Top US columnist calls into question London Mayor Boris “Johnson”‘s right to use that surname.
Suppressed for decades here is Marshall Maslin’s thought-provoking and controversial article in full.I’ll let you draw your own conclusions …
Full text of the original article can be found beneath this cutting.
ARE YOU A JOHNSON? – MAYBE YOU ARE ONE
A JOHNSON STANDS BY HIS FRIENDS
A Johnson is loyal to his friends. He will not allow you to say one word against them.
A Johnson is generous; he will send you his last cent when you are in trouble. He will bring himself, too, even though it mean crossing a continent, to your rescue.
A Johnson will tell the truth for you; he will not lie for you; he will even keep silent for you; and an enemy might pull out his tongue with redhot pincers before he would betray you.
The most precious thing in all the world to a Johnson is being “right”, is playing square, is being loyal and brave and true. There aren’t many Johnsons in the world: you’d hardly expect to find many, would you? Their standard is so high that few men indeed can live up to it . . . But the Johnsons who do exist live sternly and tenaciously by their creed; because they know there’s not much left for a man in this world if he ceases to be loyal to his friends and, through them to himself.
Where do you find Johnsons? Almost anywhere, in curious places, but the name itself came in life where you’d lease expect to find it.
From the underworld. Among law-breaker’s of a generation ago. A Johnson was an aristocrat among criminals. I’ve been told a Johnson was a robber who rode the rods and cracked open safes in country towns . . . Eventually it was used to describe only a man who could be trusted and who had “character.” who would send you his “roll” it you needed money and would cut you out of jail if you needed freedom, who would demand as much character from you as he himself possessed. They were men gone wrong, who had taken the wrong road. They were dangerous fellows and of course they were few. There’s some truth in the saying: “There’s no honor among thieves—they’re just like other people.”
But occasionally there was a Johnson who had what all men call honor wherever they may happen to find it. I know one of these Johnsons—who was a thief once, but is one no longer. He despises all the little thieves who cheat and lie and betray and have no character and could never be Johnsons—as he despises all men, everywhere, who will not stand by their friends and have not character enough even to stand by themselves. He was a Johnson; he is still a Johnson.
To be a Johnson means to be strong and fine, and I’d be proud if anybody at any time, ever hinted that I was even a distant relation of the Johnson family. If you’re not a Johnson you cringe and crawl. If you are a Johnson you stand straight and strong though the world fails into ruins all about you. It means a great deal in this life for a man to be a Johnson.
The article was originally published in the Berkeley Daily Gazette on May 20th 1931.
So, is Boris entitled to call himself “Johnson” or not?
The author of this blog is a fully qualified and insured City of Westminster Tour Guide who runs unique walking tours and private tours in London.
I also offer Private Tours, Private Events and provide Consultancy Services for media and education professionals in London. You can read Reviews of Walks and see some recent projects here. Please feel free to contact me about any of these services.