be understood
that these Lombards did not retain the family
name; their name having since become Legion.
But the heraldic insignia of the Medici, derived
from their ancestor's calling, they have
most rigidly preserved, unto the present hour.
No change of country; no vicissitude of
trade; no commercial crisis; no persecution;
no prosperity; has induced My Uncle's family
to abandon their arms. Whether trading in
Lombardy in the Middle Ages; or giving
their name, at a later period, to the locality
they inhabited in the City of London; or
finally distributed, as we now find them, over
the streets and amidst the necessitous populations
of modern cities; the simple blazonry
of the Medici, still denotes the abiding-places
of My Uncle's race. It consists of three
giant boluses, or, pendant, opposedtwo to
one.

Having shown that My Uncle was born
great, I have next to show how My Uncle
has achieved greatness. To the commonplace
virtue of minding their own business,
not only the merchant princes of Italy, but
those of the British capital must mainly owe
their fortunes. This virtue My Uncle possesses
in a degree the more remarkable, by
reason of the temptations continually presented
to him of intermeddling with the affairs
of others. Although the daily depositary of
commercial and pecuniary confidences, he is
so far from abusing the trust reposed in him,
that he never was known to divulge the
secrets of a single client. While he seems to be