Politics does not consist in being right. It’s in making other people think you are.
Here, for variety’s sake, is a hero who is neither handsome nor charming, and who adheres faithfully to every promise he makes his mother. Rumor has it he was based on Grover Cleveland. Though there are—spoiler!—a few points of similarity, “based on” may be putting it strongly. Let’s say “inspired by events in the life of” and leave it at that.
Paul Leicester Ford (1865–1902) had a short life, but an extremely productive one. Thanks to a spinal injury in early childhood, he was never able to go to school, but was educated at home—first by his older sister, later by being given the run of his father’s library. His father happened to be a noted bibliophile; his mother was a granddaughter of Noah Webster, so he probably got it from both sides. His brother Worthington was also a well-known historian.
As a writer and scholar, Paul Ford’s works ranged from history to biography to fiction. His ten-volume Works of Thomas Jefferson (1892-99) remained the standard for over a century; The Federalist (1898) was also highly regarded. His career came to an abrupt end in 1902—not because of his ongoing medical problems, but because he was shot by his older brother, athlete Malcolm Ford (b. 1862), who may have been disgruntled about an inheritance. Postscript: Malcolm promptly turned around and shot himself. Paul’s only child, daughter Lesta (really), was born after her father’s death.
Early on, we learn that the title character studied law at Harvard. Today Harvard University prides itself on being the first U.S. law school to require applicants to have a bachelor’s degree, as Johns Hopkins was the first among medical schools. (Unlike Johns Hopkins, Harvard Law did not admit women from Day One. Bummer.) Depending on whom you ask, the requirement either dates back to 1896, or was one of a group of changes instituted over the period 1870–1886. It definitely happened after Peter Stirling’s attendance, which seems to have been in the 1870s.
In the second half of the book, after the ten-year intermission, there is more romance and less politics. This is occasionally tedious, though Peter’s love interest does eventually develop some admirable qualities. The final quarter makes up for all by having as many quotable lines as the first three-quarters put together.
“The future of this country depends on its poor children. If they are to do right, they must be saved from ill-health, and ignorance, and vice; and the first step is to give them good food and air, so that they shall have strong little bodies. A sound man, physically, may not be a strong man in other ways, but he stands a much better chance.”
Finally: In 1894, the female name “Jenifer”—by any spelling—simply didn’t exist outside of Cornwall. So there would be nothing distracting about a male servant bearing this name.
This etext is based on the—wait for it—thirty-seventh edition, published in the year 1900. Sadly, there are no illustrations. None whatsoever. Not even a frontispiece. If you are at all familiar with this site, you know what a heartbreak that was.
The printed book was a single fat volume with no Table of Contents. I’ve broken it into four parts for easier reading, and have added a table of contents using the chapter titles.
Linguistic or maybe typographic quirk: The author, or his editor, or possibly the printer, seems to think that any utterance beginning in “What” can only be a question. “What a dull dinner it was?” “What a stunning headline that will make?” “What poor things words are?” “What a tremendous horse you have?”
Typographical errors are marked with and are listed again at the bottom of each file. The word “invisible” means that the letter or punctuation mark is missing, but there is an appropriately sized blank space.
|I.||Romance and Reality|
|III.||A Crab Chapter|
|V.||Mines and Counter-Mines|
|VI.||A Monologue and a Dialogue|
|VII.||Facing the World|
|IX.||Happiness by Proxy|
|XII.||His First Client|
|XIV.||New York Justice|
|XVII.||A New Friend|
|XX.||A Political Debut|
|XXI.||A Political Dinner|
|XXIV.||Misunderstandings and Understandings|
|XXV.||Various Kinds of Society|
|XXVI.||An Evening Call|
|XXIX.||In the Meantime|
|XXXII.||The End of the Conflict|
|XLII.||Down-Town New York|
|XLIII.||A Birthday Evening|
|XLIV.||A Good Day|
|XLVI.||The Better Element|
|LI.||The Course of True Love|
|LII.||A Guardian Angel|
|LIX.||“Gather Ye Rosebuds While Ye May”|
WORKS BY PAUL LEICESTER FORD.
PUBLISHED BY HENRY HOLT & CO.
THE HONORABLE PETER STIRLING.
THE FEDERALIST. Edited with Notes, Illustrative Documents, and a Copious Index.
PUBLISHED BY HOUGHTON, MIFFLIN & CO.
THE STORY OF AN UNTOLD LOVE.
PUBLISHED BY DODD, MEAD & CO.
TATTLE TALES OF CUPID.
THE GREAT K. AND A. TRAIN ROBBERY.
THE NEW ENGLAND PRIMER.
PUBLISHED BY G. P. PUTNAM’S SONS.
WRITINGS OF THOMAS JEFFERSON. 10 vols.
SAYINGS OF POOR RICHARD.
PUBLISHED BY J. B. LIPPINCOTT CO.
THE TRUE GEORGE WASHINGTON.
PUBLISHED BY THE CENTURY CO.
THE MANY-SIDED FRANKLIN.
WHAT PEOPLE THOUGHT OF HIM
PAUL LEICESTER FORD
HENRY HOLT AND COMPANY
HENRY HOLT & CO.
those dear to me,
turners, new york;
easthampton, new york,
written while among them
It is not every day that you see an advertising page listing the offerings of six different publishers. Was Paul Leicester Ford exceptionally difficult to work with, or were his chosen publishers all very, very specialized?
text has semicolon for comma