OF THE BABY NAME REGINALD
Reginald Wilfer is a character in Charles Dickens’ final novel, Our Mutual Friend, first published in serial form between 1864 and 1865. Reginald is the father of Bella Wilfer, the heroine, and he is a most kindly and loving father indeed. This is fortunate for the formation of Bella’s character, as she does not fare so well on her mother’s side. Reginald toils without complaint as a lowly clerk in order to provide as good a life as possible for his children and his impossible-to-satisfy wife. His only wish for himself is that he would dearly love to be able to afford one complete outfit at one time, where the coat did not get shiny before the boots wore out. So self-effacing is the good Reginald that he will only sign his name as “R. Wilfer”, feeling that “Reginald” is too grand a name for the likes of him. When Bella is set to marry the impecunious “John Rokesmith”, her mother is angry, but Reginald supports her wholeheartedly in her intention to marry for love, not money. It is no wonder that Bella calls her father the “Cherub” – so do we!
Reggie Mantle is a major character in the Archie comics series, which debuted in 1942. He is the rich boy in town, son of the owner of newspaper, The Riverdale Gazette. Reggie is the all-around popular boy in high school, much to his own satisfaction, and he excels as an athlete, although not always abiding strictly by the rulebook. Reggie is tall, dark and handsome, and he often refers to himself, albeit immodestly, as “Mantle, the Magnificent”. As a bassist in the boys’ band, The Archies, Reggie considers himself quite the star, but is not above hiring groupies to swoon and shout out his name during performances. His love interest is Veronica, for whose affections he competes with Archie. Although they often date, it is clear to us (if not always to Reggie) that Archie is her favorite. Reginald has a heart of gold hidden beneath that egotistic exterior, but we don’t really care. He’s a bad boy, and we like bad boys!
Reginald Jeeves (typically known as just Jeeves) is the proper British valet to Bertie Wooster in the fictional works of P. G. Wodehouse, created by him in 1915 and lasting until Wodehouse’s final novel in 1974. He has made a graceful transition to radio, film, plays and television, and even inspired the Internet search engine Ask Jeeves. The important distinction between a valet and a butler, should you need to ask (we did), is that a valet serves a gentleman; a butler serves a household. Put that in your Downton Abbey book of information. Reginald Jeeves has become a generic word for the quintessential British upper class gentleman’s gentleman, and the evocation of his name conjures up nostalgic images of a pre-war Britain that was a paradise for those who could afford it. And those were the types that the Reginald Jeeveses so ably catered to. The underlying premise, of course, is that the servant is master to the master, both in his discretion and in his unerring knowledge of the ways of the gentry, and that the master would be little without him. Be that as it may, and we love the Reginald Jeeveses of fact and fiction, we still think it would be preferable to be the servee.