Pine Nuts: A Fourth to remember |

Pine Nuts: A Fourth to remember

For those of us old enough to remember King George, his wrath, and our grievances, well, bearing witness to the list of monarchies still in existence in the 21st century is enough to make a cow laugh. How can you not do anything udder than laugh out loud at a king, a queen, a duke or an earl when their countries trot them out for our admiration?

By today’s count, 45 countries still cling to monarchs, and a few of those monarchs still retain absolute power, including Brunei, Oman, Qatar, Swaziland and, oh, yes, Saudi Arabia.

The very first monarchs, those pharaohs of ancient Egypt, built some showy tombs for themselves and threw some memorable wine bacchanalias to send them off to those tombs, then things started to go downhill.

Today, I’ll side with Mark Twain when it comes to royalty …

I’ve had the honor of reading the Declaration of Independence on the Fourth at various public forums over the years, and have fallen in love with that wonderful olde hallmark …

“Any kind of royalty, no matter how modified, any kind of aristocracy, however pruned, is rightly an insult.”

Twain’s handwritten manuscript of Adventures of Huckleberry Finn did not capitalize the king and the duke, nor did the first edition. But thanks to loyal English subjects in the printing house basement, subsequent editions capitalized the King and the Duke, albeit those two deadbeats were rapscallions and frauds.

Huck himself expresses his scorn, “What was the use to tell Jim these warn’t real kings and dukes? It wouldn’t a done no good; and besides, it was just as I said; you couldn’t tell them from the real kind. All I say is, kings is kings, and you got to make allowances. Take them all around, they’re a mighty ornery lot. It’s the way they’re raised.”

Twain wrote to revolutionist Tchaykoffsky in Russian: “Some of us, even the white-headed, may live to see the blessed day when czars and grand dukes are as scarce there as I trust they are in heaven.”

And Twain equates why we still fly tattered rags of aristocracy …

“Like all other nations, we worship money and the possession of it -they being our aristocracy, and we have to have one. We like to read about rich people in the papers; the papers know it, and they do their best to keep this appetite liberally fed. They even leave out a football score now and then to get room for all the particulars of how -according to the display heading, ‘Rich Woman Fell Down Cellar.’ The falling down the cellar is of no interest to us when the woman is not rich, but no rich woman can fall down the cellar and we not yearn to know all about it and wish it was us.”

I’ve had the honor of reading the Declaration of Independence on the Fourth at various public forums over the years, and have fallen in love with that wonderful olde hallmark, particularly Jefferson’s first few words, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal…” Yes, and this year we can happily include women and those in-between…

Have a happy, safe, and all-inclusive Fourth of July!

Learn more about McAvoy Layne at

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