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The Influence Of Names
by [?]

Far-fetched as the idea seems that names and characters have any interconnection, yet no great writer but has felt that one name, and one alone, would suit each particular creation. The tortures and travels that Balzac went through till he found “Z. Marcas” are well known. So is the agony of Flaubert on hearing that Zola was anticipating him in the name of Bouvard, which it had cost Flaubert six years’ search to find. Zola’s magnanimity in parting with it deserves a fauteuil. Somebody in the provinces told me that his minister had preached upon the subject of names, laying it down that in every name lurked a subtle virtue,–or vice; the former the bearer of the name was in duty bound to cultivate, the latter to root out. Fantastic as this speculation be, even for a minister, no one doubts that people’s names may have an influence upon their lives; and, in the case of the Christian name at least, children ought to be protected by the State against the bad taste and the cruelty of their parents. More certainly than the stars our names control our destinies, for they are no meaningless collocation of syllables, but have deep-rooted relations with the history and manner of life of our ancestors. The Smiths were once smiths, the Browns dark in complexion; and so, if we could only trace it, every name would reveal some inner significance, from Adam (red earth) downwards. Why do publishers tend to “n” in their names’? Some of the chief London publishers run to a final “n”–Macmillan, Longman, Chapman; Hodder & Stoughton; Hutchinson & Co.; Sampson Low, Marston & Co.; Lawrence & Bullen; Fisher Unwin; Heinemann. The last, indeed, is nothing but “n” sounds; such a name could not escape taking to publishing. I find also in the publishers’ lists T. Nelson & Co.; Eden, Remington & Co.; Henry Sotheran; John Lane; Effingham Wilson; Innes & Co. (as fatal as Heinemann); George Allen & Co.; Osgood, McIlvaine & Co.; Gardner, Darton & Co. Sometimes the “n” is prominent at the beginning or in the middle, as in Henry & Co.; Ward & Downey; Constable & Co.; Digby, Long & Co.; Arnold; G. P. Putnam’s Sons; Kegan Paul, Trench, Truebner & Co. (wherein each partner boasts his separate “n”); Oliphant, Anderson & Ferrier (wherein there are at least three “n”s); John C. Nimmo; Edward Stanford; Gibbings & Co.; Chatto & Windus; Nisbet & Co. When the “n” is not in the surname, at least the Christian contains the indispensable letter, as John Murray, Elkin Matthew.

Even when it can find refuge nowhere else the “n” creeps into the “and” of the firm or into the “Sons.” The very Clarendon Press has the trademark. Who is the stock publisher of the eighteenth century? Tonson! Who were the first publishers of Shakespeare? Condell & Heminge.

And while publishers run mysteriously to “n,” authors run with equal persistency to “r”–in their surnames for the most part, but at least somehow or somewhere.

Who are our professors of fiction to-day? Hardy, Meredith, Blackmore, Barrie, Rudyard Kipling, Walter Besant (and James Rice), George Moore, Frankfort Moore, Olive Schreiner, George Fleming, Henry James, Hamlin Garland, Henry B. Fuller, Harold Frederic, Frank Harris, Marion Crawford, Arthur Conan Doyle, Rider Haggard, Miss Braddon, Sarah Grand, Mrs. Parr, George Egerton, Rhoda Broughton, H. D. Traill, Jerome K. Jerome, Barry Pain, W. E. Norris, Crockett, Ian Maclaren, Robert Barr, Ashby Sterry, Morley Roberts, Mabel Robinson, F. W. Robinson, John Strange Winter, Du Maurier (late but not least to follow his lucky “r”), Helen Mathers, Henry Seton Merriman, etc., etc.

Who were the giants of the last generation? Thackeray, Charles Dickens, Charles Reade, George Eliot, Bulwer Lytton, Charlotte Bronte, Trollope, Disraeli.

Who are our prophets and thinkers? Carlyle, Ruskin, Emerson, Darwin, John Stuart Mill, Herbert Spencer, Froude, Freeman.

Who are the poets of the Victorian era? Robert Browning, Alfred Tennyson, Algernon Charles Swinburne (“r”-ed throughout), D. Gabriel Rossetti, Christina Rossetti, Matthew Arnold, William Morris, Robert Buchanan, Andrew Lang, Robert Bridges, Lewis Morris, Edwin Arnold, Alfred Austin, Norman Gale, Richard Le Gallienne, Philip Bourke Marston, Mary F. Robinson, Theodore Watts, etc., etc.