To This Great Stage of Fools: Born September 2nd

Eugene Field, b. 1850. My favorite Eugene Field poem is Jest ‘Fore Christmas, probably because my mother used to quote it to me at Christmas-time.

Here’s a little more poetry from and information about Mr. Field from last year.

Lucretia Hale, b. 1820. Ms. Hale wrote The Peterkin Papers, a book of stories about the Peterkin family, made up of Mr. and Mrs. Peterkin, Elizabeth Eliza, Solomon John, Agamemnon, and “the little boys”. The Peterkin family are always getting themselves into scrapes and quandaries and having to consult with the lady from Philadelphia who resolves all their problems with simple common sense. The book of stories, most of which were first published in St. Nicholas magazine begins thus:

It may be remembered that the Peterkins originally hesitated about publishing their Family Papers, and were decided by referring the matter to the lady from Philadelphia. A little uncertain of whether she might happen to be at Philadelphia, they determined to write and ask her.

Solomon John suggested a postal-card. Everybody reads a postal, and everybody would read it as it came along, and see itsmimportance, and help it on. If the lady from Philadelphia were away, her family and all her servants would read it, and send it after her, for answer.

Elizabeth Eliza thought the postal a bright idea. It would not take so long to write as a letter, and would not be so expensive. But could they get the whole subject on a postal?

Mr. Peterkin believed there could be no difficulty, there was but one question:­

Shall the adventures of the Peterkin family be published?

This was decided upon, and there was room for each of the family to sign, the little boys contenting themselves with rough sketches of their india-rubber boots.

Mr. Peterkin, Agamemnon, and Solomon John took the postal-card to the post-office early one morning, and by the afternoon of that very day, and all the next day, and for many days, came streaming in answers on postals and on letters. Their card had been addressed to the lady from Philadelphia, with the number of her street. But it must have been read by their neighbors in their own town post-office before leaving; it must have been read along its way: for by each mail came piles of postals and letters from town after town, in answer to the question, and all in the same tone:

‘Yes, yes; publish the adventures of the Peterkin family.’

‘Publish them, of course.’

And in time came the answer of the lady from Philadelphia:­
‘Yes, of course; publish them.’

This is why they were published.”

In addition to Mr. Field’s poem, Miss Hale’s story about the Peterkins’ Christmas tree is also a family favorite in December. You can read about the many adventures of the Peterkin family here.

2 thoughts on “To This Great Stage of Fools: Born September 2nd

  1. I so love the Peterkin Family. Especially their attempts at homeschooling, which resemble unit studies gone hilariously awry.

  2. At A Hen's Pace

    I followed your link to the Eugene Peterson poems: My grandmother used to read him to me! Thanks for the link.


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