Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Consulting the Baronetage

Those of you familiar with Jane Austen's Persuasion must recall this illustrious opening:

Sir Walter Elliot, of Kellynch Hall, in Somersetshire, was a man who, for his own amusement, never took up any book but the Baronetage; there he found occupation for an idle hour, and consolation in a distressed one; there his faculties were roused into admiration and respect, by contemplating the limited remnant of the earliest patents; there any unwelcome sensations, arising from domestic affairs changed naturally into pity and contempt as he turned over the almost endless creations of the last century; and there, if every other leaf were powerless, he could read his own history with an interest which never failed. This was the page at which the favourite volume always opened:

"ELLIOT OF KELLYNCH HALL.

"Walter Elliot, born March 1, 1760, married, July 15, 1784, Elizabeth, daughter of James Stevenson, Esq. of South Park, in the county of Gloucester, by which lady (who died 1800) he has issue Elizabeth, born June 1, 1785; Anne, born August 9, 1787; a still-born son, November 5, 1789; Mary, born November 20, 1791."

What relevance does this have to today's affairs, you might ask? I would have wondered the same thing, until I stumbled upon this shocking genealogy report today, courtesy of the New England Historic Genealogical Society. This is absolutely amazing material, and they ought to be commended for their researching efforts.

Let's examine this a bit:

Barack Obama is related to Brad Pitt, Hillary Clinton to Angelina Jolie. Well now we have a much greater understanding of the film, Mr. and Mrs. Smith. More significantly, could these new developments encourage Brad Pitt to break ties with Angelina Jolie and return to Jennifer Aniston? I dare not conjecture.

Mr. Obama also shares an ancestry with President George W. Bush, George H.W. Bush, Gerald Ford, Lyndon Johnson, Harry S. Truman, James Madison, Vice President Dick Cheney, British Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill, and Civil War General Robert E. Lee. One has to wonder how many of these prestigious figures (save the Bushes) would have felt about their descendent taking part in Reverend Wright's sermons. Is Sir Barack Obama the family disappointment?

As for Clinton, her list is not quite as presidential, but it certainly is cultural: Jack Kerouac, Madonna, Celine Dion, Alanis Morissette, and Camilla Parker-Bowles, wife of my own Prince Charles.

If we were to base the presidency on ancestry alone, the tenderest meat would go to Mr. Obama; certainly, Winston Churchill was much more the statesman than Camilla, who aided Prince Charles in desecrating the British royal tradition.

Fortunately for my dear Hillary, the quality of one's relations is a monstrous barometer for measuring the worth of a person. Need I remind you of that tactless Mrs. Bennet I have the misfortune of calling my mother-in-law? As you Americans are fond of saying, "enough said."

1 comment:

harry said...

Funny blog, and pretty original. I know you occasionally read www.newsgroper.com, and you might want to consider submitting some one-liners to us. It might be a good way to experiment with different voices, and if you give us enough funny ones, we might ask you to blog regularly for us.

Harry Cheadle
Newsgroper Editorial Intern