Emerson Hough Himself

Emerson Hough Himself-by Himself.

In writing an autobiography, it becomes one to do so without reserve, and yet with proper modesty. That is to say, without too much modesty; for nothing is more painful to any autobiographer than to think when too late of a lot of other nice things he might have said about himself.

My family is a very old and noble one, dating back in its better recorded history to that Sir Ronald Guy Henri de Montfalcon who was equerry and side-kick to King Edward I of England. The name Falcon was abbreviated in Cromwell's time to Hawk, and various spellings of that name have since been known. Some of our best people spell it H-o-u-g-h, and pronounce it as though spelled H-u-f, the "g" being silent, as in cocktail, plough or though.

The family coat of arms is as follows: A cat rampant, noir, on a field gules, its tail grasped by a hand dexter, in argent. Motto: Corpe catum et trans carpetum.

The origin of this coat of arms is singular. It seems that Sir Ronald once was passing the time of day with King Edward to the extent of a wee nippy or so, and had undertaken to drag a certain house cat across the carpet by the tail.

"Marry," said King Edward, "meseems 'twere easier to kill the cat and pull it by the neck!"

"Nay," quoth Sir Ronald, "nay, say not so; for, by my halidome, methinks I yet shall pull this cat across the kyarpet, an that its tail shall hold."

The power of heredity is a singular thing. Thus, for many members of the family, it hath been ever thus since childhood's hour-we still pull the cat backward after the fashion established by good Sir Ronald. The angle of incidence of cat and carpet is, however, of no great matter to any one at the end of a hundred years. An that the tail shall hold, meseems I presently shall be so old as that.

My earliest recollections regarding myself in my long and useful life date back no farther than the time when I was twenty minutes of age. I recall distinctly the look on the doctor's face as he entered the room "Madam," said he to my mother, "the child is a boy." Then he hesitated.

"Is there anything wrong with the kid?" demanded my father in deep bass tones.

"Well, I wouldn't say that exactly," replied the doctor. "The child is perfectly formed, save in two respects: The head is of about the size and consistency of a billiard ball, and under percussion gives out a ringing sound unusual so early in life. It is apparently composed of porphyry, ivory, porcelain, or some other impervious substance. Moreover, one or more of the feet of the child are apparently loose in their attachment."

The doctor buried his face in his kerchief.

"In that case, " said my father, "although I had intended this one-it is the last of twenty-three-for a corporation lawyer, it may be he will work round later into being a policeman, an actor, a dramatic critic, or a writer, or something." He then broke into deep, convulsive sobs.

"Well, now, what do you know about that!" remarked my mother. I might add that I have never been a corporation lawyer.

In those days the cranial structure mentioned by the doctor has proved a godsend to me. It is true, I have never been able to take a hint, but it is also true that I have never been able to take a refusal. Thus eventually I was very happily married, although it took some time. In college my cranial system was found quite useful. For four years I was halfback on the football team. A part of our team policy consisted in allowing our opponents to kick the head of our halfback as much as they liked. It never injured me, but eventually disabled the opposing tem. This has always remained my main strategy in life since then.

Need I say more? I do not see why I should, unless it might be in regard to the feet also mentioned by the doctor. He was entirely right-I was born with a loose foot or so. I question whether in the last thirty years I have slept thirty consecutive nights under any one roof. I naturally have to go somewhere all the time, on account of the loose foot. The busy marts of trade have therefore not attracted me so much as the great and beautiful world of the out-of-doors. It is in the open, with its splendid loyalties, that I have found most of my content in life. If I had my life to live over again I would change it to the extent that I would never live under any sort of roof at all.

The main thing in life is to have decision of character. To this I may lay modest claim. Whenever it has been necessary for me to choose between business and going fishing, I have never for a moment hesitated.


Source: The Saturday Evening Post, June 30, 1917, pages 23 & 82.

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Submitted by Dianne Fulton, New London, Ohio