Some other day, perhaps, I may try to tell you much more than I can tell you here about Aunt Carola and her Colonial Society—that apple which Eve, in the form of my Aunt, held out to me. Never had I expected to feel rise in me the appetite for this particular fruit, though I had known such hunger to exist in some of my neighbors. Once a worthy dame of my town, at whose dinner-table young men and maidens of fashion sit constantly, asked me with much sentiment if I was aware that she was descended from Boadicea. Why had she never (I asked her) revealed this to me before? And upon her informing me that she had learned it only that very day, I exclaimed that it was a great distance to have descended so suddenly. To this, after a look at me, she assented, adding that she had the good news from the office of The American Almanach de Gotha, Union Square, New York; and she recommended that publication to me. There was but a slight fee to pay, a matter of fifty dollars or upwards, and for this trifling sum you were furnished with your rightful coat-of-arms and with papers clearly tracing your family to the Druids, the Vestal Virgins, and all the best people in the world. Therefore I felicitated the Boadicean lady upon the illustrious progenitrix with whom the Almanach de Gotha had provided her for so small a consideration, and observed that for myself I supposed I should continue to rest content with the thought that in our enlightened Republic every American was himself a sovereign. But that, said the lady, after giving me another look, is so different from Boadicea! And to this I perfectly agreed. Later I had the pleasure to hear in a roundabout way that she had pronounced me one of the most agreeable young men in society, though sophisticated. I have not cherished this against her; my gift of humor puzzles many who can see only my refinement and my scrupulous attention to dress.
Yes, indeed, I counted myself proof against all Boadiceas. But you have noticed—have you not?—how, whenever a few people gather together and style themselves something, and choose a president, and eight or nine vice-presidents, and a secretary and a treasurer, and a committee on elections, and then let it be known that almost nobody else is qualified to belong to it, that there springs up immediately in hundreds and thousands of breasts a fiery craving to get into that body? You may try this experiment in science, law, medicine, art, letters, society, farming, I care not what, but you will set the same craving afire in doctors, academicians, and dog breeders all over the earth. Thus, when my Aunt—the president, herself, mind you!—said to me one day that she thought, if I proved my qualifications, my name might be favorably considered by the Selected Salic Scions—I say no more; I blush, though you cannot see me; when I am tempted, I seem to be human, after all.
At first, to be sure, I met Aunt Carola’s suggestion in the way that I am too ready to meet many of her remarks; for you must know she once, with sincere simplicity and good-will, told my Uncle Andrew (her husband; she is only my Aunt by marriage) that she had married beneath her; and she seemed unprepared for his reception of this candid statement: Uncle Andrew was unaffectedly merry over it. Ever since then all of us wait hopefully every day for what she may do or say next.