Another circumstance was also beginning to be remarked, and spoke yet more in his commendation. Those with whom he principally associated—the gay, the dissipated, the thoughtless, the sinners and publicans of the more polished world—all appeared rapidly, yet insensibly to themselves, to awaken to purer thoughts and more regulated lives. Even Cetoxa, the prince of gallants, duellists, and gamesters, was no longer the same man since the night of the singular events which he had related to Glyndon. The first trace of his reform was in his retirement from the gaming-houses; the next was his reconciliation with an hereditary enemy of his house, whom it had been his constant object for the last six years to entangle in such a quarrel as might call forth his inimitable manoeuvre of the stoccata. Nor when Cetoxa and his young companions were heard to speak of Zanoni, did it seem that this change had been brought about by any sober lectures or admonitions. They all described Zanoni as a man keenly alive to enjoyment: of manners the reverse of formal,—not precisely gay, but equable, serene, and cheerful; ever ready to listen to the talk of others, however idle, or to charm all ears with an inexhaustible fund of brilliant anecdote and worldly experience. All manners, all nations, all grades of men, seemed familiar to him. He was reserved only if allusion were ever ventured to his birth or history.
The more general opinion of his origin certainly seemed the more plausible. His riches, his familiarity with the languages of the East, his residence in India, a certain gravity which never deserted his most cheerful and familiar hours, the lustrous darkness of his eyes and hair, and even the peculiarities of his shape, in the delicate smallness of the hands, and the Arab-like turn of the stately head, appeared to fix him as belonging to one at least of the Oriental races. And a dabbler in the Eastern tongues even sought to reduce the simple name of Zanoni, which a century before had been borne by an inoffensive naturalist of Bologna (The author of two works on botany and rare plants.), to the radicals of the extinct language. Zan was unquestionably the Chaldean appellation for the sun. Even the Greeks, who mutilated every Oriental name, had retained the right one in this case, as the Cretan inscription on the tomb of Zeus (Ode megas keitai Zan.—“Cyril contra Julian.” (Here lies great Jove.)) significantly showed. As to the rest, the Zan, or Zaun, was, with the Sidonians, no uncommon prefix to On. Adonis was but another name for Zanonas, whose worship in Sidon Hesychius records. To this profound and unanswerable derivation Mervale listened with great attention, and observed that he now ventured to announce an erudite discovery he himself had long since made,—namely, that the numerous family of Smiths in England were undoubtedly the ancient priests of the Phrygian Apollo. “For,” said he, “was not Apollo’s surname, in Phrygia, Smintheus? How clear all the ensuing corruptions of the august name,—Smintheus, Smitheus, Smithe, Smith! And even now, I may remark that the more ancient branches of that illustrious family, unconsciously anxious to approximate at least by a letter nearer to the true title, take a pious pleasure in writing their names Smith_e_!”