Mr. Midshipman Easy/Chapter 2
In which Mrs Easy, as usual, has her own way.
It was the fourth day after Mrs Easy's confinement that Mr Easy, who was sitting by her bedside in an easy chair, commenced as follows: "I have been thinking, my dear Mrs Easy, about the name I shall give this child."
"Name, Mr Easy! why, what name should you give it but your own?"
"Not so, my dear," replied Mr Easy; "they call all names proper names, but I think that mine is not. It is the very worst name in the calendar."
"Why, what's the matter with it, Mr Easy?"
"The matter affects me as well as the boy. Nicodemus is a long name to write at full length, and Nick is vulgar. Besides, as there will be two Nicks, they will naturally call my boy young Nick, and of course I shall be styled old Nick, which will be diabolical."
"Well, Mr Easy, at all events then let me choose the name."
"That you shall, my dear, and it was with this view that I have mentioned the subject so early."
"I think, Mr Easy, I will call the boy after my poor father—his name shall be Robert."
"Very well, my dear, if you wish it, it shall be Robert. You shall have your own way. But I think, my dear, upon a little consideration, you will acknowledge that there is a decided objection."
"An objection Mr Easy?"
"Yes, my dear; Robert may be very well, but you must reflect upon the consequences; he is certain to be called Bob."
"Well, my dear, and suppose they do call him Bob?"
"I cannot bear even the supposition, my dear. You forget the county in which we are residing, the downs covered with sheep."
"Why, Mr Easy, what can sheep have to do with a Christian name?"
"There it is; women never look to consequences. My dear, they have a great deal to do with the name of Bob. I will appeal to any farmer in the county, if ninety-nine shepherds' dogs out of one hundred are not called Bob. Now observe, your child is out of doors somewhere in the fields or plantations; you want and you call him. Instead of your child, what do you find? Why, a dozen curs at least, who come running up to you, all answering to the name of Bob, and wagging their stumps of tails. You see, Mrs Easy, it is a dilemma not to be got over. You level your only son to the brute creation by giving him a Christian name which, from its peculiar brevity, has been monopolised by all the dogs in the county. Any other name you please, my dear, but in this one instance you must allow me to lay my positive veto."
"Well, then, let me see—but I'll think of it, Mr Easy; my head aches very much just now."
"I will think for you, my dear. What do you say to John?"
"O no, Mr Easy, such a common name."
"A proof of its popularity, my dear. It is scriptural—we have the Apostle and the Baptist—we have a dozen Popes who were all Johns. It is royal—we have plenty of kings who were Johns—and moreover, it is short, and sounds honest and manly."
"Yes, very true, my dear; but they will call him Jack."
"Well, we have had several celebrated characters who were Jacks. There was—let me see—Jack the Giant Killer, and Jack of the Bean Stalk—and Jack—Jack——"
"Jack Spratt," replied Mrs Easy.
"And Jack Cade, Mrs Easy, the great rebel—and Three-fingered Jack, Mrs Easy, the celebrated negro—and, above all, Jack Falstaff, ma'am, Jack Falstaff—honest Jack Falstaff— witty Jack Falstaff—"
"I thought, Mr Easy, that I was to be permitted to choose the name."
"Well, so you shall, my dear; I give it up to you. Do just as you please; but depend upon it that John is the right name. Is it not now, my dear?"
"It's the way you always treat me, Mr Easy; you say that you give it up, and that I shall have my own way, but I never do have it. I am sure that the child will be christened John."
"Nay, my dear, it shall be just what you please. Now I recollect it, there were several Greek emperors who were Johns; but decide for yourself, my dear."
"No, no," replied Mrs Easy, who was ill, and unable to contend any longer, "I give it up, Mr Easy. I know how it will be, as it always is: you give me my own way as people give pieces of gold to children, it's their own money, but they must not spend it. Pray call him John."
"There, my dear, did not I tell you you would be of my opinion upon reflection? I knew you would. I have given you your own way, and you tell me to call him John; so now we're both of the same mind, and that point is settled."
"I should like to go to sleep, Mr Easy; I feel far from well."
"You shall always do just as you like, my dear," replied the husband, "and have your own way in everything. It is the greatest pleasure I have when I yield to your wishes. I will walk in the garden. Good-bye, my dear."
Mrs Easy made no reply, and the philosopher quitted the room. As may easily be imagined, on the following day the boy was christened John.