This past weekend Sarah and I chose our respective lockers (useful for storing our civilian accoutrements when we are working) in the distillery and placed our nameplates on them. You may be surprised to learn that neither of the nameplates contain “Randall” or “Sarah.” We decided to forego our given and family names and have some fun. I’ll let Sarah explain her new “distiller’s moniker” but mine is:
I chose this name because Henry Herbert is a leading character in many of W.H.H. Murray’s Adirondack Tales, and embodies many of the characteristics I value. A dear friend and constant companion of John Norton the Trapper, Murray’s primary Adirondack character, Henry Herbert is at once a well-educated gentlemen and experienced outdoorsman; a man very much like Murray himself.
Henry Herbert is introduced to the reader, and to John Norton himself, in The Story That the Keg Told Me, an entertaining warning against miserly tendencies set on an unnamed Adirondack lake. There the Trapper recognizes the strong love of nature Henry Herbert harbors, remarking, in his woodsman’s dialect, “Henry, the Lord has been very marciful and gracious-like in his treatment of ye, - for I have heard ye to be a great scholar, and love the knowledge that the schools give…but depend on it, Henry, the best gift the Lord has given ye is yer love of natur’ and the that things that go with it – a keen eye, a quick finger, a strong back, and a conscience that can meet him in the solitude of these waters and hills and not be afeered.”
Henry Herbert and John Norton have a long and close friendship, enjoying further adventures in The Man Who Didn’t Know Much, Henry Herbert’s Thanksgiving, How John Norton the Trapper Kept his Christmas, and other Adirondack stories. Throughout, Henry is portrayed as a loyal, loving gentlemen who is equally at home in his elegant house in the city, the rushing rapids of the northern rivers, and the deep woods of the wilderness. He is a crack shot, an expert oarsman and second only to the Trapper in the various arts of the natural world. Henry is well-read and wise, enjoying substantial success in the more-civilized world where such things are important.
My grandfather created the character of John Norton partially in answer to a challenge he received from Ralph Waldo Emerson. In Norton, Murray created an idealized “New England man who, having lived his life in the woods, has had developed in him those virtues and qualities of head and heart, of mind and soul, in harmony with his life-long surroundings.” Juxtaposed with the Trapper, Henry Herbert is a more balanced being, a civilized gentlemen who has great knowledge and love of the outdoors.
Herbert embraces the solitude of the wilderness recognizing that only in doing so he is complete.
Co-founder of Murray's Fools Distilling Co. | Altona. NY