This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V21", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
My name is Smith. The family name is old and honorable. We are very proud of it. It has been traced back to Shem, one of the sons of Noah, with the usual philological modifications. Three brothers of the name came over in the Mayflower or soon after.
It was always a tradition in the family that some one of the name would be elected to the American Congress. Five had already been hung before it fell to my lot to be the honored Vice-President by the votes of my countrymen.
I had been re-elected, and by the advocacy of moral popular measures had myself become popular. One of my speeches had been published at government expense and widely circulated. My reputation was untarnished and the future looked to be full of promise.
Just at this juncture the hand of fate inter vened, and I fell a victim to horticulture. The cause of my political disaster was so unexpected, so contemptible that I am ashamed to name it One of my constituents was an enthusiastic gar-dener. He had his hobbies: one of them was the Gooseberry. A hobby that may he be compelled to ride after death. He had innumerable seedlings. To those he had yoked the names of all the public men in the land. My own name duly written on a zinc tag hung on one of those bushes. It was sent out to the world as the great success of the season; the John Smith Gooseberry, large, smooth, hardy, prolific, sweet.
Thousands of those gooseberries were disseminated among my constituents. They bought it on credit of the name. It must surely be a fine thing being named after our Congressman. It was thorny, mouldy, small, bitter, barren. It was however hardy. It would not die. That gooseberry made me one thousand enemies at first hand. Those thousand made me five thousand more. It cost me my seat in Congress. The District became full of thorns for me. Instead of the Hon. John Smith, our representative, I became Gooseberry John. I tried to convince the public that I had no hand in the swindle. Men would not listen. I ought not to lend my name to such things. Sure enough one's name is not to be easily loaned. It is the last thing to be borrowed, even after his cow and his spectacles.
I was obliged to move from that region. My reputation hung like a last year's scarecrow on a prickly gooseberry bush. It was too late to begin political life over again elsewhere. I am now raising sheep in Texas. There is not a gooseberry allowed to grow on my ranche. Will not seedling raisers let alone the names of honest philanthropists and patriotic office holders ? They have worked hard to secure a name. It is their sole capital. It should not be borrowed, at least not without the consent of the owner. It is bad enough to be compelled to share with babies, without losing all on a gooseberry. Call your seedlings Ralph Farms, Wonderful Amazement, but not John Smith.