Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Ungar's forest name

Uncas and Miantonomoh

The name "Ungar" of the unhappy ex-Confederate in Clarel sounds like and possibly suggests "hunger" or "anger." Both of which English words might fit the self-exile whom critics often call "embittered." Few of them ever get round to saying exactly how is Ungar Indian. One sparkling exception is Vincent Kenny, quoted below. Before looking up Kenny on Clarel, I was trying to work it out. Well, Ungar's ancestors are supposedly Maryland Catholic and Indian. As suggested in a previous post, Ungar seems descended from somebody quite like Giles Bent who married princess Mary Kittamaquund,
orphaned daughter of a Piscataway leader who had been raised by Margaret Brent and Jesuit missionaries who had converted her and her father to Christianity.
Musing on Ungar's mixed blood a fellow pilgrim imagines
An Anglo brain, but Indian heart
 and describes the name "Ungar" as his "forest name," the Indian name he adopts as a whim or "freak":
(In freak, his forest name alone
Retained he now)....  --Clarel part 4 canto 5
Maybe the "R" in UNGAR marks the way Melville pronounced his a's. Lecturing in Detroit, Melville spoke of Padua and the newspaper reporter heard "Ardua," meaning that Melville must have said PARDUA.
--Can Art not Life make the Ideal?
So, forgetting the R:


Albert Gallatin in A Synopisis of the Indian Tribes within the United States East of the Rocky Mountains has a grammar chart of Indian pronouns and the first one is
I, unga
As Bob has already pointed out, in his comment to the post on Edwin Fussell etc., the name Ungar specifically evokes Uncas the Mohegan chief of historical fact and Cooper's fictions. Here is a suggestively worded overview from late in the 19th century:
Un-cas, an American Indian who was famous in the early annals of New England. He was originally a Pequod (see PEQUOD), who, with his following, revolted against Saasacus (about 1635), and formed a new band, callod Mohegans, after the ancient name of the tribe. He acquired considerable power, and, with great foresight, allied himself steadily with the whites, and shared in their victories over the Pequods and other tribes, receiving grants of conquered territory. This made him new enemies among the red men, by whom lie was regarded as a traitor, and unsuccessful attempts were made to assassinate him. This led to his attacking hie old allies the Narragansetts, and in 1643 he overpowered them and captured their chief, Miantonomioh, in a battle that look place near Norwich, Ct, The English authorities at Hartford consented that this powerful and hitherto friendly chief should be savagely put to death by Uncas, and a monument now marks the spot on Sachem's Plain, north of Norwich, where he was slain. This whole episode was doubtless a quarrel fomented by the English in the hope of getting rid of the red race by each other's tomahawks. The remainder of the Narragansetts continued the struggle for some years, and once would have overcome Uncas had he not boon assisted at the last moment by English troops. Thus the whites played one against the other. He lived in the neighborhood of Norwich, Conn., to a great age, always a man of mental force as well as physical power, but always an unregenerate savage. He died in 1682, and is buried in a little plot in the city of Norwich, known as the royal Mohegan burying-ground, among the bones of ancestors long antedating his momentous career and the coming of Europeans. He was the "Last of the Mohicans," and, as such became the hero of Cooper's novel; and President Andrew Jackson dedicated the granite obelisk which now marks his grave.  --Imperial Reference Library
Originally a Pequod. A romantic hero then, after Cooper, type of the "noble savage" and "vanishing American" whose treason (in one view) might be said to parallel the treason of Ungar as rebel southerner.
Image Credit: Society of Colonial Wars
Vincent Kenny pointed out Ungar's nominal association with Uncas way back in 1973. What's more, along with the allusion to Uncas, Kenny sees a pun on "gar" as "spear" and ha!
G. A. R. (= Grand Army of the Republic, the patriotic and powerful organization of Union veterans):
Equally severe [as the name Mortmain] is the harsh sound of Ungar, the Anglo-American Indian. It echoes Cooper's famous Uncas; it also rhymes with the livid scar on Ungar's neck. Melville punned with the name; first, with the "gar" as a spear, or Ungar's prominent sword; and second as a jibe on the enemy he fought, the G. A. R. reduced by the negative prefix.  --Herman Melville's Clarel: A Spiritual Autobiography p126
Ex-confederate Ungar, un-G.A.R., obviously does not wear the Grand Army badge:

Gar medal
Neither does the Union hero Jack Gentian, who in one of Melville's "Jack Gentian" sketches, stubbornly sports the aristocratic badge of the Cincinnati Society. Major Gentian's political rival Colonel J. Bunkum glories rather in the democratic symbolism of the Grand Army badge:
“the badge of the national brotherhood of veterans in whose Chapters the grade of the field is ignored, and the general salutes the private—comrade!”  --Great Short Works of Herman Melville
Getting back to Uncas, the description at CT Monuments of the Norwich monument refers to uncertainty about the spelling of his name:
The Uncas monument sits in a small burial ground on Sachem Street. The square base of the monument was dedicated in 1833, with President Andrew Jackson participating in the dedication ceremonies. The granite column was dedicated nine years later in 1842, after organizers had resolved several problems with the monument, including quarrying granite that met their specifications and reaching a consensus on the proper spelling of “Uncas.”
 For further study this looks too good to miss: Uncas, First of the Mohegans

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